Ninth Court Drops ‘Federal Defendant’ Rule

In a decision filed January 14, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals abandoned their “federal defendant” rule.

The rule, which had been established in prior court cases, categorically prohibited private parties and state and local governments from intervening in cases and claims brought under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before the Ninth Circuit Court.

In their Jan 14 decsion the Ninth Court threw that rule out because it is at odds with the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) and the standards applied by federal judges in all other intervention of right cases.

The case the Court ruled on is The Wilderness Society and Prairie Falcon Audubon, Inc., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. the United States Forest Service; Jane P. Kollmeyer; Scott C. Nannenga, Defendants.

The entire text of the decision is [here].

Represented by Intervenors and amicus briefers were the Magic Valley Trail Machine Association, Idaho Recreation Council, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Inc., the Motorcycle Industry Council and Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Coos County, Grant County, Harney County, and Wallowa County of Oregon, the American Petroleum Institute, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Croplife America, National Association of Manufacturers, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, the Western States Petroleum Association, the Steens Mountain Landowner Group, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon Cattlemen’s Public Lands Committee, Oregon Farm Bureau Federation, the Public Lands Council, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Safari Club International, Southern Nevada Water Authority (Las Vegas, Nevada), Western Urban Water Coalition, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Kalispel Tribe, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Metlakatla Indian Community, the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation, C.L. “Butch” Otter, Governor of Idaho, the State of Alaska, the American Forest Resource Council, the Alaska Forest Association and Douglas Timber Operators (OR).

The opinion, written by Judge Barry G. Silverman on behalf of an eleven judge panel, states:

Today we revisit our so-called “federal defendant” rule, which categorically prohibits private parties and state and local governments from intervening of right on the merits of claims brought under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (”NEPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et seq. Because the rule is at odds with the text of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) and the standards we apply in all other intervention of right cases, we abandon it here. When construing motions to intervene of right under Rule 24(a)(2), courts need no longer apply a categorical prohibition on intervention on the merits, or liability phase, of NEPA actions. To determine whether a putative intervenor demonstrates the “significantly protectable” interest necessary for intervention of right in a NEPA action, the operative inquiry should be, as in all cases, whether “the interest is protectable under some law,” and whether “there is a relationship between the legally protected interest and the claims at issue.” Sierra Club v. EPA, 995 F.2d 1478, 1484 (9th Cir. 1993). Since the district court applied the “federal defendant” rule to prohibit intervention of right on the merits in this NEPA case, we reverse and remand so that it may reconsider the putative intervenors’ motion to intervene.

This action arises out of the Forest Service’s adoption of a travel plan that designated 1,196 miles of roads and trails for 796 THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY v. USFS use by motorized vehicles in the Minidoka Ranger District of Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest. Two conservation groups, the Wilderness Society and Prairie Falcon Audubon, Inc., claim that the Forest Service violated NEPA by, among other things, failing to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and failing to consider reasonable alternatives to the travel plan that would protect certain ecologically sensitive watersheds and wildlife habitats within the District. Their complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief invalidating the travel plan, limiting motorized vehicles to previously authorized routes, and prohibiting off-road vehicles from traveling outside designated routes, pending compliance with NEPA and other environmental statutes.

The issue central to this appeal arose when three groups representing recreation interests, the Magic Valley Trail Machine Association, Idaho Recreation Council, and Blue Ribbon Coalition, Inc., moved to intervene to counter the conservation groups’ contention that the Forest Service’s plan was too accommodating to users of to users of motorized vehicles. The conservation groups opposed intervention, and the Forest Service took no position on the issue. Applying our Circuit’s “federal defendant” rule, the district court denied intervention of right. The district court also denied permissive intervention on the grounds that the recreation groups had not adequately participated in the administrative process and “would not add any further clarity or insight” to the litigation.

The recreation groups appealed, arguing that the district court erred in failing to consider limited intervention and abused its discretion in denying permissive intervention. They also urged us to consider modifying or eliminating the “federal defendant” rule. A three-judge panel of our court ordered the parties to brief whether the court should review the case en banc to consider abandoning the rule. The recreation groups again urged the court to do so. The conservation groups took no position on the propriety of the rule. We granted en banc review. …

The upshot is that states, counties, and other affected groups and individuals may now intervene when an enviro-litigious group attempts to use the courts and NEPA law to inflict their own twisted policies on federal agencies.

Before this ruling states, counties, and others had to sit on the sidelines while high-paid enviro attorneys argued with US Dept. of Justice attorneys. Very often, terrible rulings were issued that significantly harmed people and entities who were categorically excluded from the courthouse.

“No day in court for you,” said the Ninth Court. But now that (court invented) exclusion from justice has been lifted.

Thank you, Ninth Circuit Court, for lifting ever so slightly your boot heel off the necks of Americans.

By the way, other federal District Courts either don’t recognize the “federal defendant” rule or have yet to confront it.

Also by the way, Obama’s U.S. Justice Dept. opposed lifting the rule. In case you were wondering.

A wild surprise from Salazar

Secretary failed to consult with states - Community Perspective

By Stan Leaphart, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, January 30, 2011 [here]

Note: Stan Leaphart is executive director of the 12-member Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Federal Areas (CACFA), which monitors federal land management actions and assists Alaskans affected by them. Administratively, the commission lies within the state Department of Natural Resources. Its website is [here]

“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.”

This is the opening paragraph of a memorandum signed January 21, 2009, by President Barack Obama, one day after his inauguration.

The memorandum goes on to state: “Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information.” Many Americans applauded this as proof that “hope and change” wasn’t just a beguiling campaign slogan.

Some 23 months later, on December 23, 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unveiled a secretarial order establishing a new policy for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. This policy directs the BLM to inventory all lands it manages for their wilderness characteristics and creates a new classification of lands known as “Wild Lands.”

Salazar’s announcement was the first anyone outside the Department of the Interior knew about the Wild Lands policy, even though it was nearly two years in the making.

Governor Parnell’s office was informed of the program only hours before it was announced.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, whose state in 2003 reached a settlement with Interior on new wilderness study areas, was afforded a similar courtesy.

In a letter to Salazar, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho declared: “Without any state or public input, the Interior Department has circumvented the sovereignty of the states and the will of the public by shifting from the normal planning process of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) to one that places significant authority in the hands of unelected federal bureaucrats.”

Secretary Salazar’s decision to unilaterally create and implement this policy contradicts both the President’s memorandum and the Department of the Interior’s own “Open Government Plan.” …

Salazar’s failure to allow the American public and the governments of the 43 states in which the BLM manages lands to participate in developing this policy or provide “their collective expertise and information” calls into question the department’s commitment to an open and transparent government.

One doubts Salazar would have ignored such a snub during his tenure as a U.S. senator or, prior to that, as Colorado’s attorney general. … [more]

Tampering With Science

In a previous post we noted the Christmas “order” by Ken Salazar to declare 200+ million acres of the BLM Empire “wilderness” [here]. And we noted that immediately thereafter the BLM followed through and declared 11,000 acres of Mendocino County, CA, to be Designated Wilderness [here, here].

And we noted that the BLM had determined “scientifically” that the 11,000 acres had magically transformed from a cultural landscape, occupied by human beings for 10,000+ years, into untrammeled wilderness in five short years. From the BLM press release [here]:

The area was designated as a potential wilderness area by the 2006 Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act. This interim designation provided time for the BLM to assess and, if necessary, restore 1,565 acres of private lands acquired for public ownership shortly before the Act’s passage. The Act required that the area be designated as wilderness once conditions were compatible with the Wilderness Act, or no later than five years after the Act’s passage.

The BLM determined no additional restoration of the Elkhorn Ridge area was necessary as the area had naturally rehabilitated itself over the five years. Consequently, a publication in today’s Federal Register announces that the interim designation has been lifted and the area is now designated wilderness.

We have to ask, what kind of science is that? Some possible answers:

1. BLM scientists are dumber than rocks, or

2. BLM scientists are not stupid but were paid under the table to pervert science, or

3. BLM scientists receive no bribes but were threatened with termination if they did not toe the pseudo-science line.

I suspect #3. I have no proof, just suspicions. I mean, how stupid could they really be? And I doubt they got any reward for perverting science. No, my best guess is that threats, direct or indirect, convinced the BLM scientists to throw up their hands and say whatever.

That’s called “tampering”. Recall that during Salazar’s first days in office as Sec DOI, he threw out the Spotted Owl Recovery Plan because, as he claimed, politicians had tampered with the science [here]. From the DOI press release of July 16, 2009:

U.S. Dept. of the Interior Press Release, July 16, 2009

Interior Withdraws Legally Flawed Plan for Oregon Forests, Presses For Sustainable Timber Harvests

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Because the previous Administration failed to follow established administrative procedure before leaving office, its plan to intensify logging in western Oregon – known as the Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR) – is legally indefensible and must be withdrawn, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today.

Moreover, Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Thomas Strickland said that the federal government will ask the District Court to vacate the Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2008 revision of the critical habitat for the spotted owl, on which the WOPR was in part based, because Interior’s Inspector General determined that the decisionmaking process for the owl’s recovery plan was potentially jeopardized by improper political influence. …

The charge was “improper political influence” in matters of science. The science was tainted because politicians had unduly “influenced” scientists. That charge was made not just by Salazar, but by Obama’s Dept. of Justice [here]. In March 2009 Obama himself issued a Presidential Memorandum calling for “restoring scientific integrity” [here].

That is why today, I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making. To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That is how we will harness the power of science to achieve our goals — to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives.

Can you say “snow job”? Obama’s Memorandum was utter crap. He didn’t mean it; he meant just the opposite. No Administration in history has tampered with science more than Obama’s. Case in point: magic wilderness, where under pressure from politicians BLM scientists flushed their scientific integrity down the toilet.

Some might say, well, that’s okay because the important thing is Obama has “protected” these special lands. It’s just white lies, for a higher purpose.

Except that the magic wilderness areas are NOT protected. They will erupt into catastrophic fires that will be Let Burn and will destroy all the environmental values therein. And those fires will leap across legal boundaries and destroy farms, ranches, homes, and businesses far away from the magic wildernesses, and even burn right into cities. It’s happened before. It will happen again.

That’s not “protection”; it’s wholesale destruction.

The tampering, the lies, the phony science all have real world consequences. Bad consequences. Death and destruction consequences.

The Obama Administration has declared war on America [here].

The BLM scientists should be ashamed of themselves. How could you? What did America ever do to you that you would cast your integrity aside for bellicose and belligerent purposes? Why have you perverted science in an act of war upon your own nation? We understand the corruption and extreme animosities that smolder beneath the surface of grasping politicians. What we don’t understand is why you have joined with them in support of their insanity.

GP VP Defends Forest Boycott

The Alabama Forest Owners’ Association, Inc. [here] produces podcasts as part of their excellent Capital Ideas – Live! program. Many SOSF kudos are extended to AFOA for the tremendous job of forestry education that they are doing.

On January 19, 2011, Capital Ideas – Live! moderator Hayes D. Brown, attorney and forest owner, interviewed Deborah Baker, Vice President - Sustainable Forestry, Environmental and Community Outreach at Georgia-Pacific. The podcast may be downloaded [here].

The discussion related to GP’s declaration, made in February 2008 [here, here, here] that it will no longer purchase trees from endangered forests and special areas, or from new pine plantations established at the expense of natural hardwood forests. [here]

* Georgia-Pacific will work actively on the definition and mapping of endangered forests and special areas. As endangered forests are identified, Georgia-Pacific will not source fiber from these areas. Georgia-Pacific will prioritize its efforts to identify endangered forests and special areas in its key supply regions, including the Southern US.

* Georgia-Pacific will not procure pine fiber from plantations established after July 1, 2008, on sites that were natural hardwood forestlands immediately prior to their conversion. Additionally, Georgia-Pacific will continue to offer information and education on natural regeneration options to forest landowners.

* Georgia-Pacific will closely monitor its supply chain so that customers can be assured that wood and paper products are not sourced from endangered forests or plantations established on sites that were natural hardwood forests immediately prior to their conversion as set forth above.

The following questions regarding GP’s boycott of hardwood growers were NOT addressed by Ms. Baker:

1. How much money has GP donated to the Rainforest Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Dogwood Alliance over the last 6 years?

2. GP has announced their intention to boycott 600,000 acres of private tree farms. How would they feel about a boycott of their wood products company, Dixie cups, Brawny paper towels, Quilted Northern bath tissues, etc.

3. GP’s partners in this boycott make the claim that deforestation in the U.S. is a “significant problem” exceeding (by percentage) forest loss in Brazil and Indonesia. Does GP agree with that contention?

4. GP’s partners in this boycott claim 90 million acres of Southern hardwood forests need “protection” from forest management. Does GP agree with that contention?

5. GP has failed to define “natural hardwood forests”, or describe their development. They do not define why they are better left without active management, so much so that GP has decided to boycott working hardwood forests. Later on in the podcast Jeffrey W. Stringer, Extension Professor – Hardwood Silviculture and Forest Operations at the Univ. of Kentucky, points out that hardwood forests regenerate naturally and that pre-harvest treatments can enhance the success of preferred hardwood species. If hardwoods forest regenerate naturally, what is gained “environmentally” by GP’s boycott?

6. GP claims to have reached “agreement” with “academia and environmental groups” in justification of their boycott. To what extent and in what ways did they attempt to reach agreement with the landowners they are boycotting?

7. GP’s “environmental” partners in this boycott claim the boycott will not harm GP’s profitability. How profitable is GP? How will the boycott affect the profitability of the 600,000 acres of private tree farms?

8. After two years GP has ground-truthed only one area in the Mid-Atlantic. Is that adequate “science” to support their boycott of 600,000 acres, most of which they have never visited?

9. What other initiatives are anticipated from GP’s partnership with the Rainforest Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Dogwood Alliance?

10. To what extent will GP be actively joining with as well as funding the Rainforest Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Dogwood Alliance in their numerous litigations against active forest management?

AFOA asks the rhetorical question: “Wouldn’t nearly all of Alabama be home to natural hardwood forests if pre- and post-Columbian settlers hadn’t burned the land extensively, thereby creating the conditions favorable for the growth of pines?

Indeed it would be.

Georgia Pacific has a lot of explaining to do.

Salazar, Abbey Get Feedback on New BLM Wilderness Order

SOS Forests is not alone in our shock and dismay at Sec DOI Ken Salazar’s Christmas surprise order declaring an indeterminate amount of the 245 million-acre BLM empire as de facto “wilderness” [here].

Wyoming Gov Matt Mead fired off the following letter last week [here]:

Governor Mead asks Department of Interior to rescind Wild Lands Order


State Capitol
Cheyenne, WY 82002

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – In a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Matt Mead expressed deep concerns with the administration’s signing of Secretarial Order 3310. That order directs the Bureau of Land Management to identify public lands as “Wild Lands” and protect them for their wilderness values.

“This letter is to advise you that I firmly oppose Secretarial Order 3310,” Mead wrote. He added his concern that the order was released just before the Christmas holiday and at a time when his office and other governors’ offices were in transition. “Though you will seek feedback from State BLM offices prior to issuing final agency guidance, the opportunity for public input on the policy itself was never afforded.”

Mead also expressed concern about the impact that this order could have on the economy of Wyoming and its communities. He wrote, “The policy ignores the contribution of Wyoming’s natural resources to the nation’s economic sustainability. It ignores the revenues our State and local governments depend on from mineral and other development. It fails to address the impact to ranchers, recreationalists, and all the others who rely on the lands for so many different reasons.”

Specifically, Governor Mead says the order could drag out or halt the permitting process for BLM lands.

The Governor’s letter ends, “Only the elected Congress is given the power, by law, to designate official Wilderness areas. But, the policy seeks such designations by administrative fiat. With all due respect, the BLM cannot achieve these ends through this means. Please rescind the order for the reasons set forth in this letter and in the name of balance, transparency and the BLM’s multiple-use mandate.”

And in a contentious public meeting, BLM Director Bob Abbey’s pants were set on fire, figuratively:

Abbey’s visit marked by fireworks

Mary Bernard, Vernal Express, 1/18/11 [here]

Angry words, rowdy applause and a walk-out marked Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey’s visit Friday to the state Capitol to discuss a national policy shift on public lands management.

The new policy, announced Dec. 23 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, directs the BLM to inventory — or in some cases re-inventory — the land it manages to determine if it should be protected under a new “wild lands” designation until Congress can decide whether it wants to permanently protect it as wilderness.

“It is consistent with our obligation to manage public lands for multiple uses,” Abbey said of the policy shift, adding that the public has a “right to protest or litigate decisions with which they disagree.”

Speaking before the usually reserved body of stakeholders on the Governor’s Council on Balanced Resources, Abbey was repeatedly blasted as he defended Salazar’s order.

“When is enough enough?” Gov. Gary Herbert asked, clearly frustrated with the shift that scraps a 2003 agreement crafted between then-Gov. Mike Leavitt and the Bush administration’s BLM that said the agency would stop trying to have public lands in Utah considered for congressional designation as wilderness.

“How many times are we going to inventory the same thing?” Herbert asked, drawing loud applause from attendees sporting “Stop the Land Grab” stickers as others wearing yellow “Wild Utah” buttons sat silent.

So many people turned out for Abbey’s meeting with Herbert and his council that two additional overflow rooms had to be opened to accommodate the session.

Herbert went on to criticize “ad nauseum litigation over public lands management that has had a negative impact on rural economies.” Specifically, he said, rural economies who rely on public lands access and face “the lack of finality” and no way to plan for the future.

Similar sentiments were voiced by council member Kathleen Clarke, who held Abbey’s job for five years during the Bush administration. She noted in the absence of certainty, “We will cause industry to flee this state.”

Council member Mike Noel went on to angrily denounce Salazar’s order as “erroneous.” The Republican state representative from Kanab said the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 guarantees Westerners responsible access to resources on public lands.

Instead, Salazar’s order is a step backward, possibly foreclosing on the state’s effort to engage different points of view to resolve challenges without legal action, council members told Abbey. …

“We’ve tried to bring people together in a reasonable and rational approach,” said Herbert, who was clearly irked by the federal government’s lack of openness in formulating its new policy.

“Process counts and when a major policy change is announced two days before Christmas after Congress is out of session, something is wrong,” the governor said. “If we have to somehow do it in the shadows, then it probably isn’t the right thing to do.”

Still smarting from the last minute phone call on the morning Salazar announced his order, the governor said the state was “caught blind” by the policy change. …

A request to hear from former Rep. Jim Hansen, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, was met with a protest by council member Pat Shea.

Shea — director of the BLM for a brief time under President Bill Clinton and current defense attorney for Tim DeChristopher, the man charged with monkey-wrenching a 2008 BLM oil and gas lease auction in Salt Lake City — stormed out of the proceeding when Hansen, a non-member of the council, was given the floor to speak.

“The BLM is protecting fake wilderness,” Hansen said. “Only Congress can create a wilderness.”

Abbey countered Hansen’s assertion that Salazar’s order bypasses congressional authority saying, “We are not creating de facto wilderness.”

The response — interrupted by boos from the audience — focused on the BLM’s responsibility to operate as a multiple-use agency. …

When unctuous government functionaries violate the Constitution and the will of Congress with surprise “orders” that promise economic disaster, catastrophic holocaust, and wholesale destruction in the name of phony, illusory “mandates” and extreme junk science, can we call their actions “civil”? Is it “balance”, “clarity”, and “common-sense”, as described by Salazar, to inflict illegal and unwanted policies in a midnight putsch?

No, it just pisses people off. Salazar and Abbey need to resign today. They are bad for America.

Magic Wilderness Implications

The redoubtable bear bait makes an important observation [here] that everyone should study intently.

The BLM has invented a new legal and quasi-ecological concept, that of “natural rehabilitation”. In the case of the new Elkhorn Ridge Designated Wilderness, a mere five years of no (or reduced) human activity on 11,000 acres of ranches, homes, timber harvest tracts, etc. was enough “natural rehabilitation” to turn an area of Mendocino County CA into “primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which… generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable.”

In just five years a working landscape transformed naturally into primeval wilderness. That is, according to the experts at the BLM.

So when the supremely tamperistic Ken Salazar declared [here] that he would “restore balance and clarity to the management of public lands by establishing common-sense policy” by designating “appropriate areas with wilderness characteristics under its [the Dept. of Interior's] jurisdiction as ‘Wild Land’ and to manage them to protect their wilderness values”, he meant every single acre of the 245 million acre BLM empire.

After all, if five years of “natural rehabilitation” is all it takes to restore primeval character, erasing the imprint of man, then every acre is a mere five years away from being wild as a goose in the wind.

The inconvenient fact that human beings have been living on and imprinting North America for 10,000+ years is moot. It’s as moot as a dead duck. All the BLM has to do is put up a gate, lock it, and five years later presto! it’s wilderness.

Congress is also moot. What difference do they make?

And the science of Ecology is also moot. Wilderness is a state of mind, not an actual condition, or else Mother Nature is magic and with a wave of Her wand, bingo! it’s wilderness in five short years or less.

La, la, la. Merrily we skip down the garden path. Only it’s not a garden anymore, it’s wild wilderness, untrammeled and unimprinted.

Detroit, you’re next.

Jerry Moonbeam Proposes to Burn Down California

Only days into office, retread CA Goober Jerry Moonbeam has proposed cutting the Cal Fire budget.

Governor proposes firefighting shift from Cal Fire to local agencies

By Paul Rogers, The San Jose Mercury News, January 16, 2011 [here]

The proposed budget Governor Jerry Brown rolled out this week contains significant changes to California’s environment — from closing some state parks to dropping a program that pays big landowners to keep their property undeveloped.

But perhaps none may prove to be more significant than Brown’s recommendation for major changes to the way California battles wildfires.

His plan calls for reducing firefighters on Cal Fire engine crews from four to three — back to staffing levels that existed before massive wildfires charred the state in 2003. It also would shift to cities and counties a significant amount of Cal Fire’s fire fighting and other emergency-response responsibilities. … [more]

Well, I guess the voters get what they vote for. Who better to destroy the Land of Fruits and Nuts than a fruity nut?

Magic Wilderness

Here we go. On Dec. 23rd Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a “secretarial order” to designate 245 million acres of BLM land as “wilderness” [here]. Three weeks later the BLM proudly announced a new 11,000 acre “wilderness in Mendocino County, CA.

BLM Finalizes Elkhorn Ridge Wilderness Designation

BLM News Release No. CA-N-11-19, January 13, 2011 [here]

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced today that the Elkhorn Ridge Potential Wilderness Area in Mendocino County, California, has officially been added to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

“We are excited that this unique and beautiful area will now receive permanent protection as wilderness,” said Lynda Roush, manager of the BLM Arcata Field Office. “This designation is the result of hard work by many local partners and the strong support of Congressman Mike Thompson.”

Congressman Thompson added, “The official designation for Elkhorn Ridge makes certain this very special place will be enjoyed by future generations. The area is rich in wildlife and aquatic species, diverse forestland, chaparral habitat and many areas of undisturbed ancient forest. I am please the area is permanently protected.”

Congressman Thompson is very wrong. The designation is an invitation to catastrophic holocaust. The Elkhorn Ridge area is now dedicated to immolation and incineration. Whatever resource values are there now will be destroyed within a few years by unfought wildfire.

Ken “Mr. Tamper” Salazar promised to “restore balance and clarity to the management of public lands by establishing common-sense policy.” What he accomplished is the exact opposite.

More from the news release:

The area was designated as a potential wilderness area by the 2006 Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act. This interim designation provided time for the BLM to assess and, if necessary, restore 1,565 acres of private lands acquired for public ownership shortly before the Act’s passage. The Act required that the area be designated as wilderness once conditions were compatible with the Wilderness Act, or no later than five years after the Act’s passage.

The BLM determined no additional restoration of the Elkhorn Ridge area was necessary as the area had naturally rehabilitated itself over the five years. Consequently, a publication in today’s Federal Register announces that the interim designation has been lifted and the area is now designated wilderness.

According to the Wilderness Act of 1964 (Public Law 88-577), wilderness is “an area where the earth and [its] community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which… generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable.”

The Elkhorn Ridge area has been occupied and resided in by human beings for 10,000+ years. The imprint of that heritage is profound. The area is laced with human trails of great antiquity. Human beings established an anthropogenic mosaic there of human-induced prairies, acorn orchards, hazel copses, and other subsistence crop complexes. There are sacred sites of vintage stretching back many thousands of years.

All that is alleged by the BLM to have disappeared after five years of “natural rehabilitation”. What a crock! What a travesty!

Destroying heritage as well as vegetation, wildlife habitat, clean air, clean water, and other resource values by catastrophic fire is NOT the mission of the BLM. To do so behind a pack of transparent lies is even more egregious.

Plutocrats On Parade

We reported [here] that industrial wood products giant Georgia-Pacific has climbed into bed with radical extremist enviro groups. The “news” was acclaimed with crapastic rhetoric by the MSM [here].

Questions have arisen regarding this pusillanimous propaganda:

1. What advantage is it to GP to blacklist 600,000 acres of private timberland that does not belong to them?

2. Who funds the Dogwood Alliance? (and the Natural Resources Defense Council and Rainforest Action Network?)

And two related history questions:

3. What global giant timber company engineered the Northwest Forest Plan that halted timber harvest on 25,000,000 acres of the most productive forests in the world?

4. Why?

Here are the answers:

1. GP has blackballed 600,000 acres of private land in the hopes of bankrupting the owners of that land. GP wishes to constrain the market supply of wood fiber. They wish to halt the commercial production of wood fiber on all acres that they do not own.

2. GP funds the Dogwood Alliance and the others. They are proxies for GP. They do GP’s dirty work.

3. Weyerhaeuser dreamed up and engineered the Northwest Forest Plan. The roots go back to Arkansas when Bill Clinton was governor and a Weyerhaeuser puppet. Big W is the largest landowner in AK, in case you didn’t know. With Slick Willy as Pres, Big W seized the opportunity to shut down 25 million acres (much more than that eventually) of Fed land (esp. high site Douglas-fir land).

4. It is to the advantage of industrial forest owners like Big W, GP (the Koch Bros), et al. to constrain the wood fiber supply by bankrupting and shutting down competitors, the easiest targets being public land and small private holdings. The Big Boys use phony environmentalism to promote their Big Business agenda

There is a glut of wood fiber in the world today. Despite all the shrill and bug-eyed hysteria about “deforestation”, there are more trees on this planet and more acres with trees today than at any time during the entire Holocene.

This phenomenon (big bullying with propaganda theater) is so common and reenacted so often that I wonder why so few seem to be aware of it. Be that as it may, foresters, farmers, miners, and other natural resource producers and regions are patsies in this game. We are not doing the Big Boys any favors by maximizing wood fiber production. That’s exactly what the Big Boys don’t want. They will crush us if they can. The more land they can take out of tree production, the better. The poorer and hungrier the workforce, the better. The Big Boys want you to be landless and starving.

There are no such things as “endangered hardwood forests”. By their own admission, the Dogwood Alliance claims 90 million acres of Southern hardwoods exist. All the fear mongering is a fraud. The kept “scientists” who claim there is something special or fragile about these allegedly “endangered” forests are lying whores.

The entire Big Lie is designed to do you maximum harm. If you defy the Big Boys and their proxy enviro running dogs, they will burn you out with deliberate acts of arson. In fact, that is their intent whether you play along or not. They want your wood fiber destroyed before it ever can reach market. Hence our modern era of megafires.

Oregon’s economy is wrecked. Has been for 20 years. The cabal of Big Government, Big Business, and Big Media has used Big Lies to beat Oregon’s economy to death. We have led the Nation in unemployment, business bankruptcy, home foreclosure, alcoholism, drug abuse, broken families, ignorance, and hunger for two decades. Oregon’s motto is “We Are Pigeons and Patsies Here”. We work for peanuts for corrupt plutocrats who steal our wealth and take it elsewhere. That’s the tradition and the modern reality.

Don’t blame solely the enviro-wacko Gadarene swine. They are funded by big industrialists who wish to keep the masses poor so they can pay them starvation wages. Big government is in cahoots with the industrialists, too, with the goal of inflicting economic pain to the point of starvation. The universities are serfs of both and have so corrupted “science” that it is unrecognizable today as science. Big media purveys sensationalism for the purpose of distracting the citizenry from the truth in front of their eyes.

I invite your critique of the foregoing. Try to explain why I am wrong. Good luck, because I am right and you know I’m right. But let’s discuss it, anyway. I think we should fight back against the wholesale destruction of forests, even if our foes are giant industrialists, big government, the Main Stream Media, and other powerful plutocrats and thieves.

Time to Boycott Georgia-Pacific?

Industrial giant Georgia-Pacific has climbed in bed with radical extremist groups.

Georgia-Pacific Increases Forest Protection and Expands Sustainable Forestry Practices

G-P News Release, November 16, 2010 [here]

Georgia-Pacific LLC announced today it is expanding its forest protection and sustainability efforts with an updated policy to better identify and protect endangered forests in the United States; promote conservation of forest diversity; and enhance its sustainable forestry and recycling practices.

“This policy continues our commitment to sustainability in the fiber we source and the products we make,” said Jim Hannan, Georgia-Pacific chief executive officer and president. “We continue to believe it is possible to operate in a way that is environmentally responsible and also economically sound. This policy also gives us the opportunity to address issues of increasing interest to our customers and to consumers.”

The policy update is the result of ongoing discussions with customers and suppliers, and several years of consultation with a number of environmental organizations, including the Rainforest Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Dogwood Alliance. …

It isn’t enough that these billion dollar sue-happy Luddites are cutting the throats of forest-based communities across the U.S. and around the world. Now Georgia-Pacific shareholders are dumping more $millions into the coffers of the Gadarene holocausters.

Interestingly, GP is owned by the Koch Brothers, who are big backers of the Cato Institute, an allegedly “libertarian” think tank in the belly of the beast (DC). However, many are aware that the Kochs are “crony capitalists” [here] if not out-and-out global Socialists.

Southern hardwoods are the most valuable timber in America today, especially when logs have figured grain. There is no environmental detriment to professional forest management in Southern hardwood forests. Interestingly, G-P owns no Southern hardwood land and is not in the hardwood milling business. But if they can screw their competition with throat-cutting pseudo-enviro lawsuits, they will, using proxies to do their dirty work.

G-P has chugged the radical enviro Kool Aid, and is now funding wholesale destruction of forests and economies — the real agenda of the Rainforest Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Dogwood Alliance.

What bastards! G-P ought to be shunned like the evil business lepers they are.

Tree Rats Doom Forest Management, Restoration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Destroying History With a Vengeance

The US Forest Service has an unfortunate habit of destroying historical structures, on purpose, with glee, even though the structures are on (or qualified for) the National Register of Historical Places.

It happens all the time, mainly in association with “used” wildfires, but also as stand-alone acts of official arson.

Last summer the USFS burned up numerous cabins in the historic Kimberly Mining District of Utah. The weapon used was the Twitchell Canyon Whoofoo Fire [here, here, here, here, here, here], which ignited in July and was Let Burn until it blew up in September. Besides shutting down the Interstate and a key powerline corridor, and eventually costing $18,000,000 to suppress, the Twitchell Canyon Government Arson Project wiped history off the map.

Nothing new about that practice. In 2008 the USFS burned up historic cabins and lodges in Wyoming during the Gunbarrel Let It Burn Monstrosity Fire [here, here, here, here], with typical officious impunity. Good riddance to history said the obsequious functionaries.

It is tough to top the Payette NF, however, when it comes to deliberate arson. They lie, cheat, and sneak around in the middle of the night with drip torches deliberately setting private property on fire. Hard to believe, but absolutely true. Ask any resident of Yellow Pine or Warren, Idaho.

Just recently the Payette NF Gang decided to incinerate yet another cabin, the Bill Timm Cabin in Roosevelt. Yellow Pine resident Scott Amos explains [here]:

According to Krassel District Ranger Anthony Botello, the USFS directives require the Payette National Forest to “reduce our inventory” of historical structures. I.E., BURN BABY BURN!!!! Apparently through any means necessary, and without regard for the Antiquities Act, National Historical Preservation Act, or the will of the American people!


The official USFS archaeological report, required to comply with the National Historical Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA 1966), states the following:

1) [Falsely] The cabin was built in 1969, therefore is not eligible for entry into the National Register of Historical Places and will be destroyed (by USFS rangers).

2) [Falsely] The man who built it, Bill Timm, who died in 1963, reportedly did not build his cabin until 1969!

3) [Correctly] Shows a picture of Bill Timm (as a VERY old man) posing for a newspaper reporter in front of his cabin that he built, dated 1950!!! According to people who knew Bill Timms, he would have been in his 80s in 1950. If he died in 1963, he would likely have been in his 90s. And, the USFS account that he was able to build the cabin sometime around 1969 is simply OUTRAGEOUS!

The Krassel Ranger District burned up their own Work Center in 2007 during the phenomenally egregious Summer of Holocaust in central Idaho [see photos here, a collection of 30+ posts here].

Once upon a time Payette NF functionaries trekked to a stream below an old mine and poured a bottle of cyanide into the water. Then they “tested” the water, found high levels of cyanide (surprise surprise!) and blamed it on leachate from the mine. Hard to believe, but absolutely true.

Destruction in the name of “preservation” is standard operating procedure for the US Forest Service. And not just in backwaters like Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. In Southern California the wackos have coddled tick brush, which they call “old-growth chaparral”, forbidding any fuel reduction treatments. Said tick brush frequently explodes into fatal holocausts like the Station Fire [here, here, here, here] and the Cedar Fire (which burned 3,241 homes and killed 16 people).

Now the Gadarene destructionists, led by geriatric Goober “Moonbeam” Brown, want to declare SoCal National Forests as “wilderness” to ensure bigger and more destructive holocausts in the heart of their largest cities.

Hard to believe, but absolutely true.

The list goes on and on. Toxic “environmentalism” is more than a disease, more than a religion — it is a full frontal assault on civilization and humanity fomented by liars, cheats, and thieves.

But you already knew that.

Trophy Wilderness Is a Cruel Joke

Ken Salazar and Bob Abbey planted an eco-terrorist bomb last week. They are undertaking a massive crime by circumventing the US Constitution, the law, and rational stewardship of Federal lands [here]. Other observers are now weighing in:

Wilderness reinventory a cruel joke

By Sen. Steve Urquhart, the Deseret News, Dec. 31, 2010 [here]

“Wilderness” is a joke. Worse, it is a cruel joke to Utah’s education funding and to Utah’s rural economies. “Wilderness” is defined by Congress to mean 5,000 acres of roadless land and … well, the rest doesn’t matter. Although wilderness designation originally was intended for unique, pristine areas offering outstanding opportunities for solitude, it now merely means any 5,000-acre chunk of public land where roads can be ignored or red-lined. The quality of the land or the experience is irrelevant. It is strictly a numbers thing.

The continuous theme of Western public lands is excess. The only thing that changes is the trophy-of-the-day (e.g., land, bison, grazing, timber, and, now, wilderness for the Green Barons). In the West, enough is never enough.

Special interest groups first wanted 3 million acres of wilderness in Utah. Then, 5 million. Now, 9 million acres — which means every other acre in Utah that is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In a serious case of grade inflation, every other acre is now the best. Although Congress never changed the standards, protection of unique, pristine areas has morphed into capture of average areas. Why? The argument is that the land is imperiled by use. Imperiled when, without wilderness protection, the amount of wilderness is metastasizing? Hardly.

“Wilderness” is about politics. Sparsely populated areas in the West are Republican. Democratic administrations have nothing to lose in those areas by savaging the local economy. But, they do stand to gain urban votes by protecting the West from yahoos who, well, yahoos who have apparently grown wilderness 300 percent over the past 30 years. … [more]

What is wilderness? According to the law:

A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which: (a) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprints of man’s work substantially unnoticed; (b) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (c) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (d) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.

Note that “generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable” is a perceptive gloss. It has to do with appearances, not scientific fact. In order to identify an area as wilderness, one must first blind one’s eyes to the imprint that humanity has made over the last 10,000+ years.

Wilderness is a myth because humanity has left substantial imprint everywhere. In order to codify that myth, blindness is necessary. Science must be perverted. The facts must be thrown out the window. Rational inquiry must be squelched and rational findings of fact must be denied. People must be led down a path of increasing stupidity and superstition by “scientists” who are doing little more than alchemy.

The human beings who made substantial impacts on the environment must be dehumanized, ignored, and erased from history and from science. That revisionism is fundamentally racist at its core.

The putative “protectionism” of wilderness designation is patently false as well. Wilderness policy leads to catastrophic fire. Virtually every wilderness area in America has either burned catastrophically in the last 20 years or is primed to do so by dint of accumulated fuels and the stated intent of the Federal land management agencies.

Those fires destroy or seriously degrade every natural resource out there including but not limited to vegetation, wildlife, water, air, soil, recreation, and scenery. Wilderness designation is destruction, not protection. As with history, fundamental ecology must be perverted and/or denied for the protection myth to hold sway.

That is more than “politics”. Such blindness is religious at its core. It requires a fanaticism that shuts down common sense and acceptance of plain fact. The perpetrators are not priests, however. Their manipulations are cynical and self-serving. They do not themselves believe the myths that they herald. They disdain the intelligence of the citizenry and treat you like fools.

The extent to which they are successful in dumbing you down is your fault.

The situation we find ourselves in is very frustrating. Our political leaders are cynical manipulators whose goals are destructive of human intelligence, human rights, freedom, history, rationality, and science, as well as our environment. There does not seem to be any way to stop the onslaught.

Your thoughts on these matters are welcome. Please comment.

Death By Wilderness: Mr.Tamper’s Latest Crime

A special Christmas gift was stuffed down America’s chimneys last week by none other than Mr. Tamper (Sec DOI Ken Salazar). Let us parse the announcement:

Update: Salazar, Abbey Restore Protections for America’s Wild Lands

Dept. Interior Press Release, December 23, 2010 [here]

Washington, D.C. - A secretarial order issued today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar restores balance and clarity to the management of public lands by establishing common-sense policy for the protection of backcountry areas where Americans recreate, find solitude, and enjoy the wild.

Secretarial Order 3310 directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), based on the input of the public and local communities through its existing land management planning process, to designate appropriate areas with wilderness characteristics under its jurisdiction as “Wild Lands” and to manage them to protect their wilderness values.

Mr. Tamper issued a “Secretarial Order”. I invite you to read the U.S. Constitution [here] to see if you can discover where “Secretarial Orders” are listed. They aren’t. What Mr. Tamper did is wholly unconstitutional. He has relegated powers to himself that do not exist in our foundational legal document.

Mr. Tamper did not “restore balance and clarity”; in fact just the opposite. He has circumvented every law that deals with Federal land management and inflicted bias and confusion.

There is zero common sense to his usurpation and tyranny. The Secretarial Order is senseless and destructive, as we shall explain.

more »

Owl My Regrets

SOS Forests has been quiet for awhile because I have been working on some special projects. One of those is my “comments” on the 2010 Draft Revised Revised Revised Revised Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl [here, here].

I am sad to say that I have not finished with that project, and the time has passed for official comment submitting. It’s not a big deal, since my comments were sure to be ignored anyway, but I regret not having met the Federal Gummit’s deadline.

One problem I encountered is that nearly every sentence in the 181-page DRRRRRP-NSO is replete with offensive, atrocious, egregious eco-babble. I would sit down with the steaming pile, read a paragraph or two, and groan with agony. Then the dog, who is very sensitive, would start barking like the terrorists from the USFWS were at the door. Then my long-suffering wife would get upset at me for upsetting the dog, and threaten to put the offending DRRRRRP-NSO into the woodstove.

I tried but could not control my emotions. The neo-fascist enviros have managed to incinerate millions of acres of America’s priceless heritage forests and shut down Oregon’s economy behind their outrageously junk pseudo-scientific lying crap about the Spotted Owl.

Their 20-year stranglehold has left Oregon in ruins. And the New Plan is worse than the Old Plan!

Somebody needs to call the USFWS on their horrific bullshit. I have volunteered. And I will complete the job. All will be posted here at SOSF.

But not today. I need a break from the agony. ‘Tis the season of goodwill and peace on Earth, and I need to get in the spirit. Later, after Christmas, I will take up the Owl burden again.

Meanwhile, here’s wishing that your next two weeks are cheery and bright, and may you be graciously mindful of the Reason for the Season.

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