5 Mar 2008, 10:38pm
Saving Forests
by admin

Burn, Baby, Burn

I highly recommend that you read Wyoming Attorney Harriet Hageman’s exposition on Clinton’s Roadless Rule [here]. She discusses the origins of the Roadless Rule:

It was developed in the waning days of the Clinton administration to deny access, management and use of, 58.5 million acres of National Forest lands (30% of the National Forests; 2% of the total land mass of the United States; 3.2 million acres in Wyoming). It was adopted following what was arguably the most truncated, superficial and scientifically-devoid NEPA rulemaking in history. The alleged “public process” associated with the Roadless Rule was politically driven rather than scientifically supported…

She discusses how NEPA lawsuits forced a suspension of the Roadless Rule. This is important. The Bush Administration did not suspend the Rule, federal judges did, responding to suits that arose outside the federal government. Bush’s Justice Department defended Clinton’s Rule, but lost in court:

The current dispute is a continuation of the State of Wyoming’s 2001 lawsuit, and stems from Judge Brimmer’s 2003 decision (found at 277 F.Supp.2d 1197 (D.Wyo. 2003)) to enjoin enforcement of the Roadless Rule based on the fact that it violated NEPA and the Wilderness Act.

Despite the injunction, the USFS has continued to uphold the Rule. Tearing out roads continues to take place on every National Forest in the country. The effect of this contempt of court is to decrease fire protection and increase the size of forest fires:

At the time that the Roadless Rule was being considered, the Federal Governmental Accounting Office (GAO) and numerous National Forest Managers warned that, because of its prohibition on treatment and management, the Roadless Rule substantially increased the risk of catastrophic forest fires and devastating insect infestations within the National Forests, as well as within the adjacent State and private lands.

Indeed, the largest forest fires in recorded history have happened since the imposition of the Roadless Rule. A prime example is the 2002 Biscuit Fire in Oregon.

The Biscuit Fire started from lightning strikes in the newly declared Siskiyou Roadless Area. Before 2001, roads led right to the place where the ignitions occurred. But in conformance with Clinton’s directive, and despite the fact that Bush took office in January 2001, the USFS deliberated decommissioned those roads by ripping them with bulldozers so as to make them impassable.

Even so, helicopter crews could have accessed the fires for an effective initial attack. However, the Siskiyou NF management decided to honor the spirit of the illegal Roadless Rule by letting the fires burn. The notion was that Roadless Areas should be treated like Wilderness Areas, and fires should be allowed to burn freely.

As a result, a fire storm erupted. By the time it reached the boundaries of the Siskiyou Roadless Area, the fire was a raging front 12 miles wide. All stops had to be pulled as thousands of firefighters rushed to save the towns of Cave Junction, Selma, and Grants Pass. Eventually over 500,000 acres burned, much of it old-growth forests, and over $150 million was spent on suppression (the most expensive suppression effort in U.S. history).

Before the fire was even out a hue and cry went up from “environmentalists” to forestall any salvage logging. Salvage logging became the big political issue. Nobody gave any thought to the fact that a green, old-growth forest had been destroyed.

Nor has there been any thought or study given to preventing megafires ever since. Megafires have plagued every western state in the years following, up to and including last year when over two million acres of Idaho burned in fires that exceeded the Biscuit Fire in size.

In both 2006 and 2007 nearly ten million acres burned nationally in wildfires, exceeding every year since the early 1950’s when cooperative fire protection was in its infancy. Seven of the ten worst five season in the last 50 years have been post the Roadless Rule.

The USFS has adopted a let-it-burn policy. They have initiated a Wildland Fire Use program that is little more than let-it-burn. Unlike the Roadless Rule, the Wildland Fire Use program has never bothered to promulgate a phony Environmental Impact Statement. The NEPA process has been ignored. Not one public hearing has ever been held. Not one Record of Decision has been made. The nation’s environmental laws have been utterly dismissed and violated, including NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Forest Management Act.

The litigious “environmental” community has never said boo about it. They have sued to enjoin every Healthy Forest Restoration Act thinning, charging that the USFS is “breaking the law” by doing fuels management. But the complete lawlessness of let-it-burn has never been challenged. Instead, the “watchdogs” have sued to halt the use of fire retardant and other firefighting methods, sued to enjoin Forest Plans that fail to include let-it-burn zones, and sued to prevent fuels management.

They have called for killing Smokey Bear, initiated a Blackened Dead Forests Are Beautiful campaign, and most recently demanded “free roaming fires” in our National Forests. They have used global warming alarmism to recommend that our forest be burned today, rather than later, when it might be warmer and fires more difficult to suppress. They have criticized fire suppression itself, and blamed the fire community for too doing their job too well.

Taken in its entirety, the “environmentalist” mission over the last fifteen years (at least) has been to Burn, Baby, Burn.

I don’t get it. I have been a professional forester for 34 years. My job, as I see it, is to protect, maintain, and perpetuate forests. To me, that is an honorable and even vital calling. Yet the public has been so propagandized by an unrelenting campaign of forest hatred that green forests with living old-growth trees are now seen as a blight on the landscape, something to be destroyed in catastrophic megafires for the “good” of nature.

To what end? It seems every Hate Forests message is imbued with political zeal from the extreme Far Left. Somehow, for reasons I cannot fathom, socialism, communism, and anarchy demand the death of forests. If you hate democratic government, then you must also hate forests and wish them destroyed. If you hate the “religious right,” then you must also be in favor of forest holocausts. If you despise conservatives, then burning forests to ashes is the best way to get rid of them.

It makes no sense. When did Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin say they hated forests? How did Burn, Baby, Burn become the logic of the Marxist dialectic?

Have I overstated the case? Okay. When did Burn, Baby, Burn become a plank in the Democrat Party platform? Or in the Republican Party platform, for that matter?

Eco-terrorists love fire. Fire is the weapon of choice for expressing political displeasure, and arson the principal tool of civil disobedience. Burning forests and burning buildings are hailed by eco-terrorists (and all the other types of terrorists) as the epitome of political “action.”

It is as if our society has gone mad for fire. Mass insanity has infected our civilization, and catastrophic holocaust has become the desired future condition.

Where are the sane folks? Are there any left? Am I the last sane person on the planet? I don’t want my forests burned to ashes. Is that such an ignoble and passé thing?

Perhaps a better question is why do so many wish to Burn, Baby, Burn? Frankly, I am at my wit’s end trying to figure that out. I look askance at the Body Politic and wonder what gives. Why are so many so hell-bent on burning forests (and homes, and cities)?

Are you pro-fire, anti-forest, a mad Burner? Could you please explain it to me? Why do you think like that? What’s your motivation? I weary of trying to figure you out. Actually, I weary of you completely. But in the interest of social harmony and “bringing us all together,” do you have any reasons for your hatred of forests that you would like to share with me?

Why do you wish to Burn, Baby, Burn? What’s your trip, man?

That is too tough a question for me. I strongly suspect that none of you reading this blog are of that ilk, and so cannot answer any of the questions posed any better than I can. But go ahead and give it a shot. What, in your opinion is the source of that madness? We would all like it to go away; what can be done to cure the Burn, Baby, Burn insanity?

6 Mar 2008, 1:05am
by Joe B.

Being an Idaho victim of last year’s catastrophic holocaust, all I can say is that people from very far away are calling the shots and the people on the ground include enough mixed-up believers for this to continue well into the future.

Although a funny thing occurred in Idaho that you may or may not have been aware and taken note of. When the fires threatened Sun Valley and later Tamarack there was a 180-degree change in how they approached fire suppression. Those fires were put out quite quickly, though the fires that threatened subdivisions and small towns were allowed to burn.

The entire fishing area (you know, the little playpen the feds allow salmon anglers to fish in) on the S.F. of the Salmon was destroyed by fire. Now there’s a fight brewing over moving the playpen downstream to areas where formerly salmon were not to be harassed.

(Or harrassed as the signs all say. It’s too bad that sign boards don’t come with spellcheck cuz they are all over Idaho with the incorrect spelling. Might as well have painted ‘her ass’ on them.)

Anyway, it was quite entertaining in a sick sort of way to watch these fires grow and grow each day with no suppression efforts. Fire even burned through the Cascade Complex HQ. We were told the fires were too big to meet head on, and couldn’t be stopped with initial attack. Then fires threatened Sun Valley and all the sudden those fires were handled. Then fire threatened Tamarack and that fire was handled. Meanwhile the biggest fires in the state kept sending firefighters over to suppress the fires threatening the ski resorts. Meanwhile people’s homes burned to the ground, entire drainages were wiped clean of their filthy trees, the federally endangered salmon’s own spawning grounds were completely incinerated.

I wonder here in a couple of weeks if any little salmon will be able to emerge from the gravel covered in soot (was that covered in the lawsuits by the pinstriped suits?) and runoff sediment. Since the entire drainage was incinerated with the exception of a couple of spots.

I don’t know what the rationale for let it burn is, I don’t know what the rationale for let’s not manage the forest anymore is, I don’t know what the rationale is for let’s not use a renewable natural resource placed here by God’s providence.

The only thing I can figure is, the Forest Service knows it screwed up on thinning the forest, either through its own incompetence, or workforce cuts, or through lawsuits, and it figures catastrophic fires are a way to thin these overly grown timebombs without having to worry about eco-nazi lawsuits. Sure they’ll get a landowner lawsuit or two or three or four, but those can be handled. There’s plenty of judges in the West who can’t wait to rule against a private citizen.

I don’t know if that helped at all, but it’s two more cents on a topic that seems to come from Bizarro world.

6 Mar 2008, 7:13am
by Mike

Two years ago I talked to a major general of fire from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. He told me they were going to burn Idaho to the ground, and sure enough, they did.

Now the suits in Boise look out their windows at their handiwork, the charred remains of once great forests.

What did that get them? What benefit accrued to anybody? Is the fire hazard gone now? Not hardly. Just because the green forest was incinerated it doesn’t mean that all the fuels were consumed, or that new fuels won’t grow back.

So the dunderheads sit in their offices and stare out the window at the devastation they wrought. The burned-out citizens hate their ever-loving guts for the catastrophes they caused, except for the deluded Liberals, who applaud the coming of the Al Pocalypse.

Bizarro World is right. Lemmings stampeding into hellfire. The petty officials bow and scrape for the Bosses of Utter Destruction. Hitler is in his bunker.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl. Two riders were approaching. The wind began to howl.

6 Mar 2008, 8:33am
by bear bait

Herd mentality. The swells in town absolutely know that anyone connected to turning a tree into logs into lumber is a villain. It started with Dr. Seuss telling them so, and never ends. The one sided bulletin boards in public schools, elementary through college, have but one message and that is to save forests from logging. The indoctrination of young minds is all over by the time they can vote.

The West is the most urban of the US geographical areas. More townies and city dwellers live in the West than the rest of the country. When a 1000 acres is a poverty ranch, you can see how that happens. And when the family plot hangs from a road like a curtain to the creek and up the other side, there is no place to build a house, let along raise a garden. The USFS bought hundreds of thousands, even millions of acres during the Great Depression from people who could no longer subsist on their homesteads and farms. I once started cutters in an area with the remains of a picket fence, and the outhouse hole was still a man-trap, on a Hebo RD sale off Lindsey Ridge.

The disconnect between urban and rural experience and knowledge is so vast as to not be spanned at this time. And the urban majority runs the show. The world is run as they want it run. No matter the issue, wolves, clearcutting, dams, their dog in the fight is amenity driven. I read the other day that John Day Dam on the Columbia River produces enough hydro-power to run two Seattles. Yet that dam is a target to be taken out. Where would you get enough wind turbines, solar panels, hot water wells, biofuels burners (isn’t coal just old biofuel?) to replace that one dam let alone twenty or thirty others? It would be a real good lesson just to turn out the lights in Seattle for a week, and let the people there have a practice run at living without hydro-power.

I do not know how you can get the masses to conceptualize the idea that their predecessors were clever, smart, adaptable, and that they got here after the ice had melted but before forests were able to establish themselves. The management of the vegetation that we call forests was ongoing from the git-go. If the growth was in the way, it was burned. Over thousands of years the burning patterns were repeated many, many times resulted in an aesthetic and biological outcome that people in town seem to like. They want it preserved, but they don’t want to spend the money or make the hard choices to keep those forests intact.

So the answer to public land management on the cheap is to let Mother nature burn it in the hope that over time all will be well and good. You know it does not work that way, and I know it does not work that way. However, as followers of a former regime of forest management, we are not viable or reliable, and thus our views are not embraced.

Since we all have to earn a living, and keep some sort of sanity, we do have to realize the crazies are in control, and their methods and paths have to be trod, even if they lead to a cul de sac of defeat and ruin. Time is the real deal here. We are looking at this from our perspective and our lifetimes. Maybe tick brush burning every fifteen years will become tiresome, and someone will reinvent the wheel, and the tide will turn to proactive forest management once again. There is an ever growing pool of labor in this country that will have to be employed doing something or become a source of never ending mischief. Maybe the time will come when picking up sticks and sloughed bark will have an economic value. Who knows?

I guess the only way to work this deal as it now is constructed is to become the savior of one particular place in the world of public lands. Protect one watershed, or a distinct forest type, and wage war against all who would even suggest doing something that you did not want to happen. Over time it appears that type of advocacy wins the war in this country. If it happened over a broad enough landscape, a mosaic of diversity of landscapes and life would appear.

After all, wasn’t that really what tribal life was all about? One group of Native Americans living in one area for the longest of time, doing their thing to survive? They burned here and there, on purpose and sometimes accidentally, and planted and pruned and gathered and moved. Thousands of small groups with sovereignty over small areas, making it work for them. Maybe that is the future, one mankind has in embedded in our DNA, one that will work.

The world today looks to me like a vast tribal warfare deal with too efficient of weapons. I see no hope for change. There are those who would think one world government is the answer, and that might be the problem across the world. My idea is that thousands of local governments is a better deal and more workable. A Khan will come along once in a while, or a Manifest Destiny group. C’est la vie. Or is it C’est la guerre?

I would like my principality to be somewhere with less rainfall and more sunshine. And I will change it to a savanna. Provide for dependable water, plant trees where needed, have grasslands and brush. Atavisms-R-Us… Land Consultants to the True Believers… We can show you the Way…

6 Mar 2008, 10:17am
by Mike

For Christmas I want a kettle drum, the portable, marching band kind. Then I will go stand outside the Governor’s Mansion and pound it, BOOM boom-boom, BOOM boom-boom, while I chant Burn, Baby, Burn, Baby, Burn, Baby, Burn …

Street Theater. Performance Art. Like Mickey and Judy; let’s put on a show.

6 Mar 2008, 10:17am
by Joe B.

The effect of these catastrophic events is in a way not unlike the heavy effort to dam up most of the rivers to bring electricity to the masses in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. It is similar in that forced movement of people is happening at the behest of the government. It is unlike that time in our nation’s history, due to the fact that at least with the dams there were tangible trade offs such as electricity and new recreational lakes to make people forget about the once great rivers that were destroyed.

Here we have the forced movement of people, pretty much after you stare down a firestorm and it takes your house, you basically move out. Some die hards don’t, but most wise up and leave knowing that it will only happen again and now they can’t get any insurance company to write a policy for them.

You want to know why insurance agencies don’t write policies for a lot of these homes? It ain’t hard to figure out. You need to peel back from the overall risk argument and ask specifics as to why there is a risk too great, overgrown forests, a government agency that refuses to fight the fires, and so on.

Mike, I’m different than others in that I don’t hate these idiots for what they do, I pity them because they have something pretty darn huge to answer to when they arrive at the Pearly Gates. And I never forget that blessed are they the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of God.

I wish they would see the light, and I will confront them at every turn, but I just can’t bring myself to hate the level of stupidity they exhibit. It seems wholly against my sense of fairness, and I know life is not fair, but I intend to be. Anyone else is free to have their own feelings on the matter.

6 Mar 2008, 10:31am
by Mike

I don’t hate anybody but I am royally pissed at the destruction of my forests. Frustration gnaws at me. I struggle to grasp what to do to save our forests, and my friends and neighbors, and myself.

6 Mar 2008, 11:05am
by Joe B.

The only thing we need to save ourselves from these idiots is… a lot of water.

I say we start a global increase in humidity rumor. In 15 years it ought to be just as palatable as global warming.

6 Mar 2008, 11:19am
by Forrest Grump

It would probably be better to get a USFS Fire plastic drum and beat it in August. Warmer and you can work on your tan. Maybe someone you know has a water tender that would work… an unemployed water tender.

Just don’t use your head as the mallet, even though it seems tempting… but then, we all seem to do it every day, right?

6 Mar 2008, 1:38pm
by Mike

The thing I like most about this website is that the comments are better than the posts.

6 Mar 2008, 3:08pm
by Backcut

The way I see it, the preservationists just aren’t quite progressive enough in their thinking to consider “killing trees to save the forest”. They throw away science when it conflicts with their beliefs.

Lately, many of them have been running from forestry debates, and the none of the Presidential candidates demonstrate a grasp of the issues. The forestry profession needs grab the moral high ground, continue to show the public the findings of good science, and to regain trust. All that will not come easy.

6 Mar 2008, 5:51pm
by Bob Z.

I like Joe B.’s contention that what we need to save ourselves from “these idiots is… a lot of water.”

Unfortunately, I think he is overestimating their intelligence and a lot more than water is needed at this juncture. Please see:


This is the enemy. Really.



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