19 Jul 2010, 10:50am
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Oregon deserves better than a jobless recovery

Note: This Guest Comment first ran in the Salem Statesman Journal [here]. Posted by permission of the author, a stalwart voice for Oregon forests and active management.

By Bill J.Kluting

These were the backbone of Oregon’s industrial work sector who were the primary state, county and city taxpayers. During the 1980 recession, our industrial facilities and jobs were still in place; and when these workers returned from layoffs or curtailed hours, Oregon had no problem pulling out of the recession.

Oregon’s unemployed number more than 200,000. One out of five Oregonians is receiving food stamps. Oregon is the third-highest for home foreclosures. Oregon needs to put 150,000 people back to work earning decent wages now. We can’t wait three to four years as some experts project for a jobless recovery.

We’re projected to have a $2 billion to $4 billion revenue shortfall for the next state budget. Oregon has become a welfare state. We are waiting in line for additional monies from the federal government for schools and human services. Our federal government can’t afford to keep financing states that can’t control their wasteful spending.

This state needs to look at restructuring our K-12 school financing. Too much is wasted at the administrative levels and not getting to the classroom.

Oregon is in the top five in the nation for cost per student and bottom five for graduating high school seniors. This has to change and our re-elected superintendent of schools and elected legislators have to find a solution. We need to dismantle the 21 education service districts and form a group of six to do the same job more efficiently. Do these two things alone and you’re saving a half billion dollars that could go directly to the classroom.

This state has to look at every agency, see what they do, eliminate the ones not necessary and phase out positions where not needed. Bring the costs of the health and retirement plans down to the national average. Cut the waste of our tax dollars. Until Oregon’s revenue problem goes away (which is years down the road, if ever), these things have to be done.

Almost half of Oregon’s counties will be losing the O&C federal timber monies they have received through the years, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, causing some counties to become bankrupt. This problem could be solved by having a national forest management plan that allows an annual sustainable harvest, creating thousands of jobs and revenue.

The first step to put Oregon back to work is to form a task force of business and labor folks to form ideas to create jobs and make sure our elected officials understand this needs to be done and done now.

We need to start the new Interstate 5 bridge and build the new mental hospital at Junction City. We need the new ocean cargo container facility and LNG plant in Coos Bay. These projects alone will create tens of thousands of new jobs.

Again, Oregonians deserve better than a jobless recovery. The only recovery plan that will work is to put unemployed Oregonians back to work now.

Bill J. Kluting of Monmouth worked in the timber and milling industry for 39 years. He represents the Carpenters Industrial Council as legislative affairs representative

A Goldman Sachs Let It Burn Fire

One thing we do here is track wildfires. W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking [here] provides daily-updated narratives of fires from ignition to containment. We don’t have access to minute-to-minute information but instead rely on daily reports from the National Geographic Area Coordination Centers [here].

Those reports are called 209’s, and they come from the incident management teams (IMT’s) on each fire. Often they are written in a sort of sparse code which requires decoding and interpretation. But we have tracked over 400 wildfires during the last two years and have gained some experience in sussing out the facts from the 209 bureaucratese.

Few things surprise us anymore. We have tracked Let It Burn fires on every type of federal land and parsed out some pretty egregious malfeasance. But today a new wrinkle caught us off guard.

The Bureau of Land Management has assigned management of a Let It Burn fire (the Twin Buttes WFU [here]) in western Colorado to The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

TNC is a quango (quasi-govermental non-governmental organization). They are a multi-billion-dollar quango, the largest in the world, and are intimately tied to the Goldman Sachs investment banking concern.

Before Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson destroyed the U.S. economy, he was Chairman of the Board of Governors of The Nature Conservancy. Before that, Paulson was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs — initiating the firm’s initial public offering in 1999.

The current president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy is Mark Tercek, also currently a managing director at Goldman Sachs.

TNC is a big business. They hold nearly $6 billion in assets, primarily real estate, and enjoyed a half billion dollars in income last year, including $130 million in government grants [here].

Evidently, TNC now contracts WFU’s (wildland fire “use”, aka Let It Burn fires) using their own “module”, a quasi-private fire monitoring team (everything TNC does is “quasi-private, quasi-government”). TNC’s WFU Module “is trained to assist federal agencies to allow natural wildland fires to burn…” [here]

The Twin Buttes Fire has thus become a Goldman Sachs Let It Burn While We Rob the U.S. Treasury fire.

TNC (and by extension Goldman Sachs) has their sticky fingers in much of what our federal land management agencies do. TNC is deeply involved in the Great Montana Land Swindel [here]. They are bagmen agents in the Pinon Canyon/Fort Carson fiasco and indeed are involved in real estate deals on every U.S. Military Base [here]. They were instigators of Gail Kimbell’s “Open Space Conservation Strategy,” the largest land grab since the Louisiana Purchase [here].

Scorched earth is part of the TNC’s strategy. They have subverted the Wildland Fire Leadership Council [here], pushing Let It Burn down the throat of America. They want the entire Federal Estate to be incinerated. They burn their own lands, too. For example, last year the TNC incinerated 14,874 acres on and off their Silver Creek Nature Preserve in Blaine County Idaho [here]. At taxpayers’ expense, of course. Everything TNC does (or is) is at taxpayers’ expense.

Goldman Sachs has a sweet deal in TNC. They buy land cheap (usually just purchase an option) and then resell the land to the Feds at inflated prices for enormous windfall profits — and pay no taxes on the deals. Goldman Sachs buys and sells Congresspersons and government officials, too. They have an unlimited backdoor to the U.S. Treasury.

And now they contract Let It Burn fires from the BLM. The amount of money changing hands will never be revealed. Sweet.

The Douglas County Forest Predicament

by Mike Dubrasich

Yesterday Douglas County Commissioner Joe Laurance delivered an excellent testimony to Congress. I amplify that testimony with the following of my own, which was not invited by Congress, nor delivered to them, but is instead posted here.

Douglas County extends from the crest of the Oregon Cascades to the Pacific Ocean and encompasses the entire watershed of the Umpqua River, over 5,000 square miles. As of the census of 2000, there were 100,399 people, 39,821 households, and 28,233 families residing in the county.

Douglas County is one of the premier timber-producing counties in the nation. Approximately 25-30% of the labor force is employed in the forest products industry. Agriculture, mainly field crops, orchards, and livestock (particularly sheep ranching,) is also important to the economy of the county.

In 2008 approximately 416 million board feet of timber were harvested in Douglas County, less than one third of the historical average. The reason for that is the USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management administer more than 50% of the county’s land, and their combined timber harvest in 2008 was less than 50 million board feet, less than 5% of their historical harvest and less than 1% of the annual growth on those lands.

In economic terms, considering stumpage value, remanufacture value, and the multiplier effect, a million board foot of timber is worth a million dollars and/or ten family wage jobs.

The precipitous decline (from historical levels) in timber harvest from federal lands in Douglas County costs the county’s economy 10,000 jobs per year. That has been the case for nearly 20 years now, since inception of the Northwest Forest Plan, and Douglas County has suffered enormously as a consequence.

As of last October, 23,336 Douglas County residents received food stamps. That is roughly a quarter of the population. The number has risen since.

The federal (USFS, BLM) forestland in Douglas County continues to grow timber at a prodigious rate. Over a half billion board feet are added very year. In other words, less than 1% of the annual growth is harvested each year.

That accumulating biomass has another effect on the economy of Douglas County. It fuels catastrophic fires that damage the watersheds, wildlife, public health and safety, recreation, and all businesses.

more »

Douglas Co. Commissioner Joe Laurance July 15 Testimony

Today the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held an Oversight Hearing on “Locally Grown: Creating Rural Jobs with America’s Public Lands”. Among the testimonies [here] was that of Joseph Laurance, County Commissioner, Douglas County, Oregon.

Commissioner Laurance brought up many important points, not the least of which is that that our national forests today are unnaturally loaded with fuels. Over 110 million acres are in Fire Regime Condition Class 2 and 3, the most hazardous conditions.

The safest condition is FRCC 1, of which there are 60 to million acres. Commissioner Laurance noted that FRCC 1 closely approximates the natural, historic conditions “characteristic of the ‘anthropogenic’ forest in the year 1800, immediately prior to the European American presence.”

The following is the full text of his remarks, with complementary photographs:

Testimony of Joseph Laurance, County Commissioner, Douglas County, Oregon before the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, July 15, 2010.

Distinguished members of the committee,

At a meeting of Oregon county commissioners last summer, I complained to my colleagues that while endless debate continued in congress about how federal forests should be managed, fires were ravaging federal timberlands in my county and throughout the western United States. The worldwide financial crisis that was draining the national treasury made re-authorization of “Secure Rural Schools” funding seem doubtful, threatening many of Oregon’s 36 counties with social and economic ruin. Bad news just kept coming with the word that unemployment in Douglas County had reached 16.4% and if unreported joblessness was considered, was probably greater than the 19% experienced here during the height of the “Great Depression”.

Talks were ongoing in Copenhagen about greenhouse gas emissions while the three fires in my county burned toward an eventual total of 20,000 acres, equal to the greenhouse gasses emitted by one million cars in a year’s time. My fellow commissioners suggested that I craft a solution to the problems you of this body are all too familiar with. The resultant resolution* has been carefully considered by commissioners from across the western United States who helped in its preparation. It has been unanimously adopted by the Association of Oregon Counties, Western Interstate Region of Counties, and the National Association of Counties (NACo) Public Lands Committee and is expected to be adopted by NACo at its annual national conference next week.

Twenty years and twenty days ago the Northern Spotted Owl was listed as threatened under the federal “Endangered Species Act”. It was then thought that loss of old growth habitat through logging was the culprit causing a declining population. In response, federal timber harvests were vastly curtailed. The Umpqua National Forest in my county saw an annual harvest of 397 million board feet in 1988 reduced to 4 million board feet in 2002. In the years since a policy of “benevolent neglect” of federal lands has seen Spotted Owl numbers continue to decline through habitat destruction caused by increasingly numerous and intense forest fires and through predation by the Barred Owl which favors this new “unmanaged” forest habitat. Federal policy, which had been multiple use of the forest with an emphasis on industrial harvest, sought a new strategy which has yet to be formulated in all these intervening years.

The resolution presented you provides that needed new strategy, not only for Oregon but for all of our nation’s federal forests from Appalachia to Alaska. Federal forest managers would now have a clearly defined desired forest condition that must be obtained within a specified time. If this becomes the “Intent of Congress”, the Forest Service and BLM would join with private industry to restore forest health and rural economies without drawing on the national treasury.

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13 Jul 2010, 11:39pm
2007 Fire Season The 2010 Fire Season
by admin

Roasted Yellowstone

The aerial photo below shows the Doane Fire, a small (1/4 acre) untended fire now burning amidst the snags from the Columbine Fire (2007, 18,500 acres).

Click photo for a larger image (1.5 MB), courtesy InciWeb.

13 Jul 2010, 11:04pm
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Ancient Siberia-America Connection

A linguistic link [here] has been confirmed between New and Old World language groups. The Athabaskan language group, which includes Navajo, Apache, and Coquille in Oregon, is related to the language spoken by the Ket people of Western Siberia [here] despite 10,000 years of separation.

Words for ‘canoe’ point to long-lost family ties

Canwest News Service, July 8, 2010 [here]

An obscure language in Siberia has similarities to languages in North America, which might reshape history, writes Randy Boswell.

A new book by leading linguists has bolstered a controversial theory that the language of Canada’s Dene Nation is rooted in an ancient Asian tongue spoken today by only a few hundred people in Western Siberia.

The landmark discovery, initially proposed two years ago by U.S. researcher Edward Vajda, represents the only known link between any Old World language and the hundreds of speech systems among First Nations in the Western Hemisphere.

The collection of articles by Vajda and other experts details a multitude of clear connections — nouns, verbs and key grammatical structures — between the language spoken by the Ket people of Russia’s Yenisei River region and dozens of languages used by North American aboriginal groups.

The newly recognized link has prompted the Yukon-based Arctic Athabaskan Council to begin forging cultural and political ties with Russia’s tiny population of Ket speakers. They live 8,000 kilometres west of Whitehorse and are separated from their linguistic cousins in North America by some 10,000 years of history. …

A special issue of the Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska (APUA) is devoted to The Dene-Yeniseian Connection [here]. Papers cover three related topics:

* The Evidence for Dene-Yeniseian
* The Interdisciplinary Context for Dene-Yeniseian
* Commentaries on the Dene-Yeniseian Hypothesis

The Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska focuses on research in the circumpolar north and consists of original papers on a variety of topics related to arctic or subarctic anthropology. Produced by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Anthropology since 1951, APUA offers a collection of scholarly, often rare papers written by noted authorities in the field.

Thanks and kudos for this history news (oxymoron?) tip go to Dr. Victor H. Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, and curator of the amazing and esoteric-knowledge-laden website, the Sino-Platonic Papers [here], which is worth a visit just to read the titles of the scholarly works archived there.

USFS District Headquarters Burns

The building housing district offices of the Wallow-Whitman National Forest burned to the ground Sunday. From the local paper:

Fire destroys Forest Service headquarters

By Chuck Anderson, Wallowa County Chieftain, 7/12/2010 [here]

The district headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service in Enterprise was destroyed in a spectacular fire Sunday, July 11.

The leased building built of logs was a total loss, according to Forest Service spokeswoman Judy Wing. No one was in the building when the fire broke out after 4 p.m., she said.

“It was devastating,” said Mary DeAguero, district ranger for the Eagle Cap Ranger District, whose office was in the building. Also burned were offices of the Wallowa Valley Ranger District, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, an extensive visitor center, the Farmers Service Agency, National Resource Conservation Service and Wallowa Soil and Water Conservation District.

Officials of the state fire marshal’s office were expected to arrive today to begin an investigation into the cause of the blaze. The approximately 70 Forest Service employees who worked in the building were told to meet with Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor Steve Ellis at Cloverleaf Hall at the county fairgrounds.

The agency recently negotiated a two-year extension of its 20-year lease. One Joseph firefighter was taken to Wallowa Memorial Hospital with symptoms of heatstroke and released at midnight. No one else was reported injured. …

From the photographs it appears the building totally incinerated. The documents, maps, and records within were probably more or less completely destroyed.

The absurdist and soon-to-be-bankrupt Oregonian newspaper immediately pointed an accusatory finger at the “timber industry”, hinting that disgruntled unemployed woodsworkers (and/or ranchers) burned the building in an act of arson [here].

The author of that spurious accusation is the aptly named Richard Cockle, soon to be unemployed himself when his Dead Tree newspaper goes belly up. We wonder if Richard Cockle will then become disgruntled and go on an arson spree himself.

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11 Jul 2010, 8:58pm
Monkeywrenching forests
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Monument plan will hurt landscape, local economy

By Danielle Lindler, Guest Editorial, Medford Mail Tribune, July 04, 2010 [here]

In the June 28 article on the proposed Siskiyou Crest National Monument, proponents state that opposition groups are having a knee-jerk reaction to something we don’t understand. We beg to differ.

Our opposition is based on the history of other monument designations and on professional expertise in natural resources.

The proponents of the monument state on their website that the monument needs to be designated in order to protect the environment from the perceived threats from public land sales, road building, private logging, cattle grazing and off-road vehicle use. They have, in a sense, stated that any human influence on the landscape is detrimental to the environment and thus they need to restrict activities that are historical to Siskiyou County and the foundation of our rural economy.

The proponents claim jobs will be created by thinning forests and decommissioning roads. However, look at what has happened since the designation of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument just over the Siskiyou County border in Oregon.

This national monument encompasses approximately 53,000 acres. The management plan proposes thinning 5,000 acres (none done to date), eliminates grazing, does not allow Christmas tree or firewood cutting and will close or decommission 74 miles of road. This would equal 800 miles of road if the same percentage of roads were closed in the proposed national monument.

When one looks to other national monuments in the state, we can see that thinning projects, as were proposed in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, were vehemently opposed by the Sierra Club and these projects are still held up in court to this day. Don’t be misled to think that projects would go forth without additional controversy if these lands were given monument status.

KS Wild says thinning will be part of a more flexible management strategy, yet the group opposes thinning on federal timber sales and will not allow the Klamath National Forest to manage lands in a way that meets Northwest Forest Plan objectives. They do not understand that trees of all sizes need to be thinned to reduce wildfire and that openings in the forest are important habitat components. It seems they want a blanket of trees from east to west, and this is not a management scenario that will benefit the largest number of species.

Since most federal lands within Siskiyou County over the past 20 years have had large areas limited to management, the economy has significantly declined. Unemployment and welfare rates are at all-time highs, currently exceeding 19 percent. Mills have closed. Working families have left the area and schools are suffering steep declines in enrollment and quality of education. The economy of this county certainly is not robust or diversified, and creating the monument will only continue the financial decline.

Imagine if local forestry were actually supported. Maybe California wouldn’t import 75 percent of its lumber. We could sequester more carbon in healthy forests and tap tremendous potential to produce bio-energy and replace fossil fuels. We could enhance biodiversity and put communities back to work taking care of the forests that have sustained many livelihoods for generations.

While we agree that the monument designation will be only on federal land, future management on private lands can be curtailed within a monument if the proposed use or activity is deemed incompatible with the monument’s purpose.

This is especially true in California, where the state Environmental Quality Act requires that an environmental impact report or timber harvest plan include a cumulative effects analysis where the entire watershed is evaluated. If your neighbor is a national monument, rest assured there will be visual buffers at a minimum imposed on your project. This means for all landowners within the monument boundary that there will be an additional layer of bureaucracy telling you what you can and can’t do with your land.

Preservation ignores the fact that it is literally impossible to preserve dynamic forest ecosystems in a static state. It fails to consider that people have been a natural part of forested landscapes for thousands of years or that we have a responsibility to manage natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.

I am also perplexed as to why this group, which is always using its due process to comment on federal and private timber sales, is circumventing this process by seeking the monument designation under the Antiquities Act, which does not allow public comment or congressional approval. One would think open debate would be encouraged, not circumvented.

Danielle Lindler, a California registered professional forester, is executive director of the Klamath Alliance for Resources & Environment.

The New Approach to Forest Stewardship

An encouraging Guest Editorial appeared in the Dead Tree Press yesterday, written by Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council:

Beyond the spotted owl: It’s time for a new approach in our federal forests

By Tom Partin, Guest Columnist, the Oregonian, July 08, 2010 [here]

The Oregonian’s recent article commemorating the 20th anniversary of the listing of the northern spotted owl on the endangered species list exposed the personal, largely hidden agendas of those who have advocated for the owl over the years. …

Now, after 20 years, it’s evident that slashing the harvest from our federal lands has not only made our forests into tinder boxes ready to ignite and burn the very habitat the owl needs, but has not kept the owl’s numbers from continuing to decline. By listening to the questionable wisdom of self-interested scientists whose livelihoods depend on grants to study the bird, we have come to a place where the owl is in far greater danger from fire and barred owls than from the boogeyman fall guy, logging. It’s time for a new approach.

Unfortunately, the new recovery plan for the spotted owl now under development by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is unlikely to be that new approach. …

When are Oregonians and our society going to say enough is enough? Our state is on the brink of bankruptcy, unemployment is topping 20 percent in rural Oregon, county payments that are handouts in lieu of cutting timber will expire in 2012, and our forests are ready to burn. What we are doing and have been doing isn’t working. … [more]

We concur with Mr. Partin’s observation that what we have been doing isn’t working. Specifically, the The Northwest Forest Plan has been a catastrophic failure. The NWFP had (has) four fundamental goals. It has failed spectacularly to meet any of them.

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.

2. The NWFP has failed to protect spotted owl habitat

Since inception, millions of acres of spotted owl habitat have been catastrophically incinerated. Millions more acres are poised to burn.

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.

The plan to save the owls has not saved anything; not owls, not old-growth, not the economy. The cost for nothing? $100,000 per job per year x 40,000 jobs x 17 years = $68 billion. That’s what Northwesterners have paid, for nothing. And the bills continue to mount.

Mr. Partin calls for a “new approach.” We concur. More significantly, here at W.I.S.E. we have laid out the strategy for that new approach: restoration forestry.

Restoration forestry is active management to bring back historical cultural landscapes, historical forest development pathways, and traditional ecological stewardship to achieve historical resiliency to fire and insects and to preclude and prevent a-historical catastrophic fires that decimate and destroy myriad resource values [here].

Those values include:

1. Heritage and history
2. Ecological functions including old-growth development
3. Fire resiliency and the reduction of catastrophic fires
4. Watershed functions
5. Wildlife habitat protection and enhancement (including spotted owl habitat)
6. Public health and safety
7. Jobs and the economy

Restoration forestry begins with the study and elucidation of forest history. Mr. Partin is correct in his assessment that establishment forest science has failed to provide the research and understanding needed. Forest history has not been a key component of establishment forest science in univesities and forest research centers.

Despite that deplorable state of affairs, in enclaves outside the Establishment a handful of intrepid forest scientists have been exploring forest histories. Their principal findings have been that human influences over thousands of years have played an enormous role in shaping our forests. Human influences — including frequent, seasonal, anthropogenic fire — provided the conditions whereby trees could reach old ages.

Human influences gave rise to our old-growth. That’s a stunning finding. It contradicts the old paradigm of forest development, which is based entirely on non-human factors. But the old paradigm is wrong. Too many anomalies exist in the real world, such as thickets of fir underneath ancient overstories of pine. The old paradigm cannot explain how natural forces alone created those (species-specific multicohort) forest conditions. The new paradigm, which accepts historical human influences as significant, does explain how our old-growth forests came to exist.

That’s an ecological issue. The old ecology is wrong. The new ecology is a vast improvement.

The Northwest Forest Plan is based on out-dated and incorrect assumptions about forest ecology. It is no wonder that the NWFP has failed; the scientists who crafted it were deficient in their understanding about how our forests developed.

Restoration forestry seeks to restore the actual, historical forest development pathways within the actual watersheds where that development took place. That is why restoration forestry stands a chance of succeeding where the NWFP and old paradigm ecology has failed so miserably and catastrophically.

We are encouraged by Mr. Partin’s call for a new approach, and in turn we encourage him to seek a greater understanding of what restoration forestry is, where its basis lies, and why it might succeed where the old approach has failed.

We encourage Mr. Partin, and all others, to review the papers in the W.I.S.E. Colloquia History of Western Landscapes [here], Restoration Forestry [here], Forest and Fire Sciences [here], and Wildlife Sciences [here].

Our Colloquia are works in progress. We have not gotten all the key papers up yet, but what we have posted so far should give readers a good introduction to new paradigm thinking.

We encourage Mr. Partin, and all others, to ask questions. That’s how learning occurs.

If more people begin to understand the new findings, the new ecology, and the new techniques of restoration forestry, then the “new approach” will become clearer. We won’t have to wonder what that new approach might be, nor be stuck any longer in the failed approaches of the past.

6 Jul 2010, 10:59am
by admin

Work Break

I will be away from the Command Console for a few days. Got to make some dough. Back soon.

In the meantime, please contemplate the following:

Our “wildlands” are not truly wild. They have been homelands to people who have resided there for the past 10,000 years or so, and are owned, managed, and the responsibility of the landowner, the Federal government.

Nobody in this country should be subjected to catastrophic uncontrolled fires caused by negligence on the part of a neighbor, especially if that neighbor is a public land management agency.

Some of the farms, ranches, homes, and businesses subjected to the runaway Federal fires have been there for 150 years or more. They are not “new” impositions into a wild landscape.

Numerous towns are at certain risk of catastrophic fire. Without fuels management of surrounding public lands, they will burn fiercely someday, despite bans on new homes and/or the existing homeowners raking their pine needles.

The elimination of inhabitants and of fire suppression will not put out a single fire. Those oft proffered “solutions” solve nothing. In fact, those eliminations will make fires bigger. Modern megafires have traveled as much as 30 miles or more to burn private land far, far away from designated Wilderness.

Fire is not a special benefit that Mother Nature graces us with, but rather a very destructive force that needs to be managed for the health and safety of the populace and the landscape.

We need not live jam-packed into urban bomb shelters, surrounded by wolves and holocausts. There is a better way.

It’s called stewardship.

Too Little, Too Late to Save Flagstaff’s Forests

An article about the Shultz Fire from Northern Arizona University:

NAU experts weigh in on lessons of Schultz Fire

Inside NAU, June 30, 2010 [here]

Expected to be fully contained today, the Schultz Fire [here] that scorched more than 15,000 acres in northeast Flagstaff and captured worldwide attention is human caused in more ways than one, said Northern Arizona University experts.

“This is a human caused fire from two perspectives,” said Daniel Laughlin, a research associate with the university’s Ecological Restoration Institute [here]. “A human campfire was left to burn in an ecosystem that became dense because of 100 years of mismanagement.”

A century of fire suppression has successfully kept fire off the peaks—a landscape dominated by ponderosa pine, which typically burn every two to 45 years. The blaze torched an area not burned since the 1890s in an ecosystem historically subject to frequent, low intensity fires.

There is a glaring misstatement in that.

Historically, the ecosystem was subject to frequent, seasonal anthropogenic fires. i.e. set by the indigenous residents.

I don’t know why ERI is so reticent to admit or even to investigate the historical forest development pathways in what is so clearly an ancient cultural landscape. It’s not like their host institution, Northern Arizona University, is equally deaf, dumb, and blind to the former inhabitants of the San Francisco Peak area (i.e. Flagstaff vicinity). See:

Dating Wupatki Pueblo: Tree Ring Evidence [here]

San Francisco Mt. Ware [here]

The Hopi’s, whose home mesas are east of Flagstaff, consider the San Francisco Peaks (Nuvatukya’ovi) to be sacred mountains. In fact, the Peaks are held sacred by over 13 Native American Nations [here].

The Tribes claim ownership and residency going back many hundreds of generations. There is no reason to doubt their veracity, since archaeological relics are frequent and widespread in the area. The Forest Service has identified the Peaks as a Traditional Cultural Property. It’s common knowledge that people have been living there for millennia.

It would be safe to assume that the native residents practiced landscape burning, since every other indigenous tribe in the Southwest (and elsewhere) burned their homelands regularly. And it is clear to many observers that frequent anthropogenic fire led to open, park-like forests and prairies. Putting those two well-known facts together leads to the inexorable conclusion that anthropogenic fire shaped the vegetation in the pine forests of Flagstaff.

more »

1 Jul 2010, 2:06pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin
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Let It Burn Plan Appealed

Western Institute for Study of the Environment

For Immediate Release, July 1, 2010

The Western Institute for Study of the Environment (W.I.S.E.) together with the Concerned Citizens for Responsible Fire Management (CCRFM) today appealed to USDA Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell a decision by Region 6 Regional Forester Mary Wagner to approve the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest’s adoption of a Wildland Fire Use (WFU) program over strenuous objections by citizen watchdog groups.

The Rogue River and Siskiyou National Forests were merged in 2004. In March, 2008 the RR-SNF proposed inclusion of WFU fires in their Land and Resource Management Plan and Forest Fire Management Plan.

W.I.S.E. Executive Director Mike Dubrasich stated, “If this Let It Burn program is implemented, another Biscuit Fire will surely occur, possibly as soon as this summer.”

“The Biscuit Fire burned 500,000 acres of the then Siskiyou NF in 2002. It was the largest fire in recorded Oregon history and destroyed habitat for endangered species, including over 100,000 acres of prime spotted owl habitat (50 known nesting sites were destroyed).”

“Allowing wildfires to freely roam the landscape is a terribly destructive idea. Too much is at stake, including forests, watersheds, and wildlife habitat, as well as ranches, farms, homes, and entire communities that may lie in the path of uncontained Federal megafires.”

“Our culture and society have reached an important juncture in our understanding of our place in the landscape. As human beings we must become the caretakers of our environment and fulfill our sacred responsibilities, not abandon our priceless, heritage forests to catastrophic fire.”

The text of the Appeal may be downloaded [here].

Scoping Comments and Objections from W.I.S.E. and CCRFM may be downloaded [here, here, here].

The Western Institute for Study of the Environment is a non-profit organization headquartered in Lebanon, Oregon. W.I.S.E. is 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.

The Concerned Citizens for Responsible Fire Management is a citizens group based in Trinity County, CA. Members have extensive National Forest land and fire management backgrounds and/or are business people who are directly or indirectly affected by National Forest management. The CCRFM is dedicated to the oversight of land and wildfire management activities on National Forests.


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