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Bury power lines to prevent fires

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erry Robinson’s column of July 3, “Cut hundreds of trees or lose them to fire.” A third, and more effective option is never mentioned. Bury all power lines through, or near the forests. This is a proven method of providing utility service and its use in forests is long overdue. All the discussions about clearing vegetation, purchasing wider easements and interagency cooperation are fruitless.
Even with 150-foot easements, a downed power line can ignite weeds and fire can run into the forest under the right conditions. And, as has been demonstrated since the Las Conchas fire, maintenance is very often deferred in agency operating budgets. Trees marked for clearance two years ago were still standing when the Thompson Ridge fire started.
Between Los Alamos and Jemez Springs, miles of power lines are strung through trees with no clearance at all. This is obsolete technology that frequently fails with catastrophic results to forests, firefighters, wildlife and quality of life. Some scientists now believe our forests may never grow back under current climactic conditions. Although no firefighters were lost in the Las Conchas or Thompson Ridge fires, the tragic loss of the Granite Mountain Hotshots must surely remind us of the importance of preventing human-caused fires to the greatest extent possible.


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