7 Apr 2008, 6:19pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

The Monument, the Mill, and the Enviros

by Lee Belau, retired Fire Management Officer for the Sequoia National Forest

On his way out of the door in April of 2000, President Bill Clinton gave local environmentalists a gift that they had been unable to get through normal legislative action after numerous attempts. He signed a Presidential Proclamation creating the 327,769 acre Giant Sequoia National Monument.

There was no opportunity for public comments prior to this decision. There was no environmental analysis or development of alternatives. No study of the possible effects to the local economy was done. The “spin” was that a monument was necessary to save the Giant Sequoia trees from the evil loggers. We were told not to worry, because the out-of-work folks in the wood products industry would be retrained so that they could benefit from jobs in the new recreation-related business boom that the Monument would generate.

The Proclamation mandated that the Forest Service write a management plan with the guidance of a Scientific Advisory Board to be selected by the National Academy of Science. The Board was appointed and the plan-writing job began. Early in the process, the Board agreed that all of their recommendations to the Forest Supervisor would be by unanimous consent. For the next nearly four years, the Board held meetings that were open to the public. They listened to public comments, and took field trips to the forest, the National Park, the Tule River Indian Reservation and to Mt. Home State Forest to view giant sequoia stands and various management practices. In January of 2004, the final plan was signed.

Today, more than seven years after the Monument was proclaimed, virtually nothing that would enhance the protection, improvement or management of the Monument and the Giant Sequoia trees has been accomplished. This is because those same people who promoted the establishment, agreed to the proclamation language, and dictated the planning process, sent their attorneys to court and got the plan declared invalid. Additionally, in spite of Proclamation language that clearly states that timber sales under contract as of the date of the signing (4/2000) could be completed consistent with the terms of the contract, four sale projects were included in the Monument Plan lawsuit and similarly stopped.

Why? For reasons of their own, most probably related to fund raising, (give us your money and we will fight the evil loggers) the Sierra Club and related groups have decided that any commercial use of resources (timber, et al) from public lands is bad and must not be allowed.

The problem with the Monument Plan in the Enviros view is that it allows the use of some mechanical treatment, including logging, in order to restore the forest and Sequoia groves to conditions thought to have existed prior to European settlement. The long range goal of the plan was to reduce existing fuel loading to the point that the entire monument could be managed using only prescribed and natural fire, (a questionable goal considering air-quality issues).

In spite of the fact that the Proclamation encourages the use of different approaches to mitigating unsatisfactory conditions, understanding different approaches to forest restoration, and allows for the removal of trees if clearly needed for ecological restoration and maintenance of public safety, the Sierra Club folks have decided that their “no commercial use” policy trumps all else. Hiding behind the Endangered Species Act and armed with an army of attorneys, they marched into a hand-picked court and got anything that they didn’t like shut down.

Now, as the results of the legal shenanigans related to the Monument Plan and permitted timber sales grind on (new plan/more studies), the environmentalists are going to court again to stop timber sale projects on the adjacent Sierra National Forest. In the Sierra case, they are claiming that they are not opposed to logging – as long as nothing big enough to be cut into a board is cut.

The environmentalists would have us believe that there is no down-side to their policy and actions. They claim that old-growth closed-canopy forests won’t burn because they are cooler and damper than the more open stands that may have been logged – and – besides, if they do burn, not everything is destroyed.

The reality is that these forests can and do burn. In years with light precipitation, early snow-melt and high temperatures, they become highly flammable. If we are to believe predictions of climate change caused by global warming, we should expect to experience more and more hot and dry years.

Another reality in dealing with old growth and/or unmanaged forests is that trees die. Whether from insects, disease, or old-age, trees die, become snags and eventually fall. Dead trees, either standing (snags) or down, dry out and become fuel for fire. Every year that goes by without some kind of fuel reduction in these forests, increases the odds that they will burn. And when fire does happen, it will be hot enough to resist early control and do great harm, including damage to the soil.

It has been seven years since significant fuels reduction work has occurred within the Monument, and many more since anything has been done to protect the giant Sequoia groves. It is estimated that it will take two or three more years to produce another Management Plan, and then who knows how much longer for a new plan to work its way through appeals and lawsuits.

Tragically, by the time the management of the Monument is settled, the local sawmill that makes it possible to use the dying, dead and excess trees and pay for at least a portion of the work within a reasonable time-frame, will have been starved out of raw material and gone.

So, now we have Giant Sequoia Groves in deteriorating condition and susceptible to devastating fire. There is no approved plan to start corrective action, and an inability to take advantage of the dollar value of excess, dying and dead trees to help pay for the essential work. There is the very real chance that a sawmill that is an outstanding example of utilization and efficiency, will have to close.

It is time for the environmental groups, led by the Sierra Club and supported by their attorneys, to rethink the position that only their views of forest management are valid, and that they would prefer that judges make the decisions.

7 Apr 2008, 8:56pm
by Bob Z.

The Sierra Club and their lawyers need to be asked how they think people managed these forests 1,000 years and 10,000 years ago.

Where did they live? How did they gather firewood? How much did they use every day? What kinds of fires did they use? Where were these fires located, how many were set, and at what times of year?

The answers to these questions will demonstrate that Enviros really have no clue about forest history, pre-white forest conditions, or racial prejudice when it comes to American Indians. They are both ignorant and arrogant in their actions, which negatively affect us all.

Because the USFS and Sierra Club lawyers are simply paid to follow instructions, it brings their own ethics and capabilities into question.

People who do not allow boards to be removed from public lands should not be allowed to use boards in their homes or furniture. People who promote racist policies should be held accountable for their actions.

7 Apr 2008, 9:49pm
by Mike

The “other enviro groups” are Earth First! monkey wrencher eco-terrorist outfits: black-pajama clad night sneakers, booby-trappers, cutters of hydraulic hoses, tree spikers, wanna-be Viet Cong, Marxist revolutionary punks. Most are high as a kite on drugs. They do the bidding of Arab princes, although they don’t realize it. It’s all part of the monkey wrench America movement. Home-grown screw America firsters. Arsonist anarchist tools of the most hate-filled, racist tyrants on the planet today. In my judgment. I question their motives. I question their patriotism. I question their sanity.

8 Apr 2008, 8:47am
by Forrest Grump

You mean Congress, Mike?

8 Apr 2008, 9:14am
by Mike


Strangely enough, in this case I don’t. Congress is made up of thieves and trough-suckers who hide in their Beltway digs counting their loot. Like the monkeys who see, hear, and speak no evil, they are clueless on purpose and powerless to do anything but pilfer from the Treasury.

9 Apr 2008, 7:35pm
by bear bait

Years ago I said the fastest way to end this whole charade was to not push against the tide, but sail with it using a motor if possible. The sooner we get to intolerable, the sooner it all changes. The issue is if you can stop after they go over the precipice and soon enough that you do not follow them. You don’t lead people to the edge: you push them over it.

Perhaps it is time for all to re-read the Book of 5 Rings. Learn again how and when to use the short sword and the long sword.

Revisit the Prince. Some Chairman Mao. Chief Joseph. This is an ideological war with very real results suffered by those who do not prevail.



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