Kimbell Axes Fire Planning

On April 2nd USFS Chief Abigail Kimbell decided that four Region 3 National Forests no longer needed Fire Management Plans (FMP’s) as part of their Land and Resource Management Plans (LCMP’s). As a result, the existing FMP’s on the Carson and Lincoln NF’s in New Mexico and the Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto NF’s in Arizona were thrown in the dumpster.

Kimbell axed the FMP’s because an environmental group, the WildEarth Guardians (formerly the Forest Guardians), had sued the Forest Service in December, claiming the agency’s FMP’s for the four forests were inadequate because they were produced without any NEPA process (i.e. no Environmental Analyses or Environmental Impact Statements were created).

From the WildEarth Guardians’ Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [here]:

61. The Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto, Carson, and Lincoln National Forests did not solicit public input and did not prepare an EA or EIS before preparing and approving their FMPs. Consequently, the public had no opportunity to comment on the fire management practices required by the FMPs, and the Forest Service did not analyze alternatives to the FMPs.

Rather than comply with NEPA, Kimbell junked the FMP’s, and the next week the USFS requested the lawsuit be dropped. From the Las Cruses Sun-News [here]:

Forest Service seeks dismissal of fire plan lawsuit

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Las Cruses Sun-News, 04/10/2008

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—The U.S. Forest Service is seeking dismissal of a federal lawsuit filed by environmentalists who had challenged the agency’s fire management plans for four Southwestern forests.

Forest Guardians, now called WildEarth Guardians, had sued the Forest Service in December, claiming the agency’s plans for the Carson and Lincoln forests in New Mexico and the Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto forests in Arizona were inadequate and produced without enough public involvement.

The Forest Service, in a motion filed Thursday, argued that the lawsuit should be declared moot since the agency withdrew the fire plans last week.

“As a result, the purported decisions that are the basis for plaintiff’s claims are no longer in effect, such that there is no continuing case or controversy to support jurisdiction,” the agency’s lawyers wrote in the two-page motion.

Court documents also show that Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell on Wednesday waived a requirement that the four forests have fire management plans. …

On March 5th the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF issued a notice that they were going to prepare an EA to include Let It Burn fires in their FMP [here]. The Western Institute for Study of the Environment prepared a 170 page complaint requesting that the RR-SNF prepare an EIS before they adopted Let It Burn into their FMP [here].

Now it seems that the Chief of the USFS can merely dump the RR-SNF FMP altogether, rather than obey the law. This type of criminal behavior on Kimbell’s part has also been pointed out and documented many times at SOS Forests [here, for instance].

The USFS has devolved into a lawless outfit that spurns NEPA, ESA, NFMA, NHPA and other laws of the United States in their quest to incinerate America’s priceless heritage forests. The level of abuse and dismissal of the rule of law by this federal agency is appalling and bodes catastrophic disaster. Something must be done and soon.



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