Time to Fight Back

by bear bait

I read today in the paper that a tree fell and killed a USFS employee near Baker City, Oregon, who was involved in pulling marijuana plants from a grow on the Wallowa-Whitman NF. Sad deal. Not what forest protectors and nurturers had in mind when they signed on. The family has my sincerest regrets and sympathy.

It appears this fire deal, burning up our public forests, is part of a plan to expand the Mexican Dope Cartel’s drug plantations. Get rid of the canopy, keep people out, and it all goes to dope growing. In Western Oregon, in the Coast Range, we have had two opium poppy fields discovered and pulled this summer in Yamhill county. The Trout Creek mountains of far southeastern Oregon saw a dope bust with over 30,000 plants and 8 people arrested and now indicted in Federal court in Eugene, Oregon.

The minders of the Federal Estate have become overwhelmed by their job requirements and red tape, due to extensive congressional nit-picking, poorly written law, and excessive “human resource” systems, and the local areas bear the burden of poor Congressional oversight and the disinterest of a distant absentee landlord as a matter of course.

The national enviro lobby has local shrills to keep disorder the way they want it, and willingly pay themselves well enough to warrant limousines and gracious benefits fit for kings. The Environmental Cartel is in tight control. Burning off our national forest heritage is a mindless goal, but when oligarchs of the environment are in control, it is about power, not good sense, and it is about the money they make, as per Al Gore, the newly coined billionaire of selling carbon credits, akin to trading in seines full of flatulence. Ethereal. Hard to grasp. But you know it is there by the smell.

These United States and we the people, especially states where liberal local politics rule, have lost control of our public lands. They have been systematically closed to the public by taking out roads, banning logging, and allowing fires to rage unchecked - managing to burn all too much of their charge in a mindless exercise of benign neglect.

more »

Roadless Rule Will Harm Forests, Not Protect Them

Note: see also 9th Court Decision on Roadless Rule Is Illegitimate and Destructive [here], and Ninth Circuit ruling to reinstate Roadless Rule leaves wilderness areas vulnerable to fire [here].

Government’s Hands-Off Policy is Directly Responsible for Forest Overcrowding and Wildfires

National Center for Policy Analysis, August 20, 2009, [here]

The Obama administration’s recent decision to support the roadless rule is not only counterproductive, it is ridiculous public policy, according to NCPA Senior Fellow, H. Sterling Burnett.

“The roadless rule is bad as a matter of principle and bad as a policy,” Burnett said. “We don’t need a one-size-fits-all roadless rule. Instead, forests should be managed on an individual or regional basis, allowing roads and attendant logging to take place for economic reasons and to reduce catastrophic wildfires, enhance endangered species protection and improve the forests carbon storage capacity.”

The roadless rule, which was issued by the Clinton administration in 2001, has been a heated topic of discussion in the courts for nearly a decade. On August 5, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the roadless rule across the country.

The Obama administration has endorsed the rule, supporting the Ninth Circuit’s decision, and wants the Tenth to uphold it as well. If the Tenth Circuit also upholds the rule it will be fully reinstated, which would be bad for the health of forests and will continue to cause overcrowding and forest fires, Burnett said.

“Americans and America’s forests deserve better,” he said. “At a time when the government claims to be concerned about fighting global warming by preventing and reducing carbon emissions, clinging to the roadless rule is absurd. Forest fires account for a growing percentage of human CO2 emission each year - topping six percent of U.S. emissions, yet it seems increasingly clear that the government isn’t very concerned about decreasing CO2 emissions. Indeed, environmentalists praise the government for leaving the forests alone, but forest fires are a growing threat.”

“Government’s hands off policy is directly responsible for forest overcrowding, massive pest invasions and even larger wildfires that burn hotter and destroy more acres of forest and surrounding businesses, homes and towns every year,” Burnett said. “Letting nature take its course on our national forests is tantamount to neglect, and the roadless rule is a prime example of that. When the federal government leaves our forests to die, rot and burn, we all suffer but no one is held accountable.”

AU Royal Commission Interim Report Released

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission presented their Interim Report to the Victorian Lieutenant Governor on 17 August 2009. A copy of the report can be viewed or downloaded [here].

Last February wildfires ravaged the state of Victoria in southeastern Australia. Close to 200 people were killed and more than 2,000 homes incinerated. Termed “Black Saturday”, it was the worst fire disaster in Australian history, a history replete with fire disasters, most notably in 1939, 1944, 1969, 1977, 1983, 2003, 2005, and 2006.

A Royal Commission was formed to inquire, consult, and report on the fires and the fire suppression efforts associated with “an unprecedented loss of life, extreme property damage, and major community trauma and displacement.”

The Commission held 26 community consultations in 14 fire locations. Some 1200 people attended. Public submissions were invited and over 1200 submissions were received from people in fire-affected and unaffected areas, and from around Australia and overseas.

Interim Report contains 51 recommendations focused predominantly on changes that can be implemented prior to the 2009–10 bushfire season. An Implementation Plan will be issued by September 30, 2009, and a Delivery Report by 31 March 2010.

The Interim Report is critical of the warning and fire information system in Victoria and of the “Leave Early Or Stay And Defend” policy. That policy, which led directly to mass death, was recommended and promoted for use in this country by the US Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and the National Association of State Foresters in their Quadrennial Fire Review 2009 issued last January [here].

The QFR advances new core strategies for reinforcing fire management’s role in ecosystem sustainability by developing strategic management response capabilities that are more flexible and agile and further in line with the national response framework. While continuing to promote the concept of fire-adapted human communities, the QFR outlines new strategies to realign fire governance by rethinking federal, tribal, and state and local roles and responsibilities for wildland urban interface fire prevention and protection. Tied to this mission strategy of building a new national intergovernmental wildfire policy framework, are specific strategy elements for developing community fuels reduction zones in the interface, supporting leave-early or stay-and-defend alternatives for property owners while working with communities to assure that community fire prevention regulations are in place along with adequate local response capability.

The massive failure of “Leave Early Or Stay And Defend” in Australia one month later has not yet entered into the consciousness of our federal land management agencies. It is hoped that the Royal Commission report will sink in here where it is also desperately needed. Generating mass death disasters is not good government, and our federal agencies should not barge blindly down that road.

more »

Vilsack Forest Speech, Seattle Aug 14, 2009

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack New Direction and Vision for America’s Forests

USDA Newsroom: News Release No. 0383.09, August 14, 2009

Seattle, Washington, August 14, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today outlined his vision for the future of our nation’s forests. In his first major speech regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, Vilsack set forth a new direction for conservation, management, and restoration of these natural treasures.

“Our nation’s forestlands, both public and private, are environmental and economic assets that are in critical need of restoration and conservation,” said Vilsack. “By using a collaborative management approach with a heavy focus on restoring these natural resources, we can make our forests more resilient to climate change, protect water resources, and improve forest health while creating jobs and opportunities.”

Climate change, catastrophic fires, disease and pests have all led to declining forest health in recent decades. The resulting impact on watersheds, the climate, local economies, wildlife, and recreation, has led the USDA to offer a new vision for our nation’s forests. By taking forest management in a new direction, the Department will emphasize the role our national forestlands play in contributing to the health and prosperity of the country and reverse the trend of declining forest health.

“Declining forest health and the effects of our changing climate have resulted in an increasing number of catastrophic wildfires and insect outbreaks,” said Vilsack. “It is time for a change in the way we view and manage America’s forestlands with an eye towards the future. This will require a new approach that engages the American people and stakeholders in conserving and restoring both our National Forests and our privately-owned forests. It is essential that we reconnect Americans across the nation with the natural resources and landscapes that sustain us.”

In addition, the new approach to managing our forests aims to secure the nation’s water supply. Watersheds with a large proportion of forest cover are more likely to be associated with good water quality, with forests protecting soil, moderating streamflow, supporting healthy aquatic systems, and sustaining good water quality.

more »

Forest Cognitive Dissonance From the Obama Administration

The following pair of news articles demonstrate what all America is gradually coming to understand: the Obama Administration is schizophrenic.

There is the normally functioning government, primarily civil servants, who don’t function very well, but at least they are trying. Then there is a radical anti-American cabal of lunatic lefties who infest the White House like cockroaches.

In the first article we note that Tom Vilsack, current Secretary of Agriculture and former governor of Iowa, intends to call for active management and restoration of federal forests to address “catastrophic wildfires and insect outbreaks.” Way to go, Tom. We applaud your perspicacity and vision.

Vilsack calls for renewed emphasis on forests

By MATTHEW DALY - Associated Press Writer 08/14/09 [here]

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is urging more attentive management of forests, calling them valuable environmental and economic attributes that are in need of restoration and conservation.

Such an approach would combat climate change, protect water resources and improve forest conditions, he said in a speech prepared for delivery later Friday. Not only that, the changes would create thousands of jobs, Vilsack added.

“Declining forest health and the effects of our changing climate have resulted in an increasing number of catastrophic wildfires and insect outbreaks that have consumed the time and resources of the Forest Service,” the former Iowa governor said in remarks obtained by The Associated Press.

“It is time for a change in the way we view and manage America’s forest lands with an eye toward the future,” he said. “This will require an unprecedented, all-lands approach that engages the American people and stakeholders. It is essential that we reconnect Americans across the nation with the natural resources and landscapes that sustain us.”

Vilsack is set to deliver the speech, his first address on the Forest Service, later Friday in Seattle. He was urging “a collaborative management approach with a heavy focus on restoring” natural resources. …

But in the second article, all that is thrown under the bus by an unnamed and mysterious “spokesman for the Justice Department” who says the Obama Administration is opposed to active forest management and restoration of public forests. The Obamaloids want to revive the dead and buried, illegal and enjoined Clinton/Dombeck Roadless Rule [here].

more »

9th Court Decision on Roadless Rule Is Illegitimate and Destructive

by Mike Dubrasich

On Aug 5th the San Francisco based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals set aside the State Petitions Rule and reinstated the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, more commonly known as the “Clinton/Dombeck Roadless Rule”.

The 9th Circuit Court, the most overturned court in the U.S., has once again overstepped its authority, written law from the bench, and worst of all, engendered massive environmental destruction across nearly 60 million acres of federal land in the West.

We have discussed this issue before, most recently [here].

Background: the Clinton (Dombeck) Roadless Rule was rushed through (by proclamation) in the waning days of that administration. It was immediately litigated in more than a dozen courts. In 2003, Judge Brimmer, a United States District Court Judge for the District of Wyoming, found, in response to the Complaint filed by the State of Wyoming, that NEPA had been violated on several different levels, including the fact that Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) input from the states had been excluded, the process had been rushed, the United States Forest Service (USFS) had failed to take the requisite “hard look” at the proposed rule, and that the NEPA process was a sham in order to adopt a political rule. Judge Brimmer also found that the Roadless Rule violated the Wilderness Act in that it designated 58.5 million acres as defacto wilderness despite the fact that only Congress has the authority to do so. Judge Brimmer enjoined the Roadless Rule. The USFS developed an alternative plan to ensure that states would be part of the process. This plan, called the State Petitions procedure, ensured that not only state concerns would be addressed, but that tribes, local governments, and the general public would be able to express their concerns in order to develop site-specific rules for each National Forest.

The usual environmental groups sued in the Ninth District Court and, in 2006, Magistrate Laporte concluded that the State Petitions procedure violated NEPA because it was not accompanied by an EIS. In the strangest twist of legal logic, she then reinstated the illegal Roadless Rule, and ordered that the USFS comply with its terms. She made that ruling despite Judge Brimmer’s earlier decision, despite the fact that Judge Brimmer reached his conclusions after a comprehensive review of the Administrative Record, and despite the fact that she had no idea as to whether the Roadless Rule complied with NEPA or not. Her decision was odd to say the least, which is confirmed by the fact that the State Petitions procedure was not an environmental action per se but a remedy to fix the original defective and illegal Roadless Rule EIS. Requiring an EIS to fix an EIS sets up an infinite loop of EIS’s.

Wyoming again filed suit in an attempt to fix the mess created by Magistrate Laporte’s decision. In August 2008, Judge Brimmer issued yet another permanent national injunction against the Roadless Rule.

Magistrate Laporte played a game of judicial chicken, perverting NEPA, and causing catastrophic harm to the environment. The 9th Circuit Court has now affirmed Laporte’s ruling and reinstated the defective and repeatedly enjoined Clinton/Dombeck Roadless Rule.

In legal terminology, that is abuse of discretion. It is certainly within the power of the 9th Circuit Court to throw out the the State Petitions Rule for violating NEPA. But it is not within their power to reinstate the Clinton/Dombeck Roadless Rule, which has itself been found to violate NEPA.

more »

Salazar Withdrawal of WOPR Illegal

The following letter was written by George Lea, President of the Public Lands Foundation [here]. The PLF was founded by retirees of the Bureau of Land Management. In their own words:

PLF is a national non-profit, all volunteer membership organization dedicated to the ecological stability of the public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Ecological stability provides for clearer water, sustainable yields and more aesthetically pleasing landscapes. These attributes provide for improved riparian areas, wilderness experiences, wildlife habitat, timber production, livestock grazing, outdoor recreation, wild horse and burro habitats, mining activities, fire protection, endangered species protection and the stewardship of historical archeological and paleontological values. These public lands are the United States’ largest public land system; comprising over 261 million surface acres and 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate. These federal lands produce more than $5.8 billion annually in revenue to the U.S. Treasury. These vital lands are increasingly the battleground where wars over issues of biodiversity, forest harvest/protection, grazing, mineral/oil/gas production and environmental protection are fought!

PLF Letter to Interior on Western Oregon Plan Revision

To: Ken Salazar, Secretary, Department of the Interior

Re: BLM’s Western Oregon Plan Revision

Date: July 24, 2009

Dear Secretary Salazar:

We are writing to express our deep concern about and strong opposition to your recent decision to withdraw the Bureau of Land Management’s Western Oregon Plan Revision records of decision.

The Public Lands Foundation (PLF) is a national non-profit conservation organization founded in 1987. Our membership is primarily retired former employees of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and as such represents a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience in public land management. Our membership includes former BLM State Directors, District and Area Managers and a wealth of experienced personnel. PLF’s mission is to support keeping BLM managed lands in public hands and, through education and advocacy, foster the proper use, protection and management of these lands to sustain their ecological, social and economic vitality.

BLM’s planning decisions meet the requirements of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the Endangered Species Act, (ESA), the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other regulatory Acts. The decisions also meet the requirements of the O&C Act of 1937. BLM by law must manage O&C and Coos Bay Wagon Road lands for permanent timber production on a sustained yield basis, as interpreted by the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, while complying with the before mentioned laws.

Over the course of almost 5 years the BLM collaborated on almost a continuous basis with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and other federal agencies to develop the plan that would meet the requirements of public land and environmental laws. In addition, the BLM included in this collaborative effort numerous Oregon state resource agencies, the Governor, tribal representatives and 18 individual counties. These agencies worked together on research, modeling, biological impacts, transportation and water quality issues, economic and social impacts, and most importantly, impacts on endangered fish and wildlife. By any measure, the BLM’s planning process constituted informal consultation with all the agencies involved, including especially the USFWS and NOAA. The BLM’s intensive planning effort was based on the latest technologies and science and resulted in a plan that provided direction for ensuring (1) forest sustainability (2) permanent timber production on a sustained yield basis, (3) the conservation and recovery of species listed under the ESA and (4) meeting federal and state clean water and air standards. In addition, the plan provided through long-term sustained yield forestry a permanent means of helping to economically support 18 Western Oregon O&C Counties through timber receipts and by supplying timber to local industries for the purpose of creating jobs and income. This cannot be accomplished by withdrawing the BLM plan and reverting back to the failed Northwest Forest Plan.

more »

Eightmile Old-Growth Forest Incineration With Glee

America’s Let It Burn laboratory, the Boise National Forest, is on fire once again. Surprise, surprise.

The Eightmile Foofurb* Fire [here] is over 600 acres and headed for Montana.

*foofurb: euphemism for “fire used for resource benefit.” However, as is usual with foofurbs, no benefits have been elucidated, no EIS created, no NEPA process undertaken or envisioned [here].

The Boise NF is famous for Let It Burn, or should we say infamous. The USFS announced in 2006 that they intended to burn Idaho severely, and then in the middle of the 2007 fire season they declared Idaho forests to be national “Let It Burn Laboratories.” And Let It Burn they did! Over 2 million acres in Idaho were burned deliberately in this fashion by the USFS, including 1,250 square miles of the erosion-sensitive Idaho Batholith in the Payette, Boise, and Nez Perce National Forests [here].

With only 60 percent of the average fire starts, 2007 should have been a mild fire year. However, due to a national policy of Let It Burn, numerous small fires were allowed (encouraged) to become megafires. Approximately 9.75 million acres were roasted nationally in 2007, second only to 2006 (9.89 million acres) since the 1950’s(before cooperative fire protection was fully implemented).

Let It Burn is particularly popular in Idaho, where the National Interagency Fire Center is located (in Boise, where else?). Fire guys like fires. It’s their bread and butter, They see forests as piles of fuel — opportunity knocking, in other words — double-overtime hazard pay when those forest fuel piles are torching away. Hence the Boise NF is one of NIFC’s pet incineration projects, for which they feel the same sort of affection that jet fighter pilots feel for a bombing range.

more »

Sen. Tester’s wilderness bill fails reality check

by Fred Hodgeboom, Clark Fork Chronicle, July 31 2009 [here]

Senator Jon Tester’s “new style jobs and wilderness bill” introduced July 17 models the current mode of Congress’ handling of legislation:

* Prepare the actual bill provisions in secret with only representatives of selected political supporters at the table.

* Roll the Bill out with great political campaign style fanfare and carefully staged media events.

* Do not publicly discuss the actual mandates in the Bill, only spout selected talking points provided by staff that are often outright falsehoods or at best half-truths.

* Push the Bill through as quickly as possible using political tactics to squash debate so that other members of Congress and the public have little opportunity to learn details of the Bill and opponents have little opportunity to tell their side of the story.

Passing legislation using the current Administration tactics is un-American. Like most political hype reported in the media, what most people hear is mostly smoke and mirrors. From the rhetoric to date, it is likely that Tester, even if he has read his own Bill, doesn’t really understand the actual consequences of mandates in the Bill.

The claim that the proposals are a product of open public “collaboration” and “consensus” is just not true. There was no consensus on the Three Rivers designations on the Kootenai National Forest. Tester’s Bill violates the most important principle requested by stakeholders in the Lincoln County Coalition (which morphed into the “Three Rivers Challenge). The principle is a requirement for multiple use access and timber management with jobs in-place that are just as permanent as the wilderness designations at the time of any new wilderness designations. Contrary to this request for equality, Section 7 of Tester’s Bill even requires termination of the timber harvest targets after 15 years, or earlier if the Bill’s timber harvest targets are actually achieved. Apparently few or none of the Lincoln County Coalition stakeholders were involved in writing Tester’s Bill except the Wilderness activists who plan to negotiate another “deal” for more wilderness in the same area after 15 years.

more »

30 Jul 2009, 11:17pm
Federal forest policy The 2009 Fire Season
by admin

NPS — Noxious Pseudo Scientists

The National Park Service is currently incinerating 400-year-old old-growth in Olympic National Park. As of today six fires are burning, the largest being the Constance Foofurb Fire at 180 acres.

Foofurb is slang for “fire used for resource benefit,” an oxymoron if there ever was one. Foofurbs are Let It Burn fires; letting fires rip through our National Parks is a practice the NPS is in love with.

With any luck (the bad kind — Murphy’s Law variety), an uncontained fire in old-growth forests in July will burn for two or three more months. The Constance Foofurb Fire go mega, ala the Tillamook Burn. Hundreds of thousands of acres could be catastrophically destroyed. The fuel loadings are enormous, the vegetation is dry, and rain is not expected until Fall.

In two or thee weeks the fire could reach the communities of Duckabush, Brinnon, and Quilcene on Dabob Bay and Hood Canal. Hopefully those broad arms of Puget Sound will stop it, because the NPS isn’t going to.

The NPS is famous for Let It Burn megafires. In 1988 they burned 1.2 million acres in and around Yellowstone NP. The strategy was Let It Burn until things got out of hand, but by then it was too late. In the end, $120 million was spent suppressing fires that could have been doused weeks earlier for a whole lot less.

more »

Emergency Declared in Forest Recovery

The following article appeared in the Plumas News today. It has some lack of clarity, and some details are missing, so I will insert those I deem important:

U.S. Forest Service declares emergency for Moonlight, Wheeler fires restoration

by Traci Bue, Plumas County News, July 30, 2009 [here]

The Chief of the U.S. Forest Service has declared an “emergency situation” in the Moonlight and Wheeler Fires restoration project area, which calls for the immediate implementation of the recovery and restoration project.

Tom Tidwell replaced Gail Kimbell as Chief in June. This is Tidwell’s call.

The Moonlight Fire burned 65,714 acres (47,174 acres of public lands and 18,540 of private lands) in September 2007, mainly in the Plumas National Forest. Private forest landowners have removed dead trees and planting seedlings, but USFS has not, as yet.

Some concurrent and post-fire photos of the Moonlight Fire are [here]. The USFS Rapid Assessment of Vegetation Condition after Wildfire (RAVG) stats are [here]. An excellent report, Fire Behavior and Effects in Fuel Treatments and Protected Habitat on the Moonlight Fire by Scott Dailey, JoAnn Fites, Alicia Reiner, and Sylvia Mori is [here, 3.03 MB].

The Wheeler Fire made up the bulk of the Antelope Fire Complex which burned 23,420 acres, also in 2007. Another excellent report, Fire Behavior and Effects Relating to Suppression, Fuel Treatments, and Protected Areas on the Antelope Complex Wheeler Fire by Jo Ann Fites, Mike Campbell, Alicia Reiner, and Todd Decker is [here, 4.98 MB]. (Note: many thanks to Linda Blum of the Quincy Library Group for sending us these reports).

more »

Wildfire ‘Benefit’ Double Talk Jive Is Over

The U.S. Forest Service, proud purveyor of foofurbs (fires used for resource benefit), is guilty of double talk jive hypocrisy. It turns out, that when there’s a deep pocket to sue, the USFS flip flops and claims that wildfires damage resources!

Yesterday the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced that the USFS had been awarded a $14.75 million windfall settlement from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company for “damages” resulting from the 1999 Pendola Fire.

Second Largest Settlement In A Forest Fire Case

U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, Yahoo News, Jul 28, 2009 [here]


PG&E Pays $14.75 Million to Settle Claims Arising from the 1999 Pendola Fire

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has agreed to pay $14.75 million to settle the government’s claims of damages resulting from the 1999 Pendola fire in the Plumas and Tahoe National Forests in Northern California. The settlement is the second largest recovery in United States Forest Service history in a forest fire case.

“This substantial settlement reflects the value we all place on such treasures as the Tahoe and Plumas National Forests,” stated Acting United States Attorney Lawrence G. Brown.

The Pendola fire started in the early morning hours of Oct. 16, 1999, on privately owned land near Pendola Ranch in Camptonville. A large ponderosa pine tree fell onto a 12kV power distribution line owned by PG&E, and electricity shorted through it, causing the tree to ignite and drop burning embers to the ground. The fire quickly spread to the Tahoe and Plumas National Forests, burning a total of 11,725 acres - 3,866 acres were National Forest Systems land.

The Forest Service mobilized more than 2,500 firefighters and their equipment to fight the Pendola fire. The fire burned for 11 days before it was fully extinguished. Fire crews successfully suppressed the fire without the loss of any life at a cost of approximately $4.2 million. The United States alleged that the tree that fell into the power line was rotten and hazardous, and PG&E or its contractors should have inspected and removed the tree, preventing the fire.

The fire caused substantial damage to National Forest Systems lands, including harm to ecological habitat and loss of timber values, and required forest restoration efforts that continue to date. More than $10 million of the settlement is to compensate the United States for damages to its natural resources. The majority of the settlement monies will go directly to the Plumas and Tahoe National Forests to help remedy the resource devastation from the fire. The settlement was reached through mediation without the necessity of the United States filing a lawsuit.

“Recovering the funds needed to restore the damaged National Forests, and to compensate for the tremendous expense of fighting wildfires, without time consuming and costly litigation, is always in the public interest,” said John Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“We place a very high priority on fire investigations due to the threat to our precious natural resources and public treasures and want to ensure that we have the ability to restore our lands when catastrophe strikes,” said Regional Forester Randy Moore.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kendall J. Newman.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

Let’s parse that. The suppression costs were $4.2 million, but an additional $10.55 million were tacked on in penalties for “resource devastation.”

Apparently wildfires don’t benefit resources, they devastate them.

Who’d a thunk it?????

Considering that the USFS has perpetrated dozens of foofurbs this year alone, with no explication of the alleged “benefits,” with no NEPA process, with no legal authority whatsoever, but based solely the sorry and pathetic claim that wildfires are “beneficial,” it is the height of galloping hypocrisy to claim the exact opposite in Federal Court.

And the Federal Court, mind you, has repeatedly enjoined nearly every healthy forest treatment that would potentially SAVE resources and protect them from the DEVASTATION of wildfires. Isn’t it inexplicably odd that our esteemed Federal Judiciary would suddenly discover that wildfires inflict multi-million dollar damages to those selfsame resources that they spit upon in other cases?

When the pro-holocaust lobby litigates, Fed judges bend over backwards to accommodate them. Burn Baby Burn. But when there’s a rich pigeon to roast, suddenly the TRUE effects of fire on forests get acknowledged.

more »

26 Jul 2009, 2:36pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
leave a comment

Montanans Seek To Kill Enviros’ Anti-Forest Health Lawsuit

Mountain States Legal Foundation, July 1, 2009 [here]

DENVER, CO. A Montana couple that lives year-round in Montana near an area the U.S. Forest Service has deemed to be prime for dangerous fires today asked to intervene in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups [Native Ecosystems Council and Alliance for the Wild Rockies, here] to stop a forest health project intended to reduce fire risk. Janet and Ronald Hartman, who live north of Wilsall, Montana, believe that the Forest Service project and parallel efforts by local entities and individuals are key to preventing catastrophic fires that would destroy forestry resources, homes and buildings and endanger the lives of residents, visitors, and firefighters. The Forest Service plan involves land within the Gallatin National Forest 20 miles northeast of Bozeman, Montana. The Hartmans intervened in an earlier challenge to the proposal in which a federal court upheld all aspects of the plan except for a new mapping requirement, which has been completed.

“We believe this new lawsuit is without merit, especially the attempt by the environmental groups to re-litigate issues that they lost in their first lawsuit,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), which represents the Hartmans. “We hope that the Hartmans are allowed to intervene and the court issues a speedy ruling so that the Forest Service can do what it can to protect lives and property from wild fire.”

In May 2005, the Forest Service finished the Shields River Watershed Risk Assessment to evaluate the risk of wildfire and insect loss to some 44,000 acres in the Smith Creek/Shields River area of the Gallatin National Forest of Montana. The Forest Service—with comments from adjacent private homeowners and State, county, and local officials and groups—developed the Smith Creek Vegetation Treatment Project to address the dangerous fuel buildups and mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The Project will reduce fuel loads on a maximum of 1,110 acres, in 10 separate units. A local, quasi-governmental group was formed to provide grants to local landowners to conduct fuels reduction projects on private lands.

In July 2008, environmental groups challenged the Forest Service’s plan. Janet and Ronald Hartman intervened in the case. In October 2008, the Montana federal district court ruled for the Forest Service and the Hartmans regarding all claims except the mapping of key habitat components for elk, which was remanded to the Forest Service.

On November 20, 2008, the Forest Service issued a supplemental environmental assessment and a 30-day comment period was opened. On March 6, 2009, the Forest Service issued a Decision Notice/Finding of No Significant Impact approving the Smith Creek Vegetation Project. On June 5, 2009, environmental groups again sued. … [more]

26 Jul 2009, 12:11pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
leave a comment

Flathead Plan Compliance Suit Rejection To Be Appealed

Montanans For Multiple Use have announced that they will appeal the rejection of their suit to enjoin the Flathead National Forest from closing or blocking of private, county, and state roads, and from adopting further amendments to the existing Flathead NF Plan.

Background: the Flathead NF adopted their Forest Plan in 1986. Since then they have made numerous revisions and/or additions to the Plan with following the procedures mandated by the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and other Federal statutes.

The Plan revisions include forest road closures and decommissioning, OHV and snowmobile closures, lynx regulations, Wildland Fire Use adoption, and other significant changes.

In 2003 the Montanans For Multiple Use sued to enjoin the Flathead NF from amending its Plan in the absence of compliance with Federal law [here]. The Swan View Coalition, Sierra Club, and other enviro groups joined the Flathead Forest in opposition and successfully delayed the action through legal maneuverings, including a change of venue to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The injunction legal brief is [here]. An excerpt:

Pursuant to the mandates of the NFMA, the Flathead issued its Record of Decision adopting a Forest Management Plan for the Flathead on or about January 22, 1986, approximately three months after the date set for the adoption of an initial plan. …

Almost before the ink had dried on the original Plan, the Flathead began to adopt a series of
“amendments” to the Plan, purportedly pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1604 (f)(4), all of which purported to be non-significant. …

As of the date of the Complaint’s filing, there were approximately twenty-four proposed amendments to the Plan, not including “regional amendments” (i.e., amendments involving all of the National Forest units in the area), a rate of approximately 1.5 proposed amendments per year. Twenty of these amendments have been completed and adopted. The two regional amendments are not numbered.

Not one of the proposed amendments was accompanied by the comprehensive scientific review and public participation required by NFMA, 16 U.S.C. § 1604. No decision document or review document issued by Defendants considered the cumulative impact of the amendments. No amendment has been submitted to the GAO or the Congress pursuant to SBREFA.

The cumulative impact of these amendments on the Flathead National Forest Plan, has resulted in a such a substantial change to the Plan as originally adopted in January, 1986 that they have de facto revised the Plan without the degree of review and public participation required by the NFMA for significant plan amendments, much less plan revisions. The cumulative impact of these Amendments has also not been subjected to appropriate review under NEPA.

For example, Amendment 19 to the Plan (Exhibit H hereto), which was adopted in March of 1998: (1) closed off to public access vast portions of the forest and more such closures are
planned; (2) prevented timber harvest in areas clearly suitable for harvest; (3) prevented timber salvage in a timely fashion; and (4) otherwise substantially modified the uses allowed in the Flathead, both as a whole and in specific areas, as well as providing for the closure of roads putting the affected areas at substantial risk of fire, insect infestation, and disease. …

more »

Jon Tester’s Forest Bait and Switch

Last week Montana Senator Jon Tester unveiled his new proposed “Forest Jobs And Recreation Act of 2009.” Sounds like a good thing, right? Don’t be fooled — it’s a Burn Baby Burn wilderness bill.

Tester announced his “jobs” bill at a news conference in Townsend, MT. His press release is larded by feel good statements that don’t wash:

Tester introduces forest bill; will discuss in Seeley Lake at noon Saturday

Clark Fork Chronicle, July 17 2009 [here]

Standing with loggers, outfitters, conservationists, hunters and fishermen who spent years working together on a plan for Montana’s forests, Senator Jon Tester today introduced his much-anticipated legislation to reform forest management to “make it work” for Montana.

“Our forests, and the communities and folks who rely on them, face a crisis right now,” Tester said today at a news conference at RY Timber in Townsend. “Our local sawmills are on the brink, families are out of work, while our forests turn red from an unprecedented outbreak of pine beetles, waiting for the next big wildfire. It’s a crisis that demands action now. This bill is a made-in-Montana solution that took years of working together and hearing input to create a common sense forest plan.”

He said his 80-page bill, formally called the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, will create jobs, protect clean water and keep Montana’s prized hunting and fishing habitat healthy for future generations. …

The legislation is available for public viewing on a new website Tester’s staff set up [here]. Careful reading of the actual language reveals the following:

* Tester’s bill will add 669,060 acres of new designated wilderness, primarily chopped out of the Deerlodge National Forest

* An additional 336,205 acres of “Protection” and “Special Management” areas will be also be put off-limits to forest treatments.

* All told, over a million acres will be set aside for No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch It Rot destruction.

Create jobs? Those new Let It Burn zones won’t even create jobs for firefighters, except when the unmanaged fires jump the boundary lines and rage down into private land.

more »

  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta