Jay Jensen Named Deputy Under Secretary For USFS

The Executive Director of the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition, Jay Jensen has been selected by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for the position of Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE).

From the USDA News Room [here]:

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of Jay Jensen as USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE). In this position, Jensen will have responsibility for the U.S. Forest Service (FS), which manages 193 million acres of National Forest System lands and provides assistance to the more than 10 million family-forest landowners in this country.

The NRE mission area includes the FS and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS is the federal agency with primary responsibility for working with private landowners in conserving, maintaining and improving their natural resources.

“Jay Jensen brings the combination of on-the-ground and government experience that we need in this role,” said Vilsack. “He is a forester and wildland firefighter with an extensive background in policy, management, and legislation. I’ll be looking to Jay’s leadership as we address the health of our forests. This is a top priority for USDA because it relates to several critical challenges—the intensity of forest fires, climate change, biomass and renewable energy, clean water and revitalizing forest-dependent communities.”

Since May 2005, Jensen has been Executive Director of the Council of Western State Foresters/Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. The Coalition is a federal-state governmental partnership. Jensen had served earlier as the Coalition’s Government Affairs Director.

He has also served as Senior Forestry Advisor for the Western Governors Association, where he was responsible for the biomass energy program. Before that, as lead forestry advisor for the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, Jensen helped develop programs under the 2002 Farm Bill. He has also served as lead policy analyst for the National Association of State Foresters.

Jensen holds a B.S. degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and an M.S. in Forestry from Colorado State University.

A southern California native, Jensen will be moving to the D.C. area with his wife Shawna Friedman and their young daughter Kayden.

Manual Dyslexia and Wyden’s New Old-Growth Bill

The Federal Government, including Congress, famously suffers from manual dyslexia — that affliction wherein the right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing (and vice versa). A case in point is the new “Oregon Forest Restoration and Old Growth Protection Act of 2009″ [here] trotted out by its proud owner, Senator Ron Wyden, for a public showing last week.

OFROGPA, as Wyden’s bill is fondly known by intimates, is the left hand flailing away in complete isolation and disregard of the right hand, the Forest Landscape Restoration Act (FLRA) of 2009.

The latter was Title IV of the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009, passed last month by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President. The Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 is now the law of the land.

OFROGPA is a Johnny-come-lately-out-of-the-blue and conflicts, confuses, and creates cross-purposes with the now Law of the Land.

It is almost as if Sen. Wyden didn’t read the FLRA before he voted in favor of it last month. Neither did his staff, apparently. That can happen when the Senate is too lazy to hold hearings and fails to give due consideration to bills before they smash them through the Capitol like siege wagons.

What really happened was this: there were three restoration forestry bills introduced last year. In January 2008 Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced legislation he called the Pacific Northwest Forest Legacy Act [here]. In February Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced S. 2593, the Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2008 [here] which was co-sponsored by Sen. Wyden. In June Wyden introduced his own bill [here], which was a poor amalgamation of the other two, leaning heavily towards DeFazio’s.

No hearings were held on any of them although Bingaman’s bill came closest, with a hearing scheduled for July but cancelled at the last minute [here].

Then Barack Obama was elected, the Democrats took over both houses, and they began to pass sweeping legislation in ill-considered spasms. Among the avalanche debris that collapsed on America this winter is Bingaman’s S. 2593, The Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 [here].

The conflicts between the new law (FLRA) and Wyden’s also-ran OFROGPA bill are numerous and significant.

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20 Apr 2009, 12:40am
Federal forest policy The 2008 Fire Season
by admin
4 comments

Long-Term Health Effects of Fires

Fire suppression costs are a fraction of the total cost-plus-damages that wildfires can inflict. As The True Cost of Wildfire in the Western U.S. [here] stated:

The millions of dollars spent to extinguish large wildfires are widely reported and used to underscore the severity of these events. Extinguishing a large wildfire, however, accounts for only a fraction of the total costs associated with a wildfire event. Residents in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) are generally seen as the most vulnerable to fire, but a fuller accounting of the costs of fire also reveals impacts to all Americans and gives a better picture of the losses incurred when our forests burn.

A full accounting considers long-term and complex costs, including impacts to watersheds, ecosystems, infrastructure, businesses, individuals, and the local and national economy.

Among those long-term and complex costs are long-term health effects. The Redding Record Searchlight published a report about that today [here].

There’s still much to learn about long-term health effects of last year’s fires

By Jocelyn Weiner and Ryan Sabalow, The Redding Record Searchlight, Sunday, April 19, 2009

The smoke crept in during the final weeks of June. From the blazing forest, it reached its ashy brown fingers into Frank Walden’s garden, choking his corn and poisoning his apple trees. It snuck under the doorway of his three-bedroom home on the edge of Big Bar. It entered his lungs. It refused to leave.

Ten months after the lightning storms that triggered 136 wildfires in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and clogged this region with smoke for an entire summer, Frank Walden doesn’t feel much better. His resting heart rate recently clocked in at 141 beats per minute - twice as fast as normal, he says. He struggles to catch his breath.

“It probably took years off me,” says Walden, 75, his voice now scratchy like a smoker’s, though he’s never lit up. “By damn, those fires have done me bad.”

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17 Apr 2009, 10:49pm
Climate and Weather Federal forest policy
by admin
2 comments

EPA Proposes Nutzoid CO2 Rule

The Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act [here] was signed by EPA Chief Administrator Lisa Jackson [here] today (April 17, 2009).

Jackson is fulfilling an Obama campaign promise: to severely impoverish the citizenry by crippling the economy of the U.S. via the criminalization of the emission of carbon dioxide.

The New CO2 Rule reads in part:

Today the Administrator is proposing to find that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations. Concentrations of greenhouse gases are at unprecedented levels compared to the recent and distant past. These high atmospheric levels are the unambiguous result of human emissions, and are very likely the cause of the observed increase in average temperatures and other climatic changes.

That’s complete bullsh*t. Carbon dioxide is the principle nutrient in photosynthesis and hence the building block of all life. It is not a pollutant. Current concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are NOT unprecedented — for the last 200 million years CO2 concentrations have been greater, as much as 15 to 25 times greater than they are today. The global temperature trend widely observed over the last ten years has been downward.

The EPA statement goes on:

The effects of climate change observed to date and projected to occur in the future – including but not limited to the increased likelihood of more frequent and intense heat waves, more wildfires, degraded air quality, more heavy downpours and flooding, increased drought, greater sea level rise, more intense storms, harm to water resources, harm to agriculture, and harm to wildlife and ecosystems – are effects on public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act. In light of the likelihood that greenhouse gases cause these effects, and the magnitude of the effects that are occurring and are very likely to occur in the future, the Administrator proposes to find that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.

Again, utter tripe. There has been no observed climate change. Global temps are dropping. There is zero likelihood of “more frequent and intense heat waves.” Instead climatologists (including some from the IPCC) are predicting continued cooling for the next 30 years, based on oceanic perturbations such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

The EPA claims CO2-induced global warming has already caused more wildfires. Yet the actual data show that the U.S.has been on a downward trend, experiencing FEWER wildfires per year, since 1981! The facts directly refute the EPA’s contentions!

It is true that wildfire acreage has gone up, but that is because the US Forest Service has induced megafires through a hands-off Let It Burn fire policy, which has absolutely nothing to do with mythical global warming.

The EPA is not claiming increased fire acreage — their claim is increasing number of fires which is a complete counter-factual.

Megafires do emit megatons of CO2. The policy of the USFS is to promote megafires and hence mega emissions. Will the EPA therefore crack down the USFS Let It Burn policies?

Don’t hold your breath.

Or maybe you should. Thanks to this latest atrocity of pseudo-science by the Obama Administration, your very act of breathing is now a crime and will be taxed to the max.

Al’s Big Hoax has come home to roost, as predicted, in the most taxaholic, oppressive, and anti-American government in our 200+ year history.

Day-Lighting the True Costs of Fire

This week the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition [here] issued a new report: The True Cost of Wildfire in the Western U.S. [available here] (2.79 MB)

Their report “Explores beyond the costs of suppression to help describe the true costs to communities and the environment from large wildland fires.” From the Introduction:

The True Cost of Wildfire in the Western U.S.

Introduction

The millions of dollars spent to extinguish large wildfires are widely reported and used to underscore the severity of these events. Extinguishing a large wildfire, however, accounts for only a fraction of the total costs associated with a wildfire event. Residents in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) are generally seen as the most vulnerable to fire, but a fuller accounting of the costs of fire also reveals impacts to all Americans and gives a better picture of the losses incurred when our forests burn.

A full accounting considers long-term and complex costs, including impacts to watersheds, ecosystems, infrastructure, businesses, individuals, and the local and national economy. Specifically, these costs include property losses (insured and uninsured), post-fire impacts (such as flooding, erosion, and water quality), air quality damages, healthcare costs, injuries and fatalities, lost revenues (to residents evacuated by the fire, and to local businesses), infrastructure shutdowns (such as highways, airports, railroads), and a host of ecosystem service costs that may extend into the distant future.

Day-lighting the true costs of fire highlights opportunities to use active management to curb escalating costs. Unhealthy forests can increase the risk of fire. Investing in active forest management is therefore valuable in the same way as investing in one’s own preventative health care. Upfront costs can be imposing, and while the benefits may seem uncertain, good health results in cost savings that benefit the individual, family, and society. This analogy helps to highlight the importance of fostering resilient ecosystems before fires occur, as a tool for reducing the costs associated with suppression and recovery as well as extending benefits to a far wider circle of individuals than might be initially expected.

The lead author is Dr. Lisa Dale at the University of Denver. The Western Forestry Leadership Coalition is a State and Federal government partnership. The members of the coalition include: the 23 State and Pacific Island Foresters of the West and the 7 western Regional Foresters, 3 western Research Station Directors, and Forest Products Lab Director of the USDA Forest Service.

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Trinity Fire Damage Tally

The following letter from the Trinity County Board of Supervisors to the Calif State Legislature lists some of the damage done by the egregious Let It Burn wildfires promulgated by the US Forest Service in Trinity Co. last summer:

From: Trinity County Board of Supervisors
Roger Jaegel, Supervisor District Three

April 14, 2009

To: The Honorable Sam Aanestad
State Capitol, Room 2054
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Senator Aanestad:

Last year Trinity County, California experienced the worst wildfire season on record. From June 20 to near the end of August, 266,157 acres burned in three major complexes. In the last decade over 500,000 acres have burned in Trinity County, more acres than were burned in recorded history. We are committed to compiling the facts about these fires and completing an analysis that will hopefully help us prepare for the next dry lightning event. We know statistically this type of storm tends to occur about once a decade. Some of these facts are best estimates and we will continue to refine this data as time and resources to accomplish the field review and further validation become available.

Trinity County Wildfires of 2008

* The tragic deaths of 10 wildland firefighters
* 266,157 acres burned (about 97% on National Forests)
* Many of our businesses report losses of over 40%
* Suppression costs are over $150,000,000

Health and Safety

* Trinity County communities were under mandatory evacuation orders 15 times
* Over 1,400 homes were evacuated
* Unhealthy and extremely unhealthy air quality alerts were issues for many of our communities for weeks
* Federal standards for pm 2.5 levels were exceeded in many cases by a factor of 10 or greater
* Millions of dead trees and millions of tons of fuel will remain untreated to threaten our communities, resources, and our firefighters for decades to come

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

* Estimate of CO2 equivalents released from the fires equal 12,000,000 metric tons or 2,000,000 vehicle years
* This does not include carbon released from suppression, burned area rehabilitation, or restoration activities
* It also does not include the reduction in carbon sequestration from vegetation conversion

Wildlife and Fisheries

* 122 miles of coho salmon habitat within the fire perimeter
* 486 spotted owl sighting points within the fire perimeter
* 205,716 acres of spotted owl habitat within the fire perimeter

Sincerely,

ANTON R. JAEGEL
Supervisor District 3

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Record of Decision for the Warm Fire Recovery Project

The Warm Fire of 2006 was a whoofoo, a wildland fire use fire, allowed to burn unimpeded in the Kaibab National Forest. From Back to the Rim [here]:

On the afternoon of June 8, 2006, a lightning storm swept across the Kaibab Plateau. One of the high voltage, sky/earth exchanges set a tree on fire south of Jacob Lake.

Kaibab National Forest fire crews could have responded immediately. The terrain is flat and roads crisscross the area. The Kaibab has, or used to have, one of the best firefighting teams in the Nation.

But that is not what happened. Instead, the leadership of the Kaibab N.F. chose to let the fire burn. They named it the Warm Fire, and designated it a Wildland Use Fire. …

the Kaibab N.F. violated a main stewardship fact that they were acutely aware of: they allowed, even encouraged, an accidental fire to burn in untreated acres…

The Warm Fire smoldered in duff and crept around for a few days. Everything looked fine, although no real-time analysis was done of the effectiveness of the fire at consuming old fuels, or not consuming green trees.

Then the wind picked up a little. The Warm Fire jumped Highway 67 on June 15. It jumped it again two days later and grew to 750 acres.

By daylight on the 18th, the Warm Fire had grown to over 3,000 acres. Then it doubled to over 6,000 acres on the 19th. Still, the Kaibab leadership kept the WFU designation, and Let It Burn.

By the 22nd Warm Fire had grown to over 10,000 acres. Still the WFU designation was clung to. The fire was not doing the intended fuels management job, but it was natural (read totally accidental) and it was “free” (that would change, and how).

Early in the morning of June 23, strong winds came rushing out of the west, pushed by a high pressure ridge that every weatherperson in the country knew about. The Warm Fire blew up, and overnight grew to 15,000 acres. Still, there was no change in WFU designation.

Finally on the 24th, the Kaibab N.F. was forced to face reality. They decided that the Warm Fire had done enough damage, and called in the Northern Arizona Type 2 Incident Management Team.

There was some public pressure to do this, since Highway 67 had been shut down and 750 visitors and employees were trapped at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, with a raging inferno on one side and precipitous cliffs on the other.

By the time the NAZ IMT got set up on June 26, the Warm Fire had grown to 30,000 acres. By the next day it was near 60,000 acres, the doubling due mainly to the perimeter and backing fires set by the NAZ IMT.

The NAZ IMT is made up of real pros with real experience and abundant ground and air resources. They contained, controlled, and mostly extinguished the Warm Fire by July 4th. The final acreage toll was 58,640 acres …

The Warm Fire was a deliberate accident. The fire could have been extinguished when small but instead was Let Burn with devastating consequences.

Now, two-and-a-half years later, the Kaibab NF has completed an Environmental Impact Statement in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act that describes the possible impacts to the environment from rehabilitation (recovery) of the most severely burned acres. The Record of Decision for the Warm Fire Recovery Project is [here]. More information, including the Final EIS, is available [here].

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Walden to Forest Service: Never have we needed your leadership more

The following press release from Rep. Greg Walden was issued today. Another Walden press release entitled Walden Asks President Obama for Help Putting Oregonians Back to Work in the Woods was issued March 30, 2009 [here].

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following up on a request made at the White House to President Obama on Monday to help put Oregonians back to work in the woods, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) asked U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell yesterday to develop a set of emergency measures to speed forest management action, consequently improving the health of our forests and economies in rural forested communities.

“Never have we needed your leadership more,” Walden wrote in a letter he handed personally to Chief Kimbell yesterday in a meeting on Capitol Hill. “Because the Forest Service is such a pervasive land owner in my district, your management action or inaction in these troubled economic times may make or break countless communities in rural forested Oregon.”

In the letter, Walden details the high unemployment in the Second District he represents — in many areas in the high teens and even over 20 percent in Crook and Harney counties — and the dire state of the health of the national forests. The Winema-Fremont National Forests, for example, is the location of a massive 200,000-acre bug kill that is ripe for catastrophic fire if action is not taken — locals call the 316-square mile area “the red zone.” The Malheur National Forest has a 28-year backlog of forest management work. And growth rates in eastern Oregon’s national forests are nearly ten-times the current harvest rates; nearly 50 percent of “harvest” in these national forests are post, poles, and firewood.

All lead to conditions ripe for catastrophic wildfire that destroy the forests that once provided the sustainable economic lifeblood for rural Oregon communities.

“Something needs to change,” Walden said in the letter. “People in Oregon are resilient, have learned to adapt, but at this point are just holding on. I urge you to develop a set of emergency measures before fire season begins which will direct and empower your forest supervisors to take quick forest management action, consequently improving the health of the forests and economies of our rural forested communities.”

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Bushfires, Prescribed Burning, and Global Warming

The following essay was written a year ago, before the devastating and fatal fires that swept through Victoria, AU, last February. The issue discussed, the relationship between “global warming” and forest fires, remains a primary concern in Australia and the U.S.

Roger Underwood is a former General Manager of the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) in Western Australia, a regional and district manager, a research manager and bushfire specialist. Roger currently directs a consultancy practice with a focus on bushfire management and is Chairman of The Bushfire Front Inc.. He lives in Perth, Western Australia.

David Packham is Senior Research Fellow, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Victoria.

Phil Cheney is Honorary Research Fellow, CSIRO, Canberra, ACT

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Bushfires, Prescribed Burning and Global Warming

Bushfire Front Inc. Occasional Paper No 1, April 2008 [here]

by Roger Underwood, David Packham, and Phil Cheney

This is not a paper about climate change or the contentious aspects of the climate debate. Our interest is bushfire management. This is an activity into which the debate about climate change, in particular “global warming”, has intruded, with potentially damaging consequences.

Australia’s recent ratification of the Kyoto Treaty has been welcomed by people concerned about the spectre of global warming. However, the ratification was a political and symbolic action, and will have no immediate impact on the volume of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and therefore will not influence any possible relationship between CO2 emissions and global temperatures.

However, the ratification could have an impact on Australian forests. Spurious arguments about the role of fire contributing to carbon dioxide emissions could be used to persuade governments and management agencies to cease or very much reduce prescribed burning under mild conditions.

Decades of research and experience has demonstrated that fuel reduction by prescribed burning under mild conditions is the only proven, practical method to enable safe and efficient control of high-intensity forest fires.

Two myths have emerged about climate change and bushfire management and are beginning to circulate in the media and to be adopted as fact by some scientists:

1. Because of global warming, Australia will be increasingly subject to uncontrollable holocaust-like “megafires”.

2. Fuel reduction by prescribed burning must cease because it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus exacerbating global warming and the occurrence of megafires.

Both statements are incorrect. However they represent the sort of plausible-sounding assertions which, if repeated often enough, can take on a life of their own and lead eventually to damaging policy change.

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Title IV — Forest Landscape Restoration Enacted

The Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009 was passed this week by the U.S. House (it was attached to H.R. 146) [here] which followed passage by the U.S. Senate last week.

Hidden in the package of 170 or so bills is Title IV — Forest Landscape Restoration. It is not clear whether our industrious and diligent elected representatives read any of the bill before voting on it (there were no hearings, either) but it makes no difference — as soon as the President signs it, Title IV will become the Law of the Land.

Title IV — Forest Landscape Restoration calls for landscape-scale “ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes”. Each project must be:

(i) at least 50,000 acres;

(ii) comprised primarily of forested National Forest System land, but may also include land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or other Federal, State, tribal, or private land;

For the cadastrally-challenged, 50,000 acres is 78.125 square miles or roughly 2.2 townships, and that’s the minimum size; there is no maximum.

Congress, wittingly or otherwise, has determined that forest restoration is desirable to reduce the costs and damages that result from wildfire. They also hope that forest restoration will encourage “ecological, economic, and social sustainability” and utilize “forest restoration byproducts” to benefit local rural economies and improve forest health.

Important point: restoration is not rehabilitation — restoration is the treatment of forests BEFORE they burn whereas rehabilitation is the attempt to repair former forests AFTER they have been incinerated.

The full text of Title IV is [here].

We discussed Title IV previously [here].

All thing considered, Title IV is a surprisingly advanced and even ground-breaking change in Federal forest policy. It promotes a new mission for the US Forest Service: restoration forestry.

Whoda thunk it, considering the source?

There are some difficulties with Title IV that could have been ironed out IF there had been substantive hearings. But there weren’t, and so we will have to deal with these problems in the language:

1. The funding ($40,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2019) has been authorized but not allocated. That means the intent of Congress is to fund Title IV, but they haven’t sent the dollars to the USFS yet. I expect that they will, considering they have squandered $trillions on foolishness, but they may need some additional encouragement.

2. The USFS leadership is completely unprepared to deal with the program. The USFS Washington Office will have to develop directives and send them out to each Region and National Forest which explain how the program is to be implemented. That could take awhile, since the WO has been caught unaware and probably will drag their bureaucratic feet.

3. The Act requires that proposed projects be evaluated by an advisory panel which “shall include experts in ecological restoration, fire ecology, fire management, rural economic development, strategies for ecological adaptation to climate change, fish and wildlife ecology, and woody biomass and small-diameter tree utilization.” Said panel will have to be established.

One bright note is that Title IV allows and even encourages the treatment of old-growth stands at risk from catastrophic fire:

[A] collaborative forest landscape restoration proposal shall… be based on a landscape restoration strategy that… fully maintains, or contributes toward the restoration of, the structure and composition of old growth stands according to the pre-fire suppression old growth conditions characteristic of the forest type, taking into account the contribution of the stand to landscape fire adaptation and watershed health and retaining the large trees contributing to old growth structure

Implicit but not directly stated is that restoration requires some previous reference condition as a target. That means that analysis of historical forest conditions and influences (including historical anthropogenic fire) is necessary to elucidate the reference condition. Title IV does not specify historical analyses, but it is impossible to proceed with “landscape restoration strategy that… is complete or substantially complete” without them.

The Western Institute for Study of the Environment has already prepared three landscape-scale forest restoration proposals consistent with the criteria of Title IV — Forest Landscape Restoration. We plan on producing a dozen or more.

If you would like to participate in that proposal creation process, please indicate your interest by email to W.I.S.E. [here]. Our intention is to involve all interested parties in our efforts.

Like Drunks on a Binge

Dept. Interior Media Advisory, March 24, 2009 [here]:

Secretary Salazar, Rep. Rahall and other House Members to Hold Press Conference Following Vote on Omnibus Public Lands Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will join House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) and a bipartisan group of House Members at a press conference following House vote of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146), which is expected on Wednesday.

The omnibus public land bill combines more than 160 individual measures – introduced in the previous Congress by both Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate – many of which have previously passed the House of Representatives. Among its many provisions, the bill includes new wilderness designations, wild and scenic rivers, National Park units, hiking trails, heritage areas, water projects, and historic preservation initiatives.

Who: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV)

Invited:
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA)
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA)
Rep. Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA)

What: News conference on the Omnibus Public Land Bill (H.R. 146)

When: Wednesday, March 25, 2009, at approximately 2:30 p.m. or immediately following the House Floor vote on the bill

Where: Room H-137 Capitol Building (House Ways and Means Committee room)

******

Like Drunks on a Binge

Central Idaho Post, Jim’s Corner, March 27, 2009

by James Huntly

Courtesy The Central Idaho Post, 1206 S Hall St, Grangeville, ID (208)-983-2344 (No website, but a great periodical. Please subscribe. You won’t be sorry).

WHEN I WAS a child, there were those who liked to change the rules if they were losing the game we were playing. They seemed to have the attitude that rules should only be obeyed when they were winning. The reason I mention this is because our representatives in Washington D. C. seem to play this childish game every day that they are in session.

Not long ago H.R. 146, a bill that would protect Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields was passed by the House of Representatives and sent on to the Senate. Then two weeks ago the House failed to pass S 22 the Omnibus Public Lands Act. After S22 failed the Senate went back into action determined to see this public lands legislation passed into law.

The Senate, in a move that would have made Mandrake the Magician envious, attached S22 to H.R. 146 as an amendment. On March 19th, before the ink was dry on my last article, the Senate passed H.R.146 as amended by a vote of 70-20 and sent it back to the House of Representatives for their approval.

It appears that, under a rule that blocks additional amendments, the House will pass the Senate version of H.R. 146 by the end of this week. This monstrous bill is going to cost you the taxpayer a minimum of ten billion dollars and will create several new wildernesses, 1,000 more miles of wild and scenic rivers, national monuments, national conservation areas, trail systems, historic parks, more national heritage areas in 8 states, a coastal and ocean observation system, coastal land conservations plans and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act.

It will fund land exchanges, travel management plans, land acquisitions, transfer of lands into trusts, establishment of a landscape conservation system, watershed management, wolf compensation and prevention, public awareness and education, Bureau of Reclamation authorizations, ocean exploration and undersea research, ocean and coastal mapping, Smithsonian laboratory and space in Edgewater, Maryland and in Gamboa, Panama and the construction of a greenhouse facility whose location I could not pinpoint.

It also addresses Native American Water Rights, protections of American battlefields, prohibited acts and criminal penalties and sets up advisory commissions.

Given that the Obama Administration and our Congress throw money around like a drunk on a binge, be prepared for an all out media blitz after this legislation is passed by the House and when our President signs it into law. It should be a real dog and pony show as the President hands out pens to every environmental organization that donated to the presidential campaign and the DNC. I wonder if the cost of several dozen pens was included in the ten billion dollar cost estimate.

Quote for the Week: “Alexander Hamilton started the U. S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.” — Will Rogers (This quote was found at BrainyQuote)

*****

Very important note from Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Research [here]

Please call the staffer for the U.S. Representative for your area at this Congressional Switchboard number: 202-224-3121. Express your view about this Trojan horse and let the staffer know that “NO” is the ONLY way to vote on this horrid excuse for “legislation.” Make your call, please. It takes effort to fight these things — effort from us all! Cramming 150-200 “wouldn’t pass on their own” pieces of “legislation” into one “omnibus” or Trojan Horse “bill” is certainly a bill. It is a bill that every elected official in Washington, D.C., knows will be paid by American taxpayers. Such a monster leaves the enumerated powers as set forth in the United States Constitution, in the dust, ground underfoot by the designer heels gathered on both sides of the aisle.

Underwood on Australia’s Fires

Note from Mike: The following essay is a strident warning to Americans as well as Australians. Our forests and communities are under threat here just as in Victoria. Catastrophic fire is destructive and deadly (in the case of the Victoria fires of last month, over 200 men, women, and children were killed).

The lack of responsible forest management in the Western US is every bit as foolhardy and dire as the situation in Australia. Our forest fire crisis is untenable and unacceptable because the cure is evident and eminently achievable. Good stewardship will not prevent fires, but it will make them tame by comparison to the holocausts we have suffered seemingly every summer this century.

Roger Underwood is a renowned Australian forester with fifty years experience in bushfire management and bushfire science. He has worked as a firefighter, a district and regional manager, a research manager, and senior government administrator. He is Chairman of The Bush Fire Front, an independent professional group promoting best practices in bushfire management.

Bookmark this essay. It is classic and the message is vitally important to the survival of our forests and our communities.

*****

Australian Bushfire Management: a case study in wisdom versus folly

By Roger Underwood

One man’s wisdom is another’s folly - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many years ago, still a young man, I watched for the first time the grainy, flickering black and white film of the British infantry making their attack on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. The stark and terrible footage shows the disciplined soldiers climbing from their trenches and, in line abreast, walking slowly across no-man’s land towards the enemy lines. They scarcely travel a few paces before the German machine gunners open up. They are mown down in their thousands. They are chaff before a wind of fire.

I can still remember being struck nerveless by these images, and later my anger when I realised what that calamitous carnage represented. It spoke of the deep incompetence of the Generals who devised this strategy of doom and then insisted upon its implementation. It spoke of front-line men led by people without front-line experience. It spoke of battle planners unable to think through the consequences of their plans, and who devalued human lives. It spoke of a devastating failure of the human imagination.

Worst of all, the strategies of the World War I Generals demonstrated that they had not studied, or that they had forgotten, the lessons of history. In the final year of the American Civil war, 50 years earlier, the Union army had been equipped for the first time with Springfield repeating rifles, replacing the single shot muskets they had previously used and still were being used by the Confederate army. The impact on Confederate soldiers attacking defenders armed with repeating rifles was identical to that later inflicted by machine guns on the Western Front. But it was a lesson unlearnt, of collective wisdom unregarded.

None of you will have any difficulty in seeing where this analogy is taking me.

The catastrophic bushfires in Victoria this year, and the other great fires of recent years in Victoria, New South Wales, the ACT and South Australia are dramatic expressions not just of killing forces unleashed, but of human folly. No less than the foolish strategies of the World War I Generals, these bushfires and their outcomes speak of incompetent leadership and of failed imaginations. Most unforgivable of all, they demonstrate the inability of people in powerful and influential positions to profit from the lessons of history and to heed the wisdom of experience.

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20 Mar 2009, 12:47pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin
3 comments

Jungwirth on Forest Restoration and Climate Change

Climate change or not, restoration forestry is essential to saving our forests. Lynn Jungwirth of the Watershed Center in Northern California has been an important leader in educating the public on restoration forestry and in implementing restoration activities in her neck of the woods.

The follow excerpts are drawn from Lynn’s March 3rd testimony before the US House Subcommitte on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. Her remarks are quite excellent.

For the full text see [here]

Testimony of Lynn Jungwirth

For the U. S. House of Representatives, Committee on Natural Resources, Sub-Committee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands

Hearing on “The Role of Federal Lands in Combating Climate Change”

March 3rd, 2009

I’D LIKE TO THANK the committee for the opportunity to provide testimony at this important hearing. My name is Lynn Jungwirth and I am the Executive Director of the Watershed Center, a small community forest organization in the town of Hayfork, which lies in the middle of the Trinity National Forest in California. Since 1993, my organization has worked at the nexus of healthy forests and healthy communities. I’m privileged to work with the “Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition”, a group of over 40 organizations working in local community forestry activities in the west. …

Healthy, resilient forests sequester carbon. In the Trinities, we started 12 years ago, thinning overstocked stands both for hazardous fuels reduction and to improve the quality of the spotted owl habitat. Subsequent measurement has show increased growth rates in the remaining trees. The carbon sink is increasing. What is not so obvious is that forest restoration can also provide biofuels for transportation, reduce carbon intensive energy use in the industrial sector through combined head and power biomass plants, and reduce the carbon intensity of electrical power by co-firing coal plants with wood pellets and using woody biomass for electrical generation (a common strategy in the European Union). Four of the five strategies in the McKinsey and Co. report can be addressed through forest stewardship activities.

Climate Change and Wildfire: Social, economic and environment issues

There is no discussion in the McKinsey and Co. report on the GHG emissions from wildfire. However, some studies suggest wildfire and forest burning account for about 30% of global GHG emissions. Here in the United States, we average about 100,000 wildfire starts a year. About 50% of those are from human activity, about 50% from lightning. The precise quantification of GHG emissions from wildfire is still in debate. The California North Coast Air Quality Management District used Air Resources Board methodology to estimate the GHG emissions from two fire events in Trinity County – the 2002 Megram Fire (100,000 acres) and the 2008 Trinity Fire Complexes (200,000 acres). The estimates were 1.5 million vehicle year equivalents for the Megram Fire and 2 million vehicle years for the 2008 Trinity Fire.

Vehicle years provides an urban frame for GHG emissions. For rural communities, however, the frame is weeks of smoke so thick you can’t see across the street, increased chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in our elders, salmon streams full of sediment, rivers and ponds filled with debris, the decline of our tourism/recreation industry, the loss of our precious timber resources, and, this year, the death of 11 firefighters. These are not the fires of our childhood when low intensity fires would “skunk around” in the undergrowth, herded by local ranchers and the Forest Service. Those fires were fires of renewal. Today’s fires are those of ecological, social and economic destruction.

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Siskiyou County Climbing Out of an Abyss of Ignorance

A year ago I sent a letter to the Siskiyou County Commissioners predicting catastrophic fires would soon visit their region. The letter read, in part:

April 2, 2008

Dear Commissioners,

The Western Institute for Study of the Environment has submitted comments to the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest (RR-SNF) regarding their adoption of a Wildland Fire Use (WFU) program.

If that program is implemented, another Biscuit Fire will surely occur, possibly as soon as next 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 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 and fulfill our responsibilities, not abandon our landscapes to catastrophic fire. You need to be involved in landscape-level decisions that will affect the communities you represent. We can help.

W.I.S.E. can provide expert speakers to convey this message to your group or constituency. We have provided this important testimony in regards to U.S. Forest Service policy in Southwest Oregon and Northern California as a first step towards rational forest management. …

Please help us to prevent another Biscuit Fire. Your assistance is needed now. You need to be engaged in this struggle for your sake and for the sake of the environmental legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren. Your constituents will appreciate your leadership in this vitally important effort.

Please contact me for more information about how you can help forestall environmental catastrophe and restore stewardship to our public lands.

Sincerely,

Mike Dubrasich

The letter was sent with a CD that contained our comments [here] regarding the adoption of Let It Burn fire strategies by the USFS in Northern California and Southern Oregon.

The SisCo Commissioners failed to heed my warnings, as did all of the six counties the letter and CD were sent to. In fact, they ignored me utterly and did not even bother to respond. Then all heck broke loose.

Last summer 1,000 square miles of Northern California were burned deliberately by the USFS at a suppression cost of over $400 million dollars and collateral damages in the tens of $billions, far in excess of the Biscuit Fire.

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Train Wreck Senate

Today the US Senate passed the Omnibus Wilderness bill by a vote of 77 to 20. Over 100 bills that designated more than 2 million acres in nine states as protected wilderness had been attached to H.R. 146 “The Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act” in a parliamentary maneuver to avoid hearings.

Seventy-seven Senators decided that holding hearings on bills was a bad idea. They prefer not to hold hearings, not to listen to testimony, and not to consult with the American people.

As a matter of fact, US Senators rarely even read the bills they vote on, and certainly did not in this case, just as they never read the TARP bailout bill they are so exercised about today.

The method they follow is to vote now, read it later, and then feign shock and indignation at what the law is, as if they had nothing to do with it.

Our current crop of US Senators are functionally illiterate, ignorant, and exceedingly offensive to one and all, with the exception of deep-pocket, Washington insider, special interests that play them like banjos.

The outcome of today’s Farce Theater will be catastrophic holocaust, suffering, and death of forests across the West. But since this country is going down the tubes in train wreck fashion anyway, chances are that few will even notice.

 
  
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