17 Jun 2009, 2:04pm
Uncategorized
by admin
3 comments

Tidwell Named New USFS Chief

Breaking news. Gail Kimbell out, Tom Tidwell in as Chief of the US Forest Service

USDA News Release No. 0214.09 [here]

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK NAMES NEW CHIEF FOR U.S. FOREST SERVICE

Tom Tidwell brings 32 Years of Experience Working to Protect Our Nation’s Forests

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that Tom Tidwell will serve as the new Chief for the U.S. Forest Service.

“Tom Tidwell’s 32 years of experience in our forests and impressive track record of collaboration and problem-solving will help us tackle the great challenges ahead,” said Vilsack.

Tidwell has spent 32 years with the Forest Service in a variety of positions. He began his Forest Service career on the Boise National Forest, and has since worked in eight different national forests, across three regions. He has worked at all levels of the agency in a variety of positions, including District Ranger, Forest Supervisor, and Legislative Affairs Specialist in the Washington Office.

Tidwell’s field experience includes working from the rural areas of Nevada and Idaho all the way to the urban forests in California and the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah, where he served as Forest Supervisor during the 2002 Winter Olympics. He also has extensive fire experience, beginning as a firefighter, and accumulating nineteen years as an agency administrator responsible for fire suppression decisions.

“We thank Gail Kimbell for her leadership and deep commitment to protecting our nation’s forests,” Vilsack added.

Most recently Tidwell served as Regional Forester for the Northern Region. His background in fire is extensive. Tidwell will become the third Chief in a row to come out of the Northern Region (following Gail Kimbell and Dale Bosworth).

16 Jun 2009, 5:02pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin
11 comments

Water supplies at risk from fires in dead forests

By JOAN LOWY, AP, Google News, June 16, 2006 [here]

WASHINGTON (AP) — Water supplies for 33 million people could be endangered if millions of acres of beetle-ravaged forests in the Rocky Mountains catch fire, a U.S. Forest Service official said Tuesday.

Rick Cables, the chief forester for the Rocky Mountain region, told a House panel that the headwaters of the Colorado River, an important water source for residents of 13 states, are in the middle of 2.5 million acres of dead or dying forests in Colorado and southern Wyoming. Severe fires, fueled by these trees, could damage or destroy reservoirs, pipes and other infrastructure that supplies water to millions of people in the Rocky Mountain region.

Moreover, wildfires can “literally bake the soil,” leaving behind a water-repellant surface that sheds rain and leads to severe erosion and debris, he said. The loss of so many trees also will reduce shade in the region, which in turn could reduce water supplies in the hot, dry summer months and accelerate snowmelt in the spring, he said.

A Forest Service analysis indicates people in San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Tucson, Ariz. who get their tap water from the Colorado River get one quart of every gallon from national forests in the Rocky Mountain region.

“The arid West absolutely depends on national forests as the source for their water,” Cables said. “The reach of this watershed is unparalleled in the West.”

While bark beetle outbreaks are naturally recurring events in the West, the current outbreak — which has killed nearly 8 million acres of trees — is the biggest in recorded history, Barbara Bentz, a research entomologist with the Forest Service, told the committee.

Besides Colorado and Wyoming, other states especially hard hit include Idaho, Montana, Oregon and eastern Washington. In Canada, more than 22 million acres have been affected and scientists suspect that the death of so many trees is altering local weather patterns and air quality.

Officials from affected states who testified said they need help to avoid a potential catastrophe. Local officials said want more money to clear trees from buildings, transmissions lines and other facilities. They also seek government help for companies trying to turn dead trees into wood products, especially pellets that can be burned to produce energy. If a market can be created for the dead trees, it can help offset their costly removal, they said.

“We need resources on the ground,” said Sloan Shoemaker, executive director of the Wilderness Workshop, a Colorado conservation group.

Protecting lives is the top concern. At least a dozen Colorado towns are surrounding by dead forests and another dozen towns border the forests. The region is also home to ski resorts like Vail, Breckenridge and Winter Park. Trees falling across roads, blocking potential evacuation routes in event of a fire is a key concern.

Another concern is thousands of miles of electricity transmission lines that run through the forests. There is a possibility that multiple fires at the same time could cause widespread regional power outages, Ron Turley, special projects manager for the Western Area Power Administration, told the committee.

“This could have significant regional and potentially national consequences,” Turley said.

16 Jun 2009, 1:38pm
Politics and politicians
by admin
5 comments

Obama, Congress Target US Public

The Climate Hoax has reached Pearl Harbor proportions. Illegitimate President B. Hussein Obama has now fired upon the American Public in a bellicose attack based on the most colossal forgery and sham of the century, anthropogenic global warming.

From the UK Guardian:


Obama targets US public with call for climate action

Climate impacts report warns of flooding, heat waves, drought and loss of wildlife that will occur if Americans fail to act on global warming

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk, 16 June 2009 [here]

The Obama administration is poised for its most forceful confrontation with the American public on the sweeping and life-altering consequences of a failure to act on global warming with the release today of a long-awaited scientific report on climate change.

The report, produced by more than 30 scientists at 13 government agencies dealing with climate change, provides the most detailed picture to date of the worst case scenarios of rising sea levels and extreme weather events: floods in lower Manhattan; a quadrupling of heat waves deaths in Chicago; withering on the vineyards of California; the disappearance of wildflowers from the slopes of the Rockies; and the extinction of Alaska’s wild polar bears in the next 75 years.

Today’s release is part of a carefully crafted strategy by the White House to help build public support for Obama’s agenda and boost the prospects of a climate change bill now making its way through Congress.

Thirty scientists? Thirty thousand scientists have signed a petition declaring that “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate” [here].

Some 800 scientists, economists, legislators, policy activists, and media representatives attended the Third International Conference on Climate Change, in March, with 80 speakers and 60 co-sponsoring organizations expressing the viewpoint that “global warming is not a crisis, that it is probably natural and not caused by human activity, and that computer models are unreliable guides to future temperature change” [here].

In addition:

* Sea levels have not risen in three years [here]. After a rapid rise during the first 8,000 years of the Holocene, sea levels have risen only 2 mm per year for the last 2,000 years [here]. Yet that natural increase has slowed of late as polar ice has increased.

* Hurricanes and tornadoes hve declined in number and strength in recent years and have been shown to be related to natural oceanic oscillations, not falsely alleged global warming [here, here].

* There have been no floods in Lower Manhattan. Terrorist bombings perped by Islamo-Fascists yes, floods no.

* Cold weather-related human mortality vastly exceeds warm weather-related mortality [here, here]. The carbon taxes proposed by Obama and Congress will kill more people as both heating and air conditioning costs will skyrocket.

* Grapes are not “withering on the vine,” wildflowers are not disappearing, and polar bears are not going extinct. Those claims are pure falsehoods. As a matter of fact, over the the last three decades of “global warming”, the world polar bear population has tripled or quadrupled.

* Climate warming, which is not happening, would increase agricultural production. The warmest areas of the planet are also the most productive. That is an undeniable fact.

* Computer model based greenhouse gas theories of runaway global warming have been thoroughly debunked. The earth’s atmosphere, with cloud albedo and tropical heat transfer from the surface to outer space, has kept global temperatures within a range of plus or minus 8 degrees Centigrade for at least the last half a billion years [here], despite asteroid collisions, super volcanoes, flood basalts, and other global catastrophes.

* The carbon taxes to be inflicted by Obama and Congress on America will do absolutely nothing to alter global temperatures — but will destroy our already reeling economy. Mass poverty, disease, and starvation will result worldwide from the despicable hoax-backed blitzkrieg waged upon America by evil-doers, who are reminiscent of the 20th Century megalomanical dictators who perpetrated the greatest inhumanities in recorded history.

The time has come to impeach the entire US Congress and the illegitimate President, and replace the evil hoaxers with rational, pro-American, pro-human representatives.

There is no point in writing letters to criminals and traitors in public office. Instead, petitions for recall should be prepared and signatures gathered. There is no time to waste. Dump your Congressperson and Senators now. Concurrently, a total housecleaning of worthless government functionaries should be enacted — fire everyone regardless of past performance — and restock government offices with entirely new personnel, chastened by the upheaval that proceeded them.

The hoax-based, ruthless, and destructive attacks on America waged by our own government against the citizenry must be abated and extinguished immediately.

14 Jun 2009, 1:10pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin
7 comments

Ninth Court Rules Against Wackos, Approves Thinning in Kootenai NF

Note: Sorry for the delay in posting this. We have been too busy this Spring but are trying to catch up.

On April 17 the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling (by Donald W. Molloy, US District Judge for the Montana District) that allowed the Kootenai National Forest to proceed with nine planned forest health thinnings.

The thinning projects were challenged by the WildWest Institute and The Ecology Center. The plaintiffs made a number of specious and defective claims that were summarily rejected by a three-judge panel made up of justices Thomas M. Reavley,Richard C. Tallman and Milan D. Smith, Jr. The decision is [here].

The Bristow Area Restoration Project, Fortine Project, West Troy Project, Pipestone Timber Sale and Restoration Project, Lower Big Creek Project, South McSwede Timber Sale and Restoration Project, Alder Creek Project, Cow Creek Project, and McSutten Project may now proceed.

Fed Up With Draconian Environmental Regulations

Note: The following letter was written in response to proposed changes in the Clean Water Act. Different subject, same sentiment. I think all of us can relate to the sheer frustration when we take the time to volunteer and adhere to a public process that has ignored us and failed us. Have you noticed how overwhelming public opposition to these insane proposals seem to have no impact whatsoever? — Helen F.

From: Daniel H. Varoujean, Chair, Coos Soil and Water Conservation District Board

To: U.S. Senators Wyden and Merkley; U.S. Representative DeFazio

I and my Board of Directors urge you to not support the changes to the Clean Water Act as proposed in S.787 [here, here]. We have spent the last ten years trying to bring farmers and ranchers into compliance with the last round of Draconian environmental regulations while trying to minimize the loss of farmland and farm production. What has become apparent to us and our constituents is that this latest attempt to further regulate the use of our private property is not about clean water just as the carbon emission/global warming fraud is not about clean air or “saving of the planet.” It is simply a brazen attempt to gain further control over our property and our very lives.

I am a marine ecologist by trade, and have spent the last 35 years conducting research on the population dynamics of endangered species, including salmon and seabirds, the restoration of coastal wetlands and the quantification of pollution in our coastal embayments and estuaries. Over this period I have watched environmental standards first used to correct serious resource use and pollution problems, but then these standards, over the last two decades, evolved into regulations that take one’s property (both real and monetary) at the “point of a gun” with no compensation, for reasons that have little, if anything, to do with proper resource management and everything to do with achieving a [imaginary] state of ecological nirvana.

What I and my Board want to make you aware of is that a growing number of people are no longer going to voluntarily cede control of their lives and property for some perceived “collective” good so politicians can placate the environmental groups or so a pack of morons living in our urban areas can feel good about themselves.

Allowing the change of the wording in the Clean Water Act thereby making it possible for the federal government to control all surface water is unacceptable.

Couple this with the State of Oregon proposing several new statutes to control our water use (e.g. requiring us to put meters on our domestic wells) to go along with the existing statutes that steal our property (e.g. wetlands and non-point source pollution regulations), I can assure you that rural land owners will revolt. And by “revolt” I do not mean peacefully demonstrating on the steps of the State Capitol.

What is becoming abundantly clear is that we no longer have recourse through our federal and state legislatures, administrations, or courts to stem the taking of our property and thereby our liberty as the quest to satisfy bogus claims of protecting our natural resources and the environment marches on. Members of Congress and Oregon’s legislature have come to the point of having to decide to reinstate our rights by rolling back the hundreds of rules and regulations that prevent the actual, wise use (i.e. conservation) of our natural resources on public lands and that take our private property without compensation, or to continue down the course of subjugating us to the power of growingly despotic governments.

If you decide to continue on course, then you should not be surprised or feign indignation before the TV cameras when a great number of us decide to protect our freedom, our property and our very lives at the point of a gun. We are no longer going to just sit in the darkness fearfully awaiting the rap on the door by some fascist regulator your actions have loosed upon us.

Daniel H. Varoujean II, June 11, 2009

Note: Maggots Merkley and Wyden are both sponsors of S.787 [here], so they are unlikely to vote against it. The bill as written drops the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act, thereby expanding the regulatory reach of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cover every drop of water in the Nation.

11 Jun 2009, 2:05pm
Politics and politicians
by admin
6 comments

Gardening Tip: Exterminating Root Maggots

Note: updated version 06/12/09

As many gardeners can attest, root maggots are a pernicious destroyer of garden crops.

Root maggots are the larvae of numerous species of dark gray flies (family - Anthomyiidae) that look like the common housefly, only smaller. The most common and serious root maggot pest in Oregon is Dalia radicum, the cabbage root maggot. It was introduced from Europe more than a century ago and will feed on plants of the mustard family or Cruciferae (e.g. cabbage, broccoli, turnips, radishes, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cress, mustard).

The adult flies lay their eggs in the soil in the spring or early summer at the base of host plants. The eggs hatch into maggots that feed underground on succulent roots, riddling them with tunnels and inducing rot. Affected plants lack vigor, may be stunted or yellowed, and often wilt during the heat of the day. After feeding for 1-3 weeks, maggots begin to pupate in plant roots or the surrounding soil. There are several generations per year.

These pests require cool, moist weather, a good description of Oregon in June and are generally limited in distribution to areas north of the 40th parallel. They are especially destructive in Canada. Were global warming true, one benefit would be fewer root maggots in Oregon.

Maggots (1/3 - 1/4 inch long) are small, yellowish white, legless larvae with tapered or pointed heads and blunt rear ends.

The adults engaged in voter outreach:

There are many methods of root maggot control, some more effective than others. The USDA recommends application of a registered pesticide such as Diazinon to the entire seedbed before planting or transplanting, mixing into the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches [here]. Mechanical controls may also be used:

Root maggot infestations can be prevented by covering the seedbed with a cheesecloth or screen covering placed immediately after seeds are sown. Covering should extend at least 6 inches on either side of the seed row. A square of tar paper (3 to 4 inches wide), or other sturdy material, placed at the base of each transplant will prevent adult cabbage maggots from laying eggs around stems. Cones made of window screen and placed over individual transplants will also prevent attack by cabbage maggots and have the advantage of being usable in subsequent years.

An organic method is the use of beneficial nematodes (Steinernema and Heterorhabditis). Nematodes are parasitic round worms available at many garden supply outlets. They come in sponges soaked with millions of the critters. The sponges are squeezed into watering cans or sprayers and applied at the base of infested plants. The nematodes swim down into the soil (moist soil is necessary) and if they encounter a root maggot, they bore into the body wall. Once inside they release bacteria that kills the host maggot. Nematodes will also lay eggs and multiply, protecting plants throughout the growing season (if the soil is kept moist).

Of course, if the host plant already has its roots chewed by root maggots and rot has set in, that plant cannot be saved.

Nematodes will attack the larvae of fleas, gnats, craneflies, corn borers, cutworms, and cucumber beetles, as well as fly maggots.

If your garden plants, especially young transplants, are wilting from root maggot infestations, it may be too late. The best thing is to apply nematodes at time of planting, repeating the application every 8 weeks or so.

Nota bene: if regular readers think this discussion of root maggots is somehow a metaphor for the US Congress, you are projecting. Root maggots are natural pests — although there are many similarities, Congress is decidedly unnatural.

Raul Grijalva Is Clueless

We have been discussing employee job dissatisfaction in the US Forest Service for the last two posts. Now Congress has chimed in, with predictable stupidity.

The Washington Post reports today that the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a hearing regarding USFS employee morale. The comments made by Congressoafs, especially those by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Tucson), are so outlandish as to deserve special attention.

Struggling to Boost Forest Service Morale

By Joe Davidson, The Washington Post, June 10, 2009 [here]

When cowboys and school kids sing “Home, home on the range. . . . Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,” they probably aren’t thinking about employees of the U.S. Forest Service.

But on the nearly 200 million acres of forests and grasslands the service manages, there are plenty of discouraging words to be heard. The grumbling is so bad that the agency’s low morale was the focus of a recent congressional hearing.

Prison guards “enjoy their jobs more than park rangers,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said during a hearing of the House subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands. “We want to find out why.”

Raúl, you dunderhead, the US Forest Service does not employ park rangers. People with that job description work for the National Park Service. The NPS does not have a morale problem. In the Office of Personnel Management survey NPS ranked 61 out of 216 in job satisfaction. That’s in the upper third in their class (Agency Subcomponents).

The US Forest Service manages the National Forests. They aren’t parks. They don’t have park rangers. Get with the program, Raúl!

More from the WaPost:

While trying to figure that out, Grijalva wants to put more staffers into the national forests, parks and other public lands through legislation the House Natural Resources Committee will consider today. His Public Land Service Corps Act would train public land managers to fix trails, clean campgrounds, control erosion and restore marine systems along the oceans and Great Lakes.

So Raúl would fix the morale problem at the US Forest Service by building more trails. Professional land managers are to be trained how to pick up shovels and do stoop labor, and that will fix their attitudes. As if!

Here’s a pic of the Congressoaf from Tucson:

Yep. you guessed it. He’s a global warming alarmist who wishes to cripple the American economy in service to Al Gore’s hoax. There is no global warming, the globe has been cooling since 1998 (despite increasing CO2), nothing that Raúl proposes will alter global temperatures one iota, but he wants to bomb us back to the Stone Age anyway.

Raúl has a freaking problem: he’s clueless about damn near everything.

more »

Exploring USFS Employee Dissatisfaction

In the previous post we noted that the US Forest Service ranked close to last among federal agencies in employee job satisfaction, according to the annual survey administered by the Office of Personnel Management.

Why might that be? What is it that is so awful about working for the USFS?

Many if not most people would assume that USFS employees get to work out-of-doors, in gorgeous settings, in the bosom of Mother Nature, with respectable pay and benefits, and so should be quite happy, or at least relatively happy compared to other federal employees.

But they are not happy, evidently. Why not?

We can only surmise, and invite you to consider the question as well. One clue is that USFS employees rated Effective Leadership - Leaders near the bottom. The employees are not happy with the USFS leadership. And the Office of Personnel Management rated leadership as the single most important factor in job satisfaction.

But that is a little too vague to really answer the question. What is it about the leadership that is so disheartening to the employees?

One answer might be that USFS leadership has put their employees in untenable situations. USFS policies have alienated rural communities, and the employees have to live in those communities where the public is at odds with their agency.

The USFS leadership has shut down all commercial uses of public forests, and that has been a hammer blow to the people whose livelihoods depend on resource production of one type or another from public lands.

The USFS leadership has promulgated megafires that harm adjacent communities in myriad ways. The residents don’t like that. They are also very aware that land management and fire policies are set by DC insiders and urban know-nothings without the least regard for the opinions of those most impacted.

Rural residents have watched in shock and awe as the USFS has burned their watersheds and destroyed their lives and livelihoods. Residents have been forcibly evacuated as USFS fires have been allowed to burn uncontrolled in mid-summer, exploded across federal property lines, and burned the homes, ranches, farms, and businesses of the evacuees.

The USFS leadership has promulgated road closures, roadless areas, wilderness areas, and other bans on human uses of the public estate, which may not affect dim-witted Easterners and other urbanites, but most definitely affect rural residents who work and recreate on public lands.

USFS Chief Gail Kimbell has made it her personal mission to shut people out of 400 million acres of their own private lands, as well. Her Open Space Initiative is designed to ban roads, homes, lawns, and any other form of human presence on lands that do not belong to the government but are the private property of rural residents, who were not consulted.

The USFS has lost any and all goodwill they once enjoyed with the rural public. Nowadays when the USFS holds a public meeting in an “affected” community, they must bring along federal marshals to safeguard the employees assigned to attend, because the affected public is madder than wet hens.

The cases are legion of angry crowds screaming imprecations at the poor sot employees who themselves have no say-so regarding USFS policies. None but the clueless rookies wear USFS uniforms in public or otherwise let it be known who they work for, for fear of angry backlash from understandably bitter and angry rural residents.

So that could be one reason for declining job satisfaction. Employees who thought they were going to commune with Nature have discovered they are looked on as an occupation army, one hellbent on utter destruction, and who have become the targets of extreme dissatisfaction from the citizens they oppress.

That would be my surmise. What’s yours?

8 Jun 2009, 10:16am
Uncategorized
by admin
4 comments

USFS Among Worst Fed Agencies to Work For

Each year the Office of Personnel Management does a survey of employee job satisfaction in 216 federal agencies. This year the US Forest Service ranked 206 [here] in their class (Agency Subcomponents).

Only the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, Federal Student Aid, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Defense Contract Management Agency, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Drug Intelligence Center, and the Office of Postsecondary Education ranked lower.

The Office of Personnel Management reports:

Designed to help a broad audience of job seekers, researchers, federal employees and government leaders, Best Places to Work in the Federal Government draws on responses from more than 212,000 civil servants to produce detailed rankings of employee satisfaction and commitment across 279 federal agencies and subcomponents.

The Partnership for Public Service and American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation use data from the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Human Capital Survey to rank agencies and subcomponents. Agencies and subcomponents are ranked on a Best Places to Work index score, which measures overall employee satisfaction, an important part of employee engagement. The Best Places to Work score is calculated both for the organization as a whole and also for specific demographic groups.

The Forest Service ranked lowest of all USDA agencies. USDA itself ranked 23 out of 30 Large Agencies.

USFS employees gave the category Effective Leadership - Leaders a score of 35.3 out of 100 [here], which ranked 209th among all other Agency Subcomponents ratings.

Interestingly, the Office of Personnel Management rated leadership as the single most important factor in job satisfaction [here]:

For the fourth time in a row, the primary driver of job satisfaction in the federal space is effective leadership. While this finding is no surprise, the reasons behind it are. In a first, the 2009 Best Places rankings break down which factors shape employees’ views of their leadership. Conventional wisdom holds that the greatest influence on an employee’s satisfaction is his or her immediate supervisor. However, the 2009 Best Places rankings reveal that it is actually the quality of an agency’s senior leadership that has the greatest bearing on employee views. …

The federal government consistently lags the private sector according to several indicators of worker satisfaction. Government trails the private sector most dramatically when it comes to effective leadership…

Former Clinton Official: Strangle Climate Skeptics in Bed!

Joe Romm, former Clinton Administration official and purveyor of the Climate Progress blog, has clarified an earlier threat made on his website to “strangle [climate skeptics] and your kind while you sleep in your beds.”

Romm now say the statement was “clearly not a threat but a prediction” [here].

Climate realists like myself do not take veiled threats (or “predictions”) from radical former government functionaries lightly. Joe Romm is clearly a terrorist and a traitor to American values of life, liberty, and the rule of law.

Climate alarmists such as Romm, NASA berserker James Hansen, and Al “Porky” Gore are growing increasingly insane as the global warming hoax they have perpetrated is discarded by intelligent people.

It may not be enough to dispel the hoax with reason. Armed and dangerous radical wackos may need to be dispatched as they crawl in through other people’s windows late at night. Romm et al. should remember that in the U.S. a person may legitimately use deadly physical force if that person is in reasonable fear of serious physical injury or death.

6 Jun 2009, 4:29pm
Politics and politicians
by admin
9 comments

Wilkes Withdraws from USFS Oversight Position

Mississippi NRCS Administrator Homer Lee Wilkes, selected in May by the Obama Administration to serve as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the USDA [here], has withdrawn from the nomination for “personal reasons.” Wilkes would have overseen the US Forest Service.

From the AP today:

Obama pick to oversee forests withdraws

The Associated Press, June 6, 2009 [here]

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s pick to oversee the nation’s forests has withdrawn his nomination.

Homer Lee Wilkes was nominated on May 5 as undersecretary of agriculture, a position that would have put him in charge of the U.S. Forest Service and the National Resource Conservation Service. The White House never sent his nomination to the Senate.

White House spokesman Shin Inouye said Saturday that Wilkes has withdrawn his name for personal reasons.

Wilkes was a 28-year veteran of the Natural Resources and Conservation Service and state conservationist in Mississippi.

Inouye says the president has not picked a replacement.

By the way, Shin Inouye is the “director of specialty media” since Feb. 26, and prior to that the constituency communications coordinator for the Obama for America campaign. He is a member of the Japanese American Citizens League and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association [here].

4 Jun 2009, 11:06pm
Forestry education Saving Forests
by admin
3 comments

A Cultural Renaissance

Report on the 2009 Native American Ecological Education Symposium

by Bob Zybach, Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc.

The Native American Ecological Education Symposium is held every two years at Southern Oregon University (SOU) in Ashland, Oregon. This year’s symposium took place on May 22 and 23. The symposia were first held annually, beginning shortly after the turn of the century, and this was the sixth such event to take place.

The Symposia feature mostly Native American elders and scientists, Native traditional technology and lifeway experts, educators, a few non-Indians who specialize in studies related to American Indians, singing, drumming, communal meals, revitalization of ancient arts and technologies, and lots of independent discussions. The featured speaker of this year’s event was M. Kat Anderson, noted author of Tending the Wild [review here] and co-editor of Omer Stewart’s Forgotten Fires [review here]. Event organizers included SOU student Marsha Small, Northern Cheyenne and Publicity Director for the Ecology Center of the Siskiyous (ECOS), Maymi Preston, Karuk, and Co-Chair of Native American Student Union (NASU), Dan Frye, Co-Chair of ECOS, and rest of the ECOS and NASU teams.

A core group of the same thirty to fifty speakers and participants seem to attend these affairs most years, creating a situation that Tribal elder Bob Tom likens to “preaching to the choir.” He then notes that even the very best choirs get that way through practice, and that these events are good practice for spreading information between symposia to a wider audience among our respective agencies, campuses, Tribes, families, and communities.

There was a different feeling at this year’s Symposium, though. Earlier events seemed to focus on recapturing Tribal culture via the sciences and social networking, with emphasis on anthropology, archaeology, singing, dancing, basketweaving, lithics, and history. This year’s event touched upon all of those aspects as well, but also focused on the landscape, native foods, and resource management technologies as ways to learn and teach Traditional Ecological Knowledge and –- perhaps more importantly –- as methods of communicating “horizontally” between generations, cultures, races, sexes, scientists, resource managers, teachers, and students.

more »

4 Jun 2009, 12:50am
Forestry education Saving Forests
by admin
6 comments

Junk Science Rules

Nothing comes close to the eruptions of absolute junk science when it comes to forestry in Oregon. Every kook in the world is suddenly an expert on matters they know nothing about. (Unless it is global warming alarmism, another arena in which junk science abounds).

Case in point: the “discussion” today at the Oregon Board of Forestry hearing regarding management of the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests.

Clowns in fish costumes paraded the grounds before the meeting, a fitting precursor to the lunacy they brought inside.

The circus was covered by the Oregonian:

OREGON ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS: Going green, green living, eco friendly tips and articles

Liveblogging: Tillamook and Clatsop state forests debate

by Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian, June 03, 2009 [here]

Salem — The Oregon Board of Forestry is hearing input this morning in Salem on a proposal to increase logging at the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests. …

Before the meeting began, salmon advocates rallied with signs and fishing boats to show their support for keeping more of the 500,000 acres of state-managed timber land as wildlife habitat. …

Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity kicked off the public response by critiquing the method behind the department’s analysis.

“Increasing the cut, it’s not supported by the science,” he said. …

What “science” is Noah talking about? Let’s look at some facts.

more »

The Forestry Gap

Last April the USDA Forest Service, Fire and Aviation Management, issued a Briefing Paper entitled Large Fire Management in 2009. In that paper “the Agency” found that

* The risk of very large fires occurring, and the associated threats to life and property, are increasing at a phenomenal rate.

* One-quarter of one percent (0.25%) of the fires each year are the costliest in terms of consuming fire management resources and a large portion of the Forest Service suppression budget.

* The increase in the number of acres with hazardous fuels conditions far exceeds the acres being treated for fuels reduction.

* The Agency has worked with predictive services to identify forests that exhibit characteristics which make them likely to have these large “problem fires” in 2009.

* The forests chosen will “pave the way” in developing a system for how large-complex fires should be managed given the increasingly more complex fire environment of the 21st century.

* Fire suppression does not always provide for resource protection and safety.

What are we to make of these stunning findings?

First, it is admirable that the Agency now realizes that biomass fuels fires. It is also admirable that they now realize that megafires are breaking their budget.

But beyond that, has anything changed in their thinking? Sadly, the answer is no.

The Agency, specifically Fire and Aviation Management, is directly responsible for the megafire crisis. Their attitude of Let It Burn, through whoofoo (WFU, wildland fire use) and hammer (AMR, appropriate management response) has generated megafires every year this century.

The practice of eschewing rapid initial attack and dropping way, way back as hundreds of thousands of acres burn IS the reason fires go mega. That and the elimination of responsible forestry practices prior to the predictable and preventable holocausts.

Fire and Aviation Management is biology-challenged. They cannot get it through their thick little heads that biology is where fuels come from. Nor do they grok that megafires do not eliminate biology. The Agency burns and burns, and the vegetation grows back, typically as pyrophytic brush, which together with the dead woody biomass left on the ground from the last fire generates even bigger and more severe fires.

Fire and Aviation Management apparently believes that if they don’t do the job they are paid to do — suppress fires — that the fires will just go away. That is so dunderheaded and counter-rational that it defies description.

The Agency has lost touch with biology. They canned all their foresters and do not practice forestry anymore. They don’t even know what forestry is.

For what it’s worth, forestry is the art and science of managing forests so that they provide resource benefits. Without forestry, forests tend to build up enormous quantities of fuel and then burn in catastrophic megafires. When that happens, all resource benefits are degraded or lost forever.

Restoration forestry in particular is the art and science of preparing forests to receive fire so that forests are protected, maintained, and perpetuated. If restoration forestry is properly applied, fires are not severe and do not destroy resources.

In the briefing paper Fire and Aviation Management promises to:

… work with the identified forests, pre-fire season, so they have time to practice scenarios, and engage cooperators and the public regarding these innovative approaches.

Engaging the public is something they are totally inept at. When the Agency instituted whoofoo and hammer, they did NOT engage the public. They gave the public the finger and adopted catastrophic fire with no public involvement at all.

There have been no Environmental Assessments, no Environmental Impact Statements, no public discussion or involvement whatsoever. Whoofoo and hammer have been jammed down the public throat with back-of-the-hand disregard.

The latest bureaucratic atrocity is the adoption of Leave Early Or Stay And Defend, the selfsame program that led to over 200 deaths of men, women, and children in Australia last February. The Agency has instituted a “we don’t fight fires, we watch them burn your forests, watersheds, and communities to the ground” program — again with zero public involvement.

When the Agency says they wish to “engage the public,” they really mean they intend to burn you out whether you like it or not.

There is a forestry gap. The US Forest Service is death on forestry as well as death on forests and forest-adjacent communities.

Because they eliminated all professional foresters, the Agency no longer knows how or why to practice forestry. All they know is Burn, Baby, Burn.

It would behoove the Agency and Fire and Aviation Management to at least make an attempt to bridge the forestry gap. It would behoove the public, as well. It would behoove our forests and watersheds if some professional forestry, in particular professional restoration forestry, was actually implemented.

But that is not going to happen as long as the Agency remains clueless about what forestry is.

1 Jun 2009, 7:33pm
The 2009 Fire Season
by admin
3 comments

Fire Weather in Oregon

The skies are flashing and rumbling over the Oregon Cascades right now. Moisture-laden low pressure off the Pacific Ocean is bumping into a high pressure cell over the eastern portion of the state. Thunderheads have developed in the High Cascades. Lightning is striking.

An unusually warm and dry May followed a wet and cold Winter. Vegetation growth has been phenomenal, although it often is in this green on green setting. Three cuttings of hay are likely this year. I thought somebody stole my pickup truck, but then I mowed the lawn and there it was.

That last bit is an Oregon joke, one I never tire of although others might.

High mountain fuels are still damp or under snow. If this lightning storm generates any fires, it is likely they will be in eastern Oregon. Two fires have already erupted there, the Geneva Fire [here] and the Green Grass Fire [here]. Lightning is also striking in Northern California, Southern Idaho, Nevada, and Utah (see the Vaisala Lightning Explorer here).

Some small fires have been ignited following over 900 lightning strikes in Nor Cal [here]. No fires from the other states mentioned have been reported from this lightning storm, as yet. W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking [here] is keeping a watchful eye.

To date this year 2,211,988 acres have burned (see the GACC report here), most of that (1,842,099 acres) in the Southern Region (Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, the Carolinas, etc.). That is more than twice the 10-year-to-date average reported by the National Fire News [here].

Note that the GACC and the National Fire News are reporting widely divergent numbers even though both are information branches of the National Interagency Fire Center. It is not at all clear why that should be. You would think the stats emanating from two branches of the same agency would be similar if not identical. It is difficult not to be cynical.

Whenever thunder crashes a variety of songs spring to mind. Today my brain is stuck on Dylan for some reason:

The air is gettin’ hotter, there’s a rumblin’ in the skies.
I’ve been wadin’ through high muddy water,
But the heat riseth in my eyes.
Everyday your memory grows dimmer,
It doesn’t haunt me like it done before.
I’ve been walkin’ through the middle of nowhere,
Tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.

Tryin’ To Get To Heaven — Bob Dylan, 1997, Time Out Of Mind

 
  
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