Green Corruption from Teddy the Torch

Oregon has a bad habit of electing sleazeballs to be Governor. It’s yet another unpleasant aspect of our one party system. The current governor is no exception to the sleazeball rule.

Besides proclaiming that “healthy forests stink, they just stink,” Teddy the Torch has broken the state budget with “green” giveaways to his comrades:

State lowballed cost of green tax breaks

By Harry Esteve, The Oregonian, October 31, 2009 [here]

State officials deliberately underestimated the cost of Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s plan to lure green energy companies to Oregon with big taxpayer subsidies, resulting in a program that cost 40 times more than unsuspecting lawmakers were told, an investigation by The Oregonian shows.

Records also show that the program, a favorite of Kulongoski’s known as the Business Energy Tax Credit, has given millions of dollars to failed companies while voters are being asked to raise income taxes because the state budget doesn’t have enough to pay for schools and other programs.

The incentives are now under intense scrutiny at the Oregon Department of Energy, which is scrambling to curb their skyrocketing costs.

[The credits are better than tax deductions -- $1 of tax credit means $1 less paid in taxes. If a company has little or no tax liability, the credits can be sold at a discount to another Oregon taxpayer.]

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Mt. Hoodgate Revisted — Govt Foot Dragging Threatens Sweetheart Land Swap

Update on an old story:

Hood land deal delay; Complex trade may last past Congress date

By RaeLynn Ricarte, Hood River News, October 30, 2009 [here]

U.S. Forest Service officials are unsure if the 64-step process to trade public land with Mt. Hood Meadows Oregon can be completed within the 16 months allotted by Congress.

“We’re going to make a good faith effort, but we’re probably not going to get through all of these steps within that time period,” said Christine Arredondo, recreation and lands staff officer for the Mount Hood National Forest.

The agency was given a little more than one year to complete the exchange authorized by the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009.

Oregon’s entire Congressional delegation voted in favor of the package that included about 160 bills and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 30.

The legislation expanded Wilderness by two million acres in nine states, including the addition of 127,000 more acres of Wilderness on Mount Hood.

The Act also gave the nod to a land exchange that would protect the north face of Mount Hood from development.

The Congressionally intended deadline for completion of the trade is October 1, 2010.

The Forest Service was given neither extra money in its budget nor any legislative relief from regulatory and policy requirements to conduct the exchanges.

The federal plan is to have Meadows exchange 769 acres of its Cooper Spur holdings for 120 acres of national forest near Government Camp.

The company wants to build a condominium complex in the already heavily populated area.

In return, Meadows has agreed to forgo any further development in the southern sector of Hood River County.

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Malcom X Parkgate Chapter 3

The U.S. Senate rebukes itself, DC Parks party hearty, the West burns on

The Washington Times reported in September that $2.8 million in USFS forest-fire-fighting money was to be used instead to sponsoring urban park festivals in the Washington DC area [here]. Then later that month the WT reported [here] that:

The Senate this week told the Obama administration to stop spending stimulus bill wildland firefighting money on urban parks in the nation’s capital — the first time either chamber has voted to reject one of the administration’s stimulus spending decisions.

Hold the phone. Today the WT reported that “House and Senate negotiators” overrode the full vote of the Senate and put the firefighting money back into the DC park party fund.

D.C. wildfire funds rebuked, then restored

By Stephan Dinan, Washington Times, October 29, 2009 [here]

Lawmakers Wednesday rebuked the Forest Service for spending stimulus forest firefighting money on D.C. green-jobs programs, but gave the city the money anyway.

The decision reverses a vote of the full Senate, which last month stripped the $2.8 million in wildland fire-management funds for the District, calling it a waste of critical firefighting funds.

House and Senate negotiators made the move while hammering out a final public lands spending bill. They said they didn’t want to recall the money, but in strongly worded language blasted the Forest Service for a “lack of transparency” and insisted future funds be spent solely to reduce fire threats.

But the fact that they allowed the D.C. money to be spent on jobs programs in a city with a low risk of forest fires angered lawmakers, who called it an affront to Western states scorched by wildfires this year.

“Is that a lot of Washington double-speak or what?” said Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, who sponsored the Senate amendment that cut the funds in the first place. “It’s offensive they would take this position. This is wasteful spending on important money that should be going to fight wildland fires.”

In their official report, the negotiators said all future stimulus firefighting spending will have to “be devoted to activities that directly reduce fire hazards on public and private lands.”

Both chambers will have to vote on the compromise bill before the week ends, because the measure also contains stopgap funding to keep the government open until December.

The Washington Times first reported that part of the $500 million in stimulus money set aside for wildland fire management was going to D.C. jobs programs.

The $787 billion stimulus bill that said the firefighting money should go to forest health programs and the Forest Service, which is part of the Agriculture Department, used the money for two D.C. programs: $90,000 for a city government summer green job corps program and $2.7 million for Washington Parks & People, a nonprofit, to start a green job corps.

House and Senate spending negotiators said the Forest Service followed the letter of the law, which included funding urban forestry, so the money shouldn’t be withdrawn.

But they said that in the future all firefighting money will have to actually be aimed at reducing fire dangers.

The negotiators also demanded a full report on how the Forest Service chose the projects it spent money on.

“The conferees remain troubled by the lack of transparency and the lack of communication from the [Forest] Service and the Department of Agriculture related to the project selection process,” they wrote in a report that accompanies the final spending bill.

The insults to our intelligence, economy, and forests just keep on coming.

Congressional Bait and Switch Wilderness Holocaust Games

Last March Congress passed and President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009 (S.22 was attached to H.R.146).

Over 100 bills were bundled together that designated more than 2 million acres new wildernesses in nine states, 1,000 more miles of wild and scenic rivers, national monuments, national conservation areas, trail systems, historic parks, and more national heritage areas in 8 states.

The Omnibus Public Lands Act was no sooner signed than proponents began clamoring for more wilderness. The 58 million-acre Clinton/Dombeck Roadless Rule was enjoined by Judge Brimmer [here] precisely because it designated, in a defacto manner, all those acres as wilderness — without the requisite act of Congress. Wilderness proponents wish that Rule to be reinstated by the Obama Administration. They also desire more Congressional designations.

Sen. Jon Tester’s new proposed bill [here, here, here] is on behalf of wilderness proponents, and it will result in catastrophic fires that are large and severe. Damages from those fires to the environment and to the local community and region will be long-lasting.

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The Highest Paid Arsonists/Eco-Terrorists in America


To: Interested Parties
From: Karen Budd-Falen, Budd-Falen Law Offices, L.L.C.
Date: September 30, 2009
Re: Follow-up to Attorney Fees/Litigation Information

(Note: see [here] for Sept. 15 memo from KBF)

I do not seem to be able to get away from reviewing the environmental group applications for attorney fees and court settlements and keep being shocked by the findings. Since my last memorandum to you:

1. Earthjustice Legal Foundation (a public interest, nonprofit legal foundation) representing Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and Vermont Natural Resources Council has filed an application for attorneys fees in a single case that took 1 year and 3 months to complete for a total of $279,711.40. For that same suit, Western Environmental Law Center (also public interest nonprofit legal foundation) representing Citizens for Better Forestry, Environmental Protection Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Wild West Institute, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, Idaho Sporting Congress, Friends of the Clearwater, Utah Environmental Congress, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Wild South, Klamath Kiskiyou Wildlands Center, The Lands Council, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, Wild Oregon, and Wild Earth Guardians filed an application for attorneys fees for $199,830.65. Thus in TOTAL, the nonprofit, public interest environmental plaintiffs are requesting
$479,242.05 for a single lawsuit lasting 15 months.

There were 7 attorneys representing these nonprofit public interest organizations who charged between $650.00 per hour and $300.00 per hour. These 7 attorneys claimed to have spent 930.05 total hours on the litigation. This was the case where the environmental groups sued the Forest Service over their Forest Service land use planning regulations in 2008. The judge has given the plaintiffs and the Justice Department representing the Forest Service 45 days to settle on the payment of attorneys fees. There were no intervenors from “industry” or other groups involved in the litigation. The case was resolved on the administrative record and motions for summary judgment; there was no evidentiary trial.

After the Forest Service lost the case in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California, the Justice Department withdrew the regulations and did not appeal the case. Thus, the total attorneys fees and costs of $479,242.05 only represent work before the Federal District Court.

2. On September 14, 2009, the WildEarth Guardians sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) for issuing 16,734 insurance policies to private landowners for private structures worth approximately 2.7 billion dollars. In that litigation, the WildEarth Guardians have requested that the federal district court stop FEMA from issuing any insurance policies for any structure on any flood plain that is within the geographic range of any threatened or endangered species. One day later, the same group filed the same lawsuit against FEMA in Arizona relating to the issuance of 35,801 policies insuring structures on private property worth approximately 7.7 billion dollars. That litigation also requests the court stop FEMA from ensuring any structures on any flood plain that is within the geographic range of any threatened or endangered species. It is important to understand that it would be impossible for WildEarth Guardians to sue the individual landowners for building these structures on their private land unlessWildEarth Guardians could prove that the construction actually resulted in the death of a species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. That has not been alleged in this case. Thus, the environmental group is seeking to stop private land use by stopping landowners from getting insurance for legally built structures.

3. According to the Internal Revenue Service, in 2007, the top ten executives for the environmental organizations reported the following salaries and benefits listed below. This information was prepared by David Freddoso, Commentary staff writer and was posted at: September 22, 2009, “Big Green is a Profitable Enterprise.”

Organization - Position - Salary - Retirement Plan/Deferred Compensation - Total

Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. - President - $446,072.00 - $50,102.00 - $496,174.00

World Wildlife Fund - President - $439,327.00 - $47,067.00 - $486,394.00

Natural Resources Defense Council - President - $357,651.00 - $75,308.00 - $432,959.00

Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. - Executive Director - $323,801.00 - $41,972.00 - $365.773.00

Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. - VP West Coast - $325,559.00 - $35,313.00 - $360,872.00

Nature Conservancy - Acting President - $318,507.00 - $30,866.00 - $349,373.00

National Wildlife Federation - President - $309,579.00 - $35,425.00 - $345,004.00

Pew Center on Global Climate Change - President - $311,500.00 - $23,599.00 - $335,099.00

Defenders of Wildlife - President - $254,947.00 - $57,949.00 - $312,896.00

The Wilderness Society - President - $289,750.00 - $18,715.00 - $308,465.00

Follow The Law, Tell the Truth

The following letter, written by Jim Trenholm, USFS retired, and currently Counselor/Mediator with The Stewardship Group [here], reminds the current Administration that our Nation’s laws must be obeyed as regards forest policy. That means Federal actions that significantly effect the environment, such as the Roadless Rule and wildfire “use”, must follow the due processes mandated by NEPA, ESA, NFMA, MU-SYA, etc. and by the court decisions that interpret those laws.


September 13, 2009

To: The Honorable Barack Obama, President;

The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary
United States Department of Agriculture; and

Chief Tom Tidwell, Forest Service

Dear Mr. President, Mr. Secretary and Chief Tidwell:

We just returned from an outstanding 2009 Forest Service Reunion held in Missoula, Montana, September 7 - 11. Our theme was “Where Do We Go From Here?” Six former chiefs, Max Peterson (1979-1987), F. Dale Robertson (1987-1993), Jack Ward Thomas (1993-1996), Mike Dombeck (1996-2001), Dale Bosworth (2001-2007), and Gail Kimbell (2007-2009) pondered the future.

Where are we now and how did we get here? Sixteen years ago, shortly after I retired, Jack Ward Thomas reaffirmed what I always thought we did. He said: “We follow the law, tell the truth, admit mistakes and not cover them up.” His successor, Mike Dombeck seemed to have abandoned those principles in favor of politics when he called for an 18-month moratorium on road construction and reconstruction in roadless areas. Does that make sense? In the final days of the Clinton Administration, this moratorium turned into the 2001 Roadless Rule.

“I really think the roadless battle is over. Some just haven’t realized it yet,” said Dombeck [last week], who oversaw roadless inventories that resulted in the far-reaching Roadless Rule of 2001. “If we look at the number of roads that have been built in the last couple of decades, it’s really very small.”

The rule is still being challenged in court, Dombeck said, “But I think we need to get on to more important issues.”

“I don’t agree with Mike,” countered Peterson. “I don’t think the battle has actually begun yet.”

Max Peterson is correct and the battle has basically been ignored for the past eight years. Federal Judge Clarence Brimmer ruled three times (2003, 2008, and 2009) that the 2001 Roadless violated the National Environmental Policy and Wilderness Acts. Where are you and your appointees on this issue?

The battle is heating up now as evidenced by a guest opinion, “Tester’s Wilderness Bill Should Be Defeated” by Fred Hodgeboom, president of Montanans For Mutiple Use, in the September 11, 2009, The Daily Inter Lake. Hodgeboom is former Forest Service, knows what is right, and knows Tester’s bill can’t work until inventoried roadless areas established in the 2001 Roadless Rule are eliminated. (Ed note: a Fred Hodgeboom guest editorial, “Sen. Tester’s Wilderness Bill Fails Reality Check,” that appeared in the Clark Fork Chronicle July 31 is [here])

We commend you for nominating Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, as undersecretary for natural resources and the environment in the USDA. Please see that he has complete understanding of the 2001 Roadless Rule and Federal Judge Clarence Brimmer’s three rulings. During his Senate confirmation, he should be prepared to explain his agreement or disagreement with Judge Brimmer and his rationale for doing so.

My best wishes are with you in “Caring for the Land and Serving People.”

Peace and Understanding,

Jim Trenholm
The Stewardship Group [here]
Roy, Utah 84067

Holocausters Capture USFS

The enviro litigation industry has bled taxpayers and agencies dry for years [here], both by absconding with $billions in public funds and promoting the incineration of our public forests in catastrophic megafires.

The holocausters have also “captured” the US Forest Service and now dictate forest policy at all levels of the agency.

Montana Senator Jon Tester’s bait-and-switch Burn Baby Burn wilderness bill [here, here, here] is one result of political shenanigans by pro-holocaust extremists, and the acquiescence if not active participation in those shenanigans by the USFS.

Sadly, the outcome of all the backroom dealing will be more and bigger fires, more destruction and devastation, and landscape-scale environmental and economic damages that last lifetimes.

In the following two letters written by Jim Rathbun, USFS retired, former Forest Supervisor, Kootenai National Forest, he gives us a glimpse into the duplicity and corruption of politicians and USFS officials in Montana. The situation there is shocking but not exceptional. Mr. Rathbun has given us permission to post his letters.

Three comments follow the letters, which distill the issues and portend the fiery disasters sure to follow if Tester, his comrades, and the USFS continue down their current path.


January 22, 2007

To: Mr. Paul Bradford, Forest Supervisor
Kootenai National Forest
Libby, Montana 59923

Dear Mr. Bradford:

I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you last week and to have the opportunity to express some of my concerns about the management of the Kootenai National Forest and the Forest Service in general.

Among the concerns we discussed is the planning process you are engaged in with the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition (KFSC). I have read the Memorandum of Understanding that you signed with the chairman of the Coalition, Mr. Konzen, on September 29, 2006.

Since our meeting, I have seen a newspaper article that occurred in The Western News, that included the names of the 15 people on the board of directors of the KFSC. I was somewhat shocked, but not surprised, at who some of these people are. The names include the who’s who of known environmental activists in Lincoln and Sanders Counties, if not all of northwest Montana and beyond. The organizations represented by the board include Sierra Club, WildWest Institute, Montana Wilderness Association, Lands Council in Spokane, Eureka Rural Development Council, Kootenai River Development Council, Yaak Valley Forest Council, and Cabinet Resources Group. The overwhelming number of these organizations may be considered radical environmental organizations that have a long, and not so long, history of opposing activities on the national forests; a number of those right here on the Kootenai NF. Only four or five members of the board are not, in my opinion, strong, if not so-called radical, environmentalists.

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A Disaster For People and Forests

Note: Last July Montana Senator Jon Tester unveiled his new proposed “Forest Jobs And Recreation Act of 2009″ which is actually a bait-and-switch Burn Baby Burn wilderness bill [here, here]. Jim Rathbun, Forest Supervisor, Kootenai National Forest, retired, has written a letter to Sen. Tester in regards to his bill, and Mr. Rathbun has given us permission to post it.

To: Senator Jon Tester
United States Senate
Room 204 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Tester:

Thank you for presenting your Forest Jobs and Recreation Act to the public at Troy, yesterday. I appreciated being able to shake your hand and speak to you briefly after the presentation. I wish that you would have permitted open public comment and questions.

As I told you yesterday: I am opposed to the Act.

One thing that was conspicuous to me yesterday, was the apparent total absence and participation of the Forest Service. Virtually all of the proposed actions contained in the Act are on Forest Service lands. But there was no presentation by, or even apparent presence of, Forest Service personnel. I found that strange, indeed.

All of the objectives, allocations, directions and proposed actions in your Act, on the Kootenai National Forest, take place on the Troy Ranger District. There are five ranger districts on the Kootenai National Forest. The planning and management direction for all of those ranger districts, including the Troy Ranger District, is, or was, developed and contained in the Forest Plan for the Kootenai National Forest, completed in 1987. Does your Act, and the planning processes used on the Troy District follow closely the direction contained in the Forest Plan?

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Mullah Salazar Tampers Some More

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar yesterday announced [here] an allowable cut target for 2010 for Oregon O&C lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The new cut target is 200 million board feet, approximately the same quantity offered annually from 2005 through 2008.

Salazar’s announcement follows his July bombshell when he withdrew the Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) for those same lands.

In July Salazar vacated the WOPR and the Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan (NSORP) for political reasons. Both plans had been adopted in 2008 after years of effort, including thousands of man-hours, millions of dollars, and full and comprehensive public review and comment.

According to a July 12 press release [here], Salazar nixed those plans because Bush Administration officials allegedly “tampered” with the NSORP:

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.

However, Salazar’s withdrawal of those plans was politically motivated and represents the most egregious political tampering imaginable.

Some background. The northern spotted owl was listed as endangered species in 1990. Finally, 18 years later, a recovery plan was presented in May 2008 after the USFWS was forced to do so by court order. The reason given by the USFWS for NOT creating a recovery plan in all those years, something required within 3 years of listing under the Endangered Species Act, was that the Northwest Forest Plan satisfied that requirement. From the USFWS Press Release that accompanied the 2008 The Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan (NSORP):

A draft recovery plan for the northern spotted owl was completed in 1992 but not finalized due to the development of the Northwest Forest Plan, which amended 26 land and resource management plans (LRMPs) of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. These LRMPs serve as the basis of conservation for a wide variety of species, including the northern spotted owl. The draft recovery plan released today builds on the Forest Plan and solely addresses the recovery needs of the northern spotted owl.

The Northwest Forest Plan has been a catastrophic failure. Spotted owl populations have declined 60 percent or more, old-growth habitat has been incinerated in megafires, and the economy of the region, especially the rural economy, has been decimated. Absolutely no good has come from the Northwest Forest Plan. The years of suffering and tragedy associated have been a monumental waste.

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The Suckling-Obama Dystopic Forest Policy

The Uber-Left are undertaking a PR campaign to force their Burn Baby Burn forest agenda on President Obama. The latest effort comes directly from Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity :

Oregon Thinning Project Tests Obama Forest Policy

Timber sale on Oregon national forest tests Obama pledge to protect roadless areas

By JEFF BARNARD Associated Press Writer, October 11, 2009 [here]

DIAMOND LAKE, Ore.(AP) — When Sharon Karr’s cabin was built on the shores of this high mountain lake in 1928, there were few neighbors and little thought given to the prospects of wildfire.

There are now 102 cabins on this land on the Umpqua National Forest, and fears of a big fire have grown. Young trees have crowded in among the big ones, and an increasing number of the pines are turning red and dying from the borings of mountain pine beetles.

The Bush administration had proposed lessening fire dangers by thinning trees around the cabins and also in the backcountry.

Conservation groups are closely watching the logging proposal as a test of whether President Barack Obama follows through on his promise to break from the Bush administration and protect the 58 million acres of national forests across the country that are known as roadless areas from commercial logging.

“This puts Obama now in the position … where he can clarify and end 20 years of roadless battles by making a very clear decision that they simply should not be roaded and logged,” said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We are getting mixed signals.”

Tough nut to crack, those mixed signals from the Obama Administration. When Obama was elected, the Uber-Left thought the Government door was wide open to their dystopic fantasies, but Obama’s forest policies appear to be “mixed.” Hence the PR campaign to pressure him.

In truth, Obama has no clear forest policy, anymore than he has a clear foreign policy, economic policy, or even a healthcare policy that you can pin him down on.

The Obama Administration did plant political operatives in new positions created just for them as “Confidential” and “Special” assistants to Under Secretaries, who themselves had not been appointed yet [here]. But USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s “vision” speech in Seattle last August [here] did not satisfy the dystopians, leaving the impression that the planted apparatchiks are being bureaucratically marginalized.

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Bureaucratic Job Security

Note: this brief comment from an anonymous correspondent (let’s call him Foo Furb) pertains to the “proposed goals” of a useless Oregon bureaucracy, but it could apply to almost any government program or agency.

by Foo Furb

I have read the 5 “Plan Goals” on the website and the instructions for responding, but could not bring myself to spend any more time on this document. The tip of the iceberg was warning enough.

Here are my comments:

Goal 1: To “restore” a “resilient ecosystem” is a political statement, not a scientific statement. Who measured the “resiliency” in the first place? Who decided it wasn’t good enough? How did they do it? My concern is that “plans” need measurable objectives, and this is such a vague phrase as to be meaningless. Money will be spent on political posturing and favoritism, rather than actual meaningful employment. Same with “ecosystem functions.” Everybody acts like they know what that means, but biologically it is meaningless. At best, this phrase smacks of pseudo science. To assign “functions” to an ecosystem is to give it human meaning, but it is not a human or a human construct. What is there to measure? Who decides what it’s “functions” are supposed to be, whether they’ve actually been degraded, and when “restoration” has been achieved? Politicians. No one else is qualified or has the time.

Goal 1 is full of meaningless phrases which may may not be achievable, depending upon who decides to fund what programs catering to these phrases.

Goal 2. What the heck is a “high capacity local infrastructure?” I don’t know, either. Watershed “restoration” is probably talking about some kind of “functions,” rather than restoration to an actual condition that can be documented and measured, and “conservation” is probably not talking about the wise use of resources. Who knows? These terms have been misused and abused by politicians and ivory tower theorists so much in the past 15 years as to lose virtually all meaning. How to make a “plan” to achieve vague theoretical terms? And why? “Job security” is the only answer that readily comes to mind. Can’t be done, so will never be finished.

Goal 3: Would have been good to stop after “providing information to Oregonians.” Maybe if we had more information, we wouldn’t see a “need.” And what the heck is a “healthy” watershed, and why could it possible need my “support?” These are political calls for consensus and action, needing a community organizer, not a scientist or a results-oriented worker.

Goal 4: Would have been good to stop after “build strong partnerships.” The phrase “for watershed health” sounds like a lot of meaningless meetings and memos and workshops just trying to figure out what “health” means. One more excuse for bureaucrats to get together to “conduct business” that goes nowhere, but costs money.

Goal 5: Yes. With the hope that any “investments” into the first 4 goals would be looked at with extreme caution.

The “goal” of the original GWEB was to “restore” fish runs. Fish can be counted. The runs have apparently increased since then; whether through changed ocean conditions, altered fishing quotas, OWEB activities, or some combination thereof is not known. OWEB is now openly fishing for a rationale to continue its existence. The bait looks a lot more like artificial plastic than actual substance. This document is almost entirely politics, full of meaningless phrases, “outreach” and consensus building. It is the design for a bureaucracy with an unlimited budgetary need, a perpetually unfinished “mission,” and no possible way to be held accountable.

I won’t bother to comment on the “spirit” of the “core purpose,” because the goals make it clear that the primary purpose of OWEB at this point is to create and maintain a perpetual bureaucracy that postures as representing the public “good” and is “working” toward a more “healthy” environment, but will (and can) do nothing of the sort because those are political goals, and not goals that can be achieved in an environmental setting.

The objective seems to be justification for future meetings that maintain the jobs of the current employees of OWEB. If that is truly the “core purpose” of OWEB at this time in its existence, then that “spirit” is reflected in these goals. Politics and bureaucrats.

Fire Fund Grab by DC Parks Averted

The Washington Times reported last week [here] on the backroom switcheroo diversion of dedicated firefighting monies to racially exclusive “festivals” in DC parks. The Obamaloids hoped to steal $2.7 million from firefighting, allegedly to be funneled through a “non-governmental community organizer” group named Washington Parks & People.

Unfortunately for the remoras attached to the underbelly of the Obama Admin, the U.S. Senate put the kibosh on the fire funds diversion yesterday:

Senate rejects wildfire funds for D.C. parks

By Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, 09/24/2009 [here]

The Senate this week told the Obama administration to stop spending stimulus bill wildland firefighting money on urban parks in the nation’s capital — the first time either chamber has voted to reject one of the administration’s stimulus spending decisions.

With fires raging out West, lawmakers said, it was ridiculous to spend firefighting money in Washington, which has no national forests and isn’t considered a forest fire danger spot. In a voice vote Tuesday, senators voted unanimously to prohibit the U.S. Forest Service to spend any of its $500 million in wildland fire money in the city.

“This is ridiculous, it is outrageous, and we should not stand for it,” said Sen. John Barrasso, the Wyoming Republican who sponsored the amendment to the Interior Department spending bill.

The money, part of the $787 billion stimulus bill, came from a $500 million fund the Forest Service was given for “wildland fire mitigation.” …

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11 Sep 2009, 11:58pm
Politics and politicians
by admin

Harris Sherman Nominated As Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment

USDA Press Office Release No. 0432.09 09/10/2009 [here]


WASHINGTON, September 10, 2009 - President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate Harris Sherman as Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sherman will serve with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“For decades, Harris Sherman has been dedicated to conserving and improving the environment in Colorado and beyond,” said Vilsack. “It would be a privilege to have a public servant like Harris join the USDA leadership team to help carry out President Obama’s vision for protecting the natural resources we need for a healthy and prosperous America.”

The Natural Resources and Environment mission of USDA includes the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which are the United States’ primary public and private lands agencies charged with conserving, maintaining and improving natural resources. President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have charged this mission area with the restoration, conservation, and management of America’s forests and private working lands in order to make them more resilient to climate change and ecologically sustainable for current and future generations.

Sherman is the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and a member of Governor Ritter’s Cabinet. As Director, he oversees Colorado’s energy, water, wildlife, parks, forestry, and state lands programs. He also serves as the Director of Compact Negotiations for the Colorado Interbasin Compact Commission, Chairman of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and Co-chair of the Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Council.

Sherman has also served on a wide variety of public and private agencies and organizations. He has been Chairman of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, Chair of the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board, and Chair of the Denver Regional Air Quality Council. He has served as a Commissioner of Mines, as a Commissioner of the Denver Water Board, and as a Trustee of Colorado College. For several decades, Sherman has been active in land conservation efforts with the Nature Conservancy, Colorado Open Lands, and the Trust for Public Land.

Sherman received his B.A. degree from Colorado College and his law degree from Columbia University Law School.


Why Spend Money On Fire Suppression?

Today yet another Government Accounting Office report on fire suppression costs was issued. It is Wildland Fire Management: Federal Agencies Have Taken Important Steps Forward, but Additional, Strategic Action Is Needed to Capitalize on Those Steps GAO-09-877 (49 pages; 1.33 MB) [here].

It the fiftieth or so such report from the GAO on that topic since 1999. Like the others, it is useless.

GAO-09-877 decries all the funds spent on firefighting. They are just too much, according to author Robin Navarro, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, GAO.

Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, federal agency officials,and others have expressed concern about mounting federal wildland fire expenditures. Federal appropriations to the Forest Service and the Interior agencies to prepare for and respond to wildland fires, including appropriations for reducing fuels, have more than doubled, from an average of $1.2 billion from fiscal years 1996 through 2000 to an average of $2.9 billion from fiscal years 2001 through 2007. Adjusting for inflation, the average annual appropriations to the agencies for these periods increased from $1.5 billion to $3.1 billion (in 2007 dollars).

The report then blathers on about this funding problem and offers less than the usual non-solutions. USFS Chief Tom Tidwell acknowledges the report in an appended letter, stating:

The Forest Service generally agrees with GAO’s findings and confirms the validity of this draft report, which contained no recommendations for further actions.

Now, that’s a non-responsive response if there ever was one, but who can blame him? Trading blather is what bureaucrats do.

Nowhere in this GAO report, or in any of the preceding 50, is a fundamental question asked: Why spend any money on fire suppression at all?

That question is a very worthy one, and pertains, and ought to be considered when contemplating this issue. After all, the feds are not the only governmental body to fund firefighting. Every state has a fire suppression budget, as do all the counties and cities in the USA. You can’t go anywhere in this country, or to most other countries on Earth, and not find a fire department.

There must be some reason for that. Every government, large and small, in democracies and dictatorships, funds fire suppression. It’s a universal function of government. Every government, benevolent or tyrannical, envisages some need for firefighting. Every government allocates funds for that purpose, and must make some sort of analysis as to how much spending is appropriate.

That’s the unaddressed question behind all the blather in the GAO report. How much funding for fire suppression is appropriate?

And that begs the fundamental question: Why spend anything at all to put out fires?

In economic terms, the question is better stated in technical language: What is the economic utility of fire suppression?

It’s a heck of a question, and one that ought to be asked to the GAO, and to every Congressperson, and to Chief Tom Tidwell and the USFS, and to every government official, large or small, who oversees and/or makes allocation decisions about money spent on firefighting.

There is an answer, a valid, rational, and logical one, and it is obvious if you think about it.

The economic utility of fire suppression funding is the reduction in potential damages caused by fires.

Fires damage stuff. Homes are valuable commodities, as are the possessions within homes, and fires can burn homes to cinders, destroying all that valuable stuff. It is cheaper and better to spent a few dollars on putting the fire out than on letting it burn and doing many times more dollars worth of destruction.

Fires can kill people, and people are also valuable, at least to themselves and sometimes to their families and friends. It is better to extinguish a fire before it harms human lives. Animals are valuable too, and societies large and small see utility in putting out the fire before the pets and livestock succumb.

Even tyrannical dictators value their stuff, the opulent palaces, garages full of limousines, etc. Your average tyrannical dictator had to go to some effort to murder his way to the top, and he is generally less than enthusiastic about having his ill-gotten gains combusted when he gets there. So even murderous thugs see a need for a competent, well-equipped fire department close by the palace grounds.

The thinking worldwide is to spend some amount on fire suppression so that a greater amount of damages are prevented.

One way to phrase this thinking, in technical economic language, is that the economic utility of fire suppression is to minimize the cost-plus-loss from fires.

That language is not difficult to understand. The cost is the fire suppression expense, and the losses are the damages that fires inflict. The total of those is cost-plus-loss, and the idea is to make the total as small as possible.

It is a balancing act. If the fire suppression outlays are too small, the damages mount up, and the total cost-plus-loss can be huge. If the fire suppression outlays are profligate, there may be few damages, but the total sum can still be large. The trick is to find the most efficient amount of suppression that achieves the least amount of damages so that the total cost-plus-loss is as small as possible.

That’s the REAL calculation that governments face and must solve. Unfortunately, the GAO is off on some sidetrack and does not even acknowledge fire damages, let alone express the need to minimize them. They never heard of cost-plus-loss. Their only desire is to reduce suppression expenses. But that’s not the goal of fire suppression funding. The goal is to minimize cost-plus-loss. The GAO doesn’t get it, has never got it, and probably never will get it, sad to say.

It is not clear whether Congress gets it, or the USFS, or anybody except maybe insurance companies, economists, accountants, homeowners, foresters, the peasantry, and assorted riffraff like that.

In order to educate and inform the otherwise ignorant hoi polloi and ruling elites on this very important concept, some folks put together the Wildland Fire Cost-Plus-Loss Economics Project and wrote a paper about cost-plus-loss [here].

We (I was one of the authors) pointed out that the losses (damages) from wildfires are anywhere from 20 to 50 times greater than the costs (fire suppression expenses). Therefore, when contemplating fire suppression funding, it would behoove the ruling elites to consider the losses, to tally or otherwise estimate them, in order to arrive at the efficient funding amount. If total cost-plus-loss is not considered, then the goal of fire suppression funding cannot be achieved, unless by accident, which is unlikely.

However, to date the GAO has not glommed onto the concept, and neither has the Forest Service or Congress. Our ruling elites continue to skip down the garden path in blissful ignorance about what it is they supposed to doing and why.

Hence the question posed in the title of this essay. You know the answer to that question now. Wouldn’t it be revealing and possibly helpful in some respect to ask your Congressperson the question?

Try it and find out if they know the answer. And if they don’t know, as is likely, please inform them. You have only yourself and your stuff and your family and your town, forests, watersheds, neighbors, landscapes, nation, and planet to save.

The Liberal Stewardship Agenda Is Deliberate Failure

by bear bait

I am NOT a scientist. No credentials at all. But I can smell a smear job a mile away. The attacks on Bonnicksen are murders of character, murders of the messenger.

The first issue in fire in these United States is that since the coming of Europeans to this land, fires have been extinguished by accident or intent. The accident was the pandemics that were brought here, extinguishing the native population of humans who molded the landscape with set fire. The Euro-thought of metes and bounds, the descriptive and prescriptive ownership of land, its uses, and the concept of trespass, changed fire regimes if only because fire destroyed what were valuable assets in the mind’s eye of the new inhabitants. Fire as a landscape management tool used by man on this landscape for more than 10,000 years has been a victim of endemic racism that floated across the Atlantic on boats. It is still with us. PhD scholars still cannot fathom that man created the forests, shaped them, and tended the wild, not unlike the fields and forests of Europe. Can’t and won’t. Endemic Old Country racism won’t let them.

The huge disconnect by True Believers of the Gore Global Warming scenario (it is Sept 7, 62 degrees outside… snow forecast for the mountains) from the impacts of natural air inputs from earth sciences like wildland fire, volcanoes, organic decomposition, wind and currents working on the ocean biology, cannot be dismissed. The True Believers stated intent to make man the fall guy for every perceived change in local and global climate, is not science, nor does it serve the betterment of mankind. Academic science needs work. Boy oh howdy, does global warming serve that end.

We now have a self-appointed elite cadre of politically oriented humans, all packing personal baggage of some sort about their findings and educations, determined to demean and extinguish any and all “science” that does not meet their criteria of political (read financial) need at this time in this world. How we got here is by liberal educations at the University, where I saw recent numbers that over 95% of faculty identified themselves as liberals and supporting of the left, liberal agenda. It has become apparent, that earth science is no more than political science in drag and printed in the ever diminishing dead tree press.

Science today is about money, and money comes from government. Witness the Newport, Oregon landing of the West Coast hub for NOAA marine activities. Being billed as a job creator, it is nothing more than a move by a government agency to new offices, all paid for by tax monies. The new jobs are nothing more than a redistribution of wealth to a new area, by government. But the political take is still that of accomplishment, not unlike an eagle stealing a fish from an osprey, by local government. Science is not the reason for the move. Nor easier access to the North Pacific, since many safer, better developed, and more centrally located ports exist (like Seattle). It was a payoff to Lubchenco’s home base, to feather her nest after her stint as NOAA director is over.

When ten thousand or more years of directed, planned, and intentional land management, carried out by the burning brand in hand, is extinguished by racist invaders, you do know that there had to be a change in vegetation and the expression of ecosystems. New managers with a new agenda, and 500 years later the new agenda has been exposed as a failure. The blame has been worded as the failure of the land management agencies to allow fires to burn. Not a word about setting fires at provident times of the years to gain management goals.

The only way to regain that past management, and the forests defined by that activity, is to have a proactive plan in place and carry it out. That we now have to do it with very restrictive job descriptions, planning sessions, with a human element grossly lacking in experience and direction, all now politically determined, is an indication that help is not on the way, and change is not on the way, and rhetoric is all that the citizenry might expect from our leaders in the present situation. Heralds for the present defective condition are all that we hear from on high. And there is a huge, well funded, non-profit machine in place to not change how we do things.

The solution is in the people. Leadership (by elected and appointed elites) has failed us. In time, I would hope concerned laymen might avail themselves to the “one pager” fire assessment program from the creators of the “Wildland Fire Economics Project” (did I get that name right?) to begin a process of assembling a record of fire impacts on the local community, and wherever else any one fire might have changed the local landscape, watersheds, habitats, and qualities.

The solutions won’t come from Academe. Academics are used by liberals to bolster their idea of the world, not from a science platform but from an idealist platform. They are bought and paid for by interests who use them to demean the rigor of science, employing the tactics of personal attack. Dueling academics are producing little good and lots of bad press.

A grassroots movement to record and document definitive, empirical wildland fire outcomes, in terms of dollars, is the best hope to change how we now do business in this climate of racist, dollar driven attacks on common sense from the liberal fire apologists.

When I think about how to change the landscape to one that humanity can live with, I often wonder what would happen if public lands were still public but managed by Native Americans in the old ways. At the very least, a pilot project in that vein on a defined area of magnitude might be worthwhile. Better that than this benign neglect scheme that is nothing more than serial conflagrations to no productive end.

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