21 Jul 2009, 12:14am
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Tester Introduces New Montana Wilderness Bill

Clark Fork Chronicle, July 17 2009 [here]

Standing with loggers, outfitters, conservationists, hunters and fishermen who spent years working together on a plan for Montana’s forests, Senator Jon Tester today introduced his much-anticipated legislation to reform forest management to “make it work” for Montana.

“Our forests, and the communities and folks who rely on them, face a crisis right now,” Tester said today at a news conference at RY Timber in Townsend. “Our local sawmills are on the brink, families are out of work, while our forests turn red from an unprecedented outbreak of pine beetles, waiting for the next big wildfire. It’s a crisis that demands action now. This bill is a made-in-Montana solution that took years of working together and hearing input to create a common sense forest plan.”

He said his 80-page bill, formally called the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, will create jobs, protect clean water and keep Montana’s prized hunting and fishing habitat healthy for future generations. … [more]

Ed Note — Tester’s bill actually:

* Directs the U.S. Forest Service to selectively harvest at least 70,000 acres over ten years in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest if certain (unattainable) conditions are met.

* Directs the U.S. Forest Service to selectively harvest at least 30,000 acres over ten years in the Kootenai National Forest if certain (unattainable) conditions are met.

* Creates about 677,000 acres of new wilderness designation where timber harvesting and fire management will be banned.

Thus it will exacerbate the pine beetle and catastrophic megafire crisis. Tester’s bully PR release above is an exercise in political doubletalk. Enactment of Tester’s bill, God forbid, would be a disaster for Montana forests.

18 Jun 2009, 11:42am
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Herger bill would fast-track forest clearing, logging

By Ryan Sabalow, Redding Searchlight, June 17, 2009 [here]

U.S. Rep. Wally Herger has drafted a bill that would allow local governments to declare a fire-risk emergency on federal forest land, putting them on a fast track to clearing and logging projects while bypassing lawsuits.

The Chico Republican’s California Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention and Community Protection Act is designed to bypass the “red tape that has stymied effective forest management,” Herger said Tuesday in a statement.

“We have tried for years to bring collaboration and sound forest management to our landscape, only to be stymied by activists who don’t understand the danger Northern California is faced with each fire season,” Herger said.

The bill was immediately condemned by at least one environmental group.

“Herger’s bill is completely out of touch with the best available science on fire and forest ecology,” said Douglas Bevington, the forest program director of Environment Now, a Santa Monica environmental group responsible for several lawsuits against timber projects on public land. “It is simply another pretext to subsidize the timber industry to plunder our national forests at taxpayer expense.”

Herger’s legislation seeks to implement clearing projects on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management acreage if the projects are identified “at-risk” by a nearby community or watershed.

The federal agencies would still have to conduct environmental review on the proposed thinning projects, but under Herger’s law, they wouldn’t have to come up with a list of alternatives that can delay the process.

The projects that are granted emergency declarations also wouldn’t be subject to judicial review.

“My legislation seeks to implement these projects under an expedited process and free from the delay tactics of frivolous appeals and lawsuits,” Herger said. … [more]

17 Jun 2009, 8:43pm
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Burned Mount Hood area remains closed

By Terry Richard, The Oregonian, June 16, 2009 [here]

In order to protect young emerging vegetation and to prevent erosion of soils within the burned area, most of the area will need to remain closed where the Gnarl Ridge fire burned on the northeast slopes of Mount Hood last summer in the vicinity of Cloud Cap Inn and Tilly Jane.

There is one exception to this area closure. Visitors to Mount Hood National Forest will be able to hike on the Tilly Jane Trail No. 643, a route used to access climbing routes which begin at the Cloud Cap Saddle. The area immediately adjacent to the Tilly Jane Trail will remain closed to public entry.

The Polallie Ridge Trail No. 643-A will remain closed until rehabilitation and reconstruction work is completed. Road 3512, the road to Cloud Cap Inn. will also remain closed until the road surface can be stabilized and culverts replaced.

Once the road work is completed, the road will be able to accommodate recreational traffic. The closed area includes the area east of the historic Cloud Cap wagon road.

Last winter a protective blanket of snow enabled forest managers to open the backcountry to winter recreation. With the blanket of snow now gone, the area is vulnerable to damage.

The area also serves as an important zone of contribution to the Crystal Springs Water District which serves more than 6,000 residents in the upper Hood River Valley. Due to these concerns, the Mount Hood Forest supervisor has decided to keep the severely burned area of the fire closed to public entry during the summer and fall months until snow once again blankets and protects the burned area this coming winter.

Last fall, rehabilitation work such as aerial and hand mulching of severely, burned, erodible soils was completed. However, a substantial amount of work still needs to be completed this coming summer.

For more information, contact the Hood River Ranger District at 541-352-6002.

Lynx habitat at risk as clear-cutting fades

By Murray Carpenter, The Boston Globe, April 27, 2009 [here]

The good news is that Canada lynx are thriving in Maine. Hundreds of the leggy, snow-loving cats are breeding in the state’s vast north woods, perhaps a historic high.

The bad news is that the population is heading for a crash, and logging industry clear-cut practices seem to be the reason.

Strangely, it’s not an excess of clear-cutting that is the problem; this time, it’s a lack of clear-cutting that is creating environmental worries.

Environmentalists may hate clear-cutting, but lynx love it - because when trees are cleared away, a dense spruce-fir thicket often crops up in their place, and those thickets attract snowshoe hares, the lynx’s primary prey.

Biologists say lynx are thriving in Maine because massive industrial clear-cuts following a spruce budworm epidemic 30 years ago have grown into hare-rich thickets. But regulations reducing the size of clear-cuts in the Maine woods - products of state legislation passed in 1989 and amended after a divisive environmental campaign in the late 1990s - are now eliminating those thickets, and eventually, the hares that live in them.

Over the next decade, the unintended chain reaction is expected to dramatically reduce the number of Maine lynx - the only lynx in the Eastern states, and listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“The prognosis for future habitat for lynx is not terribly good,” said Mark McCullough, a US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.

William Krohn, a University of Maine professor who has been studying the state’s wildlife for decades, said that with recent reductions in clear-cutting, “We’ve created something that isn’t the optimum for lynx habitat.” … [more]

28 May 2009, 7:36pm
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Roadless Forest Areas Now Under Vilsack

By David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, May 29, 2009 [here]

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today issued a temporary order governing development in “roadless” areas of national forests, requiring all new projects to be approved by him personally.

Vilsack’s order, which will be in effect for a year, is the latest turn in an eight-year-old battle over 58.5 million acres of pristine woods. President Bill Clinton made these areas off-limits in 2001, but President George W. Bush effectively reopened some in 2005. That led to a series of court cases that ultimately replaced the national policy with a patchwork of regional rules.

Vilsack, whose purview includes the U.S. Forest Service, did today what environmental groups had been urging: call a “timeout.” … [more]

27 May 2009, 1:36pm
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National Forest Fire Managers Announce Beginning of Fire Season on Klamath NF

USFS Press Release, May 22, 2009 [here]

Yreka, CA (May 22, 2009)…Fire managers have analyzed fuel conditions and weather data and have determined that the risk of wildfire on the Klamath National Forest is on the increase beginning with the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Below normal rainfall and snow pack for the year has resulted in dryer vegetation conditions that are three to five weeks ahead of normal.

The Klamath experienced 92 wildfires in 2008. This year, the Forest Service is emphasizing early and frequent communication with partners and local communities in order to incorporate local input into decisions that are based on safety, property and natural resource protection, and the threat posed by potential wildfires.

Frequent fires are a part of California’s history and are a part of the natural ecosystem in northern California. Forest Service fire managers will continue to fight unwanted wildfire aggressively after having provided for firefighter safety. While successful initial attack is important, preparedness and prevention on the part of homeowners, communities, and firefighting agencies are the most effective means of protecting life and property from wildfire. For information about how to provide defensible space around your property, contact your local Forest Service or CAL FIRE office.

The risk of human-caused fires on the forest can be diminished by taking the proper safety precautions. Check the weather forecast before visiting the forest, let someone know your itinerary and be extremely careful with campfires. Have a shovel available and clear all flammable material away from the fire ring for a minimum of five feet. Extinguish all campfires with water.

Note: last year over 200,000 acres of the Klamath NF burned in wildfires. Much of that was in Let It Burn fires (WFU and AMR). Contrary to the assertion in the Press Release above, preparedness and prevention on the part USFS FOREST MANAGERS via restoration forestry and active biomass management on public lands is the most effective means of protecting life and property from wildfire.

26 May 2009, 1:44pm
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Outcome of yesterday’s occupation of federal offices

Forest Talk, May 26, 2009 [here]

Yesterday’s occupation of seven federal Conservative offices by representatives of Canada’s largest forest workers union has resulted in a high-level meeting and a conference on the future of the forest industry.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has agreed to meet with representatives of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union in Ottawa on June 2nd - the day thousands of forestry workers will join in a march to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Josée Verner also agreed to hold a regional forum on the future of the forest industry.

“This a good first step toward waking up Stephen Harper’s government,” says CEP President Dave Coles, who says his union “will continue to push for action to protect forest jobs, pensions and communities, as well as the future of Canada’s forest industry.” … [more]

20 May 2009, 11:23am
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Refueling Outdoor America

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park becomes a wilderness

Rocky Mountain National Park and other Colorado sites protected

Vail Daily, April 9, 2009 [here]

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joined Colorado lawmakers, business and conservation leaders Thursday to celebrate the designation of Rocky Mountain National Park’s new wilderness area after 35 years of work.

The park and other Colorado sites were among more than 2 million acres in nine states set aside as protected wilderness in a bill signed March 30 by President Barack Obama.

Salazar told about 200 people that in other times of crisis, former presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, had worked to preserve the nation’s heritage, including creating national parks and wildlife refuges.

“It’s very appropriate, it seems to me, that at this point in our history we stand up and we say we will refuel our spirit, refuel our strengths by celebrating the landscapes of America,” Salazar declared. … [more]

And refueling the landscape so it burns in catastrophic fashion. The word “protection” is used euphemistically in this case. Burn, Baby, Burn. Thanks a heap, Kenny.

3 Apr 2009, 11:46pm
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US Forest Service riles local crowd at Lake Isabella

Steve Merlo, The Bakersfield Californian, Mar 27 2009 [here]

They came to lead the lambs to slaughter, but when the smoke cleared, the United States Forest Service found itself facing an angry pack of civilian wolves hellbent on tossing the governmental agency back into the woods. The 200-plus throng of concerned citizens first filled the Lake Isabella Senior Citizen hall last Monday evening, then overflowed into the foyers, each person wanting to make their point regarding government intrusion into their Kern River Valley livelihoods and recreational opportunities.

In a move that riled the normally laid-back local populace, the USFS has been proposing to shut off most vehicular access around Isabella Lake and the surrounding national forest mountains and substitute unpopular, mandated government plans to overtake these hunting, fishing, recreation and tourist attractions. The meeting, the supposed fifth in a series that went largely ignored until last Monday evening due to lack of proper USFS advertising, united the community to gather and repulse the direct threat against them.

There’s no doubt that Tina Terrel, USFS supervisor for the Sequoia National Forest, has a tough job. …Ms. Terrel’s maps and proposed changes were proven to be an outright and deliberate inaccuracy by several of the audience who happened to have their own legitimate map overlays directly contradicting the ones she and her staff displayed. … [more]

Note: see Stewards of the Sequoia [here] for more information on this and other public forest issues.

3 Apr 2009, 11:43pm
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Ruling requires Marin County, CA trees to be removed

Mark Prado, Marin Independent Journal, 04/01/2009 [here]

The owner of 45 blue gum eucalyptus trees in Larkspur will be required to chop down 28 of them because they are a “clear and continuing hazard,” according to a tentative ruling issued Wednesday by a Marin Superior Court judge.

But property owner Dr. Anne Wolff, whose trees are at the center of a neighborhood dispute, vowed she will not take them down, and she said she will appeal the ruling.

“There is no way I’m taking 28 trees down; they are part of a forest,” Wolff said. “This sets a bad precedent. Now anyone can hire an arborist and go onto someone’s property, say the trees are unsafe and get them taken down.”

The grove of massive trees took center stage in a February trial pitting neighbors against each other over the touchy subjects of property rights, safety and civility.

Judge Michael Dufficy, who heard the case without a jury, ruled against Wolff, who lives on Bayview Avenue in the Palm Hill neighborhood of Larkspur.

“From its own observations, the court concludes the defendant’s trees present a substantial and real hazard to both (plaintiffs’) homes,” wrote Dufficy, who visited the tree site during the course of the trial. … [more]

Decision issued for Warm Fire recovery plan

Grand Canyon News, April 01, 2009 [here]

WILLIAMS - The Kaibab National Forest has released the Record of Decision and Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Warm Fire Recovery Project on the North Kaibab Ranger District.

Both documents are available at www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai/projects/warm under “Post Fire Recovery, Recovery EIS.”

The Warm Fire was started by lightning on June 8, 2007. … The forest managed the Warm Fire as a wildland fire use fire [whoofoo] for approximately two and a half weeks.

However, the fire escaped the boundaries prescribed for wildland fire use and burned about 40,000 acres in the central part of the Kaibab Plateau… Much of that area burned at a high intensity and suffered severe fire effects.

The Record of Decision documents the decision to implement Alternative Two, which results in the following activities in portions of the burned area:

• Harvesting fire-killed trees,

• Establishing conifer seedlings,

• Fuel reduction work along certain open roads and trails to meet scenic and recreation objectives.

Fire-killed trees will be harvested using stewardship contracts and timber sale contracts on 9,114 acres. Conifer trees will be planted on 9,978 acres in order to accelerate the return of forested conditions. … [more]

3 Apr 2009, 5:33pm
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Roads to recreation could soon be closed

Adherence to the national Travel Management Rule could close forest roads and limit motorized access to public lands

By Mike Stahlberg, Register-Guard, Mar 31, 2009 [here]

OAKRIDGE — Willamette National forest officials will soon be telling motorized forest users exactly where they can go.

Disgruntled trail riders, hunters, anglers, campers, mushroom pickers and other recreation enthusiasts upset by reduced motor vehicle access might be tempted to respond in kind.

Controversy over closing forest roads and other restrictions on motorized access to public lands is erupting as local forest managers work to implement the national Travel Management Rule of 2005. The rule requires all national forests to publish, by year’s end, maps showing precisely where motor vehicles are allowed.

Cross-country travel and driving on any route not on the map will be illegal.

Currently, motor vehicles may be driven anywhere they are not specifically prohibited.

On March 13, the Willamette National Forest issued a “request for public comments” on its travel management plan as part of its “initial scoping” process under the National Environmental Protection Act. The deadline for comments is April 15. …

In Oakridge, a former lumber town literally surrounded by Willamette National Forest lands, grumbling about reduced access is extensive.

“I’m just fed up with government intervention in our lives,” said Floyd Staley, a long-time volunteer active in high lakes fish stocking and forest clean-up work.

“The regulation of our freedoms to use the forest and outdoors is the ultimate insult as far as I’m concerned,” Staley said. “That’s why a lot of people live in Oakridge — to have immediate access to what belongs to the American citizens.” …

John Cape, an Oakridge resident since 1971, says the Forest Service is spending thousands of dollars to excavate “waterbars” (trenches) across unmaintained roads to discourage their use.

“They’re spending money to ruin roads now so they don’t have to spend money on maintenance in the future,” Cape said. “If they’d just leave the road alone, eventually Mother Nature is going to take it back and then we won’t be able to use it. But why can’t we use it up to that point? We paid to have them built.” …

“I wish I could have had a little more to say about it,” said Doug Devorak, a member of the Emerald Trail Riders. “They brought this all on and they didn’t ask the public what we really thought about it.” … [more]

2 Apr 2009, 12:30am
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Canada pays U.S. $46.7 million

Forest Talk, Apr 1, 2009 [here]

To comply with the London court’s softwood lumber ruling, Canada will pay the U.S. $46.7 million.

Minister of International Trade Stockwell Day said Ottawa is making the money “available” to Washington to fulfill the country’s obligations after the London Court of International Arbitration ruled in February that Canada had to impose a 10 per cent duty on its softwood lumber exports.

“Maintaining the Softwood Lumber Agreement is a priority for the Canadian government and industry,” said Day. “We recognize our commitments under this agreement, and we have honoured them.”

“[The Ontario Forest Industry Association and Québec Forest Industry Council] stand behind the Canadian government and believe that Minister Day is acting in accordance with the rules of the International Tribunal by paying a lump sum and … [waiting] for clarification prior to undertaking further steps,” said Jamie Lim, president of the OFIA and Guy Chevrette, the QFIC’s president and chief executive officer, in a joint press release.

The U.S. is not happy with the amount Canada has decided to pay.

Steve Swanson, Chairman of the U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, stated that he is “shocked and appalled by Canada’s provocative and contemptuous decision to ignore the tribunal’s clear direction.” “Unfortunately this latest flouting of its obligations under the softwood lumber agreement is consistent with Canada’s approach to this trade agreement,” said Mr. Swanson.

See also: Coalition For Fair Lumber Imports [here]

31 Mar 2009, 11:54pm
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Obama Signs Major Land Conservation (Incineration?) Law

By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, March 31, 2009 [here]

President Obama signed a massive lands package into law today, protecting more than two million acres as wilderness and creating a new national system to conserve land held by the Bureau of Land Management.

The measure, a collection of 170 different bills that represents the most significant wilderness law in at least 15 years, would provide the highest level of federal protection to areas such as Oregon’s Mount Hood and part of Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, along with other sites in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Utah and West Virginia. It also authorizes the first coordinated federal research program to investigate ocean acidification and additional funding to protect ecologically-valuable coastal areas and estuaries.

At the signing ceremony Obama said, “This legislation guarantees that we will not take our forests, rivers, oceans, national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas for granted, but rather we will set them aside and guard their sanctity for everyone to share. That’s something all Americans can support.” … [more]

Note: set aside for sanctity? More like earmark for catastrophic incineration.

30 Mar 2009, 11:43pm
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Danish investors buy Adirondack land

Associated Press, Forbes.com, 03.30.09, [here]

The Nature Conservancy says it’s selling 92,000 acres of Adirondack forest land to a Danish pension fund committed to environmentally responsible forestry.

The land sold Monday to Danish pension fund ATP for $32.8 million is part of 161,000 acres the conservancy bought in 2007 from Finch Paper. RMK Timberland (nyse: TBL - news - people) Group of Atlanta will manage the land bought by ATP.

The Nature Conservancy says the land will continue to be used for forestry, recreational leasing, hunting, snowmobiling, hiking, fishing and other activities.

It’s protected by a strict conservation easement. The state’s purchase of development rights is pending.

 
  
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