Monday, February 02, 2004

No Tree Left Behind 

"What Isn't There Can't Burn" is New Forest Service Program's Premise

SAN FRANCISCO, California (Ant Farmer's Almanac Newswire) — Citing the fire risk that trees present to America's forests, the Bush administration unveiled its "No Tree Left Behind" program that will quadruple the acreage of timberland in California's Sierra Nevadas available for commercial logging, thereby, it is claimed, greatly reducing the danger of forest fires.

"Just look at your average forest," said Paul Bunyan (no relation), the US Forest Service's newly appointed NTLB Commissioner, announcing the program at a press event held in the redwood grove at the Transamerica Pyramid building in San Francisco. "They're chock full of trees — and trees are made of wood and wood can burn. These places are just fires waiting to happen," he continued, "No trees, no fires. It's just that simple,"

Bunyan, who was hand-picked by president Bush to oversee the program's implementation, continued, "We've brought back an old friend to help get the word out," he said, pulling back a curtain to reveal a larger-than-life poster of long-time fire fighting icon Smokey the Bear. The updated spokesbear still sports his trademark ranger hat but now also wears a lumberjack-style plaid shirt, safety goggles, work gloves and is pictured holding a chain saw. Smokey's new catch-phrase is "Remember — Only Logging Can Prevent Forest Fires."

Asked by a reporter whether a "Destroy the forest in order to save it from fire" approach isn't kind of, well, crazy, Bunyan turned to different reporter and asked, "You, there, didn't you have a question about how this will impact on snowmobilers?" That reporter, surprised by the question, responded, "Snowmobilers? What?"

"Good question," said Bunyan, "Snowmobilers and ATV riders will now face fewer obstacles while enjoying their constitutionally protected right to pursue fossil-fuel propelled recreational activities. Without those dangerous — and highly flammable — trees in their way, we expect the incidents of accident and injury to the nation's snowmobilers to drop significantly, no matter how drunk they get. This will save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in medical treatment and snowmobile repair."

Asked if the safety of skiers, snowboarders and hikers had also been taken into account, Bunyan replied, "Uh, yeah, sure, them, too," adding after a short pause, "And hikers won't get lost because they, eh, they'll be able to see farther without trees blocking their view . . . or is it further? Either way, not being able to see the forest for the trees is a non-issue. From now on, they'll be able to see the forest just fine."

When president Bush was queried about the initiative, he also focused on the program's collateral benefits, namely that it would clear up once and for all the zen riddle about a whether a tree falling in the forest makes any sound. "This one's bothered me for years," admitted a pensive Mr. Bush, "But now, ya see, without any trees there definitely won't be any sound. We've gone right to the root of the problem . . . hey, I made kind of a joke, right there, heh, heh. 'Root', get it? I was trying to come up with one about 'bark' earlier and this one about the root just sorta popped up," the president chuckled, then continued, "I gotta tell Rummy that one. He likes jokes."

"Obviously," said a White House official, afterward, speaking on condition of anonymity, "The Clinton administration's permissive, liberal, hands-off policy of just letting trees grow unchecked created vast tracts of thick, lush woodlands — absolute firetraps — and that approach is squarely to blame for the terrible fires California experienced last summer," he continued, "We think it was Hillary's idea, actually. She must really hate California."

When told about the program and the logic behind it, Nguyen Ky, 57, owner of a convenience store near the Sierra Nevada ski resort town of Mammoth, and a survivor of the South Vietnamese village that the U.S. Army had "destroyed in order to save," back in 1968, said, "Oh, shit, not again," and began packing.

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