Painful Plea Copped in Tahoe 3 Tree Scandal

Speaking of restitution…

The poor woman charged with accidentally cutting three trees on the Lake Tahoe lot adjacent to her own [see here], which unfortunately (for her) belonged to the US Forest Service, has agreed to a plea deal. Instead of 20 years in the Federal penitentiary (more than any recently convicted eco-terrorist received) she will pay a $100,000 fine and perform 80 hours of community service.

Although the homeowner was busted by thug enviro cop functionaries of the arson-minded Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the fine will be sucked into the bottomless maw of the arson-minded USFS. From KRNV TV [here]:

Plea deal in cutting of Lake Tahoe Forest Service trees

A plea deal has been made for an Incline Village woman who was charged with two felonies after she hired a company to chop down trees on national forest land to enhance her view of Lake Tahoe. The deal with federal prosecutors will likely keep her out of prison.

Patricia Marie Vincent, 57, will pay $100,000 in restitution and do 80 hours of community service in exchange for her guilty plea today to a lesser charge.

She was indicted in January by a federal grand jury in Reno on felony charges of theft of government property and willingly damaging government property. Vincent faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of those original counts if convicted. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Rachow agreed to drop the felony charges and charge her with one misdemeanor count of unlawfully cutting trees on U.S. land.

That crime carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and possible restitution. But Rachow said under the plea agreement, she would face a year of probation, 80 hours of community service and pay $100,000 in restitution, $35,000 of which would go to the U.S. Forest Service and $65,000 to the National Forest Foundation.

The ultimate sentence will be decided by U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval on June 3.

In contrast, the incompetent pigs who burned down 254 homes last year at Lake Tahoe got off scott free. Oh yeah, that would be the nazi-like functionaries of the USFS, working in tandem with the nazi-like functionaries of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Funny how justice works in this country, or doesn’t work, or works for some power factions and gangs, especially powerful outside agencies of the bloated, corrupt, ruthless, legally-immune and dangerous-to-all Federal Government and their running dog, unelected, affiliate local gangs, but not for regular citizens.

Three Charged in X Fire

Three campers left their campfire unattended, and it erupted into a forest fire. The campers have been charged with Federal crimes and face jail, probation, fines, and restitution penalties.

The X Fire is burning on Tusayan Ranger District the near the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. It began April 29th and has consumed about 2,050 acres. The fire has been largely contained by Hot Shot crews and fire personnel of the Kaibab National Forest.

The three campers were apprehended without incident and have cooperated with authorities.

From the Arizona Republic in Flagstaff [here]:

Authorities track down trio suspected in X Fire

by Lindsey Collom - The Arizona Republic

When an unattended campfire touched off a 2,000-acre blaze just outside of Grand Canyon National Park Tuesday, it didn’t take long or much effort for authorities to track down the people believed to be responsible.

A trio of campers, visiting from Texas, returned the next day to the site in the Kaibab National Forest to retrieve a sleeping bag, court records show.

The three cooperated with authorities and, after being questioned, were summoned to appear in federal court in Flagstaff Thursday - even as fire crews continued to rein in the X Fire by dousing hotspots with water, digging at smoldering dumps and aerating the soil. …

The X Fire suspects could face a maximum penalty of six months in jail, five years’ probation and a $5,000 fine. A judge could also force them to pay what it cost to fight the fire. Murphy estimated the fire suppression tab to be $250,000 by Thursday morning.

Interestingly, the Kaibab NF spokesperson claimed that the X Fire has benefited the forest:

Meanwhile, Murphy says the forest is benefiting from the blaze, which has burned overgrowth and ground fuels while mostly sparing trees. Fire also releases nitrogen into the soil, promoting new growth.

“It’ll be nice again,” he said.

Also interesting is the fact that in 2006 Kaibab NF personnel burned 58,000 acres of that national forest in the Warm Fire, a whoofoo (Wildland Fire Use fire) that consumed 40,000 acres of old-growth ponderosa pine and Mexican spotted owl habitat. The Warm Fire was a deliberate act on the part of Kaibab NF personnel, and in direct violation of a Court Order and Record of Decision that prohibited such burning [see here for more about the Warm Fire].

Yet, in the case of the Warm Fire, no Kaibab NF personnel were charged with Federal crimes, jailed, put on probation, fined, or forced to pay restitution. The Warm Fire rang up a bill of over $7 million in suppression costs, ten times that in resource losses, and more $millions in subsequent forest rehabilitation expenses. That work has only begun, following a year of planning which also cost a pretty penny.

No one claimed that the stand replacing (total tree mortality) Warm Fire “benefited” the forest. Yet the perps went unpunished and are still collecting Federal paychecks.

All that is not an excuse or defense for the three campers who unwittingly started the X Fire. But whatever punishment the judge and jury apply to those three, something in excess of a hundred times more severe punishments should have been meted out to the Kaibab NF personnel responsible for the Warm Fire.

Incinerating the Bitterroot

The following article appeared in the Missoulian today. Rather than comment on their site, I am commenting on mine.

State fire panel discusses solutions in Hamilton

By JOHN CRAMER of the Missoulian [here]

HAMILTON - Montana’s Fire Suppression Interim Committee kicked off its statewide road tour Monday at ground zero in the West’s growing dilemma on how to reduce large-scale wildfires at a time when more people are building homes in fire-prone forests.

No homes are built in National Forests. No one is allowed to construct residences on public land.

The Bitterroot National Forest, which the U.S. Forest Service considers America’s most threatened national forest because of the population explosion in the Bitterroot Valley’s “wildland-urban interface,” served as a backdrop for the state legislative committee’s first public forum.

Good for John Cramer for putting Wildland-Urban Interface in quotes. The WUI (pronounced Whooie) is a figment of the government’s imagination. The Bitterroot NF is not “wildland,” it is public forest. There are few urban areas in the Bitterroot Valley. Outside of those areas, the rest of land is rural private property. It is not “interface.” It is where all the farms, all the ranches, and all the homes are. People have the right to live on their land and more power to us.

We also have the right not be incinerated by wildfires emanating from the Federal Estate. If the USFS cannot contain fires on their acres, then they are remiss, not doing their jobs, and that land should be removed from public ownership.

We also have the right not to be incinerated by backfires set by remiss government employees, or we should have that right. Recently the Ninth Circuit Court held that private citizens do not possess any defense against firebrand USFS employees who burn our homes down [here]. I say take the land away from the recalcitrant, legally immune, incompetent USFS if they cannot forebear from burning down the homes of private citizens.
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News Droppings

It has been a busy week for news already. Some of the highlights (or lowlights):

USFS Chief Gail Kimbell proffered an excuse for soaring fire costs and her agency’s failure to do a Congressionally ordered analysis of the nation’s aerial firefighting program following fatal crashes of planes working on wildfires: “We are a nation at war, and we’re a nation with a huge budget deficit.” [here].

Pretty cheesy. We can’t do our job because the nation is at war. It could be the war that Kimbell is talking about is the one the USFS is waging on forests and landowners throughout the West. Her agency did find $54 million to spend on conservation easements to stop homebuilding on private land. It “saved” the taxpayers money by curtailing private property rights and resident stewardship of the land in favor of holocaust megafires.

Weyerhaeuser was busted in another anti-trust case. A Portland jury on Monday ordered Weyerhaeuser to pay almost $28 million for unlawfully monopolizing the market for finished alder lumber [here].

U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey was in Missoula on Monday to answer questions about controversial secret meetings between the U.S. Forest Service and the Plum Creek Timber Company. Plum Creek is the country’s largest private landowner, with 8 million acres nationwide and 1.2 million acres in Montana [here].

More gravy for the Big Potato. Maybe Mark doesn’t realize that we’re a nation at war.

In wildlife news, a rabies outbreak is plaguing the Southwest. A rabid bobcat attacked two hikers, who had to kill it with a hammer [here]. Lesson: never go hiking without a hammer. For more rabies news see Wolf Crossing [here].

Speaking of disease-carrying animals, twelve “environmental” groups have sued to halt wolf delisting [here]. Nuff said.

On the climate front, the founder of the National Hurricane Center is being forced out for his failure to buy into Algore’s Inconvenient Lie [here]. Naughty, naughty. Here come the PC police.

And finally Friends of the Earth have been blamed for starving millions of poor to death after spreading ugly rumors about American food aid to Africa [here]. Guess that’s one way to deal with the overpopulation problem. Pin a medal on FOE.

Lovely news. Going outside now. Had my fill of it. If there were some way to dig the news into my garden, I’m sure I could grow pumpkins the size of Volkswagens. For big punkins, it’s all about the bull …

Not a Conspiracy-A Business Plan

by Bear Bait

The Land and Water Conservation Fund. The money to buy land from willing sellers to provide for resource, water, air and ecosystem conservation. And it comes from taxes on motor boat fuel, Federal surplus land sales, and offshore oil and gas fees and royalties. The slush fund for NGO preservation. They buy a piece of ground, and the Govt gives them twice what they paid for it. Back door tacit funding by Big Govt for Big NGOs.

Softwood lumber and timber is in worldwide surplus. Pinchot would be proud of his efforts at forestry education, and those who followed his lead. Great reforestation and aforestation efforts, worldwide, have grown the softwood timber supply in a mathematical progression to where that resource is a glut on the market.

However, it is a young forest, worldwide, with post WWII forest repairs in Europe and Asia, and international land management providing species travel worldwide. The long cutover ponderosa pine of the new West is now produced in Chile and Argentina, Douglas-fir is grown in New Zealand, Ireland, England, France; the list is long.

My friend who imported pine from South America to serve the US market now sells the very same wood, all of it, to China. And he is not sure how long that market can last. The East Coast of the US gets wide dimension softwood from Europe for home construction, cheaper than they can get it from the West Coast.

To use the new forest, at the earliest possible entry, the whole of home building was changed to use engineered wood products in lumber, truss, beam, and panel constructs. Your grandparents house in no way resembles today’s methods, quality of materials, or durability. But neither do your shoes. Large logs are still cut in a handful of mills to make special products for historical reconstruction, remodeling, and export. There is only a vestigial milling capacity and market for those products. It is a small log economy we now live in now, and wood fiber is the one commodity the world is over-supplied with, other than human beings.
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The Forest Incineration Conspiracy Continued

I presented the Forest Incineration Conspiracy last post. The bottom line is that multi-national forest landowners are engaged in territorial hegemony, taking over as much land as they can for reasons of money and power. That takeover will not serve our economy, will not create jobs, will not increase general community wealth, will nor benefit “nature”; in fact, just the opposite of those things are occurring.

Need more evidence? As Bear Bait pointed out [here]:

We are exporting the value added jobs. The profits are made offshore and not subject to US taxes. That is a real model in Seattle that Weyco and their ilk have to see with some pain. Look for it to happen to logs and lumber.

And then this just in over the insider wire:

2007 Softwood log exports from the West Coast increase [here]

PORTLAND, Ore. April 24, 2008. A total of 879.9 million board feet of softwood logs was exported from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska in 2007. The 2007 volume was up 11.6 percent from the 2006 total of 788.4 million board feet, according to Debra Warren, an economist at the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station.

“ Some 546.8 million board feet or 62.1 percent of the west coast softwood log exports in 2007 went to Japan, 264.8 or 30.1 percent went to South Korea, 42.4 million board feet or 4.8 percent went to China, and 7.2 million board feet or 0.8 percent was exported to Taiwan,” says Warren. …

Other statistics included in the report are:

Log exports for 2007 from Washington and Oregon totaled 673.0 million board feet, up 26.0 percent from the 2006 volume of 534.3 million board feet.

A total of 457,000 board feet of logs was exported from northern California, up from
75, 000 board feet in 2006.

Alaska exported a total of 206.5 million board feet in 2007 compared with 254.1 in 2006.

Douglas-fir accounted for 53.7 percent of the 2007 log exports; western hemlock, 13.6 percent; Sitka spruce (out of Alaska), 17.3 percent; and other softwoods made up the remaining 15.4 percent.

The total value of 2007 log shipments was $544.1 million at port of exportation, and the average value was $618.40 per thousand board feet. Douglas-fir averaged $780.17 per thousand board feet; western hemlock, $521.92; and other softwoods, $460.77.

Those are NOT logs off USFS lands; they are from private lands, and from the Big Baron’s lands in particular. There is next to no cut from USFS lands. Roughly a quarter of the log harvest from the PNW got exported. No mill jobs for you! You will be allowed to purchase the imported wood products, however, if you can afford them!

That’s what happens when multi-nationals own the land base in the U.S.A., land of the slaves, home of the saps.
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25 Apr 2008, 12:52pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

The Forest Incineration Conspiracy

Conspiracy theories abound in our day and age. There exists the general feeling that we are being scammed big time by some secret group, or not so secret group, for their benefit and to the detriment of the mostly powerless populace.

The list is lengthy: the Global Warming Hoax, the Communist Conspiracy, the AIDS epidemic, the Tri-Lateral Commission, the CIA, the Zionist Movement, Islamo-Fascism, the Ozone hole, Big Oil, the Salmon Hoax, spotted owls, etc, etc.

My “favorite” and the pet peeve of this blog is the conspiracy to incinerate America’s priceless heritage forests.

Many conspiracy theories border on the absurd, but some are blatantly evident. The Global Warming Hoax, for instance, is not secret but rather is trumpeted every day in the Media. We know the names of the conspirators; they are quite proud of their involvement and roles and have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure everybody knows their names.

The Forest Incineration Conspiracy is less obvious regarding its chief manipulators, but like all the other blatant and non-absurd conspiracies, the root goal is the same: money.

How, you ask, can destroying forests possibly make anyone rich? There is some push to increase fire suppression outlays, and that leads to more profits for firefighters and firefighting equipment suppliers, but their increased income is minimal and widely distributed. Nobody is making enormous windfall profits by burning down forests, at least not within the fire community. Nor are the Federal land management agencies profiting by ruining natural resources. Nor are enviro groups expanding their memberships by advocating abandonment of responsible stewardship in favor of habitat destruction.

The case could be made that all these special interests are shooting themselves in the foot by promoting Let It Burn. Indeed, I have made that case again and again.

So who profits by burning down millions of acres of public forests every year?

Private commercial forest owners, that’s who.
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22 Apr 2008, 5:57pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

Ninth Circuit Rules Against Burned-Out Homeowners

In the Summer of 2000, the USFS set a backfire that backfired in Ravalli County, Montana, in the Bitteroot Valley.

The year 2000 was a particularly bad year for fires in the Bitterroot region; 307,000 acres burned, nearly 20 percent of the Bitterroot National Forest. An additional 50,000 private acres burned in Ravalli Co., including 70 homes, 170 other buildings, and 95 vehicles. From a USFS report:

The fires blackened the western skies above the town of Hamilton, burned deep into the back country above West Fork’s Painted Rocks Lake, and stretched from the height of Lost Trail Pass down the Sapphire ridges, past Darby to four miles east of Hamilton (USDA Forest Service, 2000). Private property losses were high ranging in the millions of dollars.

Some of those losses were the result of a backfire set in Spade Creek on the Spade Fire, one of the Sula Complex of fires. The backfire, not the main fire, burned down a number of homes. Homeowners who lost their homes were upset, formed a group they called “Bacfire 2000,” and in 2002 sued the USFS for damages.

Last fall, five years later, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy rejected that lawsuit. Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Molloy’s ruling.

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21 Apr 2008, 4:48pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

USFS Issues New Planning Rule

Today the new US Forest Service Planning Rule was posted in the Federal Register [here]. A new Rule was required because the 9th District Court enjoined the old rule (2005) in January. That one was a rewrite of the older rule (2000).

The Summary of the new USFS Planning Rule from the Federal Register:

SUMMARY: This final rule describes the National Forest System (NFS) land management planning framework; sets up requirements for sustainability of social, economic, and ecological systems; and gives directions for developing, amending, revising, and monitoring land management plans. It also clarifies that, absent rare circumstances, land management plans under this final rule are strategic in nature and are one stage in an adaptive cycle of planning for management of NFS lands.

The intended effects of the rule are to strengthen the role of science in planning; to strengthen collaborative relationships with the public and other governmental entities; to reaffirm the principle of sustainable management consistent with the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 (MUSYA) and other authorities; and to streamline and improve the planning process by increasing adaptability to changes in social, economic, and environmental conditions.

This rulemaking is the result of a United States District Court of Northern California order dated March 30, 2007, which enjoined the United States Department of Agriculture (the Department, the Agency, or the USDA) from putting into effect and using the land management planning rule published on January 5, 2005 (70 FR 1023) until it complies with the court’s order regarding the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (Citizens for Better Forestry v. USDA, 481 F. Supp 2d 1059 (N.D. Cal. 2007)). The purpose of this final rule is to respond to the district court’s ruling.

This final rule replaces the 2005 final rule (2005 rule) (70 FR 1022, Jan. 5, 2005), as amended March 3, 2006 (71 FR 10837) (which was enjoined by the district court’s ruling) and the 2000 final rule (2000 rule) adopted on November 9, 2000 (65 FR 67514) as amended on September 29, 2004 (69 FR 58055).

DATES: Effective Date: This rule is effective April 21, 2008.

The gist of the new Rule (contends the USFS) is that Forest Plans are “strategic” guidance documents and do not specify any actions. Therefore they have no environmental effects in and of themselves, and so do not require Environmental Impact Statements. Only specific projects require EIS’s, not Forest Plans.
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18 Apr 2008, 7:12pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
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Napolitano On Megafire

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act, or FLAME Act, on April 10th. Yesterday the Committee passed the FLAME Act, which will now be presented to the entire House. From the news release [here]:

The FLAME fund would be separate from budgeted and appropriated agency wildland fire suppression funding for the Forest Service and the Interior Department, and is to be used only for the suppression of catastrophic, emergency wildland fires. The annual agency budgets will continue to fund anticipated and predicted wildland fire suppressions activities. Monies for the fund will be appropriated based on the average costs incurred by these agencies to suppress catastrophic, emergency wildland fires over the preceding five fiscal years.

The FLAME Act does not guarantee good stewardship, or good fire management, or a reduction in fire suppression costs or fire losses. It merely juggles the funding. But the hearing did provide an opportunity for a select few individuals to express some sentiments to Congress.

Among those presenting testimony on April 10th was Janet Napolitano, Governor of Arizona. Her entire testimony is [here]. Some selected excerpts:

Today I will share with you examples of significant wildfires in my state and discuss some of the risks I believe we face if we do not ensure a distinct funding stream for mega-fire suppression.

Arizona’s largest wildfires have occurred within the last six years. In 2002, the Rodeo-Chediski Fire burned 467,000 acres of east-central Arizona woodland over the course of a month, requiring the evacuation of more than 30,000 people.

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17 Apr 2008, 11:34am
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

The USFS Is Fundamentally Racist

And so is most of modern forest science. The USFS administrators and most forest scientists today (as well as most “environmental” groups) fail to understand or even acknowledge that Native Americans have had profound influences on our landscapes for millennia.

Euro-Americans did not encounter a wilderness. They came to a continent that had been occupied and resided upon for ten thousand years or more by actual human beings. Except for the tops of mountain peaks accessible only with modern technical climbing gear, every single acre in the continental U.S. had been trod with moccasins.

Every single acre had been explored, walked upon, and utilized by the human beings who had lived here continuously since before the end of the Wisconsin Glaciation. Anthropogenic fire had been visited upon all landscapes a zillion times. The vegetation had been totally altered, and over 40 species of wildlife had been hunted to extinction, by the long-resident humanity.

Every landscape was criss-crossed with roads. Lewis and Clark did not bushwhack from the Mississippi to the Pacific; they traveled on ROADS, Indian roads, roads that had been in place and heavily used for thousands of years. The Corps of Discovery arranged for guides to show them the right roads to take. The word “road” appears in the journals of L&C hundreds of times.

The Corps of Discovery did not “live off the land.” Yes, they hunted some, but there was very little game. For the most part, they purchased food from the resident human beings.

The resident human beings had established fields and tracts where they gathered roots and berries, drove game, captured fish in weirs, and produced through agricultural techniques the necessities of their lives: food, clothing, and shelter. Native Americans did not flit from bush to bush like butterflies, leaving no mark. On the extreme contrary, they modified the environment to suit their needs virtually everywhere.

The modern USFS and forest science establishments are utterly clueless about that. They still think of America as a recent wilderness. That kind of thinking is racist as well as completely wrong. The “science” is rank with Euro-centric falsehoods stemming from deep-seated racist blindness. The managers of our National Forests are completely oblivious to the landscape uses and patterns established by resident human beings.

The current Let It Burn philosophy imposed on our landscapes by blind racism is destroying the ancient human heritage. The urge to declare Wilderness Areas and Roadless Areas is nazi-like racism at it’s worst. The denial of the American Holocaust whereby millions of people were slaughtered over a 500 year racist jihad and ethnic cleansing is as objectionable and ethically bankrupt as the denial of Hitler’s Holocaust (or even more so).

Our forests and landscapes are being destroyed by a sick and twisted bureaucracy that is fundamentally racist to its core.
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Kimbell Axes Fire Planning

On April 2nd USFS Chief Abigail Kimbell decided that four Region 3 National Forests no longer needed Fire Management Plans (FMP’s) as part of their Land and Resource Management Plans (LCMP’s). As a result, the existing FMP’s on the Carson and Lincoln NF’s in New Mexico and the Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto NF’s in Arizona were thrown in the dumpster.

Kimbell axed the FMP’s because an environmental group, the WildEarth Guardians (formerly the Forest Guardians), had sued the Forest Service in December, claiming the agency’s FMP’s for the four forests were inadequate because they were produced without any NEPA process (i.e. no Environmental Analyses or Environmental Impact Statements were created).

From the WildEarth Guardians’ Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [here]:

61. The Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto, Carson, and Lincoln National Forests did not solicit public input and did not prepare an EA or EIS before preparing and approving their FMPs. Consequently, the public had no opportunity to comment on the fire management practices required by the FMPs, and the Forest Service did not analyze alternatives to the FMPs.

Rather than comply with NEPA, Kimbell junked the FMP’s, and the next week the USFS requested the lawsuit be dropped. From the Las Cruses Sun-News [here]:

Forest Service seeks dismissal of fire plan lawsuit

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Las Cruses Sun-News, 04/10/2008

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—The U.S. Forest Service is seeking dismissal of a federal lawsuit filed by environmentalists who had challenged the agency’s fire management plans for four Southwestern forests.

Forest Guardians, now called WildEarth Guardians, had sued the Forest Service in December, claiming the agency’s plans for the Carson and Lincoln forests in New Mexico and the Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto forests in Arizona were inadequate and produced without enough public involvement.

The Forest Service, in a motion filed Thursday, argued that the lawsuit should be declared moot since the agency withdrew the fire plans last week.

“As a result, the purported decisions that are the basis for plaintiff’s claims are no longer in effect, such that there is no continuing case or controversy to support jurisdiction,” the agency’s lawyers wrote in the two-page motion.

Court documents also show that Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell on Wednesday waived a requirement that the four forests have fire management plans. …

On March 5th the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF issued a notice that they were going to prepare an EA to include Let It Burn fires in their FMP [here]. The Western Institute for Study of the Environment prepared a 170 page complaint requesting that the RR-SNF prepare an EIS before they adopted Let It Burn into their FMP [here].

Now it seems that the Chief of the USFS can merely dump the RR-SNF FMP altogether, rather than obey the law. This type of criminal behavior on Kimbell’s part has also been pointed out and documented many times at SOS Forests [here, for instance].

The USFS has devolved into a lawless outfit that spurns NEPA, ESA, NFMA, NHPA and other laws of the United States in their quest to incinerate America’s priceless heritage forests. The level of abuse and dismissal of the rule of law by this federal agency is appalling and bodes catastrophic disaster. Something must be done and soon.

7 Apr 2008, 6:19pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

The Monument, the Mill, and the Enviros

by Lee Belau, retired Fire Management Officer for the Sequoia National Forest

On his way out of the door in April of 2000, President Bill Clinton gave local environmentalists a gift that they had been unable to get through normal legislative action after numerous attempts. He signed a Presidential Proclamation creating the 327,769 acre Giant Sequoia National Monument.

There was no opportunity for public comments prior to this decision. There was no environmental analysis or development of alternatives. No study of the possible effects to the local economy was done. The “spin” was that a monument was necessary to save the Giant Sequoia trees from the evil loggers. We were told not to worry, because the out-of-work folks in the wood products industry would be retrained so that they could benefit from jobs in the new recreation-related business boom that the Monument would generate.

The Proclamation mandated that the Forest Service write a management plan with the guidance of a Scientific Advisory Board to be selected by the National Academy of Science. The Board was appointed and the plan-writing job began. Early in the process, the Board agreed that all of their recommendations to the Forest Supervisor would be by unanimous consent. For the next nearly four years, the Board held meetings that were open to the public. They listened to public comments, and took field trips to the forest, the National Park, the Tule River Indian Reservation and to Mt. Home State Forest to view giant sequoia stands and various management practices. In January of 2004, the final plan was signed.

Today, more than seven years after the Monument was proclaimed, virtually nothing that would enhance the protection, improvement or management of the Monument and the Giant Sequoia trees has been accomplished. This is because those same people who promoted the establishment, agreed to the proclamation language, and dictated the planning process, sent their attorneys to court and got the plan declared invalid. Additionally, in spite of Proclamation language that clearly states that timber sales under contract as of the date of the signing (4/2000) could be completed consistent with the terms of the contract, four sale projects were included in the Monument Plan lawsuit and similarly stopped.
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6 Apr 2008, 12:46am
Federal forest policy
by admin

WFLC Stages Bloodless Coup — America To Be Incinerated

On March 24th the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) held a conference call meeting in which they adopted new “anything goes” rules for Let It Burn fires.

The WFLC is the Federal Advisory Committee that oversees firefighting on Federal land, including USFS, BLM, NPS, USFWS, and BIA [here]. The March 24 meeting notes are [here].

Five unanimous decisions were made during the conference call meeting. First, any fire can be a suppression fire and a whoofoo at the same time. The fire can be suppressed over here and let burn over there.

Wildland Fire Leadership Council Meeting — Conference Call Notes, March 24, 2008

Actions and Decisions

TOPIC: Modifying Guidance for Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire Policy (AMR)

1. Current Direction: Only one management objective will be applied to a wildland fire. Wildland fires will either be managed for resource benefits or suppressed. A wildland fire cannot be managed for both objectives concurrently. If two wildland fires converge, they will be managed as a single wildland fire.

Proposed Direction: Wildland fires can be managed for one or more objective(s) based on the Land/Resource Management Plan direction.

DECISION: No objections – the WFLC approved new direction unanimously.

The new direction means the fire managers can be flexible about where they suppress and where they don’t. This is tantamount to a half-assed approach. The only criteria is that they have a policy known as “Appropriate Management Response” or AMR in their Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP). This is one of the purposes of the change in the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF LRMP proposed March 5th [here] and commented upon by W.I.S.E. [here]

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3 Apr 2008, 4:19pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

Some Brief Comments on the RRSNF’s AMR Proposal

by Dave Skinner, Hydra Project, Whitefish MT

As an irate citizen pressed for time, I wish to make brief comments on the RRSNF’s proposal to implement Appropriate Management Response protocols upon unplanned ignitions on the RRSNF. First, I have some involvement and interest in the area. Several of my Montana logging friends have worked on wild-fires on the RRSNF, including most recently the Biscuit. Since then, my buddies have been kept busy at home here in Montana fighting fires closer to home. I myself have visited the RRSNF several times in the past few years, either alone or with various forestry professionals. I am intimately familiar with the post-Biscuit “unsalvage” fiasco (code word: Rich Fairbanks/FSEEE) as well as the subsequent Donato/DellaSalla/Kauffman boondoggle. Let’s just say I am not happy with the prospect of the US Forest Service setting itself up for another disaster in southwest Oregon — as well as nationally.

I hereby request that RRSNF prepare an EIS preparatory to implementing AMR. I also request a CD copy of either that requested EIS, or at least a CD of the proposed EA; with PAPER copies of whatever maps would be included with paper copies of the EIS/EA. My mailing address is listed below.

I want to especially point out the concession before Congress by professors Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin that unmanaged wildfire poses a great threat of loss to the so-called “old growth” Late Successional Reserves. To quote: “Prescribed fire is a useful tool in forest restoration but is not sufficient alone—mechanical silvicultural activities typically will be required.”

Now, both gentlemen have been profoundly wrong before, however, in this case they both realize it. While their call for mechanical treatment is limited by their adherence to the Beschta philosophy that no fire area ever be salvaged or “old growth” tree ever be cut (and I point out both the Sugarloaf project and Franklin’s 90-minute “peer-review” of the Donato salvage “science” travesty), they have nonetheless conceded the point.

If these gentlemen say prescription burns cannot accomplish their intended purpose without unacceptable risk, then logic forces the question of what sort of risks are presented by unscheduled or non-programmatic ignitions?

Until the risk is moderated by fuels pre-treatments on the appropriate landscape scale, then implementing an AMR program on an unprepared landscape is absolutely certain to have significant impacts upon the human and natural environment — not just those “precious” LSR’s, but as the Biscuit/Tiller and so on have proved, dang near every stick of every age class on every stinking acre of USFS-administered ground in western Oregon.

In the main, I concur with the comments prepared by the Western Institute for Study of the Environment and join their call for preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement before implementation of any so-called “Appropriate Management Response” to unscheduled wild fire events on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

I furthermore encourage you to advise your superiors in the Washington office that implementation of an AMR policy on other national forests without full Environmental Impact Statements, in light of the clear environmental uncertainties of AMR implementation, would be in itself arbitrary and capricious.

Thank you for your consideration. Please do the right thing.

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