Recently three men hailing from local environmentalist groups gathered together to compare notes and craft an opinion piece, which was published in the Mail Tribune in an attempt to berate the value of the Natural Wildfire Abatement And Forest Protection Plan, also known as the Wild Horse Fire Brigade, and question the many intelligent people (scientists, firefighters, politicians and Americans) who already support it.

The article was titled "All the king’s horses can’t make wildfires go away," by Dennis Odion, Dominick DellaSala and Dominic DiPaolo.

Grant-stream environmentalists who have gotten it wrong so often over the past three decades are worried. They have lost credibility as a result of policy failures ranging from wildfire management and sustainable timber harvest to wildlife management to "global warming," which has been embarrassingly restated as "climate change." So now, their policies seem more desperate and obtuse than ever. They are doubling down on their "let it burn" policy position.

The acute depletion of West Coast deer populations is the root of the evolution of catastrophic wildfire and is the result of flawed wildlife management policy by influence-peddling environmentalists. The millions of deer that are no longer grazing in and around our forests and the wildland urban interface results in many millions of tons of unabated annual grasses and brush remaining as potent ground fuels that generate the new breed of abnormally hot wildfires we are now experiencing.

Science Magazine: “By altering the quantity and distribution of fuel supplies, large herbivores can shape the frequency, intensity, and spatial distribution of fires across a landscape. There are even unique interactions among large herbivore populations that can influence fire regimes."

Substituting native-species wild horses from BLM corrals for the depleted deer populations is logical.

The loss of credibility by environmentalists distills down to the one thing they fear most: the loss of grants and donation dollars. But we can never discount the ego factor. When environmentalists, scientists and sometimes politicians are wrong, they never seem to admit it. Not very sporting of them, I say, and it smacks of intellectual dishonesty. Learning from failure is of vital import in any endeavor, but that of course requires first admitting failure. This makes it harder to adopt newer and more effective solutions.

Apparently they miss the value of free, practical solutions like Wild Horse Fire Brigade (#WHFB), which was recently sent to the heads of the BLM and USFS by Congressman Greg Walden. See www.horsetalk.co.nz/2017/12/14/congressman-wild-horse-fire-control-blm-usfs/.

It seems they prefer to support policies that see the forests, wildlife and watersheds burned to a crisp and America's native-species wild horses killed. They offer no viable solutions to any of these problems, only conjecture based on decades of failed forest and wildlife management policy guidance, which is empirically proven as such by the well-documented devastation of our forests.

We know from established science that wild horses can provide extremely valuable benefits in and around forests in both pre-fire ground fuel abatement and post-fire rebuilding of soils: www.myoutdoorbuddy.com/articles/67884913/fire-grazing:-impact-of-wild-horses-vs.-livestock-on-wildfire-regime.php.

It’s unfortunate that environmentalist-scientists require a massive lexicon of Latin terminology and acronyms to discuss and implement their concepts via their white papers, which by design keeps 98 percent of the American public from understanding what they are saying about their ideas, and therefore effectively excluding most Americans and stakeholders from the debate and prevents them from comprehending what is proposed.

Fire prevention and making forests more fire resilient is simple:

Less grass and brush equals less fuel. Less fuel equals less fire. Less fire equals less heat, etc.

Odion, DellaSala and DiPaolo can't seem to comprehend the elegance of simplicity.

Wildfires burned about 10 million acres in 2017 and of that, many millions of acres burned were wilderness and forest lands. That is not sustainable, and resulted from their policy guidance. There are only 107,000 native-species wild horses left in America, and 50,000 of those are in corrals and arguably slated to be killed by one means or another by the BLM. The direct and indirect costs of catastrophic wildfires is growing exponentially. And make no mistake, each of us has to bear these costs.

We are now learning disease from wildfire smoke inhalation is growing, and cardiopulmonary related illnesses are swamping our health services,  and not just during or after the fires. The implications of these issues has long-lasting and very costly effects.

— William E. Simpson II of Yreka, California, is a retired U.S. Merchant Marine officer and the author of more than 200 published works on topics from sailing to forest and wildlife management. He and his wife have lived among and studied wild horses for the past four years in a forested wilderness ecosystem. He grew up on a working livestock ranch in the Applegate Valley. Read a longer version of this opinion at http://healthyforests.org/2018/01/the-local-wildfire-policy-battle-has-begun-lets-save-our-forests-and-much-more/.