7 Dec 2007, 3:16pm
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Sorry, But W.I.S.E Has News

In our first manifestation (SOSF original version) we were limited by the single site structure. Now we have multiple subsites and plenty of room to post the daily news-of-the-day about forests, fire, and wildlife.

We do that [here].

We feel we must post this apologia though. The news-of-the-day is consistently horrible. That is not our fault, but posting it is. Sorry. We think it might be useful, and perhaps it is, but it is not fun.

6 Dec 2007, 8:50pm
Federal forest policy
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The Big Sky Coalition

There is a new environmental organization in Montana, the Big Sky Coalition. Founded by residents of Darby, Hamilton, and other communities near the Bitterroot National Forest, the Big Sky Coalition describes itself as “environmentalists with common sense.”

In their own words, from the BSC website [here]:

Big Sky Coalition represents a diverse group of Montanans who believe that current forest management policies are resulting in annual catastrophic fires. These fires present a negative impact on the health and economic interest of Montana citizens.

Representing what we believe to be a silent majority of Montanans with common sense, we hope to become a unified voice of reason that will provide a more balanced approach to environmental issues. We are prepared to be your advocate and fight for your rights!

Our mission is to work with federal and state agencies to bring about changes in the current fire management program.

A recent meeting hosted by the BSC in Hamilton drew 650 people. The Clark Fork Chronicle reported [here] that “the crowd was overwhelmingly in support of increased logging on the national forests as a way to mitigate catastrophic wildfires.”

Organizer Sonny LaSalle explained, “This is just not the timber industry saying, ‘We need more logs.’ This is the common everyday citizen saying, ‘I’m tired of the situation the way it is. It’s only going to get worse and we want something done.’ We believe there is something that can be done, and that the silent majority needs to become the vocal majority.”

That silent majority has felt disenfranchised and helpless, he said, watching from the sidelines while the courts and Forest Service interact only with litigants.

“We in the Coalition honestly believe there are things we can do, and the way we can do it is by speaking with one large voice to our elected officials at the state and the national levels. Then we can get some changes that need to be made. That takes a lot of people making as much noise as possible so the elected officials know this is just not one or two folks,” he said.

The Bitterroot and other Montana (and Idaho) National Forests were raked by megafires last summer, the worst fire season in the region since 1910. Indeed, the Great Fires of 1910 gave rise to millions of acres of lodgepole pines that are 90-ish today. Lodgepole pine does not live much beyond 100, and the stands of today are moribund thickets packed with beetle-kill that present a regional fire hazard unprecedented in history.

And the US Forest Service has proved themselves unable to deal with the situation. Part of the problem is a lack of leadership and direction from Congress. The Big Sky Coalition hopes to spur Congress into action.

The BSC is new, just a couple of months old, but they are already having an impact. Eco-litigious, anti-forest groups such as the WildWest Institute (formerly the Native Forest Network) have attacked the BSC from inception. However, the Native Forest Network filed 236 timber sale appeals from 1997 through 2002, according to a 2003 study by Northern Arizona University’s Ecological Restoration Institute, making it difficult for that lawyered-up, sue-happy group to deny their longstanding obstruction and sabotage of forests.

The BSC holds promise. It’s grassroots, political, and the members are angry at the destruction of their local economies and landscapes. Congress should pay heed.

Rural citizens are VERY UNHAPPY with Congressional incineration of America’s forests. Moreover, at least 85 percent of all citizens, rural and urban, are in favor of active management to save our National Forests, according to polls.

Perhaps the Big Sky Coalition can get through to a deaf, dumb, and blind Congress, and spur them into some common sense. We hope so. SOS Forests kudos to the Big Sky Coalition, and best wishes for their every success.

4 Dec 2007, 12:01pm
Federal forest policy
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National Forests at a Crossroads

by John F. Marker

[John Marker is a retired Forest Service District Ranger, Fire Management, and Information Officer and a co-founder of Wildland Firefighter Magazine. This article was first published in National Forestry, (Sp '07, here), the magazine of the National Forestry Association, 374 Maple Ave East, Suite 310, Vienna, VA 22180.]

Reaffirmation of the mission of the National Forests

The Organic Act of 1897 was explicit in describing the reasons for establishing the National Forest System: to provide a sustainable supply of water and timber for the use of citizens, and to allow other uses that did not diminish the ability of the forests to provide the primary resources. However, legal and policy debates over management of the lands for the past 40 years or so have clouded the original intent of the Act. Today, in my opinion, few people understand the fundamental reason the National Forests were established, including some agency employees and too many political leaders.

It seems to me the future of the forests rests upon some form of new top-level federal process to clarify both the purpose of the forests and the direction that their management should be heading. A second component of the process must be a public awareness program to promote understanding of the National Forests’ essential natural resources role, which is essential before successful land management can be carried out. Clearly, a serious effort needs to be made to resolve the endless controversy surrounding the concept of scientific forest management, and a clarification of the mission.

Even if there were no controversy, a National Forest mission review would seem appropriate, considering that it’s been 100 years since the last one was carried out. Over the past century, the country’s natural resources needs and desires have changed dramatically. In the 1890s, for example, people were predicting a national timber famine, which was a major motivator for creating the National Forest system.

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3 Dec 2007, 3:01pm
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The W.I.S.E. Forum

W.I.S.E. is underway. Our intention is to build, over the next few months, the premier online library for forest, fire, and the environmental sciences, with emphasis on the New Paradigm.

The knowledge uncovered, displayed, and explained will be presented to the World At Large for the instruction of Mankind and for the benefit of all creatures and landscapes of this Our Shared Planet.

That’s all very good and promising, but our new schema is much more insidious and revolutionary than just that. The Deep Strategy involves multi-party communication.

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