Wildfire prevention advocate William Simpson has appeared on television in the US to talk about catastrophic wildfire and the deforestation of the country.
“Not only do we lose our trees, we lose our watershed, we lose our wildlife. We lose recreation, then we lose the ability to have a sustainable forestry industry,” Simpson told theDove TV‘s Perry Atkinson on the Focus Today show.
“There is a real difference between catastrophic wildfire and normal wildfire that we would expect to see in the landscape,” Simpson said. “Catastrophic wildfire has evolved because we’ve lost a lot of the natural herbivores,” noting that in the last five decades the west coast of the US was down about three million deer.
He said those deer had effectively been “forest managers”, grazing on the kindling-like grasses and materials that were now helping fuel wildfires.
“Those deer missing from the forest and grasslands ecosystems had been mitigating about 2.6 million tons of annual grass and brush via their ubiquitous grazing,” Simpson said.
Simpson is the author of the Natural Wildfire Abatement and Forest Protection Plan. His concept – the Wild Horse Fire Brigade – advocates using wild horses, which are being held in government corrals at taxpayer expense, to graze the areas where there are no longer enough deer to control the undergrowth.
He said only about 3% of the 2018 US Forest Service’s budget of $2.5 billion for wildfire fighting is dedicated to wildfire prevention. “As it appears, there is little financial incentive to engage in wildfire prevention,” Simpson says. “And most of the ‘prevention’ that is funded in the USFS budget relates to more burning, as in ‘prescribed burns’, which in some cases leads to uncontrolled wildfires.
“The environmentalists of the 1980’s argued that logging at that time was unsustainable, however forests today are now being destroyed by catastrophic wildfire at a rate that far exceeds any deforestation that is alleged from a sustainable logging industry,” Simpson said.
In his book The Mustangs, J. Frank Dobie wrote that in the early 1900s more than two million wild horses roamed freely throughout America and on the plains.
Today that population has declined by 97%; there are fewer than 68,000 wild horses running free in America today.