Nine States Have 18 Large Wildfires; the West Is Burning Without NAWAPA XXI
June 13, 2012 • 7:55AM

There are currently 18 large wildfires burning in nine U.S. states, with New Mexico and Colorado especially hard hit. This year, so far, some 1,459 square miles have burned nationwide — less than the same period in 2011, when 6,327 sq. mi. had burned by this time, but the significance is the mounting scale of devastation, year-on-year. Colorado reported its first fatality yesterday; a woman was incinerated as her cabin burned down.

By definition, worst hit for vulnerability to lack of water are the western drylands and deserts — the very area the new waters of NAWAPA XXI would transform. The LPAC posting of May 30, "Largest New Mexico Wildfire Unavoidable?" presents Google Earth images of the NAWAPA XXI reservoirs planned for the region, in which the monster fire in the Gila National Forest is still raging (435 sq. mi. of forest burned to date). The record-size fire was only 37% contained, as of state reports yesterday. This fire, "already the largest wildfire in the state's history, would have been a mere spark, if the NAWAPA XXI project, as proposed today, were already built," states LPAC.

In opposition to the NAWAPA XXI biosphere-shaping perspective, the Obama Administration is lying, and even insisting that it has sufficient resources to deal with the current emergency; it also asserts that, in any case, today's problem stems from — besides vagaries of weather — decades of fighting forest fires, rather than letting the fires burn and run their course freely!

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said his agency will use its authority to transfer funds from other accounts to meet the current firefighting costs — an impossible shell-game, since every worthwhile agency is under-funded.

Meantime, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said that the decision is still pending on calling in the military reserves, and their C-130 cargo aircraft. To activate such aid, the Forest Service first has to demonstrate that its own fleet and resources are fully deployed.

States and localities are scrambling. Arizona has sent to New Mexico 15 fire-trucks and two water-tenders. One C-130 is in use.

Colorado's Congressional delegation appealed in a letter to Obama, that he sign legislation to contract to lease more air tankers for the Forest Service. At present, the Service has 11, plus two on loan from Canada, for only 13. There should be seven additional large air tankers leased fast, according to Sen. Mark Udall, of Colorado, where an air tanker crashed recently.

Late yesterday, the U.S. Forest Service finally said it will contract more aerial force — four more tankers from Canada, and one from Alaska.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service, and other agencies forecast the continued likelihood of fire-prone situations in their annual Spring reports.

Learn more about NAWAPA XXI.