28 Jul 2008, 2:00pm
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Wash. fire chief killed in California wildfire

By Associated Press and KING Staff, July 28, 2008 [here]

YREKA, Calif. — Flags at fire stations throughout the state are flying at half staff after a prominent fire chief from Washington died Saturday while scouting a Northern California blaze.

Chief Daniel Packer of East Pierce County Fire and Rescue was working as a division supervisor on the 250-acre Panther Fire, part of the Siskiyou Complex of fires covering more than 8.4 square miles.

He was about to assume command of 1,000 firefighters and was surveying the volatile fire scene on Saturday when the wind shifted, killing the veteran firefighter.

Packer’s body has been recovered from the scene, and his colleagues say they’re still waiting to learn more about how and why he died.

“Although there’s always that sense of danger that goes with this job, nobody expects this to happen, certainly not to the chief of the organization. It’s been a devastating situation for everybody,” said East Pierce County Deputy Chief John McDonald.

Packer led a East Pierce department that employed 150 people and was the immediate past president of the Washington Fire Chief’s Association.

In his work with the Chief’s Association, Packer was especially involved in state emergency mobilization and incident management team planning.

Packer formed a wildfire team to respond to blazes in more than 4,500 acres, nearly seven square miles, of undeveloped land in his own jurisdiction, East Pierce County Battalion Chief Russ McCallion said.

“He was a veteran wildland firefighter,” McCallion said. “Dan took that experience and helped develop our own wildland firefighting team.”

The 49-year-old Packer grew up in Montana and began his professional career as bull rider on the rodeo circuit. He eventually switched to firefighting, married, and became the proud father of four daughters, and grandfather of two.

“What really defined him was as a husband and father and grandfather. He talked constantly about his family. His family was the number one priority in his life,” said McDonald.

Packer’s colleagues are taking shifts, spending time with Packer’s widow and family.

Other members of the department have gone to California to learn more about the circumstances of Packer’s death, and to bring his body back to Washington state.

Packer was the second Washington state firefighter to be killed fighting California fires in the past week. On Friday, Port Angeles-based firefighter Andrew Palmer, 18, died after he was hit by a falling tree while battling another Northern California wildfire.

On Sunday, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire expressed her condolence over the deaths of the firefighters in a statement: “I am deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of two Washington state firefighters who were battling wildfires in Northern California. When called, they stepped up to help our neighbors in California. They gave their lives doing the hard, heroic work of protecting the lives of others.”

A fund will be established by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Palmer’s name. The foundation is online at http://wffoundation.org.

28 Jul 2008, 10:37am
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Washington state fire chief killed in Calif. blaze

KOMO News [here]

REDDING, Calif. - A second Washington state firefighter has perished while battling a Northern California wildfire, officials said.

Daniel Packer, chief of East Pierce Fire & Rescue and past president of the Washington Fire Chiefs, was killed Saturday at about 3:30 p.m. while supervising firefighting efforts on the Panther Fire south of Happy Camp in Siskiyou County.

His death was confirmed by Mike Brown, executive director of the Washington State Fire Chiefs, and Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp said the 250-acre fire was preventing crews from recovering the body to make a positive identification. But she said several other firefighters who escaped from the scene identified the victim as Packer, 49, of Lake Tapps.

Russ McCallion, batallion chief with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, said he had been notified that Packer is missing and presumed dead.

“He was overrun by the fire when the wind shifted unexpectedly,” Schaeffer said.

The news comes only a day after 18-year-old Andrew Jackson Palmer, a firefighter with the Olympic National Park, was killed by a falling tree while battling another wildfire in Trinity County.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said she was “deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of two Washington state firefighters who were battling wildfires in Northern California.”

“My heart goes out to the family members and co-workers of Chief Packer and Firefighter Palmer,” Gregoire said. “I ask all Washingtonians to keep the families and fire departments of these brave men in their thoughts and prayers.”

Flags at many fire stations around Washington state were lowered to half staff.

Chief Packer was assigned to assume a supervisory position in the firefighting effort. He is a member of a Washington state-based incident management team that is deployed to major incidents such as large wildfires.

Fire officials said supervising firefighting efforts on the front lines Saturday, and had been scheduled to take command of a large team of up to 1,000 firefighters on Sunday.

A Forest Service investigation team is due to arrive on the Klamath National Forest by Monday, officials said.

The 250-acre Panther Fire was started by a lightning strike Monday night about 15 miles south of Happy Camp and has since burned toward Ukonom Creek and the Klamath River. It is part of the Siskiyou Complex fire near Yreka that has burned more than 50,000 acres and as of Saturday, was 36 percent contained.

The chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Abigail Kimbell, on a visit to Redding on Saturday, praised the courage of firefighters battling California’s unprecedented wildland fires.

Palmer, the first Washington state firefighter to die on the lines, was working his first day on the job when he was hit by a falling tree Friday. He had graduated in June from Port Townsend High School.

Port Townsend High School Athletic Director Scott Ricardo called Palmer a “bright and shining star.”

27 Jul 2008, 1:07pm
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Forest Service burns through its budgets

By Les Blumenthal - Sac Bee, July 27, 2008

WASHINGTON – The Forest Service has struggled for years to pay for fighting fires that last year alone scorched almost 10 million acres, mainly in the West. As fire seasons grow longer and the blazes more intense in forests stressed by global warming, the agency’s funding woes mount.

In fact, the Forest Service has already spent roughly $900 million this year, almost 75 percent of its fire-suppression budget, and the season is just nearing its peak.

Nearly half the Forest Service’s annual budget now is spent on battling wildfires or trying to prevent them. In 1991, 13 percent of its budget was spent on fires.

As the costs have grown, so has the toll on the agency’s other programs. To pay for its fire programs, the Forest Service has raided accounts used for everything from reforestation to fish and wildlife to building campgrounds and trails. In theory, those accounts are expected to be repaid. In practice, it’s not that easy.

“The whole damn thing is imploding,” said Casey Judd, business manager of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, in Inkom, Idaho. The group represents firefighters in five federal agencies.

Every year, Congress provides emergency money to bail out the Forest Service and other federal land management agencies. Over the past 10 years, it has provided $3.9 billion in emergency funding to fight fires. But some on Capitol Hill are getting tired of the Forest Service coming hat-in-hand every year because its budgets fail to adequately reflect firefighting costs.

“The Forest Service would be on its knees except for the money Congress provides,” said Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., who as chairman of the House interior appropriations subcommittee oversees the agency’s budget. “This thing is pretty close to being out of control.” … [more]

25 Jul 2008, 12:59pm
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Wolf pair confirmed in Okanogan County

News Release, WA Dept. Fish and Wildlife, July 23, 2008

OLYMPIA—Two adult animals located and radio-collared last Friday (July 18) in western Okanogan County are wild, gray wolves, genetic tests have confirmed.

One of those animals, an adult male, was later photographed by remote camera in a location where six pups also were photographed.

The finding marks the first documented, resident wolf pack in Washington since the 1930s.

“The re-appearance of a resident wolf pack in Washington is evidence of a functioning ecosystem and good news for those working to preserve the state’s biodiversity,” said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings, Ph.D.

“At the same time, we recognize some residents have concerns about the re-entry of wolves in Washington. This discovery demonstrates the need to continue our efforts to finalize a state wolf conservation and management plan,” Koenings said.

The two wolves, a male and female, were temporarily captured and radio-collared by wolf experts from Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Nez Perce tribe, assisted by biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and U.S. Forest Service. Tissue and hair samples were collected from the two animals and submitted for DNA testing to confirm that the animals were pure wolves.

Preliminary results from additional genetic testing indicate the two wolves likely originated from British Columbia-Alberta populations. More comprehensive testing is currently being conducted to determine more specific information.

Radio tracking collars placed on the wolves allow biologists to monitor the animals’ location and activity.

In a separate effort by Conservation Northwest, a private, non-governmental organization, the radio-collared male wolf was photographed by a remote camera at a location where six pups also were photographed. Conservation Northwest is conducting an on-going, volunteer effort to place remote cameras in various locations in the north Cascades to record wildlife.

The radio-collaring effort followed a July 8 howling survey that brought multiple responses from both adult and juvenile animals, indicating a pack was present in the area. The howling survey was initiated in response to reports of wolf sightings, reports of howling and remote-camera photos of possible wolves.

The gray wolf is federally protected as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A U.S. District Court judge in Montana last Friday over-turned a recent federal action to remove Rocky Mountain gray wolves from the endangered-species list including in the eastern third of Washington state. The wolves found in the Okanogan are well within the remaining federal protection area, under the previous federal de-listing action. Gray wolves also are protected as a state endangered species throughout Washington.

It is illegal to harm or harass a federally protected endangered species. Killing an animal protected under the ESA is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000, one year in jail, or both.

Any wolf activity in Washington will be handled under existing joint federal-state Wolf Response Guidelines. For the response guidelines and more information on gray wolves visit the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/diversty/soc/gray_wolf/ .

WDFW is working with a citizen group to develop a wolf conservation and management plan in anticipation of wolves re-entering Washington from other states or Canada. The draft plan will be subject to scientific peer review later this year and a 90-day public-review process next year. The final plan will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for consideration in 2009.

Anyone wishing to report a possible wolf sighting or activity should call the toll-free wolf reporting hotline at 1-888-584-9038. Those with concerns about possible wolf-caused livestock depredation should call the USDA Wildlife Services in Olympia at (360) 753-9884 or the USFWS in Spokane at (509) 891-6839.

23 Jul 2008, 11:57pm
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Railroad To Pay Forest Service Record $102M Settlement For California Wildfire

by Windsor Genova, All Headline News, July 23, 2008 [here]Los Angeles, CA (AHN) - The Union Pacific Railroad Co. (UPRC) is paying the U.S. Forest Service $102 million to settle the federal agency’s lawsuit seeking damages from the firm for causing a California wildfire in 2000.

District Court Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. announced Tuesday the landmark settlement to the Forest Service covering damage to Plumas and Lassen national forests, lost timber and recreation use, and the cost of firefighting.

The settlement was reached without any admission of liability by the five UPRC workers the agency accused of negligence that caused the wildfire. “We feel our employees did all the right things,” UPRC spokesman Zoe Richmond told LATimes.com.

Richmond said UPRC workers had extinguished the flames on the track they repaired on Aug. 17, 2000, in Plumas National Forest when the fire started.

In the lawsuit, the Forest Service claimed the workers did not follow safety precautions in using power tools, did not use spark shields, and did not clear the track of smoldering bits of metal when they left.

A passing train ignited the metal, causing a blaze that spread across 52,000 acres. It took 2,500 firefghters more than three weeks to extinguish the flames at a cost of $22 million.

Calif. woman attacked by bear expected to recover

By Robert Jablon, AP

A woman mauled by a bear in rural Kern County underwent 10 hours of surgery and was expected to recover, her neighbor said Wednesday.

Allena Hansen, 57, was “lucid, active and probably pretty sore” after undergoing surgery Tuesday for serious cuts to her head and face, said August Dunning, who called her hospital room Tuesday night and spoke to her son. Dunning said he could hear his friend in the background.

“She’s fine. She’s talking,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

At the family’s request, the hospital would not release the woman’s condition or other information, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center spokeswoman Roxanne Moster said Wednesday.

Wildlife trackers using dogs hunted the bear on Wednesday. One tracking hound was slightly injured after midnight in what might have been an attack by the animal, Kevin Brennan, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, said at a news conference in Ontario.

The attack took place in the Piute area, near the little community of Caliente, on scrubland south of Sequoia National Forest about 85 miles north of Los Angles.

The bear was believed to be still in the area because they are “creatures of habit,” Brennan said.

“Right now, there’s a trap set. And we’re just waiting,” Brennan said. “There’s a good chance he’ll come back.”

Capturing the animal could take anywhere from hours to a week, he speculated.

Clothing from the woman was taken for forensic testing to determine if there is fur or other DNA samples from the bear. Brennan said any bear caught in the trap will be killed and its DNA tested to determine if it was the attacker.

Hansen, who has a ranch in the tiny rural community of Twin Oaks, near Caliente, was walking in heavy underbrush on her property Tuesday morning with her dogs when she was attacked, Dunning said.

Her English mastiff may have tried to defend her, Dunning speculated, because it suffered some scratches. An Irish wolfhound was unhurt.

“She had to rely on her dogs and her wits,” Dunning said. “She’s one tough woman.”

Dunning said the attack took place very close to a recent wildfire and speculated that the vast burn area may have pushed the bear into new territory.

“We just had 30,000 acres burn out here and those animals are looking for habitat,” he said.

The bear may have attacked to defend that new territory, he said. … [more]

20 Jul 2008, 12:24pm
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Wildlife biologists kill 14 wolf pups on Alaska Peninsula

Predator Control: Controversial move meant to help caribou.

Anchorage Daily News, July 20th, 2008 [here]

FAIRBANKS — State wildlife biologists killed 14 wolf pups on the Alaska Peninsula as part of a predator control program to help a struggling caribou herd.

Biologists found the 4- to 5-week-old pups when they landed to collect carcasses of adult wolves shot from a helicopter two months ago near Cold Bay, about 600 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Biologists had killed 14 adult wolves, including mothers of the pups.

“As we got on the calving grounds, we took adults, and in the course of taking adults we found there were pups,” said Doug Larsen, director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation, from Juneau.

“The issue then was do we leave the pups to fend for themselves and starve or do we dispatch them,” Larsen said. “Our feeling was that it was most humane to dispatch them.”

Each pup was shot in the head.

“It’s a quick, humane way to kill them,” said area management biologist Lem Butler of King Salmon.

Larsen justified the pup killings to halt a “precipitous decline” in the Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd. The herd has declined from an estimated 4,100 animals to 600 in six years, in large part because wolves prey heavily on newborn calves.

“Nobody likes to go out and kill critters, particularly when they’re young,” Larsen said. “But when you have a specific objective and that’s the way to achieve that objective, sometimes you have to do things that you don’t like.”
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18 Jul 2008, 7:46pm
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District judge restores protections for wolves in Northern Rockies ecosystem

By Matthew Brown, Great Falls Tribune, July 18, 2008 [here]

BILLINGS (AP) — A federal judge in Montana has ordered gray wolves in the Northern Rockies be returned to the endangered species list.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy granted a preliminary injunction Friday, restoring federal protections for the wolves.

The predator was removed from the endangered species list in March, following a decade-long restoration effort. Environmentalists sued to overturn the decision.

Officials in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have been moving forward with plans for public hunts. Molloy’s ruling is expected to derail those plans.

The region has an estimated 2,000 wolves, a population that has been soaring and increasingly preying on livestock.

17 Jul 2008, 6:36pm
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No smoking hot spot

Despite $50 billion spent on global warming since 1990, no actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming

by David Evans, The Australian, July 18, 2008 [here]

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia’s compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.

FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I’ve been following the global warming debate closely for years.

When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.

The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific community were working together and lots of science research jobs were created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet.

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
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17 Jul 2008, 10:24am
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Four men trapped, three burned on Motion fire

by Bill Gabbert, Wildfire Today [here]

Four men wearing camouflage clothing were found in the Motion Fire on the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in northern California after one of them made a call in Spanish to 911. The area was burning vigorously and several strike teams of engines, hand crews, and dozers were staged along roads preparing for a burning operation.

Of the four Hispanic males, three of them had burn injuries. Jose Alcazar Fernandez, 25, was flown to Mercy Medical Center with third degree burns and was later transferred to the UC Davis burn unit. A second adult and a juvenile were transferred by ground ambulance, then treated for first and second degree burns and smoke inhalation and released. The juvenile male was treated and released for minor burns. The treated adult and a fourth adult male were arrested on federal charges of being present in a closed area.

Law enforcement officers determined that the men were Mexican nationals unlawfully present in the United States. They claimed to have been hunting in the park but refused to say where their weapons were. A marijuana cultivation site had been under investigation nearby and fire overhead and suppression personnel had repeatedly been briefed over the previous few days as to the specific location of the site and the probability of armed suspects in the area.

Firefighting can be dangerous, and even more so around marijuana plantations. Be careful out there. The following statement was in an Incident Status Summary from the Soda Complex on July 13:

Armed Law Enforcement officers are needed to mitigate threats against fire crews and provide for safety on the fireline.

“Chopper Chick” is a helicopter pilot who, the last we heard, was assigned to the Mendocino Lightning Complex flying a Sikorsky 58T. She blogged about the marijuana on June 29 [here]:

The first few days I was mostly amazed at how many back yards grow “pot” in their yards. Pot up here is like rose gardens where I live. Every one’s got one. It’s pretty cool to see from above. Most of the dip sights (where I get water from for the bambi bucket) are sources of water for most of these little pot gardens.

For those who don’t know, it’s legal to grow pot with a doctors note up here. It’s all out in the open, fenced in according to law, completely visible to anyone who flies over. …

But she is referring to “legal” pot growing. The illegal growers too often defend their crops with firearms.

16 Jul 2008, 10:45am
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Breeding Wolves Reported in WA State

Outdoor News Bulletin, July 2008 [here]

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists have found strong evidence of a reproducing gray wolf population along the eastern edge of the state’s northern Cascade Mountains, reports the Wildlife Management Institute. On July 8, while conducting howling surveys in Methow Valley, the biologists received responses from numerous juvenile and adult wolves, indicating a breeding pair or a pack. If confirmed, this would mark Washington’s first documented case of a resident gray wolf population since the 1930s, when wolves were extirpated from the state.

“We heard [howling] responses from pups or juveniles first, quickly followed by howling from adults at the same location,” said Scott Fitkin, district wildlife biologist for WDFW. For the last several months, Fitkin and other biologists routinely checked areas in Methow Valley for signs of an established wolf population. This was in response to several reports of individual and multiple wolf sightings by local ranchers and hikers. Located in western Okanogan County, Methow Valley supports the state’s largest migrating deer herd, which, according to Fitkin, provides a more-than-ample prey base for large carnivores.

According to WDFW officials, biologists from the state and U.S. Forest Service are collecting DNA samples and remote camera images of the wolves heard during howling surveys. WDFW also plans to cooperate with federal agencies to capture and radio collar some of the animals to track their movements.

Gray wolf sightings in Washington’s northern Cascade Mountains have been reported since the 1980s. In the early 1990s, state biologists conducting a project to investigate the potential presence of grizzly bears and gray wolves in the state elicited howling responses from single adult animals and, on two occasions, these responses included pup vocalizations. These responses came from the northern portion of the North Cascades, suggesting likely wolf immigration from British Columbia. None of these investigations, however, produced verification of reproducing wolf populations or that the observed wolves were not hybrids; DNA tests for differentiation did not exist at the time.
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16 Jul 2008, 9:33am
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Kern County Fire Copter 408 Rescues Baby (video)

by Ret. Capt. Mike, Firefighter Blog, 07/15/08 [here]

Flash flooding near Lake Isabella in Kern County stranded people on their roofs as water slammed against homes last Sunday, July 13. In the video below the crew of Kern County Fire Department Helicopter 408 hover over a home where a family of three await rescue. The crew successfully rescues a baby before returning for the mother and father.

It’s hard to tell if the flash flooding was exacerbated by the Piute Fire in the Piute Mountains above Lake Isabella.

That same day a mud slide damaged dozens of homes in Independence California. The damage is attributed to a major fire in the hills above the town last year.

See video [here].

12 Jul 2008, 1:27am
Latest Climate News
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What’s Wrong with the Sun? (Nothing According to NASA)

Science@NASA, 07.11.2008 [here]

Stop the presses! The sun is behaving normally.

So says NASA solar physicist David Hathaway. “There have been some reports lately that Solar Minimum is lasting longer than it should. That’s not true. The ongoing lull in sunspot number is well within historic norms for the solar cycle.”

This report, that there’s nothing to report, is newsworthy because of a growing buzz in lay and academic circles that something is wrong with the sun. Sun Goes Longer Than Normal Without Producing Sunspots declared one recent press release. A careful look at the data, however, suggests otherwise.

But first, a status report: “The sun is now near the low point of its 11-year activity cycle,” says Hathaway. “We call this ‘Solar Minimum.’ It is the period of quiet that separates one Solar Max from another.”

During Solar Max, huge sunspots and intense solar flares are a daily occurance [sic]. Auroras appear in Florida. Radiation storms knock out satellites. Radio blackouts frustrate hams. The last such episode took place in the years around 2000-2001.

During Solar Minimum, the opposite occurs. Solar flares are almost non-existant [sic] while whole weeks go by without a single, tiny sunspot to break the monotony of the blank sun. This is what we are experiencing now.

Although minima are a normal aspect of the solar cycle, some observers are questioning the length of the ongoing minimum, now slogging through its 3rd year.

“It does seem like it’s taking a long time,” allows Hathaway, “but I think we’re just forgetting how long a solar minimum can last.” In the early 20th century there were periods of quiet lasting almost twice as long as the current spell. (See the end notes for an example.) Most researchers weren’t even born then.

Hathaway has studied international sunspot counts stretching all the way back to 1749 and he offers these statistics: “The average period of a solar cycle is 131 months with a standard deviation of 14 months. Decaying solar cycle 23 (the one we are experiencing now) has so far lasted 142 months-well within the first standard deviation and thus not at all abnormal. The last available 13-month smoothed sunspot number was 5.70. This is bigger than 12 of the last 23 solar minimum values.”

In summary, “the current minimum is not abnormally low or long.”

The longest minimum on record, the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, lasted an incredible 70 years. Sunspots were rarely observed and the solar cycle seemed to have broken down completely. The period of quiet coincided with the Little Ice Age, a series of extraordinarily bitter winters in Earth’s northern hemisphere. Many researchers are convinced that low solar activity, acting in concert with increased volcanism and possible changes in ocean current patterns, played a role in that 17th century cooling. … [more]

[The stat babble in this article is misleading. The article states "the ongoing lull in sunspot number is well within historic norms for the solar cycle" but historical norms include long lulls such as the Maunder Minimum. The article states the 142 month decaying Solar Cycle 23 is "within a standard deviation." That is a meaningless statistic since non-linear cycle lengths are not normally distributed.

The word "normal" is used in this article with two different meanings. Statistical normal is not the same as common usage normal. The article confuses the two.

Facts: Solar Cycle 24 still overdue by more than a year and solar magnetic activity is low, indicating that Solar Cycle 24, when it does show up, will be very weak. - Ed]

11 Jul 2008, 4:42pm
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Concow resident overcome by fire

(PLUMAS NEWS) The Butte County Sheriffs department has just released information of a fatality from the Camp Fire in the Concow area. [here]

From the Butte County Sheriff
July 11, 2008 11:45 a.m.

The Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the discovery of human remains in the Concow area. The remains were located in an evacuated area after the fires had destroyed the residence.

We are saddened by the loss of one of our community members but hope that providing this information will encourage people in evacuation areas to heed the warnings so that they and their families would be safe.

It is important to keep in mind that evacuation orders are not made lightly and done in the interest of the safety of the people in the area being evacuated.

11 Jul 2008, 12:50am
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House Passes FLAME Act - HR 5541

Imperial Valley News, 09 July 2008 [here]

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Raul M. Grijalva, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, praised the passage of the “Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act” (FLAME Act) (HR. 5541). Rep. Grijalva is an original sponsor with Representative Rahall, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, of the bill, which creates funds for federal agencies at the start of forest fire season.

“As our communities see longer and more intense fire seasons, this bill allows us to be proactive,” stated Grijalva. “Public land managers can have the resources for prevention and protection without destroying their day to day operational budget.”

The FLAME Act aims to prevent future catastrophic, wildland fires from crippling federal land management agency budgets by creating an emergency federal fund dedicated solely to fighting these devastating fires, separate from appropriated agency fire fighting funding. Over the last decade, the rapid increase in destructive forest fires across the United States has caused federal fire suppression costs to skyrocket– dramatically shifting spending priorities at the expense of other important Interior Department and Forest Service programs, especially programs that would reduce the intensity of fires and protect communities.

During hearings held by Chairman Grijalva in his public lands subcommittee, issues were raised such as the growing problem of wildland fire suppression funding the Bush Administration has consistently cut funding for hazardous fuels treatments to prevent wildland fires. The lack of funding for hazardous fuels treatments has resulted in many communities with NEPA-approved hazardous fuels projects not funded or implemented.

“As droughts increase throughout Southern Arizona, we must invest in a program that funds preventative measures,” stated Rep. Grijalva. “We cannot financially or environmentally afford to always be on the defensive when it comes to wildland fires.”

  • For the benefit of the interested general public, W.I.S.E. herein presents news clippings from other media outlets. Please be advised: a posting here does not necessarily constitute or imply W.I.S.E. agreement with or endorsement of any of the content or sources.
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