Doghair and Elk

Foresters call them doghair thickets. The 9th Circuit Court calls them “elk habitat”.

If you have ever seen a thicket with 3,000 stems per acre, you know why we call it doghair. But our esteemed Federal Judiciary is as stupid as ticks.

9th Circuit blocks Gallatin forest logging project over elk concerns

By the Associated Press, The Missoulian, September 17, 2010 [here]

HELENA - A proposed logging project in the Gallatin National Forest would remove too much vegetation that elk use for cover from predators, a federal appeals court ruled in blocking the project.

The U.S. Forest Service must revise the proposal to thin trees over 810 acres in the Crazy Mountains to ensure it meets the elk hiding cover requirement that is detailed in the plan for the forest, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling Wednesday.

Two environmental groups and a woman who owns a cabin in the area where the logging was to take place sued the Forest Service over the Smith Creek Project, which was meant to reduce the risk of severe wildfires that could threaten about 30 nearby homes and cabins.

The plan called for removing conifers near aspen trees to promote the growth of aspen groves in some areas, while thinning trees in other areas from densities of up to 3,000 trees per acre to between 300 and 500 trees per acre. …

The lawsuit, filed in 2008, claimed the Forest Service didn’t take into account the effects the work would have on the soil and wildlife habitat.

The plaintiffs appealed, and the 9th Circuit agreed with one of their claims: that the project would remove too much cover that migrating elk use to hide from predators and feel secure. …

Elk are fine out in the open. They do not feed or hide in 3,000 stems per acre lodgepole pine thickets where nothing else can grow. Or move.

The trees to be removed can hardly be called “logs”. They are more like whips. So the removal can hardly be called “logging”. It’s more like “whipping”.

Since when do the enviro-litigious care about elk anyway? Other than as wolf chow?

Some great comments were attached to the article:

… the same lobby that opposes the logging on the grounds that it’s bad for elk probably also supports wolf reintroduction, which is bad for elk. Judges, lawyers, and activists all determine the fates of these animals and their surroundings quite independently of facts.

… one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, Rebecca Smith, is the very same tree-sitter who was convicted of illegally holding up a Forest Service sale in the Bitterroot a few years ago. She was convicted by a jury and part of her sentence was to stay off of any Forest Service lands. Now she is using her law degree for her personal vengeance… all at we the taxpayers’ expense. The MT Bar Assoc. should disbar her.

… This was a thinning project done cooperatively through a Community Firewise Program, and lots of local public comment. I wish the Missoulian had mentioned that. The project prevailed through Molloy’s court too. But heck no… one part-time resident and two conflict-based “non-profits” get to monkey-wrench the whole thing.

… This is ridiculous. This woman with the cabin will be crying later to the FS to save her cabin when a fire in bearing down on it. Besides, a stands with 3000 tpa don’t benefit anything. That’s too thick for anything but a squirrel to squeeze through.

I don’t know how to fix this set of problems: enviro-nut jobs with law degrees, a Judiciary with no common sense, a Federal Government with too much land and money, a Congress that represents the most anti-social elements in society, a citizenry at the mercy of all of them.

If you have any solutions, please send them in. I give up.

18 Sep 2010, 11:10am
by Travis

The only sustainable solution is to privatize, but politically privatization is impossible. The only other option for the private sector is to abandon the public lands as a supply of wood, water, wildlife, etc. Out West, it is probably going to happen whether we like it or not as we continue to lose logging and milling capacity. If lightning starts a forest fire near the woman’s house, let it burn.

Reply: Exactly. And considering that Out West the Feds own more than half the land and 90% of the watersheds, the strangulation of wood, water, wildlife, etc. supplies will ultimately be fatal to civilization. They are like giant vampires, and not friendly ones, either. Gov-zilla stomps around leaving devastation in its wake.

19 Sep 2010, 3:16pm
by BeckyJ

As the Forest Service amends their current Forest Management Plans to include their Wildife Conservation Strategies, 100% of the forests will be managed to improve wildlife habitat. How do you justify large, uncharacteristic wildfires allowed to burn while you won’t allow small, tightly controlled stand thinnings? There is something drastically wrong with this pictures.

When they saved cabins on the Secesh River they protected salmon spawning habitat that was being used as the fires raged in 2007. I’d be willing to let them burn my cabin if they would just refrain from cutting down or burning down my live trees. I would have to pay triple damages if I did that on “their” land. I am supposed to be grateful that they didn’t burn my cabin which was too firewise to begin with to require any sprinklers on their part.

If we give up, “they” win and we all lose.

24 Sep 2010, 12:46pm
by bear bait

I thought the JW Thomas Starkey Elk Project had three enclosures with elk in them, with an equal and stated number of elk in each very large enclosure, each elk being weighed. One enclosure was mostly timbered, one was timber and thinning, and the other was mostly open grassland. The elk were fed an equal measured amount of alfalfa each day, from Oct first until May first. The results were that the elk in the open gained weight and all survived the winter. The timber and thinning elk lost weight, and the timber only elk not only lost weight, but had some winter mortality. All of which gave value to thermal savings when full winter sun is available, and discounted the value of “thermal cover” from fully timbered habitat. The research also backed up what Sargent and McCorkadale (this is from memory so don’t hold to the actual names of the researchers) found in the Hanford RNA on the sage steppe of the Columbia River. No timber, little cover, full sun, and high elk calving numbers, very low winter mortality, and security was distance from the patrolled fence outlining their habitat within the Atomic Reserve.

All any decent lawyer has to do is find those studies and debunk the litigants’ case.



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