19 May 2010, 1:56pm
Federal forest policy Politics and politicians
by admin

W.I.S.E. meets with the WFLC

I attended a forum on the Cohesive Strategy for Wildland Fire Management in Olympia yesterday. This was the tenth of 13 forums sponsored by the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC). They are part of the WFLC effort [here] to formulate a Cohesive Strategy for wildland fire management, as called for by Congress in the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME Act) which was bundled with the FY 2010 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act [here].

(a) STRATEGY REQUIRED.—Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture, acting jointly, shall submit to Congress a report that contains a cohesive wildfire management strategy, consistent with the recommendations described in recent reports H. R. 2996—69 of the Government Accountability Office regarding management strategies.
(b) ELEMENTS OF STRATEGY.—The strategy required by subsection
(a) shall provide for—
(1) the identification of the most cost-effective means for allocating fire management budget resources;
(2) the reinvestment in non-fire programs by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture;
(3) employing the appropriate management response to wildfires;
(4) assessing the level of risk to communities;
(5) the allocation of hazardous fuels reduction funds based on the priority of hazardous fuels reduction projects;
(6) assessing the impacts of climate change on the frequency and severity of wildfire; and
(7) studying the effects of invasive species on wildfire risk.
(c) REVISION.—At least once during each five-year period beginning on the date of the submission of the cohesive wildfire management strategy under subsection (a), the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture shall revise the strategy to address any changes affecting the strategy, including changes with respect to landscape, vegetation, climate, and weather. …

The forum was by invitation only, but I managed to wangle an invite. The agenda included a form to fill out “to help formulate significant questions that the cohesive strategy development process”. My filled-out form is [here]. The discussion followed the format on the agenda/form.

About 30 people attended the forum in Olympia. Two or three were private citizens (including myself) and the rest were government employees (some state, mostly federal). It was the only Cohesive Strategy forum to be held in the Pacific Northwest. No one from the Oregon Department of Forestry attended. No county officials or representatives of county organizations attended. Three BIA people attended, one being a Native American, but otherwise no Tribal representatives were there. No one from the National Park Service or U.S. Fish and Wildlife was there.

But the lack of diversity in the room did not bother me. I got my my points into the record, which was my goal. I can’t hold everybody’s hand. If your agency wasn’t represented there, that’s not my fault. It is not particularly to my credit either, though, nor yours, nor the WFLC’s.

The discussion was cordial if dull, as befitting a government functionary meeting. I was reserved and held my sparkling wit in check for the most part, baiting the moderator only once or twice. Really, I was very nice and so was everyone else. The moderator and I are friends now, and see things very similarly with one or two exceptions. He likes fire use (whoofoos, foofurbs, niados [here]) and I don’t.

The forums are something of a breakthrough for the WFLC. In prior manifestations they were a secretive and insular body that held closed door meetings. Now they are making an attempt to open the doors a little bit. Outreach is a new thing for them, and these first steps are toddling. They promise to set up an interactive (blog-like) website soon. When they do, I will let you know.

19 May 2010, 2:36pm
by John M.

I am pleased you forced the issue and were able to attend the meeting. At least there will be one rational submission in the record.

My concern is that behind the scene is someone or some entity driving the issue of “let burn” simply to supposedly reduce fire costs. Whoever, or whatever is driving this constant money issue has little understanding of the points about the forests and fire you made, or, in my opinion, really wants to take the land out of production for a long period of time and has no concern for the off site impacts.

I can’t understand the public involvement process being used other than to tour the United States. But there are many things I don’t understand in today’s world. You did a good job and created an important record.

19 May 2010, 7:55pm
by bear bait

Thanks, Mike, for “showing the flag” as naval historians would want to say. The whole of this ObamaNation that we now live with daily is beyond the pale of reasonable governance, and one does wonder if the whole fabric of American common sense in affairs of Nation and State will be able to withstand the onslaught of petty theorists in charge of policy. At the least, you will be remembered as the sane voice in a wilderness of people who never did see the forest, only the plethora of trees. One would hope some good will come of it, but experience says that the bureaucratic blob of Jupiter will prevail if only by its size, mass, and specific gravity. But keep putting up the good fight. You can turn a super tanker with a skiff with a five horse Johnson, but only if the wind is not blowing and there is no current to deal with.

19 May 2010, 8:34pm
by Mike

We are not alone. A coalition is forming that is deeply unhappy about Let It Burn and the corruption of the traditional missions of our land management agencies. Yes, the political wackos are driving the boat right now, but there is an incipient mutiny developing and they are beginning to realize it.

2 Jun 2010, 6:59am
by Larry H.

The “deniers” of restoration forestry are still quite active, pushing for “unstewardship” and “re-wilding”. Many of them have come out of the woodwork to further limit management in the new Planning Rule meetings. Salvage logging is still a taboo subject for the Obama Forest Service. Papers are still being written to say that fires just aren’t destructive and that dead forests burn less than live forests. The farcical Hanson paper didn’t even reach his normal sympathetic publishers in the mainstream media. The tide is indeed turning, but we need to continue to bludgeon junk forestry science when it rears its ugly head. Sadly, the Let-Burn program rolls on, and will not end until mega-tragedy forces inadequate action from Congress.



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