Lolo fire

Five-year-old Hayden O'Leary watches the Lolo Peak fire from the back of her grandfather's truck while parked on a ridge overlooking Lolo and the Bitterroot Valley from the Miller Creek area.

Too many Montana citizens are suffering miserably from the numerous fires and toxic smoke created by a broken policy system that allows degradation to the human environment.

This lingering smoke emanating from the 2017 epic fire season will have an everlasting negative impact on our lung capacity and will create other permanent harmful effects.

While nothing can stop natural indiscriminate ignition sources, we should and must initiate more fuel treatments that provide significant advantages for firefighting and improved forest health.

Policy change is desperately needed to protect our well-being, physical health and our local rural economies.

Current laws are frequently used by the radical environmental groups such as the Alliance for the Wild Rockies (AWR) as a basis for litigation or the threat of litigation to stop forest management projects that would reduce fire fuels and put fewer fire fighters and others at risk.

Some laws contain clauses that require potential adverse impacts be considered. Judges often contrive reasons to apply them without proof to non-human species in their decisions to halt critical active forest management. No logical person can argue that the long term exposure to smoke won’t have adverse impacts to humans.

People are now paying a very high price for faulty laws being used by these perpetual litigants to gather wealth by stopping sensible forest management projects.

It’s time to make reasonable changes that recognize the value of human life and cut off the ATM for the AWR and others who take advantage of the existing flawed system.

We all need to contact our elected officials, including leaders in Congress, and urge them to revise laws to stop the obstructionists and advance projects that if not implemented will adversely affect human health forever.

The AWR’s political assertion to re-enter the Paris Climate Accord in response to these infernos is despicable, exposing how detached from truth and genuine solutions these groups are.

The only remedy is to make meaningful changes that allow fuel reduction and other proven treatments that diminish the power of wildfires and save human lives.

Keith Kubista is a natural resource manager who resides in the Bitterroot Valley. 

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