Yellow Journalist Lies Again

Noted extreme lefty journalist Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman yesterday accused Congressional Republicans of delaying a forestry bill:

Republican protest holds up Risch’s beetle bill

Submitted by Rocky Barker on Fri, 03/26/2010 [here]

Idaho Senator Jim Risch’s efforts to protect forests against the ravages of pine bark beetles hit a snag this week.

It wasn’t radical environmentalists who opposed the bill, co-sponsored by Colorado Democrat Mark Udall, because it would make some logging easier on national forests. No, the bill that would speed up thinning of beetle-threatened timber near communities to reduce the threat of wildfire was held up this week by Republicans.

It’s all about the health care bill and their anger that the Democrats passed it over their objections. In response Senate Republicans used a rule to stop hearings from occurring more than two hours after the start of the Senate’s daily session.

That stopped a hearing on Risch’s and Udall’s bill cold. That leaves logging contractors waiting to get into the woods across the West cold.

Hold on there, Rocket. It’s the Democraps who control Congress. How can a tiny of minority of Republicans stymie the majority party?

Didn’t we just witness the specter of one-party rule with the $trillion dollar grab of the health care industry? Even though every single Republican opposed Obamacare, it didn’t matter one iota to the jackbooted Democraps, who marched through Congress like Hitler’s Brownshirts at a beerhall putsch.

But now it’s Republican recalcitrance holding up a beetle thinning bill? Rocky, Rocky, Rocky. Everybody knows the Democraps don’t give one about forests. Your party is the Arsonist Party. Your party favors megafire destruction of forests.

Rocky Barker himself is the author of “Scorched Earth: How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America,” a (poorly written) book that extols the virtues of million-acre holocausts and prescribes wholesale forest destruction for the entire country. Rocky is famous for defending the incineration of Idaho in 2007. He spit on the 10 Oregon firefighters who died in in 2008, before their families even had a chance to bury their dead. Rocky wants to ban fire retardant so even more firefighters get killed.

Rocky Barker has never seen a forest he didn’t wish to burn to the ground for his own sick, twisted, homicidal pleasure.

Just to set the record straight, there are no “logging contractors waiting to get into the woods”, sitting in their pickups with the engines idling while they wait for Risch’s bill to pass. It isn’t going to pass. Not because the Republicans have stymied Congress, but because the Democraps control the Hill and Democraps are arsonistic forest-haters.

No pack of lies from an anti-forest, anti-forestry, pro-holocaust jerk like Rocky Barker is going to change that fact.

27 Mar 2010, 9:46am
by Larry H.

But…..but…..but…..How is a poor Democrat supposed to boost his “green creds”??!!?? The biggest political fad in Congress right now is finding ways to appear to be “green” without going against “the Party Line”. One trick is to propose something that won’t pass but, appears to concern the environment. Especially those politicians whose constituents worry about the horrid state of our forests. It’s very easy to “craft” legislation, knowing that it doesn’t need to pass, to show his voters that he TRIED to do “something” to address the problem.

I’ve seen the IS put a picture of a stump on the front page, in COLOR, no less, claiming that the Forest Service illegally cut trees in a streamside zone. Unfortunately, they didn’t show that the tree was directly adjacent to a road, and was cut as a hazard tree.

Regarding the bill, it is just one of many designed to go against NEPA, written by ignorant “lawmakers” without Forest Service collaboration. It talks about thinning dead and dying forests. What good does it do to “thin” dead forests?!? The bill also enhances the Let-Burn program by abandoning more than half of our National Forest acres. Also, they don’t mention anything about “salvage”, as that word is a hot-button for eco-groups to litigate….litigate….litigate.

27 Mar 2010, 12:56pm
by bear bait

Senator Fool’dAll must take family responsibility for the beetle plague, as his outfit has been “aginners” for forest management for forty years. In that light, perhaps he ought to investigate if there are any beetle eating seagulls.

“Below cost timber sales.” That was the reason to quit logging, and the reason to never start. That dollar bill with the string tied to it by Congress, with any number of NGOs behind the fence ready to pull it out from under any Charlie Brown loggers who make the foolish attempt to enter into a contract to remove trees from the USFS lands , will disappear behind the fence and the logger will be left with a bag of anarchist bomb making material or garden variety fertilizer. The Fool’Dall legacy. Live with it!! Quitchabitchin’.

The ship to prevent spreading beetle invasion by removing fire salvage and beetle hot spots sailed long ago. Not allowed to dock due to the “below cost timber sale” quarantine. Flew the Yellow Flag. And the market experience of the kiln drying process not killing some beetle larvae, who find a way to drill their way out of the studs and through the dry wall, is a good reason to send beetle kill to fire a boiler to generate electricity. It will all end up as heat and smoke eventually, or just CO2 from biological decomposition.

The problem in Colorado is Colorado’s problem. I live in Oregon, and I have never seen any help from the other side of the Rockies for logging issues here. Burn the whole sumbitch. They need lynx habitat. And the aspen is dying off by tens of thousands of clonal acres at a time. The estrogen driven thinkers have long wanted a “Mother Nature” answer, sans any human element, and now they have a great chance to see the landscape without “the hand of man” interference. Burn it once, burn it twice, and burn it once again. Make some glass, erode some soil, and make the place as inviting as a boil. I really no longer care, Rocky, because the myopic media class needs their dreams to come true.

Blaming Republicans for not allowing a hearing is disingenuous at the least. They have no say of the rules or a meaningful vote on the rules committees. They hold no committee chairs. They are the minority in a super majority Demoncrap Congress. If they want to log dead trees, they will ram a bill up the collective ass of the minority, just because they can. So if you want a bill, and a hearing, better you talk nicely to the people in power.

But to demean the Republican minority, because they did not support PelBama Health Care, you must overlook the 34 Demoncraps who did NOT vote for the bill. Quit shooting at the Republicans who also did not support a very partisan bankruptcy of the Hew Hess Hay bill. I have no idea of how America will pay the increased health care insurance for the next four years, while Congress collects taxes to pay for equal access to health care, which does not go into practice until 2014, and then only pays for it for the next six years, at which time the money runs out.

And the money will run out. Just like the trees were predicted to die, and to create an arithmetical progression of beetles to savage the whole forest, they did. The bugs killed the forest, and no money will kill either health care or the economy and probably both. I will be ten years closer to eternity, and caring less all the time.

27 Mar 2010, 4:17pm
by Rocky Barker

Your breathless attack on me is simply untrue on most points about me and my report. I’m surprised you didn’t like Scorched Earth, especially the ending where I pointed out how the clear cut forest and the burned forest separated by the national park boundary have both now grown back well.

1. Republican leadership held up all afternoon hearings last week because of the health care bill. Check it out.

2. I am not a Democrat.

3. I have never suggested banning retardant and hardly even written about the controversy.

4. I stand on my coverage of the the decisions that contributed to the deaths of firefighters in 2008. My coverage of firefighter deaths has led to policies that have made firefighting safer and for you to suggest I spit on them is even over the top for you.

Those who know my work recognize I am not anti-forestry and that I have written in support of active management that includes everything from logging to fire use.

You are obviously very unhappy about the health care bill. Fine. Your don’t like Republican Sen. Jim Risch’s beetle bill, fine. You don’t like my book that you mis-characterized, fine.

But before you call me a liar get your facts straight.

27 Mar 2010, 5:48pm
by Mike


1. Democrats are in the majority in both houses of Congress. They set the agenda. Check it out.

2. I didn’t call you a Democrat. I called you an extreme lefty.

3. Your non-denial denial about your support for a ban on fire retardant speaks for itself.

4. You blamed contract firefighters for their own deaths, on a wildfire that had been extended for months due to policies you endorse. Your coverage has resulted in zero change in firefighting policies. Don’t inflate yourself.

5. Fire use, aka Let It Burn, is not active management. It is active destruction and is as anti-forestry as you can get.

6. I neither support nor oppose Risch’s beetle bill. My point is that any legislation proposed by Republicans will fail due to the one-party Democrat domination of Congress.

7. I have my facts straight and stand behind my words.

27 Mar 2010, 8:17pm
by Rocky Barker

1. You don’t even have decency to acknowledge when you are proven wrong. But here is the story about the GOP holding up hearings:

2. Is this your quote? “Everybody knows the Democraps don’t give one about forests. Your party is the Arsonist Party. Your party favors megafire destruction of forests.” Sounds like you calling me a Democrat.

3. As for retardant, I’m a journalist, not simply a blog that pops off when he feels like it. I need to look into the issue first but I sure appreciated retardant when it was dropped close to me when I needed it a few years ago.

4. I have no idea what you are talking about. The fire in California never was allowed to burn. Anyone who has been in front of a firestorm wouldn’t expect to send people there when the fire is burning into the wilderness, let alone toward communities. Have you been Mike?

5. Tell that to the Forest Service

6. I expect this bill to pass.

7. See above.

27 Mar 2010, 10:56pm
by Mike


1. The Democrats exploited parliamentary tactics and Senate Rules to pass Obamacare without a even a passing nod to bipartisanship. They have done so with full knowledge of the divisiveness they alone created. The Senate as a deliberative, collegial body has collapsed. It is a slick trick to blame Republicans for that. Sen. Risch, sponsor of the bill in question, denied the charge [here]:

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican who is co-sponsoring the bill, told The Associated Press that “as far as delay tactics go, it’s difficult to believe that the party in control of everything in Congress can blame the party that’s not.”

He’s your senator. Why don’t you call him and ask him yourself.

2. I acknowledge that you are not a Democrat, if you say so. Whatever party you are a member of, your own words place you in the “group” that favors wildfire over responsible stewardship. Do you deny that? Have you changed your tune since earlier today when you said you favored “fire use”? Do I need to search your writings for the gazillion times you said you would rather see forests burn in wildfires than be tended with professional care?

3. In 2003 the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics sued the US Government to throw a monkey wrench into the use of fire retardant on forest fires. In 2007 Andy Stahl, the group’s executive director, asked U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy to specifically hold Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey in contempt of court and to jail him because the Forest Service failed to analyze, to FSEEE’s satisfaction, the environmental impact of dropping fire retardant on wildfires. This year the FSEEE filed another suit against the U.S. Department of Commerce, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and Santa Barbara County Fire Department claiming that those agencies violated the Endangered Species Act by using fire retardant on the Jesusita Fire.

You say that you “need to look into the issue first.” I suggest that you do. It’s been an ongoing forest and fire issue for seven years now. People’s lives are at stake. Try not to be caught by surprise when judgments are filed banning the use of fire retardant.

4. Numerous Let It Burn fires have inflicted severe damage on our public forests [here]. Among those was the Iron Complex Fires [here] in 2008.

The fire was ignited by lighting on June 21, 2008. The USFS decide not to fight it, despite the threat to the community of Junction City, which was evacuated. A decision was made to build control lines miles away from the fire and allow it to burn across tens of thousands of acres.

On July 25th, a month later, a firefighter named Andrew Palmer was killed on the Eagle Fire, one of the Iron Complex Fires. He was not engaged in direct attack. He was struck on the head by a falling snag while engaged in backburning from an indirect fire line. At that time the Iron Complex was 76,065 acres.

On August 5th nine firefighters were killed in a helicopter crash on the Buckhorn Fire, another of the Iron Complex Fires. They were on their way to perform burnout operations, i.e. indirect attack. They were not thrown in front of a firestorm as you state. At that date, seven weeks after ignition, the Iron Complex was 87,306 acres, 79% contained, and over $50 million dollars had been spent on indirect attack.

You wrote at the time, and I quote:

Now if you read the fire series that Heath Druzin and I wrote last month you know that the more we suppress fires the larger they get. You also know that our policy of putting out 98 percent of the fires when we know fires actually reduce the fire threat is a disturbing paradox that only puts lives at risk and costs billions of dollars. …

I expect there are going to be a lot of questions about whether these men should have been fighting these fires aggressively at all. … Kempthorne apparently did not read our series… After the deaths on the Shasta Trinity National Forest, Kempthorne and other political leaders may want to reconsider their views. … Is putting out fire in wilderness worth young folk’s lives?

Instead of direct suppression when the fires were small, the USFS did Let It Burn for “forest health” just as you and Heath recommended. The firefighters killed in the helicopter crash were not engaged in direct attack but in fireline construction far from the flames. The practice on Let It Burn fires is to backburn from “safe” distances along hastily constructed firelines.

They were not in a wilderness area. Homes were threatened. Allowing fires to burn for months is not cheaper, not safer, not a “disturbing paradox”. The policies you recommend do in fact kill people. It is you who should reconsider your views.

On July 1, 2009, the Backbone Fire [here] was ignited by lightning in the Salmon Mountains of Trinity County not far from the Iron Complex Burns. On July 12 the the fire was 6,100 acres. After consultation with the community, the decision was made to use direct attack. The fire was completely contained one week later at 6,324 acres. About $16.5 million was spent on suppression. Nobody was killed.

Compare that to the eventual totals from 2008 where indirect, Let It Burn was the policy in Northern California, and 650,000 acres burned, $400 million was spent on suppression, and 12 firefighters were killed.

You wrote in 2008, and I quote:

I acknowledge I don’t know all the details about the fire that the nine dead firefighters were fighting.

Well, Rocky, maybe you should do some investigative journalism and find out. Then your policy recommendations to Kempthorn (who, by the way, was Sec Interior and had nothing to do with USFS firefighting because the USFS is in the Dept. of Ag) and to other policy makers might be INFORMED BY THE FACTS.

You have a bully pulpit. You write for a bigtime Dead Tree Press in a state capitol and are read by policy makers. But you throw your responsibility to the wind and claim ignorance about the very things you pontificate policy recommendations about. That is so cheesy, sleazy, and frankly, chicken shit. It is far worse than “indecent”.

By the way, and in closing, I have been in front of a firestorm, I do communicate as best I can to the US Forest Service, and I do my homework first. That is because I take these issues seriously. I am a professional forester, not a journalist. My goal is to save forests, not sell newsprint.

28 Mar 2010, 8:57am
by Rocky Barker

You glaze over the point that none of the Iron Complex fires were fire use fires. You and many who agree with you mix arguments over firefighting tactics with those of overall strategy. Both are fair debates and as I said in 2008 and you noted, I didn’t cover the Trinity fires and stopped my commentary at the point of my information.

I do stand by our series and by the view that we need all the tools in the toolbox including fire use fires. In backcountry I think fire use fires are the most cost effective, safe way to fight fires. I think good forestry practices give society many more options for them to decide what they want their forests for including habitat, economic and social needs, carbon sinks and recreation.

Those on the extremes, which include you on the use side, though I’m hesitant to call you a conservative because you want unlimited access to our treasury for cutting down trees and fighting fires, and people like George Wuerthner on the left who opposes all logging on public lands and places conservation biology as a value like you do forestry.

The difference between you two and I is I see gray where you see black and white.

I have enjoyed our dialogues. I don’t like inaccurate personal attacks.

28 Mar 2010, 10:44am
by Larry H.

Sorry, Rocky, but you ignore other extremely significant issues and impacts from letting fires burn. Letting “natural ignitions” burn in unnaturally dense forests doesn’t make them “natural”. The whole idea behind WFU fires is that those fires are supposed to enhance, not damage, existing values and resources. We’ve seen all too many examples of WFU’s not cooperating. Letting these fires build up a head of steam before taking action isn’t cost-effective. Dealing with the damaging impacts of large wildfires isn’t cheap, either.

Another HUGE impact of letting fires burn is the problem of diminishing fire suppression resources. When a WFU blows up, as they often do, they take away resources from other fires burning elsewhere, closer to cities and towns. When WFU’s roar out of Federal lands and into local fire agency jurisdiction, their budgets go right down the drain. Just look at the number of western states who are pleading with the Feds to do more for fire safety. Some states have even threatened to go and put Let-Burn fires out on Federal lands. Some states are also threatening to install fuel breaks on Forest Service lands without asking permission.

The Northern Rockies had a cool and wet summer last year. All the elements are in place for this summer’s “Perfect Firestorm”. Clearly there is a very big push on to discount forestry practices as having any impact on “climate change” or fire severity. Some seek to eliminate the practice of forestry, altogether, on public lands. Convincing the public that today’s wildfires aren’t “catastrophic” or damaging is difficult when the public sees 300 foot flames and burning houses on TV. But attempting to denty catastrophic disasters is exactly what the anti-forest types have been doing lately, including Chad Hanson and George Wuerthner. Actually, Hanson’s piece was so ludicrous that even the most liberal of websites didn’t post it. So much for having a PHD, eh?

As a compromise, I offer that we CAN keep WFU’s in the toolbox, as long as we only use them on properly treated lands which are ready to accept a cool fire. Just like before the white man came west.

* properly treated = mechanically-thinned, hand-felled, piled and burned, controlled prescribed fire, or other acceptable methods that reduce fuel levels to safe levels without destroying the forest.

28 Mar 2010, 2:11pm
by Rocky Barker

Whether you or I are right about fire use will be told eventually in the future quality of the stands you highlighted that burned in 2007 and 2008. Natural isn’t my test. Resiliency is what matters. In some areas it is cost effective to “properly treat” forests in advance of fires and clearly treatment in and around homes and communities makes sense.

But the reality is we can only afford to do so much. The cost of management in most roadless and wilderness areas far outweighs the benefits. While the costs of every high intensity fires is often less, but not always. I do think the Zybach,et al paper adds to your side of the argument.

28 Mar 2010, 3:54pm
by Mike

The future quality of the forests that burned in 2007 and 2008 is conversion to fire-type brush. The old-growth that was destroyed will never come back. Fuel loading of dead, dry wood have increased. Sprouting brush and dense thickets of lodgepole pine and other conifers will replace the fine fuels. In a few years catastrophic fire will return, leaving scorched earth and more sprouting brush.

All that is predictable and has been predicted by professionals who know how forests grow. It is a huge scientific and historical error to assume that our forests arose as “wilderness” absent the influence of resident human beings. It is now widely recognized that frequent, seasonal, anthropogenic fire over thousands of years established open, park-like forests wherein individual trees could grow to old ages. Without the hand of man, our western forests revert to short-lived, fire-type brush. Wilderness is a pernicious myth. So is “roadlessness.” (For the vocabulary challenged, pernicious implies irreparable harm done through evil or insidious corrupting or undermining.)

I have provided a wealth of scientific research online at W.I.S.E. that elucidates those exact findings. I have provided the papers, background discussions, the expert predictions, and in-depth analysis of the outcomes. Among those are the paper you mentioned, which I co-authored:

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].

Isn’t it curious that a powerful faction in this country wants to commandeer a third of our economy for corrupt and bankrupt social welfare programs, spend $trillions to bail out Wall Street shysters, failed auto companies, and all their pork pals, and run the National Debt up to astronomical levels, but they don’t want to spend a penny to save forests or forest-based communities.

And the real kicker is: forest management pays for itself. Responsible stewardship won’t cost the taxpayers one thin dime; in fact, forestry generates positive returns to the Treasury. If certain powerful factions would stop sue-sue- suing over every little thinning sale, then the USFS could turn a profit, prevent catastrophic fire, and protect wildlife habitat all at the same time.

I am not content to sit back and wait for outcomes I know will be bad. I (and many, many other forest experts) predicted the current forest crisis, predicted the megafires and insect infestations, predicted the “natural” disasters, predicted the collapse of wildlife populations, and predicted the destruction of rural economies. All those things have come to pass. It would be totally irresponsible to sit and wait quietly for more of the same.

Forest stewardship provides benefits that far outweigh the costs, including the catastrophic costs of inaction. That is a fact, as well as common sense. We must care for our forests now, or we will suffer larger and more severe forest disasters in the future.

28 Mar 2010, 4:06pm
by Larry H.

The more immediate reality is that we cannot afford to turn $3,000 lightning fires into $30,000,000 firestorms. AND, that is just the suppression costs! There are so many impacts to our forests that we simply cannot put a price on, Rocky.

“The cost of management in most roadless and wilderness areas far outweighs the benefits. While the costs of every high intensity fires is often less, but not always.” No one is talking about logging truly roadless areas (except on the Tongass). No one is talking about logging designated Wilderness Areas, either. The labeling and walling-off of “un-roaded” (”un-roaded” meaning there are existing but unused roads within them) areas is pure preservationist “monkeywrenching”. Yes, there ARE existing roads in these areas that many want to make into designated Wilderness Areas, despite the Wilderness Act. If we have $trillions for wars, bankers, and car companies, we can surely dig up a billion here or there for saving our forests and their attendant endangered species, eh??!!?? Letting endangered species habitat burn clearly goes against the Endangered Species Act.

The truth is that we can “craft” well-functioning, healthy and resilient forests out of the “trainwreck” we are now seeing in our forests. It might be true that “nature” can make “better” old growth forests than man but, “nature” takes WAY too long to do it. Enlightened humans can surely do it MUCH faster!



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