"saw this article in the Wall Street Journal Opinion Page. Tuesday, July 2, 2002 Greens Go Up in Smoke Will sensible forest policies rise from the ashes? Fires continue to roar through the West, aided by drought and allegedly in some cases by arson. But as the damage stretches into a million acres and billions of dollars, other culprits are coming in focus--especially the high-powered environmental groups that have dominated U.S. forest policy for at least a decade. "The policies that are coming from the East Coast, that are coming from the environmentalists, that say we don't need to log, we don't need to thin our forests are absolutely ridiculous," Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull said recently. "Nobody on the East Coast knows how to manage these fires and I for one have had it." Her frustration is shared by many Westerners, who have now seen far too closely the consequences of environmentalist policy. If there's been any benefit to these awful fires, it's the education they're providing to suburban voters. Their anger is spilling over into this year's election campaigns, and is causing the greens to deny their own handiwork. As Colorado Governor Bill Owens told us recently regarding the need for more forest management: "The debate is largely over." What the fires have exposed is just how extreme even today's "mainstream" environmental activists have become. Once upon a time the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society were concerned with the wise human stewardship of natural resources and wilderness. But in recent decades a view has taken hold among these groups that often sees human beings as the scourge of pristine Mother Earth. This no-human philosophy lies behind the Big Green litigation and lobbying that opposed the very thinning and road-building that would clean up forests to protect them from fire. The result is that this fire year is now shaping up as the worst on record: Some 2.7 million acres have already burned, nearly three times the average acreage for this time of year. All of this has put the leading environmental groups, accustomed to a free media ride, on the defensive for the first time in decades. The Sierra Club's Carl Pope has called any criticism a "disturbing display of cynical politics," which is of course a way of changing the subject. Governor Hull, by the way, is term limited and not running for re-election. But for the most part, the Big Green groups have been retreating faster than the Italian Africacorps. After these columns recently pointed out the "Fires Are Good" headline on the National Wildlife Federation Web site, we went back to the site for another look, but the words had ysteriously disappeared. The Sierra Club, which used to praise the uses of fire, now has a "guide" for homeowners to protect themselves from fire. But none of this absolves the groups from their previous agitation. Only last summer, for instance, residents of the Black Hills in South Dakota met with the U.S. Forest Service to discuss protecting their homes from fire. The contribution at the time from Brad Brademeyer, a local Sierra Club official, was that "If [people]don't want to live with the forest or be with the forest, then they should move." Then there's the "science" the groups continue to ply on their Web sites to justify opposition to forest management. The Sierra Club says that "the only real environmental damage associated with forest fires comes from human attempts to extinguish and prevent them." The Center for Biological Diversity and the National Forest Protection Alliance inform us, counter-intuitively to say the least, that logging is responsible for the fires. And the National Wildlife Federation says that "In fact, many animals and plants not only survive, but thrive, after fire." They don't manage to explain how thinning "destroys habitat," while burning it down in its entirety makes animals "thrive." Clinton-era Forest Chief Mike Dombeck recently sent us a letter objecting to our editorial on this subject, but in the process he made our very point. His letter said forest management would lead to "intensely managed industrial forest plantations," as if this was the only alternative to catastrophic fire. Mr. Dombeck spent his time at the Forest Service insisting he was a moderate, but his letter shows otherwise. Even worse are the continuing appeals and litigation. Environmental groups swamp the Forest Service and other agencies with appeals and lawsuits each year, in an attempt to block even modest cleanup efforts. Readers can visit the Forest Service site <http://www.fs.fed.us/forests> to see for themselves. Last week, Mark Rey, Undersecretary of Natural Resources and Environment at the Agriculture Department, requested that the Forest Service conduct a detailed report of the environmental groups' role in big fires. It will look not just at the legal appeals, but also at the money and time the Service spends attempting to guard its plans from legal action in the first place. Based on their track record, the people who should pay for that study are the environmental groups that created the problem."