September 12, 2017


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

While much of the nation’s attention has been focused on Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, there seems to be very little national media attention being given to the horrific fires that have already consumed nearly half a million acres of forest in Montana.
Granted, hurricanes are big news. They have the potential to wreak billions of dollars worth of damage when they come ashore in population centers. And both Harvey and Irma did just that as they made landfall in two of this nation’s most populated regions.
Big news draws the big media. For the past several weeks, ever since Hurricane Harvey was reported approaching the Texas coast, Americans have been fed a steady diet of hurricane updates. And one would expect the national media to be extensively covering the two storms that are impacting the lives of millions of Americans who live in low lying coastal regions along this country’s seaboard.
But at the same time, most people in the nation seem completely unaware that some of the most pristine areas in Montana are being destroyed by forest fires. Nor are they aware that the homes and lives of those people living in and near these fires are being impacted to the same extent as are those of the people who are being impacted by the hurricanes.
I doubt that many people in western North Dakota even realize that forest fires are burning uncontrolled across Montana. They may wonder why our skies are so hazy and there is the smell of smoke in the air. But if they had to rely on what is being reported by the national news media, they wouldn’t know how much forest land has been destroyed.
We are now seeing television announcements from professional athletes and others making pleas for Americans to come to the aid of the hurricane victims. Without a doubt the people who have had their lives turned upside down by these two hurricanes deserve this nation’s attention and its help. But so do the victims of the forest fires that are ravaging Montana or from other natural disasters.