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Thirty-mile Fire: Are human lives more important than endangered species?

From: "Steve Frank" <sfrank@thurston.com>
To: <jflatten@fs.fed.us>
Copies to: "Dan Swecker" <wfga@localaccess.com>, <debolt_ri@leg.wa.gov>, "Gary Chandler" <chandler_ga@leg.wa.gov>, "Joyce Mulliken" <mulliken_jo@leg.wa.gov>, "Pam Roach" <roach_pa@leg.wa.gov>, "Sen. Don Benton" <benton_do@leg.wa.gov>, "Senator Harold Hochstatter" <hochstat_ha@leg.wa.gov>, "Sheldon, Sen. Timothy" <sheldon_ti@leg.wa.gov>
Subject: Thirty-mile Fire
Date sent: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 13:00:37 -0700

August 19, 2001

Ms. Flatten,

The statement made by Megan Durham does clarify the law regarding the ESA and emergencies. However, it most certainly does not put my mind at ease. There are many questions that need answering before I will accept that the US Forest Service or NMFS did not delay the water drops. I will list just a few here.

1. Were there representatives from environmental groups present at the fire scene? If so, who were they and why were they there? Did they raise any questions about violating ESA or 4d rules?

2. Did all supervisory personnel dealing with the fire know about the emergency exemptions to the ESA?

3. Ms Durham mentions the ESA exemption, were there any other rules and regulations that might have impeded the water drop, like the 4d rules?

4. Were any employees from the State of Washington present that might have impeded progress because some state environmental regulations?

These and many other questions must be answered and made public before I and many others will be satisfied. You may be assured that many people that have experienced the arrogant and high handed tactics of government bureaucrats will carefully follow this investigation. If the above questions are not answered, the investigation made public (in a timely manner) freedom of information act requests will be submitted. Any hint of a cover up or even a soft-pedal, like one WA State congressman seemed to suggest, will not be tolerated!

Respectfully yours,
Steve Frank
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Statement on the Endangered Species Act and the Thirty-mile Fire:

Megan Durham 202-208-4685

The Department of the Interior deeply regrets the tragic loss of four wild land firefighters on July 10 in Washington State and has an established policy that never puts the Endangered Species Act in front of a response to emergency situations where human lives are at risk.

Within the last 24 hours there have been allegations that requirements under the Endangered Species Act caused delays in responding to the Thirty-mile Fire that resulted in the deaths of these firefighters.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service wishes to clarify that wild land fires represent an emergency under the Endangered Species Act and that in no circumstances is emergency response to be delayed or obstructed because of Endangered Species Act considerations.

US Fish and Wildlife Service policy expressly states, "Under no circumstances should a Service representative obstruct an emergency response decision... Where human life is at stake."

In the case of the Thirty-mile Fire, US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service officials were informed of Forest Service procedures to suppress ongoing fires on July 10 during an interagency briefing on local fires at the Wenatchee/Okanagan National Forest Office in Wenatchee, Washington. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service did not impose any limitations on the effort to fight the Thirty-mile Fire.


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