31 Oct 2009, 12:16pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin
2 comments

Fire Use NEPA Test Case on the RR-SNF

In March 2008, officials of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest issued a Notice indicating that they intended to alter the RR-SNF Fire Plan by incorporating WFU (wildland fire use) and AMR (Appropriate Management Response). The Notice was intended as a first step in preparation of an EA (Environmental Assessment) as required under NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act).

W.I.S.E. prepared and submitted (within the designated 30 days) a 170-page scoping comment [here] as requested and authorized under NEPA process guidelines .

The RR-SNF went silent and did not respond. In June of 2008 W.I.S.E. requested the RR-SNF Fire Plan under the Freedom of Information Act. The RR-SNF refused to comply and did not sent their Fire Plan to us as required by federal law.

Then yesterday, after year and a half of silence on their part, I unexpectedly received in the mail the brand new RR-SNF Fire Use Amendment Environmental Assessment. I checked their website, and the (150-page) document is posted [here].

This is the test case for whoofoo. The RR-SNF did not sidestep the NEPA process, as the USFS has on so many other NF’s. Nor did the RR-SNF prepare their EA in a cursory manner; it is an extensive report. All indications are that the USFS wants this issue tested in court. I hope we can give them the worthy opposition they deserve.

Please peruse all the docs mentioned, compose your reactions, and email them to me. Your insights will be most appreciated.

Thank you.

Mike Dubrasich, Exec Dir W.I.S.E.

31 Oct 2009, 11:09am
Uncategorized
by admin
1 comment

A Halloween Logger’s Tale

by bear bait

A friend of mine, Sam, is a logger. He chases these days because he is too old to hump the hills on the rigging anymore. The crew he works on is composed of key personnel like hook tenders and side rods, all left over from a 4-side outfit squeezed down to one side. Riding out the depression, you know.

Just after lunch he got a call on the radio to get over the hill pronto with a chain saw. He saw the carriage stopped with a turn hanging and thought there was sywash or some hang up…

Nope.

What had happened was the rigging slinger had turned his back on the turn as it was headed for the trolley. A top slipped out of a bonus and he got javelined just below the collar bone and out the hip on his right side.

So Sam finds himself with a shell shocked rigging crew, including a hook tender-climber-side rod and another hook tender, and Buck down the hill impaled by a 30 foot top.

The exit side was about 2 1/2″ in diameter, and the entry side was 30 foot of top with about 4″ of wood off the entry.

When they got down the hill, Sam told them to hold Buck down and he cut the log off each end sticking out. Buck’s legs were under him and he was in a bent over position.

All the while 911 stuff was going on, cell phones you know, and soon a medivac chopper was overhead. But their protocol is not to land without qualified ground crew. Sam told the pilot that the donkey puncher would be the qualified ground crew because he needed the EMT right now, and the ones from town were maybe an hour out. Sam briefly but directly described the situation to the pilot.

So the donkey puncher got the chopper landed in the clearing, and the EMT came over the hill with the litter, blankets, and first aid kit slung to the trolley.

Sam had sent the turn in before he cut the log off. That made some nervous, but he said you can’t work with a turn hanging over your head, and until the turn was gone, the trolley wasn’t of use… so live with it!!!

The conical shape of the top sealed the wounds. No bleeding at exit and little at entry. But Sam knew it was close to stuff and looked for bloody foam from punctured lungs and blood pressure for liver and kidney failure. No apparent rodeo there, but he was very careful not to move stuff.

They got Buck into a litter, but the EMT had to cut more log off on the big side with a frigging Leatherman! Sam says a handsaw will be in the first aid kit by Thursday.

And then the locals got there in fireman turnouts and rubber boots without traction, precipitating another rodeo on a cow’s face far down in the hole. Bad deal, but they humped the guy out, and it was over an hour and half until they had him in the chopper and off to Corvallis Good Sam trauma unit.

His boss called about ten last night and said Buck was out of surgery, and you guys did a good job.

All have First Responder cards — the whole crew — but Sam said nobody was taking charge so he did. Someone has to have the order of things in their mind and see that they are attended to. He said when nobody was in that spot he just took over. He is outspoken, growly, a hard ass, and in conflict with those who don’t work hard, run hard, and work safe.

The log that impaled Buck was 2.5″ on the pointy end, and 4″ diameter where it was sawed off. It went in just below his shoulder on the left back side. It came out just in the middle of his right hip. It back scattered along the rib cage and spinal column before the energy was spent — that might have been the pointy end hitting dirt. It flipped him like a bad pancake. A top. You know, total utilization. Chips for the shut-down pulp mill.

Buck is still in the hospital. To remove his woody process and burden, the ER docs sliced him diagonally across the back and removed it, cleaned the wound, and then sewed him back up. They had him walking around yesterday. But he has some issues with chipped vert processes and cracked ribs, and a hell of a hole to heal from the inside out. He is not out of the woods yet, no pun intended.

Sam is on the floor under the influence of a valium and a muscle relaxer, hurting big time. Firemen in slick boots aren’t much help in humping a litter out of the brush.

Life in the woods. Never a dull moment.

The EMT from the medivac told the boss that his crew was very, very well trained and did all the appropriate first aid. So much for the dumb shit logger paradigm.

I thought you would be interested in real life logging stories, fresh from the brush. I am not going to say all the info is absolutely factual… the fog of battle stuff, etc. For that matter, I got it all second hand and can’t attest to the truth of any of it.

The story about the victim is that he controlled his destiny, and that of others. He was in the bight on his own. Nobody made him, or ordered him. In fact, the standing order is to vacate the bight when a turn is coming.

The boss asked the crew who made the decisions during the emergency. They said joint. Crew consensus. A band of brothers deal, it looks like. We did what we needed to do, we know what we did, and we knew what we were doing. We have to live, daily, with the dangers, and with confidence in each other.

And that’s the way it was, somewhere on a razor ridge behind Siletz, not long ago.

Mission Creep at the Willamette National Forest

An unusual Guest Viewpoint was printed in the Eugene Register Guard yesterday. Kim Titus, USFS BLM, shared some “insights” from her short (4-month stint) as acting supervisor of the Willamette National Forest.

GUEST VIEWPOINT: Wildfire and forest strategies changing with the times

By Kim Titus, Eugene Register Guard, Oct 28, 2009 [here]

Monday was Meg Mitchell’s first full day as the new supervisor for the Willamette National Forest. As I finish my short assignment on the Willamette as acting supervisor, I wanted to share a few insights from my experience.

In the last two months, most of my time has been in support of fire suppression efforts on both the Canal Creek and Tumblebug fires.

The latter will be the third-largest fire ever fought on the forest, and it grew exponentially in just a few days. It required 1,200 firefighters and associated support services and burned almost 15,000 acres. As I write, the Tumblebug complex is still not contained, but the rains have stopped the progression of the fire.

When a fire starts on federal land, our first priority is always firefighter and public safety, and secondly to protect important structures and natural resources.

But this time we didn’t try to put the entire fire out. We strategically put our resources into the north and portions of the east and west sides of the fire, to protect the Middle Fork of the Willamette River and private land, and to provide a buffer from the east winds that were driving the fire. The other side of the fire was simply monitored. …

Despite the weak justifications given, Let It Burn on the Willamette NF represents a significant shift in policy and is not consistent with their Land and Resource Management Plan or their Fire Management Plan.

Many other national forests have adopted WFU (wildland fire use) or similar Let It Burn language into their Plans; the Willamette NF has not, nor have other westside Oregon NF’s. When and how did their policies change?

Titus stated, “There may be times when letting a portion of a fire burn makes sense ecologically, economically and morally (since protecting firefighters is a moral issue).”

Without addressing the merits of that statement, if such times are foreseeable, then it would be reasonable to plan for them with a proper NEPA process. The decision to let the third largest fire in WNF history burn away should not have been made with zero public input, especially since it was not a spur-of-the-moment decision but part and parcel of “an evolving fire strategy within the U.S. Forest Service.”

Some questions arise:

Why has the public been excluded from the evolving strategy?

Who specifically changed the policy, and under whose authority?

Who made the decision to let the Tumblebug Fire burn?

How many acres were consumed by the Let It Burn portion of the fire?

What environmental and other damages ensued, and what were the total costs-plus-losses from that fire?

Will the new fire policy be placed into the WNF LRMP?

Personally, I don’t get a warm fuzzy from this letter. It’s not an outreach to the public. It’s the temporary supervisor using the local newspaper to create a defacto mandate for the incoming supervisor. And the policy change is without proper (legal or scientific) foundation.

My email has been full of comments about this. Here are a few:

more »

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.

USFS Issues Excuses for Mill Flat Fire

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 a week later the wind came up, the fire blew up, and by August 31 the fire was 10,382 acres. The fire roared into New Harmony, Utah, forced the evacuation of 170 New Harmony residents, destroyed three homes and damaged eight buildings.

Some benefit, eh?

The residents of new Harmony were understandably miffed, and Gov. Gary Herbert grumbled about it [here]. Thye usual pro-holocausters, on the other hand, praised the fire and sneered at New Harmony residents:

“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.”

Then just yesterday the USFS offered a non-apology apology.

Forest Service misses ‘red flag’ assessment

A jump from 40 to 100 acres a day burned should have been a warning.

By Jason Bergreen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10/25/2009 [here]

U.S. Forest Service administrator Bevan Killpack defends the choices made in fighting the Mill Flat fire in southern Utah this summer, but acknowledges that officials should have seen the fire growing quickly days before it reached New Harmony.

“We weren’t focusing on the acreage as much as where the fire was,” said Killpack, a Pine Valley District ranger who oversaw the benefit resource fire. “We were looking at 100 acres growing every day, but it was staying on the mountain.”

The resource benefit fire started small in July but began to consume 100 acres a day around Aug. 26, according to a fire behavior analyst who reviewed the forest service’s daily communications and papers in late September. The blaze was burning 40 acres or less a day prior to that, Killpack said.

“That should have told us something,” he said Thursday. “We should have realized 100 acres was substantial. That should have been a red flag and we missed it.”

So the “benefit resource fire” or “resource benefit fire” (the SLT used both in order to cover all the bases and really emphasize how wonderfully “beneficial” the Mill Flat Fire was) turned out to be a disaster that benefited no one and nothing, except to make pro-holocausters happy.

Nothing warms the hearts of anarchists, arsonists, and revolutionaries more than burning down small towns in the West, unless it’s burning down large cities and/or forests.

The USFS is sort of sorry about what happened, but their hands are tied. Let It Burn is a centrally inflicted policy emanating from Washington DC. The local officials were just following orders.

But Killpack said fire personnel had correctly monitored the resource benefit blaze by testing and measuring wind, temperatures, fuel moisture and other aspects of the blaze throughout July and August.

However, Killpack later admitted, “I was nervous with it the whole time.”

They made the best and most accurate decisions with the science they had available to them, he said.

Ah hah! It’s the fault of the “available science”. Evidently the USFS has been procuring their science from the dime store or picking it off DC garbage scows.

It’s a real hoot when the folks responsible, sitting in the ashes of the devastation they engendered, claim to be channeling “science”.

If there really was any science behind the decision to incinerate the Dixie NF and surrounding towns, then the USFS could have presented such when they issued the Environmental Impact Statement beforehand. However, the USFS did NOT prepare any EIS beforehand or afterward, nor request or present any “science” allegedly considered when the Let It Burn decision was made.

The purpose of the NEPA process is to bring into public review all the science considered before any action is taken that will have significant impact of the environment. But there has never been any NEPA process for “benefit resources fires”. There is no telling what was running through their minds. There is no transparency, no process, no public involvement in Let It Burn.

Western townsfolk are left to wonder how to deal with the USFS these days. Putting pro-holocausters in charge of forest fires has proven to be a very bad idea.

Question #1: Is it socially responsible to defer landscape stewardship to an outfit full of holocausters, knowing that their stated mission is to incinerate whole regions in catastrophic forest fires?

Question #2: Wouldn’t it be better to care for our forests, watersheds, landscapes, in a manner that does not result in inflicted disaster and destruction?

Question #3: Isn’t it about time the USFS is disbanded and dissolved and the National Forests returned to their rightful owners, the residents of the watersheds?

Apache Burning in Lightning’s Epicenter

The Chiricahua Mountains in SE Arizona are one of the Madrean Sky Islands [here], volcanic massifs that rise above the Southwest desert basins and which include the Pinaleño, Pedragosa, Peloncillo, Baboquivari, Santa Catalina, and Santa Rita Mountains among others. The higher elevations harbor diverse ecological assemblages, such as pine and fir forests that are quite different from the Sonoran desert vegetation that surrounds them.

The Sky Islands are lightning magnets. Summer thunderstorms ride the Mexican Monsoon and punctuate the Sky Islands with the densest frequency of lightning bolts in the U.S. And yet, despite all that loose electricity and resulting fires, the vegetation of the Chiricahua Mountains has been dominated by anthropogenic (human-set) fire for millennia.

That historical fact is explored by Dr. Stephen J. Pyne, World’s Foremost Authority on Fire, in a new essay, Rhymes With Chiricahua [here].

There is little question that lightning is adequate to kindle copious fires and that the extent of burning aligns smartly with the ebb and flow of atmospheric moisture. Connect the sky island dots with the volcanic edge of the Colorado Plateau, and the resulting circle will trace the epicenter for lightning-caused fire in the United States. Like a rocky outlier that catches the first swells of an approaching storm, the bulky, border-hugging Chiricahuas make first contact with the Mexican monsoon, the signature onset of the southwestern fire season. …

But if the obvious beguiles, it is the second-order reasoning that proves treacherous. If you look at such data by itself, you might well conclude that climate alone “drives” the fire regime. Such analysis reduces a complex poker game to a game of solitaire: you can only play the cards nature hands you. The reality, however, is that there is another player at the table, and he is the dealer.

Humanity is the Earth’s keystone species for fire, not only as a source of ignition but as a sculptor of landscape fuels. It is significant that this second source was present from the onset of the Holocene, or what is more aptly being called the Anthropocene. There has been no time since the end of the last glacial when the region lacked an ignition source both more promiscuous and more prescribed than lightning.

more »

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.

more »

21 Oct 2009, 10:37am
Forestry education Saving Forests
by admin
1 comment

Choking Smoke From Catastrophic Fires Unhealthy, A-historical, and Unnecessary

The latest issue of California Forests (Fall, ‘09), the official publication of the California Forestry Association, is entitled “Forestry Clears the Air” [here].

Some quotable quotes:

From “Cause and Effect Meet in California’s Forests” by CFA President David A. Bischel:

… California experienced a 300 percent increase in severe wildfire in 2007 and a 315 percent increase in 2008. High-intensity wildfire can sterilize soils and lead to mass-erosion that washes sediments into would-be spawning gravels for fish. They are expensive to fight, too –- taxpayers spend more than $1 billion dollars annually to fight wildfire in California and only a fraction of that to reduce fuel-loads to prevent it.

Managing more of our public forestlands can help reduce wildfire severity and mitigate the health risks that come with wildfire and smoke. Northern California registered more than 90 unhealthy-air days due to wildfire in 2008. Wildfire smoke is filled with particulates that can lodge in people’s lungs, cause asthma, aggravate heart conditions and irritates the eyes, nose and throat. It suffocates wildlife and
releases greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide and methane.

Last year, one-third of the fuel-reduction efforts planned by the U.S. Forest Service in California were blocked by activist lawsuits. High-intensity blazes that ripped through untreated areas subsequently destroyed owl nesting sites and tens of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat. They spewed great smoke plumes that settled on California communities rural and urban alike.

The Forest Service spends about 40 percent of its resources on administrative planning, litigation and appeals. Harvesting on California’s federal lands has decreased 90 percent in the last 20 years while firefighting costs have skyrocketed and our state has become increasingly dependent on imported wood.

While litigation has tied up our public lands, forests and the infrastructure to take care of them have taken a beating. In southern Sierra forests, for every tree growing, nearly three are dying. More than 500 trees per acre often stand where roughly 50 did before the Gold Rush and 8 million acres are at “very high” risk of severe wildfire. …

From “Does Anyone Care About Our Air?” by Rod Mendes, director for the Office of Emergency Services for the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Humboldt County, California. Full text [here].

For nearly four months last summer, thousands of Northern Californians sat shrouded in thick, brown smoke. Lots of people got sick. Many still have trouble breathing.

Smoke from wildfires that burned more than 200,000 acres blanketed Trinity and Humboldt counties and smothered roughly 4,000 people who live on and around the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation.

No tribal lands burned, but lightning strikes ignited fires all over the national forests that surround Hoopa land. Those forests were dangerously overgrown, overstocked and choked with dead and dying trees. There was little effort made to extinguish the fires despite the public health threat. Instead, fires were encouraged to burn toward and into designated wilderness areas.

The smoke observed no such boundaries. It settled everywhere. …

more »

The Highest Paid Arsonists/Eco-Terrorists in America

Memorandum

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: www.washingtonexaminer.com 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
Counselor/Mediator
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.

more »

17 Oct 2009, 11:39pm
Uncategorized
by admin
7 comments

Billions Paid to Enviro Litigants

Memorandum

To: Interested Parties
From: Karen Budd-Falen, Budd-Falen Law Offices, L.L.C.
Date: September 15, 2009
Re: Environmental Litigation Gravy Train

Below please find a press release/Letter to the Editor regarding the amount of litigation filed by environmental organizations and the amount of attorneys fees these groups have received from the federal government for these cases. I am sure that you will be as shocked by these numbers as I have been.

Consider these facts:

* Between 2000 and 2009, Western Watersheds Project (”WWP”) filed at least 91 lawsuits in the federal district courts and at least 31 appeals in the federal appellate courts;

* Between 2000 and 2009, Forest Guardians (now known as WildEarth Guardians) filed at least 180 lawsuits in the federal district courts and at least 61 appeals in the federal appellate courts;

* Between 2000 and 2009, Center for Biological Diversity (”CBD”) filed at least 409 lawsuits in the federal district courts and at least 165 appeals in the federal appellate courts.

* In addition, over the last 15 years, the Wilderness Society has filed 149 federal court lawsuits, the Idaho Conservation League has filed 69 federal court lawsuits, the Oregon Natural Desert Association has filed 58 lawsuits, the Southern Utah Wilderness Association has filed 88 lawsuits and the National Wildlife Federation has filed 427 lawsuits.

* In total, the eight environmental groups listed above have filed at least 1596 federal court cases against the federal government.

* Every one of the groups listed above are tax exempt, non-profit organizations. Every one of those groups listed above receives attorney fees for suing the federal government from the federal government.

* These statistics do not include cases filed in the administrative courts, such as BLM administrative permit appeals before the Office of Hearings and Appeals or Forest Service administrative appeals. These statistics only include federal district court cases.

more »

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?

more »

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.

more »

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.

more »

 
  
  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta