31 Dec 2007, 6:04pm
2007 Fire Season
by admin

The 2007 Fire Season: A Year-End Recap

With over 9.3 million acres burned in wildfires nationally, the 2007 fire season was the second worst fire season in over fifty years (the 2006 fire season was the worst with over 9.7 million acres burned).

In terms of total acres burned, seven of the worst ten fire seasons since the early 1950’s have occurred in the last 12 years.

Average acreage per wildfire was nearly 110 acres, again the second worst in over fifty years (the 2005 was the worst averaging 131 acres per fire).

In terms of average acres per wildfire, nine of the worst ten fire seasons since the early 1950’s have occurred in the last 12 years.

The preceding graphs are based on data provided by the National Interagency Fire Center Wildland Fire Statistics [here]. The following is a recap of some of the high and low lights of the 2007 Fire Season.

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30 Dec 2007, 12:48pm
2007 Fire Season
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Fire Season Trend Graphs

The following graphs are based on data provided by the National Interagency Fire Center Wildland Fire Statistics [here].

27 Dec 2007, 3:15pm
Saving Forests
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Backcut at the Gristmill

Restoration forester, photographer, and SOSF stalwart Backcut laid it down at a site called Gristmill [here]. (Be sure to read all the comments).

Some excerpts:

I’ve said it before… and I’ll say it again. What is wrong with restoring western forests to their natural stocking levels?

Until we can agree on the where, how and why, our forests will burn and our chance to sequester carbon by making durable wood products will be lost for the rest of OUR lives. And our children’s lives, too.

I’m currently working on a fire salvage project of about 300 acres of recently-thinned forest. Using the latest fire mortality guidelines, we’re applying cutting edge science to this burned forest, 5 weeks after the fire was extinguished.

The eco-embracement of wildfires is still proceeding, where opponents to fire salvage projects call wildfires “natural and beneficial”, ignoring the high-intensity acres that eliminate full recovery in less than 200 years.

Even the Forest Service has thrown up the white flags on National Forests like the Bitterroot, where they have chosen to make those lands part of a huge “Let-Burn” program, without any NEPA or public involvement.

The future doesn’t look good for our forests, especially if we all continue to be polarized, stubborn and emotional. On the flip side, we can’t just be “giving away” our forests. Even with careful and gentle management, our forests are full of value in many different forms.

But, if we don’t make our forests drought, insect and fire resistant, there will be nothing left to save except for brushfields and plantations.

Forest management deniers??!?

I see that there’s another “Inconvenient Truth” that people here at Grist-world are trying to ignore. I see that most preservationists agree with the Bush Administration on letting massive parts of National Forest burn, too. Nothing like releasing centuries of sequestered carbon, along with other toxic gasses directly into our atmosphere, eh?

Amazingly, no one even blinked when these programs were implemented without NEPA work or public opinion on an issue that will have environmental effects lasting well into your great grandchildren’s lives.

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19 Dec 2007, 3:03pm
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Merry Christmas from SOS Forests

Merry Christmas from SOS Forests. Best wishes to you and yours.

Due to the exigencies of the Season, and general Goodwill, we are going to rest SOS Forests and Wildlife and People, the two W.I.S.E. Commentary subsites, and work on the W.I.S.E. Colloquia over the Holidays.

Then we will hit the New Year running. We have high hopes for 2008. We are going to effect some changes, and maybe even save some forests. That’s the Plan, anyway.

Keep the comments coming; I’m merely refraining from adding new Commentary posts for a little bit. Look for more great references to continue to be posted in the W.I.S.E. Colloquia and Library.

May all your Christmases be bright, including this one.

17 Dec 2007, 3:04pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Testimonies to the US Senate

Testimonies to the US Senate Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests on December 13, 2007.

An important hearing was held by the US Senate regarding forest restoration and hazardous fuel reduction. We will post the testimonies here as they become available.

Testimony of K. Norman Johnson and Jerry F. Franklin [here]

Testimony of Philip S. Aune [here] (1,624KB)

Testimony of Michael E. Dubrasich [here]

Testimony of Mark Rey [here]

Testimony of James Caswell [here]

Testimony of Russ Vaagen [here]

Testimony of Matthew Donegan [here] (1,760 KB)

Testimony of Russ Hoeflich [here]

Testimony of Boyd Britton [here]

This post has been replicated in Restoration Forestry

17 Dec 2007, 2:35am
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Colloquia Coming Along

You may or may not have noticed (in all the hubbub) but some very interesting titles are starting to show up in the Colloquia. Slowly but Shirley we are installing the best, latest, most advanced, coolest scientific research in a variety of environmental sciences. Many books and articles you may not have read before, or even know about, have been listed already. The full text is available on many.

And we have a pile to go. A month from now it will be quite something. But don’t wait until then or else today’s titles might getting buried in the archives and elude you.

You might want to make it a habit to check the front page (click HOME on the navigation bar) for the latest and most recent titles. I don’t plan on announcing them all here.

Except that once in awhile I might. For instance, I just did the first review ever of Stephen J. Pyne’s brand new book, Awful Splendor: A Fire History of Canada. So that’s pretty cool.

Lots of other goodies in the Colloquia now, and many, many more to come. It feels like a Christmas catalog for the forest-obsessed. And as time goes by, we hope even more so.

15 Dec 2007, 11:45am
Saving Forests
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A Toast to You

Long-time SOSFers may recall my review of Ecological Science Relevant to Management Polices for Fire-prone Forests of the Western United States, Reed F. Noss (editor), Jerry F. Franklin, William Baker, Tania Schoennagel, and Peter B. Moyle, Society for Conservation Biology Scientific Panel on Fire in Western U.S. Forests. Feb. 2006.

That four-part review was sarcastically entitled Save the Tick Brush and I called the Noss-Franklin paper “The Worst Forest Science Paper of the 21st Century.” See [here], [here], [here], and [here].

“Eco…States” will go down in history as the rock-bottom worst forest science paper of the Modern Age. However, the paper is significant because it marks the final collapse of the old forest science paradigm. The inner contradictions, the abundant anomalies, and the tragic destruction of millions of acres of priceless, heritage forests have overwhelmed the old science, and branded it a failure. The Old Paradigm has been dying for quite awhile. “Eco…States” is the death rattle.

Every imaginable eco-error was committed in that paper, which was a paean to holocaust. Recall that Noss-Franklin extolled the virtues of “rare and/or uncommon early successional stands,” i.e. the brushy wastelands created by incinerating old-growth forests. Recall that Noss is a “former” Earth First! monkey-wrenching eco-terrorist.

And recall that I used the occasion to declare the Death of the Old Paradigm.

The Old Paradigm is dead. The shouting is not over, nor the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Congress will be the last to figure it out. There will always be adherents; witness the Flat Earth Society. But for all useful intents and purposes, the Old Paradigm is dead.

There will be no service, no memorial ceremony. It might be nice, but Science is not like that. Science is like a herd of water buffaloes, each a paradigm, and when one goes down to logical lions or anomalous crocodiles, the rest of the herd moves on without stopping. Historians look back; scientists look forward. Most forest scientists of professional caliber eschew the Old Paradigm already, and have for many years. Old adherents do and will deny any affiliation, current or former, with the deceased theories. …

The Old Paradigm was too dumb, too political, and mostly, too destructive. The forest fires of recent years, historically huge and catastrophic, are what really killed it. The gears never meshed. The monkey wouldn’t dance. The Old Paradigm theories flopped, big time. Now the show has jumped the shark.

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13 Dec 2007, 6:23pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

The Paradigm Shifts!!!!

“Our testimony focuses on forest restoration in the National Forests of Oregon and Washington… To conserve these forests, we need to modify stand structure (e.g., treat fuels) on one-half to two-thirds of the landscape.” - Johnson and Franklin, December 13, 2007

Today the Forest Paradigm shifted in public, just a little bit. Drs. K. Norman Johnson and Jerry F. Franklin gave public testimony calling for forest restoration, protection, and maintenance. The statement was given before the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests (Chair Ron Wyden, OR), who heard testimony regarding forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction efforts in the forests of Oregon and Washington in Hearing Room SD-366 today.

Drs. Johnson and Franklin are famously (or infamously) two members of the Gang of Four, the cabal that took over the USFS in 1993 and engendered the Northwest Forest Plan (1994), among other forest-destructive actions.

The set-aside of 25 million acres of public forests (and some private, too) into No Touch Zones has led to catastrophic megafires such as the Biscuit Fire (2002). Moreover, the Northwest Forest Plan has failed to save any spotted owls, spotted owl habitat, or to protect rural and regional economies, all key goals of the NWFP. Indeed, after nearly 14 years of the NWFP, the situation is much worse in all regards.

But the worm has turned. The idea that abandonment is good forest stewardship has been chucked into the dustbin of history by two of its (former) proponents. Shocking but true, and a very good thing. Today is a welcome and historic day for our forests.

Excerpts from the Testimony:

Forest Restoration and Hazardous Fuel Reduction Efforts in the Forests of Oregon and Washington

Testimony of K. Norman Johnson Jerry F. Franklin

December 13, 2007 - Hearing of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

I am Dr. K. Norman Johnson and I am here today to give testimony for myself and Dr. Jerry F. Franklin regarding forest restoration and hazardous fuel reduction efforts in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. I am a University Distinguished Professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. Jerry Franklin is Professor of Ecosystem Sciences in the College of Forest Resources at University of Washington. These comments represent our view and not those of our respective institutions.

Our testimony focuses on forest restoration in the National Forests of Oregon and Washington…

Our definition of “restoration” is the re-establishment of ecological structures and processes on these forests where they have been degraded and, simultaneously, *restoration of economic and other social values on these lands*. One product of this restoration will be substantial reductions in uncharacteristic fuel loadings. We emphasize restoration activities in which ecological, economic, and other social goals are compatible…

Restoration of Forests Characterized by Frequent, Low- and Mixed-Severity Fire Regimes

We will lose these forests to catastrophic disturbance events unless we undertake aggressive active management programs. This is not simply an issue of fuels and fire; because of the density of these forests, there is a high potential for drought stress and related insect outbreaks. Surviving old-growth pine trees are now at high risk of death to both fire and western pine beetle, the latter resulting from drought stress and competition…

Without action, we are at high risk of losing these stands-and the residual old-growth trees that they contain-to fire and insects…

We know enough to take action (uncertainties should not paralyze us). Inaction is a much more risky option for a variety of ecological values, including preservation of Northern Spotted Owls and other old-growth related species. We need to learn as we go, but we need to take action now. Furthermore, it is critical for stakeholders to understand that active management is necessary in stands with existing old-growth trees in order to reduce the risk that those trees will be lost.

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13 Dec 2007, 12:13pm
Federal forest policy
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The War on America

Perhaps I have been too circumspect regarding Gail Kimbell’s latest Pronouncement. Perhaps I have left too many of the dots unconnected.

Kimbell has declared that the policy of the US Forest Service is to commandeer 400 million acres of private land and turn it into wilderness. In effect (and in reality) she has joined the USFS to the Wildlands Project, the Earth First! plan to destroy America.

Gail Kimbell has sunk to level of the eco-arsonists now doing time in Federal penitentiaries. She openly advocates holocaust and takeover, destruction of homes, farms, whole communities, and indeed our American culture and society. She is a radical communist/fascist filled with hatred, not just for public forests but for this entire country.

That’s a big deal, not small potatoes.

In truth, the USFS capitulated to leftwing anarchist arsonists many years ago. But what was more or less unstated is now out in the open and the Official Policy of the US Government.

Saddam Hussein would be proud. So would be Joseph Stalin.

Slowly (due to numerous interruptions) I am posting the story of fire in Canada. But that story is about more than fire; it is about corporatist Socialism and the enslavement/destruction of land and people.

The tragedy of Canada is minor, however, compared to the oncoming tragedy of America.

I have said it before and I will say it again: there is a war going on, right here on American soil. It is not a joke, or hyperbole, or exaggeration. It is real. The devastation of public lands by holocaust is just the beginning, the early skirmishes.

If you value freedom, human rights, and our American Experiment in democracy, then you must become aware of the forces arrayed against us. Gail Kimbell is a monster, and not alone in her bellicose anti-Americanism. The time has come to stand up in opposition.

12 Dec 2007, 11:10pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Fundamental USFS Ineptitude

by Forrest Grump

On December 5, 2007, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rendered its decision in Sierra Club v. Bosworth, 05-16989. The judges hearing the case were David R. Thompson, Andrew J. Kleinfeld, and Sidney R. Thomas; Thompson wrote the opinion with a short concurrence by Kleinfeld. You can rustle up the docket yourself [here].

Put that one in your Favorites, and use it.

As usual, the Forest Service lost. As usual, the opinion cites about a gazillion cases brought by environmental groups before the Ninth Circuit that resulted in terrible, paralytic precedents. As usual, environmental lawyers are doing handsprings and cartwheels. Same old, same old, right?

Well, there’s a new, particularly unfortunate twist to Sierra v. Bosworth that I found particularly alarming.

For years, one of the first things I’ve done when a natural resources ruling comes down from the Ninth is to not only look who wrote the ruling – I especially love Stephen J. Reinhardt these days – but also to check out which president appointed them. In this instance, Thompson is a 1985 Reagan appointee, formerly a San Diego-area private attorney. Kleinfeld is a 1991 Bush I appointee, after being first appointed to the federal judiciary in Alaska by Reagan in 1986 from his practice in Fairbanks. Thomas is a 1995 Clinton appointee from Montana, formerly an adjunct law professor and private practitioner in Billings. So in this case, the majority of the panel was appointed by “conservative” presidents, something that doesn’t seem to happen in the “liberal” Ninth very often.

So I read this 32-page ruling more closely than most.

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12 Dec 2007, 1:54pm
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Canadian Fire Week

This week at W.I.S.E. we are featuring some of the most advanced and cutting edge science and thought in the field of fire ecology. The setting is Canada, but the implications touch every country on every continent.

While all that we are posting this week might seem mundane and esoteric to the uninitiated, to us it is the most exciting thing we have ever done, blogwise. And we are proud as peacocks about it. Keep your eyes (monitor screen) on the Forest and Fire Sciences Colloquium. Pure gold will be posted there this week.

We hope you enjoy the posts, papers, and books reviewed as much as we do.

12 Dec 2007, 11:07am
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Sizing Up the Problem

The issues facing rural America are national in scope. It is not just megafires in Idaho, wolves in New Mexico, or elk in Yellowstone. Megafires are happening in every state in the West (and last spring in Georgia as well). Wolves, bears, and lions are attacking livestock and people across the country. Populations of elk, deer, and other large herbivores are crashing everywhere. And everywhere government agencies large and small are laying waste to the landscape, lifeways, the economy, and the culture.

A kind of madness has infected America. Our institutions of higher learning have devolved into political conspiracy making and science has been abandoned. Open inquiry has been quashed in favor of political correctness, adherence to a brand of politics that cannot withstand open scrutiny or debate. Our elected leaders cower in silence or pay obeisance to superstition and eco-hysteria. We live in fear of the next disaster to be perpetrated upon us by our own government.

Perhaps madness is the wrong word. A better word might be fatheadedness, the deliberate dumbing down of individuals, whether through TV, public schools, the Mass Media, or simple personal choice.

Examples abound. After devastating fires in San Diego in 2003, absolutely nothing was done to alleviate the hazard. Then this year the fires returned. In the aftermath of the 2007 fires, nothing will again be done. And megafires will return again, soon, as a consequence. Millions of people are at risk, yet their own democratic governments are hamstrung and can only spout excuses and place blame on the victims.

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10 Dec 2007, 11:53am
Federal forest policy
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Gail Blows It Bigtime

When Gail Kimbell was first appointed as USFS Chief, I welcomed her. I wrote (at SOS Forests No. 1) [here]:

SOS Forests welcomes you to the Chieftainship of the U.S. Forest Service. We salute your prior accomplishments, share in the joy of your appointment, and wish you every possible success.

And we really mean that. We really do wish your tenure as Chief to be successful. It is going to be a difficult road, though. The deck is stacked against you, but we will help you all we can.

I even went so far as to send that statement to her directly via email. Gail did not respond, but I didn’t expect her to. I also included some advice to aid her Chieftanship:

First, please use the word “forests” in speeches and writings. You are going to be Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. The ground you will oversee is neither “timberlands” nor “wildlands.” It is forest, forests, or forestland. Please refer to it as such.

This is easy to do, costs you nothing, and will demonstrate your core values. (Not to mention that failing to do so will handicap you right away, and come back to haunt you later, too.)

Second, cancel the Whoofoo program. Whoofoo’s (wildland fire use fires) are accidental fires in accidental locations started by lightning during the height of the fire season. Such fires should be suppressed with rapid initial attack, not left to burn. Whoofoo’s led to enormous and expensive tragedies like the Warm Fire, the Tripod Fire, the Tatoosh Fire, the Middle Fork Fire, and many others last year.

Whoofoo’s are the renamed equivalents of “prescribed natural fires” which caused catastrophes such as the 1988 incineration of Yellowstone National Park. The lack of rapid initial response with adequate firefighting forces was directly responsible for the 500,000 acre Biscuit Fire of 2003 and dozens of other mega fires in the last two decades. Poor response has been ultimately responsible for every modern mega fire, as a matter of fact.

Gail, please terminate the Whoofoo’s. If you accomplish nothing else, that will be enough to yield an honorable legacy.

Third, please bury the Audit (the 2006 IG Report on Large Fire Suppression Costs). It is stupid and worthless and should NOT be guiding USFS policy. The Audit recommendations, if followed, will cripple fire suppression nationally, get a lot of people killed, as well as destroy forests, farms, ranches, homes, and whole communities via holocaust. Bunch it, shred it, round file it, bury it in the backyard. Whatever, make the Audit go away.

Fourth, please initiate a national program to develop natural histories for every National Forest in the System. The histories should reach back at least 10,000 years, and should document the actual, historic, forest development pathways that occurred, in reality, location by location.

Gail failed to follow any of those tips. Indeed, she went out of her way to violate my well-meaning advice with gusto.

Not only does Gail not refer to forests as forests, but she now wants to extend the intellectually bankrupt notion of “wildlands” to 400 million acres of private land!

That is so stupid and vile as to defy all reason.

She also has promoted, not canceled, the whoofoo program, and deliberately burned down millions of acres of forest in her own Region in her very first year.

Gail Kimbell should be terminated with prejudice today. I don’t care if she is a woman or not. Her brand of dis-competency is intolerable.

No doubt none of that will happen. Not one individual in Congress will call for any kind of investigation of Gail Kimbell, or for hearings, or even issue a statement of concern. Congress is composed of slime worms, in the main. Geo Bush will not do anything. He appointed Gail after all, and besides that, his administration has collapsed, in no small part because the Slime Worms of Congress have undermined it.

Gail Kimbell must driven out by public protest. I call upon everyone who cares about forests to raise your voice in opposition to Gail Kimbell. I beg you to demand her immediate removal from the USFS. If we are going to save our forests , homes, and very lives, we need to abate the hazard. Gail Kimbell IS the hazard, and her tenure as Chief of the USFS must be terminated BEFORE the next fire season.

9 Dec 2007, 2:17pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Kimbell Goes Wild

US Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell has decided that her extreme mismanagement of National Forests is not enough. Now she wishes to impose catastrophic fire and wasteland desolation upon the rest of the USA, too.

Last Thursday the glorified former administrative assistant declared a national plan to extend “wildlands” designation to 400 million acres of private property [here].

“If people have an incentive to hold on to wildlands (rather than develop them), we as a society benefit from that,” she [Gail Kimbell] said in an interview. “We all benefit from keeping wildlands wild.”

This is an outrageous statement. Private property is NOT “wildlands” nor is it wild. Indeed, USFS property is neither “wildlands” nor wild, either.

Gail Kimbell burned down 9.3 million acres of America this summer in her misguided efforts to impose desolation and putrefaction upon America, in the name of “wildlands”. The USFS burned a giant block of 1250 square miles of Idaho forests in the name of “wild.” They burned thousands of homes in California with megafires.

In this her first year on the job, Wild Gail burned more acres and homes than anyone in history, save for Dale Bosworth in 2006.

What in the bloody hell is “open space” anyway? When did my property become “wildlands.” Why is it the policy of the USFS to impose their horrendous mismanagement upon 400 million acres of private property?

Haven’t you done enough evil destruction of forests, Gail?

And they are FORESTS, not “wildlands.”

Gail Kimbell is the worst USFS Chief in history. She must be fired immediately.

“Our vision for the 21st century is an interconnected network of open space across the landscape — one that supports healthy ecosystems, renewable resources and high quality of life for Americans,” she said.

What kind of “quality of life” did you impose on South Lake Tahoe, Gail? Do you really believe that burning down 250 homes improved the “quality of life” for anybody?

Your vision sucks to the Moon, dear.

The conservation plan takes effect immediately and does not require congressional approval.

By fascist, authoritarian, non-democratic fiat Gail Kimbell has declared war on the private property owners of America. Who does that FASCIST PIG think she is?

What in the hell is going on George? Evidently George Bush has also declared war on America. No president in history has done more to destroy forests, economies, and public and private American property than George Bush. His record of destruction of our National Forests by megafire is unprecedented.

Now the Bush Administration wishes to impose ever more holocaust on private property, too.

Why? The stated reason:

As homes and shopping malls proliferate, the United States loses about 6,000 acres of open space every day — four acres per minute.

This statement is horrendously false. We are currently experiencing a housing crisis as the home mortgage and home construction industries are in free fall. Furthermore, nobody but nobody is building homes or those awful, dreaded “shopping malls” in the fricking wilderness.

But just to make sure that the pain is permanent, George and Gail have decided to inflict absurd and insane regulatory oppression far outside the imperial estate.

Preserving open space is one of her top four goals, Kimbell said. The others are improving forest health to reduce the risk of wildfire, controlling invasive species and managing outdoor recreation.

When it comes to reducing the risk of wildfire, Gail Kimbell is a total, abject failure. Ditto all her other “goals.”

“Growth and development in wildlands increases the risk of wildfire for people and property, affects the Forest Service’s ability to manage the public lands … and reduces the capacity of privately owned land to provide water, recreation and habitat,” Kimbell said.

There is NO development in wildlands, Gail. You are smoking that Beltway crack, again. What in the fricking hell are “wildlands” anyway?

The USFS has a Let It Burn policy for their lands. That policy breeds megafires that roar over the legal boundaries into private lands. Massive destruction of innocent lives and properties ensue. The holocausts destroy homes and vegetation, kill wildlife, destroy habitat, ruin watersheds, foul water, and cripple recreation opportunities.

Gail Kimbell has proven that she cannot manage USFS lands. Indeed, her mismanagement is extreme. Now she is spreading by authoritarian order her nutzoid incendiarist ways to everywhere.

NO, no, no, no, no, no, no!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stop Incinerating America!!!!!!!!!!!!

I vote to kick Gail Kimbell out of the Government, and as far as I am concerned, clean out of the country.


7 Dec 2007, 8:18pm
Politics and politicians
by admin
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The Dog Races

It’s semi-official: not one candidate for President from either party has taken any stance or issued any analysis regarding forests, forest fires, predator control, or any environmental problem, except for global warming.

All the candidates, except for Fred Thompson and Ron Paul, are going to “fix” the global warming “problem” by taxing the American people through the roof and other vicious nonsense brutalities. Fred and Ron are Skeptics (somewhat less opprobrious than a Denier). Osama Obama, on the other hand, has promised to “reduce the amount of carbon in gasoline.” Poor Obama; he is evidently physics-challenged. I wonder what kind of grades he got in science.

But as for our forest crisis, the Pack is completely in the dark, out to lunch, and struck dumb. Not one of them has a clue in creation that we are experiencing the worst fire seasons in 50 years, that the USFS is crumbling to ashes, that our National Forests are being destroyed by holocaust, and that federal fires are jumping legal boundaries and burning into rural and urban property that DOES NOT BELONG to the Feds.

And no improvement is expected. No matter who wins the election, our forests and Rural America lose.

And what a bitch of a situation that is, again. For my part, I am boycotting all races where both or all candidates are clueless imbeciles. Voter Boycott. I’m not going to vote, and I plan to make a Big Stink about it, too.

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