LETTER TO THE EDITOR — On the evening of July 15, after a stressful 24 hours shared with our neighbors, my wife and I sat in our living room reflecting on events of the day.
As we did so, we looked northward into the dramatically changed Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. We observed a helicopter — not far from our home — vigilantly and repeatedly replenish a cable-dangling water bucket, presumably from a swimming pool volunteered by one of our generous neighbors, in an effort to suppress an intense, aggressively moving and wind-enhanced wildfire.
Throughout the day, we watched this and at least one other helicopter repeat this activity more times than we could count. Similarly, we witnessed multiple airplanes make multiple passes throughout the Reserve and NCA to unleash water and deep orange fire retardant, an all-out effort to quell the fire to protect life, property and natural beauty! Wow!
Hence, this evening, as we expressed gratitude and relief to each other, we thought it most appropriate to especially express gratitude to those most deserving and to also share what we took away as lessons learned. This letter to the editor seems a most appropriate way to do this.
Lesson 1: Be grateful for well-trained, properly equipped and passionately concerned emergency response personnel! We are! At a time when many of this country’s first-responders are being vilified with unjustifiable disdain and contempt, we stand ever grateful to the men and women who competently responded to the threat on life and property! Thank you!
After being alerted by a neighbor of a fire in the reserve west of us, we stepped outside and were pleasantly greeted by two young, cordial, attentive and appropriately concerned firemen who — as a cautionary measure — parked their Washington City fire engine on the perimeter of the reserve a mere 150 feet from our home. Knowing they and other first-responders were on watch throughout the night gave my wife and I a level of assurance before retiring.
Lesson 2: Accept that some people do not clearly think through the ramifications of their actions. Unfortunate as it is, too often we learn of, or are the victims of, people whose behaviors are thoughtless, reckless and/or clueless. That is apparently the case behind the ignition of last night’s fire.
As reported earlier by St. George News: “Three teenage boys who were seen driving a white sedan on Cottonwood Road” had been igniting fireworks. Albert Einstein once said, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
Lesson 3: Mother Nature is in control of the elements and she has the power to create the environment for a perfect storm. To wit, the recent conditions were exquisitely aligned for aggressive wildfires, extreme heat, powerfully sustained winds and plenty of tinder-dry fuel.
Lesson 4: And finally, as we have learned today, the Red Cliffs NCA and Desert Reserve are very fragile environments. Vegetation will inevitably reconstitute, and desert life eventually return (hopefully, especially the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise). But as we have learned from this fire, these environments need our continued protection!
Though we cannot entirely eliminate risks associated with reckless people or the unpredictability of Mother Nature inside the NCA, we can mitigate those risks. For this reason, and as part of this final lesson learned, our desire is that the residents of Washington County voice their strong opposition with the U.S. Department of the Interior (Bureau of Land Management and Fish & Wildlife Service) to all Red Cliffs NCA alternatives surrounding the proposed Northern Corridor.
Let us learn from our experiences over these last few hours and not subject the NCA to further risks by routing the Northern Corridor highway through the NCA. There are better alternatives. Comments must be submitted by Sept. 10, 2020, by 11:59 p.m. For additional information, please visit the BLM website.
Submitted by TOM & PAM NEAD, Washington City.
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