A reader of this blog is right now doing the dangerous, punishing, vital work of fighting wildfires in one of the many blazing western states. Hats off to him, big time.
He sent me this:
It’s an oregano farm, so he swears. 🙂 And far from the only one they’ve come across. In fact, these grows turn out to be a mainstay of this particular area’s economy. And not with government approval.
Curious, I asked whether fire crews were being ordered to destroy the illegal “oregano,” report it, or let it be. He responded:
I knew I wasn’t going to monkey with anyone’s private property, and would have dodged the mission if that had been written in as part of it. We are here to protect it, otherwise nature would be allowed to run her course. She will eventually anyways, just not this season.
This whole region is a tinderbox waiting to erupt, and the drought has made things considerably worse. To my uneducated eyes things look the same as always in the timberline, but at their core and roots, the trees are suffering mightily. Or so I’ve been told by those in the know.
Once boots were on the ground and the nature of the local economy became apparent, I too was curious about how things would be handled, so I asked our handler/trainer/liaison (who is a REAL wilderness firefighter with 20 years of experience). His response was along the lines of, “If we were [in an area whose economy wasn’t so dependent on the crop], yeah, I’d probably report them. Or if it was a meth lab or something. But this? Here? Nah.”
The backwoods property owners have mixed emotions about our presence and are shadowing our movements (sometimes openly armed). The “townspeople” (all four hundred of them) are happy. That said, there are at least three fed LEO agencies here with us, but none of them are in enough force to logistically do anything. I suspect they were sent by their higher ups primarily to be seen by each other. Organizational phallic displays and measuring.
Despite the feds and their wars on everything, a ray of goodness penetrates this dark, smoky, perilous summer.