Tree Rats Doom Forest Management, Restoration

I received the following email from a forester friend and stalwart of SOS Forests who works for the US Forest Service. He may be the only real forester left in that agency. Names have been X-ed out to maintain anonymity.

Just a heads up so you’re not too surprised when this all comes down. You may have heard that the removal of some Survey and Manage species through the annual species review process (authorized by NW Forest Plan Record of Decision) has been successfully challenged in court. Negotiations with the litigants are ongoing to determine what this all means.

For us, this means it is very likely we get the requirement to survey for and protect (with 10 acre buffers) active Red Tree Vole (RTV) nests. If this is what happens, it will likely mean the XXXXX Restoration project will be dead before arrival. I say this because we began RTV surveys for the YYYYY project just before they were removed from the Survey and Manage list. Before the surveys were even close to being completed (we did less than 10% of the area before the FS put a stop to it), we found a high enough vole density, if extrapolated across the entire area, to shut the YYYYY project down [thankfully that landmark project was implemented - ed]. The project area is generally representative of the entire West Cascades mixed conifer forest type.

There is a rumor that these negotiations may result in an exemption for projects in areas with a significant departure from the historic fire regime. I am not optimistic about that. As best I understand, the complaint was mostly based upon the contention that annual species reviews are illegal if not accompanied by an environmental analysis, therefore the solution would be to go ahead and do an EA for such adjustments.

For what ever reason, I am told that will not happen, apparently because folks think we don’t have enough statistically convincing evidence to prove RTV’s are indeed common down this way. Truly surprising, as we have abundant evidence, from surveys for previous projects, that they are all over the place here, and are not at all old-growth dependent. We even found an active nest this summer while topping trees to create snags in a stand of 65 year-old Doug fir that was heavily thinned (ave. spacing about 28′) about 4 years previously. How anyone ever figured that an animal that eats nothing but Doug-fir needles could possibly be rare in an ecosystem dominated by that tree species and subject to periodic fires has always been beyond me. Oh well. Seems likes it’s getting time to retire.

If you don’t catch the drift, let me explain. Radical anti-forest management types shut down forest management across three states (OR, WA, N.CA) in 1994 with the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP). Bill Clinton and Al Gore were the ringleaders. A now-deceased Federal judge gave his stamp of approval, called the Record of Decision or ROD.

As a direct result, PNW Fed forests have accumulated biomass (fuels) in excess of 10 times historical levels. Over the last 10 years the largest forest fires in state history have occurred in all three states (and many other states as well). Those fires were not light-burning and low running but rather hugely intense and severe, far more severe than any in written history and probably Holocene pre-history as well.

Recent catastrophic fires have repeatedly spread from unkempt, unmanaged, fuel-laden Fed land to private land, and even into cities, wreaking $billions in damages and killing hundreds of innocent men, women, and children.

It is worth noting that in many counties in the West, the Feds own more than 50% of the land base, in some counties as much as 90%. By halting all stewardship in favor of catastrophic holocaust, the proponents of the NWFP have slashed and crippled local economies. In many affected counties, more than 25% of the population is on food stamps. Hunger, bankruptcies, home foreclosures, alcoholism, drug abuse, broken families, etc. are at all-time highs. The human suffering has tracked right along with the environmental destruction.

One aspect of the NWFP was a requirement to “survey and manage” [here] for hundreds of species, most of them (99%) common and abundant (and manifestly NOT “old-growth” dependent).

In 2002 Douglas Timber Operators and the American Forest Resource Council were victorious in a lawsuit involving the 2001 ROD Amendments to the Survey and Manage, Protection Buffer, and other Mitigation Measures Standards and Guidelines of the NWFP. The settlement agreement required the agencies to replace the “Survey and Manage mitigation requirements with existing Forest Service and BLM special status species programs to achieve the goals of the Northwest Forest Plan through a more streamlined process.”

After being held up by more lawsuits brought by radical anti-forest management groups, in 2007 the USFS and BLM eliminated the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines.

In 2009, more lawsuits brought by the radicals ended in a judicial decision to “negotiate” the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines. Those negotiations have been going on for two years, with ample pleadings and counter-pleadings to the judge.

Now, according to insiders, Survey and Manage is coming back. That means the final stoppage of all forest management (and forest restoration) projects in the region.

Forest science has been corrupted, too, by the same radical crowd, to the point today where most papers emanating from our universities and forest research institutes are complete myth and garbage.

The upshot is more and larger forest holocausts are in store for the region.

No benefit has accrued. Not one species has been “saved”. Many, such as the Northern Spotted Owl, have experienced population crashes. Not Red Tree Voles, however. Their population is burgeoning, but that fact is being used to preclude treatments that restore forests and make them resilient to fire.

Junk forest science leads to junk forest policies, which cause disaster and extreme hardship to humans and wildlife alike. Indeed, every natural resource there is (water, soils, fish, scenery, recreation, etc.) has been damaged and degraded by the BS policies promoted by radicals and endorsed by Federal judges.

Congress, the ostensible overseers of the Federal Estate, has been silent on the NWFP issue for 17 years, to date, regardless of whichever party has been in the majority. They are oblivious, burying their collective head in the ashes of the holocausts.

That’s the situation today — more or less hopeless.

Note: you won’t read this kind of analysis anywhere but here at SOSF. We have not given up, despite the enormous odds against our efforts to save our forests from destruction by virulent pests.

5 Jan 2011, 9:25pm
by Chauncy

When you say “save our forests from destruction by virulent pests” I assume you mean USFS higher ups, some lower downs, sue-happy eco-[snip]s, judges, and clueless politicians, not RTVs or insects.

It seems the virulent pests are working with each other; the formers make poor decisions that can easily be challenged in court, and the latters are awarded $$$$$$MILLIONS just for bringing the suits. As I see it, their goal is to destroy the economy of our country in the hopes that a Marxist revolution will occur.

I guess they figure they will then be put in charge of everything and can micromanage the lives of the people of this country. WAIT, that’s already happening, did I miss the revolution?, damn, must of slept in that day. What more do they want????

I was working on an Annual Species Review committee in 2004, when, after spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars and a lot of time, the review was abruptly canceled. The species being reviewed were eventually removed from the Survey and Manage Guidelines (something I was hoping would happen as a result of the ASR anyway). Typical FS boondoggery, spending lots of dough on meaningless projects, and before anything is completed, pull the plug and start over again. I would extend that to almost all branches of the goobermint.

Now it sounds like S&M is coming back!!!!


Thanks to SOSF and the alert readers (some of the smartest and brightest in our fair nation), maybe we can overcome the ridiculous odds and take our forests back someday.

Reply: Sorry, but we don’t use the N-word here any more. Too many complaints. Hitlerian is still okay, however. Also Gadarene, my current favorite.



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