Been a tough week—–all those tornadoes and the death toll in the South.  The idiocy and racial bigotry of “the donald”.  But the worst is the stupidity of our armed forces.

As I sit at my computer and look out on the beautiful vista posed by the pecan trees blooming and the Organ Mountains, the normal feeling of gratitude is replaced by a bitter gall rising in my stomach.  For there is smoke rising from the Soledad Canyon area in the Organs.  A totally preventable fire reputed to have been caused by a “live fire” exercise at Fort Bliss.  While technically in El Paso, this fort’s boundaries extend north and join with the perimeter of the White Sands Missile Range.  The blaze has been christened “the Abrams fire” after the tank of the same name.

Best I can figure, the army not being the most forth-coming of institutions, a “live fire” exercise was scheduled and, regardless of environmental conditions, carried out in the northern areas of Fort Bliss.  It is believed some spark from either the tank itself or a piece of its ordnance set off a brush fire.  Given the dry conditions here, the blaze quickly became an inferno, coming within two miles of the WSMR headquarters and climbing the east side of the Organs.  About Tuesday this past week it crested the mountain range and became very visible from Las Cruces.  Such an eerie orange light glowing from the canyon near the pipe-organ-like peaks that give the range its name.

So accidents happen, oh well………but not so fast!!!!  We are experiencing one of the worst droughts in history at present.  The Las Cruces area has experienced .04 inches of precipitation in calendar 2011.  That’s no typo–I mean 4/100 of an inch of moisture from the sky.  Farmers are screaming they will lose crops because the irrigation board has cut allotments from the system of “ditches” that are used to distribute the water from the Rio Grande to the local farms and orchards.  The lack of precipitation headlines many of the weather forecasts.  This is a serious and well-publicized problem here in the high desert.  I can only assume that the officer who sanctioned this exercise either just transferred from Pluto or that he is a total fool.  I tend toward the latter description.  Such uncaring and unconscionable disregard for the damage that was caused to the environment deserves nothing less than a dishonorable discharge for whomever the officer is.

Now forest fires are nature’s way of re-invigorating certain environments.  Remember the Yellowstone fires a few years ago.  But the “Abrams fire” is a disaster caused by the foolishness of the people average Americans count on for protection!!!!  With the kind of decision-making that enabled this conflagration, a re-assessment of the military’s processes would be in order.  As for those who might think there’s no great loss to a few thousand acres of desert and mountain burning—go read your biology and animal science texts.  The high desert is home to roadrunners, quail, rabbits, rodents, lizards;  the Organs home to bobcats and mountain lions.  A wonderful diversity of flora and fauna!!

So after cheering yourself up with the reruns of Kate and William’s nuptials, please think about Randy and Romilda Rattler and where they can seek shelter from the inferno destroying their families and homes.  And I’ll keep watch out my window for the day, hopefully very soon, when those Organs are again a vista seemingly untouched by the human despoilers.

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