Saturday, February 11, 2006

I feel so much safer now

I recently found out that the Federal Department of Homeland Security has been doling out money since 2003 to states and state's emergency services to bolster our nation's security. Rural areas, as well as cities and municipalities, were offered available funding to help purchase equipment and pay for training.

In 2003, $750 million was made available for firefighter assistance grants from the '03 Budget to help rural, urban and suburban fire departments better train, prepare and equip themselves. Additional monies have been made available since then, and, our President is planning to have a six percent increase in Homeland Security's budget for 2007.

Sounds like a good idea, right?

I suppose it is good in theory. Fire departments, in particular, are one of the main responders to rescue and confront emergency situations. But that's just in theory.

We're dealing with the government here.

Somehow, the office of Homeland Security sees fit to prepare us from any terrorist threat that may be out there-anywhere and anytime. With emergency services better prepared we can not only impede terrorists from obtaining their destructive goals, but we can better respond to the aftermath of terrorist attacks. Aftermath: like smoldering cow turds.

The rural fire department of Golden Valley, North Dakota (pop. 176) was recently given $4,122 for "continued improvements and capital investments" of their fire department from the Department of Homeland Security. With these funds, the fire department has purchased practical items such as a door lock for the fire hall, a generator, two helmet protectors, and pagers.

One of the items on the recommended list that accompanied the check was binoculars. In theory, the fire department could use these to scan the horizon to look for enemy planes and strange activities taking place, that otherwise could not be readily seen with only the naked eye.

"We aren't going to use them for that though," said a member of Golden Valley's rural fire department. "We got something else we can look at," he added.

It seems that this part of the prairie is prone to wildfires from time to time. Fires that are not kept under control can advance very quickly in the prairie grasses. When there is a strong wind, it is even worse.

When the grass fires are all put out, there is one thing for the firefighters left to do. They climb up on the highest hilltop in view, and they survey the surrounding country with their newly purchased government binoculars to see if there are any stray fires to put out. Many of these fires continue to burn on cow droppings, especially if they are dry, since the grass contents of the poop are similar to those artificial logs a person puts in the fireplace.

"You'd be surprised how long those cow pies can burn," the Golden Valley volunteer informed me. "Sometimes, two, three days later they can fire up another blaze and then we'd just be out there again trying to put it out."


The Junkie said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. We need more bloggers in the heartland so people can come and see that we're not all card carrying militia extremists.

Appreciate your taking the time to stop by A Life on the... and thanks for the invite to your place; I've enjoyed my visit. Small world---my folks are from the Dakotas and they never thought I'd leave LA for the midwest.

I'm afraid to ask what my local fire department (all three volunteers) is doing with their share of the Homeland Security pork barrel, and you surely have given me a new fear for the coming Spring when I plan to burn off the underbrush in my woods...

Anonymous said...

Bet the people in New Orleans could sure use some of those binoculars from Homeland security! They could use them to avoid those Jerks Nagin, Brown, Chertoff...all but the Louisinana governor, who couldn't be seen as she is invisible. AT Last...Non Partisan Incompentence!! Yeh.

Anonymous said...

Our government is protecting us from SMOLDERING COW SHIT!!!!!


Anonymous said...

I live near Fort Worth, Texas. The largest remaining area of the Fort Worth Prairie, about 40,000 acres west and southwest of the city, is being developed for housing subdivisions at an alarming rate. I have written my state senator, Jane Nelson, to ask her to support a Fort Worth Prairie State Park. Dallas has a 1,800 acre state park with several tiny Blackland Prairie remnants, but Fort Worth has no state park. I think it is politically and economically feasible for 2,000 or 3,000 acres of the remaining virgin Fort Worth Prairie to be preserved in a State Park. If you live in Texas, you can help by writing your state senator and state representative to ask for support for a Fort Worth Prairie State Park.

The Fort Worth Prairie once contained 1.3 million acres of tall grass and mixed grass prairie dominated by little bluestem, tall dropseed, side oats grama, Indian grass, big bluestem, and switch grass. Only about 60,000 acres remains, and more than 17,000 acres of this is already beginning development for housing subdivisions. This area once supported large populations of greater prairie chickens and black-tailed prairie dogs. Black-footed ferrets lived here as late as the 1960's. A few bison, elk, and pronghorns also inhabited the area. All of these species are long gone except for a handful of small, widely scattered prairie dog towns. In Fort Worth, two city parks and one county park contain small Fort Worth Prairie remnants, but only one of these is being properly managed to prevent invasion by brush and exotic plants.

Property owners understandably want to make a profit by developing their property, but it sickens me to see the prospect of virtually the entire remaining Fort Worth Prairie succumbing to the bulldozer hundreds of acres at a time. Texas prairie lovers, please help preserve some of the species rich, beautiful rolling hills of the Fort Worth Prairie. Write your elected officials to ask for a Fort Worth Prairie State Park.