*Leslee Stanley sent 2012 letter to Forest Service about citizen safety planning in the event of catastrophic wildfire

Editor’s note:  I became aware of this letter, which was dated February 27th, 2012, at a recent meeting of the Not Without a Fight! Coalition.  It may be noted that trains and cool train tunnels played a key role in saving fleeing Wallace residents from the Great 1910 Fire.  The trains, of course, are now gone.  But what might take their place in the event of a repeat of the Big Burn?  Many citizens of our valley, it will be recalled, are 65 and older, and may lack easy access to car transportation.  I, for one, applaud Leslee for taking the initiative on this crucial issue with her letter.  Commissioner Stanley, incidentally, appears to have sent the letter as a private citizen and not as a member of the Shoshone County Commission.  — Ron

February 27, 2012

Dear Ranger Swick and Forest Management Plan Team:

Wile the Forest Service is charged with the management of all aspects of our national forests, I believe the Forest Service has lost focus on what their main purpos is; that of protecting the citizens from wild fire.  That is not to say the Forest Service does not do a good job of fighting fire.  Quite the contrary, I believe the Forest Service does an outstanding job of reacting to fires.  Whey they are negligent is in the preparation and planning stages of fighting fires.  I would respectfully request that the Forest Service consider amending the Panhandle National Forest Plan to include the following:

  1. Working with the local communities and appropriate agencies in North Idaho to identify various escape routes for all citizens of the Panhandle National Forest if a fire should occur.  The plan should anticipate fires in the various parts of the forest and coming from alternative directions with alternative escape routes.
  2. Work with the local communities and appropriate agencies to develop access and regress strategies to enable fire fighters to attack fires that threaten communities.  The access and regress strategies should include identified primary and secondary road[s] for access/regress, and support, as well as helicopter access/regress and support/staging areas.  This plan should include the following:
    1. A fire access/regress plan subjec to unlimited resources to identify and improving existing roads OR to construct new roads or heliports to optimize fire attack resources as a “best case scenario”.
    2. An alternative access/regress plan identifying and using existing roads and heliports to optimize fire attack resources as a “second best case scenario”.
    3. Both plans should prioritize roads and heliport sites to best utilize available resources and to budget for the implementation of a fire access/regress plan.
  3. Work with the local communities and appropriate agencies to identify valuable fire fighting resources, including but not limited to, equipment, facilities, and coordination of various agencies to establish appropriate protocols.
  4. Disseminate appropriate and necessary information to the citizens of the Panhandle National Forest on the fire “Evacuation and Attack Plan” designed to save human life and property from catastrophic wild[fire].
  5. The “Wild Fire Evacuation and Attack Plan” designed for the sole purpose of protecting humans and property from wild fire should supersede ESA, Clean Water Act, and all other federal and or state mandates or Acts.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours truly,

Leslee Stanley

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