Monday, January 16, 2006

Fire in Nebraska National Forest

Yesterday a fire was discovered in the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey (about 60 miles northeast of North Platte). The JournalStar reports:
HALSEY -- Windy conditions pushed a fire in the Nebraska National Forest to nearly 10,000 acres, officials said Monday.

Volunteer firefighters from several communities joined federal crews to battle the fire, which was discovered about midday Sunday in the western section of the national forest. Authorities had hoped to call in aerial tankers to assist firefighters, but strong winds have kept the planes on the ground, said incident commander Joe Lowe.
Reportedly, three trees have been destroyed. But seriously, we wish the brave firefighters well in this, and hope there will be no loss of life. We've been to the Halsey forest, as well as the McKelvie National Forest, during our tour of the Forests of the Great American Desert.

It's funny, but it's no joke. Nebraska's Public TV site has this to say about the Halsey forest:
It is an unexpectedly lush green island in the middle of the sandhills of central Nebraska. 90,000 acres of land make up this region of the Nebraska National Forest. 20,000 of those acres are covered with a lot of pine in defiance of nature. These are, after all, sand dunes best suited for dry grass and yucca plants. You can see almost the whole thing from up here at the top of the ranger lookout station. Mack Deveraux is the district ranger for the forest.

"It's just a phenomenal thing," [Deveraux says.] "I'm glad they planted it before we got into a lot of the legality questions that we have today. It would never have been done today if this thing was still sandhills prairie."

Deveraux meant exactly what he said. The entire forest was planted by hand. If it hadn't, there would be no trees here.
Scoll on down on that site and look at the picture captioned "Cattle ranching is another use of National Forest land." Not quite like your forests of the northeast or northwest US, but beautiful in its own way.

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