Acornistas Sue for Holocaust

Yep, while megafires rage across the West, the Sierra Club is suing the USFS, again, to halt another forest restoration project.

Groups Fight Forest Thinning Project

By Sonya Angelica Diehn, September 3, 2009 [here]

Eugene, Oregon (CN) - Environmentalists sued the U.S. Forest Service over its thinning plan for Umatilla National Forest in Oregon, which they say will fail to serve its purpose and hurt adjacent roadless areas.

The League of Wilderness Defenders-Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and the Sierra Club say the Wildcat Fuels Reduction and Vegetation Management Project was approved after a deficient environmental assessment.

The project is intended to reduce timber losses from insect infestation and restore historic forest conditions, among other purposes, the lawsuit states.

But instead of benefiting the forest, the plan will cut old-growth trees and build roads that damage ecological integrity, hurt sensitive specie, degrade water quality and increase the risk of severe fire, the groups say.

The assessment failed to consider impacts to two contiguous roadless expanses, one at 23,000 acres south of the project area, and another 17,000 acres north of it.

Those areas include inventoried and uninventoried roadless areas, and areas with wilderness potential.

The faulty environmental assessment is based on controversial science that proposes to remove up to two-thirds of the trees to deal with insect outbreaks, the suit states.

Represented by Sean Malone, the plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.

Some facts, just in case you’re interested, from the Wildcat Fuels Reduction and Vegetation Management Project, Heppner Ranger District, EIS Purpose and Need (the entire NEPA document set is [here):

The Wildcat project area is located in the eastern portion of the Heppner Ranger District in Morrow and Grant counties, Oregon, about 15 miles south of the town of Heppner. The project area comprises about 25,450 acres within the National Forest boundary in the Little Wall Creek, Skookum Creek, and Swale Creek subwatersheds located within the Wall Creek Watershed which drains into the North Fork John Day River. The topography is generally a south aspect with 10 to 20% slopes. The elevation ranges between 3600 feet and 5280 feet. There is 4,150 acres of the Monument Big Game Winter Range in the southern portion of the project area.

There are no inventoried roadless areas, no wilderness areas and no wild and scenic rivers within the project area.

The northern portion of the project area is comprised mostly of cold and moist upland forest. Spruce budworm caused widespread mortality in Douglas-fir and grand fir species in the late 1980s and early 1990s resulting in abundant snags, dead topped trees, and down woody material up to 70 tons/acre. A result of this insect outbreak was a change in the tree structure.

In the dry upland forest, stands once dominated by open park-like stands of ponderosa pine have closed in with shade tolerant species such as Douglas-fir and grand fir.

Today, the dry upland forests are comprised of dense multi layered canopies of shade tolerant/fire intolerant species, which are not characteristic of historic conditions. The cold and moist upland forest areas are an open structure with a low to moderate overstory density and abundant reproduction in the understory. Bark beetles and root rot are continuing to cause mortality in ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine. Dwarf mistletoe is prevalent in both western larch and Douglas-fir and is infecting the reproduction coming in underneath the overstory.

Because of the emphasis in reducing the risk of stand loss due to stand density coupled with the increased risk of stand replacement fire events, two areas have been identified as needing corrective measures: vegetation and fuels. There is a need to reduce stand densities, develop specific stand structures, alter species composition and reduce fuel loadings in order to reduce conditions favorable to insect and disease outbreaks and wildfire damage.

There is a need to move the seral and structural conditions of forest stands toward their historic ranges of variability through: increasing the amount of old forest single strata in the dry upland forest in the short and long term, increasing the resistance of forest stands to large scale insect and disease through species and stocking density control, and decrease the risk to resources from large scale wildfires through reduction of vertical and horizontal fuels.

* Move structural conditions toward the historic range of variability.

* Reduce stocking in stands dominated by trees less than 21 inches in diameter at breast height to promote growth and development of large trees.

* Restore historic amount of stands dominated by large trees.

* Reduce the levels of mortality of existing large diameter trees within the late and old structured stands by reducing understory competition.

* Protect and enhance the vegetative conditions of aspen by increasing the vigor of existing stands.

* Reduce insect and disease susceptibility and mortality in forested stands by reducing competition between trees.

In response to the purpose and need, the Heppner Ranger District proposes vegetation and fuels management on about 13,900 acres to improve the health, and vigor of the upland forest, and reduce the potential for future fires of uncharacteristic effects in upland forests through the reduction of hazardous fuels and reduction of ladder fuels. Vegetation management treatments include commercial thinning of about 2,218 acres, mechanical fuels treatment of 2,113 acres of standing dead and downed woody material and reduction of conifer regeneration resulting from the late 1980s and early 1990s spruce budworm outbreak, noncommercial thinning of about 3,289 acres and treatment of surface fuels on about 10,288 acres. Maintenance of existing roads (39 miles of open and 41 miles closed), construction of a new system road for 2.2 miles, and construction of about 3.6 miles of temporary road would be required for access and haul purposes. The proposed action would also obliterate 2.4 miles of closed road located within riparian areas.

The proposed action would require an amendment to the Forest Plan to allow removal of conifer trees greater than 21 inches diameter at breast height only within the identified aspen stands for this project.

The proposed action would be implemented as early as the fall of 2009 with the duration of the project extending for approximately 5 to 7 years.

Summary: the purpose is to protect and enhance old-growth from catastrophic fire and insect-induced mortality by thinning small trees, prescribed burning, and reduction in competition. No old-growth will be cut, although some second-growth trees larger than 21 inches DBH will be removed from some aspen stands to maintain the heritage aspen.

The Wildcat Fuels Reduction and Vegetation Management Project, Heppner Ranger District, has been studied and a complete NEPA process undertaken with the requisite Environmental Impact Statement written and subjected to public involvement and review. The USFWS and Tribes have been consulted as required under the ESA, NHPA, NFMA, APA, and other applicable laws and regulations.

The Sierra Club has been a party and participant to all that process, represented by Asante Riverwind (alias of Michael Christian), Sierra Club Eastern Oregon Forest Organizer, Oregon Chapter Sierra Club Board member, League of Wilderness Defenders; director, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project [here, here, here, here, here].

However, despite concessions made by the USFS in a spirit of collaboration and public outreach, the Sierra Club has now decided to sue to block this forest restoration project.

It appears the Sierra Club much prefer forest incineration over old-growth protection, maintenance, and perpetuation.

5 Sep 2009, 8:09am
by Larry H.

I re-posted this and other articles here on a… AHEM… partisan website who didn’t really want the scientific truth. They’ve countered by posting a story written by that crazy chapparal guy, embracing wildfires. We’ll see some anger and messenger killing but, I suspect that most people are actually fearful and worried about wildfires, with all the intense news coverage in their faces everyday. I just want to see them scramble and defend catastrophic wildfires even more.

5 Sep 2009, 8:25am
by bear bait

To have a beautiful forest takes a very sharp axe and a heart of stone. A French proverb quoted by Valerius Geist. Managing forests by emotion is useless, worthless, and a great hoax perpetually being advanced by the urban elites with more money than sense. And, because the litigants run on tax forgiven money, their de facto partner is the government. As we fall into the government by government for government mentality we now find ourselves confined by, the citizen is being slowly socialized and directed by government decisions not made in the the free discourse of democracy, but in the back rooms of money and power now flowing to those who seek their own government, a government not of the people and for the people. That is the change I see. I hope I will be proven wrong in the next election.

Perhaps it is that we can’t afford world class public health care because we don’t collect taxes from so many, for so many reasons, most to advance social and economic ideas not held by the mainstream. The tithe concept, and to not tax the tithe in a new nation of Christians, has been construed over time to include a business paradigm based on tax avoidance. The idea that higher tax rates will capture more money from the rich is just plain deception practiced by the social and political elites now in power. The rise in tax rates will only drive more money to the tax forgiven non-profits, which will direct public policy by avoiding the democratic process.

This lawsuit is a symptom of a much larger problem, that of allowing tax forgiven litigants to drive tax paying commerce from the market. The balance has been lost. In resource industries, the very building blocks of economic success, this country has had its raw material base limited by environmental litigation and litigation threats. That they win in court is not an indication of good cases but stark realization of how bad our laws have become. If Congress cannot change bad law to good law, we are lost. If Congress can’t support a national economy that provides for its own raw material, we are lost. That our Congress can be shown that we are consuming our forests with unrestrained fire on unmanaged lands, a condition only having been present since Europeans arrived here less than 500 years ago, bringing with them diseases, pandemics, that reduced the native populations of people to less than 10% of their former numbers. Disease ended their thousands of years of land management, and European ideas and grasp of the situation were sorely lacking. That our elected Congress will not take any action to slow or stop the current situation that has taken management responsibility from Congressionally created land management agencies, and put the Courts in charge of land management because our laws are so poorly written, is a national disgrace. Until the Congress acts in amending law to make it possible to manage land, we are now lost in a wilderness of our making, and will be consumed by it. I have no hope this is going to change in my lifetime. Every passing year is going to produce stark results of no land management, as we are currently witnessing in Los Angeles. Land that should be periodically burned by intent and controlled, an act stifled and stopped by Congressionally approved laws, has but one result and that one is conflagration. Congress is at fault, and that is who should receive ALL of the blame for conflagrations that show up annually across these United States. We don’t have a workable plan to manage public land. A workable plan. We have a plan to litigate every decision because of faulty and overly broad law that Congress should change to protect the ability of the land managers to do their job. That does not exist today. People die because it does not exist. The murderous litigating green community should share in the blame.

5 Sep 2009, 3:35pm
by Larry H.

AMEN, Brother!!

Another comment so well written that I cannot add anthing at all to it. (Except for this:)

The Forest Service has all these conflicting rules, laws and policies that are so easily litigated against in court. The judges, even if they ARE in agreement over safety and science, have to fling it on back to the Feds to fix the wording in the documentation.

Also, they booted me out of that website for “not advancing the ideals of the Democratic Party”. Yep, plug your ears and yell so you can’t hear the science! I sure did cause a “ruckus”, though!

5 Sep 2009, 4:01pm
by admin


You cannot inflict knowledge on those whose minds are plugged. The best you can do is lead them to the fountain; they have to drink in the ideas by themselves.

Have patience. Eventually the Truth will prevail. Ignorance is its own worst enemy.

6 Sep 2009, 8:39am
by Larry H.

Back on topic here, this reminds me of the conundrum that the preservationists want to sell you. They constantly claim that “only 3% of old growth remains” but then turn around and litigate EVERY project saying that each project cuts “old growth”. Of course, they subscribe to the concept that, before the European “invaders” came, every acre of forest was thick with HUGE old growth. I guess maybe that would be true if their own definition of old growth, depicting 14″ dbh trees as “old growth”.

It seems that they have a “suite of lies” designed to cover any situation where the Forest Service wants to manage or deal with an unhealthy situation.



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