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Last week I ran down I-65 from Louisville to Nashville; for most of the 100 miles in Kentucky the shoulder of the road was an almost continuous wall of treetops that had been cut back just enough to clear the road.

On Saturday I ran down I-57 through southern Illinois to I-55 in Missouri, then south almost to the Arkansas state line, and for the last 40 miles in Illinois, and all of Missouri, practically every tree that wasn't completely broken off had lost many or most of their limbs.

I haven't been through Arkansas since the ice storm but understand that a large part of it was equally hard hit.

Everybody who cares knows the difficulties still being experienced by folks in parts of Arkansas and Kentucky, but I wonder how many have given thought to what is to come. An area that measures over 100 miles north/south by 300 or 400 (or a bit more?) east to west, all wooded terrain, is right now knee-deep in tree limbs and broken trees. All of it that is in somebody's yard, or along a roadside, will be cleaned up as soon as folks can get to it. But...

An area in the middle of the Country, something over 30,000 square miles, given six months or so to dry, will be covered in fuel. This is mostly mixed hardwood forest which rarely experiences anything more than "ground" fires that burn the fallen leaves and some brush. By about July, or maybe August, the conditions will be nearly ideal for huge, devastating fires across the middle of the Country, and I don't know of a damned thing anybody can do about it. If the "Economic Stimulus" Bill had funding for 10,000 people with chainsaws and pickups for the next six months they couldn't make more than a good dent in it.

Just another installment in my series about good news.

Originally posted to The Baculum King on Sat Feb 07, 2009 at 11:13 PM PST.

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