Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Southwest ablaze

Wallow Fire in Arizona and New Mexico

John McCain set off a firestorm recently by blaming out open borders and illegal immigrants on the fires in the southwest.

He has a point. They certainly cannot check into hotels so they do camp and in forests both Arizona and New Mexico have closed because of the very dry conditions. This hurts the economy of locals that depend on tourists this time of year. And this is where are homes are . . . or families and our pets and our friends. We are all on edge and very aware of the restrictions. I, who does not live in the forest but a meadow near its edge, cannot have a barbeque in my yard even or celebrate the 4th with fireworks.

We are all living in terror of illegal campers. And they could be US citizens from another state just unable or unwilling to read the signs warning of new camp fires, no smoking, no fireworks. But, Senator McCain is right, there is a higher possibility they are illegal migrants seeking to stay off of main roads and hide in the woods, set signal fires for others to meet them, etc. There is a piece of privately owned property near the national forest that has been used for years as a "gathering place" by the coyotes.

But to be fair it is not just illegals we are angry with. As our governors seek to ban the sale of fireworks as we approach the 4th of July we know the Indians will continue to sell them on their reservations knowing full well that is not where the buyers will set them off. And state officials of New Mexico and Arizona have no standing on reservation lands. But fireworks can be brought across state lines by visitors.

I think it is long past time that we ban fireworks and their use by anyone other than licensed individuals that set off public displays in closely controlled circumstances. Let's ring bells on the 4th of July instead. I have had enough flash, band and boom. We in the southwest are sitting on the front lines of a battle for our forests and the way of life they provide not just here but to the global climate.

Pacheco Fire in Pecos
I have been watching the smoke from the Pacheco Fire go 30,000 feet into the air. It was started by someone that went into a forest that was closed.

Whether an illegal immigrant or not it was someone doing something illegal but it is us and not them that will pay. And if our governor bans the sale of fireworks it is legal vendors that will lose money while the Indians continue to make it.

The 4th of July used to be about all men being created equal.