4 Oct 2009, 1:48pm
Federal forest policy The 2009 Fire Season
by admin

Eightmile Creek Fire Indictments?

The revelation that the Boise NF is deliberately lighting unauthorized, unplanned, illegal, essentially arson fires [here] in the middle of summer is more than troubling.

In their urgency to “reintroduce” fire, agency functionaries capriciously broke the law, endangered the public as well as agency firefighters, destroyed forests, polluted water and air, killed wildlife, and left behind a wasteland where once stood a forest.

The alleged “backfire” set on the Eightmile Creek Fire was nowhere near the lightning-ignited fire. The “backfire” was deliberately set to burn additional acreage that the original fire was never going to burn (it had already settled down and stopped growing).

The “backfire” tripled the size of the Eightmile Creek Fire, a so-called “fire used for resource benefit.” The only benefit the Boise NF came up with was “diversify forest continuity,” ecobabble nonsense for fragmenting the forest with moonscape burns.

“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.” … [here]

The “objectives” of the Boise NF notwithstanding, the Laws of the Nation must be obeyed. A slew of federal laws require environmental impact statements, studies, consultations, public involvement, public comment, reviews, official decisions, appeals, and other procedures BEFORE any government agency undertakes actions that will significantly affect the environment.

USFS statements to the effect that wildfires are let burn without suppression expressly and categorically “for resource benefit” are frank admissions that those fires will have significant impact and effects on resources, in the estimation of the USFS as well as others. NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) is clear and concise about it: significant effects require an EIS, whether or not those effects are characterized as detrimental or beneficial:

“Significantly” as used in NEPA requires considerations of both context and intensity:

(a) Context. This means that the significance of an action must be analyzed in several contexts such as society as a whole (human, national), the affected region, the affected interests, and the locality. Significance varies with the setting of the proposed action. For instance, in the case of a site-specific action, significance would usually depend upon the effects in the locale rather than in the world as a whole. Both short- and long-term effects are relevant.

(b) Intensity. This refers to the severity of impact. Responsible officials must bear in mind that more than one agency may make decisions about partial aspects of a major action. The following should be considered in evaluating intensity:

Impacts that may be both beneficial and adverse. A significant effect may exist even if the Federal agency believes that on balance the effect will be beneficial.

From Sec. 1508.27, the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.), sec. 309 of the Clean Air Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 7609), and E.O. 11514 (Mar. 5, 1970, as amended by E.O. 11991, May 24, 1977). Source: 43 FR 56003, Nov. 29, 1978, unless otherwise noted.

The abrogation of NEPA by allowing lightning-ignited fires to burn unchecked is one thing, but without a doubt the matter is pushed over the line into deliberate criminality when USFS personnel set the Let It Burn fires without notice, due procedure, or even disclosure.

The deliberate incineration of Eightmile Creek was a USFS secret. The individuals involved knew they were breaking the law and kept the truth under wraps — until revealed by SOS Forests [here].

The Boise NF undertook a major Federal action that

* negatively affected public health and safety;

* impacted the unique characteristics of the geographic area including natural, historic, and cultural resources and ecologically critical areas, including but not limited to threatened and endangered flora and fauna, historical/cultural values, water quality, air quality, climate change, public recreation, public scenery, and local, state, and national economies;

* resulting in highly controversial effects on the quality of the human environment;

* involving highly uncertain, unique, and unknown risks to the human environment;

* was an attempt to establish a precedent for future actions with significant effects and represents a decision in principle about a future consideration;

* was related to other actions with cumulatively significant impacts;

* adversely affected districts, sites, highways, structures, and objects listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and caused loss or destruction of significant scientific, cultural, and historical resources;

* adversely affected endangered and threatened species and their habitats that have been determined to be critical under the Endangered Species Act of 1973; and

* violated Federal, State, and local law and requirements imposed for the protection of the environment.

Institutional arson is still arson.

This matter is serious and has national import. We request that the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho, or if they are unwilling, the State of Idaho Office of Attorney General, or both, mount a full investigation of the Eightmile Fire and actions taken on that fire by the US Forest Service. We further request that all findings be presented to the public in an open and transparent manner, and if criminality has occurred, that the alleged perpetrators be indicted and prosecuted.

4 Oct 2009, 7:52pm
by Bob Z.


Mike:

You make a good point here. It would seem that a member of the environmental litigation industry could make some money and get professional attention by following up on your suggestion — and taxpayers will foot the bill if the argument is successful.

A good share of the litigation that takes place to stop forest management activities, including timber sales in rural areas, salvage of dead and dying trees, and use of forest biomass to produce energy, is paid for by the Equal Access to Justice Act. Why not this?

Here are some starter links:

http://www.wildlaw.org/Eco-Laws/start.html

http://www.sba.gov/advo/laws/sum_eaja.html

http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/5/504.html

There should be some form of affected business or organization or concerned citizen in the Boise area that could follow up on your suggestion.

Fighting fire with fire makes good sense, when done properly and with legal backing.

5 Oct 2009, 8:37pm
by Scott


Once again, another good article. I might also suggest looking into the Payette National Forest actions on the Secesh Fire in 2007. The main fire was mostly out when they lit a “back fire” that destroyed private property on the old Del Davis ranch. They made preparations, including wrapping an old Chinese apple orchard in fire blankets to prevent their destruction. Five miles away they made no attempt whatsoever to preserve a sawmill, lumber, and other new building materials on private property. According to people who witnessed the back fire, “it was as though they were trying to burn the Del Davis ranch out by steering the fire towards it, in the opposite direction of the main forest fire.”

5 Oct 2009, 8:41pm
by Scott


On another note: The leadership of the Payette NF have been trying to force the Del Davis ranch into oblivion for years. They closed the main access road to the ranch, stating a “hiking trail” meets the requirements for “providing reasonable access.” So hearing they drove the fire they lit towards the ranch would make perfect sense and just reinforce what all the locals think of the Payette NF leadership. They are ruthless, arrogant, believe they are above the law, self-serving. They do nothing to benefit people and manage the forest like it’s their own private back yard with the US taxpayer to pay for their landscaping projects.

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