7 Sep 2009, 11:23pm
Climate and Weather
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Climate Chains Trailer Released

The Cascade Policy Institute [here] has released a YouTube “trailer” [here] to their upcoming video Climate Chains.

This timely trailer exposes why cap-and-trade is economically destructive and will lead to no measurable environmental benefit. The target release date for ‘Climate Chains’ is mid-September before the U.S. Senate begins tackling cap-and-trade legislation.

The Cascade Policy Institute promots public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon.

The Liberal Stewardship Agenda Is Deliberate Failure

by bear bait

I am NOT a scientist. No credentials at all. But I can smell a smear job a mile away. The attacks on Bonnicksen are murders of character, murders of the messenger.

The first issue in fire in these United States is that since the coming of Europeans to this land, fires have been extinguished by accident or intent. The accident was the pandemics that were brought here, extinguishing the native population of humans who molded the landscape with set fire. The Euro-thought of metes and bounds, the descriptive and prescriptive ownership of land, its uses, and the concept of trespass, changed fire regimes if only because fire destroyed what were valuable assets in the mind’s eye of the new inhabitants. Fire as a landscape management tool used by man on this landscape for more than 10,000 years has been a victim of endemic racism that floated across the Atlantic on boats. It is still with us. PhD scholars still cannot fathom that man created the forests, shaped them, and tended the wild, not unlike the fields and forests of Europe. Can’t and won’t. Endemic Old Country racism won’t let them.

The huge disconnect by True Believers of the Gore Global Warming scenario (it is Sept 7, 62 degrees outside… snow forecast for the mountains) from the impacts of natural air inputs from earth sciences like wildland fire, volcanoes, organic decomposition, wind and currents working on the ocean biology, cannot be dismissed. The True Believers stated intent to make man the fall guy for every perceived change in local and global climate, is not science, nor does it serve the betterment of mankind. Academic science needs work. Boy oh howdy, does global warming serve that end.

We now have a self-appointed elite cadre of politically oriented humans, all packing personal baggage of some sort about their findings and educations, determined to demean and extinguish any and all “science” that does not meet their criteria of political (read financial) need at this time in this world. How we got here is by liberal educations at the University, where I saw recent numbers that over 95% of faculty identified themselves as liberals and supporting of the left, liberal agenda. It has become apparent, that earth science is no more than political science in drag and printed in the ever diminishing dead tree press.

Science today is about money, and money comes from government. Witness the Newport, Oregon landing of the West Coast hub for NOAA marine activities. Being billed as a job creator, it is nothing more than a move by a government agency to new offices, all paid for by tax monies. The new jobs are nothing more than a redistribution of wealth to a new area, by government. But the political take is still that of accomplishment, not unlike an eagle stealing a fish from an osprey, by local government. Science is not the reason for the move. Nor easier access to the North Pacific, since many safer, better developed, and more centrally located ports exist (like Seattle). It was a payoff to Lubchenco’s home base, to feather her nest after her stint as NOAA director is over.

When ten thousand or more years of directed, planned, and intentional land management, carried out by the burning brand in hand, is extinguished by racist invaders, you do know that there had to be a change in vegetation and the expression of ecosystems. New managers with a new agenda, and 500 years later the new agenda has been exposed as a failure. The blame has been worded as the failure of the land management agencies to allow fires to burn. Not a word about setting fires at provident times of the years to gain management goals.

The only way to regain that past management, and the forests defined by that activity, is to have a proactive plan in place and carry it out. That we now have to do it with very restrictive job descriptions, planning sessions, with a human element grossly lacking in experience and direction, all now politically determined, is an indication that help is not on the way, and change is not on the way, and rhetoric is all that the citizenry might expect from our leaders in the present situation. Heralds for the present defective condition are all that we hear from on high. And there is a huge, well funded, non-profit machine in place to not change how we do things.

The solution is in the people. Leadership (by elected and appointed elites) has failed us. In time, I would hope concerned laymen might avail themselves to the “one pager” fire assessment program from the creators of the “Wildland Fire Economics Project” (did I get that name right?) to begin a process of assembling a record of fire impacts on the local community, and wherever else any one fire might have changed the local landscape, watersheds, habitats, and qualities.

The solutions won’t come from Academe. Academics are used by liberals to bolster their idea of the world, not from a science platform but from an idealist platform. They are bought and paid for by interests who use them to demean the rigor of science, employing the tactics of personal attack. Dueling academics are producing little good and lots of bad press.

A grassroots movement to record and document definitive, empirical wildland fire outcomes, in terms of dollars, is the best hope to change how we now do business in this climate of racist, dollar driven attacks on common sense from the liberal fire apologists.

When I think about how to change the landscape to one that humanity can live with, I often wonder what would happen if public lands were still public but managed by Native Americans in the old ways. At the very least, a pilot project in that vein on a defined area of magnitude might be worthwhile. Better that than this benign neglect scheme that is nothing more than serial conflagrations to no productive end.

Choking Smoke from LA Fires Denied By Enviro Wackos

W.I.S.E. announced the web publication of Dr. Thomas M. Bonnicksen’s Impacts of California Wildfires on Climate and Forests: A Study of Seven Years of Wildfires (2001-2007), FCEM Report No. 3 last month [here].

The Executive Summary and link to the full text are now posted at the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: Forest and Fire Sciences [here]. The Forest Carbon And Emissions Model Reports No. 1 and 2 are [here].

Last week the SoCal media reported on FCEM Report No. 3:

Study: Greenhouse gases from wildfires damaging

By BEN GOAD, Riverside Press-Enterprise, September 3, 2009 [here]

Wildfires raging across California have belched out hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases since the beginning of the century, significantly adding to the problem of global warming, a new study has concluded.

State and federal officials have speculated for years that increasingly long and severe fire seasons can be partly attributed to the effects of climate change.

But the study, released by forest expert and author Thomas Bonnicksen, is novel in that it suggests the trend isn’t a product of global warming — it’s causing it. The assertions have met with a mixture of interest and skepticism.

Between 2001 and 2007, fires in California torched about 4 million acres and spewed 277 million tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, Bonnicksen found.

That’s the equivalent of running all of California’s 14 million cars for about 3 1/2 years, according to the study.

“If we really are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the first place to look is to reduce the severity and extent of wildfires,” Bonnicksen said Thursday. “We could make a greater impact in the short run than we could ever make by converting to hybrid vehicles.”

Much of the carbon dioxide emitted during fires is later absorbed back into the vegetation as it grows back. But Bonnicksen contends that fires destroy more than 100,000 acres of forest in California every year, leaving less vegetation to absorb the growing amounts of pollutants.

Bonnicksen’s calculations, he said, don’t involve any new science, but rather reflect a combination of previously published and accepted formulas relating to the density and types of vegetation in forests, the amount of carbon they store and the wildfires that have torn through the state in recent years.

He proposes a far more aggressive federal policy of thinning the nation’s forests, and harvesting the wood for a wide variety of products. He also favors more replanting programs after fires, since dead, decaying trees also emit greenhouse gases long after the smoke has cleared.

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6 Sep 2009, 3:57pm
Federal forest policy
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BLM Permanently Drops Fuels Management, Grazing Categorical Exclusions

Secret deal includes irregular payoff to enviro lawyers






Below please find a press release/letter to the editor regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s Instruction Memorandum dated August 21, 2009 discontinuing the use of Categorical Exclusions for term grazing permit renewal in all cases.


On August 21, 2009, the Bureau of Land Management (”BLM”) issued an instruction memorandum (”IM”) which “immediately and permanently” stopped all BLM field offices from issuing term grazing permit renewals based upon categorical exclusions (”CE”). According to the IM, the nation-wide discontinuance of the use of CEs for term grazing permit renewal was required by a settlement agreement in an Idaho Federal District Court case entitled Western Watersheds Project v. Lane, No. 07-cv-394-BLW. Although according to the court’s website, the settlement agreement was “restricted,” this firm was able to acquire a copy. The terms of the settlement agreement mandate a discontinuance of the use of CEs for term grazing permit renewals nationwide regardless of circumstance. Additionally, the U.S. Justice Department paid Western Watersheds Project (”WWP”) $43,000 in fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act.


There are several things about this settlement agreement which should concern the livestock industry. First, there were no intervenors in this litigation, thus no one to advocate the livestock industry’s points, legal arguments and concerns. While I agree that money is tight, and certainly no one can guarantee that there would have been a different outcome if ranchers were represented in the case, it may have made a difference and certainly the outcome would not have been worse.

Second, there will be no use of categorical exclusions to renew term grazing permits, regardless of the factual circumstances. That will amount to significantly more paperwork for the BLM. I guarantee, however, that the WWP will not stop here. I have been involved in a significant number of cases related to BLM permits where the environmental groups argue that if the NEPA compliance is not completed before the term permit expires, grazing should be eliminated from the allotment. This would be an untenable position for permittees. The BLM admits that it is woefully behind completing its NEPA compliance paperwork, even on the smallest of permits and even when the rangeland conditions are in excellent condition. However, WWP and other environmental groups are arguing that if the NEPA paperwork is not completed before the end of the ten year term, livestock grazing has to be eliminated from the allotment until NEPA is done. Do not kid yourselves, it is not the compliance with NEPA that the environmental groups want; it is the elimination of livestock grazing.

Third, the restriction on acquiring the settlement agreement is concerning. Settlement agreements, particularly those involving an entire program of the federal government as well as attorney fees paid from agency budgets, should not be restricted from public view particularly in an administration that pledged more “transparency and an open government.”

Finally, WWP was paid $43,000 for this case. This case was not “won,” but settled. The settlement agreement specifically states that it is based upon compromise and that there is no admission by any party to any fact or claim. The attorney fees payment was premised upon the Equal Access to Justice Act (”EAJA”). EAJA only applies in those cases with a “prevailing party” and when the federal government’s position is “not substantially justified.” The EAJA requirements are directly contrary to the language in the settlement agreement, but the federal government voluntarily paid $43,000 from the BLM’s budget to WWP. If anything, those funds should be used for the additional NEPA compliance which the settlement agreement and the IM now require.

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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.

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Diversifying Forest Continuity

Here’s another Orwellian newspeak gem courtesy the YP Times:

BNF Fire News:



September 4, 2009

Information Contact David Olson 208-373-4105 (office) 208-861-0768 (cell)

Resource Benefit Fire Evaluations Lead to Varied Options

Boise, ID – Since the strong lightning storms last weekend, Boise National Forest fire lookouts have reported nearly 60 new fire starts. Five were evaluated for resource benefits, with the remainder being suppressed, or not immediately located.

The Abby Fire was the only fire chosen to be managed for resource benefits, and it is located in the Idaho City Ranger District near Crooked River. It is near the edge of the old 1994 Rabbit Creek Fire at an elevation of 6,500 feet.

“Our objective with natural ignited fires in designated forest areas is to evaluate them for the benefits we hope to achieve, which in this case is to diversify forest continuity, modify heavy fuel conditions, and provide different wildlife habitats,” said Cecilia Seesholtz, Boise Forest Supervisor. “About 23 percent of the Forest is approved for resource benefit fire management, and with each new lightning caused wildfire we evaluate social, economic and resource factors.” …

Resource benefit fires were approved for about 23 percent of the Boise National Forest through the Forest Plan and a subsequent Fire Management Plan. The approved area lies primarily on the east boundary of the Forest, and adjoins the Frank Church River of No Return and Sawtooth Wildernesses.

Diversify forest continuity? That’s a new one.

In other words, the “resource benefit” of Let It Burn is to inflict giant fire scars across the landscape and convert old-growth forest to tick brush. Hysterical acornists used to decry that kind of thing as “forest fragmentation”, but that was last week. This week it’s a benefit to “diversify forest continuity”.

In 2007 the Boise and Payette National Forests diversified their forest continuity to the tune of 1,250 square miles of holocaust-induced moonscape wasteland. Then the denuded hillsides slid into the creeks and rivers, diversifying the aquatic habitat with mud.

Fortunately, before all that happened the Boise NF diversified their LRMP (Land and Resource Management Plan) with no public notice, no public hearings, and no NEPA process. It was a drive-by diversification, done in secret by government acornists.

Drive-by, seat-of-the-pants, spur-of-the-moment social, economic and resource factor evaluation is the name of the game at the Boise NF these days. Lightning strikes, and then their crack team of resource evaluators evaluate the diversity of Burn Baby Burn within minutes. They know from diverse experience just which fires to Let Burn and which ones to put out. They have been so successful at fire behavior prediction in the past. Just look at their handiwork.

More lovely photos of diversified forest continuity on the Boise NF are [here]

Note that it’s not just the Wilderness slated for forest continuity diversification; it’s a quarter of the entire Boise NF, including “approved” areas that “adjoin” the Wilderness. Of the 2.6 million acres on the Boise NF, 600,000 acres are to be diversified with catastrophic holocaust, according to the approved plan.

Just who pre-approved that mega-disaster is not clear, but it wasn’t the public, who were shut out of the process, no doubt in the name of diversity.

Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart,
You’re shaking my confidence daily.
Oh Cecilia, I’m down on my knees,
I’m begging you please to come home.

5 Sep 2009, 5:24am
The 2009 Fire Season
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Air Tankers, Politics, and Turf

The following editorial and comments appeared in the Idaho Mountain Express last month. We thought they were interesting, and not just because of the clever use of terms like “idiocracy”, “acornists”, and “large women”. Thanks and a tip of the hardhat to RRsue and the YP Times for the link up.

‘Fire bombers’ needed now

Idaho Mountain Express Editorial, August 12, 2009 [here]

A bureaucratic snag that doesn’t make sense to most mortals is holding up $2.5 billion needed to expand and upgrade the Agriculture Department’s fleet of aerial firefighting tankers.

Why? Because Congress wants more detailed justification.

Justification? Hundreds of pages of statistics and graphs available now show conclusively the Forest Service aviation operation is in dire need. Of the 44 tankers it had in 2002, only 19 are now flying, some 50 years old. The others were grounded as unsafe because of age.

So, the agency turns to leasing or renting from a pool of some 800 privately owned fire bombers and helicopters, plus a few U.S. Air Force tankers, at premium rates.

Because of the shortage of Forest Service tankers, about 150 fires that were not attacked early led to additional suppression costs of between $300 million and $450 million. A large new air tanker reportedly costs about $75 million.

Fighting wildfires is big and costly business. Considering just fires of 40,000 acres or more in 2008, tentative costs were estimated at $706 million. During the year, air tankers dropped more than 12 million gallons of retardant.

States such as Idaho, whose spectacular forests always are vulnerable to rapacious fires, should pressure Congress to end the delay and get on with procuring new aircraft.

Aircraft deliveries take time, but fires don’t wait. The federal government shouldn’t risk destruction of entire communities, whose restoration can take years, in wrangling over saving a dime.


The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing Inc.


Duncan – Ketchum, Id 08/14/09 - I am a former air tanker pilot. I worked for the company that lost two aircraft in ‘02 due to structural failure. Currently I am flying as an “Air Attack,” and I’m flying on the La Brea fire in Santa Barbara County.

Your article is mostly correct. In 2002 we actually had 56 air tankers available nationwide as well as many others owned by individual states. Currently, there are 16 available nationwide. This does not include the ill-advised DC-10 and 747 VLAT (Very Large Air Tankers). There has been a proliferation of the smaller SEATS (single Engine Air Tankers) and massive expansion in the helicopter capability. California has upgraded and modernized its fleet of 16 S-2’s and converted them to turbine engines, increasing the capacity and capability.

Fire fighting is unfortunately very political. In its sweeping decision of 2002 the FEDS threw out the baby with the bathwater. Fearing liability, all tankers were grounded and only the P2’s and P-3’s were eventually allowed to return to service after much lobbying by those who had the right contacts. ALL Douglass aircraft, the 4’s, 6’s and 7’s were denied returning to service. This deprived the country of nearly 20 capable and reliable aircraft. The hypocrisy of the FEDS became apparent when they continue to fly the Douglass DC-3 converted to the Bassler BT-67 used by the smokejumpers. Politics.

There are literally dozens of P-3 aircraft sitting in the desert at Davis Mothan outside of Tuscon. These aircraft will NOT be released to the few remaining tanker operators, because private individuals are not allowed, by law, to possess front line military aircraft.

Ultimately, what is going to happen is the responsibility for flying air tankers will be assumed by the military at ten times the costs and one tenth of the effectiveness. It’s not the military’s fault, and I do respect them, it’s just that they rotate personnel and their protocols prevent them from being effective. This is an inherently hazardous business and is best left to the professionals.

What is truly needed to avert this folly is for a National Fire Service to be set up and run as an agency similar to the Coast Guard. This will never happened either, the USFS derives the greatest portion of its budget from firefighting and will not willingly give up this cash cow. They will continue to fight over turf, hoard resources, and generally do a poor job. So poor in fact, that their performance would get them fired in the private sector. But thank god for government employment. It is a perfect example of the “Peter Principle” in action. I have witnessed it over 12 years in my career and frankly am disgusted by the waste and inefficiency.

Yes, the Castle Rock fire was a great success. But remember, it was the political clout of this valley that brought in all the tools and made that fire a national priority. This does not happen everywhere and is not the norm.

Those of us who fly the planes on fire in this country live a ground hog day existence.
Some things never change.


Duncan – Ketchum, Idaho 08/20/09 - The sad thing is, I am working on the La Brea fire with Pincha-Tulley. I took OPS up for a recon yesterday early, we were told, “kill it, do whatever it takes to knock this sucker out.” Five hours later a NIMO Team showed up and said shut down the tanker base, you are spending too much money. They cut off food, and water. Never mind that contractually, food and water are provisions of the service we provide.

So then we had to leave the base and go to town and buy our own food on our own time.
Sounds not so bad right?

We”ll guess what happened when all the flight crews were in town having lunch at different restaraunts on their own dime? If you guessed the fire blew up and crossed the containment lines, then you win… more tax dollars spent.

The effort to save money on meals (around $1000.00 for all base personnel) ended up costing over $75,000.00 because of terrain compromised and increased efforts after everyone made it back from town.

Now the dispatchers, mind you, are not subject to these rules, they are feds, are well fed, and if you are not careful, they will eat not only your lunches while you are up flying, but if you try and grab any leftovers, they will eat your fingers. These large women are the problem, they are entrenched bureaucrats who scream discrimination if you try and get them to do their jobs, for which they are paid.

Grabass is the name of the game. They can all be found in the bar at the nearest hotel after sunset. Meanwhile, we pilots can be found walking along the highway to the nearest Taco Bell to try and get some sort of nourishment before we fly again in the morning.

So the fire has once again escaped containment lines, more money is being spent. Lives are at risk. And they shut down the base Tuesday afternoon, sent everyone home. Ooopps, Wednesday morning they brought everyone back, and had to take the time to reset what they had spent the previous day undoing. All in the name of saving money, hundreds of thousands more was spent.

The “Feral” government is the Peter Principle in action. There are good people trying to fight the idiocracy of “Change we can believe in,” but these voices are drowned out by the acornists who call us dinosaurs.

I am truly afraid we are witnessing the last days of the American republic. We will soon be a backwater banana republic where buffoons like like Pat Murphy are our leaders, pied pipers leading us all over a cliff. Goodnight Gracie


NOrdas – NV 09/02/09 - Duncan, your comments are factual and correct. Those from the aviation know truth. The P-3 are the perfect solution. But that’s only if you wanted to put the out fires. (loaded Wass in Minden) I knew that day it would change aviation fire fighting forever, but not for the better.

I also witnessed the Feds actions against the State of Nevada NDF pilots. False charges and destroying pilots careers are not becoming attribute of the federal government. Getting rid of pilots and grounding aircraft is the fuel for a spending out-of-control intoxicated government.

I too share your disgust… glad I am no longer in the business!

4 Sep 2009, 10:00am
Forestry education Saving Forests
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No Natural Fire Regimes in Old-Growth Redwood

In a stunning and gutsy scientific study, it has been revealed that old-growth redwood forests of California were dominated by anthropogenic (human-set) fires for hundreds and probably thousands of years.

Dr. Steven P. Norman (currently of the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station), working out of the U.S. Forest Service Redwood Sciences Laboratory in Arcata CA, has discovered that the historical fire frequency in old-growth redwood was cultural, not “natural”.

His paper, A 500-Year Record of Fire from a Humid Coast Redwood Forest, is in the form of a report to the Save the Redwoods League [here], the 90-year-old organization dedicated to saving redwoods. Interestingly, the verbiage from the Save the Redwoods League extols “naturalness”:

Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has saved ancient redwood forests and redwood ecosystems to ensure that current and future generations can feel the awe and peace that these precious natural wonders inspire. We also save redwoods because they are rare — their natural range is only in central and northern California and southern Oregon — and because they are Earth’s tallest and some of the oldest and most massive living beings.

Yet the redwoods have been tended by human beings for millennia. Human burning on a frequent, seasonal basis in an eco-zone with little lightning kept redwoods free from severe fire as well as competition and allowed trees to reach phenomenal ages.

Absent frequent, ground-hugging, anthropogenic fire, infrequent severe, stand-replacing fire would have shortened tree life-spans considerably. Biologically, redwoods do not require long life spans to reproduce. There is no biological imperative for great ages. The long lives of redwood trees are an artifact of human intervention in the ecosystem, without which redwoods may have gone extinct during the Holocene.

We have not been given permission to post Dr. Norman’s paper in toto, but the abstract follows (at present the entire paper may be downloaded from the SRL site [here]):

California’s coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests have long been associated with moderately frequent to frequent fire, particularly in the southern and interior portions of the species range. The historical importance of fire in northern coast redwood forests is generally thought to be much less because lightning ignitions are rare, and cool coastal temperatures and summer fog ameliorate the fire hazard. Support for this climate-fire gradient hypothesis has been limited because of insufficient fire history data from the northern coast redwood range. Past efforts to test this hypothesis range-wide are made difficult because of methodological differences among studies and problems with scar preservation in redwood. This research revisits the fire history of an area thought to have experienced fire only a few times per millennium in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. I found that fire frequency was substantially more frequent than previously thought. Between 1700 and 1850, mean fire intervals within 0.25 to 1 ha sample areas varied from 11 to 26 years. Fire intervals did not correspond to a latitudinal, coast-interior or a topographically defined moisture gradient. Instead, patterns of fire frequency better fit a cultural burning gradient inferred from the ethnographic and historical record. Areas close to aboriginal villages and camps burned considerably more often than areas that were probably less utilized. Summer season fires, the ones most likely set by the Native Tolowa for resource needs, were 10 years shorter than the mean fire interval of autumn season fires. In the dryer eastern portion of the study area, frequent fire resulted in unimodal or bimodal pulses of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) establishment suggesting moderate to high fire severity. Near a Tolowa village site, a frequent fire regime before the late 1700s initiated a pulse of Douglas fir establishment that dominated the forest canopy for centuries; long after the village was abandoned, possibly due to epidemic disease. While variability in coastal fog-stratus and drought may also influence fire regimes, these relationships provide a weaker explanation than human ignition history. Variable human and climate influence on old-growth redwood fire regimes suggests that old growth redwood forests are not in equilibrium, but are dynamic due to a long history of variable human influence. Remnant old growth forests are likely to continue to evolve in response to human management. Efforts by managers to restore and sustain these remarkable forests can be enhanced by understanding how complex histories give rise to biodiversity. [emphasis added].

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Our Racist President, Barry the Same

You can’t really blame him. He’s from Kenya by way of Hawaii, so he never was educated about America.

Regardless, B. Hussein Obama declared September 2009 “National Wilderness Month” today.

Barry is apparently ignorant about wilderness, including the fact that it’s a myth. People, civilized people, have been resident in the continental U.S. for upwards of 13,000 years. People, civilized people, not wild people, have hunted, fished, farmed, trod upon, roaded, modified, and inhabited every square mile of this continent for millennia.

But there’s that pesky American Creation Myth, and Barry repeats it, just so we’ll all think he’s American and one of us. You know that myth: God created a wilderness in the New World for the Euro (and African) invaders, a wild and free continent, empty of civilized people and their marks upon the land.

God made America for the invaders to mold in His image, to populate and recreate, as God so intended, and thus Wild America was blessed and anointed by God for all of us. Amen.

Of course, the 50 million or so pre-Columbian residents had to be exterminated first, and dehumanized, and then forgotten, but that is as God intended, for they were inferior and should be forgotten and never spoken of again.

Kind of racist, don’t you think? Barry wants us to erase the Amerind people from the history books, to deny their humanity and residency, and that’s about as racist as can be.

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3 Sep 2009, 3:54pm
Climate and Weather The 2009 Fire Season
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Mega Smoke in LA

The Station Fire [here] is 145,000+ acres and growing, and it has churned out smoke in unbelievably vast quantities. The smoke consists of ash and pyrolytic compounds such as carbon monoxide and dioxide. The smoke particles range in size from large embers down to a micron or less in diameter.

The fire has produced its own weather, including pyrocumulus clouds:

Time lapse pyrocumulus for the LA Station Fire

by Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That, Sept 2, 2009 [here]

Like volcanic eruptions, some fires grow large enough to make their own weather with the heat being released acting like convection. Witness this neat time lapse in HD showing the “Station” fire in the Angeles National Forest.

This video was made by photographer Brandon Riza on August 30th, 2009. It is quite well done and quite visually stunning. Click image for time lapse video.

pyrocumulus — A pyrocumulus or fire cloud is a dense cumuliform cloud associated with fire or volcanic activity.

A pyrocumulus cloud is produced by the intense heating of the air from the surface. The intense heat induces convection which causes the air mass to rise to a point of stability, usually in the presence of moisture. Phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and occasionally industrial activities can induce formation of this cloud. The detonation of a nuclear weapon in the atmosphere will also produce a pyrocumulus in the form of a mushroom cloud which is made by the same mechanism. The presence of a low level jet stream can enhance its formation. Condensation of ambient moisture (moisture already present in the atmosphere) as well as moisture evaporated from burnt vegetation or volcanic outgassing occurs readily on particles of ash.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia. Click for larger image.

Pyrocumuli contain severe turbulence which also results in strong gusts at the surface which can exacerbate a large conflagration. A large pyrocumulus, particularly one associated with a volcanic eruption, may also produce lightning. This is a process not fully understood as of yet, but is probably in some way associated with charge separation induced by severe turbulence, and perhaps, by the nature of the particles of ash in the cloud. Large pyrocumuli can contain temperatures well below freezing, and the electrostatic properties of any ice that forms may also play a role. A pyrocumulus which produces lightning is actually a type of cumulonimbus, a thundercloud and is called pyrocumulonimbus.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia. Click for larger image.

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1 Sep 2009, 7:13pm
Forestry education
by admin
1 comment

Insured Property Losses in Wildfires

An interesting article appeared today at News Insurances regarding the insured property damage done by large California wildfires.

How much California wildland fire could cost to insurer?

by Barbara Karouski, News Insurances, September 1, [here]

… Nine of the ten largest wildfires, in terms of insured property losses, occurred prior to 2007, according to ISO data. [Insurance Services Office, Inc. is a leading source of information about risk, here]. A 1991 wildfire in Oakland, California tops the list with $2.687 billion in insured losses in 2008 dollars. In October 2007 a series of wildfires broke out across Southern California, damaging thousands of homes and causing widespread evacuations. The largest of these fires, the October 21 Witch fire, resulted in $1.4 billion in insured losses and was the second most damaging wildfire since 1970, in 2008 dollars. …

The article included the following chart:

The ten most costly wildland fires in the United States

The losses listed are to insured private property only. They do not include public health costs, watershed damages, crop loss, or any of the myriad other categories of economic losses associated with wildfires.

In a recent paper, (Zybach, Bob, Michael Dubrasich, Gregory Brenner, and John Marker. 2009. U.S. Wildfire Cost-Plus-Loss Economics Project: The “One-Pager” Checklist. Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, Advances in Fire Practices, Fall 2009) [here] the authors claimed that wildfire costs-plus-losses can exceed suppression costs by a factor of 10 to 50 times.

I compiled from various sources the estimated suppression costs (ESC) of the five most recent fires on the list above, and divided the ISO estimated insured property loss (IPL) by the suppression costs. I used the “dollars when occurred” IPL values because the suppression costs were also given in “when incurred” dollars. Remember, the IPL is only a fraction of the total damages done by wildfires.

Witch Fire (2007) ESC: $18.0 million — IPL/ESC: 72

Cedar Fire (2003) ESC: $29.9 million — IPL/ESC: 35

Old Fire (2003) ESC:: $37.7 million — IPL/ESC: 26

Rodeo Chediski Fire (2002) ESC: $43.1 million — IPL/ESC: 3

Cerro Grande Fire (2000) ESC: $33.5 million — IPL/ESC: 4

The results confirm that the costs-plus-losses of wildfires are many times the suppression costs.

Further, the total losses in each of these fires far exceed the insured property losses. For instance, the Cerro Grande Fire is estimated to have inflicted total damages in excess of $1 billion [here].

The Rodeo Chediski Fire burned 400 insured homes, but it also consumed 467,066 acres of uninsured forest and woodland. The damages from that fire to timber, water, wildlife, and public health are not reflected in the insured property loss value. Hence the low ratio (3) is also not reflective of the total cost-plus-loss from that fire.

It appears that the estimated range of the ratio (i.e. that costs-plus-losses are 10 to 50 times suppression costs) as expressed in the paper cited is an underestimate. For some fires, the costs-plus-losses can be as much as 100 times the fire suppression expenses.

Utah Governor Slams USFS for Foofurb Disaster

Utah Governor Gary Herbert criticized the US Forest Service for the Mill Flat Fire that burned into New Harmony, destroying three homes, damaging others, and forcing the evacuation of the town.

“It appears the Forest Service started the fire,” Herbert said Sunday. “They should take responsibility.”

The Mill Flat Fire [here] ignited July 25 in the Dixie National Forest. Bevan Killpack, Pine Valley District Ranger and Rob MacWhorter, Forest Supervisor for the Dixie NF, decided the fire should be allowed to burn unchecked. One person was assigned to monitor the fire and a 29,000 acre “maximum manageable area” was designated. The Mill Flat Fire was declared a foofurb, a “fire used for resource benefit”, despite the fact that no benefits were elucidated, no EIS created, and no public involvement or hearings held.

As of August 22 the fire was 550 acres. Then last Saturday the wind came up, the fire blew up, and by Monday the fire was 10,382 acres. The fire is still only 5 percent contained and it may be another 10 to 12 days before full containment is achieved. Over 700 firefighters are engaged. The suppression costs have not been reported as yet.

No estimates of the damages have been made yet either, although Killpack warned that floods next spring could cause additional losses [here]:

One of the biggest future problems with the Mill Flat fire, Killpack said, could be flooding in the spring created from loss of vegetation. Killpack said he has already put in a request for Forest Service for funds to help mitigate flooding. Requested items might include sandbags, square baskets full of rocks to impede stream flow or other recommendations from an agency hydrologists.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s comments were reported yesterday:

Herbert views fire, criticizes federal policies

By Mark Havnes, The Salt Lake Tribune, 08/31/2009 [here]

New Harmony » Gov. Gary Herbert on Sunday joined critics questioning why the 10,000-acre Mill Flat fire that destroyed at least three structures and threatened more than 600 others was not suppressed earlier.

After flying over the blaze’s towering smoke column in a helicopter, he aimed his criticism at a decision to let the lightning-caused fire burn as a way to clear old growth and invite rejuvenation.

“A lighting strike may be a good way to manage resources but [it] may not be the best practice,” the governor said. …

“With wilderness, our hands are tied behind our backs,” Herbert said. “It sets us up for a tragedy.”

Perhaps sheep should be allowed to graze in now-restricted areas, he said.

Officials had been monitoring the fire mostly burning through dead vegetation for nearly a month before it exploded in size on Saturday as heavy winds quickly pushed it closer and closer to residential areas.

At a town meeting Sunday afternoon, Patricia Smith asked how much money would have been saved had officials opted to suppress the fire earlier. …

Jon Petersen, who lives in Las Vegas but whose family has a house in New Harmony, said the Forest Service “screwed up.”

He said he went up to a ridge top to look at the fire two weeks ago and saw tragedy coming.

“The smoke would flare up in Pine Valley and drop its ashes [and embers] on New Harmony.

His brother, Ralph Petersen, also criticized slow response to fight the flames.

“My solution is the first five days [the fire] is nature made, after that it should be treated as manmade,” he said.

Fire spokesman Kenton Call said questions about cost and the decision not to fight the fire earlier will be addressed at a later date.

For his part, Herbert said he wants to ensure state taxpayers won’t bear the cost.

“It appears the Forest Service started the fire; they should take responsibility,” he said.

Some conflicting statements: the USFS claimed the fire would “benefit” resources but never presented any explanation of what those benefits might be. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the “benefits” were to “clear old growth and invite rejuvenation.” Yet clearing old-growth is not generally recognized as a benefit. In fact, clearing old growth is something that “environmentalists” rail at length against.

The SL Tribune also reported that “the fire mostly burning through dead vegetation for nearly a month” and that the purpose of the fire was to “reduce the amount of available fuel.”

That is, a wildfire was allowed to burn unchecked in mid-summer because there was a significant threat to resources and to public health and safety from a fire in those fuels.

Next week the USFS will be driving all its vehicles over a cliff because there is a threat that the vehicles may fall off a cliff someday.

In another SL Tribune report [here] Killpack was quoted:

“We have an unhealthy ecosystem with a lot of stressed trees so bugs are able to kill them,” he said. “We have 35 percent dead trees in tight vegetation above the towns of Pine Valley, New Harmony and Leeds, and one day that will burn. It’s not if, it’s when.”

Evidently he thought the middle of summer was the best time to incinerate his Ranger District.

Environmentalists blamed the victims:

“New Harmony is no longer New Harmony,” [long-time Utah wilderness activist Dick] Carter said of building homes in fire-prone areas. “It’s out of harmony and it’s been out of harmony a long time because we have failed to understand the consequences of growth and that’s the thing Governor Herbert and others will have to deal with.”

Carter did not blame himself for insisting on wilderness designation, even though that designation precludes any sort of true restoration that might benefit resources. Indeed, wilderness designation is an invitation to catastrophic fire:

In managing wildfires in wilderness, district rangers such as Killpack must request permission from supervisors at the forest and regional level to use chain saws, land helicopters or drop water or retardants from the air in wilderness areas. For the Mill Flat fire, that permission was granted last Thursday, Killpack said.

Unfortunately, that was a little too late to save the town or the forest.

The site of the conflagration, Pine Valley, has been home to human beings for more than 10,000 years. It is not “wilderness,” not “untrammeled,” and not “pristine.” It is and has been homeland and was managed by the residents with anthropogenic fire for millennia. Traditional management precluded catastrophic fires, which would have been disastrous, would have destroyed resources, and would have compromised the survival of the residents. Hence they burned the landscape on a frequent, seasonal, regular basis with light, low intensity fires. Frequent, seasonal, anthropogenic fires engendered the pine savanna which gave the valley its name.

In the absence of traditional stewardship, and indeed in the absence of any stewardship at all, the pine savanna has been destroyed and severe damage has been done to environmental and human-built resources. And that destruction has come at great expense, far greater than common sense traditional stewardship would have cost.

The Mill Flat Fire is another forest fire tragedy and disaster that arose from fatheaded politics and unmanagement in support of a myth. Similar tragedies arising from the same causes have ravaged western landscapes in recent years, and there appears to be no light at the end of that tunnel.

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