The Correct Way to Return Fire to the Land

The Elko Daily Free Press has published a two part series (by Sam Brown) on the East Slide Rock Ridge Fire:

The East Slide Rock Ridge fire: A burning passion for the land

By SAM BROWN, Elko Daily Free Press, October 4 and 6, 2008 [here and here]

The difference between good and bad is many times a matter of perspective, particularly when it comes to public lands management. What ranchers call good, environmental interests typically call bad, and what is good according to environmentalists is frequently at odds with the ideas espoused by those who make a living off the land.

That said, few would say the East Slide Rock Ridge fire that encompassed some 54,000 acres near Jarbidge in August was entirely a good thing - after all, fighting the blaze put 700 firefighters on the lines, cost taxpayers nearly $9 million and drew critical attention from as far away as Carson City.

The East Slide Rock Ridge fire burned fewer acres in comparison to the Murphy Complex fire (which burned more than 650,000 acres in northeastern Nevada and southern Idaho in 2007) and Jarbidge Clover fire (nearly 200,000 acres in 2005), but the fact the area was swept by three large conflagrations in four years has raised questions about the long-term effectiveness of fire prevention and management techniques currently in practice.

From the still-smoldering ashes of the fire, a clearer picture can be seen of why the East Slide Rock Ridge blaze went from good to bad and, more importantly, what can be done to prevent such fires in the future. …

Dr. Bob Zybach, Ph.D. of the Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project offers this cogent comment:

The USFS and the American taxpayer need to pay much closer attention to experienced resource managers, such as Chet Brackets and Mike Guerry. They know what they are talking about.

But we get people like Dave Ashby, instead:

“Two hundred years ago, who was putting out these lightning strike fires? Ashby asked. No one. The Indians were starting them.

It’s pretty obvious that the fires are larger and are burning more fervently, he continued. Everyone agrees that at least part of the reason is that now we are putting out every fire when it starts.”

1) The Indians weren’t “starting” lightning fires; they were burning mosaics, much as described by Brackets and Guerry. That’s why these catastrophic wildfires are taking place NOW — passive management just doesn’t work. We need ranchers and loggers or Indians to show us how to manage resources; and that requires active management and experienced actions.

2) We are obviously NOT “putting out every fire when it starts.” What is THAT about? The problem is NOT “fire suppression,” it is “fire management.” If we listen to knowledgeable experts such as Brackets and Guerry, we will eliminate most catastrophic-scale wildfires, reduce wildfire management costs, produce safer, more beautiful environments, and increase the productive capacity of our common lands. Again.

It’s time to take a big step forward by taking a reasoned step back.

For more about the East Slide Rock Ridge WFU Fire see [here]

For an excellent history of the Jarbidge Area by Bob St. Louis just posted by W.I.S.E. in our History of Western Landscapes Colloquium, see [here]

The South Barker Fire

- If this situation is not corrected quickly, the Forest Service will not survive.

by Glenn Bradley

On a hot August afternoon in 1946, Iron Mountain Lookout reported a big smoke in Barker Gulch just east of Featherville. My Dad was on a pack trip, but the five men from the Shake Creek Ranger Station flew into action. My mother called the crew from Dave Stokesberry’s sawmill at Featherville and a few other people from the Featherville area. My job as a ten year old was to take the standby horse from the barn and ride to the fire so I could carry drinking water to the men as they worked.

When I got to the fire, the roar of the crowning was deafening and I was full of fear. It was my first exposure to a really active fire. The fire burned about 80 acres that afternoon. My dad got there about midnight. We all worked through the night, and by morning we had a semblance of a line around it. Our only power equipment was a portable Pacific Marine pump.

With that background, you can understand why a short news article in the Twin Falls paper of August 8, 2008, caught my eye. It said there were two single tree fires in Barker Gulch that had started about 1:00 PM on August 7. It also said the Forest had not decided as of 5:20 PM whether to put the fires out or let them burn. It said Forest officials considered their potential to spread to be slight. The article ended by saying that red flag conditions were forecast for the next day.

I was on my way to a family reunion when I read the article. When we returned from the reunion, there was an article in the August 15 paper saying the fire was now 1,355 acres and a national team had been called to help fight it. It also said the area from Baumgartner to Featherville had been closed.

I could hardly believe it. Just a few days before it started, the Chief had notified the field that the fire budget was exhausted and fire activities would have to be paid from other appropriations for the rest of the fiscal year. I knew the country well enough to know it could grow a lot more and cost into the millions.

I wrote an e-mail to Tom Harbour and told him something was terribly wrong with the policies if a forest could choose to ignore a chance to put a fire out for a few hundred dollars and then spend millions on it when there was no fire money left. I went on to say that it was at least unprofessional and probably criminal to let a fire go in steep, fragile, beautiful country in extreme burning conditions with no prior planning and no way of predicting where it might stop.

I sent copies to the supervisor and the ranger and a few retirees. Within a day, I got an overwhelming number of responses from retirees all over the country. The few I had sent copies to sent them on to people they knew. All but one said they agreed with me 100% and cited similar situations in their areas where it appeared no common sense was being used in fire management.

Jane called me the next Monday and assured me the people in Featherville agreed with what she was doing. I told her I could agree to some prescribed burning if it were done with good planning and preparation in compliance with NEPA, and under weather conditions when it could be controlled. She said they had done some planning and had identified about 4,000 acres in that area that they would like to burn at the rate of 1,000 acres per year over the next four years. I told her I wouldn’t have a problem with that if they did it when they could manage the fire properly, but to try to do it with no preparation in mid August just because they had an ignition in the area made no sense to me. I advised her she should put this fire out immediately and wait for favorable weather to do the burning.

I called some friends in Featherville and asked if they were okay and how they felt about the fire. They said they were scared to death. The fire was on the ridge just above their house and they could see flames from their deck. They said the people on the river had been polite at the public meetings, but they did not know of anyone who agreed with letting this fire burn. They said they appreciated the Boise Forest because when the fire got onto the Boise, they jumped right onto it and stopped it. They said the Boise had offered to help the Sawtooth put the rest of the fire out, but the Sawtooth told them to go home. It should probably be noted here that what was reported as “a minor slop-over onto the Boise” was 3,000 acres and was the biggest fire on the Boise Forest this season.)

That night, a young man from Featherville called me. He said he had heard that I was pushing to get the Sawtooth to put the fire out. He pleaded with me to do everything I could to get them to stop it quickly. He offered to get signatures from everyone along the river on a petition to have the forest stop this one and never to let another one burn under similar conditions. I told him I was still hopeful that reason would return and the forest would take proper action without a petition.
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6 Oct 2008, 1:07pm
Politics and politicians Saving Forests
by admin

How Wrong They Are

I prefer to post about cutting-edge forest science and its application to real world events, such as preventing the unnecessary incineration of forests. I rarely post about the latest dumbo eruptions from the enviro-nazis. If I drifted into that morass, I would never get anything else done because the enviro-nazis spew idiocy every day.

However, as an object lesson in civil disrespect, I offer the following example for edification and discussion.

Last weekend a bogus news service (actually a propaganda arm of Greenpeace) called BusinessGreen posted a twisted “news” article. BusinessGreen is published in the UK. They call themselves “a multimedia publication for firms intent on improving their environmental credentials.” That’s garbage. They don’t give a hang about business, in fact they are anti-capitalist commies. There are no such things as “environmental credentials.” If there were, BusinessGreen is in no position to grant them. It’s all commie clap-trap.

All that is preface for the following article that BusinessGreen posted [here]:

Government and green groups set for regulation fight

James Murray, BusinessGreen, 03 Oct 2008

A forestry lawsuit could have huge ramifications in the Supreme Court this week
An obscure forestry lawsuit has developed into a major legal battle to be played out in the Supreme Court next Wednesday, which could have major repercussions for the future shape of US environmental legislation and the regulatory risks faced by businesses.

The US Government will try to persuade judges that regulations cannot be legally overruled. Federal attorneys will argue that “facial” challenges, in which a government regulation is overturned on a nationwide basis, are invalid, and should instead only be overturned in individual cases.

Green groups are concerned that this could mean that public interest bodies wanting to challenge a regulation would have to repeatedly sue the Government each time it was applied, draining their funds.

The case stems from a 2005 court judgement against the US Forestry Service. That judgement dismissed regulations introduced in 2003 that prohibited public review and appeal of decisions relating to forest management. These decisions included the sale of up to 250 acres of timber salvaged from national forests.

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5 Oct 2008, 8:22pm
Saving Forests
by admin

Handbook of the Kawaiisu

The following good news was sent to us by friend Alan (Gold) Garfinkel. Alan has studied extensively the rock art of the Cosos [here].

Ground-breaking book nears publication

by Jon Hammond, Tehachapi News, Sept. 29, 2008 [here]

Tehachapi residents recently got their first look at a landmark new book about the local Indian people entitled Handbook of the Kawaiisu, which is being co-authored by Native American elder Harold Williams and archeologist Alan Garfinkel.

The two men presented a well-attended program about their ongoing efforts at Mama Hillybeans coffee house on Tehachapi Boulevard on Thursday, September 18.

The Kawaiisu people, who refer to themselves as the Nüwa, have been studied by various ethnographers, anthropologists and archeologists during the past 100 years, but published information about them has been sporadic, piecemeal and often inaccurate. That is about to change with the forthcoming publication of Handbook of the Kawaiisu, which will be by far the most complete and well-researched volume ever assembled about these fascinating and resilient people.

Harold Williams, who is the chairman of the Kern Valley Indian Council, began Thursday’s presentation with an introduction to his people. Recent dating of ancient village sites have confirmed that the Kawaiisu have lived in the Tehachapi area for at least 3,000 years. Harold has been involved in a number of cultural site monitoring and survey projects and is the most knowledgeable Nüwa about tribal prehistory.

While not a fluent speaker, both of Harold’s parents spoke Nüwa and he understands many native words. He introduced his sister Janice Williams, who has been instrumental in efforts to revive both the Nüwa language and the art of Kawaiisu basketry, which lapsed before World War II.

The Williams are descended from a long line of accomplished basketmakers and their great-grandmother, Emma Williams, and her daughter, Sophie Williams, were among the last of the old-time basket weavers. Janice is currently working on a basket that when completed will be the first Nüwa basket made in over 75 years. A number of antique Williams family baskets were on display Thursday night.

Following Harold’s portion of the program, Allan Garfinkel narrated a Power Point presentation covering some of the material that will appear in the book. The wealth of information included Kawaiisu mythology, geography, historical accounts and personal anecdotes. Dr. Garfinkel noted that even preparing the extensive bibliography of published accounts of the Kawaiisu covered 40 pages.

The program ended with a brief discussion by former state senator Phil Wyman, who obtained two grants to help with the research and eventual publication of Handbook of the Kawaiisu. Both during his many years in the legislature and since he left Sacramento, Wyman has done more than any other individual to help preserve Kawaiisu culture.

Wyman continues to work on funding for the book as well as a Tomo Kahnhi Visitors Center, and it was he who made arrangements for Chemehuevi basketmaker Mary Louise “Weegie” Claw to come to Tehachapi to help revive Kawaiisu basketry. The Wyman family’s Antelope Canyon Ranch has also been site of most material gathering for the native basketry program.

Handbook of the Kawaiisu is slated for publication next year, and despite all that has been done so far, there is still extensive work to be done before it can be published. Funds and donations are still being sought to complete the project.

When finished, this book will be the definitive volume about the Kawaiisu people and will shine a light on an ancient culture that thrived in the Tehachapi area for thousands of years.

Congratulations to Alan and all involved. Be sure to visit the link and view the photos.

Civil Disrespect

It is difficult to see what the most effective response is to the diminution of our rights and destruction of our livelihoods and landscapes by a corrupt and overweening government. The gut reaction is anger, disgust, and frustration, especially when the harm inflicted by radical anti-conservation, anti-stewardship groups, a fawning judiciary, and a sold-out Congress is so direct.

I suggest that we need a better strategy than hunkering in our bunkers and howling at the moon.

As a point of discussion, I offer the concept of “civil disrespect.” By “disrespect” I mean a withholding of esteem, an active appointing of blame, condemnation, and censure, with informed criticism. By “civil” I mean courteous, polite, nonviolent, and without threats of retaliatory harm.

At this early stage civil disrespect is only a concept, and not fully formed. It might not be a good idea. Or it might.

I invite your critique and elaboration of the concept of civil disrespect. What are the parameters, and how might civil disrespect be applied so as to effect positive change? Or do you have a better idea?

3 Oct 2008, 9:43am
Politics and politicians
by admin
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House Passes Bailout Bill

[Corrected] — By a vote of 263-171 the US House of Representatives just passed the Senate’s 451 page bailout bill. It now goes to the President for signature.

172 Dems and 91 Reps voted YEA

63 Dems 108 Reps voted NAY

Hello to pork by the barrel-full, carbon trading, record wealth transfer from the poor to the rich, and an exacerbated decline in the economy. Exactly the wrong thing was done. The future of this nation is looking bleak indeed.

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2 Oct 2008, 3:55pm
Politics and politicians
by admin

The Mortgage BYOB Program

America rejoice! I have hit upon the SOLUTION to all our financial problems!

Introducing: the Mortgage Buy Your Own Back Program!!!!

Mortgagees of America Unite! We can save the economy of the Nation and indeed the Entire World!

The problem, as explained by the Pundits of Wall Street, is that homeowners with mortgages have ruined the credit market. Our mortgages aren’t worth the paper they are written on. The poor, innocent investment banks of New York City and the above-reproach, integrity-managed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been snookered into buying our bundled mortgages, never suspecting that they are worthless. And now those beneficent and pure institutions are belly-up because they hold that trash paper.

But instead of the US Treasury purchasing that junk, I hereby offer to buy back my own mortgage for ten cents on the dollar!

That’s right, America. Don’t get snookered again. Don’t spend good money chasing bad. You don’t have to buy my worthless mortgage; I will do it myself. And instead of Uncle Sam, NYC, Freddie, and Fannie getting NOTHING AT ALL, I magnanimously offer the grand sum of TEN CENTS ON THE DOLLAR for my own mortgage.

It’s a heavy sacrifice on my part, but as a good and patriotic American I am willing to bear that burden. Furthermore, I call upon all good and patriotic mortgagees of America to join me in SAVING THE ECONOMY FROM TOTAL COLLAPSE.

Please join me in this worthiest of causes. Help to RESCUE AMERICA!!!

Call your Congressperson right now. Tell him, her, or it that you too are willing to give ten cents on the dollar for your otherwise worthless mortgage and thereby lift America out of this terrible crisis and avert a Great Depression! They should, indeed MUST, sign on the Mortgage BYOB Program and enact the enabling legislation TODAY, before it’s too late.

Happy days are here again!!!!

2 Oct 2008, 8:59am
Politics and politicians
by admin
1 comment

Larded With Pork

The U.S. Senate voted 74-25 Wednesday to approve a 451 page bailout bill larded with pork. There are new taxes on everything under the sun, but especially there is to be new spending on every earmark pork barrel project imaginable.

The Senate has used this alleged “credit crisis” to extort buckets of money for their special interest bribery funding.

Now, say the Senators, everybody will be happy because the largest spending package in the history of the world is on the table. There are tax breaks for Hollywood movie producers, stock-car racetrack owners, bicycle commuters, wooden arrow makers, and the very rich who pay the alternative minimum tax. There are tax hikes for oil companies and off-shore drilling (still banned). Not to mention, there are still the $700 billion in bailouts to investment banks that gambled away America’s credit on 30:1 leveraged scams like Algore carbon offsets.

The House of Representatives will be pleased now. They can vote for this pork lard bonanza without qualms. The American economy will be rescued with pork.

The American taxpayer, however, will be shot in the head. The Big Extortion is happening, and the Public Treasury will be drained one way or another. The Fear Factor has been ramped up to the highest extent possible. Bow down to the porkiest pork ever to sleaze out of Porktown, or the Gummit will screw the economy to the wall. Knuckle under, or you will be ejected from house and home and forced to live in re-education camps run by Obombo’s domestic military police (oh wait, that’s going to happen anyway.)

Oh and yes, be sure to re-elect your incumbents who are holding the gun to your head. Might as well help them pull the trigger.

1 Oct 2008, 1:24pm
Private land policies
by admin
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America: Foreclosed!

The following essay was penned by the late, great, property rights champion Wayne Hage eight years ago. Remarkably, it applies today more than ever.

by Wayne Hage, Chairman, Stewards of the Range, 2000

Don Young (R-AK) of the House Resource Committee, with considerable help from left wing extremist George Miller (D-CA) and his cadre of environmentalists, were recently successful in the passage of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), HR 701. Senator Murkowski (R-AK), is preparing to secure passage of the same legislation in the Senate as S25. CARA would provide money for the purchase of private property by federal, state, local governments, Indian tribes and environmental groups. 2.4 billion dollars per year would be made available from offshore oil revenues. Opponents of the bill say it would eventually eliminate the ownership of private property in America. In so doing, it signals the end of Congress as an independent branch of government.

The debate on HR 701 for all its exuberance avoided the fundamental question. Why does the government need our land? Basic economics tells us that all wealth originates in the land and by extension the sea. The hallmark of a free society has always been citizen ownership of the land. The hallmark of a totalitarian society has been government control of the land.

A free society is, of necessity, a society in which the government must come to the people for its operating budget. A government that must depend on the people for its source of income is one that must listen to what the people and their representatives have to say. The United States was originally structured on the strict premise that the government be limited in land and resource ownership. Indeed, history shows us that free societies and private ownership of the resource base are inseparable, the degree of freedom and the degree of private ownership being basically proportionate.

Coercive or totalitarian societies demand government ownership or control of the resource base. If government controls the means of production it has a source of income independent of the people and certainly does not need the permission of the people to justify its actions. In a coercive or totalitarian society, the people do not need representatives or a Congress to protect property rights that do not exist. They do not need a common law of property because the people have no property. They do not need a Constitution to limit the power of government to intrude into the people’s property rights because the people have no property rights. Government is total; totalitarian. It can, and does, rule by decree.
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