From the July 2004 Idaho Observer:

Forest Service promotes new view on fires

Retired government spokesbear Smokey used to say, “Only you can prevent forest fires”; new government spokesquirrel says they “just happen”

From the U.S. Forest Service

Recent research shows that 85 to 95 percent of houses burned in wildfires could have been saved with a few simple precautions by the owner.

Just because you live in town doesn't mean your home isn't at risk. Suburban and urban areas were once wildlands and in many places the landscape is still likely to burn under the right conditions.

How forests are managed by federal, state and local agencies has little to do with whether or not private homes burn in wildfires, according to federal wildfire studies.

[Emphasis added in the paragraph above. This is nonsense. Federally prescribed burns are continually getting out of hand and destroy $millions in private property each year. It takes a federal study to say that federal forest management practices do not destroy private property].

About 900 homes burn in wildfires every year.

Reddy Squirrel asks homeowners to plan for fire by creating defensible space within 100 feet of their homes and by building with fire resistant materials.

[Emphasis added in the above paragraph. Because federal forest management practices burn hundreds of thousands of acres each year in the nation's forests, private property owners must now denude their own property in a 100-foot circle around their homes to minimize the likelihood fire will destroy them? We must use special (more expensive, more toxic) materials to build our homes to make them safer from fires probably started by the federal government?]

Creating defensible space doesn't mean leveling the trees around your home. Rather, it means managing flammable vegetation (trimming low limbs from firs and pines), collecting dead vegetation such as pine needles and dry leaves and landscaping with non-flammable plants (such as hardwood trees).

Reddy Squirrel also asks homeowners to build or remodel with non-flammable materials, such as metal or tile roofing. In fact, building with or replacing a shake roof with a non-flammable roofing material is one of the most effective ways of helping your home to survive wildfire.


When we heard about Reddy Squirrel, there was an immediate reaction. The message delivered to the public through Smokey the Bear was for people to be responsible and be aware; the forests belong to all of us, they are a national treasure and good citizens take care of them. Reddy's message is that fires happen and you are powerless to prevent them -- and he's red. (DWH)


USFS info officer cited for tossing lit cigarette butts from car window

by The Payson Roundup

A public information officer for the Tonto National Forest [in Arizona] was cited and released by a Payson police officer Saturday morning for allegedly tossing two lit cigarette butts out of her vehicle.

Paige Rockett, who has been a media liaison for the Forest Service on the Willow Fire, was cited for criminal littering, a misdemeanor offense.

A motorist was behind Rockett and called police when she saw her throw two lit cigarette butts out of her official vehicle while driving from the Houston Mesa Horse Camp to Longhorn Road.

According to the police department log, the reporting party described the vehicle as white, with the words U.S. Forest Service Public Information Officer on the side.

The witness said Rockett threw one cigarette out of her car at Highway 87 and Houston Mesa Road -- and a second in front of Chapman Auto Center.

Following the incident, Rockett left Payson.

Tonto Supervisor Karl Siderits told the [Payson] Roundup that he cannot elaborate because it is a personnel issue.

“Paige is my public affairs officer and one of my key staff people,” Siderits said.

“I was made aware of the situation and I took appropriate action.”

“I am just profoundly embarrassed and sorry,” Rockett said. “It was the most unthinking and careless thing I could have done.”

Rockett said her ashtray, a cup with baking soda, had fallen over on the floor.

“I was in a hurry and I violated the Number 1 safety rule that we are taught,” Rockett said. “I virtually wasn't aware I did it.”

Rockett said it would not be appropriate for her to return to Payson.

“I really feel I have brought shame and dishonor to myself and my agency,” Rockett said. “I want to personally apologize to the people of Payson.

“If citizens worldwide were as caring and protective of their community as the citizens who reported me, this world would be a very different place.”

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