Acornistas Sue for Holocaust

Yep, while megafires rage across the West, the Sierra Club is suing the USFS, again, to halt another forest restoration project.

Groups Fight Forest Thinning Project

By Sonya Angelica Diehn, September 3, 2009 [here]

Eugene, Oregon (CN) - Environmentalists sued the U.S. Forest Service over its thinning plan for Umatilla National Forest in Oregon, which they say will fail to serve its purpose and hurt adjacent roadless areas.

The League of Wilderness Defenders-Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and the Sierra Club say the Wildcat Fuels Reduction and Vegetation Management Project was approved after a deficient environmental assessment.

The project is intended to reduce timber losses from insect infestation and restore historic forest conditions, among other purposes, the lawsuit states.

But instead of benefiting the forest, the plan will cut old-growth trees and build roads that damage ecological integrity, hurt sensitive specie, degrade water quality and increase the risk of severe fire, the groups say.

The assessment failed to consider impacts to two contiguous roadless expanses, one at 23,000 acres south of the project area, and another 17,000 acres north of it.

Those areas include inventoried and uninventoried roadless areas, and areas with wilderness potential.

The faulty environmental assessment is based on controversial science that proposes to remove up to two-thirds of the trees to deal with insect outbreaks, the suit states.

Represented by Sean Malone, the plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.

Some facts, just in case you’re interested, from the Wildcat Fuels Reduction and Vegetation Management Project, Heppner Ranger District, EIS Purpose and Need (the entire NEPA document set is [here):

The Wildcat project area is located in the eastern portion of the Heppner Ranger District in Morrow and Grant counties, Oregon, about 15 miles south of the town of Heppner. The project area comprises about 25,450 acres within the National Forest boundary in the Little Wall Creek, Skookum Creek, and Swale Creek subwatersheds located within the Wall Creek Watershed which drains into the North Fork John Day River. The topography is generally a south aspect with 10 to 20% slopes. The elevation ranges between 3600 feet and 5280 feet. There is 4,150 acres of the Monument Big Game Winter Range in the southern portion of the project area.

There are no inventoried roadless areas, no wilderness areas and no wild and scenic rivers within the project area.

The northern portion of the project area is comprised mostly of cold and moist upland forest. Spruce budworm caused widespread mortality in Douglas-fir and grand fir species in the late 1980s and early 1990s resulting in abundant snags, dead topped trees, and down woody material up to 70 tons/acre. A result of this insect outbreak was a change in the tree structure.

In the dry upland forest, stands once dominated by open park-like stands of ponderosa pine have closed in with shade tolerant species such as Douglas-fir and grand fir.

Today, the dry upland forests are comprised of dense multi layered canopies of shade tolerant/fire intolerant species, which are not characteristic of historic conditions. The cold and moist upland forest areas are an open structure with a low to moderate overstory density and abundant reproduction in the understory. Bark beetles and root rot are continuing to cause mortality in ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine. Dwarf mistletoe is prevalent in both western larch and Douglas-fir and is infecting the reproduction coming in underneath the overstory.

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Our Racist President, Barry the Same

You can’t really blame him. He’s from Kenya by way of Hawaii, so he never was educated about America.

Regardless, B. Hussein Obama declared September 2009 “National Wilderness Month” today.

Barry is apparently ignorant about wilderness, including the fact that it’s a myth. People, civilized people, have been resident in the continental U.S. for upwards of 13,000 years. People, civilized people, not wild people, have hunted, fished, farmed, trod upon, roaded, modified, and inhabited every square mile of this continent for millennia.

But there’s that pesky American Creation Myth, and Barry repeats it, just so we’ll all think he’s American and one of us. You know that myth: God created a wilderness in the New World for the Euro (and African) invaders, a wild and free continent, empty of civilized people and their marks upon the land.

God made America for the invaders to mold in His image, to populate and recreate, as God so intended, and thus Wild America was blessed and anointed by God for all of us. Amen.

Of course, the 50 million or so pre-Columbian residents had to be exterminated first, and dehumanized, and then forgotten, but that is as God intended, for they were inferior and should be forgotten and never spoken of again.

Kind of racist, don’t you think? Barry wants us to erase the Amerind people from the history books, to deny their humanity and residency, and that’s about as racist as can be.

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Utah Governor Slams USFS for Foofurb Disaster

Utah Governor Gary Herbert criticized the US Forest Service for the Mill Flat Fire that burned into New Harmony, destroying three homes, damaging others, and forcing the evacuation of the town.

“It appears the Forest Service started the fire,” Herbert said Sunday. “They should take responsibility.”

The Mill Flat Fire [here] ignited July 25 in the Dixie National Forest. Bevan Killpack, Pine Valley District Ranger and Rob MacWhorter, Forest Supervisor for the Dixie NF, decided the fire should be allowed to burn unchecked. One person was assigned to monitor the fire and a 29,000 acre “maximum manageable area” was designated. The Mill Flat Fire was declared a foofurb, a “fire used for resource benefit”, despite the fact that no benefits were elucidated, no EIS created, and no public involvement or hearings held.

As of August 22 the fire was 550 acres. Then last Saturday the wind came up, the fire blew up, and by Monday the fire was 10,382 acres. The fire is still only 5 percent contained and it may be another 10 to 12 days before full containment is achieved. Over 700 firefighters are engaged. The suppression costs have not been reported as yet.

No estimates of the damages have been made yet either, although Killpack warned that floods next spring could cause additional losses [here]:

One of the biggest future problems with the Mill Flat fire, Killpack said, could be flooding in the spring created from loss of vegetation. Killpack said he has already put in a request for Forest Service for funds to help mitigate flooding. Requested items might include sandbags, square baskets full of rocks to impede stream flow or other recommendations from an agency hydrologists.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s comments were reported yesterday:

Herbert views fire, criticizes federal policies

By Mark Havnes, The Salt Lake Tribune, 08/31/2009 [here]

New Harmony » Gov. Gary Herbert on Sunday joined critics questioning why the 10,000-acre Mill Flat fire that destroyed at least three structures and threatened more than 600 others was not suppressed earlier.

After flying over the blaze’s towering smoke column in a helicopter, he aimed his criticism at a decision to let the lightning-caused fire burn as a way to clear old growth and invite rejuvenation.

“A lighting strike may be a good way to manage resources but [it] may not be the best practice,” the governor said. …

“With wilderness, our hands are tied behind our backs,” Herbert said. “It sets us up for a tragedy.”

Perhaps sheep should be allowed to graze in now-restricted areas, he said.

Officials had been monitoring the fire mostly burning through dead vegetation for nearly a month before it exploded in size on Saturday as heavy winds quickly pushed it closer and closer to residential areas.

At a town meeting Sunday afternoon, Patricia Smith asked how much money would have been saved had officials opted to suppress the fire earlier. …

Jon Petersen, who lives in Las Vegas but whose family has a house in New Harmony, said the Forest Service “screwed up.”

He said he went up to a ridge top to look at the fire two weeks ago and saw tragedy coming.

“The smoke would flare up in Pine Valley and drop its ashes [and embers] on New Harmony.

His brother, Ralph Petersen, also criticized slow response to fight the flames.

“My solution is the first five days [the fire] is nature made, after that it should be treated as manmade,” he said.

Fire spokesman Kenton Call said questions about cost and the decision not to fight the fire earlier will be addressed at a later date.

For his part, Herbert said he wants to ensure state taxpayers won’t bear the cost.

“It appears the Forest Service started the fire; they should take responsibility,” he said.

Some conflicting statements: the USFS claimed the fire would “benefit” resources but never presented any explanation of what those benefits might be. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the “benefits” were to “clear old growth and invite rejuvenation.” Yet clearing old-growth is not generally recognized as a benefit. In fact, clearing old growth is something that “environmentalists” rail at length against.

The SL Tribune also reported that “the fire mostly burning through dead vegetation for nearly a month” and that the purpose of the fire was to “reduce the amount of available fuel.”

That is, a wildfire was allowed to burn unchecked in mid-summer because there was a significant threat to resources and to public health and safety from a fire in those fuels.

Next week the USFS will be driving all its vehicles over a cliff because there is a threat that the vehicles may fall off a cliff someday.

In another SL Tribune report [here] Killpack was quoted:

“We have an unhealthy ecosystem with a lot of stressed trees so bugs are able to kill them,” he said. “We have 35 percent dead trees in tight vegetation above the towns of Pine Valley, New Harmony and Leeds, and one day that will burn. It’s not if, it’s when.”

Evidently he thought the middle of summer was the best time to incinerate his Ranger District.

Environmentalists blamed the victims:

“New Harmony is no longer New Harmony,” [long-time Utah wilderness activist Dick] Carter said of building homes in fire-prone areas. “It’s out of harmony and it’s been out of harmony a long time because we have failed to understand the consequences of growth and that’s the thing Governor Herbert and others will have to deal with.”

Carter did not blame himself for insisting on wilderness designation, even though that designation precludes any sort of true restoration that might benefit resources. Indeed, wilderness designation is an invitation to catastrophic fire:

In managing wildfires in wilderness, district rangers such as Killpack must request permission from supervisors at the forest and regional level to use chain saws, land helicopters or drop water or retardants from the air in wilderness areas. For the Mill Flat fire, that permission was granted last Thursday, Killpack said.

Unfortunately, that was a little too late to save the town or the forest.

The site of the conflagration, Pine Valley, has been home to human beings for more than 10,000 years. It is not “wilderness,” not “untrammeled,” and not “pristine.” It is and has been homeland and was managed by the residents with anthropogenic fire for millennia. Traditional management precluded catastrophic fires, which would have been disastrous, would have destroyed resources, and would have compromised the survival of the residents. Hence they burned the landscape on a frequent, seasonal, regular basis with light, low intensity fires. Frequent, seasonal, anthropogenic fires engendered the pine savanna which gave the valley its name.

In the absence of traditional stewardship, and indeed in the absence of any stewardship at all, the pine savanna has been destroyed and severe damage has been done to environmental and human-built resources. And that destruction has come at great expense, far greater than common sense traditional stewardship would have cost.

The Mill Flat Fire is another forest fire tragedy and disaster that arose from fatheaded politics and unmanagement in support of a myth. Similar tragedies arising from the same causes have ravaged western landscapes in recent years, and there appears to be no light at the end of that tunnel.

Federal Judge Rules DOI Cannot Withdraw Regulations Without Due Process

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unilaterally, and without prior process, withdrew the Western Oregon Plan Revisions and the 2008 Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan in July [here, here].

In a related case, a Federal judge ruled last week that the Department of the Interior may not bypass statutory procedures for repealing an agency rule. Withdrawing a regulation must follow the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The DOI cannot repeal a rule without public notice and comment:

Judge Won’t Allow Federal Agency to Withdraw Mining Rule

By Rita Cicero, FindLaw, Andrews Publications, Aug. 19, 2009 [here]

A federal judge has denied the Interior Department’s attempt to overturn a Bush administration rule allowing coal mine operators to dump waste and debris into streambeds.

Judge Henry Kennedy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s request to vacate the regulation, saying such a ruling would wrongly permit the agency to bypass statutory procedures for repealing an agency rule.

Those procedures include requirements that provide for public notice and comment periods before repealing a rule. …

In April, with a new administration in office, the Interior Department announced plans to overturn the rule. Salazar said in a statement that he had directed the Justice Department to ask the District Court to vacate the rule because it was legally defective.

Salazar said the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement erroneously failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to evaluate possible effects of the rule on threatened and endangered species.

The defendants sought dismissal, contending that a case or controversy no longer existed between the parties.

However, the National Mining Association argued that the federal government should not be allowed to bypass the Administrative Procedure Act to repeal an agency rule.

Judge Kennedy agreed.

He said granting the federal defendants’ motion would allow them to do what they cannot do under the APA: repeal a rule without public notice and comment. …

Judge Kennedy did not address the NPCA’s underlying challenge to the Bush administration rule.

National Parks Conservation Association v. Salazar et al., No. 09-00115, 2009 WL 2497393 (D.D.C. Aug. 12, 2009). Environmental Litigation Reporter Volume 30, Issue 03 08/19/2009

The same legal requirements apply to Salazar’s scuttling of the Western Oregon Plan Revisions and the 2008 Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan.

Those plans were created with full compliance to NEPA, APA, and other applicable federal laws. Years of public involvement, public hearings, and public comments were considered, as well as years of scientific investigation and analysis. The procedures followed in creating the rules were exhaustive, comprehensive, and rigorous in the extreme.

Ken Salazar cannot flush all that effort down the toilet with a slick stroke of a pen. He has to obey the law, too. He is not above the law, and he should know that. After all, he was Attorney General of Colorado and a U.S. Senator prior to his appointment as Obama’s Sec Interior.

We are a nation of laws. When our elected or appointed officials violate those laws, we are all diminished and threatened.

We hope that Attorney General John Kroger [here] will immediately file a suit to challenge Salazar’s cavalier and illegal dismissal of the Western Oregon Plan Revisions and the 2008 Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan. We hope that, but do not expect it.

Affected Oregon counties should file that suit on behalf of all Americans. Bring Ken Salazar to justice. Let’s put a stop to illegal activities by government officials, for the common public good.

Time to Fight Back

by bear bait

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

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

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

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

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

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Roadless Rule Will Harm Forests, Not Protect Them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vilsack Forest Speech, Seattle Aug 14, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Forest Cognitive Dissonance From the Obama Administration

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

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

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

Vilsack calls for renewed emphasis on forests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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9th Court Decision on Roadless Rule Is Illegitimate and Destructive

by Mike Dubrasich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Salazar Withdrawal of WOPR Illegal

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

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

PLF Letter to Interior on Western Oregon Plan Revision

To: Ken Salazar, Secretary, Department of the Interior

Re: BLM’s Western Oregon Plan Revision

Date: July 24, 2009

Dear Secretary Salazar:

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

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

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

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

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Sen. Tester’s wilderness bill fails reality check

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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26 Jul 2009, 11:27pm
Forestry education Politics and politicians
by admin
1 comment

A Proposal For A New Institute of Venture Science

Proposed: a new institute that will invest deeply in science with breakthrough potential. The proposed institute would focus on high-risk, high-return research only, identifying and funding promising status-quo-challenging ideas in all areas of science.

The idea is to create an institute that supports scientific research which challenges existing paradigms and thereby produces breakthroughs in medicine, ecology, climatology, and many other scientific disciplines — revolutionary science, such as the kind that led to the laser, the transistor, the polio vaccine, the Internet, and indeed most of the truly innovative advancements in science and technology that we know of today.

Currently, status-quo science commands all the funding. Those who challenge paradigms are excluded from mainstream grants for many reasons: principally (perhaps) a timidity born of institutional risk-aversion together with old-fashioned intellectual stultification.

Could a bold, new Institute of Venture Science become a reality? Such is the goal of a group of leaders in science who have sent a letter [here] to President Obama, to his science advisor, John Holdren, and to Congress. Drafted by Gerald H. Pollack, Ph.D., Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, the letter is endorsed by more than 60 leading American scientists in the fields of medicine, biophysics, forest science, anthropology, engineering, geography, astronomy, nanotechnology, and numerous other fields.

The letter requests that an Institute of Venture Science be funded:

… with a budget of about ten percent of the combined NSF and NIH budgets, or about $4 billion per year. The IVS would be set up for a test period of ten years. If it fails to produce scientific revolutions during that period, it could be dismantled — the investment having been modest relative to current scientific investments, which have produced few revolutions. If it succeeds, as some of us think inevitable, then it will have restored science to the richly bountiful enterprise it was before the funding agencies began imposing top-down management and inviting mainstream scientists to judge their challengers. With proper investment (in part perhaps from private sources) in the most promising and farreaching breakthrough ideas, science should once again revolutionize human existence.

Appended to the letter is a Proposal for Implementation [here] that describes how such an Institute would operate.

Current agencies… are not set up to deal with the most critical obstacle to realization: the reluctance of a conservative scientific community to entertain ideas that challenge their long-held views. Challenges are perceived as antithetical to their best interests, and hence, few transformative ideas ever ascend to realization in reasonable time frame no matter how compelling may be the case.

The IVS is designed to overcome this obstacle. It does so by investing in groups of scientists who pursue the same unconventional approach to an intractable problem or an entrenched way of thinking. Grants are awarded following rigorous review. Challenger and orthodoxy present their arguments to a panel of disinterested scientific observers, who decide whether the challenge is meritorious. The most highly ranked proposals are funded liberally, allowing multiple laboratories to pursue the same challenge theme. This multiplicity of efforts creates a critical mass that cannot be ignored; challenge and orthodoxy compete on equal footing and if the challenge prevails, then the result is a realized paradigm shift or even a revolution in scientific thinking.

The need for funding science that researches “outside the box” is becoming more and more obvious even to lay persons. Last June the NY Times published:

Grant System Leads Cancer Researchers to Play It Safe

by Gina Kolata, NY Times, June 27, 2009 [here]

Among the recent research grants awarded by the National Cancer Institute is one for a study asking whether people who are especially responsive to good-tasting food have the most difficulty staying on a diet. Another study will assess a Web-based program that encourages families to choose more healthful foods. …

The cancer institute has spent $105 billion since President Richard M. Nixon declared war on the disease in 1971. The American Cancer Society, the largest private financer of cancer research, has spent about $3.4 billion on research grants since 1946.

Yet the fight against cancer is going slower than most had hoped, with only small changes in the death rate in the almost 40 years since it began.

One major impediment, scientists agree, is the grant system itself. It has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer. …

Last week the Science and Public Policy presented a study [here] that found:

The US government has spent over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, education campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks.

Yet, those who challenge the prevailing theories have not only not been funded, in many cases they have been fired. Gaping holes in Greenhouse Gas and Global Warming models have been exposed by grassroots scientists outside the funded agencies because within them orthodoxy has grown oppressive. “The debate is over — there is a consensus,” is the political cry, but true science does not work by consensus; science functions by challenging hypotheses with experiments and the collection of empirical data — by putting orthodoxy to the test.

Despite the incredibly one-sided research funding and political sermonizing, less than half of U.S. voters believe global warming is caused by human activities [here]. And if lay people are skeptical, then scientists should be even more so — the scientific method is based on skepticism.

But the funding is closed off to those who challenge global warming orthodoxy, and that is true in forest science as well. Clementsian theories of “natural balance,” “natural fire regimes,” and “natural succession” still hold sway despite over 80 years of research that has amassed strong, empirical, counter-evidence. Those who espouse new thinking have been ostracized by the Establishment, and one result has been a crisis of megafires that are destroying our heritage forests.

Bob Tom, Tribal elder of the Siletz and Grand Ronde Tribes, described the growing Cultural Renaissance taking place in the Native American community [here]. We need a Science Renaissance as well, around the world within the entire human community.

Science unchained can provide us so much: cures for deadly diseases, rediscovery of lost civilizations, the shattering of hoary paradigms, a vastly improved understanding of the universe and our role in it. The old walls should imprison us no longer. Open the doors and windows. Unbind the Prometheus of rational inquiry. Shine the bright searchlight once again.

We have allowed ourselves to become fettered by antiquated myths. It is so boring, so debilitating, so Medieval. Let us instead cast off into the unknown and seek new shores.

It is not my habit to request assistance. I never ask you, dear readers, to “write your congressperson.” I am reticent to promote contributions to W.I.S.E.’s empty coffers by begging for donations, something I am supposed to do in my capacity as Executive Director. It is uncomfortably gauche to implore your generosity, (although your occasional generosity is deeply appreciated).

In this instance, however, I am asking you, please, to write your elected representatives, to add your voice to those who are calling for a new Institute of Venture Science. Download the letter [here] and add your name to the list. Send it to your congressperson together with a note in your own words. It is truly in your best interest to do so, and in the interest of all humanity, to free the sciences from the present dismal swamp of calcified thinking.

Thank you. On behalf of all of us.

Jon Tester’s Forest Bait and Switch

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

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

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

Clark Fork Chronicle, July 17 2009 [here]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

more »

WOPR, 2008 Spotted Owl Recovery Plan Withdrawn

The Obama Administration has withdrawn the Western Oregon Plan Revisions and the 2008 Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan:

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

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 2008 Spotted Owl Recovery Plan presented last May [here], 18 years after the northern spotted owl was listed as endangered species (1990). The USFWS is required by law to develop a recovery plan within 3 years of listing under the Endangered Species Act, but had delayed that action for almost two decades.

A Recovery Plan was issued in 2007 but withdrawn after criticism. The USFWS then revised the 2007 plan after holding a year-long series of public meetings with expert panels. The experts testified that catastrophic fire in spotted owl forests is often fatal to all the trees, old-growth and young growth alike, and that some careful forest restoration treatments are necessary to save the old-growth and protect the owl habitat.

After extensive public involvement, the 2008 Spotted Owl Recovery Plan was issued. But the election of B. H. Obama brought radical holocausters to power, and yesterday they exercised their political muscle and threw out the Plan.

The claim was that Bush Administration officials somehow tainted the owl plan by failing to “follow established administrative procedure,” whereas the fact is that the owl plan was the most open, transparent, and scientifically supported recovery plan the USFWS has ever created. It is Obama officials that have tainted the process with political machinations.

Obama appointees were not responding to any court decisions — lawsuits brought by radical extremists have not been adjudicated as yet. Instead the political functionaries jumped the courts and withdrew the recovery plan before the courts could rule.

The BLM Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR) was also withdrawn by Obama appointees before any court rulings had been issued. The WOPR applied to only O&C lands, some 2 million acres in Western Oregon (less than 10% of federal forest lands in the state). The WOPR was also created via a lengthy and public process and was consistent with the 2008 Spotted Owl Recovery Plan. However, the extremist anti-forest-pro-holocaust political set within the Obama Administration feel that cutting the throat of rural Oregon and burning millions of acres of public forests in catastrophic fires is preferable to scientific management that might preserve, protect, and maintain forests.

Elections have effects. In this case, the election of Far Left crazies has led to the elimination of responsible, science-based programs that might have saved endangered species and their habitat, the priceless heritage forests of Oregon. There have been other deleterious outgrowths from the Obama election, and this one may slip under most radar screens. But the tragic consequences of the megafires that result will not be so easy to ignore.

Forest Fires and Biomass Skipped Over at Boxer Cap-and-Trade Hearing

by Randy Shipman, W.I.S.E. Correspondent

Yesterday the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer, questioned heads of departments regarding the Climate Change and Energy (Cap-and-Trade) Bill now before them.

The opening statement provided by Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack did not mention public forest lands. He did not mention the US Forest Service by name during the hearing (even when asked about wood pellet utilization in Vermont schools) until Senator Udall of New Mexico questioned the water capability provided by the Colorado River Compact, alluding to early snowpack melt, drought, and assumptions held in the Compact from “100 years ago” of river capacity. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley posed the last question of that session pertaining to federal forested lands, thinning fuels, and using USFS forests in the equation of carbon offsets while gearing something up resembling the Secure Rural Schools Act.

Although vague at best, Secretary Vilsack said USDA was looking into how all of its agencies will be involved in biomass and renewable energy (mentioning NRCS, farmers, ranching and private forest land often) and most hesitantly mentioned that he personally thought USFS might also have a role.

I doubt his answer reflects this administration’s position however, and that is the reason Vilsack was reluctant to bring USFS into the mix in his opening statement.

But Vilsack did say that presently the USFS was going through a new 5-year strategic plan for water and forests based on human-caused climate change. Human-caused global warming is considered by Energy Secretary Steven Chu (reflecting the Obama Administration) to be a fact of science.

Senator Merkley was very specific on two occasions in his limited 3 minutes of questioning, voicing concerns about managing “locked-up” lands to assist local communities while at the same time figuring federal lands into carbon offsets. Vilsack was at a loss to respond directly to those questions which apparently arose out of the 2007 and 2008 energy bills locking those lands out. He seemed to base his stance on waiting for the USFS strategic plan. Roadless areas were never specifically mentioned by anyone and smoke from wildfires was never mentioned during pollution talks (regarding asthmatic children) when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was asked about global warming conspiracies by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ).

Secretary Salazar did mention biomass on 500 million acres of DOI lands and indicated they were under consideration for carbon offsets, but overall both federal land management agencies are attempting to convince the “rural” farmers, ranchers and private forest land owners what a great deal they are about to receive.

Secretary Salazar was big into wind energy off the Atlantic coast and other areas, and also hit hard on his department’s assertion that 29% of America’s electrical energy needs can be produced by solar thermal energy generation in the Southwest. Those projects should be under construction by end of 2010, and are projected to create some 50,000 jobs.

Secretary Salazar maintained that wildfires, bark beetles, fishery problems, and Midwest agricultural shifts are all due to climate change. His three main goals are to reduce dependence of foreign oil, head off climate change, and save our children. He said his department consists of some 6,000 scientists and 14,000 land managers who will accomplish this feat, but he also mentioned that DOI produces over 50% of the coal and 25% of the nation’s domestic oil and gas.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said something to the effect that climate change technology will amount to about a cost of one USPS letter stamp per day for the average American family, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson thought any parent would go that amount to protect their children.

Jackson and Chu disagreed, however, about whether the Cap-and-Trade Bill (if enacted) would actually have any effect of climate. EPA Administrator Jackson confirmed an EPA analysis showing that unilateral U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have no effect on climate. When presented with an EPA chart depicting that outcome, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he disagreed with EPA’s analysis.

Some of the questioning regarded the alleged failure of Congress to remove personal vehicles and trucks off the highways. The Administration desires more mass public transportation and moving freight by train. Lisa Jackson stated that union workers were behind them 100 percent, but I am not certain she meant auto industry workers or teamsters.

Nuclear and other issues were discussed as well. The hearing can be viewed on C-Span.

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