15 Sep 2008, 4:21pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Hogan Lays An Egg

On Sept. 11 United States District Judge Michael R. Hogan enjoined the Five Buttes Project on the Crescent Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest. His decision is [here].

The planning for the Five Buttes Project has been going on since 2004. An Environmental Impact Statement was prepared [here, 6.7 MB]. All NEPA procedures were followed including a public comment period and consideration of the comments received. On June 8, 2007 Leslie Weldon, now transferred Forest Supervisor for the Deschutes National Forest, signed the Record of Decision authorizing the Five Buttes Project.

Four “environmental” groups appealed and in April 2008 filed a motion in the US District Court in Oregon requesting the project be enjoined [here]. The Plaintiffs are the League of Wilderness Defenders, the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, Cascadia Wildlands Project, and the Sierra Club.

The first three groups are Earth First! affiliates as described by the Center for Consumer Freedom [here].

League of Wilderness DefendersThe League of Wilderness Defenders (LOWD) describes itself as a “501(c)(3) non-profit providing fiscal sponsorship to grassroots projects and organizations throughout Oregon who are working to defend wilderness.” These projects include the Oregon Forest Research & Education Group, which boasts: “Members of the OFREG collective gained experience working with groups such as Cascadia Forest Defenders, Canopy Action Network, Cascadia Forest Alliance, and various Earth First! groups.” Another LOWD project is the McKenzie River Printers Guild, which proclaims: “We are a collectively run outfit primarily made up of former editors of the Earth First! Journal.” LOWD has paid Daily Planet Publishing, the legal entity behind the Journal, “to perform educational reporting work.”

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project (BMBP) is a project of the League of Wilderness Defenders. It is run by Karen Coulter and Asante Riverwind (a.k.a. Michael Christian). Promoting an appearance by Coulter, one group describes her as an “active Earth First!er.” She is also a longtime board member of the Fund for Wild Nature, which has funded BMBP and other LOWD projects. Riverwind was fined for his participation in an Oregon logging protest/blockade and has, along with Earth First!, conducted seminars on “tactics used to block roads, harbors, and entrances to buildings.”

Cascadia Wildlands Project

The Cascadia Wildlands Project (CWP) board and staff are heavily populated with prominent Earth First!ers. President Lauren Reagan, according to the Eugene Weekly, “represents many activists here, including Earth First!ers.” When CWP hired Josh Laughlin as communications director, the group boasted that “his most recent gainful employment was as an editor for the Earth First! Journal.” Another Journal veteran, Jim Flynn, (no stranger to direct action himself), is on the CWP board. And board member Mick Garvin is a self-described “long-time Earth First!er.”

Karen Coulter and Asante Riverwind (a.k.a. Michael Christian) were respondents to the Five Buttes Project EIS, as was Daniel Kruse of the Cascadia Wildlands Project. Asante Riverwind identified himself as an officer of the Eastern Oregon Sierra Club. Daniel Kruse is one of the attorneys who filed the motion to enjoin.

Judge Hogan agreed with the Plaintiffs that the cumulative effects analysis in the EIS was deficient, despite the fact that a cum\ulative effects section was included in the EIS. Hogan wrote in his decision:

A review of the cumulative effects analysis in the EIS for this case reveals that the necessary analysis has not been undertaken. Table 3-1 of the EIS, AR at 8688, offers summary descriptions of some (six) “past, present and reasonably foreseeable future actions.” The table lacks time, place, and scale information. The table omits other regeneration harvests that were conducted across the district from the 1960’s through the early 1990’s and alluded to elsewhere in the EIS. See EIS at pp. 143, 145, 152; AR at 8794, 8796, 8803. Again, these projects have not been quantified with time, place, and scale data.

However, the preparers of the EIS noted that:

The June 24, 2005, Council of Environmental Quality letter provides guidance on the consideration of past actions in cumulative effects analysis. It states review of past actions can occur in two ways:

1. Based on scoping, an agency has the discretion to determine whether and to what extent information about the specific nature, design, or present effects of a past action is useful for the agency’s analysis of the effects of a proposal or agency action and its reasonable alternatives. An agency is not required to list or analyze the effects of individual past actions unless such information is necessary to describe the cumulative effect of all past actions combined. Generally agencies can conduct an adequate cumulative effects analysis by focusing on the current aggregate effects of past actions without delving into the details of individual past actions.

So the USFS followed the letter of the law, but Judge Hogan decided he wanted something different than that, based on the motion of the Earth First! affiliates.

Hence, bye bye project. Hogan did not slam the door, however. He remanded the EIS back to the Deschutes NF. Theoretically, the DNF could list the dates, location, and size of the prior projects in the area and resubmit the EIS. No announcement has been made by the DNF as to whether they will do that.

They might mention (again) the 21,000-acre Davis Fire of 2003 that destroyed many thousands of acres of old-growth forest. They could also mention the Cache Mountain Fire (2002) 3,894 acs, Eyerly Complex Fire (2002) 23,573 acs, B and B Complex Fire (2003) 90,769 acs, Link Fire (2003) 3,574 acs, Black Crater Fire (2006) 9,400 acs, Puzzle Fire (2006) 6,150 acs, Lake George Fire (2006) 5,740 acs, and the GW Fire (2007) 7,500 acs, all of which incinerated old-growth forests on the DNF.

Over 170,000 acres of old-growth forests have been destroyed by fire on the DNF just this century. It is no wonder that the DNF proposed a (minuscule) fuels reduction project in response to that.

And it is no surprise that Earth First! affiliates sued to enjoin that project. Their goal is not to save old-growth but to incinerate it.

And it is no surprise that the federal judge sided with the pro-incineration groups. The federal judiciary hates fuels management and loves catastrophic holocaust, as they have shown again and again [here and here, for instance]

The Five Buttes Project is (was) a proposed commercial and small-tree thinning of forested stands, salvage of dead lodgepole pine, prescribed burning, piling and disposal of activity-generated slash, construction of 5.9 miles of temporary roads, and obliteration of these roads following project implementation. Activities in the proposed action would have included commercial harvest on about 4,235 acres with an additional 3,563 acres of non-comercial fuels treatments to contribute to a landscape-level reduction in the risk of large wildfire within the 160,000-acre ive Buttes project area.

Of the 4,235 acres with commercial harvest, the proposal included thinning to create or maintain single story stands and culture large trees (688 acres), thinning to reduce stand competition but retain multi-story canopy and large trees (2,387 acres), and thinning to reduce stand competition, culture large trees and retain a combination of single story and multi-story canopy (1,160 acres).

All that was designed to save spotted owl habitat from catastrophic stand-eliminating fire. Additional benefits would have included protecting old-growth, watersheds, airsheds, recreation, scenery, public health and safety, and federal budgets. The Five Buttes Project would have brought some slight economic benefit to the local economy and helped to fund schools and roads, too.

But all those benefits are outweighed by the desire for total forest incineration as promoted by Earth First! affiliates and a lock-step federal judiciary.

The system is broken. Good forest stewardship cannot occur because radicals with agendas of chaos and destruction have usurped the process. America’s priceless, heritage forests must be incinerated because know-nothing judges have substituted radical and revolutionary Leftwing anti-American political beliefs for sober jurisprudence.

Today on the Umpqua and Rogue River-Siskiyou NFs in Oregon (to the south of the DNF) massive fires are incinerating vast acreages of old-growth forest. Earth First! affilates celebrate. They revel in the destruction:

The forest looked amazingly beautiful… [in] stark contrast to the lush green forests we were used to seeing along Fall Creek, but beautiful nonetheless. Ferns had already begun sprouting back up through the ash. Scorched Doug Firs and cedars sparkled in the sunlight…

Afterwards we chose a serene spot in the burn next to the creek and spoke of the energy we received from the forest. Then we jumped into the creek and promised the forest that we would use that energy to defend it at all costs from the greedy timber companies now drooling over the opportunity presented to them by this natural disturbance.

The trip to Clark seemed all the more appropriate with Bush coming to Oregon to ram his “healthy forest initiative” agenda down our throats. With a fire “spontaneously” occurring near Camp Sherman, where Bush was going to have a fundraiser and push his deforestation agenda, one has to wonder if this isn’t the future…

The fire that the above 2003 passage refers to was the B and B Complex Fire (2003) 90,769 acs. The word “spontaneously” is in quotes because the Earth First!er who penned it was hinting that the B and B Fire was the result of deliberate arson. The passage is a veiled threat that more forest arson will be perpetrated.

Earth First!ers may or may not have lit the match that started the B and B Fire. They most definitely have used the courts to ensure that fuel loadings on the DNF remain at holocaust-inducing levels. No matter what ignites the next fire on the DNF, old-growth trees will die and spotted owl habitat will be destroyed, thanks to lawsuits and judicial decisions such as in the Five Buttes Project case.

15 Sep 2008, 4:46pm
by Forrest Grump

I’m really disappointed in Hogan. He legitimized Lands Council yet again by asking for cumulative impacts. Yet, what are the cumulative impacts of all these fires, all the non-action, all the litigation, all the, um, er, ENERGY?

15 Sep 2008, 7:53pm
by bear bait

And here I thought the en banc decision was going to curtail some of this boiler plate appeal crap. If it burns, it is not old growth forest anymore. It is now regeneration forest land, with possible islands of older than new trees. All that can be accomplished with logging. You can log some and leave other, and have the same mosaic. If random is what you want, lay out the sale area and have some idiot from the local bar throw darts at the map of the sale area to delineate random “save” areas to replicate the random mosaic of fire (unless of course, you send in the Hot Shots to burn out the “islands of fuel inside the fire perimeter to secure the integrity of the fire lines.”

All this now is nothing more than a delicate dance of like-minded attorneys by training, who are doing their dance to a preordained tune, using steps they all learn in law school. If any good comes from it, it is by pure accident.

The way this whole thing is headed, you will know who the lawyers were, as they will be the ones with a horse drawn Porsche carcass for a wagon, off to their raspberry patch, wearing those little shoes with the tassels and a worn out striped suit coat.

15 Sep 2008, 10:54pm
by Bob Zybach

From OregonLive [here]

The problem is that the Environmentalists already know they are doing far more harm than good to old-growth conifers, spotted owl habitat, and rural northwest families and communities. The proof has been evident in the unprecedented spate of catastrophic wildfires that have occurred during the past 20 years, and the ludicrous $billions charged to taxpayers for “fighting” these fires. And that is not to mention the 10s of $billions of damage done by these unnecessary events.

The real questions are: WHY are the Environmentalists doing these things (because they can?); and WHO is bankrolling this nonsense?

These fires have been predicted for years, and the methods for preventing them or mitigating their effects have been known for decades. Become familiar with the history of the Tillamook Burn “6-Year Jinx,” and speculate why there were no catastrophic-scale forest fires in Oregon between 1945 (Tillamook) and 1987 (Silver Complex/Biscuit).

The answer is active management, which the Environmentalists have been fighting and neutering for years — first through Congress, and now through the Courts. Hogan and the 9th Circuit have been their willing accomplices in this charade.

Next, what is it about the “science” that is being cited in these legal maneuvers that smells so fishy? Why does it label itself “best available” and “consensus” when the results are so predictably bad, and good science has nothing to do with consensus? Why is it almost 100% taxpayer-funded — and is it only coincidence that none of these “scientists” has even the least amount of actual practical forest management experience?

Remember that the “best” science used the stop salvage logging in the Biscuit Fire was performed by a handful of grad students at Oregon State, and that their conclusions seem to rely more upon their professor’s politics than their findings.

These wildfires are predictable and preventable. This project was clearly aimed in that direction. The leaders of these litigant organizations and their lawyers need to be identified and held accountable. And why do the taxpayers have to pay the legal bills for this crap? Isn’t it a blatant misuse of the Equal Access to Justice Act?

This has to stop somewhere and sometime. Now is good.

15 Sep 2008, 11:01pm
by Mike

Patagonia Inc. [here] has given money to all three groups in the past. They are not the only sponsor, and they might not be sponsoring them now. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was another past sponsor.

Personally, I do not purchase products from either company and have not for many years.

16 Sep 2008, 7:27am
by pril

And the red zone (beetle-killed pine) in the Winema-Fremont area — they aren’t going to do any single thing about it because it’s too close to the end of the (OR state house/senate/congress) session. Maybe it will burn next year and save them the trouble.

16 Sep 2008, 10:26pm
by Mike


The Royce Butte Fire erupted today and has burned 600 acres as of 11 PM. Over 100 people have been evacuated from Crescent Lake Junction.

Royce Butte is one of the five buttes for which the Five Buttes Project Area on the Crescent RD of the Deschutes NF is named.

That is, less than a week after Judge Hogan’s ruling, a major fire has broken out in the exact area where the Five Buttes fuels reduction project was supposed to have taken place.

You can call that karma, fate, God’s justice, irony, or what have you, but the sad truth is that without restoration forestry and fuels management, vast tracks of public forest are being incinerated right now. Whatever forest values the Plaintiffs alleged they wish to protect are being destroyed right now. The cumulative effects that Judge Hogan decided were not fully elucidated in the EIS are being realized right now.

Blind justice is truly blind in this case, and deaf, and dumb. What a waste! What a sad example of judicial ignorance and destructive stupidity is Judge Hogan!

17 Sep 2008, 8:30am
by Bob Z.


You can take the “maybe” out of your comment. If the dead trees aren’t salvaged, they will burn.

One of the interesting things about the B and B Complex Fire along Highway 20 in the central Oregon Cascades is that it was mapped out 10 years before it took place.

On September 3, 1994, the Salem Statesman-Journal published a map of a 90,000 acre “natural disaster,” showing an area of beetle-killed conifers along the Santiam Pass [here].

Ten years later, in 2004, a map of the B and B Complex (coincidentally made in nearly the same colors) displayed almost identical boundaries [here]

Hogan is not stupid, but his ethics must be questioned. He seems to be openly collaborating with radical environmental factions to cause economic harm and public resource damage to the western US. The facts are clear; Hogan’s motives remain mysterious.

17 Sep 2008, 10:38am
by Russ

You think Hogan’s “collaborating with radical environmental factions?” You folks are crazy.

17 Sep 2008, 11:43am
by Bob Z.


“SEEMS” to be collaborating is the full context of the quote. You SEEM to be another victim of selective reading syndrome (SRS).

What’s crazy is all these damn fires! That, and the litigation that spawns them. Hogan SEEMS to support the agenda, from all appearances.

Plus, I’m just one guy. “Folksy,” maybe, but just one.

17 Sep 2008, 1:14pm
by Bob Z.


It is my understanding that when Hogan rules in favor of Environmentalist anti-logging litigation that all (or part) of the litigant’s legal fees are paid by US taxpayers.

Is that accurate? Is that how the Equal Access to Justice Act works? How it is supposed to work?

If so, are these numbers difficult to obtain? If not, who is paying these people?

If so, I would also be interested to learn Hogan’s annual “Environmental” legal fee awards since he has been servicing litigants on the 9th Circuit.

I am especially interested in learning how much the Enviro lawyers stand to profit in this particular case.

Is that (readily) possible? I’m mostly wondering how many lawyers are put to work by putting how many loggers out of work.

Thanks for any help on this.

17 Sep 2008, 1:57pm
by Mike

Bob — Yes, that is how the EAJA works. Note the request by the Plaintiff’s attorney, Daniel Kruse, in their motion (3rd paragraph in post).

I do not know the amount awarded in this case, but I am trying to obtain that information.

I do not how much Hogan has awarded in similar cases this year. Not sure if that info is even obtainable.

Lawyers and firefighters benefit financially. Loggers, wood product companies, recreation-based businesses, insurance companies, homeowners, irrigators, hunters, campers, fishermen, people who breathe air, power companies, consumers, residents, schools, counties, and of course, taxpayers, all lose.



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