7 Mar 2009, 7:41pm
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2008 log exports from the West Coast increase

Pacific Northwest Research Station - Newsroom 03/02/2009 [here]

Portland, Oregon - A total of 776.3 million board feet of softwood logs was exported from Washington and Oregon in 2008. “This volume was up 15.4 percent from 673.0 million board feet in 2007,” says Debra Warren, an economist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service. “During this same time period, Oregon and Washington imported 171.4 million board feet of softwood logs.”

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7 Mar 2009, 7:37pm
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2008 Oregon and Washington lumber exports increase

Pacific Northwest Research Station - Newsroom 03/02/2009 [here]

Portland, Oregon - A total of 293.0 million board feet of softwood lumber was exported from Oregon and Washington in 2008. “The volume was up 26.6 percent from the 2007 total of 231.4 million board feet,” says Debra Warren, an economist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service. “During this same time period, Oregon and Washington imported 1.7 billion board feet of softwood lumber, mostly from Canada.”

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7 Mar 2009, 7:31pm
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Obama suspends ESA Consultation Regulation Changes

Federal Register: March 6, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 43)

Memorandum of March 3, 2009

The Endangered Species Act

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., reflects one of the Nation’s profound commitments. Pursuant to that Act, the Federal Government has long required a process of broad interagency consultation to ensure the application of scientific and technical expertise to decisions that may affect threatened or endangered species. Under that interagency process, executive departments and agencies (agencies) contemplating an action that may affect endangered or threatened species have long been required, except in certain limited circumstances, to consult with, and in some circumstances obtain the prior written concurrence of, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) — the expert agencies that have the primary responsibility to ensure that the ESA is implemented in accordance with the law.

On December 16, 2008, the Departments of the Interior and Commerce issued a joint regulation that modified these longstanding requirements. See 73 Fed. Reg. 76272. This new regulation expands the circumstances in which an agency may determine not to consult with, or obtain the written concurrence of, the FWS or NMFS prior to undertaking an action that may affect threatened or endangered species. But under the new regulation, agencies may continue the previous practice of consulting with, and obtaining the written concurrence of, the FWS and NMFS as a matter of discretion.

I hereby request the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to review the regulation issued on December 16, 2008, and to determine whether to undertake new rulemaking procedures with respect to consultative and concurrence processes that will promote the purposes of the ESA.

Until such review is completed, I request the heads of all agencies to exercise their discretion, under the new regulation, to follow the prior longstanding consultation and concurrence practices involving the FWS and NMFS.

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7 Mar 2009, 7:24pm
Latest Fire News
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Oyler guilty on murder charges

Riverside Press-Enterprise, March 6, 2009 [here]

Raymond Lee Oyler was convicted today of the arson murder of five U.S. Forest Service firefighters and with setting the October 2006 Esperanza Fire that took their lives.

Oyler, 38, now faces the death penalty.

Families of firefighters hugged each other, held hands and cried in the courtroom of Riverside County Superior Court Judge W. Charles Morgan as clerk Gina Gurrola read the first five verdicts — a “guilty” for the murder of each the firefighters.

Oyler’s family also cried. He showed no emotion at the counsel table as the verdicts were read.

The same eight-woman, four-man panel who found Oyler guilty of 42 of the 45 charges he faced will hear evidence beginning next Tuesday in the penalty phase of the trial

“We are obviously satisfied with the verdicts and that the jury was able to sort through the evidence,” District Attorney Rod Pacheco said. “A substantial amount of justice has occurred, and I hope that this provides a small measure of consolation to the families of the victims.”

Jurors could not reach verdicts on three small fires set with matches. Morgan declared a mistrial for those.

The jurors convicted Oyler of every fire that was set with a device — a combination of a single cigarette and matches that Deputy District Attorney Michael Hestrin argued during the trial was a trademark of the arsonist.

Defense attorney Mark McDonald declined comment as he left the courthouse.

Note: see also Special Section: Esperanza Fire [here] for more information and details about the people whose lives were taken by this arsonist/murderer.

6 Mar 2009, 7:25pm
Latest Climate News
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Realization Sets In: Cap and Trade Not About Climate

The Climate Change Lobby Has Regrets
Cap and trade is going to cost them.

By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL, Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2009 [here]

Jim Rogers is not happy with the Obama administration. Ever since the White House unveiled its costly climate program, the CEO of Duke Energy has been arguing the proposals amount to nothing more than a tax. Indeed.

Mr. Rogers belongs to the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, about 30 companies that decided they were going to dance with the U.S. government to the tune of global warming legislation. The group demanded a “cap-and-trade” system, figuring they’d craft the rules so as to obtain regulatory certainty, with little upfront cost. At the time, Mr. Rogers explained: “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’ll wind up on the menu.”

Duke sat, yet it and its compatriots are still shaping up to be Washington’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Obama plan will cost plenty, upfront, which will be borne by Mr. Rogers’s customers. The Duke CEO tells me that he still sees opportunity to change the proposal: “This is not my first rodeo, in terms of working with the legislative process.” There nonetheless may be a lesson here for companies that invite the U.S. government to saddle them with huge, expensive regulations.

“People are learning,” says William Kovacs, vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which has been cautious about embracing a climate plan). “The Obama budget did more to help us consolidate and coalesce the business community than anything we could have done. It’s opened eyes to the fact that this is about a social welfare transfer system, not about climate.” … [more]

6 Mar 2009, 1:24am
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Climate Science

by Richard Lindzen, reposted at EcoWorld, October 30th, 2008 [here]

Has global warming alarm become the goal rather than the result of scientific research? Is climate science really designed to answer questions?

In this recently presented paper by Dr. Richard Lindzen, published [here] in its entirety, he describes the origins of global warming alarm, the political agenda of the alarmists, their intimidation tactics, and the reasons for their success. Also, in painstaking detail, he debunks their key scientific claims and counterclaims. Dr. Lindzen is not alone - he is one of the prominent members of what has become thousands of reputable scientists who are coming forward to dispute the theory that anthropogenic CO2 is the prevailing threat to global climate. Anyone who firmly believes anthropogenic CO2 emissions must be dramatically reduced in order to protect our planet should read this paper by Dr. Lindzen, and other work by reputable skeptics. There is simply too much at stake, and too many sweeping political changes being justified because of CO2 alarm, for any responsible activist or policymaker, media influencer or ordinary voter, to not take a second look. …

6 Mar 2009, 1:20am
Latest Forest News
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For sale soon: Beetle-killed trees

Forest officials trying to find out if there is really a market

By LEE JUILLERAT, Klamath Falls Herald and News, March 4, 2009 [here]

What do you do with thousands of acres of dead and dying trees with a low commercial value?

Fremont-Winema National Forest officials say people are interested — from individual and commercial firewood cutters to industrial loggers who want to create chips for pulp or hardboard manufacture.

“Most likely we’re going to offer some large sales and find ways to satisfy small commercial cutters,” said Kevin Moore, the forests’ timber program manager.

Moore said questionnaires were sent to more than 500 potential purchasers to determine market interest and demand for dead and dying trees. The die-off was created by a mountain pine beetle epidemic on 330,000 acres of forestlands in Lake and Klamath counties. About 220,000 acres are on national forest land with the rest on adjacent private timberlands. …

About 7,000 total acres of trees will be cut or thinned, following environmental approvals. Green trees also will be thinned to promote forest health. Moore said the Fremont-Winema annually offers timber sales of 15,000 to 20,000 acres of green, or healthy, trees. … [more]

Federal Judge Affirms Management of Grazing on Lands Burned in Murphy Fires

BLM News Release, March 2, 2009 [here]

A federal district court judge has ruled that actions by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stabilize and rehabilitate public rangelands burned in the 2007 Murphy Complex wildland fires are consistent with all legal requirements and found no need to ban livestock grazing in these areas.

U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued an Order last Thursday expressing confidence in the BLM to modify grazing permits for certain allotments in the Jarbidge Field Office (JFO) to account for the loss of habitat for sensitive species in the 2007 fires “so that the Court does not need … to issue a total ban on grazing.” The Order also concludes that BLM’s environmental studies of its emergency stabilization and rehabilitation plans were in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“We greatly appreciate the Court’s confidence in the BLM’s ability to manage public lands in the Jarbidge Field Office,” said JFO Manager Rick Vander Voet. “We will continue to use our expertise in multiple disciplines to maintain and restore the health of the lands we steward.” The Order acknowledges and defers to the agency’s expertise to determine which lands burned in the Murphy Complex fires should be closed to grazing as well as its decisions related to reseeding and fences.

The Court rejected as “far-fetched” the idea of ordering an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing decisions on fencing, closure, and re-seeding in burned areas while an EIS on the Management Plan for the entire JFO is underway. “[T]he burden would be so great on an already overloaded agency that the task would be impossible to perform. … [O]rdering the BLM to simultaneously prepare two EISs [is] a remedy so unrealistic that it must be rejected.”

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5 Mar 2009, 2:29pm
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“Going Galt” and the Next Tea Party Wave

By Michelle Malkin, March 4, 2009 [here]

Enough. In a word, that is the message of disgusted taxpayers fed up with the confiscatory policies of both parties in Washington. George Bush pre-socialized the economy with billion-dollar bailouts of the financial and auto industries. Barack Obama is pouring billions more down those sinkholes. The camel’s back isn’t just broken. His neck and four legs have all snapped, too.

Enough. Last Friday, thousands of Americans turned out to protest reckless government spending in the pork-laden stimulus package, the earmark-clogged budget bill, the massive mortgage entitlement program, and taxpayer-funded corporate rescues. Contrary to false left-wing blog smears that the hastily-planned impromptu events were “Astro-turfed,” the crowds were packed with first-time grass-roots activists. They were people with families and day jobs whose usual definition of “community organizing” involves neighborhood yard sales or their kids’ soccer matches. They were members of the silent majority who decided to be silent no more.

Enough. These “Tea Party” protests spanned the sunny Santa Monica pier to the icy streets of Chicago and Cleveland to rain-drenched Atlanta, overflowing grounds of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, massive crowds in Greenville, S.C., several hundred each in New York City and Washington, D.C., and all points in between. Like those who demonstrated before them in Seattle, Denver, Mesa, Arizona, and Overland Park, Kansas two weeks ago, the Tea Party participants held homemade signs that said it all: “Your mortgage is not my problem;” “Liberty: All the stimulus we need; “No taxation without deliberation.”

The speed and scope with which they mobilized were due not to nefarious outside conspiracists, but to social networking websites Facebook and Twitter (where a burgeoning network called Top Conservatives on Twitter became the central clearinghouse for information). Planning for a new wave of demonstrations on April 15 has begun at www.taxdayteaparty.com.

Enough. While they take to the streets politically, untold numbers of America’s wealth producers are going on strike financially. Dr. Helen Smith, a Knoxville forensic pathologist and political blogger, dubbed the phenomenon “Going Galt” last fall. It’s a reference to the famed Ayn Rand novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” in which protagonist John Galt leads the entrepreneur class to cease productive activities in order to starve the government of revenue. (Not coincidentally, Rand’s novel sales are up and John Galt references punctuated many of the Tea Party demonstrations.) … [more]

5 Mar 2009, 12:07am
Latest Forest News
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Big court victory for rural property owners

The state Supreme Court has handed a huge victory to rural property owners in King County who fought a part of the Critical Areas Ordinance package that requires them to keep native vegetation on 50 to 65 percent of their land.

By Keith Ervin, Seattle Times, March 4, 2009 [here]

Rural property owners who fought a King County law severely restricting how much land they can clear have won a huge victory.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review an appeals-court decision that struck down the law as an improper tax or fee on development. Chief Justice Gerry Alexander signed an order in which he and four other justices unanimously denied the county’s petition for review of the Court of Appeals ruling.

The clearing restrictions, part of a package that includes the Critical Areas Ordinance, require rural property owners to keep native vegetation on 50 to 65 percent of their land, depending on its size. They were adopted as a way of protecting streams and wildlife, including the threatened chinook salmon.

Steve Hammond, president of the Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights, said the order “puts the nail in the coffin” of the most controversial element in the critical-areas package.

“I’ve been saying since 2004, when I was on the [County] Council, this is not the right thing to do,” Hammond said of the clearing law. “This is the homeowner having to make a donation to the open-space program. Two-thirds of your property is a pretty significant donation. That’s bad.

“The only way I know how to get folks who don’t live in the affected area to understand it is to say, ‘What if I walked into your bathroom and said you have three fixtures: You can keep one and the other two have to go?’ ”

Stephanie Warden, director of the county Department of Development and Environmental Services, which helped draft the clearing law and enforces it, said she was disappointed by the court’s ruling and will meet with attorneys to discuss the county’s legal options. … [more]

4 Mar 2009, 8:36pm
Latest Forest News
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Grants Pass school removes book over portrayal of logging

AP, March 04, 2009 [here]

GRANTS PASS — A book about saving forests has been removed from first-grade classes in the Grants Pass School District after complaints about the way loggers are portrayed.

School officials say the decision was made after complaints over material in “Help the Forest” by Rita Crosby.

The Daily Courier newspaper in Grants Pass said complaints included a letter to the editor from a man who read the book when his grandson brought it home from school.

The book shows a photo of a logger cutting down a tree with a chain saw while another photo shows litter. The text accuses loggers of not taking care of the forest.

2 Mar 2009, 12:18pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Alaska Board of Game reviews hunting rules

By Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, February 28th, 2009 [here]

Hard-core hunters, animal lovers and the factions in between are at war this week in downtown Anchorage as the state board that decides Alaska’s hunting rules returns to an ever-raging debate: predator control.

The Board of Game, which began work Friday, is meeting all week to decide on more than 240 proposals that would change where and how animals are hunted across Alaska.

The panel waded through hours of testimony Saturday, with speakers often pulling the board in opposite directions. Among the ideas:

• Allowing private hunters to use helicopters to land in hard-to-reach areas across Cook Inlet and trap black bears in snares.

• Boosting brown bear hunting in Chugach State Park — at least partly to keep them from wandering into nearby Anchorage.

• Renewing some existing wolf-kill programs and creating new ones.

• Giving the state new predator control options in the future, such as shooting wolves from helicopters, or using poison gas in dens on orphaned pups too young to survive on their own.

Supporters say such proposals are crucial to managing hunting in the state, while critics see needless killing. Other ideas before the board — such as bans on trapping wolverines in Chugach State Park and hunting brown bears in parts of the Katmai Preserve — are just as controversial. … [more]

1 Mar 2009, 9:41pm
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Water-vs.-ecosystem fight leaves out people who live here

By Michael Fitzgerald, Stockton Record, February 27, 2009 [here]

In the ominous Delta debate, south-state interests maneuver for reliable water. Environmentalists champion the ecosystem. No one gives high priority to the region.

Us. The Delta’s people. The Delta’s communities, economies, infrastructure, architecture, history, its other habitats and various ways of life.

“It’s not just a blank slate that can be written on by state officials,” state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, says. “It’s not just about the water, and it’s not just about the ecosystem. It’s about a place.”

Wolk spoke out this week at a hearing on the Delta Vision task force. The governor appointed the task force to find a solution to the Delta’s crisis.

Delta Vision straight away rubber-stamped a peripheral canal. It embraced two priorities: restoring and stewarding the Delta ecosystem and stabilizing the water supply.

Well, fine. But these pillars of policy leave a little something out: Drastic change to the Delta or water management policy may profoundly alter the lives of Delta residents.

Will the change be for the better? Well, consider government management of the Delta. The state and feds have managed the Delta into the intensive care unit.

The poor old dear is wheezing on the life support of water-export cutbacks and suspended fishing seasons. The thought that the same policymakers will impact our lifestyles is chilling. I’d rather turn the region over to Kim Jong Il. … [more]

1 Mar 2009, 9:27pm
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Officials admit violating Delta rules to favor salmon

By Matt Weiser, The Sacramento Bee, February 19, 2009 [here]

California water officials admitted this week they have already violated a key water flow standard in the Delta intended to protect imperiled fish.

The admission came in hearings Tuesday and Wednesday before the state Water Resources Control Board.

The hearings were held to consider a petition from the state Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to win exemptions from the standard because of drought.

Board members and Delta advocates were surprised to learn that the flow standard had already been violated while the petition was pending.

“There probably were some days where we were not meeting the outflow standards,” said Jerry Johns, deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources. “At least we had the petition in before any of these things took place.”

The agencies sought the exemption because they believe they need to retain cold water in the state’s depleted reservoirs to ensure healthy salmon runs this fall.

But in doing so, they risked violating a minimum-outflow standard in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. That standard is designed to protect other fish, including the Delta smelt and longfin smelt. It requires meeting flow targets over a certain number of days in a month, usually by releasing water from upstream dams.

The drought, in other words, posed a tough choice between fish species. … [more]

1 Mar 2009, 9:12pm
Latest Fire News
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Texas State Resources Used to Combat Fire

Fox 7 Austin, Sunday, 01 Mar 2009 [here]

AUSTIN - Governor Rick Perry put state resources into action to combat wildfire in Central Texas on Sunday afternoon. The resources include four Texas Military Forces Blackhawk helicopters that drop water and fire retardant, Texas Forest Service firefighters, contract aircraft and heavy equipment.

“Wildfires burning in Central Texas have destroyed homes and property over the weekend, but fortunately there have been no reports of lives lost,” Gov. Rick Perry said. “The state is assisting in battling this threat and will continue to provide necessary resources to protect our communities. I urge all Texans to use extreme care in outdoor activities, to be aware of burn bans in their counties, and to take precautions to protect their homes and property.”

Since Jan. 1, 2009, 3,685 wildfires have burned 118,061 acres of land across the state. These fires have threatened 1,763 homes, firefighters have saved 1,630 homes, and 57 homes were lost, according to Governor’s Office officials.

The most significant damage occurred over the weekend in Bastrop County, officials said. These damages include 25 homes destroyed and 1,000 acres burned. The fire is burning in heavy terrain, hampering firefighting efforts. … [more]

 
  
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