Criminalizing solutions — Western Wildfires edition



We've been banging the drum about Western wildfires for at least a couple of years now. The inactivity has been frustrating to watch, but this story out of Oregon takes things to the level of infuriating.

 Forest Service employee's arrest after fire crosses onto private land sparks larger debate
TONY CHIOTTI Blue Mountain Eagle

When Rick Snodgrass approached Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley, he thought the sheriff was there to help him.

According to Snodgrass, he’d called for law enforcement to help control aggressive traffic and to deal with harassment his crews had been receiving while implementing a prescribed burn on the Malheur National Forest in Bear Valley, about 7 miles north of Seneca.

That burn — called the Starr 6 — had since jumped the fireline, and now there was active fire on both sides of County Road 63, where Snodgrass and McKinley met: the prescribed burn operation on Malheur National Forest land to the north of the road — now flaring up in gusts of wind — and an uncontained slopover on private land to the south. The crews under Snodgrass’ direction were now attempting to quell one fire while holding the reins on another, with tempers, smoke, wind and now traffic adding to the dangers to his crew.

But instead of assistance, what Snodgrass got was arrested.

When the sheriff cuffed Snodgrass, it is thought to be the first time a U.S. Forest Service firefighter has been arrested in the course of performing their job.

Snodgrass, (Read more...)