Mister Tamper

Ken Salazar is wearing out his welcome. Last weekend he was caught tampering with science documents, again. It seems Dodgy Ken took a review report written by expert scientists regarding offshore oil drilling and fudged in some claptrap they had never seen, without telling them, even though the scientists’ names were on the report.

Experts Say White House ‘Misrepresented’ Views to Justify Drilling Moratorium

FOXNews.com, June 11, 2010 [here]

The seven experts who advised President Obama on how to deal with offshore drilling safety after the Deepwater Horizon explosion are accusing his administration of misrepresenting their views to make it appear that they supported a six-month drilling moratorium — something they actually oppose.

The experts, recommended by the National Academy of Engineering, say Interior Secretary Ken Salazar modified their report last month, after they signed it, to include two paragraphs calling for the moratorium on existing drilling and new permits.

Salazar’s report to Obama said a panel of seven experts “peer reviewed” his recommendations, which included a six-month moratorium on permits for new wells being drilled using floating rigs and an immediate halt to drilling operations.

“None of us actually reviewed the memorandum as it is in the report,” oil expert Ken Arnold told Fox News. “What was in the report at the time it was reviewed was quite a bit different in its impact to what there is now. So we wanted to distance ourselves from that recommendation.”

Salazar apologized to those experts Thursday. “The experts who are involved in crafting the report gave us their recommendation and their input and I very much appreciate those recommendations,” he said. “It was not their decision on the moratorium. It was my decision and the president’s decision to move forward.”

Salazar orders a report, but he doesn’t like the findings, so he substitutes the exact opposite of what the scientists said, and doesn’t tell anyone.

Until he got caught.

Exact opposite? Yes. Salazar and Obama want a six-month moratorium on drilling. The scientists said the reverse, that continued drilling was imperative for the good of the nation:

In a letter the experts sent to Salazar, they said his primary recommendation “misrepresents” their position and that halting the drilling is actually a bad idea.

The oil rig explosion occurred while the well was being shut down – a move that is much more dangerous than continuing ongoing drilling, they said.

They also said that because the floating rigs are scarce and in high demand worldwide, they will not simply sit in the Gulf idle for six months. The rigs will go to the North Sea and West Africa, possibly preventing the U.S. from being able to resume drilling for years.

They also said the best and most advanced rigs will be the first to go, leaving the U.S. with the older and potentially less safe rights operating in the nation’s coastal waters.

Ken Salazar is a politician, not a scientist or engineer. But when he got the expert input, he not only discounted it, he stuffed his own slant into the documents and made it appear that the experts were on his side. Which they weren’t, and then they busted him for tampering.

This is not the first giant gaffe from Dodgy Ken. He’s is still reeling from numerous tongue-lashings by western congressmen for his secret backroom deals regarding new National Monuments [here, here, here]. Not all the subpoenaed docs have been released by Salazar yet, but those that have been indicate Dodgy Ken was lying.

Maybe “lying” is the wrong word: I meant he was crafting deliberate untruths to circumvent legally mandated procedures. “Criminal fraud” is closer to correct.

In his first days in office, Dodgy Ken withdrew the Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) and the Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan (NSORP) for political reasons [here] and without due process. Both plans had been adopted in 2008 after years of effort, including thousands of man-hours, millions of dollars, and full and comprehensive public review and comment.

But Ken said both had been “tampered with” by “the Bush Administration”. What that tampering was is difficult to say, and how significant is another question, since both plans had undergone extensive public and scientific review. Whatever unnamed “Bush Administration officials” had put in or taken out, there had been ample opportunity for all stakeholders to fix it. That’s what the extensive review was all about. It’s kind of difficult to slip something phony into a public document that thousands of people review with fine-toothed combs.

As Dodgy Ken found out when he tried to slip one past the seven scientists last week. Or past western congressmen regarding monuments.

Dodgy Ken can’t even fool congressmen, and that’s saying something.

But he can tamper. Boy, how he can tamper. Dodgy Ken is the king of tampering, the world champ. He’s Mister Tamper.

As the oil sludges onto Gulf shores, Mister Tamper is rapidly losing favor with the entire nation. His boss is slip-sliding down in the polls like they were greased with raw Gulf crude. The brain trust Obama has surrounded himself with — Dodgy Ken, Janet “The System Worked” Napolitano, Tim “I Forgot to Pay My Taxes” Geithner, “Calamity Jane” Lubchenco, Steven” Choo Choo” Chu, Lisa “Borg Queen” Jackson, Hillary “We Surrender” Clinton, Joe “Where Am I?” Biden — are letting him down. It turns out they are morons. The only people Obama can trust are the Chicago Mob, and he can’t really trust them, either.

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can’t rescue Barry, because they can’t even rescue themselves. Scar Face’s national approval ratings are in the low teens, and Dirty Harry is sure to be ousted next November.

How long Dodgy Ken hangs on is another question. He’s slippery. And he knows how to tamper with stuff. As long as he hides in the shadows, I think he’ll be okay. But the more that the bright lights of public scrutiny shine upon him, the worse his odds of long survival. His best strategy might be to tamper with the lights.

The Blueprint For Destroying Idaho

How best to destroy Idaho? Burn it down. Shut down all industry, sabotage the economy, drive people out, propagate wolves, and set the whole state afire in a regional firestorm of Biblical proportions.

That’s the plan of Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who allegedly has the support of Idaho’s entire congressional delegation.

Central Idaho wilderness bill rises again

BY LAUREN FRENCH, Idaho Statesman, 06/14/10 [here]

WASHINGTON - After nearly a decade of labor and compromise, sweeping legislation that protects hundreds of thousands of acres as wilderness in Idaho’s Boulder-White Cloud mountains is headed for a Senate hearing this week.

The Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act goes back to Congress on Wednesday, but this time with what some say is a significantly greater chance than in years past. For the first time, the bill’s champion, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has the support of Idaho’s entire congressional delegation.

“Basically, he is looking forward to this being the year it gets done,” said Simpson’s chief of staff, Lindsay Slater. … [more]

Mike Simpson is pandering to the Holocauster Left, and maybe that’s the best strategy for getting re-elected. But burning down Idaho is not in the best interest of most Idahoans.

Simpson is evidently unaware of the enormous fire hazard that hangs over Idaho. He is clueless about the threat of another regional firestorm similar to the Great Fires of 1910 [here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here].

Simpson is evidently unaware of the catastrophic megafire that seared Central Idaho in 2007 [here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here].

Simpson is evidently unaware of the on-going post-fire destruction of watersheds, streams, and fish habitat, a direct result of those fires [here], or of the on-going efforts by the USFS to drive Idaho residents out of their homes and off their private property [here]. He is apparently ignorant of the fact that the USFS has deliberately burned over 60 private cabins and historical structures in Idaho, and torn out or gated private and public roads, cutting off entire communities such as Yellow Pine from access.

Simpson is evidently ignorant that wolf populations have exploded after Federal introduction into Idaho “wilderness,” and they have devastated wildlife and livestock in the worst wildlife disaster since the destruction of bison herds over 100 years ago [here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.].

Or perhaps Mike Simpson is not ignorant, negligent, or naive about those things. Perhaps Mike Simpson doesn’t care. Perhaps Mike Simpson wants to destroy Idaho deliberately, maliciously, and with criminal intent.

If so, he couldn’t have come up with a better blueprint for the catastrophic annihilation of Idaho than one he is touting today.

Wyden’s forest bill would stymie state’s timber industry

By Jim Huffman, Bend Bulletin guest columnist, 12 June 2010 [here]

Last Friday, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., held hearings in Bend on Senate Bill 2895, the Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection and Jobs Act. On Wyden’s website, the bill is celebrated as a coming together of industry and conservation groups to “resolve decades of bitter disputes over harvest levels and watershed and old growth protection” in eastern Oregon. Three months of campaigning across the state have convinced me that the “east-side forest plan” would not end the long-running disputes, nor would it serve the interests of Oregonians, wherever they live.

The reality is that Oregon in general, and the east-side communities in particular, would gain little or nothing from the enactment of S 2895. The timber industry would continue to struggle, county coffers would remain empty, schools and public services would suffer, and everyone on the east side would remain at risk to wildfires from poorly managed public forests. A second reality is that Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is the bill’s only co-sponsor, and there is no companion bill in the House. Even if the bill were to become law, implementation of it would be a long and uncertain path.

While environmentalists get most of what they want immediately, the forest restoration and job creation promised in the act would come only after Congress appropriated $50 million to fund Forest Service implementation, and after a scientific board of unspecified membership were convened and a collaborative decision-making process reached concrete management decisions.

There is little chance Congress would fund the $50 million outside of the normal appropriations process. Decades of inadequate funding for forest restoration and management evidence that such funding is unlikely. Even if the funds become available at the level promised, it would take 60 years to treat all of the now-diseased and -unmanaged forests. In the meantime, millions of acres of public and private land are at risk to wildfire because of the accumulated fuels littering the forests.

Collaborative decision-making sounds great in principle, but it is a sham to claim that this bill is the product of collaboration and naive to think that we can manage our forests through a process that gives every special interest an effective veto. Those who have been excluded can attest that the “east-side plan” is not the result of an open and transparent process. Rather than ending the timber wars, as Wyden claims, the plan brings us a step closer to ending the timber industry in eastern Oregon.

Even if the east-side plan were successfully implemented, it would do little to revive the struggling economies of Oregon east-side communities. Because the plan does not specify timber volume to be harvested, there is considerable uncertainty as to whether the supply would even sustain existing jobs at the east side’s eight surviving mills. Under the plan, there is no prospect for reopening any of the 15 shuttered mills, even though the east-side forests could sustainably supply far more timber than the plan allows. It is a cruel joke to call this proposed legislation a jobs act.

It is time for Congress and our U.S. senators to recognize that Oregon’s timber is a renewable resource and that Oregon is one of the best places on the planet to grow trees. If Americans do not take advantage of our own timber resources, we and others will consume wood products harvested in Canada, Russia and elsewhere. Often those harvests would be conducted with little or no concern for the environment. Under the east-side plan, we would continue to export both jobs and environmental destruction to other parts of the earth.

Wyden claims his plan allows us to have our cake and eat it too — to harvest timber, maintain healthy forests and preserve the environment. Indeed we can achieve all three objectives, but to do so while maintaining prosperous communities, we cannot continue to lock up the vast resources of our public lands. Oregon’s timber industry and its rural communities have been so beaten down by lawsuits and federal land management policies for two decades that they are now grasping at straws. They deserve and should demand more.

What Oregon and the nation need are a comprehensive review and modernization of laws governing the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. What we would get in Wyden’s east-side plan, should it pass and be implemented, would be a bandage that might only slow the bleeding. During Wyden’s 30 years in Congress, Oregon’s timber industry has been devastated, along with the health of our public forest lands and the schools and public services of our counties. Wyden’s east-side forest plan is a feeble effort if he is really interested in reviving the timber industry and creating jobs for eastern Oregonians.

Note: Jim Huffman, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, will face incumbent Ron Wyden in November.

Forest Restoration Is Already In the Law

The braindead media in this state are all atwitter about Ron Wyden’s eastside forest bill, aka OEFROGPJA. But they don’t have a clue what it’s really about.

We have discussed Wyden’s sorry monkey-wrencher bill previously [here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here]. We have not been reticent or cursory. We have delved into the matter in great depth.

But the Brain Dead Media don’t do in-depth analysis. The template of Big Journalism is oversimplified bifurcation: two sides, black and white, and off-tangent sound bites from celebrities. Plus the sports scores and a crossword puzzle.

He-said-she-said, no investigation, no research, no background. A semi-talented parrot could do a better job at reporting than the Brain Dead Media, if all that’s desired is blather from spokesmodels.

Regarding the Wyden “forest restoration” bill, what the fowl folks at the Oregonian and other newspapers (and TV and radio) in this state seem to be unaware of is that forest restoration is ALREADY THE LAW.

We don’t need Wyden’s silly bill because the Forest Landscape Restoration Act (FLRA) of 2009 (Title IV of the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009) was voted on, passed, signed by our Kenyan president, and is now up and running.

Don’t believe me? See [here]:

Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program

Congress, under Title IV of Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 established the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP).

The purpose of the CFLR Program is to encourage the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes. …

The CFLR Program provides a means to achieve these aims and to also:

* encourage ecological, economic, and social sustainability;

* leverage local resources with national and private resources;

* facilitate the reduction of wildfire management costs, including through reestablishing natural fire regimes and reducing the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire;

* demonstrate the degree to which various ecological restoration techniques achieve ecological and watershed health objectives; and,

* encourage utilization of forest restoration by-products to offset treatment costs, to benefit local rural economies, to and improve forest health.

There is a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund, a CFLR Proposal Development Process, a Selection Process utilizing a Science Advisory Panel, tracking of accomplishments, periodic reporting and multi-party monitoring requirements.

It’s all there, in place, happening now. National Forests in Oregon are right now preparing landscape-scale (50,000 acres and up) forest restoration proposals for selection, funding, and implementation.

If you download the FLRA [here] and Wyden’s proposed OEFROGPJA bill [here], line them up side by side, and compare and contrast the language, you will notice (you cannot help but notice) that Wyden cribbed his language directly from the FRLA

Wyden stole his verbiage directly from the existing law, without citing or mentioning the existing law. It’s duplicative, which in a very real legal sense confounds the law. Moreover, Wyden added contrary language to OEFROGPJA which would (if enacted) would cause Federal law to give two contradictory directions at the same time.

That’s called, in the parlance, “monkey-wrenching” or “gutting the law”. Wyden seeks to undercut, undermine, and crowbar the existing FLRA to death, before it has a chance to work. His purpose is to thwart and sabotage forest restoration, not to further it.

Sidebar to the Brain Dead Media. Try it. Download the documents and compare them. Do your homework. Read with at least a 5th-grade comprehension level. Or, if that is too much work for your parrot brains, then quote me:

Mike Dubrasich, Executive Director of the Western Institute For Study of the Environment said today, “Ron Wyden seeks to undercut, undermine, and crowbar the existing Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program to death, before it has a chance to work. His purpose is to thwart and sabotage forest restoration, not to further it. That is, Wyden seeks to monkey-wrench and gut existing forest restoration laws.

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Comments on the Senate EPA Carbon Reg Vote

Various manifestations of the Dead Tree Press and the Blogoverse are weighing in on the Senate vote yesterday to abandon legislative control over the EPA. Here is a sampling:

Senate surrenders to the EPA

Washington Examiner Editorial, June 11, 2010 [here]

Fifty three of the Senate’s 59 Democrats gave unelected, overpaid bureaucrats at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a green light yesterday to do pretty much whatever they choose in their quixotic crusade against global warming. All 41 Republicans and six brave Democrats voted for Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution nullifying the EPA’s recent usurpation of authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate the U.S. economy to combat greenhouse gases. Thankfully, this craven surrender of congressional authority isn’t the last word on the issue, assuming that the November elections produce a Senate with enough backbone to reassert the legislature’s rightful power.

In the meantime, it’s vital to understand how bureaucracies function. Whatever else they may do, leading bureaucrats always do two things, regardless of which party controls the White House or Congress: They limit choices available to the rest of us by imposing regulations that increase government power and thus justify expanding their budgets and staffs; and they protect themselves and their turf by suppressing internal dissent, often at any costs. …

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., predicts that a suffocating new round of EPA regulations will soon descend upon the “one-fifth of our restaurants, one-fourth of our schools, two-thirds of our hospitals and doctor’s offices, 10 percent of our churches, thousands of farms and millions of small businesses” that emit greenhouse gases. Considering how the EPA grandees mistreat their underlings, we wonder how the agency will respond to the soon-to-be-swelling ranks of critics on the outside. … [more]

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Senate roll call on greenhouse gas regulations

Note: It is now perfectly clear who supports drastic regulations on carbon dioxide and who does not. ALL Senators on the West Coast and in Hawaii supported the EPA by voting against the Murkowski resolution.

Several Democrats joined all Republican Senators in supporting the resolution, including Senator Rockefeller of West Virginia. His comment: “I don’t want the EPA turning the lights out on America” sums everything up.

Although the press is touting the vote to defeat Murkowski as a boost to President Obama’s efforts to pass climate legislation, it may just bring the battle into clearer focus ahead of the November elections. The fact that six Democrats supported Murkowski means that many are aware of and worried about the political implications of supporting carbon taxes (in whatever form) in a cooling climate.

As to Senators Wyden and Merkley in Oregon, let there be no doubt that they want to be counted among Global Warming fanatics. — Gordon F.

By The Associated Press, June 10 [here]

The 53-47 roll call Thursday by which the Senate rejected a resolution to stop the Obama administration from imposing regulations on greenhouse gases.

A “yes” vote is a vote to advance the measure to a final vote.

A “no” vote is a vote to stop the measure from going forward.

Voting yes were 6 Democrats and 41 Republicans.

Voting no were 51 Democrats, 0 Republicans and 2 independents.

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Oregon Caves Nat’l Monument Expansion Threatens Devastating Fire

Note: the following letter to Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) was written by David R. Schott, Exec VP, Southern Oregon Timber Industries Assn. Posted here with permission. See also:

Holocausters Seize the Day [here]

Monument concerns prompt meeting [here]

Obama Admin Secret Meetings with Enviros [here]

Democrats thwart Rep. Rob Bishop’s move to obtain ‘national monument’ documents [here]

Siskiyou County Supervisors call again for national monument coordination [here]

To: Representative Hastings

Re: HR 2889, Oregon Caves Monument Expansion

My name is David Schott and I’m currently employed as the Executive Vice President of the Southern Oregon Timber Industries Assn. I have held this position for approximately 5 years. I am also self employed as a lumber wholesaler and with my siblings I also own two ranches in the Cascade Mountain foothills just 30 miles northeast of Medford. I am a lifelong resident of Southern Oregon having been born here some 62 + years ago. I mention that because I am exceedingly aware of the forest fire conditions that exist in our part of the state. Over the last twenty years we have seen increasingly severe fire conditions which culminated with the Biscuit Fire in 2002. That fire consumed almost 500,000 acres (780 square miles) of both national forestland and Wilderness Area land. The Kalmiopsis Wilderness area was ravaged by this fire with almost 190,000 acres (300 sq mi) having been laid waste. That Wilderness Area is currently in an utterly devastated condition for the most part. Further, parts of it has burned at least twice in the last 20 years.

Now legislation is being proposed with HR 2889 that would increase the size of the Oregon Caves National Monument by a factor of almost 9 (480 acres increased to 4000 acres).

I am completely against the effort to increase the size of the Monument. The threat of devastating fire destroying the Monument and all that it affords would increase significantly if such an expansion were to take place.

The Oregon Caves National Monument sits on almost 500 acres of land in a very secluded and unpopulated part of Josephine County, Oregon. It is located within a very few miles of the site of the devastating Biscuit Fire of 2002. It is located in an area that is extremely dry in the summer and an area that receives a high concentration of lightening strikes during the dry hot summer months. In short, it is in a location that is very prone to forest fires that could be of the most catastrophic kind. The only way by which we can minimize the threat of fire to the Oregon Caves National Monument is to actively manage the surrounding forestlands. If the Monument is increased to 4000 acres, such management would not be permitted. It is only through well planned thinning and brush abatement that the threat of fire can be mitigated. That won’t happen within the Monument, whatever its ultimate size.

I need you to realize that there is a growing and persistent effort on the part of environmental organizations to incrementally increase the numbers of acres in protected forest reserves. In this part of the state, there are active efforts to put hundreds of thousands of acres off limit to all uses other than foot or horseback access. One of these efforts which currently is underway is the Siskiyou Monument expansion which is being proposed by the Klamath/Siskiyou Wildlands group. The proposal is to increase the newly formed Siskiyou Monument from 60,000 acres to over 650,000 acres. Much of this proposed expansion would come very close to the lands in question in HR 2889. Again I would submit that the long range ramifications of putting more areas in reserves will subject our forests to increasingly severe fire susceptibility. Doing so would be ludicrous.

Another result of placing lands into reserves is that cattle grazing would ultimately be eliminated. Having run cattle on the open range myself for many years I can attest to the fact that grasses and other fire fuels are kept to a minimum through grazing and that private timberland owners are universally pleased that such grazing helps keep fire danger to a minimum on their lands.

There is no question that environmental groups are attempting to have more and more of the publicly owned forestland put into forest reserves of some type (eg. Monument, Roadless, Wilderness, Wild and Scenic). Somewhere, sometime, enough has to be enough. In the last days of the Clinton presidency, he and his administration created 58 million acres of defacto wilderness by declaring that this 2% of the US landmass was to now be “Roadless”. That effectively, for all practical purposes, put it off limits for almost all uses. That, by the way, was a real fiction in that there are thousands and thousands of miles of roads throughout those “Roadless” designated lands.

What we have seen happen is that in the efforts to “protect” these lands, we have actually placed them increasingly at extreme risk of catastrophic fire. Further we have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs due to the “locking up” of our national forestlands. By actively managing our national forestlands we could bring thousands of jobs back to the private sector. Unfortunately, we are not managing our forestlands in any kind of effective manner and we are not creating jobs.

Four thousand acres in this instance is not a lot of acreage but I would submit that the risk of losing vast amounts of acreage, and the loss of critical habitat that goes with it, far outweighs the minuscule benefit of increasing the size of this Monument. Please consider that there are extreme ramifications by actions such as these.

Very truly yours

David R. Schott

Wyden Eastside Forest Bill Unworkable

Note: the following essay has been submitted to the Oregonian in response to their unsigned editorial of June 8, 2010 [here]

To the Oregonian Editorial Board

Your editorial “The wrong place to drive a wedge” of June 4 is naive and disengenuous. The facts regarding Sen. Ron Wyden’s “Eastside Forest Compromise” are these:

1. The compromise was engineered between two minority factions of two special interest groups. Those factions do not represent the interest of their respective groups, which in turn do not represent the interests of the greater public, who are the actual owners of the land.

2. As such, the compromise will not be successful in averting litigation. Excluded groups such as the Sierra Club have already announced their intention to litigate any timber sales created under Wyden’s program, should it become law.

3. Politicization is a fact of life in major forest initiatives. Wyden’s compromise does not de-politicize anything, nor should it, and your call to remove this issue from the political dialog is ill-considered. Debate is an essential element of democratic society. Squelching debate is contrary to our American political system.

4. Forest restoration is already the law. The Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 (Title IV of the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009) calls for restoration on a landscape scale, with Technical Advisory oversight, on a national basis. Wyden voted for the FLRA but has fought against funding it. His bill duplicates many of the provisions, undermines others, and inserts poison pill clauses where none exist in the current law.

5. Wyden’s bill contains prescriptive language that violates NEPA and NFMA, proposes management guidance that is unscientific and unworkable, does not protect (increases risks to) vegetation, habitat, wildlife, water, air, soils, and other ecological values, and does not protect (increases risks to) heritage, utility, resiliency, sustainability, public health and safety, private property, and other human values.

6. Wyden’s bill establishes “local forests” managed under separate laws and overseen by duplicative advisory panels, yet financed with federal dollars and staffed with federal employees, that supplant current statutory mandates for planning and management processes. It establishes a new law that conflicts with existing laws and does not address systemic problems with the USFS mission.

7. Wyden’s bill is unworkable, and hence not one stick of timber will ever be cut under its provisions. It thereby creates unrealistic expectations on the part of communities and forest stakeholders, will draw action and funding away from other projects, and will delay unnecessarily desperately need treatments to reduce the threat of catastrophic fire.

Forest restoration is already the law. Wyden and the Oregonian need to support the Act he already voted for and not seek to undermine it with obfuscatory gamesmanship. U.S. Senate candidate James Huffman is correct in his critical assessment of Wyden’s bill, joining with Harris Sherman, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, Jack Ward Thomas, former Chief of the US Forest Service, many current and retired USFS officials, and numerous forestry experts well-versed in the issues.

Mike Dubrasich, Exec Dir W.I.S.E.
33862 Totem Pole Rd.
Lebanon, OR 97355

The Western Institute for Study of the Environment is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational corporation and a collaboration of environmental scientists, resource professionals and practitioners, and the interested public.

Our mission is to further advancements in knowledge and environmental stewardship across a spectrum of related environmental disciplines and professions. We are ready, willing, and able to teach good stewardship and caring for the land.

W.I.S.E. provides a free, on-line set of post-graduate courses in environmental studies, currently fifty topics in eight Colloquia, each containing book and article reviews, original papers, and essays. In addition, we present three Commentary sub-sites, a news clipping sub-site, and a fire tracking sub-site. Reviews and original articles are archived in our Library.

A Setback for Forest Restoration

Tribe, conservation groups sue Six Rivers National Forest

By Don Baumgart, Indian Country Today, Jun 8, 2010 [here]

ORLEANS, Calif. – The Karuk Tribe of northern California has filed suit against Six Rivers National Forest Supervisor Tyrone Kelley, charging in Northern California District Court that the U.S. Forest Service has violated the National Historic Preservation Act by doing heavy equipment logging in areas sacred to the tribe.

“We participated in good faith in the Forest Service’s collaborative process and we were assured that our sacred areas would be protected and our cultural values respected,” said Leaf Hillman, the tribe’s natural resources director. “It’s now obvious that those were hollow promises.”

According to the final Environmental Impact Statement for the project, the stated purpose and need for the fuel reduction effort is to “manage forest stands to reduce fuels accumulation and improve forest health around the community of Orleans”

However, the actual work on the ground is clearly inconsistent with these stated goals, according to Hillman.

“Supervisor Kelly and the Forest Service have already destroyed cultural sites that are still used by the tribe during World Renewal Ceremonies.”

“After years of meetings between officials from Six Rivers National Forest, the Karuk Tribe, conservation groups and community members, details of the Orleans Community Fuels Reduction Plan were agreed upon,” said Craig Tucker, tribe spokesman. “However, last fall when Supervisor Tyrone Kelley directed his crews to begin logging with heavy equipment in areas sacred to the Karuk Tribe, they violated the agreement and federal law, betraying the trust of local landowners.”

Involved in the suit are 914 acres to be mechanically harvested. The Forest Service awarded the contract to Timber Products for nearly $1 million. Outraged tribal members and local residents halted work on the project last November by blockading logging roads that access the units to be cut.

For three years the Orleans Ranger District in California’s Six Rivers National Forest held public meetings to work with the Orleans community to develop a fuels reduction plan that both Native and non-Native community members could accept, Tucker said. Tribal members, as well as non-Native local residents, thought a consensus had been reached.

“However, when logging began last fall, community members realized immediately that Kelly had reneged on his promises and violated the law by implementing a plan inconsistent with his own Environmental Impact Statement,” Tucker said. … [more]

This is a tragic tale of good intentions and USFS incompetency.

On paper, the Orleans Community Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project was a good idea. The project was exemplary even, a cutting-edge cultural landscape restoration project. But the leadership of the Six Rivers NF managed to screw it up big time.

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8 Jun 2010, 11:17pm
2007 Fire Season
by admin

Payette NF Roads Wash Out

Note: the following courtesy the Yellow Pine Times, an email-only publication. Central Idaho has been hit by heavy rains, causing flash flooding of numerous rivers. More rain and more floods are expected next weekend.

By Ned Pence, Yellow Pine Times, June 7, 2010

It is interesting for me to read the reporting in your Yellow Pine News. I remember the flood of June 1974. That flood was the result of a heavy winter snow pack and a cool spring until June. The June runoff was regulated by the weather. The SFSR (South Fork Salmon River) was very high for most of June. There was no damage to the road because the runoff was weather regulated; however, it was in June 1974 that the Oxbow at Teapot was breached indicating that the runoff was a record. The weather regulated runoff flushed the logging related sediment out. We had completed closing several logging roads that had been a problem. Logging had affected about 15% of the SFSR and the sediment problem was a result of problem logging roads that had not been closed. The SFSR looked very good after the runoff.

The 2010 flood is much different since there was not a heavy snow pack. It is the result of heavy spring rains that saturated the soil at a time when the soil damage from the 2007 fires has not healed [here]. The 2007 fires affected almost the entire SFSR drainage. This years flood is a flash flood and not regulated by weather. The runoff is occurring over a very short time. It will be interesting for me to observe the effect on the fire related sedimented condition of the SFSR later this summer.

The Idaho Batholith granite soils are fragile as evidenced by the steep, river-formed landscapes that developed over many centuries. However, the fire events starting in the 1990s are unprecedented in historic times due to the fuel loading that was evident to me when I was DFR.

I am also concerned that there will be a desire in the Forest Service to not rebuild the road and to close it. There was a desire in the 1980s to close the road until Senator McClure obtained the funds to solve the sediment problem the road was causing. That rebuilding was very successful. The current problems is not due to the roads. The problem is caused by fuel loading and resulting fire. Without active management the problem will not stop.

East Fork Weiser River Road Bridge Collapse, photo courtesy Payette NF

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8 Jun 2010, 2:05pm
Monkeywrenching forests
by admin
1 comment

Incinerating Elliston

Note: The following opinion piece was written by Ellen Simpson, executive vice president of the Montana Wood Products Association. For more on this fiasco see: Holocausters Sue to Stop Another Healthy Forest Thinning [here].

Note 2: SOSF operatives on the scene are keeping a close eye on this situation. We will have more to report soon about the nefarious doings of the serial litigators involved.

Litigators ruining forest, habitat

By ELLEN SIMPSON, Your Turn, Helena Independent Record, June 7, 2010 [here]

Five years ago the Forest Service started the public process to thin some trees around and near the community of Elliston, 20 miles west of Helena. Citizens from Elliston commented in writing and in person in favor of the project that was designed to help protect the community from possible catastrophic wildfire. The national forest near the town and residences were starting to show the effects of beetle infestations.

Powell County has identified the project area in its Community Wildfire Protection Plan as a high priority for treatment. Local residents in 2005 were in stages of protecting their private property from the beetle outbreak and fire dangers and encouraged the Forest Service to do likewise on adjacent public lands. The Forest Service proposed a thinning project.

Of course, two serial litigators, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council, saw an opportunity to harass the agency and make some cash by filing an appeal and then litigating the much-needed project.

Fast forward five years to now. The only thing that has changed is that the condition of the forest is even more deplorable. The proposed project of under 800 acres has again been appealed and litigated by the same two groups. And, apparently, for the same reason — harass the agency and try to make some cash for their attorneys under the Equal Access to Justice Act.

No consideration by the litigants is being given to the seriousness of the danger to the lives of the residents of Elliston. In a recent op-ed, Michael Garrity of AWR claims the project area is all about elk winter range and Sarah Jane Johnson of NEC wrings her hands over lack of goshawk habitat if logging occurs. Two other lawsuits come to mind when reading the comments from these two and it sounds reminiscent of the Clancy-Unionville and Jim Town projects, both near Helena.

The Clancy-Unionville project was stalled by litigation for so many years that beetles killed nearly the entire area. The Jim Town project was likewise litigated and eventually over half of it burned in a wildfire. I wonder where the goshawks and elk go when their habitat dies from bugs and fire. Probably to an area that has been managed by logging.

The Elliston area might have been elk winter range at some point, but agency biologists say that is no longer true. The critters just move through on their way to a destination that perhaps has forage and where the trees are not dead. It amazes me that the litigators cannot understand that critters of all flavors prefer to live in habitat with a food source. That’s why so many of them live on managed ranches where they are safe and can eat!

Lastly, how totally disingenuous for the litigators to claim to be worried about the project costing the taxpayers money if it goes forward. This from serial litigators who lead Region 1 of the Forest Service in the number of appeals and lawsuits filed to halt and stall projects like the one proposed for Elliston. The real cost to our citizens cannot even begin to be measured in terms of lost time and jobs, wasted agency efforts, and worst of all the damage done to Montana’s once healthy forests that did provide a home for our wildlife.

8 Jun 2010, 10:54am
The 2010 Fire Season Useless and Stupid
by admin

Defective Beyond Repair

It’s fire season again. We are again attempting to track fires at W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking [here]. It’s time consuming and difficult because the information is not readily available.

It is also discouraging. Our mission at W.I.S.E is to bring some sanity and science back to public forest management. But in tracking fires we encounter all too often the gross incompetence of our public land management agencies.

Fires are where the rubber meets the road. One might expect the Federal Government to make every effort to apply professionalism and competency to firefighting, since so much is a stake: lives, resources, etc.

Nope. It’s a zoo. And in reporting fire information on a daily basis, we encounter the worst of that zoo. For example, just today:

Aspen Fire

Location: 30 mi NE of Silver City, Gila NF, Grant Co, NM
Specific Location: Black Canyon Ck, ~8 mi W of Reeds Peak, Lat 33° 9´ 35″ Lon 107° 58´ 16″

Date of Origin: 06/06/2010
Cause: Lightning

Situation as of 06/07/2009 1:00 pm
Personnel: 0
Size: 400+ acres
Percent Contained: 0%

This is the unexpurgated report:

Fire growth from medium smoke to 150 acres in 3 hour timeframe. Today all resource left the fire line due to rapid growth of the fire. Fire estimated to be up to 400 acres. Exact fire size unknown, no personnel on scene.

This portion of the report was apparently written by someone without a spellchecker and to whom English is challenge:

Inc Obj Plan stratagies and tactics to maximize the protection of natural and cultural resources including the populations as well as their critical habitats. The resources include cultual, Gila Trout, Mexican Spotted Owl, and wilderness resources. Inc Obj Plan and implement stratagies and tactics that provide for firefighter and public safety. Ensure that all resssources know how and when they will engage and disengae for the assigned tactics and sitiation. Inc Obj Ensure the timely dissemintatin of information both internally to the District, Forest, and Geographic areas and externally to state and local government officials and contacts. Inc Obj Motorized equipment use in the Wilderness must be request and approved through the District Ranger. Inc Obj Place a high priority in the protection if private property, Forest infrastructure including campgrounds, trailhead and adisistrative sites, and range improvements.

It’s hard to imagine the type of personnel to whom critical resources are entrusted on the Gila NF. The firefighters have departed the scene for parts unknown and left someone with a 3rd-grade education in charge.

That does not inspire trust or confidence in the US Forest Service. Is this a professional organization or what?

Note [here] that in 2004 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared 8.6 million acres of critical habitat for the Mexican Spotted Owl, despite the acknowledged fact that on most of that ground there are no owls. The designation, however, placed onerous burdens on landowners and leaseholders, taking their property without compensation. The courts have upheld the takings, but the truth of the matter is the Federal Government does not give a damn about Mexican Spotted Owls. They routinely incinerate vast acreages that Mexican Spotted Owls do, in fact, occupy.

They burn the habitat with impunity, idiocy, and incompetency. It’s an in-your-face injury on top of insult. The Feds will steal your property, pay you nothing for it, and then destroy it, with morons at the helm.

This is going to go on all summer. If you read the reports every day, as we do, and read between the lines — tracking costs, blow-ups, injuries, fatalities, evacuations, homes burned — you will begin to get a feel for what Let It Burn looks like, and why they do it.

The main reason is, and this is the truth, is that the Federal Government is barkingly incompetent. They can’t do anything right. Most of what they do is chatter, red tape paper shuffle, which is largely the creation of excuses for their crapacitude and inability to accomplish their real missions, whatever those are.

Do you want the Feds to save endangered species? They can chatter about it and pass paper, but they can’t do anything real about it. Do you want them to put out forest fires? Plug oil leaks? Defend the border? Provide health care? Fight wars? Balance the budget? Do you really expect your Federal Government to make a difference, to display competency in any endeavor?

It’s discouraging, as I said. They can’t tie their own shoes. They can’t find their backside in a snowstorm. They can’t pick their own noses. You name the metaphor of fumble bumbling — the Federal Government fits it to a “t”.

It’s not the people who work for the government. I know many Federal employees and ex-employees. They are quite competent people. They are intelligent, resourceful, and caring. They do their best. It’s something else that causes the Federal Government to run haywire, something intrinsic to the beast, a defect beyond repair no matter how skilled the surgeons.

I don’t know the solution, except perhaps dissolution, of the Federal Government. Take away their funds, their buildings, their property, their toys, and learn to live without them. Self-reliance is an American tradition. We need to revive it.

Jerry Williams On Megafires

What exactly are megafires? Why do they happen? Can they be prevented? When is the next one going to occur and where?

Those questions and similar ones were explored at the annual meeting of the Inland Empire chapter of the Society of American Foresters last month in Wallace, Idaho.

Perhaps no one has more insight into megafires than Jerry T. Williams, retired U.S. Forest Service, former Director, USFS Fire & Aviation (the highest ranking fire officer in the country). He presented a paper entitled The 1910 Fires A Century Later: Could They Happen Again?. Selected excerpts and a link to the full text are [here].

Some background: in 1910 a firestorm swept across Washington, Idaho, and Montana. In just 48 hours 3 million acres were burned, 85 people killed, and five towns destroyed in a sparsely populated region.

Dr. Stephen J. Pyne wrote the scholarly history of the harrowing tale in Year of the Fires: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910, 2001 Viking Press [here]. Jim Petersen, co-founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Evergreen Foundation gave a fine lecture on the topic [here]. Bruce Vincent, Tom Boatner, yours truly [here], and many others have weighed in on the likelihood of another “category five” firestorm in the Northern Rockies.

This year, the 100-year anniversary of The Big Blowup, has seen quite a few memorial events and seminars. The Inland Empire SAF meeting may have been the most notable of those, and Jerry Williams’ paper the most perceptive commentary yet on whether such a megafire could happen again.

His very expert conclusion is yes, yes indeed.

Mr. Williams bases his conclusion in part on the findings of the Mega-Fire Project, a study of nine megafires that occurred across the United States between 1998 and 2007: Volusia-Flagler Complex (205,786 acres, Florida 1998); Valley Complex (212,030 acres, Montana 2000); Hayman Fire (137,760 acres, Colorado 2002); Rodeo-Chedeski Fire (468,638 acres, Arizona 2002); Biscuit Fire (499,965 acres, Oregon 2002); Ponil Complex (92,522 acres, New Mexico 2002); Georgia Bay Complex/Bugaboo (561,000 acres, Georgia and Florida 2007); Boise National Forest portion of the Cascade Complex (302,376 acres, Idaho 2007).

He raises some key issues, many of which we have discussed at length here at SOS Forests, but which are worthy of reconsideration:

* Virtually all of the mega-fires evaluated in this assessment occurred in predominantly dense, late-successional forests. At the landscape-scale, these forests had remained largely un-disturbed for a long time.

* Although mega-fires burned across a wide variety of habitat types and fire regimes, a significant portion of the overall mega-fire acreage studied in this assessment occurred in shorter interval fire-dependent ecosystems, much altered from their historic condition…

* On many mega-fire landscapes, the forest conditions that fueled these severe, high-intensity wildfires were often reflected in governing land-use objectives. On public lands, they were called-for in Land and Resource Management Plans. …

* In virtually every case, the values that were being managed for were lost or severely compromised, as a result of the mega-fire’s impacts. …

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Tester Forest Bill Unraveling

Montana Senator Jon Tester’s proposed “Forest Jobs And Recreation Act” (S. 1470) is in a death spiral.

The bait-and-switch wilderness bill [here] was prepared by a small cabal of radical enviro groups [here] and has met stiff resistance [here] from excluded groups of all stripes. Tester’s bill has all the same defects as Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s proposed “Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act” [here].

Now Tester’s Senate comrades have butchered the bill in a bungled attempt to put lipstick on it.

Forest bill backers rap panel’s changes

By JOHN S. ADAMS - Great Falls Tribune June 4, 2010 [here]

HELENA — A new Senate committee rewrite of Sen. Jon Tester’s forest bill is circulating among members of the group that helped draft the original measure, but some of the original bills supporters say the proposed changes are unacceptable.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has developed a “discussion draft” version of Tester’s “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act,” which removes one of the most controversial provisions of the bill. That provision call for the mandated logging of 100,000 acres of timber on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests. …

Tester’s “compromise” trade off was to be a million acres of newly designated wilderness set aside for No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch It Rot destruction in exchange for 100,000 acres dedicated to restoration. All those acres are dedicated to restoration right now — a point lost on most observers — so the trade off was as phony as a three dollar bill.

But the 100,000 acres has now been scratched, blowing up the phony compromise and eliminating any chance for “broad-based” support.

Told you so.

The next phony bill to be butchered by a Senate makeover is Wyden’s OEFROGPJA bill. Say what you want about the U.S. Senate; there is a silver lining to their gross incompetency. They tend to shoot themselves in the foot, which is a good thing considering that most of the bills they come up with are hugely undesirable in the first place.

Racism in Ecology

The topic of racism came up in a private email thread recently, and I share my thoughts on the matter with you.

“Racism” is a hot button word. Its use often inflames passions and thereby clouds the actual point an author/scholar wishes to make. However, there IS such a thing as racism, just as there ARE such things as cultural bigotry, genocide, eugenics, prejudice, and general socio-cultural blindness to various forms of discordant anti-human behaviors throughout history.

Racism is prejudice or animosity against people who belong to other races and the belief that people of some races are inherently superior or inferior. We are all quite familiar with the common cultural usage, which refers to current events and modern social strife. But in my usage of the term, I have meant something more historical and existential and perhaps less overt — a type of insidious racial prejudice ingrained in the science of ecology.

The blindness I refer to is the galloping ignorance displayed almost ubiquitously regarding the historical role of human beings in nature.

Humanity has shaped landscapes, vegetation, and wildlife populations since our emergence from the shadows of some African cave 150,000 years ago. Our forebears created cultural landscapes through fire, hunting, proto-agriculture, and other impacts on every continent most especially over the last 10,000 years (the Anthropocene).

The evidence is overwhelming that people have been shaping nature for umpteen centuries. Please see the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: History of Western Landscapes [here] for landmark studies of historical human influences on the environment.

Those studies are rare. Our collection is special. That is because, for the most part, modern ecology all but denies historical human impacts.

Ecology is, or should be, an historical science. Ecologists seek to understand how animal and plant populations change over time. Popular ecological theories tend to leave humanity out of the equation, despite glaring empirical anomalies that negate and disprove those theories.

It is also clear that those defective theories are a product of Western (European) science and are not shared by traditional ecological schools of thought of non-European cultural origins. It is also a hard lesson of history that Western (European) cultures have profoundly racist roots. The connection (same foundation) between philosophies of science and of socio-politics that emanate from the Western (European) tradition cannot be ignored.

When a branch of science denies the existence and essential humanity of non-European peoples, what should we call that? “Galloping ignorance” is fair but perhaps too forgiving, because the pervasive blindness of ecologists towards historical human influences is rooted in a profoundly racist tradition.

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