2 Dec 2009, 10:40am
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Wanted American Eco-Terrorist Gets 3 Years in China

China Daily, 2009-11-30 [here]

American wanted for eco-terrorism attacks in the United States has been sentenced to three years in a Chinese prison for making illegal drugs.

Justin Franchi Solondz, 30, was sentenced on Friday at the intermediate court in Dali, Yunnan province, said an official who only gave his surname as Zhao.

Solondz was indicted in California and Washington state in 2006 in connection with a series of arsons attributed to “the family”, a group of radical environmentalists aligned with the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts, between 1996 and 2001.

The US has no extradition treaty with China and it is not immediately clear when or how Solondz might be returned to the US to face charges, Mark Bartlett, the first assistant US attorney in Seattle, Washington state, said on Saturday.

The US Justice Department has informed Chinese officials that it remains interested in prosecuting Solondz.

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security was not available for comment on the issue yesterday.

The man’s father, Paul Solondz, said his son pleaded guilty last month.

Paul Solondz said his son was arrested in China during a drug sweep in March. … [more]

28 Nov 2009, 8:36pm
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Fighting wildfires-Status quo not acceptable in no man’s land

Editorial, Yakima Herald-Republic Thursday, November 26, 2009 [here]

Anger over the Dry Creek fire still smolders among landowners who tried in vain to fend off two wildland fires that grew to 49,000 acres in late August.

A meeting in Sunnyside earlier this week did little to calm the frayed nerves of those who live in what’s called “no man’s land,” pockets of rural sections in Central Washington that are without fire protection. The Dry Creek fire, caused by lightning strikes starting Aug. 20, burned down a state highway bridge and destroyed the iconic Silver Dollar Cafe at the intersection of state routes 24 and 241 — in the heart of no man’s land.

State lawmakers from Central Washington conducted the meeting in hopes of assessing what went wrong and figure out what could be done in the future to provide better protection for residents living outside established fire districts.

They got an earful, and most of it was highly critical of firefighters.

The Silver Dollar Cafe owner said fire officials didn’t allow him to bring a water tank to fight the blaze that eventually destroyed his restaurant. Another described a tragic scene involving a long-time family friend who was allowed to drive down a smoke-filled highway — State Route 24. He was found dead later in the evening with his fifth-wheel rig stuck alongside the road in a pasture. He apparently died of a heart attack.

Several lawmakers vowed after the meeting to introduce legislation that would require equipped fire crews to fight fires wherever they can regardless of whether it’s in their district or not. Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, termed it a “duty to serve” law. … [more]

21 Nov 2009, 12:41am
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Judge affirms plan to restore Kaibab National Forest

By Associated Press, AZ Capitol Times, November 9, 2009 [here]

FREDONIA - A federal judge this week struck down a lawsuit contending the U.S. Forest Service unlawfully approved a plan to reduce forest fuels and plant trees on a northern Arizona forest.

The Warm Fire Recovery Project called for harvesting fire-killed trees on 9,000 acres of the Kaibab National Forest and replanting conifer trees on about 10,000 acres.

A 60,000-acre natural fire that grew out of control swept through the area where recovery efforts are planned in 2006.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians sued over the plan, claiming it violated several environmental laws.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone ruled in favor of the Forest Service on Wednesday, saying it satisfied its obligations under the law.

For more on the Warm Fire, see Back to the Rim: The Story of the Warm Fire [here].

19 Nov 2009, 7:38pm
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Negligence ruling in Katrina floods may cost feds

By CAIN BURDEAU (AP), FindLaw, [here], Nov. 19, 2009

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The federal government could be vulnerable to billions of dollars in claims after a judge ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers’ failure to properly maintain a navigation channel led to massive flooding in Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval on Wednesday awarded seven plaintiffs $720,000, but the government could eventually be forced to pay much more. The ruling should give more than 100,000 other individuals, businesses and government entities a better shot at claiming damages.

Duval sided with six residents and one business who argued the Army Corps’ shoddy oversight of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet led to the flooding of New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He said, however, the corps couldn’t be held liable for the flooding of eastern New Orleans, where two of the plaintiffs lived.

The ruling is also emotionally resonant for south Louisiana. Many in New Orleans have argued that the flooding in the aftermath of Katrina, which struck the region Aug. 29, 2005, was a manmade disaster caused by the Army Corps’ failure to maintain the levee system protecting the city. …

In his 156-page ruling, Duval said he was “utterly convinced” that the corps’ failure to shore up the channel “doomed the channel to grow to two to three times its design width” and that “created a more forceful frontal wave attack on the levee” that protected St. Bernard and the Lower 9th Ward.

“The Corps had an opportunity to take a myriad of actions to alleviate this deterioration or rehabilitate this deterioration and failed to do so,” Duval said. “Clearly the expression ‘talk is cheap’ applies here.” …

Pierce O’Donnell, another lead plaintiffs lawyer, said the ruling was the “first time ever the Army Corps has been held liable for damages for a major catastrophe that it caused.” … [more]

Note from Al: Change the references to “USFS”, “wildfires”, “fuel loading” etc. …

Forest Service says trees can slow climate change

By MATTHEW DALY (AP), November 18, 2009 [here]

WASHINGTON — National forests can be used as a carbon “sink” with vast numbers of trees absorbing carbon dioxide to help slow global warming, the Forest Service chief said Wednesday, but that goal must be balanced.

He’s also concerned about the risk of catastrophic wildfires that produce massive amounts of carbon dioxide.

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said his agency is trying to manage forests to combat climate change while still easing the risk of wildfires that have increased in frequency and intensity, in part because of global warming.

Forests now store enough carbon to offset about 16 percent of the nation’s fossil fuel emissions, but that number could be reduced or even reversed if wildfires and insect infestation continue to increase, Tidwell said.

“Disturbances such as fire and insects and disease could dramatically change the role of forests, thereby emitting more carbon than currently sequestered” by tree stands across the country, Tidwell told the Senate Public Lands and Forestry Subcommittee.

Elaine O’Neil, a research scientist at the University of Washington’s School of Forestry, said wildfires in California alone released emissions equivalent to that of seven million cars a year from 2001 to 2007.

The Forest Service and Interior Department spent about $2.4 billion last year fighting fires, double the average amount spent a decade ago.

Tidwell said he hopes to increase the resiliency of federal forests through projects such thinning out young trees and underbrush to control wildfires. Some fires must be allowed to cleanse and regenerate forests that are overly dense, he said.

Lawmakers are looking at the role of forests in climate change, with the goal of including national forests as a key part of a climate change bill being considered by the Senate.

“In my view, it is time to manage the nation’s forests to address climate change and unlock their potential,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the panel’s chairman.

Proper management can ensure healthy forests that create carbon offsets that can be used to help minimize the cost of carbon reduction in other parts of the economy, Wyden said. Use of such offsets — which now are excluded from the Senate bill — would “finally provide a way to truly account for the economic benefit that federal forests provide to our environment,” Wyden said.

“We can create good-paying, green jobs while preserving our treasures and helping our climate,” he said.

18 Nov 2009, 9:27am
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California Commissioner Touts Wildfire Payment Recoveries

Insurance Journal, November 16, 2009 [here]

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Sayre, Tea and Freeway Fires in Southern California, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced in a press statement Friday that the California Department of Insurance (CDI) has recovered $16.9 million from insurance companies by standing up for consumers and helping to mediate disputes in those fires and more than $17.4 million for victims of 2008 wildfires throughout the state.

“We continue to be vigilant and help whomever calls and asks for assistance in recouping money from insurance companies,” said Commissioner Poizner, in the statement. “I am pleased that our efforts have helped victims of those terrible wildfires last year recover almost $17 million to help rebuild their homes and rebuild their lives.”

To date, the department has recovered $17.4 million for 2008 wildfires throughout the state. That includes:

* $13.2 million for Sayre/Sylmar wildfire survivors (124 total complaints including 13 for underinsurance)

* $3 million for Tea wildfire survivors (41 total complaints including 19 for underinsurance)

* $873,714 for the Triangle wildfire survivors (23 total complaints including 3 for underinsurance)

CDI was able to recover these funds for consumers that notified the department of their problems and suspected unfair treatment by their insurer. CDI received 234 consumer complaints since late 2008.

Of the 234 complaints received from consumers, 40 have involved underinsurance allegations. CDI recovered more than $2.8 million for consumers who had complaints stemming from underinsurance issues.

18 Nov 2009, 9:26am
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Shoshone may close campsites

by CJ Baker, Powell Tribune, 17 November 2009 [here]

Bark beetles bite regional budget

A bark beetle-induced budget crunch could lead to the closure of the Shoshone National Forest’s camping sites next summer.

The regional Forest Service office in Denver is proposing to shift funding away from some of its forests to focus on those in northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming — the areas hit hardest by mountain pine beetle-kill.

Some 2.5 million acres in the the Arapaho, Roosevelt, White River, Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests are believed to be affected by the beetle epidemic.

Much of those areas are interwoven with power lines and infrastructure. A large concern for foresters is the possibility that the dead and weakened trees will topple onto power lines, knocking out large swaths of power and perhaps sparking catastrophic wildfires.

In those five national forests, the Forest Service already has begun planning an effort to clear all potentially hazardous trees within 200 feet of of electrical transmission lines and from within 75 feet of distribution lines.

The Rocky Mountain Region has budgeted $49 million to deal with the beetle-kill in fiscal year 2010, the Associated Press reported — with some of that money being re-directed from forests such as the Shoshone.

The preliminary directive from the regional office in Denver told forest managers that all campgrounds — except for those run by private concessionaires — should be shut down as one cost-saving measure. … [more]

See also the Gunbarrel WFU Fire [here, here]

1 Nov 2009, 6:21pm
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LA Times Accuses USFS: Missed opportunities let Station fire become a disaster

By the time heli-tankers arrived in force, the blaze had leaped Angeles Crest Highway. The last best chance to prevent a catastrophe had vanished.

By Paul Pringle, LA Times, November 1, 2009 [here]

On a sizzling August morning, as flames burned unchecked down the road, fire crews milled about at an Angeles Crest Highway ranger station. Others were parked along the pavement — a critical line of defense — their engines quiet and hoses slack.

It was more than an hour after first light, and some six hours after U.S. Forest Service commanders had determined that the fire required a more aggressive air attack. But the skies remained empty of water-dropping helicopters — tankers that were readily available.

Then, after the sun had heated the hillsides above La Cañada Flintridge, and as the first chopper finally began unloading on the flames, the fire gathered speed and shot over the highway, turning tall pines into torches. The last best chance to stop the blaze without significant losses vanished.

“That’s what turned into the Station fire,” said one firefighter who saw the flames jump the road about 8 a.m. on Aug. 27.

Drawn from interviews and records, a picture of the fateful Day 2 of the Station fire raises troubling new questions about the U.S. Forest Service’s response to the blaze when it was still small and considered relatively easy to contain.

The conflagration eventually killed two Los Angeles County firefighters, destroyed about 90 dwellings and devastated one of America’s most-visited national forests. The largest fire in county history, it was not fully contained until Oct. 16. … [more]

Ed Note: IMHO this is yellow journalism, especially considering that a year ago the LAT published a long screed condemning the use of aerial firefighting tools at all. Interesting how those who would ground the aircraft and ban fire retardant are the first to whine when the aerial drops on a fire in their neighborhood are an hour late (according to their expectations).

Second-guessing the first responders is unfair. There are always lessons to be learned, and certainly the Station Fire will be thoroughly investigated. That is quite different than a rush by the Media to assign personal negligence to firefighters based on very flimsy evidence.

The fire management decision space has indeed been muddled, and that is a serious problem, but much of this fire’s outcome was foreordained by the lack of fuels management over decades across that high-risk landscape. Those decisions — that allowed the fuels to build up — are the ones that should be investigated.

Taxes fund environmental suits - Environmental law firms reap billions in fees to fund lawsuits

By Mitch Lies, Capital Press, October 15, 2009 [here]

The federal government has paid out billions of dollars to environmental groups for attorney fees and costs, according to data assembled by a Cheyenne, Wyoming, lawyer.

Karen Budd-Falen of Budd-Falen Law Offices said the government between 2003 and 2007 paid more than $4.7 billion in taxpayer money to environmental law firms — and that’s just in the lawsuits she tracked.

The actual figure, she said, is far greater.

“I think we only found that the iceberg exists,” she said. “I don’t think we have any idea how much money is being spent. But I think it’s huge.”

In some cases, Budd-Falen said, intervening ranchers and farmers are paying for the defense of their farm and ranch practices and — through their taxes — paying for the opposing lawyers’ attorney fees.

“That money is not going into programs to protect people, wildlife, plants and animals,” Budd-Falen said, “but to fund more lawsuits.”

more »

7 Oct 2009, 11:48pm
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After L.A. wildfire, danger of mudslides

The recent wildfire has left the area vulnerable to dangerous mud and debris slides in the coming months, a new report warns.

By Daniel B. Wood, The Christian Science Monitor, October 7, 2009 [here]

Los Angeles - The miles of trees and other hillside vegetation scorched away by the recent wildfire here has left the towns and homes in the area vulnerable to mud and debris slides in the coming rainy season, warns a report from the US Geological Survey (USGS) released Wednesday.

The so-called Station fire blazed across 250 square miles of hillside in L.A. County last month. And without the natural barrier of trees, mud, rocks, and other debris could pour down the steep slopes to cover a football field 60 ft. deep, according to the report.

The USGS study estimated the probability and volume of debris-and-mud flow caused by a three-hour rainstorm – which has 100 percent chance of occurring every year – a one-hour rainstorm, and a 12-hour rainstorm, which is only likely to occur once in two years.

The probability of a dangerous debris flow is greater than 80 percent for a three-hour storm, the report says. Residents and officials should be bracing for significant impacts to homes, buildings, roads, bridges, culverts and reservoirs located in the burned out areas as well as downstream, the report says.

“Because of the fire, there’s a significant hazard posed by debris flows and this hazard will occur even in response to a wimpy little storm,” USGS research geologist Susan H. Cannon told the Associated Press.

The Los Angeles Dept. of Public Works is working overtime to clean out the several dozen catch basins in the area, and says the work will be completed by Oct. 15.

Debris flows after wildfires have been documented here for decades – a storm in 1934 triggered a mudslide that demolished 480 homes, killed 30 people, and brought a 60-ton boulder out of a canyon.

The USGS report is being used to map and prioritize where the problems would be worst and to help authorities design evacuation routes for residents.

Predicting debris flows and rain storms is difficult so residents should stay informed and take responsibility for protecting their own residences, cars, and families, Ms. Cannon told AP.

“If it starts raining hard and you know you are in a hazardous area, then just take your own initiative and leave,” she said. …[more]

7 Sep 2009, 9:57pm
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L.A.’s nature haven, reduced to wasteland

Residents mourn the loss of trails, campgrounds, picnic areas and lookout towers in Angeles National Forest. The Station fire has burned about a quarter of the forest, closing it indefinitely.

By Joe Mozingo, LA Times, September 6, 2009 [here]

The relentless Station fire has scoured nearly 242 square miles of the Angeles National Forest, burning through not just picnic areas and campgrounds, but the raw, solitary beauty that has long been a refuge for a sprawling city.

Ridge after ridge is a ghostly gray, laid bare of vegetation from the plunging foothill canyons to the Mojave Desert. Only scattered islands of trees are un-charred — in the deepest draws and in remote, rocky cornices on a few high ridges.

“What I saw was a pretty complete burn,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Stanton Florea.

The 154,000 acres burned as of Saturday constitute about a quarter of the national forest.

The area’s proximity to the urban heart of Los Angeles — and its easy access via the Angeles Crest Highway and dozens of trails switchbacking out of the foothills — makes it one of the most heavily used parts of a forest visited by 3 million to 5 million people every year.

“This is the playground of L.A.,” Florea said. “More than 70% of the open space in L.A. County is in the Angeles National Forest.”

The Station fire, the largest in the modern history of Los Angeles County, has been devastating on many levels, most notably claiming the lives of two firefighters and destroying 76 homes. Authorities said the cause was arson and have launched a homicide investigation.

With 49% containment Saturday, fire officials said they had controlled the last hot spots on the western edge, including Little Tujunga and Pacoima canyons.

But the battle wore on in the east, the fire belching out yet another ominous smoke plume as it burned into the roadless San Gabriel Wilderness Area, where bighorn sheep sometimes roam on exposed ridges up to 8,000 feet high, less than 25 miles from the downtown skyscrapers.

Ground crews cut fire lines in the remote area, and a DC-10 dropped retardant on the flame front, officials said. By nightfall, the fire had burned northeast and was five to eight miles from the town of Juniper Hills about 20 miles south of Palmdale. But no evacuations were ordered Saturday. … [more]

24 Aug 2009, 10:22pm
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Burning questions remain about restaurant fire

Silver Dollar Cafe owners seek answers in wake of Friday’s fire

by Melissa Sánchez, Yakima Herald-Republic, Aug. 24, 2009 [here]

MOXEE, Wash. — Rick and Martha Lounsbury aren’t looking to blame anybody for Friday’s fire, but they have two unanswered questions.

Why didn’t any of the half-dozen firefighters eating inside their Silver Dollar Cafe minutes before it burned down tell them it was at risk?

What agency calls the shots when multiple crews are on a wildfire that’s sweeping through this so-called “no-man’s land”?

Late Sunday afternoon, the Lounsburys trudged around the charred remains of the decades-old diner on State Route 24 they bought last December.

A massive wildfire [the Dry Creek Complex here] sparked by lightning Thursday night destroyed the iconic burger-and-shake joint that had served as a gathering place for this small, rural community outside Moxee. …

Lightning in this area late Thursday started two major fires in federal and private lands north of Sunnyside to the Columbia River, straddling state routes 241 and 24. The cafe sits at that intersection.

Starting Thursday, nearby residents helped each other put out flames in the brush and grass in this area about 30 miles east of Yakima. They borrowed farmers’ water trucks and watched each other’s property.

This barren stretch of State Route 24 is considered no-man’s land and falls under no fire district’s responsibility, officials from multiple agencies said Sunday.

Residents in this eastern part of Yakima County do not pay for fire protection, said Michael Reil, deputy chief of Yakima Fire District No. 4, which covers much of Terrace Heights and eastern Yakima County.

Dale Warriner, who is spokesman for the multiagency team in charge of fire management, said, “That restaurant or cafe was not in any fire precinct or district, so I guess nobody technically had responsibility for it.”

The fire moved fast throughout the area and crews from the state’s Department of Natural Resources, Richland, Walla Walla and Hanford were fighting different parts of it. At its peak, the fire would cover some 40,000 acres — although about 80 percent had been contained by Sunday evening and both state roads had been reopened.

And on Friday afternoon there were about a dozen firefighters from various agencies inside the Silver Dollar, which is something like an oasis for folks passing through or residents themselves. At least six firefighters had ordered burgers, said Martha Lounsbury, who remembers the number because she was flipping the patties at the time.

She could see smoke from beyond the hills around her property, but no flames in the minutes before the fire began around 6:30 p.m.

“I just kept watching the smoke but didn’t feel threatened at all. There were firefighters inside. If they’d just have even said the wind was moving closer …” she trailed off. “I don’t know.”

Her husband was on his way back to the diner with his daughter in a borrowed water truck when he saw the flames. But firefighters on State Route 24 didn’t let him through, he said.

“I don’t blame the firefighters, but I blame the mismanagement of superiors,” said Rick Lounsbury, who works in cement mixing. “If it’s a no-man’s land, why wouldn’t they let me in with the water truck to fight the fire?” … [more]

18 Aug 2009, 5:11pm
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High Erosion Rates After Wildfires Affect Forest Rehabilitation

Colorado State News Release, August 10, 2009 [here]

FORT COLLINS - For nearly 10 years, researchers at Colorado State University have investigated wildfires and the resulting effects on flooding and erosion. These include intensive field studies prior to and after the Hayman wildfire in Colorado, which burned more than 100,000 acres in 2002, and rainfall simulation studies in the laboratory. Newly published results in the Soil Science Society of America Journal indicate that soil erosion rates after forest fires are largely dependent on the amount of ground cover rather than the amount of soil water repellency, and this has important implications for designing effective post-fire rehabilitation treatments.

These issues are of concern because severe wildfires can increase stream flows and erosion rates by 10 to 100 times relative to undisturbed forests. The increases in water flow can cause downstream flooding, degrade public water supplies, fill reservoirs and hurt fish habitats.

The number, extent and severity of wildfires are projected to increase as a result of land-use and climate change. After large fires, millions of dollars are often spent on a variety of treatments to reduce flooding and erosion. The effectiveness of these treatments is uncertain, and land managers must better understand the underlying causes of the increase in post-fire runoff and erosion to make informed decisions about possible treatment options.

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12 Aug 2009, 12:00pm
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You Order, You Pay. La Brea Fire May Usher In New Era Of Interagency Cooperation

by Retired Fire Captain Mike, Firefighter Blog, August 12, 2009 [here]

The La Brea fire may be offering hints of a new direction in the long standing cooperative agreement between Cal Fire and the Feds. Mike Dubrasich, Executive Director of the Western Institute for Study of the Environment shared with Firefighter Blog readers the following passage in last evening’s 209 report.

“At 1200 the fire entered into Unified Command with Cal Fire because the fire threatens state DPA. The threat is from a slop over off Sierra Madre Road into Foothill Road located in Branch Four. There is a cost share agreement with Cal Fire for “you order you pay”. The slop over Sierra Madre Road in Moon Canyon has the potential to go to the valley floor. Evacuation order issued for the 14 threatened residences on Foothill Road and evacuation warning issued via reverse 911 to the 104 residences in Cottonwood Canyon.”

Mike opines;

“You order you pay? I think that means the USFS is billing CalFire for any actions that CalFire “orders”. Such as the Martin Mars. Who takes responsibility when poorly managed Fed land blows up in a massive fire and threatens private land on the other side of the fence? Evidently CalFire will be billed for suppression actions at the “interface”. The old co-op suppression agreements are burning up along with the landscape.”

Mike may be right, apparently if Cal Fire orders in equipment they will have to pay the entire cost billed by their contractors, even if sloppy work by the Feds requires a state response. I’m not saying the La Brea incident is mismanaged, not suggesting this at all.

Are we entering an era of a leaner, meaner USFS? Getting budget minded all of a sudden? Ms Pincha-Tulley did not just pull this rabbit out of her hat, no this came from a policy change.

As I understand the current policy if a fire runs into another jurisdiction, that jurisdiction must pay their own freight, nothing new here. What is new is the direct wording. I have never heard that phrase before.

I have a feeling Pincha-Tulley wants the 747 and DC-10 Supertanker, (Tanker 910) on scene but doesn’t want to pay. Typically, once aircraft are above a fire air attack keeps track of what drops go where. Say a tanker drops 40 loads, 20 on state land and 20 on Fed land. The drops are billed accordingly.

More often in practice the drops are blurred, whereupon the bill is absorbed by one party or another, or a good guess at a split is attempted. That era may be over. It appears now that if Cal Fire orders equipment they bear the brunt of the costs.

Cal Fire could get tough by calling up the tankers, order drops on their designated area of operation and send them home.

Will we need for an arbitrator at incident bases in the future. The “Incident Legal Office”, or ILO would be inexpensive compared to costs of overhead, equipment, personnel, food, lodging and transportation.

Worth keeping an eye on, let’s see how this plays out.

12 Aug 2009, 1:23am
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New California Budget Cuts $27 Million From CAL Fire

Fire Department Network News, Aug. 6, 2009 [here]

Sacramento, CA. When California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger finally signed the state’s hotly-contested budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year last month his fire-fighting agency suffered a severe blow.

Millions of dollars were suddenly removed from the new operating budget for Cal Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. And the final year of a three-year contract for use of a valuable aerial firefighting tool was canceled.

Janet Upton, Cal Fire’s Deputy Director for Communications, tells FDNNTV $17 million was cut from the department’s Vehicle Replacement Fund which means “no new fire engines or command vehicles.”

$3 million for the agency’s Resource Management Program was deleted as well. That money was to have been used for the protection of natural resources on private property. Upton says, “It was a big hit to that program.”

While the cuts from Cal Fire’s budget total $27 million dollars Upton says, “There will be no fire fighting personnel cutbacks and all Cal Fire stations will remain open.”

According to Upton, “The Governor has been very protective of our fire protection budget.”

Upton says through an Executive Order. signed in early May, Gov. Schwarzenegger has required Cal Fire Director Del Walters to staff all Cal Fire engines with a four person crew.

For some, the biggest budget-cutting surprise was the cancellation of the final year of a three-year “exclusive use” deal for a DC-10 fire retardant bomber even though the state is in the midst of its fire season. … [more]


DC-10 No Longer At California’s Beck-And-Call

KCRA News, July 30, 2009 [here]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The DC-10 can dump up to 12,000 gallons of water or fire retardant each time it opens its tank — or 10 times as much as California’s other firefighting planes.

But the stroke of a budget-signing pen has canceled a $7 million contract that kept the DC-10 on standby for the state.

“Well obviously, these are difficult fiscal times for the entire state. So we need to take a look and balance providing the appropriate level of public safety with prudent fiscal policy,” Cal Fire deputy director Kim Pimlott said.

Instead, the state will pay more than $66,000 every day it uses the plane, with a five-day minimum. Anything beyond 21 separate deployments for the season will end up costing more. … [more]


Schwarzenegger signs budget with more welfare cuts

by Judy Lin, AP, July 28, 2009 [here]

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a revised $85 billion budget Tuesday that he said contained “the good, the bad and the ugly,” including additional cuts to child welfare programs, health care for the poor and AIDS prevention efforts.

Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto authority to save an additional $656 million that will let the state restore a reserve fund he said is needed for tough times. … [more]

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