Train Wreck Senate

Today the US Senate passed the Omnibus Wilderness bill by a vote of 77 to 20. Over 100 bills that designated more than 2 million acres in nine states as protected wilderness had been attached to H.R. 146 “The Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act” in a parliamentary maneuver to avoid hearings.

Seventy-seven Senators decided that holding hearings on bills was a bad idea. They prefer not to hold hearings, not to listen to testimony, and not to consult with the American people.

As a matter of fact, US Senators rarely even read the bills they vote on, and certainly did not in this case, just as they never read the TARP bailout bill they are so exercised about today.

The method they follow is to vote now, read it later, and then feign shock and indignation at what the law is, as if they had nothing to do with it.

Our current crop of US Senators are functionally illiterate, ignorant, and exceedingly offensive to one and all, with the exception of deep-pocket, Washington insider, special interests that play them like banjos.

The outcome of today’s Farce Theater will be catastrophic holocaust, suffering, and death of forests across the West. But since this country is going down the tubes in train wreck fashion anyway, chances are that few will even notice.

Jim’s Corner: Omnibus Wilderness

Note: Mr. Huntly graciously allowed us to post this 3-part essay. As we write this introduction the U.S. Senate is fending off amendments proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and they are about to pass The Omnibus Public Lands Act (H.R. 980 referred to below) grafted onto H.R. 146. It’s a sleazy end run around due process, engineered by Dirty Harry Reid [here].

by James Huntly

Courtesy The Central Idaho Post, 1206 S Hall St, Grangeville, ID (208)-983-2344 (No website, but a great periodical. Please subscribe. You won’t be sorry).

Part 1: Do you like to ride your ATV?

Feb. 20, 2009

Those of you who have recently complained about the Forest Service’s plans to further regulate motorized vehicle use on the forest need to start paying attention. In this column some 3-4 years ago I warned readers about restrictions that were going to be put in place to regulate ATV and other motorized vehicle use. With that in mind, pay attention, this is your next warning. Don’t wait until it is too late!

On February 11, 2009 Carolyn Maloney, Representative of New York introduced H.R. 980 which will designate certain National Forest Lands and other Public Lands in the States of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming as wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, wildland recovery areas, and biological connecting corridors.

There are 50 cosponsors and only one cosponsor is from a state that will be affected by this legislation. He is Jay Inslee, Representative from the State of Washington. Most of the cosponsors are from states that lie east of the Mississippi River or are from the Deep South. The exception is the amount of support from the State of California, where twelve cosponsors signed onto this bill. This amount of support should not surprise anyone who is familiar with the la la state; a place where fruits, nuts, and ferries are common place.

This bill will lock up 6,253,000 acres in the greater Salmon/Selway Area as additional wilderness and 394,000 additional acres in the Hells Canyon Area. Because of the number of areas involved, I will only be discussing the land affected on the Nez Perce National Forest.

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18 Mar 2009, 9:40am
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Blame sunspots for cool winter, spring weather

By George Taylor, Albany Democrat Herald, March 14, 2009 [here]

Brrrr! It’s been a cold week, in a cold month, in a cold winter. And it shows no sign of letting up.

Last week the Northwest was gripped by unseasonably cold weather. Areas west of the Cascades saw temperatures dip into the 20s. Locally we dropped as low as 27 on the 13th. Eugene was even colder (24 on the 11th). Two days later, Eugene’s 25

degree-low broke the daily record (26) set in 1944.

So far in March our local Hyslop Experiment Station has seen nine days with lows of 32 or below. The month of March averages 5.7 days, so we’re already well ahead of average for an entire March.

As cold as it was here, the Cascades generally protected us from the coldest Arctic air, which remained mostly north and east of us. On the 11th, Spokane, Wash., reported a low of 2 degrees. This was the latest date for a temperature of 2 degrees or less. The previous latest date occurred March 6, 1891. Sandpoint, Idaho, set a similar record the same day with a reading of -4 degrees, the latest date for a temperature that low.

Western Montana saw temperatures as low as -14, and subzero readings were reported in other states. In Oregon, many daily records were set, many far below the previous. Meacham was -11 on the 11th; the record for was 7, so this week’s weather broke the record by 18 degrees! LaGrande, Pendleton, Moro, The Dalles, Bend, Redmond, and others also set new records.

The cause of this cold month and cold year? Two things: the tropical Pacific and the sun.

Sea surface temperature anomalies, March 9, 2009, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Note the colder than average (blue) waters off the Oregon Coast. Click for larger image.

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Killing Us Softly

by bear bait

Fitting, no? Last day for the PI and last day for Weyco Dallas? Leadership in business from the State of Washington…

Construction on the rise, but Weyerhaeuser closes mills

By Andrea James, (the hard copy dead tree manifestation is defunct as of today), March 17, 2009 [here]

U.S. housing starts and building permits rose in February, providing a welcome economic surprise for the lagging housing market, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Data on housing starts measures how many new homes have started construction. New building permits help to determine future home construction. In February, housing starts rose 22.2 percent to 583,000 units, and new building permits rose 3 percent.

The slow housing market has led to falling demand for wood products, and February’s increases [see below] weren’t enough to stop the Weyerhaeuser mill closures announced this morning.

Weyerhaeuser Co., based in Federal Way, said that it would close two lumber mills, affecting 307 employees.

The mills, in Wright City, Okla., and Dallas, Ore., will close immediately, the company said. …

The company has closed 10 wood-products manufacturing facilities this year and reduced operations at all sites.

Housing starts surge; wholesale prices edge up

By Martin Crutsinger, (the hard copy dead tree manifestation is defunct as of today), March 17, 2009 [here]

WASHINGTON — Housing construction posted a surprisingly large increase in February, bolstered by strength in all parts of the country except the West.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that construction of new homes and apartments jumped 22.2 percent in February compared with January, pushing total activity to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 units. …

So Whorehouser announces they are shutting down Dallas… for good… permanent… adios… cut and run.

The centerpiece of Willamette Industries, the original Gerlinger Mill, the Willamette Valley Lumber Co., now erased. Out of their shops came the Gerlinger lift truck (which became Salem Equipment), Gerlinger motor truck (which became Kenworth), and Gerlinger forklifts (which became Towmotor which became Caterpillar). Pretty big stuff for the entire world out of one little lumber company’s blacksmith shop. They built steam donkeys and locomotives, too, or at least repaired and rebuilt them.

So how pissed am I about Montana’s Sen. Baucus and his sweetheart $178,000,000 tax break last year for Weyerhaeuser????? They stole money from the taxpayers, and got away with it by purchasing a U.S. Senator. Baucus was extorted and rewarded in order to have Weyco’s blessing for his giant bailout of Plum Creek Timber in Montana — the purchase of cutover PCT lands with a billion dollars of taxpayer support courtesy the US Senate and the tax avoidance NGOs of the Environment.

Assholes all. — bear bait

17 Mar 2009, 6:41pm
2007 Fire Season Federal forest policy
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Yellow Pine Road Workshop Planned

In 2007 the US Forest Service burned 800,000 acres (1,250 square miles) of the Payette, Boise, and Nez Perce National Forests in Central Idaho [here]. The fires were directly atop the Idaho Batholith [here], composed of highly erodable granitic soils.

During the following winter massive erosion, landslides, and mudflows clogged the creeks and washed out numerous roads [here, here] (much to the delight of anti-everything pseudo-environmental groups, such as the Wilderness Society [here]).

In November of 2007 Payette Supervisor Suzanne Rainville thanked the residents of Burgdorf, Secesh, Warren, Yellow Pine, Copenhaver, Mackey Bar, Badley Ranch, Big Creek, Indian Valley, and Weiser for their “positive feedback” [here]. She promised to “work on fire restrictions to improve their effectiveness and intention without causing adverse impacts to land owners, business owners and recreating public.”

Then a year later (October 2008), after the mudslides, Rainville decided to shut the roads to Yellow Pine permanently. Evidently she did not see any “adverse impact” to cutting off the town.

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Wild and Dirty Politics Threaten Forests and the Constitution

As we surmised if not predicted [here], the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 is not dead. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allegedly intends to attach it to H.R. 146, “The Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act.”

The Omnibus Public Lands Bill was defeated in the House March 11 under emergency rules that require a two-thirds majority vote. Normal rules were suspended because nearly 100 of the bills in the 1,200-page package have never passed or have had a hearing in the House.

H.R. 146 has passed the House. Hence by attaching nearly 100 unconsidered bills to it, Dirty Harry and the corrupt Senate play the sham trick of bypassing the House of Representatives entirely. Should H.R. 146 pass the Senate laden with the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, the House will never hold a hearing on it. Instead, a conference committee will “resolve” the differences between the House and Senate versions of HR 146, and a simple majority vote will be all that is required to pass the conference report.

The upshot is that through parliamentary shenanigans, the nearly 100 of the bills in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act will never be subjected to a single hearing. Open government will be shoved under the mud again.

From the National Center for Public Policy Research [here]

Outrage of the Day: Harry Reid Tries Again

Today’s Outrage of the Day goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his reported intention to try again to get the monster Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S. 22) into law without proper deliberation.

Following the bill’s defeat last Wednesday (under suspension of rules) in the House, Reid reportedly plans to try again by attaching the huge bill as an amendment to a bill, H.R. 146, “The Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act,” that has already received House approval, and is to be voted on early this week in the Senate.

As National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow R.J. Smith pointed out in this extensive commentary last week, it’s likely that no one has read the bill-cum-amendment, as it’s 1,294 pages long and nine inches thick. There have been no hearings, mark-ups or floor debate about most of it.

The U.S. Congress is deathly afraid of transparency and open government. They know that shining the light of day on their machinations will result in outrage and ouster of the gang of thieves that taint our Capitol today.

For what it may be worth, please call 202-224-3121 and tell Congress to reject HR 146 with the Omnibus Public Land Management Act amended to it like a wart the size of an elephant.

From Julie Kay Smithson of Property Rights Research [here]:

This is criminal, what’s being done under the guise of “legislation” in Washington, D.C. Warm up that number, 202-224-3121, and don’t let them get away with locking up even more land! Locking up millions more acres needlessly, keeping the very people that paid for these lands from ever visiting or enjoying them — is nothing short of criminal. You know I will be making my calls first thing in the morning. Please, add your voices and make sure the mice ROAR!

Update of Western Bark Beetle Assessment

Highlights Call to Action

NEWS RELEASE, Council of Western State Foresters, March 16, 2009 [here]

DENVER: The Council of Western State Foresters (CWSF) supports the ‘call to action’ in the recent Western Forestry Leadership Coalition (WFLC) publication, The Western Bark Beetle Assessment: A Framework for Cooperative Forest Stewardship- 2nd Edition. As the bark beetle epidemic continues to decimate western forests the WFLC updated the 2-year old report so that information can be utilized now for quick on-the-ground action. The report includes new information on the importance of trees in storing carbon, progress over the past five years and a call to action.

Currently, over 7 million acres of western forests contain dead or dying trees due to bark beetle outbreaks. According to the recent assessment, approximately 22 million additional acres of western forests, on both public and private land, are likely to experience significant (over 25%) tree mortality from bark beetles over the next 15 years.

The report states that while we cannot stop large outbreaks, with additional resources we can minimize the impacts of ongoing and future outbreaks on 2.4 million acres of highest priority in the West. Nearly one-half million acres across the west have already been treated at a cost of $75 million. From this, the Council of Western State Foresters concludes that at least $300 million dollars can be productively utilized over the next five years to continue and improve mitigation efforts in the areas of highest risk in the western United States, while simultaneously create jobs.

“We cannot, and should not try, to treat all the acres affected,” states Pete Anderson, Chair of the CWSF. “That is why the Assessment lays out a plan for prioritization, looking at the all the factors at risk.”

As bark beetle-killed trees fall, heavy surface fuel loads are created on the ground. When burned, these fuels can carry a surface fire into tree crowns causing more damage. “With funding and focus, we can provide jobs while creating healthier forests and safer communities.” says Anderson.

Copies of the Western Bark Beetle Assessment can be downloaded [here]

The Council of Western State Foresters represents the State and Island Forestry Agencies in the seventeen states and six Island territories of the western United States. The responsibilities of these agencies include wildfire and forest health protection services to landowners in forests, cities and communities. For more information please visit

Note: A new report from the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition, expected April 1, is The True Cost of Wildfire in the Western U.S. [here]. “Explores beyond the costs of suppression to give a more accurate accounting of the cost to communities and the environment from large wildland fires.”

SOS Forests will give that report a thorough review.

‘Appropriate Management Response’ Tantamount to Arson

The Ukonom Complex Fires were ignited by lightning June 21, 2008. Initial attack was slow and meager. Four days later, when the fires totaled 750 acres, the Six Rivers National Forest invoked “Appropriate Management Response” and drew (on maps) a fire perimeter that encompassed 40,000 acres. They began to build fire breaks on that line and backburn towards the fire, then miles away.

Eventually the Ukonom Complex [here] burned over 80,000 acres and cost over $40 million in “suppression.”

The exact numbers are unknown because the Ukonom Complex was bureaucratically merged with the Panther Fire on the Klamath NF [here]. The Panther Fire was ignited a month later (by lightning) and eventually grew to 75,000 acres. Both fires were merged into the Siskiyou Complex and then into the Klamath Fire Theater [here]. The numbers became impossible to extract from the accounting jumble, but something like 200,000 acres burned at a cost of over $160 million.

Appropriate Management Response was applied to fire starts on the Shasta-Trinity NF, too. The final result: 208,460 acres burned at a “suppression” cost of $158.9 million.

All told, on those three NF’s (Klamath, Six Rivers, Shasta-Trinity) something like 650,000 acres (1,000 square miles) burned at a “suppression” cost of over $400 million. The fires burned for three months, choking Northern California airsheds, causing extensive public health problems, ruining agricultural crops, all but eliminating an entire season of recreation, and inflicting (conservatively) $10 billion in collateral economic damage. Major traditional heritage sites were incinerated, and an unknown but significant number of spotted owl nesting stands and salmon spawning beds were destroyed.

Twelve firefighters lost their lives, in machine accidents — not burnovers.

Appropriate Management Response broke the USFS fire budget, too.

Large amounts of private land were burned, too, in backburns set by USFS fire crews. Fires that could have been contained miles away were allowed to burn to the city limits of Junction City, Hayfork, and other NorCal towns.

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Fed Fire Policy Is Arson

Federal fire policy leaves private timber in ruins

by Dennis Possehn, Speak Your Piece,, March 15, 2009 [here]

Thousands of acres of private timberland are adjacent to and within National Forest boundaries, where fire protection responsibility comes under the U.S. Forest Service. It is the Forest Service’s legal duty to protect these private parcels just as Cal Fire protects lands outside of National Forest influence. It is apparent from last summer’s fires that fire protection no longer exists for thousands of acres of private timberland, as many private parcels were purposely set fire by the Forest Service and burned.

In fact, more acreage was burned, and more smoke and carbon were put into the air by the U.S. Forest Service than by natural wildfire. Most of the private timberland burned is not being reforested as owners are fearful of similar events happening in the future.

Following the death of several firefighters in Idaho a few years ago, the Forest Service adopted a new “safety policy” using indirect methods to fight fire. This policy change has resulted in the huge devastating fires and smoke plumes the western states are experiencing. The federal policy of indirect firefighting leads to larger fires that require many more bodies, equipment and aircraft be put in harm’s way. This action will always increase the number of accidents, not decrease them. The U.S. Forest Service must come to the realization that its policies are destructive and not meeting the agency’s safety goals.

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14 Mar 2009, 11:09pm
Saving Forests The 2009 Fire Season
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Our Understanding Of Fire

by Phil Maguire, Bundarrah Days, March 12, 2009 [here]

I WAS very young when I first become familiar with the term bushfire. I was so used to hearing it I grew up believing that fire in the bush was something that we Australians just accepted as a fact of life.

I didn’t know back then that fire came in different varieties depending on what was being burned and when. Too many urban Australians still don’t know that simple fact and merely repeat parrot fashion what they’ve been told by the green movement - “fire is a natural part of of our environment - get used to it, dude!”

There’s something really aggravating about being told to get used by fire by someone whose knowledge of fire in Australia is as lacking as their understanding of Australian vernacular.

The answer of course, is this. “Fire is a natural phenomenon mate, but how bloody natural is it when it’s your hair in flames, ay?”

Let’s get down to some facts. Australia’s native flora and fauna has evolved with fire from the very beginning. Man’s flirtation with fire on this continent started about 40,000 years ago. The Aborigines farmed with fire using it to clear ground for walking, to provide grass for game and even to nurture specific plant communities. This pattern of burning created a mosaic of recently burned country across the landscape that limited the spread of wildfires.

In addition to Aboriginal burning, lightning has always been a prime source of ignition. Lightning fires, however, often occur in relatively benign conditions and can be suppressed quickly, often by moisture, unless, as has been the case in recent years there is a massive fuel burned available to burn.

Too many urban Australians fail to understand that our forests have changed significantly since European settlement. If they were confronted by the same bushland as the explorers encountered they wouldn’t recognise it. And just as the bush has changed so has the nature of bushfire.

Nowadays the absence of frequent burning leads to a build-up of fine and heavy fuels resulting in the kind of holocaust fires we saw on Black Saturday.

The management of forests and fires is incredibly complex. The green mantra that “fire is natural, dude - get used to it” is far too simplistic and ignorant to warrant serious consideration and yet it rules the day. One tragedy leads to another.

We have to find a solution to our fire dilemma. Over the past six years lack of fuel reduction burning has lead to a massive increase in the area of bushland burnt by high-intensity fires - more than 4 million hectares since 2003.

There’s also another problem. The exclusion of fire in eucalypt forests and woodlands, in the absence of other fuel reduction strategies, causes the proliferation of shrubs and litter. It’s a fact that shrubs can significantly change the conditions in which overstorey eucalypts are growing. A shrub understorey shades out the forest floor, decreases soil temperatures and increases the moisture of the soil. Heavy layers of organic litter effectively mulch the forest floor causing changes in soil chemistry by altering the nitrogen cycling regime. These kinds of changes increase the vigour of pests and pathogens which in turn affect the health of the forest.

In addition, and we’ve pointed this out so often, when forests develop a scrub understory it burns for longer with much greater intensity, and as the trees have not evolved with these kinds of fires their health is badly affected.

14 Mar 2009, 10:46pm
The 2009 Fire Season
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Satellite Imagery of Victoria Fires

Captain Mike at Firefighter Blog [here] points to a link [here] showing satellite images of the towns of Marysville, Kinglake, Kinglake West, Churchill, Flowerdale, Murrindindi and Callingee, AU, taken 5 weeks after Black Saturday.

The images are slow to load but worth waiting for. The devastation is horrific.

14 Mar 2009, 12:40am
Federal forest policy
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USFS Regions 2 and 4 Announce 1st Round Stimulus Projects

We have posted first round Stimulus announcements from USFS Regions 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. Two other Regions have now also made announcements about Stimulus (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) projects.

The Rocky Mountain Region 2 (17 national forests and 7 national grasslands in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming) announced funding for projects totaling $5.6 million [here]. The Arapaho–Roosevelt, Medicine Bow–Routt, and Pike–San Isabel NF’s will undertake hazard tree removal projects, especially those areas hardest hit by the bark beetle infestation. In addition about $500,000 will go to the Colorado Youth Conservation Corps to employ up to four 10-person teams of young adults to clear beetle–killed trees in campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads and along hiking trails on the Routt National Forest. Also 20 restroom facilities will be replaced on the Pike–San Isabel NF.

The Intermountain Region 4 (12 national forests in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada) announced that $1.3 million will be spent on the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF [here]. Eradication of invasive and introduced species on 5 acres, thinning of hazardous fuels and competing vegetation on 25 acres, tamarisk abatement on 29 acres, juniper pocket rot treatment on 400 acres, tree planting on 20 acres, reseeding of 150 acres, fuel reduction on 30 acres, roadside fuel removal on 849 acres, and creating fuel breaks on 25 acres will provide 24 full-time jobs in Nevada and will retain four existing jobs.

Innovative Tree Farming Guide Now Online at W.I.S.E.

The compleat and entire A Guide to Innovative Tree Farming in the Pacific Northwest by Mike Dubrasich, 2005, Whirlwind Press, is now posted at the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: Innovative Tree Farming [here]

Revolutionary! Controversial! Agricultural!

Attention! PNW tree farmers and rural landowners!

Escape the Douglas-fir trap and make more money growing profitable new tree crops with new methods for new and expanding markets!

A Guide to Innovative Tree Farming In the Pacific Northwest was written by an independent tree farm consultant originally for his private clients. A Guide to Innovative Tree Farming In the Pacific Northwest reveals tree farming secrets that can turn your woodlot, brush patch, or hay field into a veritable gold mine!

Don’t delay. Read A Guide to Innovative Tree Farming In the Pacific Northwest and then get growing! The first ones in capture market share!

If you own rural property in the Pacific Northwest, you need to read this book!

Big Changes at Evergreen

Evergreen Magazine [here] has been the leader in forest news reporting for over two decades. The hard copy magazine business has seen its heyday, however, and Evergreen Mag has not published an issue in two years.

They are not dead. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, and like so much of the rest of the publishing world, Evergreen Foundation is going digital.

Sometime near end of this month executive director, publisher, editor, and chief bottle washer Jim Petersen will be unveiling Evergreen Magazine Online. It will be more than a periodical, though. It will be an active website updated daily with news and essays about forests, forest management, logging, sawmilling, fires, wildlife, and all things forest, in keeping with Evergreen’s long tradition of excellence.

We will keep SOS Forest readers apprised and when the Big Day comes, you will be the first to know.

As a teaser, we present a recent speech by Jim Petersen about forest biomass. The speech is entitled “We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming To Bring You this News Flash” and was delivered at the Western Wood Products Association Annual Meeting March 9 in Scottsdale, AZ.

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12 Mar 2009, 11:25pm
Federal forest policy
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Stimulus Fund Announcements From Other USFS Regions

We have posted Stimulus announcements from USFS Region 5 [here, here] and Region 6 [here, here]. Other Regions have also made announcements about Stimulus (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) projects.

The Northern Region 1 (national forests in northeastern Washington, northern Idaho, and Montana, and national grasslands in North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota) announced three projects (all in Montana) totaling $9.5 million [here]. The projects are culvert and bridge replacement and road surface improvement on the Bitterroot, Gallatin and Custer NF’s, culverts and road surfacing on the Gallatin, Custer and Kootenai NF’s, and road and bridge reconstruction and maintenance on Shield River Road in the Gallatin National Forest.

The Southwestern Region 3 (national forests in Arizona and New Mexico and grasslands in Oklahoma and Texas) announced today four projects (but not the funding amount) [here]. The projects are toilet replacement on the Apache-Sitgreaves NF, environmental cleanup of mining wastes on the Santa Fe NF, hazardous fuels removal and utilization on the Lincoln NF, and a hazardous fuels reduction project on the Tonto NF.

The Southern Region 8 (13 states from Virginia to Oklahoma – as well as Puerto Rico) announced 3 projects totaling $3.06 million [here]. The projects will repair roads and trails damaged in the January ice storm. All three projects are in Kentucky, two on Land Between The Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area and one on the Daniel Boone NF.

The Eastern Region 9 (20 states from Maine to Wisconsin) announced one project totaling $100,000 to repair trails on the White Mountain NF in New Hampshire [here].

The Alaska Region 10 announced $2.4 million [here] to be spent replacing buildings, surfacing existing roads, closing roads, storing roads, replacing failing bridges and culverts, and restoring stream crossings on the Chugach and Tongass NF’s.

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