The U.S. Forest Service is planning to intentionally burn sections of the Linville Gorge Wilderness to reduce fuel loads and prevent more catastrophic fires in the future. If allowed, the burns would occur in four or more separate areas at different times and be repeated every three to five years.Should prescribed burns be conducted in the Linville Gorge Wilderness?YESThe Linville Gorge Wilderness is a unique and magnificent landscape. The fact that it is designated as wilderness means that we are obligated to do what we can to protect its natural character and preserve its unique plant and animal communities. One of the ways we can do that is by reintroducing fire to the Gorge.Linville Gorge is a fire-adapted ecosystem, unique to our region, with several fire-dependent species and plant communities. These plant communities are in decline and two species are federally listed as “threatened”. This means that fire has played a natural role and has shaped the Gorge throughout its history.For the last half century, fire has been kept out of the Gorge and every fire that ignites, whether by careless people or lighting strike, has been put out. Not allowing fires to burn has caused significant damage to the wilderness character and the ecology of the area. Without fire, the gorge has unnaturally built up heavy fuel loads of underbrush, and species that inhabit wetter areas have moved in, outcompeting the more native vegetation characterized by mixed hardwood and pine forests.These fuel loads of underbrush have also left the gorge susceptible to catastrophic wildfires which could devastate human settlements. The intensity of these fires would likely be outside of the natural range causing negative impacts to the forest communities. And, with a changing climate, we are likely to experience extended droughts and warmer temperatures, increasing the risk of catastrophic fire.Prescribed fires are those set intentionally by professionals under strict conditions that allow fire to burn under control. This approach is necessary to reduce heavy fuel loads of underbrush, thereby reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires. By reducing fuel loads, we will be able to allow wild fires to burn naturally without human intervention. This is the best thing for the ecosystem and for wilderness.If we want to protect wilderness character, maintain the integrity of ecosystems, restore threatened species, prevent catastrophic wildfires, and protect local communities, we need to reintroduce and allow fire to once again play its important role in the Linville Gorge.Ben Prater is associate executive director for Wild South.NOThe proposed burning of the Linville Gorge Wilderness is not in the name of preservation. What is going to happen to our aquatic wildlife in the Linville River and its feeder creeks when the loose soil and soot erodes into it? As the Forest Service’s own manual on fire states, “On steep terrain, if post-fire storms deliver large amounts of precipitation, accelerated erosion and runoff can occur, even after a carefully planned prescribed fire.” With the Linville Gorge Wilderness receiving an annual rainfall of 67 inches or more, heavy erosion is sure to happen.What about our hemlock population? It takes hemlocks 450 years to completely mature to good cone production. With most of the old growth already decimated by adelgid infestation, prescribed burns will kill the hemlocks trying to make a recovery—the same trees that the Forest Service spent thousands in taxpayer dollars to protect less than 10 years ago.Exposure to relatively low smoke concentrations over many years can contribute to respiratory problems and cancer. In the name of profit, they are going to endanger our health.Linville Gorge’s rugged terrain – the toughest terrain east of the Rockies – will make it extremely difficult to control fires and will put more firefighters’ lives in jeopardy. Our local businesses stand to lose much needed tourist income. And they are violating the spirit and the letter of the Wilderness Act by manipulating the wilderness with prescribed burns.At the very least, the Forest Service should conduct an environmental impact study, as required by law, before proceeding. The Linville Gorge Wilderness is a world-class gem. There is no bringing it back once destroyed. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.”Phil Phelan recently hiked 160 miles through the Linville Gorge in five days to raise awareness about the proposed prescribed burns.
Lauren reveals how Arsene Wenger convinced him to snub Real Madrid and join Arsenal Wenger helped convinced Lauren to join Arsenal (Picture: Getty)Lauren decided to snub Real Madrid and move to Arsenal at the start of this century, with Arsene Wenger’s ‘warmth’ a factor in his decision.The full-back, who was part of Arsenal’s famous “Invincibles” side met with Real Madrid officials, but was unimpressed with the Spanish giants’ attitude. But after flying to north London to speak with Wenger and former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, he knew he would make the switch to the Premier League instead.‘We met [Juan] Onieva [Real Madrid’s vice-president], but we didn’t reach an agreement, so we got a flight, flew to London, landed, went straight to David Dein’s house. And by the time we left, my mind was made,’ Lauren told The Guardian.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENT‘I didn’t feel any sadness not to be going to Madrid, The way Madrid negotiated back then was way off what it should be. It was like you had to do what they said. “This is how it is, full stop. Because we’re Real Madrid.” ‘And when another club comes along with another attitude, however much you liked Madrid, you go. You join the people who treat you best. Advertisement Metro Sport ReporterWednesday 27 May 2020 3:01 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link210Shares Lauren snubbed Real Madrid (Picture: AFP via Getty)‘Madrid’s attitude was: “If you like it, great. If not, see you.” So, I said: “OK, very good, I’m off to London.” I don’t think they expected it.‘Arsenal offered a better contract and better opportunities for a young player, light years from Madrid’s offer. It was very clear from the start, in the way Dein and Wenger acted. ‘It wasn’t: “Come to the club [offices].” No, it was: “Come to my home, with my family. Join us.” In negotiations normally everyone sits there all serious, in suit and tie, but they were totally different. More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing Arsenal‘Dein’s treatment man-to-man was fantastic. And Wenger’s sitting there with that human warmth, that approachability. It immediately feels different.‘Wenger didn’t say much. He listened. He knew about the football; he knew perfectly what you could do. He wanted to see the person: the character, whether you could handle it. They saw I was mature, I could take that step.’Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more stories like this, check our sport page.MORE: How Jack Wilshere reacted to Arsenal selling Robin van Persie to Manchester UnitedMORE: Jeremie Aliadiere tells Arsenal star to ‘grow up’ after training ground bust-up Advertisement Comment