Forest Apocalypse Now

The US Forest Service has gone out of it’s freaking mind. Oregon is now the new Let It Burn Laboratory, and our watersheds are targeted for incineration.

The horrendous new “plan” to incinerate Oregon forests was accidentally exposed by Oregonian reporter Matthew Preusch yesterday, the very day that the Mitchell watershed was deliberately incinerated by insane nutwads from the Ochoco National Forest. Some revealing excerpts [here]:

Some Oregon wildland fires, rather than being suppressed, are allowed to burn

MATTHEW PREUSCH, the Oregonian, August 18, 2008

Concerns about budgets, forest health and overstocked woods lie behind the interest in the management technique

BEND — When a lightning storm rolled across central Oregon this month, firefighters quickly mobilized to quash the scores of new wildfires.

But on a handful of fires they chose to hold back, using instead a new tool that allows them to designate certain low-risk blazes as beneficial to the forest.

“We really like it,” said Chris Hoff, fire management officer for the multiagency Central Oregon Fire Management Service. “It gives us the opportunity to treat areas with natural fire that before we couldn’t.”

Last month, the Ochoco National Forest completed a plan for managing wildland fires, the fifth national forest in Oregon and Washington to do so. Others are the Okanogan-Wenatchee, Wallowa-Whitman, Deschutes and Willamette national forests, said Glen Sachet, regional spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Guess what, Chris. WE REALLY DON’T LIKE IT WHEN YOU INCINERATE OUR FORESTS.

No “plan” was vetted through any NEPA process by the Ochoco NF. Nothing appears on their website regarding any “plan.” That kind of clandestine activity is patently illegal. But the “Little Hitlers” apparently have some secret document that they think justifies their deliberate incineration of Oregon watersheds.

The Bridge Creek Fire is now 4,900 acres (7.7 sq miles). Most of the ground burned is PRIVATE PROPERTY, not Federal land.

Where is the doc that says the US Government can now burn public and private land with impunity? You know, the one that the Little Hitlers in the USFS really, really like?

Why not come clean and produce the alleged secret document that gives you such a BIG ASS THRILL?

Did the Little Hitlers have a party to celebrate their FOREST APOCALYPSE PLAN? Did they wear little party hats and eat some cake?
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Walter’s Whoofoo

As of 6am this morning the Bridge Creek Fire has reached 3,000 acres. The fire is five miles south of Mitchell, Oregon and threatening that city, its watershed, the Indian Prairie area, Mt. Pisgah, and hundreds of homes and ranches in the area.

The Northwest Interagency [Fire] Coordination Center reported this morning:

The fire has reached White Butte to the north and Thompson Creek to the west. Significant growth occurred on all perimeters. A Type 2 Incident Management Team has taken over the suppression efforts.

The IMT called in is the Central Oregon Type II (the CO2’s) under Incident Commander Mark Rapp. The CO2’s are a firefighting fixture in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, frequently called in to the toughest fires. Earlier this summer they contained and controlled the Cold Springs Fire on the south side of Mt. Adams.

The Bridge Creek Fire has already overrun Thompson Spring, Dunn Spring, Lone Reservoir, Bridge Spring, Indian Prairie, Masterson Spring, Maxwell Spring and much of the City of Mitchell Watershed. Numerous cultural and historical sites in the area are threatened or have already been burned over.

The Bridge Creek Fire was ignited by lightning on Aug. 7, more than ten days ago, on the north side of Mt. Pisgah on the Ochoco National Forest. Ochoco NF Forest Supervisor Jeff Walter made the executive decision to Let It Burn. He declared the fire to be a whoofoo, (WFU or Wildland Fire Use fire). Walter and Deschutes National Forest Supervisor John Allen have “signed off” on numerous whoofoos in the last few days, choosing to Let It Burn rather than initial attack with intent to suppress.

That lack of initial attack has allowed the Bridge Creek Fire to blow up into a major fire incident requiring the engagement of the CO2’s Incident Management Team. Currently 185 firefighters are on site, including five Type-2 line crews and 10 fire engines. Firefighters are risking their lives to save the City of Mitchell and what’s left of its watershed because of Ochoco NF Forest Supervisor Jeff Walter’s blunder.

Millions of dollars will be spent, and millions more in damages done, because of a fire that Jeff Walter determined would yield “resource benefits.”
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Federal Forest Management Designed By a Pyromaniac

The Portland Oregonian has had a change of heart. Instead of lambasting private contract firefighters (on the eve of the memorial service) and blaming them for the cost of USFS Let It Burn policies, the Oregonian Editorial Board has zeroed in on the real culprit: irresponsible forest un-management by that shoddy federal agency.

This (signed) editorial showed up Friday and again today:

Fighting fire in Oregon forests

by The Oregonian Editorial Board, August 15, 2008 [here]

The Forest Service invests heavily… in flammable material!

America’s forests are a mess. Overgrown. Under-managed. And tinder-dry.

Here we are, barely half way through the fire season, and — once again — the U. S. Forest Service has run out of money for fighting fires.

That means the Forest Service is being forced — once again — to plunder the other line items of its budget. Sure, that means more shoddy trails, more shuttered campgrounds. But that’s just the bad news.

The far worse news is this means Uncle Sam will again be spending less on the critical work of properly maintaining the forest. On thinning it. On trimming it. On sweeping clean its floor.

Just last week, the Forest Service diverted another $30 million from its commitment to clear duff, that’s the organic debris that carpets so much of the forest floor.

The Forest Service, in other words, just made a massive investment in next year’s supply of flammable material, all but guaranteeing far worse fires in the offing.

This is federal forest management designed by a pyromaniac. Its consequence will be more firefighters killed, more billions of dollars wasted, more millions of acres of national treasure going up in smoke. (emphasis added)

The modern forest is a complex socio-economic, biological, geochemical organism. Managed for multiple uses, it must serve as a:

Source of timber.
Recreational resource.
Haven for flora and fauna.
Warehouse of sequestered carbon.

Each of those roles, each of enormous consequence, is imperiled when forest managers spent most of their time, and much of their budget, fighting fires. Or appearing in court to argue about where, when and just how ferociously to fight fires.

For decades, under the influence of Smokey Bear, America clung to the belief fire was the enemy. It isn’t. There’s a growing recognition of its key role in a balanced ecosystem. Our challenge now is to make our forests healthy enough so that at the right times, in the right places, and in the right way — lightly — we can let them burn.

As a first step in that direction, Congress must immediately move to provide separate dedicated funding for fighting fires. Which means we’d have separate dedicated funds for managing our forests.

Only then can we start fighting fires much more sensibly. And being much more sensible about which we should let burn. — Bob Caldwell

Separate funding is an okay idea. It is really just juggling budgets and does not address the core problem.

Let It Burn is a policy the Media needs to disavow. Give it a rest, please.

But the idea that fires should be at the right times, in the right places, and done the right way is on the mark. Forest also need to be prepared to receive those properly timed, located, and administered fires.

Need a useful phrase to describe all that? Try “restoration forestry.” That’s the phrase the pros use.

The whole and complete idea of restoration forestry also includes:

1. Heritage landscape renovation
2. Managing for fire resiliency and old-growth development pathways
3. Watershed protection
4. Protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat
5. Active stewardship with positive economic returns
6. Compliance with environmental laws

Restoration forestry is the ticket out of the mess we are in. Restoration forestry does NOT include Let It Burn megafires that ravage regions. Restoration forestry is about responsible stewardship, not incineration.

Kudos to the Oregonian for climbing part way out of the Media Mire of Ignorance. Over the next week or two (watch for it, excellent and hopeful restoration forestry news is in the SOSF queue) we will reach down and try to lift and drag the Media a little bit farther up the learning curve.

More Burning in Siskiyou Wilderness?

By Mark DuPont

At the weekly IC meeting yesterday I was informed that Tyrone Kelley, the Six Rivers Supervisor in Eureka, is directing the Orleans IC to conduct burnout operations along the Sawtooth Ridge – Lake Harrington area of the Siskiyou Wilderness in order to connect the Blue Complex with the Sikiyou Complex to the north. As I understand it, this operation could add several square miles to the fire in steep wilderness terrain.

Personally I am strongly opposed to this proposed action, and my sense is that the current IC would just as soon let the existing fires run their course, but they are being prompted by Tyrone to start a whole new burning operation.

We are now entering the worst of our fire season, when temperatures are highest, fuel moistures and relative humidity the lowest and winds may become strong and unpredictable. Fire prediction models show that it the fire is not likely to spread into this area on its own, (i.e. less than 50% probability) thus I cannot see the logic in spending more money and resources and creating an even greater impact, especially in a remote wilderness area with no roads or structures, that holds cultural importance to the Karuk Tribe.

We have been told since June that the strategy for these fires has been to be aggressive with burning early, before we enter the worst of the fire season. With temperatures now in the triple digits I feel we have reached that point and it is time to back off of burning. With virtually all controlled burn operations in the area winding down and the worst of the fires season yet to come, I feel this is not the time to be introducing more fire on the landscape, especially on this kind of scale. Several fires in the state have recently been contained and resource availability is presently good, therefore a better option would be to closely monitor the fires and use helicopters to bucket on water if intensity spikes.

If you are concerned about this then I think it is critical to contact Tyrone Kelley today at the SO and make your voice heard. Today is Friday and I don’t know that he will be reachable during the weekend. Thus far, the fire teams have been in quite a hurry to burn before conditions get any worse and burning could possibly be well underway by Monday.

Tryone Kelley’s e-mail - tkelley01@fs.fed.us
Tyrone Kelley’svoice mail - (707)-441-3534
Tyrone’Kelly’s personal assistant - (707)-441-3517

Below is the text of a personal letter I’ve e-mailed to Tyrone. I’d be interested in any comments or feedback on this matter.

Mark DuPont

———————————————————-

August 15, 2008

Dear Tyrone Kelly:

At the weekly IC meeting yesterday I was informed that you are directing the Orleans IC to conduct burnout operations along the Sawtooth Ridge – Lake Harrington area of the Siskiyou Wilderness in order to connect the Blue complex with the Sikiyou complex to the north . As a local business owner, Vice President of the Mid Klamath Watershed Council and concerned Orleans citizen I am strongly opposed to this proposed action. With virtually all controlled burn operations in the area winding down and the worst of the fires season yet to come I feel this is not the time to be introducing more fire on the landscape. Several fires in the state have recently been contained and resource availability is presently good, therefore a better option would be to closely monitor the fires and use helicopters to bucket on water if intensity spikes.

I am specifically opposed to further controlled burns at this time for the following reasons:

Unnecessary Risk – We are now entering the worst of our fire season, when temperatures are highest, fuel moistures and relative humidity the lowest and winds may become strong and unpredictable. Fire prediction models show that it the fire is not likely to spread into this area on its own. We have been told since June that the strategy for these fires has been to be aggressive with burning early before we enter the worst of the fire season. With temperatures now in the triple digits I feel we have reached that point and it is time to back off of burning.

Community Health – Our communities have been suffering from critically poor air quality for almost two months. Everyone is ready for a break in the smoke and hoping for any improvement in air quality

Excessive Footprint – the Siskiyou, Ukonom, Blue & Panther Complexes have already covered almost 150,000 acres. With fire production models showing that the fire is not likely to spread to this area I cannot see the logic in spending more money and resources and creating an even greater impact, especially in a remote wilderness area with no roads or structures that holds cultural importance to the Karuk Tribe.

Adverse Economic Effects – I own and operate a cabin rental business and the fires have largely eliminated our business as well as that of other recreation business such rafting companies and vacation rentals. This is normally our peak season and we presently have virtually no bookings for the second half of August. Our only hope of reclaiming some of the season is by ceasing burning operations and allowing the opportunity for the air to clear in September and the fall.

Cultural Concerns – I have spoken with several Karuk tribal members who have cultural, spiritual and family connections to this area and are opposed to conducting controlled burns at this time.

I deeply appreciate the efforts of the fire crews and forest service that have worked tirelessly in managing these fires. Several community members, including myself are monitoring and documenting the fires closely. We will ask for and expect full accountability for any burning operations that are conducted for here until the end of the fire season. I would appreciate a response to my concerns, if telephone is better than I can be reached at 530-627-3379.

Sincerely,

Mark DuPont
Sandy Bar Ranch & Nursery

Sandy Bar Ranch & Nursery
PO Box 347, 797 Ishi Pishi Rd.
Orleans, CA, 95556
Tel: (530) 627-3379
Fruit Tree Nursery: www.sandybarnursery.com

Destroying Forests Has Destroyed the US Forest Service

The US Forest Service is bankrupt. They have spent their entire 2008 fire budget of $1.2 billion, and an additional $400 million besides, and it is still mid-August, and fires are burning right now in every western state.

The extra $400 million spent to date is coming out of non-fire USFS programs [here]. There is a hiring freeze, forest rehabilitation projects on burns of prior years have been canceled, as have been every other kind of USFS project, and layoffs are forthcoming.

The attitude expressed by USFS Chief Gail Kimbell is, “pray for rain.” Maybe we should pray for a new Chief.

Useless and unnecessary fires have consumed the budget.

The Basin/Indians Fire burned 244,000 acres and is the 3rd largest fire in California history. With more than $120,000,000 spent on fire “suppression,” it is now the most expensive fire in California history, and the 2nd most expensive in U.S. history (the Biscuit Fire in Oregon in 2002 cost $150,000,000). Most of those acres were incinerated in backburns. The Long Range Fire Implementation Plan was not suppression but burn it all.

The Iron Complex on the Shasta-Trinity NF will burn over 100,000 acres at a cost of over $70 million. Those fires could have been contained and controlled a month ago, but the Plan from ignition was to burn, baby, burn.

The combined acreage burned in Northern California forests this summer exceeds 500,000 acres and the cost of “suppression” is in excess of $300 million. Many of those megafires are still burning, consuming thousands of acres and tens of millions of dollars every day.

Hundreds of spotted owl nesting stands have been destroyed. More than $5 billion in timber values have been incinerated. Endangered salmon spawning streams have been boiled and the erosion yet to come will bury the spawning gravels. Whole watersheds and habitats have been destroyed.

A dozen firefighters have lost their lives.

The total costs will be paid over decades to come.

Yet the burns go on and on. That is the plan, after all: to incinerate as much of our National Forests as possible. The Ten-Year National Fire Plan as designed by the Nature Conservancy (there’s an oxymoronic name) and the Wilderness Society, and embraced by USFS leadership, calls for more than Let It Burn; it demands forest holocaust at any price.

Congress doesn’t care. They throw away money like tissue paper. They gave the multinational giant Weyerhaeuser a $182 million tax break for nothing. They gave Plum Creek $510 million for cut-over land that will go to the Nature Conservancy for their “private” burn, baby, burn program [here]. (Yes, I know, the article say only half the money will come from the feds. But ask yourself, where do the funds that bankroll TNC come from? If you guessed the US Treasury, give yourself a gold star.)

Pray for rain? That won’t help. Gail Kimbell has made it her personal mission to incinerate the 191 million acres of USFS forests and an additional 400 million acres of private forestland, too. She calls it her “Open Space” program. Burning America’s Forests to the Ground would be a better name.

The mantra from the USFS is that catastrophic forest fires are “good” for forests. They can’t say why, and indeed they violate every national environmental law in the process. The illegal fires do not save money, either; the fact is they broke the budget.

The Dead Tree Press revels in Let It Burn. The Portland Oregonian goes so far as to blame private firefighting contractors for the high cost of incinerating entire watersheds, landscapes, and regions. The Oregonian joyfully killed Oregon’s forest industry, and now they seek to kill the remnants that have hung on as firefighters.

That is the common Dead Tree Press anti-forest position, which is a trifle hypocritical in that they are themselves in the wood products business. Newsprint come from logging, after all. But no matter. If it hurts America, they are all for it.

No candidate for President or any other political office is running on a Save The Forests platform. It is a non-issue. The only mention of forests in political campaigns this year is the frequent hoorah to declare them all “wilderness” and then burn them to the ground.

Destroying forests by catastrophic fire is the accepted notion holding sway over all our political parties, including the Losertarians. The Democommies take the cake though, or should we say, the prize ashes. They wish to incinerate America’s forests in the name of anti-Capitalism and Global Warming, which makes no sense no matter whether you are a GW alarmist or a skeptic.

The USFS is dying behind it all. They have lost their forest experts, the people who care about forests, and replaced them with fire-happy nincompoops. The simple job of reporting on active fires has been aborted again and again this summer by every federal fire reporting center. I should know. I took it upon myself to track forest fires this summer. The reports are late or missing, often wrong, and done in such a sloppy manner as to give the impression that fire reporting is deeply resented by the handful of incompetent functionaries assigned the task.

And now that’s all there is left of the USFS. Bankrupt incompetence and sloppiness that are deadly to forests, firefighters, residents, and communities throughout the rural (and sometimes urban) West. That once proud and vibrant land management agency has sunk into the depths. They have positioned themselves to be enemies of forests and indeed of the American people. They have become a criminal conspiracy of eco-terrorists.

It is tragic and it is sad, but mostly it is catastrophic disaster after disaster. Our forests are being destroyed by the very people we hired to protect them. The public has been conned. The propaganda-induced fear of forestry has become the desire to incinerate the Public Forested Estate and much of the Private Forested Estate as well.

Former homeowners standing in the charred ruins of their former homes are told that they are guilty, that home ownership is not American anymore, that the American Dream is dead and rightfully so because it was a bad thing for the planet, that smoking wastelands are the ideal now, that the wholesale incineration of forests is the New Way, that America is the Home of the Wolves and the Land of Disaster, that blackened charred forests are preferred over green ones, that the role of our government is to Burn, Baby, Burn.

As we mourn the fallen, the vanquished, and the burned out, we might also mourn the passing of the US Forest Service. It really was a great outfit once. Those days are gone, however. It is a snag-filled smoking ruin now, much as our former priceless, heritage American forests.

15 Aug 2008, 9:17am
The 2008 Fire Season
by admin
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NWCC SNAFU and FUBAR

Yesterday I telephoned the Northwest Area Interagency Coordination Center [503.808.2763] and asked them why they did not list ongoing fires on their website. They put me on hold and then hung up on me. Then I sent them an email [NWCC_Mail@or.blm.gov] making the same request: please do your job and list all fires.

This morning their “Morning Briefing has been altered twice already as of 10:00am. They now list for the very first time the following 11 WFU fires that have been burning for a week or more:

Bridge Creek WFU Fire
Bridge Creek Wilderness, 8 mi SW Mitchell, OR
Start date: 08/07/2008

547 WFU Fire
18 mi SW Mitchell, OR
Start date: 08/07/2008

Ochoco WFU Fire
10 mi SW Dayville, OR
Start date: 08/07/2008

Whistler WFU Fire
18 mi SW Mitchell, OR
Start date: 08/07/2008

Minam Peak WFU Fire
12 mi SW Joseph, OR
Start date: 08/07/2008

Garwood Creek WFU Fire
20 mi NE La Grande, OR
Start date: 08/09/2008

Foam Creek WFU Fire
Henry O Jackson Wilderness, 40 mi NW of Leavenworth, WA
Start date: 08/09/2008

Boulder Creek WFU Fire
28 mi NW of Leavenworth, WA
Start date: 08/06/2008

Reflection WFU Fire
37 mi NW of Leavenworth, WA
Start date: 08/09/2008

Meander WFU Fire
40 mi NW of Leavenworth, WA
Start date: 08/09/2008

Panther Creek WFU Fire
40 mi NW of Leavenworth, WA
Start date: 08/05/2008

The NWCC Daily Situation Report has not been updated since Wednesday. At least two large suppression fires, the Malott Fire west of Malott, WA and the Jack Creek Fire SW of Leavenworth, WA, have never been mentioned.

The NWCC is doing an exceedingly poor job. The Steering Committee is composed of the following individuals:

Bureau of Land Management
Carl Gossard
PO Box 3623
Portland, OR 97208-3623
Office: 503-808-6461
Cell: 503-702-9773
Fax: 503-808-6799
Email: Carl_Gossard@or.blm.gov Bureau of Indian Affairs

Cory Winnie, Chair
911 NE 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97232-4169
Office: 503-231-6759
Fax: 503-231-6774
Email: Cory.Winnie@gmail.com US Forest Service

Ken Snell,
PO Box 3623
Portland, OR 97208-3623
Office: 503-808-2145
Cell: 503-804-9786
FAX: 503-808-6799
Email: ksnell@fs.fed.us

National Park Service
Sue Husari
1111 Jackson Street, Suite 700
Oakland, CA 94607
Office: 510-817-1370
Cell: 415-613-7752
Fax: 510-817-1487
e-mail: Sue_Husari@NPS.gov Oregon Department of Forestry

Paul Bell
2600 State Street
Salem, OR 97310
Office: 503-945-7205
Fax: 503-945-7454
Email: pbell@odf.state.or.us Washington Dept. of Natural Resources

Mark Kahley
1111 Washington St., NE.
PO Box 47037
Olympia, WA 98504-7037
Office: 360-902-1011
Cell: 253-686-0130
Fax: 360-902-1781
Email: mark.kahley@wadnr.gov

US Fish and Wildlife Service
Pam Ensley
911 NE 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97232-4169
Office: 503-231-6174
Cell: 503-781-7978
Fax: 503-231-2364
Email: pam_ensley@fws.gov Washington Fire Service

Bob Anderson, Spokane Co FD #9
3801 E. Farwell Rd.
Mead, WA 99021
Office: 509-466-4602, ext 901
Fax: 509-466-4698
Email: banderson@scfd9.org Oregon Fire Service

Mike Burnett, Hillsboro Fire Dept.
Operations Chief
240 S. 1st Ave
Hillsboro, OR 97123
Office: 503-681-6472
Cell: 503-349-6472
Fax: 503-681-6208
Email: mikebu@ci.hillsboro.or.us

Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office
Mike Matlick, Fire Marshal
Paul Perz, Assistant State Fire Marshal
PO Box 42600
Olympia, WA 98504-2600
Office: 360-596-3902
Fax: 360-753-0398
e-mail: mike.matlick@wsp.state.wa.gov
Paul Perz@wsp.state.wa.gov Oregon State Fire Marshal

Randy Simpson, Vice Chair
4760 Portland Road NE
Salem, OR 97305
Office: 503-373-1540 ext. 216
Fax: 503-373-1825
Email: Randy.Simpson@state.or.us Executive Director

Pat Kelly
PJ Kelly Consulting LLC
4305 NE Davis St
Portland, OR 97213
Office/Cell: 503-235-9999
Email: pjkjgk@earthlink.net

Jan Mathis, notetaker
333 SW First Ave OR-934
Portland, OR 97204
Office: 503-808-6749
e-mail: Jan_Mathis@blm.gov

Please feel free to call or write these obsequious government functionaries and ask them why the NWCC is SNAFU and FUBAR and whether they give a damn. Also ask them how much of the taxpayer’s money they personally jam into their wallets every week, and what in the hell they do for it.

Ask them if there is one shred of justification for whoofoo incinerations, and whether they have any EIS or other documentary evidence indicating that the general public was consulted before they, the obsequious functionaries, cavalierly decided to burn Oregon and Washington forests.

And ask them, very gently and solicitously, if they think criminal activities by obsequious government functionaries should be of any concern to the general public, and if so, what penalties (fines and incarcerations) would be appropriate for felons in the government employ.

14 Aug 2008, 11:07am
Federal forest policy
by admin
2 comments

Permanent Injunction Against Clinton’s Roadless Plan Issued, Again

Clinton’s Roadless Plan is killed, again. On Tuesday US District Court Judge Clarence A. Brimmer issued a permanent injunction against Bill Clinton’s 58.5 million acre Roadless Rule, for the second time. Reiterating his July, 2003 injunction, Judge Brimmer ordered the set aside of the Plan upon the motion of the State of Wyoming, strongly rejecting the 2006 reinstatement by Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. LaPorte of San Francisco.

Judge Brimmer again took to task Clinton Administration USFS Chief Mike Dombeck for repeated violations of various federal statutes including the NEPA, NFMA, the Wilderness Act, MUSYA, and APA. He also noted that his 2003 injunction had been appealed and the appeal declared moot because the post-Dombeck USFS adopted the State Petitions Rule which superseded the 2001 Roadless Rule.

The State Petitions Rule was held in 2006 to be promulgated in violation of NEPA and the ESA by Magistrate LaPorte, whose remedy was reinstating the 2001 Roadless Rule. Nope, said Judge Brimmer, that’s not going to happen.

Judge Brimmer’s entire decision is [here]. Some excerpts from his exceedingly well-written opinion:

There is not one good reason in the administrative record before the Court explaining why cooperating agency status was denied to the ten most affected states, including Wyoming, especially in light of the CEQ’s [Council on Environmental Quality] direction that federal agencies should actively seek participation of the states in order to comply with NEPA’s statutory mandate. Absent any such explanation, the Court must again conclude that Wyoming was right in characterizing the Forest Service’s process as a “mad dash to complete the Roadless Initiative before President Clinton left office.” The Forest Service dared not let any of the ten most affected states have cooperating agency status lest its “mad dash” would be slowed to a walk. …

[T]he Forest Service eliminated from consideration exceptions to permit road construction activities for “hazardous fuel reduction treatments, insect and disease treatments, and forest health management”… The Forest Service’s cavalier dismissal of such forest management activities, which have been the environmental status quo for decades, compels the Court to find that the Forest Service did not give each reasonable alternative substantial treatment in the EIS or take a hard look at the environmental consequences of its actions.

The Forest Service’s inadequate alternative analysis was the result of the agency narrowly defining the scope of its project to satisfy a predetermined directive by Chief Dombeck, which eliminated competing alternatives out of consideration and existence. …

It was irrational for the Forest Service to develop a comprehensive strategy for implementing interrelated rules and policies, carry out that strategy, and never consider the cumulative effects of its actions or explain them to the public. …

The Court, as it did in Roadless I, FINDS that: (1) the Forest Service’s decision not to extend the scoping comment period was arbitrary and capricious; (2) the Forest Service’s denial of cooperating agency status without explanation was arbitrary and capricious; (3) the Forest Service’s failure to rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives was contrary to law; (4) the Forest Service’s conclusion that its cumulative impacts analysis in the Roadless Rule Final EIS satisfied its NEPA duties was a clear error in judgment; and (5) the Forest Service’s decision not to issue a supplemental EIS was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.

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Iron 44 Fallen Firefighter Tribute

A tribute to the firefighters who died on the Iron Complex at Helispot 44 will be held on Friday August 15, 2008 at the Lithia Motors Amphitheater on the Jackson County Fairgrounds from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

More information can be found at Grayback Forestry [here].

From the Associated Press [here]:

Officials work to ID remains from helicopter crash

WEAVERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Authorities on Sunday finished collecting badly burned remains from the crash site of a firefighting helicopter in the Northern California wilderness.

A day earlier, helicopters carrying flag-draped stretchers that bore some of the remains were greeted by an honor guard of firefighters at a nearby airstrip.

Accompanied by a fire engine escort, the stretchers were taken to the Shasta County coroner’s office in Redding. Authorities there would probably have to rely on DNA analysis and dental records to identify the bodies, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Tom Kroll said.

Nine people were killed in the crash.

The helicopter was ferrying 10 firefighters, two pilots and a U.S. Forest Service employee back to base camp Tuesday after crews battled a fire about 215 miles northwest of Sacramento.

The Sikorsky S-61N helicopter had just been refueled when it lifted off from a remote clearing, struck a tree and plummeted into a hillside, according to National Transportation Safety Board officials. The chopper then erupted into flames.

Two of the four men who survived the crash, firefighters Michael Brown, 20, and Jonathan Frohreich, 18, both of Medford, Ore., were discharged from the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento on Saturday. They suffered facial burns and broken bones.

Brown said Saturday that he couldn’t remember anything about the crash but felt that he was spared because “God had his hand wrapped around me.”

He said he was mourning the loss of friends: “Those guys were brothers to me.”

Pilot William Coultas of Oregon has undergone skin grafting for severe burns. He was in critical condition Sunday, said Martha Alcott, a spokeswoman for UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

The following seven Grayback firefighters lost their lives in the helicopter crash:

Shawn Blazer, 30 from Medford, Ore.
Scott Charleson, 25 from Phoenix, Ore.
Matthew Hammer, 23 from Grants Pass, Ore.
Edrik Gomez, 19, from Ashland, Ore.
Steven Renno, 21, Cave Junction, Ore
Bryan Rich, 29, from Medford, Ore.
David Steele, 19, from Ashland, Ore.

Three Grayback employees survived the crash:

Jonathon Frohreich and Michael Brown were released from UC Davis Medical Center on Sunday August 10. Rick Schroeder, at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, remains in critical condition.
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Mt. Hood Wilderness Expansion Proposal Is Risky

[As the Gnarl Ridge Fire [here] expands in the Mt. Hood Wilderness, causing closure of a large area during peak summer use, threatening Cloud Cap, Tilly Jane, Cold Springs Creek and the Hood River Valley watershed/water supply, Congress is considering the expansion of that Wilderness by 125,000 acres. You might think that some lesson was learned from the Bluegrass Ridge Fire (2006) [here], but apparently not.

Wilderness designation is a kiss of death to forests and forest protection, but you need not take my word for it. Hood River Valley orchardist John Marker has over 50 years of professional forest management experience, is a Director of the National Association of Forest Service Retirees, and is one of the most respected foresters in this country. Here are his recent comments regarding the Mt. Hood Wilderness expansion, submitted to the Hood River County Commission last month.]

by John F. Marker, USFS Forester (ret.)

The goal of protecting Mt. Hood, a magnificent natural resource, is commendable, but proposed wilderness expansion will, I believe, place the mountain at greater risk of damage and increase risk of harm to neighboring lands and communities.

The proposal ignores the 1897 Organic Act’s mandate of sustained production of renewable natural resources from the national forests with water and wood priority. Wood may no longer be critical, since the U.S. now imports most of its lumber and wood products, but water is critical to our ability to live in the West. Recreation, wildlife, solitude and scenery are also important to our quality of life and the engines for a substantial part of our local economy.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 provides little protection for the land from impacts of fire, insects, disease, catastrophic storms, air pollution, or climate change. The Act severely limits the ability to control or prevent damage from such forces by strictly restricting management and treatment options. Wilderness constraints also jeopardize protection of adjacent non-wilderness areas such as Hood River County forests, Bull Run, Government Camp and other lands and communities adjacent to the national forest. And bad things can and do come into and out of Wilderness areas.

Currently many areas of forest inside the proposed Wilderness expansions are threatened by lethal insect and disease activity. Fire danger increases with declining forest health. If, as many scientists predict, the Northwest long term climate pattern continues to grow warmer and drier, the risk of destruction will worsen as ecosystems are weakened by climate changes. Burgeoning human use of the mountain raises the threat of damage to the land from overuse and abuse. To ignore these realities contradicts the stated goal of “protecting” and “saving” Mt. Hood.

An alternative for protecting Mt. Hood is available. It is development of the plan called for in the Walden-Blumenauer legislative proposal, starting with an acknowledgement of the biological and climatic forces constantly at work on the mountain, and an understanding that lines on a map will not save land or resources from damage. Mt. Hood’s critical role of providing clean and abundant water for more than a million people living in its shadow is a paramount consideration for this plan.

Rather than Wilderness, a hard-nosed plan for the mountain’s future can be built by establishing rules for protecting watershed values, recreation and other uses. This process can be expedited by using the existing congressionally-mandated national forest plan to start. If planning determines a specific need for protection beyond existing environmental protection laws, specific legislation can be written.

To my way of thinking, priority for Mt. Hood management is water; other uses come second. Locking up the land is not the way to save or protect against challenges from people and nature’s forces. To care for the mountain and the people depending upon on it requires management that can adapt to changing climate patterns and increasing public needs. Stretching and bending the intent of the Wilderness Act to “protect” and “save” this land does a disservice to Act and the memory of those who created it.

12 Aug 2008, 7:38am
Saving Forests
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Getting to the Goal

by bear bait

“Let is burn” is a random act of violence. To expect universal good to come from it is defies common sense and real world experience.

There is a large and directed campaign by NGOs of the Environment, “the greenies”, to stop fighting all forest fires in “wildlands” because they are “natural” and part of the ecosystem. That campaign defies a large body of academic opinion that “natural” has been mitigated by human land management regimes for at least 10,000 years, and that mitigation took the conflagration inferno part of the equation out of the forest long, long ago.

The greenies societal shortcoming is that they have no sense of history, and are not paying one bit of attention to the historians. The aboriginals SET fires, at OPPORTUNE times. It was never a random event. Lightening is a random event, but shaping a landscape as this one was shaped could only have come from directed set fires over thousands of years, from human beings managing their environment to provide for their welfare and peace of mind.

In addition, humans came here DURING AN ICE AGE, when passage across the Bering Land Bridge was possible because the oceans were lower. The First Peoples were here BEFORE forests in the now temperate zones, when land was covered with snow and great ice sheets. They embraced global warming. Forests arose with humans, and set fire early on determined forest configurations.

The pre-Columbian forest managers, who were able to continue to a degree until disease eliminated Native Americans from some areas of the country entirely and limited their impact on the rest of the U.S. if only because there were less than 10% of their pre-Columbian population left when Europeans expanded from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast, created the large singular tree “old growth” forests.

The first residents, and their survivors, managed their landscapes with fire for millennia. Not a hundred years, but for thousands of years. That is how the forests the Europeans found got here.

Those are not the forests we have today. Again, the forests we have today are not the forests Europeans encountered. Disease and genocide, early and hard, erased the native land managers and their efforts, and what we have today is NEW, NEVER BEFORE SEEN forests, of scope and scale.

Essentially, there have been 100 to 200 years up to the present that our wildlands were without the native land managers and their fire regimes that used set fires at appropriate times to keep forests clear of underbrush, conifer regrowth, and fuel overloading. Genocide has its results, some of which are far reaching. Over-loaded forest fuels is but one result.
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11 Aug 2008, 2:34pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
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Shall the USFS Allow Fires to Incinerate Our National Forests?

Part IX

Conclusion

In this series of essays we have explored the fundamental fallacies of Let It Burn. Allowing catastrophic forest fires to burn unimpeded in unprepared forests has significant deleterious consequences.

We have counted the ways. By way of summary, we now letter them.

A. Let It Burn fires are illegal.

When government land management agencies ignore the laws of the Nation, they destroy their own credibility, mandate, and any trust the public may have placed in them. Laws such as NEPA, NHPA, ESA, NFMA, CWA, and CAA provide the guidelines for government actions that impact the environment.

Let It Burn fires (variously Wildland Fire Use, Wildland Fires Used for Resource Benefit, unsuppressed “suppression” fires, extensive backburns, etc.) are government actions taken absent compliance with federal environmental laws, yet that have enormous and significant environmental impacts.

When government agencies ignore and unilaterally abrogate the established legal framework, our entire basis of democratic self-rule is threatened. The Rule of Law may seem burdensome to agency managers emboldened by situational ethics, but without adherence to establish law we as a nation descend into anarchy or worse, totalitarianism. And thereby the principal virtues of American democracy are lost.

B. Let It Burn fires do NOT benefit natural resources, regardless of the simplistic verbiage used by proponents.

Catastrophic forest fires damage:

- vegetation, especially old-growth forests

- habitat for wildlife, including listed Threatened and Endangered species

- heritage and historical values, including the ecological development pathways that engendered our old-growth forests and special wildlife populations

- soils, leading to extreme wind and water erosion, loss of nutrients, and degradation of basic and essential biological productivity

- water, water quality, and sustained water quantities, perhaps the most precious and essential resource we derive from forests

- air and air quality, by injecting particulates and gaseous pyrolytic compounds into our atmosphere in extreme quantities that dwarf any and all human-generated sources

C. Let It Burn fires are dangerous.

Unchecked forest fires endanger human health and safety, indirectly through air and water pollution and directly via the catastrophic destruction of adjacent homes, towns, and cities, rural and urban alike.

Our forests are in no way remote from humanity and have not been for 10,000 years or more on this continent.

Let It Burn fires place our public safety employees and volunteers at enormous and unnecessary additional risk as well.

D. Let It Burn fires are expensive.

Proponents cite reduced suppression costs per acre but the bottom line is the sum of total costs per fire, not piece-rate cost per acre. Total fire suppression expenses, not piece-rate costs, have broken the budget of the US Forest Service.

Reducing cost per acre is not a solution to anything. This is so intuitively obvious that one wonders how the cost per acre argument ever gained any traction in the first place.

What ought to be just as obvious is that the true costs of catastrophic forest fires are far in excess of suppression expenses. The values associated with destruction of resources, both natural and human-built, are ten times or more than the expenses of putting the fires out.

The losses impact more than agency budgets; they bankrupt regional economies as well.

E. The impacts of Let It Burn fires are cumulative and long-lasting.

Every western state has been punished with megafires over the last 20 years. Vast tracts of pyrophytic brush have now replaced heritage forests. Those conversions are more or less permanent; forests are not being “renewed” but are being extirpated from the landscape.

We now are experiencing megafires burning over areas that have been intensely burned before, such as the Biscuit Fire (1987, 2002) and the Basin/Indians Fire (1977, 2008). There has been no forest recovery in those areas, only repetitive brush fires.

Across the West once vibrant rural economies have sunk into doldrums. Every year insolvent counties beg Congress for more handouts to support unmet basic needs such as schools and roads. There is apparently no light at the end of that tunnel.

F. Let It Burn is political.

The support for Let It Burn emanates not from science, or appreciation of forests, or concern for wildlife, or a commitment to stewardship of watersheds, or respect for heritage, or a desire for the well-being of rural and regional economies, but from darkly conspiratorial political forces motivated by lust for power and control, or worse, by a deep seated hatred for the nation and the American citizenry.

Posturing in support of megafires is not environmentalism; it is the opposite, a cynical attempt to hide malevolence for humanity behind a false front of concern for the environment.

Coda: The Solution is Stewardship

The true and forthright concern for nature and humanity is expressed in the call for stewardship of our priceless, heritage forests.

The motto of the US Forest Service is “Caring for the Land, Serving the People.” Those are worthy goals and an admirable summation of the founding mission of the USFS. Caring for the land means tending our forests, practicing stewardship of the multiple resources therein, providing the basic renewable resources that are necessary for our civilization to function, sustaining wildlife habitat, watersheds, forests, and park lands, actively restoring ecosystems, and managing them for the public good.

Those are the fundamental purposes that underlie and justify public ownership of so much of our forestlands. The question posed by the modern retreat from those purposes is whether public ownership of forests and other landscapes can be successful, sustainable, and beneficial to humanity and nature.

Our modern epidemic of destructive megafires on our public lands suggests otherwise, that public ownership is doomed to failure, and that the ruination of forests is the only outcome we can expect from communal ownership of vast tracts of land.

I believe, or hope at any rate, that such is not the case. Public ownership is not necessarily doomed to failure on first principles. We can do better, as a society and as communal owners, than to incinerate our shared heritage.

The goal, as Dr. Stephen Pyne so nobly puts it, should be to make this a habitable place, habitable for man and beast, for forests and for people. There is no mutual exclusivity in that sentiment. We share this planet with nature, we are of, by, and for nature, we are natural agents, we are by birthright the Caretakers of the Earth.

Stewardship is our birthright and inherited responsibility. We cannot and must not fail to honor that bequest.

Incineration is not stewardship. We all know that. We can do better. We must.

9 Aug 2008, 10:52am
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
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Shall the USFS Allow Fires to Incinerate Our National Forests?

Part VIII

We continue our discussion in rebuttal to the recent Idaho Statesman series of articles [here], and for good measure, in rebuttal to an excruciatingly incompetent series of articles in support of Let Burn published in the Los Angeles Times [here].

Let It Burn is illegal, destructive of a multitude of forest and human values, is not cost-effective, and is the worst idea that ever came down the forest pike. Let me count the ways.

13. Let It Burn Is Politically Motivated

We have shown that Let It Burn fires damage natural resources including flora, fauna, water, air, and soils. They also damage human resources including recreation, scenery, heritage, and land management agency budgets. The damages are not one time, nor ephemeral; they are lasting and they accumulate.

We have cited numerous scientific reports that support those contentions. Indeed, the vast bulk, if not the consensus, of forest scientists are in agreement that catastrophic forest fires cause severe destruction of natural resources and present deadly hazards to people, from firefighters to homeowners.

What then motivates the a-scientific and destructively irrational policy of Let It Burn? It is extreme political leanings, principally neo-socialist and anti-American political gamesmanship.

The Far Left has promoted Let It Burn, not from any sort of “environmental” stance, but from a political agenda that seeks to punish the United States for the alleged crimes of capitalism, freedom, and democracy.

The Mainstream Media, whose terrible propaganda we seek to rebut in this series, purvey Let It Burn for political purposes. From Boise to Los Angeles and parts in between the Media twists what should be a strictly scientific stewardship issue into their favorite game, the politics of personal destruction.

As a follow-up to his Idaho Statesman series, Roland “Rocky” Barker posted the following on his blog:

Only hours after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne toured the Wildland Firefighter Monument at the National Interagency Fire Center Wednesday, nine more firefighters died in a helicopter crash . Now these brave firefighters will join those who are honored at the monument in Boise. …

Now if you read the fire series that Heath Druzin and I wrote last month you know that the more we suppress fires the larger they get. You also know that our policy of putting out 98 percent of the fires when we know fires actually reduce the fire threat is a disturbing paradox that only puts lives at risk and costs billions of dollars. It’s also a poor way to protect homes, fire scientists agree. …

I acknowledge I don’t know all the details about the fire that the nine dead firefighters were fighting. It is a part of a complex of fires in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest started by lightning June 21. So far 86,000 acres has burned. But a lot of these fires were burning in wilderness, much in rough terrain.

I expect there are going to be a lot of questions about whether these men should have been fighting these fires aggressively at all.

Kempthorne apparently did not read our series or, as we explained is a part of the political consensus that supports more fire suppression not less despite the clear science. He told Heath Druzin Wednesday that while he urged homeowners to take more responsibility for protecting their property and acknowledged that fire suppression had made forests more vulnerable to large fires, he is proud the federal government puts out 98 percent of wildfires and encouraged more suppression efforts.

Significantly scaling back suppression efforts is unrealistic when so many homes are now in fire-prone areas, he said. “You can have a theory but you’re dealing with Mother Nature,” he said.

After the deaths on the Shasta Trinity National Forest, Kempthorne and other political leaders may want to reconsider their views. The National Park Service’s Bomar demonstrated the day before that she gets it. …

Is putting out fire in wilderness worth young folk’s lives?

Here are the facts. The Buckhorn Fire is one of the Iron Complex fires that have been burning since June 20. The Shasta-Trinity NF decided to “use” those fires to “treat” the forest. Long after other California lightning fires ignited June 20-21 have been contained and controlled, the Iron Complex burns merrily along. Yesterday it was reported to be over 90,000 acres total and 70% contained. There are 1,287 personnel on the Iron Complex today. $53.4 million has been spent to date. See [here].

Instead of suppressing when the fires were small, the USFS did Let It Burn for “forest health” just as Rocky and Heath recommended. The firefighters killed in the helicopter crash were not engaged in direct attack but in fireline construction far from the flames. The practice on Let It Burn fires is to backburn from “safe” distances along hastily constructed firelines.

Anytime so many people are committed to a dangerous undertaking that is extended and extended, the chance of accidents grows larger and larger. Initial direct attack is also dangerous, but turning fires into summer-long projects increases the probability of Murphy’s Law events.

Andrew Palmer, 18, a firefighter with the Olympic National Park headquartered in Port Angeles, was killed on the Iron Complex last month. The latest incident brings the total to 10 fatalities on this one fire alone.

Let It Burn does not mean all the firefighters go home. It means project fires that last all summer long. It means rural communities in evacuation or threat of evacuation for months at a time. It means smoke that billows across airsheds for weeks and weeks.

And it means the chance for fatal accidents increases.
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6 Aug 2008, 6:11pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
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Shall the USFS Allow Fires to Incinerate Our National Forests?

Part VII

We continue our discussion in rebuttal to the recent Idaho Statesman series of articles [here], and for good measure, in rebuttal to an excruciatingly incompetent series of articles in support of Let Burn published in the Los Angeles Times [here].

Let It Burn is illegal, destructive of a multitude of forest and human values, is not cost-effective, and is the worst idea that ever came down the forest pike. Let me count the ways.

12. Let It Burn Has Cumulative Impacts

Let It Burn fires damage natural resources including flora, fauna, water, air, and soils. They also damage human resources including recreation, scenery, heritage, and land management agency budgets. The damages are not one time, nor ephemeral. They are lasting and they accumulate.

NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) defines cumulative impacts thusly:

Sec. 1508.7 Cumulative impact.

“Cumulative impact” is the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time. …

The effects of a single Let-It-Burn fire are significant. The effects of numerous such fires accumulate and cause hugely significant effects over time to flora, fauna, historic and cultural resources, water quality and watersheds, air quality and airsheds, recreation, and national and local economies.

In 1987 the Silver Fire burned 100,000 acres of the Siskiyou NF. Fifteen years later the Biscuit Fire burned the exact same ground and an additional 400,000 acres besides. Little or no forest recovery actions were taken following either fire. Instead, fire-type brush was allowed to grow and accumulate fine fuels on top of the dead coarse fuels left after the previous fires. It is reasonable to expect that in another fifteen years (in or near 2017) another catastrophic megafire will burn those same acres and more besides.

Old-growth trees were killed in the Biscuit Fire (2003), some as much as 600 years old. They will never return. Megafires every 15 years will prevent any trees from attaining maturity much less old age. The elimination of old-growth is thus permanent.

Old-growth trees were killed in the B&B Fire (90,000 acres in 2003). Subsequent fires have decimated an accumulated 150,000 acres of old-growth on the Deschutes NF. That habitat is gone. The brush and thickets of young trees that are arising in the aftermath will be incinerated in the next Let It Burn fire, and never again will old-growth trees grace the eastern slope of the Cascades.
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3 Aug 2008, 11:30am
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
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Shall the USFS Allow Fires to Incinerate Our National Forests?

Part VI

Let It Burn fires damage natural resources including flora, fauna, water, air, and soils. They also damage human resources including recreation, scenery, heritage, and land management agency budgets. But the damages do not stop there. We continue our discussion in rebuttal to the recent Idaho Statesman series of articles [here], and for good measure, in rebuttal to an excruciatingly incompetent series of articles in support of Let Burn published in the Los Angeles Times [here].

Let It Burn is illegal, destructive of a multitude of forest and human values, is not cost-effective, and is the worst idea that ever came down the forest pike. Let me count the ways.

11. Let It Burn Has Significant Regional Economic Impact

The Payette National Forest is a leader in Let It Burn. Forest managers incinerated 470,500 acres last year, and in the process crippled the economy of numerous central Idaho towns. Yellow Pine was particularly hard hit as that recreation-based village was shut down and forcibly evacuated all summer. McCall, which is the gateway hub to central Idaho recreation industry, also experienced an economic hammer blow [here].

This summer Big Sur, a resort community on the California Coast, was closed for a month during peak season, and partially incinerated to boot, in a fire that could have been put out at a few acres but instead was encouraged to burn (via backfires) until it became a quarter of a million acres.

As I type, a whoofoo (WFU or wildland fire use fire) named the Gunbarrel WFU Fire [here] has burned nearly 20,000 acres in Wyoming and has caused the evacuation of Elephant Head, Absaroka Lodge, and summer cabins in Moss Creek. The Gunbarrel WFU Fire Fire is out of control, a raging firestorm/canopy fire causing 100% mortality to the forest. It is pluming and creating it’s own weather although seasonal Palouse winds are fanning it as well. Despite the destruction of natural and human resources, the Shoshone NF has announced that WFU is still main strategy.

Let It burn is not limited to whoofoo fires, however. It is a common practice today for the USFS to declare a fire a “suppression fire” and yet make no effort to suppress it. The Cabin Creek Fire [here] burning right now on the Payette NF is over 3,000 acres and growing in leaps and bounds, yet only 16 personnel are assigned. The Rush Creek Fire [here] has ballooned to over 1,500 acres three days, is officially a suppression fire, yet there are zero firefighting personnel on the scene.

Last year on the Payette NF the Raines Fire was officially a “suppression fire” yet had only a dozen personnel assigned when it was over 30,000 acres in size [here].Payette Forest Supervisor Suzie Rainville had this to say after the 2007 fire season had ended [here]:

A typical Initial Attack fire would use a handful of people, some bucket work, and (on a really difficult one) one to two loads of retardant. To suppress many of our fires this year, we had to staff them with up to 80 people, helicopters, and air tankers in order to keep them small.

That statement is disingenuous if not an outright lie. There was no initial attack on the Raines Fire and no initial attack on many of the Payette fires that burned over 700 square miles on the payette NF alone last summer. Rainville claimed, and continues to claim (as reported in the Idaho Statesman) that a mere 86,293 acres were burned on her forest in whoofoos last summer. Yet the truth is that none of the major fires on the Payette were aggressively fought with the intention of limiting them in size or duration.

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1 Aug 2008, 12:30pm
Climate and Weather
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In Science, Ignorance is not Bliss

We interrupt our (not yet completed) rebuttal of the pro-Let It Burn series in the Idaho Statesman to present this compelling testimony of Astronaut Walt Cunningham regarding the fallacies of global warming alarmism. On a peripheral note, skyrocketing wildfire acreages and costs are often blamed on global warming. Except there is no global warming. The globe has been cooling since 1998. Last year, 2007 was the coolest year since 2001, and 2008 has been the coolest since 1978. Col. Cunningham refers below to the “cockamamie scheme of ‘cap and trade’.” We might add that Let It Burn is a cockamamie scheme with exceedingly tragic and destructive consequences.

by Walter Cunningham [here], NASA Apollo 7 Astronaut, Launch Magazine [here]

NASA has played a key role in one of the greatest periods of scientific progress in history. It is uniquely positioned to collect the most comprehensive data on our biosphere.

For example, recently generated NASA data enabled scientists to finally understand the Gulf Stream warming mechanism and its effect on European weather. Such data will allow us to improve our models, resulting in better seasonal forecasts.

NASA’s Aqua satellite is showing that water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas, works to offset the effect of carbon dioxide (CO2). This information, contrary to the assumption used in all the warming models, is ignored by global warming alarmists.

Climate understanding and critical decision making require comprehensive data about our planet’s land, sea, and atmosphere. Without an adequate satellite system to provide such data, policy efforts and monitoring international environmental agreements are doomed to failure. Our satellite monitoring capability is being crippled by interagency wrangling and federal budget issues. As much as a third of our satellites need replacing in the next couple of years.

NASA should be at the forefront in the collection of scientific evidence and debunking the current hysteria over human-caused, or Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Unfortunately, it is becoming just another agency caught up in the politics of global warming, or worse, politicized science. Advocacy is replacing objective evaluation of data, while scientific data is being ignored in favor of emotions and politics.

There are excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the Sun and the Earth’s temperature, while scientists cannot find a relationship between industrial activity, energy consumption, and global temperatures. But global warming is an issue no longer being decided in the scientific arena.

Saying the Earth is warming is to state the obvious. Since the end of the ice age, the Earth’s temperature has increased approximately 16 degrees Fahrenheit and sea levels have risen a total of 300 feet. That is certain and measurable evidence of warming, but it is not evidence of AGW—human-caused warming.

We can track the temperature of the Earth back for millennia. Knowing the temperature of the Earth, past or present, is a matter of collecting data, analyzing it, and coming up with the best answer to account for the data. Collecting such data on a global basis is a NASA forte.

I believe in global climate change, but there is no way that humans can influence the temperature of our planet to any measurable degree with the tools currently at their disposal. Any human contribution to global temperature change is lost in the noise of terrestrial and cosmic factors.
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