Oct. 3-9 is Fire Prevention Week. With this year’s frequent fires, Smokey Bear must be exhausted. If he visits the Ft. Berthold Reservation, his oversized head will be clutched in his great paws, uncertain if smoke is a wildfire or an oil well’s towering flare.

According to Lynn Helms’ Director’s Cut, fee land on the reservation has not met the 91% gas capture goal for the last six months reported. The last two reports show only 78% captured each month. If you’ve witnessed the massive waste in this area, the numbers aren’t surprising.

Instead of the original words to the “Smokey the Bear” chorus, here we can sing:

“Smoky the flare, smoky the flare;

Howlin’ and a-growlin’ and pollutin’ the air;

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You can spot a well site from many miles away;

As waste of gas continues;

Ev’ry hour of ev’ry day.”

This year is the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In 1911, Fire Prevention Day (Oct. 9) was started to commemorate the fire and was later expanded to Fire Prevention Week.

President Coolidge proclaimed National Fire Prevention Week in 1925. Because fires caused huge losses of lives and property, Coolidge’s proclamation included: “This waste results from the conditions which justify a sense of shame and horror; for the greater part of it could and ought to be prevented” and “It is highly desirable that every effort be made to reform the conditions which have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth.”

These are appropriate statements for flaring, as well.

No drilling permits should be approved for this area until the appalling waste of this valuable finite natural resource is controlled, which the N.D. Industrial Commission has the power, and the responsibility, to do. It should’ve never gotten this bad and should be stopped.

Shelly Ventsch, New Town, N.D.