Remarkable Frankness from the USFS

Ofttimes we get the impression that the US Forest Service has no clue what their mission is or how to achieve it. But once in awhile a USFS official comes out of the fog and speaks some truth, and it is as refreshing as it is surprising.

Such was the case at a recent meeting of the Quincy Library Group (QLG) in Quincy, California.

The QLG was initiated in 1992 by a group of citizens were concerned over the demise of the timber industry and the concomitant build up of hazardous fuels in the National Forests surrounding their communities. Discussions held at the local library led to a series of proposals recommending improvements for management of the Lassen N.F., the Plumas N.F., and the Sierraville Ranger District of the Tahoe N.F., and to the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act [here].

The HFQLGFR Act directed National Forests in the QLG area to do 40 to 60 thousand acres per year of strategic fuel reduction in defensible fuelbreaks for five years and to implement group selection silviculture on an area-wide basis. Despite numerous appeals and lawsuits, some fuelbreaks and thinnings occurred, though not enough to prevent the 2007 Moonlight Fire [here] that burned 65,000 acres and destroyed old-growth and spotted owl habitat (nor numerous other fires on the Plumas NF).

Since 1992 (a tide-turning year), the trend in national forest management has been towards No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch It Rot. Almost all timber harvest has been halted, and megafires have roamed vast landscapes.

But the QLG has persisted. And recently Regional Forester Randy Moore (Region 5 - California) spoke at a QLG meeting and talked about increasing timber harvest on the Plumas NF!!!!

Forest Service wants to pick up QLG

by Joshua Sebold, Plumas News, 3/31/2011 [here]

At a recent meeting, Plumas’ Quincy Library Group (QLG) Forester Frank Stewart told the County Board of Supervisors that Forest Service Regional Forester Randy Moore wants to increase the “pace and scale” of QLG-type projects on public lands from 140,000 acres per year to a half-million acres per year.

“It’s a major commitment but they need to put their money where their mouth is on this issue,” he added. …

Yes indeed. Money talks, etc. But we salute RF Moore for at least mouthing a proper approach.

In the 12 years since passage of the HFQLGFR Act, and two extensions, never has more than 30,000 acres been treated in a single year. As of March 2011, a reported 231,770 acres have been treated [here]. But Mr. Moore’s recommendation to treat 500,000 acres per year is welcomed. [Note: Moore was evidently referring to all of California when he popped the half-million acre number, not just the Plumas NF].

From the article:

Stewart said the QLG pilot project resulted in 145 timber sales to date, which have “produced right around 400 million feet of saw log volume.

“That would go to Sierra Pacific, Collins Pine, some mills up in the Burney area and then stuff that goes to… Weaverville. They’re a small business and they come and compete.” …

Burney and Weaverville are long hauls away from the Plumas NF, but the sawmill in Quincy shut down two years ago [here]. It was strangled to death by the severe reduction since 1992 in Fed timber harvest. Mr. Moore’s recommendation to treat 500,000 acres per year is too late to save the Quincy sawmill, but his words are welcomed nonetheless.

From the article:

Stewart… explained [to the County Supervisors] the Forest Service also uses service contracts, which don’t provide timber receipts but do give work to local businesses. …

Stewart said the Forest Service is now considering long-term stewardship contracts as the third prong of its QLG-type management practices.

The forester said the problem with this tactic is the county won’t get any timber receipts as the program is currently shaping up. …

That’s kind of a slap in the face. The USFS was founded, and the land given over to the Federal Government, on the promise (written into numerous laws) that timber receipts would be shared with the counties, in lieu of property taxes, of which the Feds pay zip, nada, none, zero.

I pay property taxes. So do my neighbors. We pay handsomely, even though we are just poor individuals. But the mighty U.S. Government, the vacuum cleaner of the economy, the largest landowner in the world, pays nothing. They get a free ride. And with their clever shell gaming of the system, they never will. It’s called “stewardship” in doublespeak.

But not to fret. The mighty shell gamers are working on a “solution” to their own illegal gamesmanship:

Stewart added that Moore supports including timber receipts in that program and Congressman Wally Herger, one of the co-authors of the QLG pilot project, is working on a bill to ensure counties would receive funding from those projects.

Yes sir. No bull. They are working on a Bill which if enacted would force the U.S. Government to abide by the law. But don’t hold your breath on that.

Another interesting statement in the article:

Indian Valley Supervisor Robert Meacher said the reasoning behind increasing the pace and scale of this type of work is that Moore’s office recently predicted: “By 2050 the Sierra will start emitting carbon.”

Meacher explained that normally forests are thought of as sequestering carbon and this prediction means the Forest Service believes, “It’s going to burn.”

Referring to the catastrophic 2007 Moonlight Fire in Plumas County, he said if current forest practices aren’t changed “you’ll have so many Moonlights out there that the trees you have left standing are negated by the carbon being emitted by the burning.”

The supervisor commented that the prediction dovetailed into rural county’s recent complaints about the Forest Service’s new travel management plan.

“Once you lose the forest who’s going to want to travel on it anyway?” he exclaimed in exasperation.

Yes sir. The USFS now (allegedly) believes that incinerating national forests in megafires emits carbon dioxide. We’re not sure Mr. Meacher is correct, but if he is then that constitutes a scientific breakthrough by the USFS, a massive clue discovery by an agency not generally thought of as Sherlock Holmesian.

By gad, Watson, there appears to be some smoke coming out of that forest fire!

So we are encouraged, and we welcome Mr. Moore’s perspicacity and frankness, and send along our kudos, and wish that his words could be turned into actions, although to be frank ourselves, our own exasperation is thinly veiled and admittedly leaks through now and again.

28 Mar 2011, 10:34pm
Restoring cultural landscapes
by admin

Ancient Anthropogenic Mounds in the Everglades

We have previously discussed “geoglifos,” the ancient geometric earthen structures in Amazonia, built by civilizations that thrived hundreds and even thousands of years ago in what today is widely but incorrectly thought of as “wilderness”. See [here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here].

Mounds and causeways were useful in swampy country, even during the dry seasons when the swamps became grasslands, and the Amazon is not the only place where the residents of long ago built mounds.

New research confirms that the “tropical hardwood hammocks” [here] of the Florida Everglades are anthropogenic in origin.

Ancient trash heaps gave rise to Everglades tree islands

American Geophysical Union Release No. 11–12, 21 March 2011 [here]

SANTA FE, N.M.—Garbage mounds left by prehistoric humans might have driven the formation of many of the Florida Everglades’ tree islands, distinctive havens of exceptional ecological richness in the sprawling marsh that are today threatened by human development.

Tree islands are patches of relatively high and dry ground that dot the marshes of the Everglades. Typically a meter (3.3 feet) or so high, many of them are elevated enough to allow trees to grow. They provide a nesting site for alligators and a refuge for birds, panthers, and other wildlife.

Scientists have thought for many years that the so-called fixed tree islands (a larger type of tree island frequently found in the Everglades’ main channel, Shark River Slough) developed on protrusions from the rocky layer of a mineral called carbonate that sits beneath the marsh. Now, new research indicates that the real trigger for island development might have been middens, or trash piles left behind from human settlements that date to about 5,000 years ago.

These middens, a mixture of bones, food discards, charcoal, and human artifacts (such as clay pots and shell tools), would have provided an elevated area, drier than the surrounding marsh, allowing trees and other vegetation to grow. Bones also leaked phosphorus, a nutrient for plants that is otherwise scarce in the Everglades. … [more]

Fixed tree island in Shark River Slough, Everglades. Photo courtesy the American Geophysical Union. Photo Credit: Pablo Ruiz, Florida International University. For larger image click [here].

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The Cronon Affair

by Mike Dubrasich

A history professor has gotten national press lately in a squabble at the border between academia and politics.

Dr. William Cronon, Ph.D., [official website here] is the Frederick Jackson Turner Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of numerous papers and award winning books including Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past (W. W. Norton & Co., 1992); Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996), Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (New York: Hill & Wang, 1983; 20th anniversary edition, 2003).

Earlier this month Dr. Cronon started a blog entitled “Scholar As Citizen” [here]. In his very first post, entitled “Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn’t Start Here)” [here], Dr. Cronon tied the brouhaha regarding public employee collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin to “Senator Joe McCarthy, the John Birch Society, and the massively defeated Barry Goldwater”.

In particular, Dr. Cronon asserted, a conservative “well-organized wave of legislation” is being orchestrated by a secretive organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The most important group, I’m pretty sure, is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which was founded in 1973 by Henry Hyde, Lou Barnett, and (surprise, surprise) Paul Weyrich. Its goal for the past forty years has been to draft “model bills” that conservative legislators can introduce in the 50 states. Its website claims that in each legislative cycle, its members introduce 1000 pieces of legislation based on its work, and claims that roughly 18% of these bills are enacted into law. (Among them was the controversial 2010 anti-immigrant law in Arizona.)

If you’re as impressed by these numbers as I am, I’m hoping you’ll agree with me that it may be time to start paying more attention to ALEC and the bills its seeks to promote.

You can start by studying ALEC’s own website. Begin with its home page at

First visit the “About” menu to get a sense of the organization’s history and its current members and funders. But the meat of the site is the “model legislation” page, which is the gateway to the hundreds of bills that ALEC has drafted for the benefit of its conservative members.

You’ll of course be eager to look these over… but you won’t be able to, because you’re not a member.

Dr. Cronon further opines:

Which Wisconsin Republican politicians are members of ALEC? Good question. How would we know? ALEC doesn’t provide this information on its website unless you’re able to log in as a member. Maybe we need to ask our representatives. One might think that Republican legislators gathered at a national ALEC meeting could be sufficiently numerous to trigger the “walking quorum rule” that makes it illegal for public officials in Wisconsin to meet unannounced without public notice of their meeting. But they’re able to avoid this rule (which applies to every other public body in Wisconsin) because they’re protected by a loophole in what is otherwise one of the strictest open meetings laws in the nation. The Wisconsin legislature carved out a unique exemption from that law for its own party caucuses, Democrats and Republicans alike. So Wisconsin Republicans are able to hold secret meetings with ALEC to plan their legislative strategies whenever they want, safe in the knowledge that no one will be able to watch while they do so. …

If it has seemed to you while watching recent debates in the legislature that many Republican members of the Senate and Assembly have already made up their minds about the bills on which they’re voting, and don’t have much interest in listening to arguments being made by anyone else in the room, it’s probably because they did in fact make up their minds about these bills long before they entered the Capitol chambers. …

ALEC’s efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote Democratic, for instance, and its efforts to destroy public-sector unions because they also tend to favor Democrats, strike me as objectionable and anti-democratic (as opposed to anti-Democratic) on their face. …

So a secretive organization is holding secret (and on their face, illegal) meetings to plan conservative legislative strategies that undermine democracy itself, as well as the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

It’s a Big Conspiracy, in other words. By conservatives. To add fuel to the fire, Dr. Cronon penned an op-ed for the New York Times [here] in which he again compared Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to Joe McCarthy and accused Republicans of abuse of power.

In response, the Republican Party of Wisconsin made a FOIA request for politically-charged e-mails from Dr. Cronon’s UW account [reported here].

The request was made by Stephan Thompson of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. In his request, Thompson asked for e-mails of Cronon’s state e-mail account that “reference any of the following terms: Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or Mary Bell.”

Most of the names are Republican legislators. Marty Beil is the head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union and Mary Bell is the head of the Wisconsin Education Association Council.

Cronon said the university had not yet complied with the open records request. The e-mails would be subject to the state’s open records law because they were written on an university e-mail account.

The university has an e-mail policy that states, “University employees may not use these resources to support the nomination of any person for political office or to influence a vote in any election or referendum.”

Cronon said he did not violate the policy in any way. “I really object in principle to this inquiry,” Cronon said of the party’s open records request. …

And then the excrement really hit the breeze impeller.

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Of Coffee and Climate: Anecdote Replaces Science

By Todd Myers, Real Clear Science, March 23, 2011 [here]

So profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life! – Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

Writing more than 150 years ago, Charles Darwin identified the central problem with humanity’s ability to understand nature’s complex interactions. We believe we are intelligent enough to sort out obscure natural processes, so we invent stories that seem to explain what we are seeing. Darwin recognized, however, that we presume too much, failing to see the real causes of events.

The strength of the modern scientific method is its ability to carefully test those stories. That process, however, is often at odds with the storytelling at the center of environmental journalism. A recent story in The Seattle Times about climate change and Costa Rican coffee is an excellent example of how a compelling story can lead reporters to mistake local anecdotes for global scientific data.

Published on March 5, the story’s headline captures the tone: “Climate change takes toll on coffee growers, drinkers too”. The impact of climate change on coffee, they argue, has been significant. “Yields in Costa Rica have dropped dramatically in the last decade,” the Times wrote, “with farmers and scientists blaming climate change for a significant portion of the troubles.”

But there are factual problems with the story.

(1) According to NASA, Costa Rican temperatures during 2008-09, the years with the largest drop in production, were only 0.6 degrees warmer than the 20th century baseline. The most significant increase occurred in the fall (September-November, 2008), of just over 1 degree F. This was left out of the story.

(2) Average temperatures in 2008-09 were only 0.1 degrees warmer than 1998-2000, when Costa Rican coffee harvests were 68 percent larger. The largest difference occurred in the fall, a difference of only 0.7 degrees.

(3) Temperatures in 2008-09 are actually 0.1 degrees lower than the average annual temperature during the 1991-93 period, which marked the country’s highest coffee production.

Climate scientists also say we are not currently seeing impacts. Dr. Mike Wallace, a climate scientist at the University of Washington told me “the warming of the past 10 years is pretty small, both globally and over Costa Rica. I’m not at all sure that it’s been a factor in the decline of coffee production on this short time scale.” Ironically, Wallace is the very scientist chosen by The Times to answer climate questions in an online chat they hosted about the article.
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Unhealthy Crowded Stands, Not Warming, Responsible for Beetle Infestations

by Ken Schlichte

The articles below report that the USDA has correctly identified that unhealthy, crowded forest stand conditions are the primary reason for the bark beetle infestations that have been ravaging forests across Western North America and that forest thinning activities and operating sawmills are needed to deal with these bark beetle infestations.

USDA press releases and reports in recent years have tended to blame global warming for these bark beetle infestations and it is encouraging to think that they are now beginning to recognize that unhealthy, crowded forest stand conditions are primarily responsible for these infestations.

See also:

Blame environmental groups for spread of pine beetles [here]

The Decline and Fall of Forest Science [here]

Three-Needle Pines and the Collective Unconscious [here]

Regarding the Logic of Cause and Effect [here]

Lack of sawmills an issue for forests

It means fewer bids for timber sales, USDA official says

By Becky Kramer The Spokesman-Review [here]

Bark beetles have ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres of Colorado’s forests, yet that state has only one large sawmill left to bid on federal timber sales.

That’s a problem for the Forest Service, which is depending on the timber industry to thin stands of unhealthy, crowded trees across the Rocky Mountain West, a top U.S. Department of Agriculture official said Thursday.

“The Forest Service is going to have to pay someone to do it, if they can’t sell that timber,” said Robert Bonnie, a senior advisor to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. … [more]

Official: Sawmills needed to fight bark beetles

AP, Capital Press, March 25, 2011 [here]

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — An official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture says a viable timber industry is needed to help the U.S. Forest Service deal in an economical way with bark beetle infestations that have been ravaging forests in the Rocky Mountain West.

Robert Bonnie is a senior advisor to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Bonnie says the Forest Service is depending on the timber industry to thin stands of unhealthy, crowded trees. He says otherwise the Forest Service will have to pay someone to do the work if it can’t sell the timber.

The Spokesman-Review reports that Bonnie made the comments Thursday while speaking at a small-diameter log conference in northern Idaho. … [more]

Roadside Fuels Management Shut Down on the Los Padres NF

A roadside fuels project on the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) was enjoined on March 4, 2011, by United States District Judge Lucy H. Koh (Northern District of California).

The project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), proposed the clearing of flammable vegetation within ten feet of either side of approximately 750 miles of USFS roads within the LPNF.

An eco-litigious group, Las Padres ForestWatch [here] appealed the project. The Preliminary Injunction decision is [here].

Judge Koh noted that the LPNF failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or an Environmental Assessment (EA), but instead relied upon a Categorical Exclusion (CE) from NEPA review.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) allows the use of a CE when proposed actions “do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment”. EIS’s and EA’s are required when “extraordinary circumstances” indicate that ” a normally excluded action may have a significant environmental effect.”

LPNF Supervisor Peggy Hernandez had determined in 2009 that no such “extraordinary circumstances” were evident, based on the findings of the LPNF staff biologists. Judge Koh disagreed. From the decision:

Defendants argue that the Forest Service performed an adequate level of scoping in internally reviewing the Project’s potential environmental effects and in determining that the Project was subject to a “Road Maintenance” Categorical Exclusion. Under these circumstances, Defendants continue, no public notice, no interested party participation, and no interagency consultation was required. The Court does not agree. …

The relevant regulations do not dictate a specific type or amount of scoping and/or public participation. In connection with the challenged Project, however, Defendants allowed for no public input and no interagency consultation in evaluating the environmental impacts of the Project. This behavior flies in the face of the goals of NEPA scoping, which demand an “early and open process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed and for identifying the significant issues related to a proposed action.” See 40 C.F.R. § 1501.7; see also 40 C.F.R. § 1506.6, “Public Involvement” (requiring all federal agencies to “[m]ake diligent efforts to involve the public in preparing and implementing their NEPA procedures.”). In this case, there was no scoping notice (or notice of any kind) prior to the Project’s approval as a Categorical Exclusion in September 11, 2009.

The LPNF failed to go through the proper procedures. The stimulus monies (ARRA) were to be spent as quickly as possible, and the LPNF rushed into the project. They screwed up.

On the other hand, clearing vegetation for ten feet on either side of a forest road is a pathetically minor treatment. It is not going to impact the environment, except to make the roads passable in case of fire.

The LPNF has a fire problem. A megafire problem. In 2007 the LPNF hosted the Zaca Fire (240,000 acres). In 2008 they enjoyed the Basin/Indians Fires (244,000 acres). They also were the source of the Gap Fire (2008, 9,443 acres), the Tea Fire (2008, 1,940 acres, 210 residences destroyed), the Jesusita Fire (2009, 8,733 acres, 80 residences destroyed), and the La Brea Fire (2009, 89,500 acres) among many, many others including the Marble-Cone Fire (1977, 178,000 acres).

Three of those fires are on the all-time Top Ten largest fires in California state history.

The eco-litigious Plaintiff, Los Padres ForestWatch, claims to care about fire and fuels management, but their actions belie their words. They also claim to care about “spiritual” sites of Native American tribes, but they are clueless about traditional land management with anthropogenic fire. The Los Padres ForestWatch officers and staff are exclusively white liberals with an emphasis on lawyers [here]. Their partners are the usual pro-holocaust anti-human eco-litigious mainstays [here].

It is difficult to see anyone in this courtroom drama who actually gives a sh*t whether the LPNF explodes into more severe and extremely destructive megafires or not. The Defendants, Plaintiffs, lawyers, and judge are all blithely uncaring about the prospects of further catastrophic incineration of the LPNF.

They are all holocausters. Burn baby burn. Responsible stewardship, based on historical and traditional methods for historical and traditional purposes, is not on their radar screens.

The taxpayers fund them all, though. The taxpayers pay for the government functionaries, the judges, the lawyers, and the fires. The taxpayers get robbed and then the taxpayer’s land is destroyed. It’s a catastrophic annihilation for profit scheme. All the players are in on it.

The solution set is not simple. A host of robbers, arsonists, and kleptocrats need to be subdued first. Cutting off the funding to all them is not an easy task, nor would that necessarily result in better land management. It’s a place to start, however.

19 Mar 2011, 9:53am
Saving Forests
by admin
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Petitions for Solutions

by Karen Budd-Falen, March 16, 2011

There is no doubt that American businesses, private property owners, rural tax bases and federal/public lands users are under attack by small, vocal and radical environmental groups and by a federal bureaucracy who uses its power to write rules, regulations, policy memorandums, handbooks and manuals to control every aspect of our lives.

To survive, we have to not only complain about these abuses but we have to affirmatively work for solutions to save our homes, jobs, property rights, communities and families.

While landowners, businesses and local governments have not been as rambunctious at filing petitions and litigation (or getting paid to file petitions and litigation against the federal government), we have to change that mind set to survive. Some of our concern is over financial expenses; some of our concern is that businesses, landowners and local governments are already strapped and simply working to survive; and some of our concern is that we do not understand the process to make our voices heard. But we have to be heard. Regardless of who is elected and “in charge” in Washington D.C., we have to be heard. We are fighting for our livelihoods, families, communities, counties and homes.

One of the ways to be heard, and force the federal agencies to respond to our voices, is to “petition” the federal agencies to adopt, modify or repeal rules and regulations which stymie our businesses, local tax bases and property rights. Although Congress passes laws, federal agencies supply the definition and implementation for those laws.

Importantly once Congress delegates the ability to write regulations to an agency, Congress does not review those regulations. Thus bureaucrats we don’t elect and can’t fire govern our lives with rules, regulations, memos, policies, handbooks and manuals.

Both the federal statutes and agency rules and regulations have exponentially exploded in size and scope. In 1925, there was one single volume which contained all federal statutes governing this Nation; in 2010 there are 50 titles. As for agency regulations, in 1970 there were only 54,834 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations; in 1998, the regulations adopted by federal agencies numbered 134,723 pages; and in 2009, the number of pages exponentially expanded to 163,333 pages of regulations with which each American has to comply. See government info. And these pages do not even count the number of pages of memos, Executive Orders, handbooks, policy guidance and other red tape.

Make no mistake, it is details of implementation of the laws passed by Congress which govern our lives and we have to change those regulations to survive.

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) sets forth the requirement allowing local governments, profit and nonprofit organizations and individuals to petition any federal agency for rulemaking on any subject regulated by federal statutes. 5 U.S.C. § 553(e). Importantly, the federal agencies are MANDATED to respond to such petitions. Are you guaranteed that the response will be the action you want the federal agencies to take? No. But, you are guaranteed that your position will be considered and a response will be issued. If the agency refuses to respond, you have the opportunity to force a response by proceeding to federal district court.

In other words, for every radical, job-killing, property-taking, petition that is filed to increase bureaucratic power, American citizens, businesses, organizations and local governments can file petitions with a request to eliminate needless and idiotic red tape or to make rules that support businesses, communities and Constitutional freedoms.

Consider the types of rulemaking petitions filed by radical environmental groups in the past. These include petitions to list the Giant Palloose earth-spitting worm as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); petitions to eliminate lead in ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act; petitions to change water quality criteria under the Clean Water Act to something that does not exist in nature regardless of the uses that are eliminated; petitions to repeal turtle collections laws in individual states; petitions to eliminate dust in the air even if the dust exists naturally; petitions to regulate cows from “passing gas” under the Clean Air Act; petitions to require permits if animals urinate in streams under the Clean Water Act; and any other petition under any federal act you can imagine. Based upon past analysis of the attorneys fees payments to radical environmental groups, one of the biggest “contributors” to their coffers are fees from the federal government when the government does not timely respond to petitions for rulemaking.

To respond to this regulatory onslaught, I believe that we need to start filing petitions to bring reality, common sense and science into federal agency decisions, petitions to stop the government from requiring that nature cannot “take its course,” and petitions to the stop the government from elevating reptiles, invertebrates and other species above human beings. Once these petitions are filed, the federal government is mandated to consider and respond to them. If the government does not respond in a timely matter, we can litigate and request attorneys fees.

Once a local government, group or citizen selects an issue, the question is, “what
is included in a petition for rulemaking?”

While there is no form for a rulemaking petition under the APA, there are some guidelines. These are:

1. The petition should specify that it is being filed under the rulemaking provisions in the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 553(e).

2. The petition cannot specifically request a rulemaking that directly violates a Congressional statute. For example, a local government could not petition for a rulemaking to eliminate a previously Congressionally-designated wilderness, although a petition could request rulemaking regarding how a wilderness is managed; an individual could not petition for a rulemaking to require grazing be eliminated on BLM lands, although a petition could request repeal of the regulatory requirement that allows radical environmentalists to have standing to challenge the simplest of BLM authorizations; a nonprofit organization could not petition for rulemaking to stop all listing of species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), although a petition could request that an individual species be delisted because it does not meet the criteria set forth in the ESA.

3. The petition for rulemaking should include a justification or reason (including any scientific, economic, or cultural data) for the requested action. While a petition would not be rejected if it simply requested a result and did not include a rationale for the request, clearly a petition with scientific, economic, legal or other rationale is more likely to be favorably considered.

What happens after a petition is filed? Again, the federal agencies have to respond to petitions for rulemaking. Next, if a petition is rejected, the federal government has to give a reason. If the petition is ignored or if the petitioner disagrees with the reason given by the federal agency, litigation in the federal district court can be filed.

The right to “petition for the redress of grievances” is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution which states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

For too long, this right to petition has only been used by those who would add regulations and requirements that are destroying rural America, our way of life, our economies, our local governments and our property rights. We can no longer hope that regulatory agencies and the federal government simply protect our businesses and property. We have been silent too long.

We have to fight back and acting on our right to petition the government for a redress of grievances is one way to fight back.

16 Mar 2011, 3:19pm
Climate and Weather
by admin
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Global Warming Snow Job

Ed Note: It snowed here this morning. Must be all that global warming making things so warm that it snows unseasonably, because as we all know thanks to the Main Stream Propaganda, warmer is colder, and colder is warmer, and up is down, and the government is here to help.

But what’re you going to do? One thing is to go directly to the government records, which (as screwed up as they are) still indicate what we all know to be true in our bones: it’s been getting colder in the U.S. for the last 15 years or so.

by Ken Schlichte

This morning’s snow in the Willamette Valley, and the fact that the last two winters are included in the three winters with the largest recorded Northern Hemisphere seasonal snow cover extent, are consistent with the NOAA National Climatic Data Center figure below indicating that winter temperatures in the contiguous United States have been trending downward at a rate of 3.22 degrees F per decade since 1997.

Courtesy NCDC Climate Services and Monitoring Division [here]

Winter (Dec-Feb) 1997-2011 Data Values:

Winter (Dec-Feb) 2011: 32.29 degF Rank: 3
Winter (Dec-Feb) 2010: 31.14 degF Rank: 1
Winter (Dec-Feb) 2009: 33.68 degF Rank: 6
Winter (Dec-Feb) 2008: 33.30 degF Rank: 4

Winter (Dec-Feb) Temperature, Contiguous United States
1997-2011 Average = 34.50 degF
1997-2011 Trend = -3.22 degF / Decade

The Wild Ride of Mr. Abbey

Glorious, stirring sight! The poetry of motion! The real way to travel! The only way to travel! Here today - in next week tomorrow! Villages skipped, towns and cities jumped - always somebody else’s horizon! O bliss! O poop-poop! O my! O my! — Mr.Toad in The Wind in the Willows

Christmas last Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director “Wild” Bob Abbey stood next to his pal Secretary of the Interior “Mr. Tamper” Ken Salazar as he announced to the Nation [here] that the BLM would henceforth declare their own wilderness areas and if Congress didn’t like it they could go sit on a tack.

“O bliss! O poop-poop! O my! O my!” said Wild Bob as he stepped into his shiny new motorcar and struck out on his wild adventure into the wilderness of bureaucratic zeal and excess.

It was not the first time that Wild Bob had thrown caution to the wind. A year ago Congress remonstrated Wild Bob for secret memos and documents spawned by the BLM that proposed declaring tens of millions of acres as “National Monuments” without Congressional approval, indeed without even telling Congress what he and Mr. Tamper were up to [here, here, here, here, here].

E-mails: Interior officials involved in national monument ‘brainstorming’

By JOHN S. ADAMS, Great Falls Tribune, July 6, 2010 [here]

…When news broke that Interior officials were considering recommending up to 13 million acres of federal land for national monument designation, Western GOP lawmakers went on the offensive.

“This naked abuse of power is not only a misuse of the Antiquities Act, but an egregious affront to the will of Montanans,” Montana Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg said in a statement shortly after the memo was leaked.

Interior Department officials were quick to dismiss the leaked document as nothing more than a product of internal brainstorming sessions. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar assured a Senate panel that talk of new monument designations was “false rumors.”

However, a Tribune review of internal Interior Department e-mails found that if that was the case, the rumors started at the top levels of Interior Department agencies.

According to the Tribune’s review, high-ranking officials at the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service have been working for nearly a year on a series of “vision documents” outlining Salazar’s “Treasured Landscapes” public land conservation initiative. …

Mr. Tamper himself has abused the law numerous times. His first official act was to illegally discard the Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) and the Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan (NSORP) [here], plans that had been crafted by thousands of collaborators in open public processes that had taken years to accomplish. Then Dodgy Ken was caught tampering with science documents again, this time regarding offshore oil drilling [here].

Despite prior remonstrance by judges, Congressmen, and pundits, Wild Bob and Mr. Tamper were undeterred from taking their wild ride, as evidenced by their Christmas bombshell “order” declaring the 245 million-acre BLM empire as de facto “wilderness”. But Congress is no weak sister, especially now after last Fall’s stunning rebuke by voters to the superlib Democrats. The New Guard are loaded for bear, and Wild Bob was caught with his paw in the honey jar.

The rebukes against neo-wilderness began almost immediately [here]. We shredded the BLM over new “magic wilderness” areas for their crass pseudoscience and a-historical revisionism [here, here, here]. Then western governors took up the pitchforks and firebrands and chased Wild Bob through the public square [here, here, here, here].

Then things got ugly.

more »

Govs Take a Stab At Forest Restoration

The Western Governor’s Association recently released a 16-page glossy publication entitled
“Forest Health Landscape-scale Restoration Recommendations” and a Policy Resolution entitled “Large Scale Forest Restoration”. Both documents may be downloaded [here], from links embedded in a WGA Press Release entitled “Governors call for large-scale forest restoration, realigning federal funding”.

Governors call for large-scale forest restoration, realigning federal funding


DENVER — Western Governors are calling for large-scale restoration of Western forests that have millions of acres of dead trees that impact wildlife habitat, water quality and soil productivity, while placing human life and property in harm’s way.

The Western Governors’ Association has adopted a new policy resolution outlining actions that should be taken to improve forest health. The governors said they support federal agencies making significant investments in large-scale restoration treatments by realigning their existing resources to achieve maximum impact. In addition, they are recommending assistance be provided to collaborative groups in assessment and planning efforts.

WGA also released a report by its Forest Health Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from states, federal entities, the private sector and conservation groups.

“The time is now to address the problem,” said Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (Idaho), WGA’s Chairman. “When WGA initiated this effort, we knew we needed innovative approaches for restoring our forests, and this report has helped lay the groundwork for moving forward.”
The report notes that the need for forest restoration is larger than can be effectively addressed given current treatment sizes, rates of restoration treatments, and typical planning and implementation processes.

Gov. Jan Brewer (Ariz.) requested WGA convene experts from across the West last year to share community and state-level perspectives, experiences and expertise regarding landscape-scale forest restoration. The report released today is based in part on recommendations generated from that meeting held in September 2010.

“More than ever, we need healthy forests and the sustainable economic development opportunities their restoration affords,” Brewer said. “Accelerating forest restoration, safeguarding communities, and creating a sustainable, restoration-based forest economy are high priority goals for our Western states.”

The WGA policy resolution and the advisory committee’s report can be found on WGA’s Web site.

This is a step forward, and we commend the WGA for these resolutions.

There are some deficiencies, however, that need to be addressed.

* The WGA failed to define what forest restoration is or how it is done.

* The WGA failed to collaborate with actual forest restoration experts.

As a result, the documents leave much to be desired. Fortunately, we are here to help them. The following are answers to the questions they failed to address:

more »

Recent Additions to the W.I.S.E. Library

In case you missed it, some papers recently added to our online Library are:

Bjorkman, Anne D. and Mark Vellend (2010) Defining Historical Baselines for Conservation: Ecological Changes Since European Settlement on Vancouver Island, Canada. Conservation Biology, Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 1559–1568, December 2010

Selected excerpts [here]

Some quotes from Bjorkman and Vellend:

… Finally, although frequent fires do not necessarily imply an anthropogenic cause, our results do indicate that the fire regime was influenced by native peoples. The observed patterns are characteristic of landscapes prone to more frequent fires than expected by lightning strikes. Experiments suggest that the unimodal tree size distribution observed on Saltspring Island occurs at a fire interval of <5 years (Fule & Covington 1994; Peterson & Reich 2001). In contrast, a study in the Douglas-fir forests of Vancouver Island estimated a fire cycle of 5700 years, on the basis of the frequency of lightning strikes between 1950 and 1992 (Pew & Larsen 2001). …

… In terms of space, the presence of both forested and open habitats historically suggests considerable spatial variability in the magnitude of human impacts, with prescribed [anthropogenic] fire likely to have maintained at least half of the landscape as open habitat (Table 1). …

… Restoration efforts are often prone to uncertainty about target conditions (Higgs 1997; Hobbs & Cramer 2008), especially in areas with no appropriate reference sites to help define historical conditions. Land managers often follow a do-nothing approach and allow land to return to its “natural” state (Hobbs & Cramer 2008). Nevertheless, our study indicates that the open nature of the endangered savannas on Vancouver Island was likely maintained by fires purposefully set by native peoples.

Thus, restoration of these habitats to their pre-European state cannot be accomplished simply by removing human influences. Achieving the goal of maintaining open savannas would almost certainly need to involve active removal of encroaching trees and shrubs, either through burning or alternative strategies (e.g., mowing, tree removal) (MacDougall et al. 2004; Gedalof et al. 2006). …

Rostlund, Erhard (1957) The Myth of a Natural Prairie Belt in Alabama: An Interpretation of Historical Records. Annals of the Association of American Geographers Volume 47, Issue 4, pages 392–411, December 1957.

Review with excerpts [here]

A quote from Rostlund’s classic paper:

[T]he cause was the Indian practice of burning the woods at frequent intervals. … Indian burning has sometimes been both misunderstood and misrepresented; it was not wantonly destructive but rather, as Gordon M. day puts it, a method of maintaining a balance in the forest favorable to their economy. The woods were burned for several reasons, but one of the most common was the belief that occasional light fires helped to increase the food supply for game, and improved conditions for hunting by keeping down the underbrush. That is, burning was primitive management of a food resource. The hunting territory of the Creeks, their “beloved bear ground” in Bullock County, Alabama, was in fact a sort of managed game preserve, and there must have been hundreds of others in the Southeast. In short, the open, parklike appearance of the woodlands, undoubtedly the most common type of forest in the ancient Southeast, was mostly the work of man. …

McGregor, Sandra, Violet Lawson, Peter Christophersen, Rod Kennett, James Boyden, Peter Bayliss, Adam Liedloff, Barbie McKaige, Alan N. Andersen (2010) Indigenous wetland burning: conserving natural and cultural heritage in Australia’s World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. Human Ecol (2010) 38:721-729

Selected excerpts [here]

A quote from McGregor et al.:

Driven by concerns about the failure of western science and management to address ecosystem degradation and species loss, people are looking to the deep ecological understandings and management practices that have guided indigenous use of natural resources for millennia for alternative ways of sustainably managing the earth’s natural resources (De Walt 1993; Bart 2006; Berkes and Davidson-Hunt 2006). Equitable partnerships between indigenous and non-indigenous researchers and managers are revealing a way of looking after the world that emphasizes human obligations to natural resource management and promotes holistic thinking about the role and impact of humans in the environment (Ross et al. 2009). This new recognition of traditional knowledge, coupled with greater control by indigenous peoples over their land and sea estates, holds great promise for better management of the world’s natural resources.

Wiese, Chuck (2011) Regarding Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer. Weatherwise Inc. Portland, Oregon.

Selected excerpts [here]

A quote from Wiese:

[Al] Gore told [Bill] O’Reilly that the snowstorms of this winter were part of the pattern of changing climate expected by scientists and result from the warming earth air masses with more moisture were running into a patch of cold air. Gore claimed: “These warmer air masses (which Gore claims result from human carbon emissions that create atmospheric CO2) act like a sponge to moisture and soak it up until they hit a patch of cold air.” Gore then claims that this “extra moisture” contained in the warmer air causes more intense precipitation and thus heavier snowfall, and is all consistent with a warming earth.

These statements by Gore are sheer nonsense. While it is true that warmer air can hold more moisture than cold air, the temperature of the air has nothing to do with how much water vapor will ultimately be evaporated (or as Gore puts it “soaked up”) into it. That is determined solely by what is called the vapor pressure gradient that exists between a sample of air that may overlie a surface of water. …

8 Mar 2011, 2:51pm
Climate and Weather Forestry education
by admin

Alaska Glaciers Cover Former Forests

Climate alarmists frequently claim that it is warmer today than anytime during the Holocene. “NASA: 2010 Meteorological Year Warmest Ever” blares the headline [here]. Because of that, entire species are disappearing [here].

Actually, in reality, that’s not true. Not only was last year not the warmest year ever, it wasn’t even the warmest year in the last 100. That honor goes to 1934. Moreover, the globe has almost always been warmer than today during the last 10,000 years (the Holocene), with the exception of the Little Ice Age (1550 AD to 1850 AD).

Holocene Temperature Variations, courtesy Global Warming Art [here]

Strong circumstantial evidence exists that indicates the Pacific Northwest was much warmer than today during the Hypsithermal period [here] from roughly 9,000 to 2,500 years ago.

An interesting study looked at the carbon-dated age of organic discharge from glacial rivers in the Gulf of Alaska.

Hood, E., Fellman, J., Spencer, R.G.M., Hernes, P.J., Edwards, R., D’Amore, D., Scott, D. 2009. Glaciers as a source of ancient, labile organic matter to the marine environment. Nature 462: 1044-1047


Riverine organic matter supports of the order of one-fifth of estuarine metabolism. Coastal ecosystems are therefore sensitive to alteration of both the quantity and lability of terrigenous dissolved organic matter (DOM) delivered by rivers. The lability of DOM is thought to vary with age, with younger, relatively unaltered organic matter being more easily metabolized by aquatic heterotrophs than older, heavily modified material. This view is developed exclusively from work in watersheds where terrestrial plant and soil sources dominate streamwater DOM. Here we characterize streamwater DOM from 11 coastal watersheds on the Gulf of Alaska that vary widely in glacier coverage (0–64 per cent). In contrast to non-glacial rivers, we find that the bioavailability of DOM to marine microorganisms is significantly correlated with increasing 14C age. Moreover, the most heavily glaciated watersheds are the source of the oldest (4kyr 14C age) and most labile (66 per cent bioavailable) DOM. …

… In the most heavily glaciated watershed, Sheridan River, 66% of the riverine DOC [dissolved organic carbon] was readily degraded by marine microbes despite having a D14C value of -386% (3,900 yr D14C age). Heterotrophic microbes in both sub-glacial and pro-glacial environments have been shown to subsist on aged carbon overrun by ice during periods of glacier advance. It is additionally possible that CO2 respired from glacially sequestered carbon may support microbial primary production in glacial ecosystems. Along the GOA [Gulf of Alaska], the last major cycle of glacier retreat and re-advance occurred during the Hypsithermal warm period between 7,000 and 2,500 yr BP. …

What does all that scientific verbiage mean? It means bits of carbon in the rivers flowing out from beneath glaciated watersheds in the Gulf of Alaska were found to be 4,000 years old.

Ergo, 4,000 years ago the watersheds were forested, not glaciated.

The glaciers that are there today formed roughly 2,500 years ago. Before then, going back 7,000 years, there were no glaciers in those watersheds, or only small ones, but there were forests.

Prior to 7,000 years ago the watersheds contained Ice Age glaciers that dated back 115,000 years (roughly), to the beginning of the Wisconsin Glaciation.

When it was warmer than today, forests grew quite nicely, thank you, in places where they won’t grow today due to accumulated ice. If the existing glaciers were to melt, forests would grow there again. Unfortunately that is very unlikely, since global temperatures have been trending downward for the last 7,000 to 8,000 years.

The “catastrophic” warming of the last 160 years has been 1 to 1.5°F. That warming has driven global temperatures up to where they were in the 1500’s before the Little Ice Age, but nowhere near warm enough to melt Gulf of Alaska glaciers and grow forests there (where they used to grow).

Regarding the extirpation of lodgepole pine: it is interesting to note that lodgepole pine invaded western Canada around 11,000 years ago, after the Wisconsin Glaciation continental ice sheets melted. Before 11,000 years ago, going back ~115,000 years, there were no lodgepole pine in western Canada due to the presence of 2 km thick ice sheets. Pine tree roots need soil; they do not grow on ice.

Lodgepole pine grew quite nicely, however, 8,000 years ago during the height of the Hypsithermal when temperatures were 2 to 3°F warmer than today. So did many other species, including all the tree species extant in the Pacific Northwest today.

Yes, it is true that so-called forest scientists want you to panic into thinking that our forests are going to disappear due to the global warming predicted by computer models. Actually, models of models of models. It’s all very theoretical.

But the reality is that forests grow better on soil, even warm soil, than they do on ice. Much better.

There is nothing to panic about, except perhaps the expenditure of $10’s of millions on useless computer models designed to induce irrational paranoia about something that isn’t going to happen. But don’t panic about that either. Vote the crazy bastards out instead.

The Demise of the University

The vilification and attacks on Art Robinson and his children by Oregon State University are more than a tempest in a teapot. OSU and indeed the American public school system, K-12 through graduate school, has degenerated into a liberal babysitting service. Real education doesn’t happen there, and if it does on rare occasion, it is because the student has figured out how to learn on his or her own.

The faculty are a hindrance to education. That’s what happens with one-party, politically-driven, public schools. The PERS salary and benefits for the teachers are exorbitant, but the students are wholly deprived. At all grade levels.

Dr. Art Robinson, Ph.D., an expert in chemistry, physics, and biomedicine, former faculty at the University of California San Diego, President and Research Professor at the Linus Pauling Institute, and currently President and Research Professor at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (which he founded) [here] is an independent scientist of high achievement and reputation. He is also an outspoken critic of public education.

After his wife Lauralee died in 1988 (of a rare disease), Art raised their six children (then ages 12, 10, 9, 7, 7, and 17 months) with home schooling, using a curriculum he wrote himself [here]. Did it work out? Today three of the Robinson children have Ph.D’s and the others are in graduate school working on their doctorates. His curriculum is now used by more than 60,000 home-schooled children.

Today Art and his three graduate student children are under attack by Oregon State University [here]. Extreme liberal professors there wish to expel Art’s kids and steal their research.

Those who can, do. Those who can’t connive and steal.

One of Art’s achievements has been to summarize peer-reviewed research into global warming. That led to the Global Warming Petition Project [here] and a petition that states in part:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the earth.

Controversial? Yes, but the petition has been signed by 31,487 American scientists including 9,029 Ph.D’s. They amply “demonstrate that the claim of ’settled science’ and an overwhelming ‘consensus’ in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climatological damage is wrong. No such consensus or settled science exists.”

Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) is a monumental pseudo-scientific fraud, and claims of scientific consensus regarding it are absolutely false. Why are there so many adherents? Many people are incapable of making rational judgments about the science because their public education has been such a farce, a series of propaganda indoctrination camps from age 5 on up. People actually believe what politicians and journalists tell them. Bizarre but true.

OSU and other universities brook no dissent, no questioning of the politically-motivated false consensus. Rather than being places of open investigation and debate about controversial and patently unsettled scientific questions, our universities have become closed shops where thinking is stifled rather than encouraged.

That is the diametric opposite of their mission.

The blind adherence to propagandistic falsehoods is not limited to climatology (although climate alarmism has spread to every single department on campus). Forest science has also degenerated into myth and fable, eschewing empirical evidence and the scientific method, and demanding litmus test avowals by students to politically “correct” bogosities.

The high degree of dysfunction in forest science has led to our ongoing catastrophic forest fire crisis as well as economic collapse in forest-resource-dependent states like Oregon. Junk science has resulted in junk policies, and both have been promoted and proselytized by professors from the OSU College of Forestry.

Perhaps the most egregious divergence from real science is found in wildlife biology departments, where the theories and methods taught are toxic to wildlife locally and globally. I write from personal experience. It could be that disciplines I am less familiar with, such as economics and sociology, are even more corrupted by extreme fatheadedness.

Political “correctness” has replaced rational inquiry in our universities. Ironically (and tragically) what is politically correct is invariably scientifically false and socially incorrect. The imposition of political propaganda has degraded and usurped higher education and spread like a cancer into our culture.

That which is true, decent, and valuable has been sullied by the dis-education produced in our universities.

The collapse of our education system today is reminiscent of western civilization’s slide into the Dark Ages, concurrent with or following the decline of the Roman Empire ~1650 years ago, when libraries were burned and scientific, artistic, and cultural output shrank and devolved.

My theory is that the latest general collapse of civilization began about 100 years ago. The massive bloodlettings of the 20th Century so shocked humanity that we replaced rational inquiry with delusion and neo-mythology. It is “safer” to cloud minds with falsehoods, to demand adherence to groupthink no matter how misguided, to stifle creativity and genius, than to chance the tumult that might come from freedom of thought and expression.

Of course, such stifling is not safer. It is infinitely more dangerous to march in lockstep delusion than to abide dissent and debate. Yet dissent and debate are feared more than any other cultural phenomena. Cooperation is preferred to conflict even when the cooperation is based on the blind leading the blind into catastrophe.

The latest atrocities of judgment, morality, and rationality at OSU are the barest tip of the iceberg. The rot in our universities goes deep into the core. It may be too late to rescue higher education, and all of public education, from descent into idiocy and irrelevance.

7 Mar 2011, 10:25am
Politics and politicians
by admin

Another OSU Fiasco

Democrats Attack Republican Candidate’s Children

By Art Robinson

Published at WorldNetDaily, March 7, 2011 [here]

The Democrat Political Machine is Attacking Republican Congressional Candidate Art Robinson’s Children and a Distinguished Nuclear Engineer at Oregon State University

Please help save these students and their courageous Professor.

In an effort to do my part in rescuing our country from the out-of-control Obama administration, last year I ran for Congress in Oregon’s 4th District against 12-term incumbent, far-left Democrat Peter DeFazio, co-founder of the House Progressive Caucus.

Although I won the nominations of the Republican, Independent and Constitution Parties and the endorsement of the Libertarian Party, a massive media smear campaign by DeFazio, paid for with money raised by and from special interests favored by DeFazio in Washington, resulted in a 54.5 percent to 43.6 percent victory for DeFazio in a race that was expected to be much closer.

Although I had never run for public office before, I immediately announced my candidacy for Congress again in 2012.

However, when you take a stand for what’s right, sometimes there is retribution.

On Nov. 4, 2010, as soon as the election results were in and they were sure their candidate had won, faculty administrators at Oregon State University gave new meaning to the term “political payback.”

They initiated an attack on my three children – Joshua, Bethany and Matthew – for the purpose of throwing them all out of the OSU graduate school, despite their outstanding academic and research accomplishments. OSU is a liberal socialist Democrat stronghold in Oregon that received a reported $27 million in earmark funding from my opponent, Peter DeFazio, and his Democrat colleagues during the last legislative session.

Thus, Democrat activist David Hamby and militant feminist and chairman of the nuclear engineering department Kathryn Higley are expelling four-year Ph.D. student Joshua Robinson from OSU at the end of the current academic quarter and turning over the prompt neutron activation analysis facility Joshua built for his thesis work and all of his work in progress to Higley’s husband, Steven Reese. Reese, an instructor in the department, has stated that he will use these things for his own professional gain. Joshua’s apparatus, which he built and added to the OSU nuclear reactor with the guidance and ideas of his mentor, Michael Hartman, earned Joshua the award for best Masters of Nuclear Engineering thesis at OSU and has been widely complimented by scientists at prominent U.S. nuclear facilities.

more »

Humanity in the Americas 30,000 Years Ago?

When did human beings first arrive in the Americas? The “accepted” date keeps getting pushed back.

The Clovis Culture were mammoth hunters whose archaeological sites have been dated to ~13,000 years ago. The Clovis people are thought to have walked here over the Bering Land Bridge, Northern Alaska, and through a Canadian ice-free corridor.

But coastal archaeological sites may be much older, suggesting that people in boats arrived in the Americas as much as 30,000 years ago. Controversy on the earliest date is decades old and one of the favorites questions debated by modern archaeologists.

New evidence has surfaced that supports the maritime hypothesis:

Discovery by Oregon archaeologist looks 12,000 years into past at people who settled the West Coast

by Joe Rojas-Burke, The Oregonian , March 03, 2011 [here]

A trove of Stone-Age tools, discarded shells and animal bones unearthed by a University of Oregon anthropologist and others open a new window on lives of the long-vanished people who settled the West Coast more than 12,000 years ago.

The excavations — made on California’s northern Channel Islands — show that these early Americans were seafaring travelers adept at hunting birds and seals, in addition to catching great quantities of fish and shellfish. Their toolmaking style, especially the finely worked crescent-shaped blades found by the dozens, connects them to the first people in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Delicate barbed projectile points also found resemble stone tools found in ice age sites as far away as Japan.

Human bones uncovered in 1959 on Santa Rosa Island revealed to archaeologists that people occupied the Channel Islands very early. Those 13,000-year-old remains are the oldest human remains found in North America, but their burial site included nothing but the bones. Until now, “we really didn’t know who they were or what they were doing on the island,” says Jon Erlandson, a University of Oregon professor of anthropology and a leader of the new excavations, described in a report this week in the journal Science. …

The team found one shard of obsidian debris from toolmaking, and unlike the island chert used for all recovered tools, the obsidian was imported. Chemical analysis matched it to an obsidian source nearly 200 miles away on the mainland, which suggests long-distance trading networks in place 12,000 years ago.

One site yielded 52 stone projectile points, some with intricate barbs and serrations. Erlandson says the islanders’ projectile points are unlike those of the mammoth-stalking Clovis hunters who migrated along an ice-free inland corridor and rapidly occupied much of North America. Clovis points are famous for their fluted shape. None have ever been found on the Channel Islands. The island’s projectile points and crescents more closely fit with those common in Oregon, Washington and across the Great Basin.

Charlotte Beck, an archaeology professor at Hamilton College in New York, says the new findings support the view that the first Americans followed a coastal migration from Asia — before the Clovis hunters.

“The first colonists to arrive in the Americas probably came from Siberia, leaving that region possibly as long as 30,000 years ago,” Beck says

Erlandson shares that view. He and colleagues believe seafaring people followed a “kelp highway” from coastal Asia across the Arctic and down the West Coast, using the same technology to exploit the nearly identical marine and coastal resources along the way. … [more]

Dr. Erlandson is Executive Director of the Univ. of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The paper referenced above is:

Jon M. Erlandson, Torben C. Rick, Todd J. Braje, Molly Casperson, Brendan Culleton, Brian Fulfrost, Tracy Garcia, Daniel A. Guthrie, Nicholas Jew, Douglas J. Kennett, Madonna L. Moss, Leslie Reeder, Craig Skinner, Jack Watts, and Lauren Willis (2011) Paleoindian Seafaring, Maritime Technologies, and Coastal Foraging on California’s Channel Islands. Science 4 March 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6021 pp. 1181-1185

I haven’t read it yet, but two of his older papers on Channel Island anthropology are posted at W.I.S.E.

Torben C. Rick, Jon M. Erlandson, René L. Vellanoweth, Todd J. Braje, Paul W. Collins, Daniel A. Guthrie, and Thomas W. Stafford Jr. 2009. Origins and antiquity of the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) on California’s Channel Islands. Quaternary Research 71 (2009) 93–98. [here]

Erlandson, Jon M., Torben C. Rick, Michael Graham, James Estes, Todd Braje, and René Vellanoweth. 2005. Sea otters, shellfish, and humans: 10,000 years of ecological interaction on San Miguel Island, California. Proceedings of the Sixth California Islands Symposium, edited by D.K. Garcelon and C.A. Schwemm, pp. 58-69. Arcata: Institute for Wildlife Studies and National Park Service. [here]

W.I.S.E. member and Honored Fellow of the Institute Dr. Carl Johannessen comments:

The analysis in the article is very cautious in posing the date of 30,000 years for the entry of people to the Americas. But human activity of that vintage has already been discovered in Chile [Monte Verde, here] so it makes it highly likely that humans were in North America too by that time.

From my acquaintance with Jon Erlandson at U.O., if he says it, you can be certain that it is an honest report and can be trusted explicitly. Result: it is likely that people came down the Algae Forest Highway early, before anyone could traverse Alaska and northern Canada by foot, and entered the continent in more temperate climes. They may have been replaced when the Clovis hunters dominated the terrain for a few millennia much later.

I consider this research to be of major importance in causing us to re-think our cultural history. Perhaps now Baja California can be examined with greater confidence, and researchers there will find further evidence of people in the Americas much, much earlier than Clovis. Known sites may be re-interpreted to have been really early and not be limited to just 13,000 years of potential record based on foot travel down the ice-free corridor overland through Alaska. Brigham Arnold of Sacramento State University did marvelous work on Baja and found really ancient stone tools in place on the margins of Lake Chapala, Baja.

Note: Dr. Johannessen is the co-author of World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492 [here].

There is no question that people have been living in the Americas since before the Holocene. The Holocene (our modern epoch) began ~11,750 years ago. That date marks the end of the Younger Dryas, the last stadial (cold period) of the Wisconsin Glaciation. When the great continental ice sheets started melting ~15,000 years ago, people were already here. When the modern forest species invaded the tundra and steppe that covered most of North America, people were already here.

People, and anthropogenic fire, pre-date most forests in North America. Human beings have been burning landscapes and altering vegetation and wildlife since before the trees invaded. Our forested lands of today have been experiencing human impacts and human stewardship during their entire existence as forests.

It makes one wonder just what “wilderness” really is. If people have been living on the land for that long, isn’t it rather puerile and jejune to refer to those lands as “untrammeled wilderness”? Maybe we need to exorcise the a-scientific, a-historical myths from our groupthink and get real.

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