22 Sep 2008, 6:54pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
1 comment

Wilderness Designation Lays Waste to the Land

by Julie Kay Smithson, property rights researcher, recreationist, and lover of truth [here]This email in its entirety, including headers, is to be accepted and construed at my official public comments regarding the “Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests Potential Wilderness Area Evaluations.”

My recommendation is that the USDA Forest Service add zero (0) acres of “recommended wilderness areas” in its latest Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or DEIS. I also direct this federal agency and its partners to cease adding any acres to the current obscene number of acres that have been “declared” to be “wilderness” — many of which are not “wilderness.” There is no need for such “designations” or their accompanying restrictions. They are fraught with language deception.

One of the thickly baited hooks in the “Roadless” scheme was/is “Inventoried Roadless Areas.” From that illegitimate, language deception loaded plan came “Recommended Wilderness Areas.” My considerable research and study on these and other related matters helps me conclude that such things were hatched in order to “create wilderness” where there is none and to forbid people in such areas, where people have been since time immemorial.

Thus, the Forest Service and other various and sundry agencies of the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, etc., are using a false premise in order to lay waste to many things related to these areas.

I describe these actions as laying waste because they grind timber harvest and other related, responsible resource providing uses to a halt and incrementally eliminate access by those with grazing, mineral, gas, timber, and recreational interests. All these things are important to the economic health of America. None of these uses may be falsely served up at the altar of “protection” or “management” when both “protection” and “management” is actually lock-up and Control.

According to one of federal government’s most conspicuous “public-private partners,” “The Nature Conservancy,” each and every place, both in America and worldwide, is special, in and of itself, and is “in need of protection.”

Since each of these places is special in its own right, according to “The Nature Conservancy” and its methodology of determining “last great places,” each is a separate and distinct recreational experience and as such, cannot be lumped with any other location/locale. Every place I choose to recreate — be it by over-the-snow vehicle, off-road vehicle, horseback, on foot (by foot, snowshoe or snow ski), or by dogsled — is separate and distinct, and has its own facets of the “Recreational Opportunity Spectrum.” Some facets are visual; others delight in other ways (smell, air quality, water quality, the mix of forest types, open meadows, rock formations, and many more: too many to count!).

I find it highly offensive that any agency, organization or individual would seek to stop access by over-the-snow and/or other motorized vehicle to these places. Not everyone is as physically fit or mobile as “wilderness restrictions” demand. Would the Forest Service deny a Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan or Desert Storm or World War II veteran the joy and experience of visiting these places simply by the Closed sign that a “wilderness” designation would mean to them? Irreparable harm is done to every American that needs motorized recreation and access for their health and well-being. Congress just passed the No Child Left Inside Act — but any further addition of “wilderness designation” means more places that are Closed to all but the most fit Americans and others that visit America from around the world (family and friends of Americans).

Think about this and its implications when these patriot veterans cast their votes on Election Day! No, Forest Service employees aren’t elected, but elected officials do have a say in who staffs your agency and others.

None of these places warrants, needs or belongs in a “wilderness” category of any type. These places are home to many roads, from old logging roads to “wildlife roads” to “pioneer roads,” but each is a road, just the same, so none are “wilderness” areas.

To reiterate: My recommendation is that the USDA Forest Service add zero (0) acres of “recommended wilderness areas” in its latest Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or DEIS.

I didn’t just ride into town last week on a turnip wagon. The word “protection” is false, as is “management.” What is sought is the Control of what is tantamount to everywhere. No conquering hordes of Romans, Huns or Vikings ever lusted after Control of the World like government and its allies. The use of unconstitutional (and according to Marbury v. Madison, null and void) legislation, which is repugnant to the Constitution, is being employed to decimate property rights and resource providing in America. “Wilderness designation” is one of several ways in which Control of property — resources, water, access — is being wrested from those who have responsibly utilized that property for many years. It appears that unadulterated greed is driving this runaway train of “wilderness designation,” a runaway train that must be stopped or derailed ASAP.

From timber growing and harvest to subsistence and other hunting; from commercial and recreational fishing to winter recreation, both motorized over-the-snow vehicle access and other motorized access at other times of the year; from usage of “endangered,” “threatened,” “candidate,” “at-risk,” and other terms associated with the “Endangered Species Act,” to other concocted “threats” to places whose only threat is government interference; this “Potential Wilderness Area” “evaluation” smacks of false premise, from A to Z.

In closing: My recommendation is that the USDA Forest Service add zero (0) acres of “recommended wilderness areas” in its latest Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or DEIS.

Additional facts:

There are 663 wilderness areas in the United States covering almost 106 million acres. This is an area larger than the state of California, or about the size of Oregon and Washington put together.

Alaska has 48 wildernesses that contain a total of 57,425,569 acres of designated wilderness

California has 138 wildernesses that contain a total of 14,335,878 acres of designated wilderness

Colorado has 41 wildernesses that contain a total of 3,390,635 acres of designated wilderness

Idaho has 6 wildernesses that contain a total of 4,005,754 acres of designated wilderness

Montana has 15 wildernesses that contain a total of 3,443,038 acres of designated wilderness

Nevada has 68 wildernesses that contain a total of 3,450,986 acres of designated wilderness

Oregon has 40 wildernesses that contain a total of 2,273,614 acres of designated wilderness

Utah has 16 wildernesses that contain a total of 900,614 acres of designated wilderness

Washington has 30 wildernesses that contain a total of 4,317,099 acres of designated wilderness

Wyoming has 15 wildernesses that contain a total of 3,111,232 acres of designated wilderness

21 Sep 2008, 9:40pm
In Memorium
by admin

In Memorium: Kris Fairbanks

Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Kris Fairbanks was shot and killed by a convicted felon Saturday. Fairbanks was a certified canine officer with 15 years in the USFS. She leaves behind a teenage daughter and her husband, a Fish and Wildlife officer. See [here] for a press report.

Don Svetich, Engine Captain and Forest Protection Officer on the Olympic National Forest sent the following email to friends:

It is with very heavy heart that I write this note.

Yesterday, Sept 20, 2008 a friend, co-worker, partner and protector was killed in the line of duty.

I will miss Kris Fairbanks. She and I worked together on a regular bases, Kris and her K-9 partner Radar, were there to control the situation and to cover my back when I needed it most. (The same goes for the other LEOs that work on the Forest.)

I will miss her love of the Forest and her job, the energy she put into it and her desire to serve the people who visited the Olympic National Forest. Thanks Kris! for keeping this fat old man out of deeper crap, thanks for the memories.
Please keep Kris and her family in your thoughts and prayers!

To all Forest LEOs, thank you for the job you are willing do, thanks for being there when most are not.

Thanks for backing us up when we need it!!

Thanks again Forest 951, I will miss you !!

Status quo will only bring bigger forest fires

by Royal Burnett, Speak Your Piece at the Redding Record Searchlight, September 21, 2008 [here]

Fire season is on the wane and now is the time to discuss fire issues. This is the third summer in a row where the citizens of Shasta County have been forced to endure long periods of hazardous air quality caused by ongoing forest fires. Wildfires are to be expected, but everything should be done to minimize the impact of those fires.

A large portion of the smoke that has burned our airways and caused our eyes to water has been generated from fires burning on U.S. Forest Service land. Tons of greenhouse gases were emitted. The USFS has demonstrated that it either cannot or will not put those fires out as quickly as possible.

The reasons are many; the USFS is a land management agency, not a fire department. Much of the land is in designated wilderness areas. Wilderness areas are huge, often roadless areas that can be enjoyed by only a small percentage of the population, those who backpack or horseback into the area.

Since machine use is prohibited in wilderness areas, special fire control tactics must be used. These tactics vary from forest to forest. On one nearby forest, fires that are lightning caused are allowed to bum while man-caused fires are extinguished. Another boldly says it has a “total suppression” policy. What they all have is a modified suppression policy that calls for a “light hand on the land.” These policies do not work in California, where homes and private holdings co-exist with the federal lands. It’s akin to sending your firefighters into the fray with one hand tied behind their backs.

In those designated wilderness areas, fires are allowed or encouraged by burnouts to burn to natural boundaries such as creeks or rock outcroppings. The construction of fire line is discouraged or minimized, often resulting in large, long-lasting fires. These fires cost millions of dollars, endanger nearby properties and communities, and cause widespread smoke pollution.

Early in California history, uncontained fire was recognized as a public nuisance and laws were passed to prevent a person from allowing a fire to exist on his land or spread to the lands of a neighbor, yet the USFS flouts these laws with regularity.

The USFS can be compared to a bad neighbor who doesn’t clean up his property. When the property catches fire, he doesn’t put it out; he uses it as a measure to clean up his land. While he’s doing that, his neighbors are exposed to choking smoke, health hazards and the risk of escaped fire onto private property. To make it even worse, he then expects the neighbors to pay for the cost of the fire.

The costs in recent years have been staggering. The Iron Complex, which threatened Junction City this summer, cost $74 million dollars. The Lime Complex, which threatened Hayfork and Hyampom, cost $60 million. Fourteen lives have been lost on these fires.

When these fires occur there is little or no follow-up fuel reduction, resulting in a more flammable forest condition, one that is fuel loaded with snags and dead and down material that will only make the next fire worse.

Do we want a huge unmanageable fire hazard that is used by a select few or do we want an accessible well-managed forest that can be used by many? Logging has been used as a forest management tool for timber stand improvement as well as for fuel reduction. Re-introduction of logging on federal lands would create jobs and stimulate the economy.

The keeping of status quo on our national forest lands will only result in bigger, longer-lasting fires. The USFS has no incentive to reduce fire size. Big fires equal big budgets.

It is time for the citizens of California to demand the federal government to act in a responsible manner, clean up its lands and put out its fires in a timely fashion.

Royal Burnett is a retired CDF wildland firefighter and a member of the Wildland Firefighters Foundation. He lives in Redding, CA.

Roasting the Old-Growth

Remember the old-growth? You know, the ancient forests that were in such dire peril that the largest sector of Oregon’s economy had to be shut down to save them? Remember the Clinton Plan and northern spotted owls?

Nobody logs old-growth anymore, but the USFS sure does burn it to a crisp.

Oregon old-growth is going up in flames and smoke today in a slew of USFS Let It Burn fires. Among them:

The Middlefork Fire has been “monitored” for a month while it grew to 20,000+ acres. It spread from a tiny spot to encompass the entire Middle Fork Rogue River watershed. It burned in every compass direction including east over the Cascade crest toward Klamath Falls. Now it has moved into Crater Lake National Park. This is all according to plan. Firefighters gape and gawk, and occasionally set backfires from a long distance.

The forests burning in the Middlefork Fire are not second growth plantations. They are “unmanaged” old-growth, spotted owl nesting forests. Trees as old as 600 years are being incinerated. The plan all along was to incinerate them. “Save the Old-Growth” was always a euphemism for “Screw the Economy” and “Lay Waste to the Land.”

Three weeks ago the Rattle Fire in the Boulder Creek Wilderness was less than 1,000 acres and under control. Then the fire management team was ordered off because they had done too good a job of suppression. Yesterday the Rattle Fire was pegged at 15,000 acres and still growing. Two-thirds of the BC Wilderness has been roasted and the fire has spread out of the wilderness to the west, south, and east. The goal is to incinerate the entire thing and whatever collateral forests get in the way.

Is the Boulder Creek Wilderness old-growth? This is what Wilderness.net has to say about it [here]:

Small waterfalls and rapids connect the series of quiet pools that make up Boulder Creek, a tributary of the North Umpqua River. The rapids run south and west, channeling through the heart of the Wilderness. Numerous streams feed into Boulder Creek, quenching the thirst of the old-growth timber that towers over its banks. Ponderosa pines flourish on Pine Bench, near the lower end of the Wilderness, and are thought to be the largest such stand this far northwest of the crest of the Cascade Mountains. The rocky monoliths and outcroppings attract (and challenge) technical rock climbers, especially in the southern portion’s Umpqua Rocks Special Interest Geologic Area. Elevations range from 1,600 feet to 5,600 feet. Low elevation means the 15 miles of maintained trails remain clear and can provide access to the Wilderness year-round.

Burn, baby, burn the most precious forests in Oregon and some of the most magnificent forests in the world. That’s the plan. It’s being done on purpose. We have to “reintroduce” catastrophic stand-replacement fire in order to recycle the forest. The new push from the enviro-nazis is to scrub the landscape clean of old-growth to make room for widdle baby twees.

Westside Cascade old-growth in Bull of the Woods Wilderness is being incinerated as you read this by the Lake Lenore Fire. That’s just east of Opal Creek, the vaunted old-growth battle ground. Same forest, but now it’s not being “preserved” by brave hippies who sit in trees. Nope, it’s being incinerated as the USFS watches (whoops, I mean monitors) the fire. No hippies in those trees today. If there were, they’d be toast.

All the Portland enviro set were just gaga over new wilderness on the Mt. Hood National Forest. A million postcards (or something like that) were sent to the Oregon Congressional Delegation demanding, cajoling, and threatening violence if they didn’t declare new wilderness on Mt. Hood.

Today that “wilderness” is aflame in the Gnarl Ridge Fire, a fire that was contained and controlled a month ago but allowed to smolder by the USFS. Now it has exploded from 500 acres to 2,500 acres and is threatening homes on private land.

One of the quiet complaints about wilderness designation is that fires that erupt in wilderness do not stay there. Occasionally (almost invariably) the fires spread to private property. That’s a bummer for the homeowners, but the wilderness freaks don’t give a shit. They blame the homeowners for the audacity of living in their homes on private property within 30 miles of the wilderness incineration areas.

The wilderness freaks are loud and belligerent. They demonstrate and shout and carry on like crazed monkeys. The homeowners are not heard. As a result, megafires explode out of wilderness areas every year and destroy private homes, much to the delight of the wilderness freaks who hate the human race with a fiery passion.

Guess who steers the USFS fire policy? Is it rural residents or the urban howling inflammatory, anti-human, anti-forest freaks?

The unrestrained megafires burning today in Oregon old-growth forests answer that question pretty clearly.

18 Sep 2008, 12:07pm
Saving Forests
by admin

Extract This

I get pepper sprayed with offensive anti-forestry propaganda all the time. We all do. And I generally slough it off, delete it, round file it, and rise above it. There are not enough hours in the day to trouble with PC garbage.

It bugs me, however, when anti-forestry gibberish emanates from public servants employed by the US Forest Service. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I expect better than tripe from the USFS. My expectations were dashed again today when this bit of drivel came in from the ether:

Pacific Northwest Research Station, U.S. Forest Service, News & Information

Ellen Donoghue, Yasmeen Sands (PNW Research Station) [here]

Portland, Oregon, September 13, 2008 - As little as 25 years ago, the relationship between forests and the communities that surrounded them was relatively easy to characterize: there was a good chance the residents lived remotely and relied on timber extraction for most of their income. But now, with changes in the economy and federal policy and an increase in concern about forest health, it is nearly impossible to draw such sweeping generalizations about forest communities.

A new book edited by PNW Research Station’s Ellen Donoghue and Victoria Sturtevant of Southern Oregon University aims to help researchers, resource managers, and policymakers better understand today’s forest communities in the United States and their complex and evolving relationship with the land.

Titled Forest Community Connections: Implications for Research, Management, and Governance, the book explores the responses of forest communities to change by examining a variety of contemporary management issues — including wildfire risk, forest restoration, amenity migration, and commercial harvest of nontimber forest products.

The book also examines the aesthetic, economic, and cultural values community members attribute to forests and considers the role of communities within a range of forest governance structures.

“Understanding the diverse and complex connections that forest communities have to forests is important because it is through these connections that the goals of sustainable forest management will be realized,” said Donoghue, a research social scientist. “Sustainable forest management cannot happen without consideration of people.”

According to Donoghue, she and Sturtevant wanted the volume to not only synthesize the state of the science relating to today’s forest communities and their relationship with the land, but also to provide insight to those charged with managing forest resources, governing communities, and researching their connections.

University professors, graduate students, scientists, forest managers, community development specialists, and policymakers are among the book’s primary audiences.

“The edited volume would be excellent reading for a graduate course aimed at understanding the social dimensions of forest management,” Donoghue said.

Forest Community Connections is published by Resources for the Future Press. To learn more, visit http://www.rff.org/RFF_Press.

The PNW Research Station is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It has 11 laboratories and centers located in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington and about 500 employees.

Well now, you say, what’s the problem with all that? It sounds perfectly cromulent. Here’s the problem: when you cut through all the BS, the press release (and one supposes the book, too) lead off with that old insult, “resource extraction.”

The book is ostensibly about how we don’t use our forests for resource extraction anymore. And thank goodness for that, because what could be worse than the dirty, foul, greedy, unthinking, politically incorrect practice of resource extraction.

It’s so much more progressive to set the resources on fire in massive holocausts such as are occurring today on the Umpqua, Rogue, and Mt. Hood National Forests. That’s the new goal of “sustainable management” — catastrophic incineration and conversion of forests to smoke, ash, and brush.

Here’s the deal: the book itself is made of extracted resources, namely paper, which was once upon a time green and growing trees in the woods. The medium is the message, right? And the medium is dead, extracted, pulped up trees.

But that’s cool because the new mission of the USFS is to “recycle” forests. In that context “recycle” means to kill dead the living forest so that a new, baby forest can sprout up. Everybody likes babies, right? And that nasty old forest is shading out the baby trees.

Except all that is eco-babble gibberish, too. It wasn’t that long ago that the economy of the Pacific Northwest was crippled in order to “protect” the old-growth. Now we find out the nasty old-growth is cramping the baby trees, so the best thing to do is incinerate our forests with prejudice.

Think I’m making it up? Last March the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF issued a press release wherein they said this:

“Land managers throughout the West have learned over the last forty years that there are ecological benefits of having fire on the landscape as it can provide for a renewal of the Forest. It is a natural cycle of life in a forest,” said [RR-SNF Supervisor Scott] Conroy.

And last month this came out of the mouth of a Shoshone NF functionary:

Wapiti District Ranger Terry Root said the Gunbarrel blaze consumed trees that “needed to be burned” west of Cody. The “decadent” timber was in the wilderness, and it couldn’t be removed otherwise, he said.

“So burning is really our only option to recycle the forest,” Root said. “We feel like it has actually been pretty good, economically — actually pretty economically valuable. It comes out to about $153 an acre.”

It’s pretty clear that the new goal of the USFS is “recycling” forests via forest fires. Don’t extract the resources, incinerate them. What comes up next is really of no concern. It ain’t like they are going to go out and plant trees on the burns. That’s not in the equation. What is of concern is how much it costs to destroy the existing forests.

It happens that destroying forests via forest fires has broken the budget of the USFS, because they have spent all their (your) money on killing forests in catastrophic holocausts, and none of their (your) money on that objectionable thing, resource extraction.

It also just so happens that I am a forester, a steward of the land. It is my profession that does all that nasty extraction. But you know what, I’m actually proud of it. Are you offended by that admission? You shouldn’t be, because if not for professional foresters there would be no smarmy books, no wood-framed houses, no wooden furniture, no roof over your head, no tree planting, and no forests. That’s because forests need professional tending or else they burn up in massive forest fires and are replaced by tickbrush.

When the work day is over and you get in your extracted resource automobile running on extracted resource fuel, and drive to your extracted resource house, and sit down at your extracted resource table, and bow your head in prayer and thanksgiving before you dig into your extracted resource dinner, I hope you remember in that prayer the people who make your existence possible: foresters, farmers, and stewards of the land.

Properly managed, trees are a renewable resource. Properly tended, forests last forever. That’s what foresters do: protect, maintain, and perpetuate forests.

The real resource extractors are the people who enjoy all the fruits of our labors and then call us nasty names, those who wish to burn forests to ashes, those who want all stewardship eliminated, those who have a cow when somebody starts up a chain saw, those who think forests ought to be recycled with holocaust, those who are cozy in their wooden environments and think boards come from the store, not the forest.

Do you pray? Do you give thanks? If so, show some respect and appreciation for the folks who feed, clothe, and house you, the professionals who are dedicated to stewardship, for your benefit and for the benefit of the entire planet.

And keep the “resource extraction” insults away from my desktop and earshot. I don’t react well to them.

18 Sep 2008, 9:04am
In Memorium
by admin
leave a comment

Arizona Strip Reunion

This note came to us in reference to “Cattle and Wildlife on the Arizona Strip” in the W.I.S.E. Colloquium Wildlife Sciences [here]:

Just ran across this blog. Wanted to let you know that my father, Joe Zumwalt was raised on the strip, his parents Edward Zumwalt and Georgia Lann-Zumwalt ran cattle up there for many years. He had a sister Evelyn (just passed away last Tuesday), and his brother Jimmy (also passed away years ago) My dad was born in 1932ish in St. George. He has tons of great stories and memories about growing up in that area, was great friends with the Bundy family too. I would love to put him in touch with anyone that lived up there then.

I think it would be really cool to arrange a reunion for anyone that lived on the strip sometime soon, and have a great weekend of story telling and sharing memories and making new ones and a little bluegrass music.

How could I get in touch with these folks?? If anyone reads this that would be interested in something like that please contact me. I would love to make a documentary for this reunion if it happens.

JoJo Zumwalt
Sacramento CA

Please email W.I.S.E. for info on contacting JoJo

17 Sep 2008, 10:07am
The 2008 Fire Season
by admin

Wednesday Morning Fire Update

Fires are blowing up all over. Oregon is particularly hard hit.

The Royce Butte Fire [here] ignited yesterday in the Five Butte area. That is the portion of the Deschutes NF where Judge Michael R. Hogan enjoined fuels management last week at the request of Earth First! [here]. The protracted legal battle prevented any treatment, and now the area is ablaze. Intense burning was observed with 150-foot flame lengths, running crown fire, and long range spotting. Crescent Lake Junction, Diamond Peaks subdivision (located west of Crescent Lake Junction), the Odell Lake Lodge, and all summer homes at Crescent and Odell Lakes have been evacuated. The Central Oregon Type 2 IMT (Rapp) has been requested and is on the fire this morning.

Too bad they named the fire already. I would have suggested it be named the Hogan Earth First! Fire in honor of the folks responsible.

The Middlefork Fire [here] of the Lonesome Complex has raged across the Cascade crest and is headed for Klamath Valley, now only four miles away from the crowning fire front. Acreage burned was reported at 6,000 acres but is closer to 9,000 acres. The Middlefork Fire has been burning for a month. It could have been extinguished when tiny, but Rogue River-Siskiyou NF Supervisor Scott Conroy demurred. He decided to make it a non-suppression “suppression” fire. Nearly $7 million has been spent not suppressing the Middlefork Fire, so far. Now it is burning on the Fremont-Winema NF and is somebody else’s problem.

The Rattle Fire [here] on the Umpqua NF blew up again yesterday and doubled in size to 13,000+ acres. It has spread east out of the Boulder Creek Wilderness, crested Thorn Mountain, and is incinerating the Deer Creek drainage due north of Toketee Falls. Interestingly, the stats reported by the ORCA Type 2 IMT (Paul) are grossly misstated in all departments. The fire is at least 13,000 acres; they report 7,400. The fire is less than 10 percent contained; they report 25 percent. The fire has cost over $18 million so far; they report $9 million.

Ken Paul’s team cannot be trusted to tell the truth. They are doing a lousy job of fighting the fire, too, unless their goal is to burn as much of the Umpqua NF as possible, in which case they are succeeding according to plan.

The Rattle Fire was under control two weeks ago. But then the Northwest Oregon IMT (IC Carl West) was ordered off the fire for doing too good a job [here]. Nobody is going to accuse ORCA of that!

The Gnarl Ridge Fire on Mt. Hood was contained a month ago [here], but the Mt. Hood NF failed to do adequate mop up and now the fire has flared up again. No report yet on evacuations or fire suppression response (if any), but the smoke is pouring into the Hood River Valley, again.

In Kings Canyon National Park the Tehipite Fire has blown up [here]. The Tehipite Fire was ignited two months ago and allowed to smolder all summer. In the last week it has exploded into a raging fire and quadrupled in size to over 8,000 acres. Plume behavior was reported, indicating crown fire and 100% tree mortality. KCNP officials continue to watch, dumbfounded and impotent, as one of America’s treasures is incinerated. Park Superintendent Richard Martin is worthless when it comes to caring for and protecting our national park.

All in all, a very bad day for forests.

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.
more »

15 Sep 2008, 10:03am
The 2008 Fire Season
by admin

Oregon Fires Blaze Away

Nearly a month ago two fires were ignited by lightning in the Oregon Cacades [here]. Today the Rattle Fire on the Umpqua NF and the Middlefork Fire on the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF continue to blaze away, growing hourly, consuming forests, endangering lives, and eating up money.

The Middlefork Fire [here] south of Crater Lake has grown to over 5,160 acres. No significant effort was made to contain or control it, although it was not declared a whoofoo. Instead the Middlefork Fire is a de facto whoofoo, a non-suppression “suppression” fire. RR-SNF Supervisor Scott Conroy likes to play games with words and with fire. He was hoping for another Biscuit Fire, and he may have got one.

The Middlefork Fire is growing in all directions. A large area closure was issued yesterday that includes portions of the Fremont-Winema NF as well as the RR-SNF. Numerous trails and roads are closed, including the Pacific Crest Trail. Smoke pours into the Klamath Basin, and the fire is headed that way, too.

Last week the Blue Mountain Type 2 IMT (Batten) was rushed to the fire, but there is little they can do now except massive back burns in old-growth Oregon Cascade forests. The resource destruction is horrific. These are spotted owl stands and cultural landscapes whose occupation by humans goes back at least 6,000 years, all burned to the quick and the dead by the rogue Rogue River-Siskiyou NF. Over 550 firefighting personnel are now assembled at the Middlefork Fire, and $500,000 a day is being spent to watch a priceless, heritage forest incinerate.

The travesty/tragedy of the Middlefork Fire could have been avoided. The fire could have been put out when it was small. But Scott “Biscuit” Conroy and his Earth First!er buddies like holocausts. The only good forest is a dead, charred, snag patch is the motto of the eco-nazi forest holocausters. Forests are the new Jews in America today.

The new Region 6 Regional Forester Mary Wagner has sent a team to “evaluate” the Middlefork Fire fiasco, but no word has been heard regarding their cover up whitewash as yet. Too soon to judge? Gimme a break. Conroy is going to get a medal for spending $10 million the USFS doesn’t have to burn heritage forests they hate.

The Rattle Fire [here] is also burning along quite happily, sending fire storm plumes up into the late summer sky. The Rattle Fire was subdued by the Northwest Oregon IMT (IC Carl West) but they were ordered off the fire for doing too good a job. Umpqua NF Forest Supervisor Clifford J. Dils did not want containment, he wanted fiery destruction. So the Rattle Fire became a de facto whoofoo too, another non-suppression “suppression” fire.

Yesterday the Rattle Fire was reported to be 4,500 acres and pluming. Over 1,000 firefighting personnel are assembled, at a cost of over a million dollars per day, but they have dropped way back. The power grid is down, the highway closed, area residents evacuated, and massive backburns are planned in the hopes that the fire can be prevented from cresting the Umpqua watershed and burning into the Willamette watershed.

Over $16 million has been spent so far, according to my calculation, necessary because costs reported by ORCA Type 2 IMT (Paul) are grossly understated and deceptive. They fail to account for the $3.1 million spent on the Rattle Fire before ORCA was assigned, and fail to include the $5.9 million spent on the other fires in the North Fork Complex.

Earth First!ers are ecstatic that old-growth forests are being incinerated [here]. It tickles their cindered arsonist hearts whenever catastrophic holocaust rages through ancient forest. The more death the better to an Earth First!er, whose principal monkey wrencher tool is fire. How easy it is to heave a milk jug full of gasoline into a school building, and everybody gets your political message when you do that. You hate America and wish to destroy the entire country. We get it, we get it.

Not much left to do but, as Chief of the USFS Gail Kimbel says, pray for rain. It’s a sure bet that her outfit is out of control and hellbent to burn America to the ground. Maybe God can put some rain on the fires and quench their arsonist lust.

14 Sep 2008, 11:20am
Federal forest policy The 2008 Fire Season
by admin

Straight Talk About the South Barker WFU Fire

I posted previously on the South Barker WFU Fire [here].

On August 7th a thunderstorm passed over the Sawtooth National Forest. Lightning struck and a tree burst into flames about a mile north of Featherville in Elmore County, Idaho. For four days the fire smoldered.

The Sawtooth NF officials could have sent a fire crew in to douse the flames. It would have cost a few thousand dollars to extinguish the tiny blaze. But they chose not to, and instead declared the South Barker Fire to be a “wildland fire use” (WFU) fire.

By that date the USFS had spent its entire 2008 fire budget and was transferring funds from other programs. The Sawtooth NF was well aware of this. … Despite the budget crisis, Sawtooth NF Supervisor Jane Kollmeyer approved the WFU designation on the South Barker Fire.

To date the South Barker WFU Fire has burned 34,250 acres and cost an estimated $5.2 million dollars [here]. (As of 09/14 suppression costs were reported to be $6,719,437).

On Sept 8 journalist Joe Jaszewski of the Idaho Statesman wrote an article in defense of the Sawtooth NF decision to incinerate 53.5 square miles of central Idaho [here]. The story for the most part parroted the party line fed to Jaszewski by USFS officials and attacked residents who regretted the fire:

Fire Wise? Officials look to fire to safeguard forest

But residents have their doubts about letting the South Barker blaze burn

by Joe Jaszewski, Idaho Statesman,09/08/08

FEATHERVILLE - What the South Barker Fire is not: a wall of flames barreling through the wilderness, incinerating anything in its path and leaving a blackened moonscape in its wake, hundreds of years away from rejuvenation.

What the South Barker Fire is: creeping flames meandering through dead pine needles, built-up underbrush and small saplings, mostly leaving larger trees unscathed.

Forest managers hope that by allowing this low-intensity fire to burn away shrubs and dead trees, they can protect the area from larger, catastrophic fires for decades to come - lessening the risk to recreation areas, private property and lives.

The fire in the Fairfield Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest - which started Aug. 7 - is being managed as a “fire-use” fire. This means that fire officials have outlined a safe perimeter within which they will allow the fire to burn. When the fire exceeds those boundaries, immediate suppression actions are taken.

When flames spotted into the Boise National Forest, that part of the fire was immediately attacked.

Within 48 hours, the northwest flank of the fire was fully contained by seven hot-shot crews, helicopters, airplanes and engines.

“We threw everything we could get on it,” said Val Norman, logistics chief for the fire.

Fire information officer Chris Wehrli emphasizes that “fire use” does not mean fire has free rein to go wherever it wants.

“There are 200 firefighters out there who monitor this and are actively managing it,” he said. “We’re not just standing back and watching it burn.” …

They’re like soldiers on a peacekeeping mission. Working behind the scenes, keeping an eye on things, but ready to pounce if the situation warrants. …

Officials estimated in August that the South Barker Fire had cost $99 per acre. Soper estimates that fire suppression fires cost about $3,000 per acre. However, fire-use fires usually burn more acreage, which dilutes their per-acre costs.

Actual per acre costs on the South Barker Fire were $150 per acre (do the math, Joe!). But more importantly, total costs were $5.2 million that the USFS did not have and that required cancellation of other programs, such as fuels management, trail maintenance, and forest research, and every other activity the USFS engages in.

It’s total costs, not costs per acre, that make affect the bottom line. And the suppression costs do not reflect the damages to resources inflicted by the fire, which include destruction of soils, vegetation, habitat, water quality and quantity, fisheries, air quality, recreation, scenery, etc.

And spending millions on suppressing a fire doesn’t necessarily put it out, Norman said.

“It’s Mother Nature that puts out fires - it’s not us,” he said.

Val Norman may not be able to contain, control, or extinguish fires (I accept his admission of total incompetence), but other firefighters can, do, and have put out thousands of fires this year alone. It is a gross insult to the fire community at large to plea total incompetence on behalf of everyone else, when such is abundantly and patently false.

Forest scientists say many fires are natural and needed in the woods, allowing healthy trees to thrive and eliminating deadfall and other easily burned materials that can strengthen the intensity of catastrophic fires. …

The unnamed “forest scientists” are dead wrong. The South Barker WFU Fire killed large green trees and left more dead fuels on the 53.5 square miles than existed prior to the fire. Every day of this fire the (209) fire reports stated that whole tree torching and crown fire was ripping through forests. Duff and deadfall do not crown. Only live green trees crown.

The fire hazard has not been abated. The Sawtooth NF has not been fireproofed. In case after case this year, old burns (some less than 15 years old) have exploded into new fires. The Rattle Fire on the Umpqua NF is currently reburning the Spring Burn (1996). The Biscuit Fire (2002) reburned the Silver Fire (1987). Catastrophic fires do not eliminate large woody fuels, they merely rearrange them. Subsequent vegetative growth replenishes fine fuels and the hazard returns relatively quickly.
more »

Where Did the USFS Fire Budget Go?

I have written about the depletion of the USFS 2008 fire budget before, [here] for instance. Today the Billings Gazette printed yet another article about it [here], one of hundreds that have appeared across the nation.

The BG article brings up a couple of interesting points:

Fire costs limit forest budgets

by Brett French, the Billings Gazette, 09/11/2008 [here]

Even though Montana has had a mild wildfire season, the state’s national forest budgets have been scorched a bit.

Wildfires that burned more than 4.5 million acres across the U.S. so far this year - 1.2 million acres in California alone - have left the Forest Service mandating cost savings from forests to cover the agency’s over-budget fire suppression costs.

“The way we view the whole fire transfer thing is sort of like when a family suffers a family emergency, you tighten your belt,” said Dave Cunningham, information officer for the Lewis and Clark National Forest, which had to trim $475,000 from its budget.

That amount included $95,000 for three bridges proposed north of Martinsdale to protect Daisy Dean Creek’s native fish from ATV traffic. The project is one of many across the nation that will be put on hold or cancelled as the Forest Service struggles to pay a record firefighting tab estimated at $1.6 billion. …

What is of interest is that the 4.5 million burned acres to date (4.67 million actually) is not a record. In fact, it is small potatoes compared to prior years. From the NIFC’s National Fire News today [here]:

Year-to-date statistics

2008 (1/1/08 - 9/11/08) - Fires: 66,162 - Acres: 4,669,330
2007 (1/1/07 - 9/11/07) - Fires: 69,320 - Acres: 7,407,669
2006 (1/1/06 - 9/11/06) - Fires: 81,518 - Acres: 8,694,479
2005 (1/1/05 - 9/11/05) - Fires: 47,786 - Acres: 8,037,248
2004 (1/1/04 - 9/11/04) - Fires: 56,318 - Acres: 7,674,218
2003 (1/1/03 - 9/11/03) - Fires: 47,220 - Acres: 3,029,677
2002 (1/1/02 - 9/11/02) - Fires: 63,294 - Acres: 6,373,709
2001 (1/1/01 - 9/11/01) - Fires: 59,525 - Acres: 3,017,463
2000 (1/1/00 - 9/11/00) - Fires: 76,742 - Acres: 6,653,068

5-year average 2003 - 2007 - Fires: 64,221 - Acres: 7,296,589

10-year average 1999 - 2008 - Fires: 64,557 - Acres: 6,018,707

As you can see, 2008 fire acreage to date is the lowest since 2003 and only the third highest in the last 9 seasons. This year’s acreage to date is only 64% of the five-year average and 77% of the 10-year average.

Yet a record amount of money has been spent. This is curious, since the USFS has adopted WFU, Appropriate Management Response, and the Accountable Cost Management Strategy, all designed to reduce fire suppression expenditures. In fact, reduction of per acre costs has been the stated goal.

Other mandated USFS goals, such as protecting forests from incineration, preventing destruction of old-growth and endangered species habitat, enhancing watersheds, water quality, and air quality, maintaining scenic beauty, etc. have been cast aside in the name of fire suppression cost efficiency.

The USFS has claimed that their Let It Burn policies are driven by budget constraints, yet they have overspent their fire budget, and $400 million to $700 million besides, while burning a fraction of the acres that burned in prior years.

What’s going on here? The lip service has been about saving money, yet the money has been squandered (incinerated) in record amounts.

The idea behind Let It Burn, as stated in a variety of USFS, OMB, and OIG documents, has been to minimize fire cost per acre. Yet costs per acre have soared to record levels. Less acres burned have cost more money than ever before.

Evidently Let It Burn is not as cheap as promised.

Evidently Let It Burn costs an arm and a leg, because it has broken the budget while incinerating only 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the average acres.

Now we all know that minimizing costs per acre is an irrational and fiducially incompetent goal. The rational purpose should be to minimize total costs. But the USFS has failed on both counts!

The Basin/Indians Fire consumed 244,000 acres and was the 3rd largest fire in California history. With more than $120,000,000 spent on fire “suppression,” it is 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). The effort there was to burn as much acreage as possible for the least cost per acre, but it ended up costing $490 per acre anyway.

Similarly, the Iron Complex has been allowed to burn all summer, with lots of backburning to expand the acreage. So far (it’s still going) $75 million has been spent to burn 106,000 acres. That’s $707 per acre.

The Siskiyou/Blue2 Complex is still raging away. Yesterday another 500 acres of spotted owl habitat were incinerated. After almost three months of burning, more than $65 million has spent spent to destroy over 80,000 acres of prime western forest. That’s $812 per acre. Of course, considering that at least $10,000 per acre of timber value was destroyed, and watershed and habitat values worth more than that, the real losses on this one fire alone are well over $2 billion.

Some fires are difficult to figure, because the numbers have been juggled and hidden. My best estimate for the Ukonom Fire is that $30 million have been spent to burn 60,000 acres, quite deliberately. That fire could have been put out in June, but it’s still blazing away. The Ukonom Fire is a bargain at only $500 per acre to destroy a priceless, heritage, westside forest worth $tens of thousands per acre.

What’s going on here? The USFS seems to be a) lying about true fire costs and losses, and b) deliberately incinerating both public forests and the Public Treasury.

Why would they do that?

Is the USFS barkingly incompetent, or is all this a deliberate strategy to bankrupt the agency and destroy the property at the same time? Why would they do that? Who or what benefits?

I’ll let you ponder those questions. Ask your Congressperson and his or her challenger. Email SOSF their answers. And send in your own speculations as well.

I think this is a worthy topic for group discussion. After all, it’s your money and your forests. How, and more particularly why, did a record amount get spent not suppressing fires on a fraction of the average incinerated acres?

Megafire Brewing on the Umpqua

Another Biscuit Fire is brewing on the Umpqua National Forest. The Rattle Fire has blown up and is likely destined to burn 100,000 acres or more, by deliberate action on the part of the US Forest Service.

As of last night the Rattle Fire [here] had expanded to 2,700 acres officially, and well over 3,000 acres unofficially. The fire has exited the Boulder Creek mini-Wilderness and is spreading to the south and east into the Oregon Cascades.

The Rattle Fire was ignited Aug 17 and was under control. But the Northwest Oregon Type 1 IMT (IC Carl West) was ordered off the fire Sept 5 so that it might blow up and incinerate vast acreages.

Today a Type 2 IMT, the the Southern Oregon/Northern California IMT (IC Ken Paul) is watching it burn. Over 700 firefighters are detailed, [update: 900 as of Sept 11] to do backburning, not to suppress. Note that normally Type 2 IMT’s are medium-sized, with 100 to 500 firefighters. Type 1 IMT’s are the large firefighting teams, with over 500 personnel. But the Type 1 IMT is not coming back. They were too successful at stopping the fire. The desire of the Umpqua NF leadership (Forest Supervisor Cliff Dils) is to burn, baby, burn.

The Umpqua NF is not some ratty scrubland forest such as is found in eastern Nevada or southern Utah. It is Oregon Cascade old-growth true forest, with the largest species of trees in the world, including old-growth Douglas-fir, sugar pine, and ponderosa pine.

The Northwest Forest Plan (1994) set aside much of the Umpqua NF as critical spotted owl habitat and “late successional reserves.” Logging was all but halted. Massive economic disruption followed as mills shut down and thousands of woods workers lost their jobs. But all that was fine with the political establishment, because spotted owls were going to be “saved.”

Now, though, the intention is to incinerate spotted owls stands with megafire, just as occurred in 2002 with the 500,000 acre Biscuit Fire.

In fact, that was the intention all along. Every forester and forest scientist with any sense knew that. For 14 years the alarms have been sounded, but to no avail.

This year hundreds of spotted owl nesting stands have been incinerated already in Northern California where over 1,000 square miles of forest have been burned, on purpose, by IMT’s such as and including the Southern Oregon/Northern California IMT (IC Ken Paul). It has not been cheap, either. Over $400 million has been spent or will have been spent before the NorCal fires are out, roughly $625 per acre to eliminate forests from the landscape.

To date over $6 million [update: $13 million as of Sept 11] has been spent already on the Rattle Fire to burn 3,000 acres, a cost of $2,000 per acre to incinerate priceless Oregon old-growth forest.

The official estimated containment date for the Rattle Fire is now stated to be October 1st. That means the fire will not be contained by firefighters but will be allowed to burn until the snow flies. If snows are late, 100,000 acres or more will be destroyed by the Rattle Fire.

So-called watershed conservation groups, such as Umpqua Watersheds, applaud the destruction. Many of those groups are affiliated with eco-terrorist arsonists incarcerated in federal penitentiaries today. Their intentions and desires were never for conservation but for forest holocaust and more to their actual purposes, radical overthrow of the government.

There is no lipstick on this pig of a fire.

A second megafire is burgeoning on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The Middlefork Fire [here] doubled in size yesterday to 1,800 acres [update: 3,500 acres as of Sept. 11]. A handful of firefighters are watching in burn, a local Type 3 team (IC Bob Appling). [Update: Blue Mtn. Type 2 IMT is assigned together with 350 firefighter as of Sept 11]. Much of the expansion yesterday was due to backburning. There is no direct attack or suppression planned, nor will there be any before the snow flies. The official estimated containment date for the Middlefork Fire is also stated to be October 1st.

The Rattle and Middlefork fires are not official WFUs. They are non-suppression “suppression” fires. Neither the Umpqua nor Rogue River-Siskiyou NFs have officially adopted WFU because of public protests. But official designations notwithstanding, unofficially these fires are de facto whoofoos, or worse, deliberate megafires created by extensive backburning.

In this case, the backburning is of old-growth spotted owl preserves. No NEPA process or ESA consultations with the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been implemented. Treasured forest habitats and watersheds are being incinerated on purpose by a rogue federal agency hellbent on catastrophic destruction of our public forests by any means, legal or illegal.

The USFS firefighting budget has been drained completely. The $1.2 billion earmarked for fire suppression is gone, and an addition $400 million has been transferred to fire from other programs. That amount will not cover the costs, however.

It is important to note that 2008 has not been an excessive fire year in terms of acreage. To date 4.6 million acres have burned this year, a good portion of that in Texas grass fires. In comparison, at this date in 2007 over 7.3 million acres had burned and in 2006 over 8.6 million acres had burned (2005 - 7.9 million acs, 2004 - 7.6 million acs). Somehow in 2008, despite the fact that fire acreage has been only 60 percent of prior years to date, the money spent has been excessive and budget-busting.

And this despite the hands-off, Let It Burn policy that is ostensibly supposed to result in cost savings!

It turns out that the deliberate incineration of our national forests is not cheap at all. And the excessive suppression costs are not conflated with the value of the resource damage and destruction, which is in the tens of $billions.

Resource damage and destruction is the name of the game these days with the USFS. They have promulgated a “blackened, dead forests are beautiful” campaign with their “partners,” the Wilderness Society and the Nature Conservancy. The declared policy of those groups is to convert old-growth forests to “northern chaparral,” aka tickbrush, and to incinerate as many private residences in the West as possible.

All this destruction is being done in the name of “wilderness” yet the Umpqua NF and the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF have been home to human beings for 10,000 years or more. They are historical cultural landscapes criss-crossed with ancient trails, camas meadows, berry fields, village sites, and other human use sites of incredible vintage.

Instead of protecting, maintaining, and perpetuating ancient forests, heritage, watersheds, endangered species habitat, and other forest values, wholesale and deliberate incineration is occurring, with not the slightest attempt to obey the laws that govern the USFS nor a care at all about the depleted budget.

These travesties have been predicted and decried for years to no avail. The USFS is out of control and destroying our forests, including the most magnificent and precious forests in the world.

Forest holocausts are brewing today in Oregon. It is past time for citizens to stand up and take back control of their government, not for political reasons but for our own health, safety, and survival.

CA Forests Carbon Flim-Flam Scam

File this one under Extreme Absurdity. California has a new program to sell carbon offsets for not logging trees. Here’s the con game: landowners promise not to harvest certain trees, and then are paid $10 to $15 per ton for the growth. The buyers are mainly power companies who pass on the costs to their customers.

The details are murky, but the San Fran Chronicle tried to cast some light in an article that appeared last Sunday [here].

Forests break green ground by selling offsets

Ilana DeBare, Chronicle Staff Writer, September 7, 2008

Evan Smith wrapped a forester’s measuring tape around the trunk of Tree 10525, a towering Douglas fir, to figure out its diameter. Then he used a screwlike device to remove a thin wood sample from the trunk so he could measure its rings.

The bigger the fir, the more it would be worth to Smith. But not as lumber - as carbon.

Tree 10525 is part of the Garcia River forest in Mendocino County, one of two privately owned California forests that have been recruited into the war against climate change as certified sources of carbon offsets.

Carbon offsets - which have become popular among environmentalists over the past several years - are voluntary payments made to initiatives that reduce the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Most U.S. offsets so far have supported technology-based projects such as solar power. …

There are so many absurdities in this scam that it is difficult to enumerate them all.

1. There is no global warming — the Earth has been cooling for the last 10 years

2. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas that has no effect on global temperatures

3. Warmer is better, anyway

4. Carbon dioxide is the key nutrient in photosynthesis, essential for Life As We Know It here on Planet Earth

5. Fixed carbon is stored more safely in boards than in trees. Just in case no one noticed, California has experienced 1.3 million acres of wildlfires so far in 2008, most of that in forests. At an average CO2 emission level of 75 metric tons per acre, an estimated 100 million metric tons have been emitted so far, approximately the amount of CO2 produced by 20 million cars driven all year.

6. Most of the forest fire acres were burned deliberately by the government at a cost of more than $500 million. Meaning that they got you coming and going. You pay for burning, for not burning, for boards, for not boards, for this, for that, and for everything until your wealth is transferred utterly and completely into the pockets of flim-flam artists.
more »

Specifically Addressing the Impacts of WFU

Two emails came in today that address the question of NEPA analysis of WFU fires. Why does the USFS create Environmental Impact Statements and follow the NEPA process for some fairly innocuous projects, but shuns NEPA like a curse when planning WFU fires that result in major environmental impacts?

The WFU fires are planned well ahead of time, sometimes years in advance, including the mapping of the specific areas to be treated and the training of personnel to do the burning. In that respect they are no different from prescribed fires, except the ignition timing and location are accidental! What’s logical, scientific, professional, or responsible about that?

Furthermore, the “Wildland Fire Use, Implementation Procedures Reference Guide” states very specifically in the Foreword:

Prior to implementing wildland fire use under the standards in the 2005 Guide, local units must have ensured compliance with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) requirements.

There is no wiggle room in that statement. Yet no National Forest has completed any Environmental Impact Statement or Section 7 (ESA) consultation or Section 6 (NHPA) consultation regarding WFU.

It should not be necessary to sue the USFS to force them to comply with laws that they know and state categorically they must obey.There has to be some integrity within the agency. They should not be doing “catch me if you can” skirting-the-law forest management. WFU should have complete NEPA examination with application of the best available science and public review with opportunity to appeal.

Oh yes, the emails. Here they are:

more »

8 Sep 2008, 10:31am
Saving Forests The 2008 Fire Season
by admin
1 comment

Rattle Fire Musings

As we pointed out yesterday, the Rattle Fire has blown up. Ignited August 18 in the Boulder Creek Wilderness, the Rattle Fire had been subdued by the Northwest Oregon IMT (IC Carl West) with water drops from heavy helicopters. But last Thursday the NWO IMT was ordered off the fire, precisely because they had been so effective at suppressing it.

Sunday the Rattle Fire exploded. It is now over 2,000 acres and burning beyond the wilderness boundary. State Highway 138 is closed from MP 45 to MP 59. Pre-evacuation notices have been issued for Toketee Falls and Clearwater. Pacific Corp powerlines were de-energized for safety.

The local Type 3 firecrew that replaced the NWO IMT (Type 1) were themselves replaced after one day by the Southern Oregon/Northern California Type 2 Team (Paul). ORCA (as the Southern Oregon/Northern California Team is called) just came off the Siskiyou/Blue2 Complex on the Klamath NF, an 80,000 acre megafire that has been burning (and continues to burn) all summer long.

The Umpqua NF Forest Supervisor, Clifford J. Dils, evidently wants the Rattle Fire to burn, baby, burn just like the Siskiyou/Blue2 fires.

Not everybody is completely happy with Dils’ Let It Burn plan for the Umpqua NF. An interesting discussion about the intentional incineration of Oregon old-growth forests appeared in the Roseburg News-Review yesterday [here]

Rattle Fire ignites debate

by Adam Pearson, Roseburg News-Review, Sept 7, 2008

Ask any Hotshot, and he or she would tell you they’d rather dig a fire line than deal with hazard trees. And these snags felled by the Wolf Creek Hotshots Crew were remnants of the 1996 Spring Fire — so old, they have a tendency to fly apart the moment they begin toppling. …

Note: Three years ago Arrowhead Hotshot Danny Holmes was struck and killed by a tree top from a snag he was falling. This year firefighter Andrew Palmer was killed in the same manner. Hotshots are great firefighters but they are not professional, experienced timber fallers. We discussed fire falling last month [here]. More from the News-Review article:

[Wolf Creek Hotshot superintendent Eric] Miller and his crew, on a second 14-day “roll” battling the Rattle Fire in the Boulder Creek Wilderness of the Umpqua National Forest, were busily cutting down dead tree snags along the half-mile trail to the Illahee Lookout. At 1,010 acres Friday, the fire was on a lazy pace in the Rattlesnake Creek drainage since igniting Aug. 23.

Twenty-four hours later, it would burst wide open by another 700 acres, riding on canyon winds and hot temperatures. …

Before its eruption, the Rattle Fire was already creating a stir.

“We hope that it doesn’t blow up and get away in green forest and toward any structures in Dry Creek,” said Bob Ragon, executive director of the Douglas Timber Operators, on Friday.

The Boulder Creek Wilderness was burned in 1996 by the Spring Fire, with two-thirds of the 16,000-acre blaze consuming large swaths of wilderness.

The rest burned in late successional reserves — as drawn out by the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan — outside of the Boulder Creek Wilderness.

Ragon said industry lobbied the U.S. Forest Service to design salvage-timber sales for burned trees outside of the wilderness, but “nothing was done.”

Cheryl Caplan, spokeswoman for the Umpqua National Forest, said at the time, forest Supervisor Don Ostby was “responsible” in his decision to not sell a stick of burned timber, as national forests in southern Oregon were still assessing two years later the implications of future actions taken on the late successional reserves.

Forest officials figured there was 4 million board feet of timber waiting to be salvaged outside of the wilderness. Logging is not allowed in wilderness areas.

Ostby decided the small amount of timber outside the wilderness area was not worth the time it would have taken for the Forest Service to plan a timber sale that environmental groups likely would have appealed, and then for timber companies to go in and carefully extract it — most likely by helicopter.

Today, the timber industry points to the dead trees still standing from the Spring Fire — snags — as a hindrance to firefighting activity because of the hazards they present.

Before the Rattle Fire erupted, forest officials figured there were 100 to 125 snags per acre inside and outside the wilderness.

“In these cases you can’t get close to the fire,” Ragon said. “And it will continue until we get a complete burnover.” …

It is important to understand that incinerating forests does not remove the fire hazard. There is more dead fuel today in the Spring Burn than there was before the 1996 fire. In the eleven growing seasons since, the brush has resprouted, and the combination of brushy fine fuels and abundant dead snags makes for a fire fuel nightmare. Flaming brush ignites punky snags which shoot ember like giant Roman candles, and the wind carries those embers a half mile or more beyond the fire front.

Snags that could have been cut by pro timber fallers and sold for a profit are today being cut at huge expense and significant danger to the inexperienced firefighters who are falling them. The post-fire salvage was recommended for more than wood product production; it would have also saved lives and prevented more old-growth forest from being incinerated.

More from the News Review article:

Many people who stand behind issues touted by environmental groups, however, say fire in wilderness areas is good for burning up fuel loads.

In fact, Francis Eatherington, conservation director for Umpqua Watersheds, wonders why any suppression of fire in wilderness should happen at all.

“Why are they spending all that money?” she asks.

At the same time, Eatherington said the Forest Service should focus more on leaving burned areas that are open to logging alone, because snags provide beneficial habitat to wildlife.

In 2006, the Bybee Wildland Fire-Use Complex burned over 1,000 acres in Crater Lake National Park. Firefighters managed it only at its south and west borders so it wouldn’t escape the park. Early snow, because of the park’s high elevation, extinguished it by September.

“Why can’t they do that in the Boulder Creek Wilderness too?” Eatherington said.

To answer poor Francis’ rather ignorant question, again: the reason for rehabilitating forests after fires and for restoring forests before fires is to SAVE our priceless, heritage old-growth forests from TOTAL INCINERATION.

Excuse me for shouting, but when are you dimwit eco-nazi holocauster forkheads going to CATCH A CLUE?????

We professional foresters profess forests. We are stewards of the land. We use our training, experience, and expertise to PROTECT, MAINTAIN, and PERPETUATE forests. We know what we’re doing. People like Francis have zero expertise and don’t know beans about it.

The extreme Leftwing eco-nazi movement is utterly deluded by mythic paranoia about vast conspiracies and imaginary secret plans to eat the Earth and all its inhabitants. Their paranoia is irrational and horribly rude. They are fundamentally insane.

And the direct result of allowing insane fringe groups to dictate forest policy is catastrophic holocaust and destruction of those forests at landscape scales.

My thinking is that it would be better to allow dedicated profession foresters to care for our public forests rather than deferring to insane idiots with a track record of catastrophic failure, holocaust, destruction, and disaster.

Why should we listen to kooks who have decimated millions of acres of old-growth habitat with their kooky, a-scientific, never-been-right-once-yet notions?

And by the way, the entire Umpqua watershed, including Boulder Creek, has been home to human beings for 10,000 years or more, and is perforce NOT wilderness. The whole wilderness myth is not only highly destructive of the very values it purports to protect, it is racist to the core.

We need to stop listening to the ignorance-based jive political doublespeak and get real or we are going to lose all our forests.

An interesting sidebar story: the Dearhorn Fire ignited last week on the Hoopa Indian Reservation in Northern California. The Six Rivers NF has a co-op agreement with the Hoopas to fight fires. The SRNF dawdled on the Deerhorn Fire and left the impression with the Hoopas that they were going to Let It Burn, as the SRNF has done with the Ukonom and Panther Fires this summer.

The Hoopas went ballistic. They took the Incident Commander aside and read him the riot act. This morning a special 209 fire report was issued with words to this effect [here]:

The Tribal Council met with the Type 3 Incident Commander Gary Risling and Tribal OES director Rod Mendes to discuss control strategies and alternatives in the event control strategies failed to achieve the desired outcome.

[IC Risling now understands and wishes to communicate that] ~$109 million in resource value of merchantable timber is in imminent threat. The Bull Creek drainage is also a major watershed that is listed as critical to the tribe for its resource value. The Hoopa Tribe sustains its infrastructure through the sale of timber and other natural resources. The impacts associated with failure to suppress the fire and keep it as small as possible are very significant to the future of the Hoopa Tribe and its people.

The Hoopa are not enamored of Let It Burn racist wilderness jive bullshit. They want the fire out now.

Funny, the radical eco-nazis don’t spout their horrid crap at the Indians. Probably afraid of getting scalped.

Maybe we white people should scalp a few eco-nazis, and then they might leave our forests alone and stop trying to incinerate them for a change.

  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta