15 Mar 2008, 6:59pm
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by admin

Ninth Circuit: Still crazy after all these years

By Dick Little, Paradise Post [here]

Once again, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal has gone off the deep end. They ruled the United States Forest Service should not have allowed expedited logging in the National Forests, although Congress approved the process. (This process calls for “thinning” certain areas by taking only a few trees at a time from a given region).

The three judge panel said the Forest Service failed to, ” properly analyze the rule, causing ‘irreparable injury’ by allowing more than 1.2 million acres of national forest land to be logged and burned each year without studying the ecological impacts.”

The Forest Service told the court they took the actions to provide a secure “fire safe” environment, using a program approved by Congress that allowed selective logging (a process where a small number of trees in a given area are cut to thin the forest land so fire will not spread rapidly). The Forest Service told the court their actions saved thousands of homes in Southern California during last year’s San Diego fires, a statement that fell on deaf ears.

Judges on the “Ninth Circus” have shown a callous disregard for the welfare for the people and critters who reside in forested areas of the west including those of us who live in Paradise. The Ninth Circuit Court is the most overturned one in the nation, and hopefully this decision will be quickly reversed. The suit, filed by the Sierra Club, claims the federal government went beyond what the Environmental Policy Act allowed for cleaning up forest land. The three judge panel ruled the Forest Service failed to properly analyze the rules causing what it termed, “irreparable injury.”

The Forest Service used a “blanket logging rule,” which allows some modest logging without a costly and time consuming environmental impact report. (The logging in question dealt with small areas of less than 100 acres). Simply put, professional foresters decided to put human beings and critters that live in the forests in the front of the line by approving common sense logging practices. An environmental impact report would have required months of arguing and hearings, while the fire danger continued to rise making us all less fire safe.

As the Lake Tahoe Fire has shown, over zealous environmental regulation can do much more damage than common sense approaches such as “thinning” forests. Environmental lawyers too often abuse our court system in their lust to halt all operations designed to enhance forest growth. Their actions do more harm than good to the critters that live in the forests than they help.

In addition, they place the nation’s publicly owned lands in state of severe fire danger. Without selective logging practices (where crews take a limited number of trees allowing the remaining trees more room to grow) we would lose billions of acres of timber to fire, like we did at the turn of the century when the Sierra Club and other environmental groups controlled forest management and we lost a billion acres of timber land. Fires are more easily contained in thinned forests.

Without thinning, millions of critters the Ninth Circuit claims it is protecting with its “out of balance” rulings, would be destroyed by forest fires. The Tahoe fire last year is an excellent example of poor forest management supported by the environmental movement. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency now faces a series of multi-million dollar lawsuits from property owners because of their overzealous requirements (supported by the Sierra Club) which included absurd mandates including halting residents from raking up their pine needles!

Judges on the “Ninth Circus” claimed the Forest Service failed to properly analyze the rule, ” causing irreparable injury: by allowing more than 1.2 million acres of national forest land to be logged and burned without studying the ecological impacts.”

Wrong! The forest service did the right thing. The Sierra Club and their friends on the bench of the Ninth Circuit did the wrong thing. We all face a more severe fire danger because of this ruling. The only common sense statement coming out of these proceeding was delivered by Congressman Darrell Issa, who said the court gave greater weight to the concerns of a “special interest group” over those of us threatened by wildfires.

Forest Service Chief Gail Kimball said following the ruling, ” the hazardous fuels treatment were instrumental saving thousands of homes in Southern California during recent wildfires near San Diego and Lake Arrowhead. The court is wrong. This program saves forest land from destruction, not the other way around.”

The forest service used the rule mostly to take care of fewer than 100 acres, where they took out a few trees to lessen fire danger to those that remained. The three judge panel contended more than 1.2 million acres of national forest land was logged, but they omitted the fact only a few trees per acre were removed in limited areas, while implying the whole area was clear cut.

Congressman Darrel Issa rightfully points out, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, was “overzealous, (and) is placing lives and personal property in danger.” He noted the court put the “greater weight” on the concerns of a special interest group than the lives and welfare of the rest of us, including the critters that live in the forest the Sierra Club claims to represent.

The “Ninth Circus” is a prime example of fractured ideology trumping “common sense.”

The present makeup of the Ninth Circuit needs to be replaced with lawyers who can read the law, not invent it! With the emergence of a new Democratic Congress that is in the hip pocket of the Sierra Club and other out of control environmental groups, there’s danger ahead for all of us that live near or in our forest lands.



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