31 Dec 2009, 10:36pm
Climate and Weather
by admin

Record Cold Wave Predicted

A record cold wave is predicted for the next two weeks or more, across much of North America and Europe. The basis for that prediction is the periodic convergence of a pair of oceanic and atmospheric multi-year “oscillations”.

Major northern hemisphere cold snap coming

by Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That, Dec 30, 2009 [here]

Cold event setups in atmospheric circulation patterns are aligning. Two days ago I brought to your attention that there was a strong downspike in the Arctic Oscillation Index and that the North Atlantic Oscillation Index was also negative. See The Arctic Oscillation Index goes strongly negative [here].

Yesterday, Senior AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bastardi let loose with this stunning prediction on the AccuWeather premium web site via Brett Anderson’s Global warming blog:

What is facing the major population centers of the northern hemisphere is unlike anything that we have seen since the global warming debate got to the absurd level it is now, which essentially has been there is no doubt about all this. For cold of a variety not seen in over 25 years in a large scale is about to engulf the major energy consuming areas of the northern Hemisphere. The first 15 days of the opening of the New Year will be the coldest, population weighted, north of 30 north world wide in over 25 years in my opinion.
… [more]

The Arctic Oscillation (AO) going negative means high pressure over the Arctic region and low pressure at midlatitudes (positive means low pressure over the Arctic, and high pressure at midlatitudes). The AO has gone strongly negative.

The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is a long-duration (20 to 40 years) fluctuation in sea surface temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean, with cool and warm phases. This year the AMO shifted to to the cold phase after 15 years in the warm phase.

Put those two together and not only do you get AMOAO (my cat says that), but you get jet streams driven south by the polar high pressure, bearing cold air upon already cold air from a cold Atlantic.

Not to mention the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) which went negative two years ago (or so), bringing cold waters to the eastern Pacific (our West Coast).

The confluence of all these colder-than-average conditions is predicted to generate one or more Arcto-boreal Canadian cold fronts that will plunge down the Rockies to Florida, sweep up the East Coast, howl across the North Atlantic, picking up more cold Arctic air along the way, and plunge headlong into Europe.

Both Europe and North America experienced severe cold waves in December, but that was just a warm up (a chill down?) to the coming record freeze, if the predictions are correct.

Anthony Watts advises, “If you live in these areas: bundle up, stock up. Get ready.”

I pass the warning and the advice on to you. Be prepared, it’s going to get colder than [fill in the blank].

Global Warming Lawsuits Are a Cash Cow for Eco-Litigious Groups

In September we posted a “memo” [here] from Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen which noted that $billions have been paid to eco-litigious groups for suing the federal government.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed over red-tape procedures, and win, lose, or draw, the eco-suers have received windfall “fees” in outrageous amounts.

Nonprofit, tax exempt groups are making billions of dollars in funding; the majority of that funding is not going into programs to protect people, wildlife, plants, and animals, but to fund more law suits. Ranchers and other citizens are being forced to expend millions of their own money to intervene or participate in these lawsuits to protect their way of life when they have no chance of the same attorney fee recovery if they prevail. In fact, they are paying for both sides of the case–for their defense of their ranch and for the attorney fees for environmental groups receive to sue the federal government to get them off their land. There are also numerous cases where the federal government agrees to pay attorney fees, but the amount paid is hidden from public view.

In October Karen Budd-Falen followed up with another memo [here] detailing some of the more egregious fee claims requested by and paid to the eco-litigation industry and the gross, Wall Street-level compensations paid to the fatcat CEO’s of the “non-profit” eco-law firms.

Bleeding the taxpayers dry and monkey wrenching government agencies with frivolous lawsuits is a never-ending tale of horror. Karen Budd-Falen’s fifth installment is entitled “Attorney Fees Tax Dollars Have Already Decided U.S. Is Globally Warming” [here]. Some excerpts:

… the United States federal government has paid millions in tax dollars to environmental groups to litigate over global warming already. These cases are NOT about whether global warming is or is not a scientific fact, but over timelines and procedures which seem to be impossible for the federal agencies to comply with… and getting paid handsomely to do it. …

[For instance] In the California litigation regarding the Delta Smelt (the 6-inch minnow that has so adversely impacted California’s Central Valley farmers), the federal court rejected a biological opinion because it “failed to consider” climate change data. …

Once a species is listed under ESA, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups then use the National Environmental Policy Act (”NEPA”) process to further their view of global warming. …

Attorney fee awards to environmental groups to continue to sue the federal government is big business… [I]n only 18 of the 50 states, 13 environmental groups have amassed total attorney fees payments of 30 million dollars plus extracting another four million dollars from businesses, all based on payments from federal attorney fee-shifting statutes. The vast majority of these are ESA cases and there are more to come. Recently the Wild Earth Guardians filed a single petition to list 206 species under the ESA, and the CBD [Center for Biological Diversity] has filed a petition to list 225 more species. According to the CBD’s website, this is an exercise in “strategic creative litigation.” There is no way that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can make a “scientific” finding on all those 431 species within the 90 day time frame mandated by the ESA, making federal district court litigation (and the payment of attorney fees) inevitable and profitable.

All of Budd-Falen’s memos on EAJA abuse may be found at the Western Legacy Alliance website [here]. The links there are temporarily broken but should be fixed very soon.

28 Dec 2009, 5:02pm
by admin

Grandmother Adams’ Bushfire Story

Editor’s note: Roger Underwood is a renowned Australian forester with fifty years experience in bushfire management and bushfire science. He has worked as a firefighter, a district and regional manager, a research manager and senior government administrator. He is Chairman of The Bushfire Front, an independent professional group promoting best practice in bushfire management.

We have posted many essays by Mr. Underwood [here, here]. This one reveals a case of divine intervention, or a miracle, or something similar. You are cordially invited to append (as comments) your own tales of inexplicable salvation.

By Roger Underwood

Patsy Adam-Smith is one of my favourite Australian writers. She has a simple, clean style and she wrote about places and people that I love: the bush, the sea, timberworkers and railwaymen. I also like the way she wrote about her family with such pride and affection, and the stories of her grandmothers who were pioneer settlers in Victoria, one Granny Smith and the other Grandmother Adams.

Her relationship with Grandmother Adams was not a particularly happy one, although they had one thing in common. “We admired the pioneering spirit,” Adam-Smith writes in her first book (Hear the Train Blow, in which she records her childhood, growing up in a railway family during the 1930s). “She would tell me stories by the hour of the pioneering days, and I would listen for as long as she would talk. She and my Grandfather had pioneered the hills of Gippsland.”

They lived in a slab hut with an earth floor, her husband taking work where he could find it to buy their stock, and the mother and children milking the cows while he was away shearing, fencing or sleeper cutting. Adam-Smith goes on: “Grandmother Adams had been burnt out twice in the Gippsland hills. Once she narrowly escaped with her life. My grandfather was away.”

I sent your aunt Anastasia to neighbours to tell them we needed help; the fire was surrounding us [Grandmother Adams recalls]. Not long after she left the wind changed. I looked at the track she had taken and now flames criss-crossed it, and as I watched a blazing tree fell right across it. She was a wonderful horsewoman, you know, and I knew she would get to the neighbours, but I thought she would never get back. The bigger children helped me pull my sewing machine outside and I covered it with wet bags and I gathered up what we could carry. As we left the house I looked across to the only gap that was clear of flames and there was your aunt, sailing over a fallen log, her horse bringing her home at a gallop.

“How did you find that gap?” I asked her.

“I followed the two men,” she said.

“What men? There are no men here,”

“Oh yes, they jumped the log ahead of me. When the wind changed I didn’t know which way to go and these men rode out ahead and beckoned me to follow them.”

At this stage in her story, Adam-Smith writes, her grandmother always blessed herself, before going on…..

There had been no men. It was God Himself that led the girl home.

But men did come through the gap after her. Grandmother Adams and her children were rescued.

There are several things I like about this story, not the least being the importance placed on saving the sewing machine. This is a telling reminder of the importance of these machines (their first, and only ‘labour-saving device’) in the lives of many bush wives and mothers, and also of their value as a hard-won investment. My wife’s maternal grandmother (also a Granny Smith), a pioneer group settler in the karri country, acquired a ‘Singer’ sewing machine during the 1920s, and it was her pride and joy. The machine was inherited from her own Grandma Smith, and was by then already probably 30 years old. It was worked by a foot treadle, connected to the works by rubber driving bands. We have it today. We keep it clean and oiled, and it still works. Both my wife and her mother learned to sew on it.

I also like the spiritual side of the story, and I am happy to accept Grandmother Adams’ explanation of divine intervention. I can recall two mysterious experiences myself at bushfires many years ago, times when I was exhausted or under extreme stress. And I have heard stories from others about the apparent intervention of a mystical power that saved the day. My old forestry mate Brian Cowcher once told me how, when working in the jarrah forest one day, he had stepped off a large log and just before his foot touched the ground, he saw that he was about to land on a tiger snake, which had its head up and was looking at him. Brian said he never knew how it happened, but somehow he found himself again back on the log and standing upright, even though, he said, “he had passed 45 degrees” on the way down.

I have always liked the thought of God intervening to save Brian, who was a mentor, a good bloke, and to whose wonderful bush yarns I loved to listen, for as long as he would talk.

December 2009

The Principal Defects in Wyden’s Forest Bill

There are so many defects in Ron Wyden’s proposed “Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009″ (OEFROGPJA) that it is difficult to know where to start this analysis.

We have pointed out a few of the problems in previous posts [here, here, here]. They include conflict with other laws, rules, regulations; imposition of prescriptive forestry limits handicapping good management, political chicanery, bait-and-switch, and furthering of mass forest destruction by catastrophic megafires.

As written, OEFROGPJA is a vehicle for environmental disaster, and economic disaster, too.

That realization is slowly sinking in. An interesting Guest Opinion was proffered in the Oregonian yesterday, written by none other than two of the Gang of Four who together with Clinton and Gore forced the colossal failure of the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) on western Oregon, Washington, and Northern California 15 years ago.

The NWFP has failed miserably in every one of it’s stated goals [here]. Misery is the right word - The NWFP has caused the demise of the spotted owl, the population of which has crashed 60 percent or more since imposition. The No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch It Rot provisions have led to catastrophic fires of historical proportions that have decimated old-growth. And the regional economy has also been decimated — Oregon has led the Nation in unemployment, business bankruptcy, home foreclosure, and hunger for 15 years, all thanks to the NWFP.

So it might be instructive to parse the pronouncements of the Gang O’ Two [here] to see what they really think about Wyden’s OEFROGPJA bill. Let us read between the lines of the Guest Opinion:

more »

Taxpayer Robbery Gate

by Paul Driessen [here], December 26, 2009 [here]

Aside from ideologues, hydrocarbon haters, Gaia worshipers, profiteers and power-grabbing politicians, most of the sentient world now realizes that the hysteria over global warming disasters is based on dubious to fraudulent temperature data, analyses, models, reports and peer reviews.

Climate Research Unit emails, HARRY_READ_ME.txt computer memos, and blatant tampering with Australian, Russian, UK and US temperature data make the scandal impossible to ignore or explain away. They certainly helped Copenhagen descend into an expensive, carbon-emitting gabfest, and cause China and India to reject any deal that would force them to curtail their energy generation, economic growth and poverty reduction programs.

Senator Barbara Boxer is an exception. Not only does she ignore the obvious. She is doing her best to divert attention from the scandal, circle the alarmist wagons, cover up the fraud, obstruct justice – and ram through yet another legislative power grab.

“This isn’t Climategate,” the California Democrat insists. “It’s email theft gate.” The problem isn’t the fraud; it’s that a hacker or whistleblower revealed the fraud.

Wrong, Senator. It’s not theft gate. It’s Taxpayer Robbery Gate.

We the People, our elected representatives and our climate realist scientists have a right to examine this supposed evidence of planetary disaster, to ensure that it’s driven by science, and not ideology. That it’s complete, accurate – and honest. That it backs up the alarmist scientists’ call for draconian, life-altering restrictions on energy use. That the CRU Cabal did not alter, lose, ignore, toss or destroy “inconvenient” data and evidence that might get in the way of their agendas and predetermined results.

Not only were we stonewalled for years, while these UK and US scientists refused to divulge their data, computer codes and methodologies. Not only did the scientists who wrote these emails and did this bogus research refuse to let taxpayers, other scientists and even members of Congress (and Parliament) see their raw data and analyses. Not only did they prevent debate and replace peer review with a perverted system that allowed only a small network of like-minded colleagues to examine – and applaud – their work. They also excluded, denounced and vilified anyone who asked hard questions or challenged their actions.

In short, we were robbed! They took our money, and defrauded us.

more »

24 Dec 2009, 3:18pm
by admin
leave a comment

Cantique de Noël

O Holy Night (”Cantique de Noël”) — words by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877), music by Adolphe Charles Adam (1803–1856).

Adam wrote operas and ballets, and is probably best remembered for the ballet Giselle (1841). My personal favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night”, is operatic to say the least. It requires a well-trained soprano to hit the G above high-C in the musical climax (oh night di-VINE). But I also like the pathos and beauty in the embedded transition to a minor key. “O Holy Night” weeps with hope and devotion. The finish shatters glass and your heart.

This rendition [here] by the Celtic Woman is particularly beautiful and moving.

The words (in English, one translation anyway):

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by the light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Merry Christmas!

Harris Sherman on Jon Tester’s Forest Bill

Thursday afternoon testimony was taken by the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests concerning S. 1470, the (Montana) Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009, a bill proposed by Montana Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester. One of those testifying was Harris Sherman, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Agriculture.

There were others who testified, including Commissioner Mike McGinley representing the Beaverhead County Commissioners. His testimony [here] is excellent. Other testimonies are available at the Subcommittee website [here].

We have discussed Tester’s bait-and-switch wilderness bill previously [here, here, here]. In many respects it is similar to Ron Wyden’s bill for Eastern Oregon forests [here].

After the holidays we will examine both of these toxic-to-forests bills in greater detail. But for now we want to highlight certain arguments raised by Harris Sherman that apply to both. Mr. Sherman’s language of choice is Labyrinthine Bureaucratese, so we will translate the gist of what he said into plain English.

The first of Mr. Sherman’s complaints, and they are complaints despite his diplomacy toward the Senators, was:

While the Department supports the concepts of the legislation, we have concerns regarding components of Title I, including the highly prescriptive provisions related to the National Environmental Policy Act and the specificity regarding levels of treatment and outputs. The prescriptive language would limit the discretion of land management professionals to select landscape projects based on broader criteria, such as the condition of forest resources and community needs and capacity.

That means the projects specified in the bill will not pass muster with NEPA. Just because Congress orders a forest treatment in such-and-such a place at such-and-such a time, it doesn’t mean that NEPA is suspended. All federal projects that significantly impact the environment must undergo a NEPA process. That process must consider alternatives and choose the best one. If the outcome is foreordained, the NEPA process will be tainted. And therefore actionable under NEPA. And therefore the treatments will be enjoined by the courts and never happen, and the USFS cannot do anything about that.

more »

20 Dec 2009, 10:59am
Federal forest policy Useless and Stupid
by admin

Survey and Manage Is Back

In 1994 The Northwest Forest Plan set aside 85% of Northwest federal forests as off-limits to logging. On the remaining 15% of the land, logging could occur if and only if over 1,000 species were surveyed and evaluated on each timber sale.

In 2001, Douglas Timber Operators (DTO) and American Forest Resources Council (AFRC) filed suit, seeking to roll back the survey-and-manage rule. The USFS agreed in a 2002 settlement to eliminate the survey and manage program, which they did in a March, 2004 Record of Decision.

But now a federal judge has reinstated the survey-and-manage rule:

Judge upholds surveys for species before logging

By JEFF BARNARD, AP, December 19, 2009 [here]

GRANTS PASS (AP) — A federal judge has upheld a requirement that Northwest national forests look for hundreds of hard-to-find but ecologically important species like snails, mushrooms and mosses before cutting down big trees.

The ruling Thursday from U.S. District Court in Seattle effectively strikes down the last surviving piece of the Bush administration’s strategy to boost logging in spotted owl territory. Judge John C. Coughenour did not immediately reinstate the so-called survey and manage rule. He wants to hear more from the government and conservation groups before issuing an order.

But he said in his ruling that the U.S. Forest Service failed to show that the rule was doing anything but what it was intended to do — protect the small but essential pieces that make an ecosystem work.

“The standard protects only truly rare and uncommon species, which as the court notes, are the ‘little things that run the world,’” said Pete Frost, attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of conservation groups*. “These species allow healthy forests to function, because they do things like conserve water, filter sediment and provide food.” …

*The litigious “conservation” groups: Conservation Northwest, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath Forest Alliance, Umpqua Watersheds Inc, Siskiyou Regional Education Project, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild, American Lands Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity and Northcoast Environmental Center

The Northwest Forest Plan has been a catastrophic failure. The NWFP had (has) four fundamental goals. It has failed spectacularly to meet any.

1. The NWFP has failed to protect northern spotted owls

By most estimations, the northern spotted owl population has fallen 40 to 60 percent since inception of the NWFP. Millions of acres of spotted owl habitat have been catastrophically incinerated.

2. The NWFP has failed to protect spotted owl habitat

Since inception, millions of acres of spotted owl habitat have been wiped off the face of the earth by holocaust, and replaced by tick brush.

3. The NWFP has failed to preserve habitat continuity throughout the range of the northern spotted owl

The dozens of huge and catastrophic forest fires have left giant gaps in the range. The Biscuit Burn alone is 50 miles long and 20 miles wide.

4. The NWFP has failed to protect the regional economy

Since inception of the NWFP, Oregon has experienced 15 long years of the worst economy in the U.S., with the highest rates of unemployment, bankruptcy, home foreclosure, and hunger of any state. These are not just statistics, but indicators of real human suffering. Over 40,000 workers lost their jobs, and the rural economy has been crippled ever since.

Now things will get worse as totally unworkable and impossible survey-and-manage constrictions will eliminate the trickle of wood products coming from 25 million acres of federal land.

Note to Tom Partin and John Shelk of AFRC — do you understand yet that you can make a deal with the Devil, but the Devil will roast you in hellfire in the end?

Inhofe in Copenhagen: “It Has Failed … It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again.”

From the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works website [here]

Copenhagen, Denmark — Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark this morning to “make certain the 191 countries attending COP-15 would not be deceived into thinking the US would pass cap-and-trade legislation.” In his remarks, Inhofe described the political and policy issues that must be addressed before the U.S. Senate would ratify a new climate change treaty. At this stage, as Sen. Inhofe noted, the prospect of achieving an overarching agreement-one that meets the conditions established in the Byrd-Hagel resolution-are bleak, mainly due to the intractable demands of China, India, and other developing nations. Those demands-more funds to deal with the impacts of climate change and the right to increase emissions, albeit at a slower rate of growth, among others-have repeatedly been raised by developing nations, but are simply too costly and unworkable for the United States to accept.

Remarks of Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member, Committee on Environment and Public Works

to the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, December 17, 2009

Copenhagen attendees, I want to turn back the clock to December 2003, when the United Nations convened the “9th Conference of the Parties” in Milan, Italy, to discuss implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. At the time, I was leading the Senate delegation to Milan as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Fast forward to December 2009: the UN is holding its 15th global warming conference and the delegates are haggling over the same issues that were before them in 2003. I know this because I was there. Recently, with the Copenhagen talks underway, I reread the speech I delivered in Milan. I found that the issues at stake in 2003 are nearly the same as those in 2009. In short, nothing has changed and nothing has been done.

So let’s go back to 2003. In my speech, I told the conference that the Senate would not ratify Kyoto. Here’s what I said: “The Senate, by a vote of 95 to 0, approved the Byrd-Hagel resolution, which warned the President against signing a treaty that would either economically harm the United States or exempt developing countries from participating.” I went on to say this: “Both those conditions then, and still to this day, have not been satisfied. So, it’s worth noting that even if President Bush wanted to submit the treaty to the Senate, it couldn’t be ratified.” That was 2003.

Is that still true today? Of course it is. And yet here we go again: China, India, and other developing countries want nothing to do with absolute, binding emissions cuts. China and India have pledged to reduce the rate of growth, or intensity, of their emissions But that’s not acceptable to the US Senate. Moreover, China is opposed to a mandatory verification regime to prove it is actually honoring its commitments.

more »

Accountability Matters

by Roni Bell Sylvester, Good Neighbor Law [here]

David Harsanyi’s column “Hide the decline . . . and more” [here and below] prompted me to write the following:

The minute an American Citizen’s paycheck goes to the government, its journey should be tracked to identify where it goes and if we approve.

If our tax payments head off in directions we disapprove, we should have the power to stop it!

Any thievery along the line should be exposed and dealt with before harm befalls anyone.

Trace-back would most likely reveal that a lion’s share of our tax payments one way or another go through a private corporation known as the Federal Reserve.

Someone needs to develop a diagram that clearly shows how eco-activist groups are linked to Hank Paulson, Goldman Sachs, Al Gore, and President Obama. Those of us in domestic resource production know they partner on birthing extractive policies out of climate change, clean water and restoration acts, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea Treaty, health care, stimulus bills, Environmental Protection Agency rulings, Department of the Interior (and more), in order to get land and water assets for themselves and for the Federal Reserve, which they loot periodically.

Each of us in the general public has the right to see the whole picture!

more »

17 Dec 2009, 2:06pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

New USFS Planning Rule Process Announced

In March, 2007, Northern California U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton enjoined the USDA and the Forest Service from implementing the 2005 Planning Rule [here]. The Planning Rule guides the creation, amending, and revision of National Forest Land and Resource Management Plans (LMRP’s) under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA).

With no Planning Rule, the USFS cannot revise their forest plans, which are out-of-date and need revising.

Since Judge Hamilton’s decision, the USFS has been using the 2000 Planning Rule, with some amendments, but the agency cannot issue pre-decisional plans, engage in the objections process, or issue final plans under the 2005 Planning Rule.

For National Forests operating under old plans, created under the 2000 or older Planning Rules, it is business as usual. But for National Forest plans drawn up after 2005, the planning process is stalled.

Today the USFS announced [here] a process to create a new Planning Rule intended to get National Forest planning going again:

USDA News Release No. 0620.09


WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2009 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the USDA Forest Service is beginning an open, collaborative process to create and implement a modern planning rule to address current and future needs of the National Forest System, including restoring forests, protecting watersheds, addressing climate change, sustaining local economies, improving collaboration, and working across landscapes. The Forest Service will publish a notice of intent (NOI) in the Federal Register tomorrow, December 18, to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to develop a new planning rule that will provide a framework for management of national forests and grasslands.

“Our National Forests and Grasslands are great natural treasures that we must conserve and restore for the benefit of future generations,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Developing a new planning rule provides the opportunity to manage national forests and grasslands for the benefit of water resources, the climate and local communities.”

The Forest Service is seeking public involvement in developing a new direction for local land managers. A 60-day comment period on the NOI will begin upon publication in the Federal Register on Friday, December 18, 2009. Comments will be used to shape the focus of the collaborative dialogue and creation of a proposed rule.

To begin the conversation, the Forest Service has included in the NOI a set of potential principles that could guide development of a new planning rule. The potential principles include an emphasis on restoration, conservation, and the improved resilience of ecosystems; watershed health; climate change response; species diversity and wildlife habitat; sustainable National Forest System lands; proactive collaboration; and working across landscapes.

The Forest Service will use state-of-the-art new media tools in conjunction with face-to-face interaction to facilitate wide public participation throughout the nation. Please visit www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule to participate in our web-based planning rule blog, and to learn more.

The 2000 planning rule, which allows the Forest Service to use provisions of the 1982 planning rule, is currently the rule that is legally in effect. As an interim measure, the Department will republish in the Federal Register the 2000 planning rule as amended in order to make it available to the public in the Code of Federal Regulations. This action will facilitate its use by forests and grasslands in the National Forest System to revise and amend plans while a new rule is being developed. …

AFRC Sells Out

The American Forest Resource Council [here] represents nearly 80 forest product manufacturers and forest landowners in twelve western states.

Our mission is to create a favorable operating environment for the forest products industry, ensure a reliable timber supply from public and private lands, and promote sustainable management of forests by improving federal laws, regulations, policies and decisions that determine or influence the management of all lands.

That’s nice rhetoric, but is it factual or just pretty words?

Yesterday we reported that Sen. Ron Wyden has announced a bill that will end forest stewardship in Eastern Oregon. The announcement was hailed by radical enviros as “the end of timber sales in public forests east of the Cascades” [here].

The Dead Tree Press (note the irony) is all agog over the support for Wyden’s bill coming from the AFRC.

New Senate Bill Aims to End ‘War’ Over Eastern Ore. Forests

By NOELLE STRAUB of Greenwire, New York Times, December 16, 2009 [here]

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today unveiled legislation to revamp management of 8.3 million acres in six national forests in eastern Oregon with the backing of both timber and conservation groups that have long battled over the land. …

He acknowledged that the bill, which requires timber harvest on hundreds of thousands of acres in its first three years, would face “significant challenges” but noted the range of groups backing the bill. They include the industry group American Forest Resource Council and owners of several timber companies, along with Oregon Wild, the Nature Conservancy, Pacific Rivers Council, Defenders of Wildlife and the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy.

The measure also would establish protections for large trees with a diameter of 21 inches measured at breast height…

That’s a new thing, because six months ago the AFRC was deathly opposed to Wyden’s bill [here].

Despite Good Intentions, Wyden Bill Fundamentally Flawed

Single tree management is unworkable and inconsistent with forest science

PORTLAND, OR - A bill designed to protect old growth forests and improve forest health on federal lands in Oregon would likely lead to the opposite result, according to forestry experts familiar with the issue. The draft bill, released by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden today would prohibit cutting any tree older than 120 years in moist, westside forests and older than 150 years in drier forests on federal lands. On eastside forests, trees larger than 21 inches in diameter would be off limits to harvesting.

“Senator Wyden deserves credit for trying to solve a difficult political issue,” said Tom Partin, President of the American Forest Resource Council. “Unfortunately, his proposal has a fundamental flaw: Forests can’t be managed based on the age of individual trees.” …

Also, in December, 2008, the AFRC issued a press release that stated [here]

Harvests from Oregon’s federal forests are less than 10 percent of levels experienced in the early 1990s. A more sustainable level of harvest is needed to help the industry access reasonably priced local timber to remain economically viable in the face of intense domestic and international competition. Our federal forests are also in a dire need of increased management to address a growing forest health crisis.

But all that is thrown under the bus, now. The AFRC now supports [here] exactly the prescriptive regulation that they decried in April, and another cut in the harvest.

AFRC News Release: Timber Industry Reacts to Senator Wyden’s Bill

Timber Industry Encouraged by Wyden Introduction of Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009

Portland, OR–The American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry trade association based in Portland, Oregon, is hopeful Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) introduction of the Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009 and the program of work it envisions will benefit all Oregonians. AFRC appreciates the work of both Senator Wyden and members of the environmental community who, together with industry representatives in Eastern Oregon, were involved in crafting this template for moving forward.

Major flip-flop. Major trashing of their own integrity. AFRC drinks the Kool-aid and curls up to die. Along with Eastern Oregon’s forests.

16 Dec 2009, 10:06pm
Private land policies
by admin
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Firesafe in Tierrasanta

by Spud A. Squirrel

Went to mail a letter and stopped at the bottom of the hill to snap some pics. I told the dude that was working that area that he was doing an outstanding job. He was shocked — I don’t think anyone has ever thanked him for his work before!

Anyways, [here] is a link to what they are doing. Apparently FEMA cash is involved as well, no way the Feds wouldn’t get their hands into this since Tierrasanta was affected during the Cedar Fire (2003) although minimally (about 17 homes lost) and somewhat at risk during the Witch Fire (2007).

Before (click for larger image)

After (click for larger image)

The before and after pics are at the southernmost ends of what is called Rueda Canyon and you can view it on the map at the web site. I don’t believe the after image site is completed either, since they still have the entire area cordoned off. I live about 6 blocks up Rueda and about 4 houses from the canyon… feel free to Google Earth me… I always love it when people do that since it makes me all tingly :)

It’s kind of cool that our little community, which is not a city but part of greater San Diego, has a fire council, fuel mapping, etc, dontcha think? Shouldn’t every community do something like this? Perhaps this would be a good role for ACORN… they could cut down trees and grind them up!

Nah…. I was just joshing about the ACORN crap… actually, I kind of like the fact that we have a town council, even though we aren’t technically a town, who works hard to make this stuff happen. We also have beer in the park and free movies outdoors in the summer.

The nickname for Tierrasanta is “The Island in the Hills” because it is pretty secluded even though it is convenient to go anywhere. There is nothing to the east of us except Mission Trails Park [here], one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., and every time some shit-for-brains politician tries to push the roads through eastward to Mission Gorge Road, the town council and the county make it not happen. If it weren’t for the fire worries, which we are now finally dealing with, this is probably the best place in SD to live.

Wyden Proposes the End of Forest Stewardship in Eastern Oregon

With much fanfare [here], Sen. Ron Wyden has announced a bill that will end forest stewardship in Eastern Oregon. The announcement was hailed by radical enviros as “the end of timber sales in public forests east of the Cascades.”

The proposed bill, the “Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009″ or OEFROGPJA is [here].

The bill is a morphing of the peripatetic “Oregon Forest Restoration and Old Growth Protection Act of 2009″ [here] trotted out Wyden last April.

OFROGPA, as Wyden’s original bill was acronymized, was dead on arrival. Both that bill and the new one are poorly written bastardizations of the Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 [here].

The Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 was tacked onto the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009, and was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President last March. The Forest Landscape Restoration Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Wyden, created the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Program [here], which was funded to the grand tune of $10 million.

The conflicts between the new law (FLRA) and Wyden’s new OEFROGPJA bill are numerous and significant. Here are just a few:

1. FLRA (the new law) calls for restoration treatments within landscapes that are at least 50,000 acres in size. OEFROGPJA limits treatment landscapes to less than 25,000 acres [Sec. 3 (11)].

This embarrassing shrinkage is unsupported by any argument. Megafires routinely burn 250,000 to 500,000 acres at a crack, from 5 to 10 times the minimum treatment area in the new law (FLRA). The dinky treatments envisioned in OFROGPA are a step backwards.

2. OEFROGPJA will establish an “Eastside Forest Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel” and ignores the FLRA advisory panel completely, despite the fact that FLRA is the law right now.

3. OEFROGPJA would regulate every cutting prescription by statutory limits on the size of tree removed — no trees larger than 21 inches in diameter may be cut.

(1) LARGER TREES — Subject to paragraph (2) and except as provided in paragraph (3), the Secretary shall prohibit the cutting or removal of any live tree located in the covered area, the diameter of which exceeds 21 inches measured at breast height.

But that’s not all. OEFROGPJA also puts limits on cutting trees smaller than that, too:

(2) SMALLER TREES — The Secretary shall prohibit the cutting or removal of a live tree located in the covered area, the diameter of which is less than 21 inches measured at breast height, if the Secretary determines that the prohibition is—
(A) consistent with the goals described in 18 subsection (a)(1);
(B) consistent with the advice relating to the conservation and restoration of old growth provided by the advisory panel; and
(C) carried out in consultation with the affected collaborative group.

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16 Dec 2009, 10:22am
Climate and Weather
by admin

The Copenhagen Climate Challenge

A “Climate Challenge” letter [here] has been delivered to UN Sec Gen Ban Ki Moon. Signed by 149 scientists around the world, the letter requests that convincing evidence of global warming be produced prior to any massive alteration of the world economy:

We the undersigned, being qualified in climate-related scientific disciplines, challenge the UNFCCC and supporters of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to produce convincing OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE for their claims of dangerous human-caused global warming and other changes in climate. Projections of possible future scenarios from unproven computer models of climate are not acceptable substitutes for real world data obtained through unbiased and rigorous scientific investigation. …

It is not the responsibility of ‘climate realist’ scientists to prove that dangerous human-caused climate change is not happening. Rather, it is those who propose that it is, and promote the allocation of massive investments to solve the supposed ‘problem’, who have the obligation to convincingly demonstrate that recent climate change is not of mostly natural origin and, if we do nothing, catastrophic change will ensue. To date, this they have utterly failed to do.

One of the signers, Dr. Bob Zybach, Ph.D., forest scientist, President, NW Maps Co., and Program Manager, Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc. [here], was interviewed in reference to the “Climate Challenge” letter by the Meford Mail Tribune:

Ecologist criticizes ‘herd mentality’ on climate

By Paul Fattig, Medford Mail Tribune, December 16, 2009 [here]

If you ask Bob Zybach, he will tell you there is a global warming problem.

But the forest ecologist figures it is nothing more than hot air from scientists and politicians gathered in Copenhagen at the United Nations’ global warming conference.

“The bottom line is that the science on global warming is unsettled — there is no consensus on the science,” he said. “There is simply a hypothesis at this point. How about some proof?”

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