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July 20, 2006



Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here, Sarpy Sam. I am a big fan of what you write about ranching in Montana.

Cheat grass was a significant factor in the infamous Mann Gulch fire in Montana that overran 16 smoke jumpers in 1949. The blowup on that fire was not just the result of topography and weather conditions, but the availability of extremely flamable fuel in the form of hillsides covered in dry, cured cheat grass and other flashy fuels. A fire in those conditions runs upslope with devastating speed, and only two men made it over the crest before the flames. There is a gripping book about Mann Gulch and its aftermath by Norman Maclean called Young Men and Fire which I highly recommend, and this link http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/int_gtr299/ will take you to a USDA publication analyzing the factors that contributed to this tragedy and determined who survived and who did not.

Sarpy Sam

I hadn't caught the opinion piece but what you say is so true. If you are not going to let people build in fire prone areas they shouldn't be allowed to build in Hurricane prone areas. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

You point out cheat grass as part of the problem. I know that is most of the problem with the fires in this area. The Bundy fire and Pine Ridge fire are both in an area where the cheat grass was extremely bad this year. It didn't even cure like normal, it just "burned" in the heat so when the fire came along it was like gasoline. Boy that stuff burns and causes problems.

There is also a little thing called private property and property rights. How do you ban people from building on land they own?

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