Forest Service Chief sends his Moses letter

And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
Exodus 5:1 KJV

When firefighting resources become stretched thin, struggling to contain dozens of large fires across the United States, the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service usually sends a “Let my People Go” letter to all USFS units. Occasionally it is referred to as the “Moses Letter”, since he reportedly said it a few thousand years ago.

That happened today, August 18, when Chief Tom Tidwell distributed the anticipated letter. An excerpt is below.

…At this time, nearly all firefighting suppression capacity has been committed.  There are over 25,000 interagency firefighters deployed for wildland fire suppression operations nationwide.

I thank you for your continued commitment to furnishing all of the assets and people you can and support your decisions to postpone other priority work to address this critical time.  If your employees are red carded and available, I ask that their first priority be providing assistance for managing wildland fires.  Additional support in the variety of areas that keep firefighting operations running is also needed.  Every employee can do their part during this critical time…

–The 2008 version of the letter.
–The song, Let My People Go, performed by Paul Robeson.
–Various translations of the Bible verse with the phrase.


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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

15 thoughts on “Forest Service Chief sends his Moses letter”

  1. And once again not a word about target relief. Its as if Moses only parts the water where he is standing and the line of 5000 behind him is on its own.

  2. Old Dog – wake up and smell the politics. Given the current extraction mentality of our Congress, the Chief would be damned if he claimed we were going to cut back on timber, range, mining and oil in order to fight fires. Better to ask forgiveness than permission when targets aren’t met because Ma Nature steps in to the picture.

  3. Hello???? obviously it doesn’t matter how many people you throw at these fires when they burn…or money for that matter…change the way we are managing the natural resources!!

  4. Good thing, our managers have been holding people back to cover manpower shortages due to vacancies and understaffing.

  5. Never mind. I received it from a friend that works for another agency in the DOI. We never received anything from ours. Mushroom Syndrome……

  6. Wish I were able…. Instead I’m stuck at home with a bad concussion from hockey this winter. Yall at least enjoy it!!

  7. So prior to the Moses Letters, we were hovering around 28,000 to 29,000 some personnel assigned to fires. Couldn’t quite crack the 30,000 mark. Then shortly after the letters were sent (the NASF also made a similar statement and our state forester issued a similar type of letter), we cracked 30,000 and have been around 32,000 some. So the letters helped???

  8. Immediately close all recreational target shooting on public land. Why, with years of wildfires sourced to target shooting does this fire ignition high risk activity continue? Why is the continued target shooting destruction of natural forest resources allowed? Trees and vegetation shot through, streams, wildlife and environment fouled by non-decomposing toxic trigger trash. Why are target shooters (one of the most destructive public land use activities) not paying a permit fee similar to hiking, fishing, climbing, snowmobiling, Christmas tree cutting, etc.? Why are other public land activity paying users – campers, hikers, fishermen, cyclists, horse back riders, skiers, etc. subjected to the ever increasing life threatening unsafe target shooting incidents? People need to surface and be actively strong on this serious issue. Contact your politicians, document incidents and pressure NFS / BLM management to stop destructive unsafe target shooting that all tax payers are paying for.

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