9 May 2009, 11:37am
Uncategorized
by admin
2 comments

African Book Pirates

An Open Letter to Amazon.com CEO and COB Jeff Bezos

Dear Jeff,

So there I was minding my own business when Amazon.com sent me a digital blurb announcing a new book and inquiring whether I wished to buy it.

The book you promoted to me is the alleged “Population History of American Indigenous Peoples” by Charles C. Mann et al. [here].

That was very exciting email because Charles C. Mann is one of my favorite authors, one whose important and artfully-crafted writings are featured at W.I.S.E. [here, here]. CCM is also a correspondent, and so I sent him a congratulatory email.

Imagine my surprise, Jeff, when Charles informed me he had never heard of the book!

It turns out that the publisher, Alphascript Publishing (a subsidiary of VDM Publishing House Ltd. of Maritius [here]), is a PIRATE. They took some old essays by Mann and others, scanned them and created a “book” out of stolen pieces, and are now selling the purloined booty on your website.

You (they) are asking $124 for a paperback copy of a pirated work, which doubles (at least) the piracy factor. None of which goes to the actual authors, by the way, who had no idea this was going on.

Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. You don’t want to be a pirate. Pirates meet cruel fates. Pirates get shot in the head by snipers and their carcasses thrown to the sharks, no questions asked. There is no doctor-supervised waterboarding or other friendly interrogation. There are no trials where pirate “rights” are protected. Just a bullet in the brain and quick conversion to shark chum.

Even the French Navy, heirs to Jean Lafitte and other famous cutthroat brigands, has limited tolerance for pirates [here].

I warmly suggest you cease and desist from book piracy. It’s not a good sideline biz for Amazon. Your liabilities in the matter exceed any possible equity you might gain.

You are welcome to sell legitimate books about pirates. You can shout “Yo ho ho” and drink a bottle of rum. But you don’t want to BE a pirate, or fence pirated works.

This is free advice, but I’d absorb it if I were you, Jeff.

Clean up your act. Hove to and swab your deck. Otherwise, beware of naval armadas steaming into your port and blowing you out of the water.

Your Pal and Card-Carrying Occasional Amazon Customer,

Mike D.

8 May 2009, 2:18pm
The 2009 Fire Season
by admin
3 comments

Santa Barbarans Burned Again

You would think that somebody there would have figured it out by now.

Here you have a coastal community with a Mediterranean climate pinched between the Los Padres National Forest and the deep blue sea. Water to the south, chaparral to north. One of those two eco-types catches fire now and again. Guess which one.

The Los Padres NF is a vast fire-adapted ecosystem. That is well known. What is little known is that the kind of fires that have been most prevalent over the last ten thousand plus years have been anthropogenic ones.

Human beings have lived in Santa Barbara for 10,000+ years and generally have been adverse to catastrophic fire. Major fires destroy resources and so put the survival of the residents in jeopardy. The residents long ago realized that frequent, seasonal, deliberate burning was preferable to sitting around on backsides and waiting for the fuels to build up to catastrophic levels.

But unfortunately, in our modern mobile age, the current residents have forgotten, or not been clued into, the fact that flammable fuels accumulate in Mediterranean climates and will burn catastrophically unless treated before that happens.

The previous residents, during the entirety of the Holocene up until recently, managed to prevent catastrophic fires through experienced, applied stewardship, even though they lacked modern technology.

The current residents sit pretty much carefree or impotent in their technology-rich million-dollar homes. They are either clueless as to the hazard, or defenseless victims of forces they cannot control or influence, such as their own government.

The clueless hypothesis is questionable. Last year the Tea Fire [here] burned 200+ homes in Montecito and the Gap Fire [here] burned 9,400 acres north of Goleta in the West Camino Cielo area. The year before that the Zaca Fire burned 240,000 acres of the Los Padres NF over a two month period, cost more than $120 million in direct fire suppression expenses, and was the most expensive fire in California history.

Santa Barbarans have to know their landscape is flammable. There have been too many direct fire assaults to countenance claims of ignorance. Stupidity might be, but ignorance is not an excuse any longer.

As of yesterday evening the Jesusita Fire [here] had burned 75 residences in the Mission Canyon/Camino Cielo area adjacent to Santa Barbara. Over 30,000 residents have been evacuated. The fire is spreading west towards Goleta and south towards Montecito.

Last night more homes were destroyed as strong northwest winds fanned the flames. The Santa Maria Times reports [here]:

more »

Wilkes to Be Nominated for USDA Under Secretary for the USFS

Mississippi NRCS Administrator Homer Lee Wilkes was tapped yesterday by Obama to serve as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the USDA.

PRESIDENT OBAMA, SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCE INTENT TO NOMINATE HOMER LEE WILKES AS USDA UNDERSECRETARY FOR NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT

USDA News Release No. 0148.09

Last Modified: 05/06/2009

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2009 - President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate Homer Lee Wilkes as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wilkes will serve with Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“For nearly thirty years, Homer has worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service where he has been dedicated to conserving and improving the environment in multiple states,” said Vilsack. “It would be a privilege to have a public servant like Homer join the USDA leadership team to help carry out President Obama’s vision of protecting our natural assets.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the primary federal agency that works with private landowners to help them conserve, maintain and improve their natural resources. The Agency emphasizes voluntary science-based conservation, technical assistance, partnerships, incentive-based programs, and cooperative problem solving at the community level.

Wilkes is a 28 year veteran of the NRCS, currently serving as State Conservationist in Mississippi where he administers the natural resources conservation program for the state. He has also served as a Budget Officer for NRCS in Amherst, Massachusetts, the Assistant Financial Manager and Fiscal Specialist for NRCS in Washington, and served as the Chief of Administrative Staff for the South Technical Center for NRCS in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wilkes received his Bachelors, Masters of Business Administration and Ph.D. in Urban Conservation Planning and Higher Education from Jackson State University.

Wilkes and his wife, Kim, have three sons - Justin, Austin, and Harrison. They presently reside in Madison, Mississippi, and are members of New Hope Baptist Church.

He enjoys fishing and family activities.

Biomass Logic Spreads to MSM

The Oregonian has dutifully followed our lead and reported on Congressman Greg Walden’s YouTubed exchange with Al “The Very Definition of Fatuous” Gore, in a stirring editorial. They even almost got the point:

Rural Oregon has energy to burn

by The Editorial Board, May 02, 2009 [here]

More than 1,000 people from 25 countries gathered in Portland last week for a conference on the vast promise of crop residues, wood waste and other sources of biomass to help power a greener, cooler, safer world.

At roughly the same time the world’s biomass experts were in town, the Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives released ant energy bill that explicitly disregards the largest available source of biomass in Oregon: federal forests.

That makes no sense as a matter of energy policy, economics or environmental stewardship. Oregon has hundreds of thousands of acres of federal forests that are overgrown, infested with insects and disease and vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires. It has rural communities struggling with 17 percent unemployment. It has everything it needs — and every economic motivation — to become a center for biomass energy.

But that won’t happen, can’t happen, if Congress approves an energy bill that sets out incentives and an ambitious goal — requiring that 25 percent of the nation’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025 — and then expressly discounts biomass from the nation’s federal forests.

Congressman Greg Walden, a Hood River Republican who represents much of rural Oregon, has a reasonable question: “What’s the science behind this decision to say biomass from federal lands is not a renewable energy source?” Walden said he can’t get an answer, not from Democratic leaders, not from former Vice President Al Gore, who testified on the bill last week, and not from the leaders of national environmental groups who helped draft the energy legislation. …

The Editorial Board is onboard with Fatuous Al as far as climate change hysteria is concerned:

… we disagree with his [Walden's] general opposition to what he labels “cap-and-tax” legislation to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible [for] climate change.

But they are willing to repress it long enough to advocate against catastrophic wildfires, which, by the way, emit more CO2 in Oregon than all the rest of the to-be-regulated CO2 emissions combined [here]. Too bad the Oregonian didn’t report (hasn’t yet reported) that story, too.

Be that as it may, kudos to the Oregonian for realizing that biomass from Federal land is a useful commodity for many reasons, and that fatuousness should not plague Federal legislation.

3 May 2009, 6:47pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
3 comments

Let It Burners Obfuscate the Facts

The Redding Record Searchlight continued its series of articles about forests and fire [here, here] this week with a Dylan Darling piece on firefighting methods [here].

Firefighting methods questioned

By Dylan Darling, Redding Record Searchlight, May 1, 2009

Last summer Rayola Pratt experienced the fear that haunts so many in the north state. Wildfire tore through the woods near her home off Rock Creek Road west of Redding.

“From here we could just watch the trees burst into flames,” she said.

When she evacuated as the Motion Fire pushed flames toward her place, she left her home in the care of a fire crew from Montana that slept on her deck between shifts. It was the biggest fire to burn near the home in the 40 years Pratt has lived there and she partially credits the firefighters for saving it.

While people with opposing points of view about wildfire issues in the north state agree that homes threatened by flames should be saved, they disagree about the level at which fire should be fought in the wildland.

At the crux of most any debate about wildfire suppression is the question of how aggressively to attack — when should firefighters hit fires with everything available, and when should they let them burn. The issue is complex, with firefighter safety, threats to life or property and potential benefits of fire for the land all taken into consideration by the agencies fighting the flames.

That would be nice if it were true, but it isn’t. The “agencies fighting the flames” do not take “potential benefits of fire for the land” into consideration, principally because there aren’t any.

Wildfires that are allowed to burn hundreds of thousands of acres all summer long do not benefit the environment. That canard is mousy propaganda, a falsehood, a raft of bilge, not the facts, sophistry, and too easy fodder for numskull journalists anxious to grovel in front their government informants.

The facts are that wildfires destroy forests, incinerate habitat, pollute air and water, cripple rural economies, and scar landscapes for lifetimes.

more »

3 May 2009, 11:09am
Uncategorized
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Been Busy

I regret the lack herein of plenty of pithy posts lately, but I have been busy with a variety of non-computorial matters; specifically installing a large market garden in part for survivalist purposes given the state of the economy but mostly for fun, and supporting the ceramic arts via multiple and sundry mostly beast-of-burden and other brutish tasks, traveling yon and hither pursuing matters of personal, consanguineous, and professional interest, and the like; which in concert have worn me out as well as detracted from the profusity of postings we all have come to expect if not value; and I also read a book, which took some time because of the sheer weightiness and richness of the book, which was about how to write a book and was brilliant at many levels; and which has inspired me to improve my writing skills, as you can see.

Now through this gray morning window of opportunity we will try to rapid fire a waiting backlog of pithy yet pregnant items of import that relate to the various subsites of W.I.S.E. until the next duty calls which is expected sooner rather than later. I predict the showers to continue, although there is a strip of blue sky off to the west.

Obama Installs Political Apparatchiks in the USDA

President B. H. Obama has orchestrated the appointment of political campaign operatives to newly created posts in the upper hierarchy of the US Department of Agriculture.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on April 17, 2009 the appointment of 14 “key staff positions” in the U.S. Department of Agriculture [here].

The 14 staff positions are “Confidential” and “Special” assistants to Under Secretaries who themselves have not been appointed yet! As Jerry Hagstrom of the Congress Daily (a subscription news service [here]) put it:

Former Obama Campaigners Filling Many Slots At USDA

by Jerry Hagstrom, Congress Daily, Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Only one Agriculture Department undersecretary and one assistant secretary have been confirmed by the Senate, but when the holders of many USDA sub-Cabinet positions get to their desks they will find that Agriculture Secretary Vilsack has already put their confidential and special assistants with proven Obama campaign experience in place.

The 14 new positions are not subject to Congressional approval. The appointments are based on political campaign efforts on behalf of Obama. For instance, the new Undersecretary for the USFS, who has not been appointed yet, already has a “Special Assistant” (from the USDA Press Release):

Meryl Raymar Harrell, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary, Natural Resources and the Environment. Most recently, Harrell served as the State Political Outreach Director for the Obama Campaign for Change in Wisconsin. Harrell previously worked as the Public Lands Associate at The Wilderness Society.

The Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service Under Secretary, whomever that might eventually be, already has a “Confidential Assistant”:

Elisabeth Reiter, Confidential Assistant to the Under Secretary. Most recently, Reiter was Deputy Director of Advance for the Obama for America campaign. She worked previously on the successful campaigns of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) in 2005 and Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) in 2006. She also worked on Senator John Kerry’s (D-MA) 2004 presidential bid. Reiter is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.

The peppering of the USDA with political apparatchiks is a slap in the face to the career professional civil servants in the USDA. More importantly, it taints with political bias every decision made by the USDA for the rest of Obama’s term.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed over a single Bush employee accused of political bias. Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie MacDonald allegedly “interfered” with endangered species and habitat decisions by agency scientists.

There will be no “allegedly” about political interference in the Obama Administration. The cadre of political operatives are in place, even before the senior management. Even if the cadre do nothing but sleep on the job, the appearance of interference for political purposes will remain.

The cadre have been appointed for their partisan political loyalty and campaign efforts, not expertise with the agency or issues. Their expected work output is political oversight. That is their purpose within in the USDA.

Never before has there been a political apparatchik cadre in the USDA, at least not in such an open and blatant fashion. The new system smacks of political commissar tactics employed by Communist dictators in the former Soviet Union.

The outrageous politicization of the USDA by Obama is a profoundly bad step for America.

28 Apr 2009, 12:44pm
Forestry education Saving Forests
by admin
1 comment

Forest Fires and Global Warming

We have essayed regarding this topic numerous times [here], but new obfuscations have cropped up and we must mow them down quickly in the spirit of good landscaping and defensible space.

ScienceDaily has posted a chatty article [here] referencing a new report (in the April 24 issue of the journal Science) forest fires and global warming. I haven’t read the report, but the chatty article is chock full of misconceptions ripe for scything. They sprout and grow thusly:

Fire Influences Global Warming More Than Previously Thought [here]

ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2009) — Fire’s potent and pervasive effects on ecosystems and on many Earth processes, including climate change, have been underestimated, according to a new report.

“We’ve estimated that deforestation due to burning by humans is contributing about one-fifth of the human-caused greenhouse effect — and that percentage could become larger,” said co-author Thomas W. Swetnam of The University of Arizona in Tucson.

“It’s very clear that fire is a primary catalyst of global climate change,” said Swetnam, director of UA’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

“The paper is a call to arms to earth scientists to investigate and better evaluate the role of fire in the Earth system,” he said.

Tom, Tom, Tom. That’s a pretty good scare story but it has two flaws (at least).

more »

27 Apr 2009, 2:52pm
Saving Forests
by admin
8 comments

Preventing Catastrophic Forest Fires

The Redding Record Searchlight is running a series of articles about forests. We posted a discussion about last week’s article in Long-Term Health Effects of Fires [here].

This week’s article is about preventing catastrophic forest fires, a topic dear to our hearts because SOS Forests is dedicated to that exact goal. The Redding Record Searchlight also invokes the wisdom of “experts,” something we invoke regularly ourselves.

Experts disagree on methods for preventing catastrophic forest fires

By Dylan Darling, Redding Record Searchlight, April 26, 2009 [here]

Flames from last year’s Moon Fire almost burned down Mike Boswell’s home on Rector Creek Road near Ono.

But ultimately the house was saved by brush thinning his family did on their 20 acres long before the blaze burned through in early July.

“We are like the poster children for clearing your property,” Boswell said.

In the north state and around the West, the call for residents to clear vegetation around their homes has become the mantra of firefighting agencies.

While the strategy has proven successful for homes like Boswell’s, the question remains of how to manage the thickly forested land abutting their properties, including vast acres of federal land that make up much of the north state landscape. …

The north state’s wildlands are primed for fire, as last summer’s epic fire season proved. Thunderstorms on June 20 and 21 sparked thousands of wildfires that burned for months and fueled ongoing debates about how the wildland should be managed. …

Because this topic is dear to our hearts, we are going to take some time to parse this article, dissect it, and suss out the useful information, if there is any.

more »

25 Apr 2009, 7:38pm
Forestry education Saving Forests
by admin
1 comment

Us Crazy Lumberjacks

Valerie is a Graduate, with a degree in Environmental Science and Resource Management. She wrote a comment to a previous post, Old-Growth Forests and Global Warming, [here].

We like comments and generally let them stand on their own, without response, but Valerie called us “crazy lumberjacks… just out to get the wise old trees who never laid a branch on you.” So we feel compelled to respond in some manner or other.

In fact, nobody is trying harder to save forests than we are. Valerie has leaped to the exact backasswards conclusion. In the interest of education (and even a Graduate can always learn a little more) we extend to her this explanatory note:

Dear Graduate Valerie,

Are we serious about forest stewardship? You bet. About protecting, maintaining, and perpetuating old-growth? Absolutely.

No where do we recommend “chop it down”. That’s not what restoration forestry is, Valerie. Restoration forestry is about saving old-growth from catastrophic fire and recreating the forest development pathways that led to old-growth in the first place.

Those development pathways included anthropogenic fire, as well as human distribution, tending, and use of predominant plants such as huckleberry, beargrass, ponderosa and sugar pine, and many others.

Thousands of years of human residency and landscape-scale treatments, such as frequent, seasonal, deliberate light burning, engendered prairies, meadows, berry fields, and open and park-like forests. Fires were largely man-made, with the foresight and experience of countless generations, in order to prepare or harvest fields, drive game, provide or reduce browse, and for dozens of other reasons, the chief among them to prevent the build up of fuels that would fuel catastrophic fires.

The First Residents avoided catastrophic fires (which would have severely impacted human survival) by deliberately burning off the fine fuels every year. That burning also killed conifer seedlings. Only rarely did a conifer survive repeated ground fires to grow tall enough and thick enough to be resilient to future fires.

We know this because all (or almost all) old-growth trees were open grown. They have wide growth rings near the pith, indicating fast juvenile growth (stand-grown trees have narrow rings). Old-growth trees have low height-diameter ratios (they’re squatty compared to tall, skinny, stand-grown trees). Old-growth usually have large limbs or knots near the base, again indicating open-grown characteristics and a competition-free micro-environment.

Those trees were sparsely distributed and grew to old ages because of the frequent ground fires.

In the absence of Indian burning, fuels have built up to the point that modern fires are severe and kill all the trees, including the old growth that had survived numerous light fires in the distant past.

In order to save the old growth, and to create more old-growth, we must reduce the fuels and re-institute frequent, seasonal, light burning fires.

Otherwise we get severe fires that kill old-growth, such as the Biscuit Fire (2002), the B and B Fire (2003), the Rattle Fire (2008), and hundreds of other fires that have decimated millions of acres of old-growth in just the last twenty years.

Setting aside forests in wilderness areas, roadless areas, special reserves, and other no-treatment zones is a virtual guarantee that catastrophic stand-replacing fire will strike. All the trees will be killed, old and young alike. New trees, if they sprout and if they grow through the brush, will be in thickets and will be killed in the next stand-replacement fire, which is sure to come within a hundred years if not much sooner.

The new trees will not grow to old ages. They will burn up first. Thickets of reproduction subject to stand-replacement fires do not produce old trees. Old trees only come about (survive to 200, 300, 600 years old or older) under special conditions — in open, park-like, woodland/savannas where fires are frequent and seasonal, and by necessity, anthropogenic (lightning fires are neither frequent enough nor in the right seasons).

No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch It Rot does not protect old-growth nor does it engender new old-growth. In addition, stand-replacing fires in old-growth spotted owl habitat are extremely harmful to the owls. They die in the flames or else wander the charred snags until they starve. Or Great Horned owls, golden eagles, or other predatory raptors eat the owls, which are easier to catch when their protective forest canopy is no more.

And it doesn’t come back. Spotted owl old-growth is the kind that arose as a result of anthropogenic fire. People setting frequent, seasonal, landscape-scale fires over thousands of years are what allowed the trees to grow old and become spotted owl habitat. If we do not emulate those people, spotted owl habitat will disappear and never return.

So you see, Valerie, us crazy lumberjacks are actually highly educated, vastly experienced, professional forest experts who seek to save old-growth and priceless heritage forests from permanent destruction.

As to your accusation that we are the cause of global warming, I sincerely doubt it, since there has been no global warming for 10 years. No effect, no cause.

Walden Roasts Gore

Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) lambasted former VP Al Gore regarding overgrown fire-prone forests last week at a hearing on the new Energy Bill (cap-and-trade, carbon tax, bankrupt the nation, etc.).

It seems that Al Gore is a key spokesman for a deeply flawed bill that outlaws the use of USFS fuels for biomass production. Walden pointed out the destruction of our public forests from catastrophic fires. Al hemmed and hawed and put his ample foot in his ample mouth.

The YouTube video is [here]. Some of the dialog:

Walden: Have you read the bill in it’s entirety?

Gore: … It took me two transcontinental flights …

Senator Warner: No I have not…

Walden: .. Do you support the use of biomass from Federal forests as a renewable energy source?

Gore: Uh, you know, I think the protection of the Federal forest is important…

Walden: (showing Al a photo of post-fire devastation) … This is the Malheur National Forest. It’s out in Harney County. They have 20 percent unemployment right now. This is what happens when you don’t treat it and it burns.

Gore: When you say treat it, uh? …

Walden: Get in and manage it the way the biologists believe it should be managed.

Gore: Hmm

Walden: We have a 79-year backlog, at the rate we’re treating right now, to get these forests into balance to deal with the climate change that you outlined. … That Malheur National Forest I referenced — they’re at least 25 years out based on the limited amount of acreage [treated each year]. We had investors that were ready to go into that county with 20 percent unemployment and do woody biomass production of renewable energy, and they cannot even get certainty from the Forests for supply.

Gore: Hmm

Walden: This legislation on Page 8 says woody biomass is not renewable if it comes off Federal ground period.

Gore: Hmm

Walden: Beyond that, the way it’s written, I’ve had private land foresters tell me even off their private land it would shut down biomass facilities if you followed this.

Gore: Hmm

Walden: Does that make any sense to you?

Gore: Yeah sure. Yeah, no, I understand exactly what you’re saying.

Walden: Do you agree with shutting it down? Do you agree with this language?

Gore: I, I don’t have a lot of, uh, confidence based on what has happened in the past when, uh, something, uh, you know, I think that if you and I could, uh, sit down and talk about every little detail of which tree and so forth …

Walden: … On the Fremont-Winema National Forest we have more than 200,000 acres of Federal forest land … bug-infested lodgepole pine. When that material comes out, why in the devil do we say it’s not renewable … why do we preclude it in this bill?

Gore: Hmm, well, I, I think the record of what’s happened, uh, when it’s been opened up in the past has given a lot of people pause and, uh, diminished their confidence that, that it could be managed in the right way that resembles the right result.

Walden: As you know, Mr. Vice President, every Forest has a management plan, and every activity on that forest requires full NEPA … every activity on a forest already is covered by NEPA, isn’t it?

Gore: Uh, I, I don’t think those provisions of NEPA have been effective in preventing some of the abuses that occurred during some times in the past.

Walden: … Why don’t you come out and I’ll take you to the Malheur National Forest and together we’ll walk in these stands … and we’ll meet with the professionals …?

Gore: I, I appreciate your invitation, Congressman. I have been to the forests of Oregon. I, I would love to come back. Uh, I was active in, uh, forming the forest plan in 1994 for the Pacific Northwest.

Walden: the Northwest Forest Plan — it has it own set of issues …

Gore: Yeah, but it’s been largely a great success …

Walden, No. I dispute that.

more »

Jay Jensen Named Deputy Under Secretary For USFS

The Executive Director of the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition, Jay Jensen has been selected by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for the position of Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE).

From the USDA News Room [here]:

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of Jay Jensen as USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE). In this position, Jensen will have responsibility for the U.S. Forest Service (FS), which manages 193 million acres of National Forest System lands and provides assistance to the more than 10 million family-forest landowners in this country.

The NRE mission area includes the FS and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS is the federal agency with primary responsibility for working with private landowners in conserving, maintaining and improving their natural resources.

“Jay Jensen brings the combination of on-the-ground and government experience that we need in this role,” said Vilsack. “He is a forester and wildland firefighter with an extensive background in policy, management, and legislation. I’ll be looking to Jay’s leadership as we address the health of our forests. This is a top priority for USDA because it relates to several critical challenges—the intensity of forest fires, climate change, biomass and renewable energy, clean water and revitalizing forest-dependent communities.”

Since May 2005, Jensen has been Executive Director of the Council of Western State Foresters/Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. The Coalition is a federal-state governmental partnership. Jensen had served earlier as the Coalition’s Government Affairs Director.

He has also served as Senior Forestry Advisor for the Western Governors Association, where he was responsible for the biomass energy program. Before that, as lead forestry advisor for the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, Jensen helped develop programs under the 2002 Farm Bill. He has also served as lead policy analyst for the National Association of State Foresters.

Jensen holds a B.S. degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and an M.S. in Forestry from Colorado State University.

A southern California native, Jensen will be moving to the D.C. area with his wife Shawna Friedman and their young daughter Kayden.

Manual Dyslexia and Wyden’s New Old-Growth Bill

The Federal Government, including Congress, famously suffers from manual dyslexia — that affliction wherein the right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing (and vice versa). A case in point is the new “Oregon Forest Restoration and Old Growth Protection Act of 2009″ [here] trotted out by its proud owner, Senator Ron Wyden, for a public showing last week.

OFROGPA, as Wyden’s bill is fondly known by intimates, is the left hand flailing away in complete isolation and disregard of the right hand, the Forest Landscape Restoration Act (FLRA) of 2009.

The latter was Title IV of the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009, passed last month by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President. The Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 is now the law of the land.

OFROGPA is a Johnny-come-lately-out-of-the-blue and conflicts, confuses, and creates cross-purposes with the now Law of the Land.

It is almost as if Sen. Wyden didn’t read the FLRA before he voted in favor of it last month. Neither did his staff, apparently. That can happen when the Senate is too lazy to hold hearings and fails to give due consideration to bills before they smash them through the Capitol like siege wagons.

What really happened was this: there were three restoration forestry bills introduced last year. In January 2008 Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced legislation he called the Pacific Northwest Forest Legacy Act [here]. In February Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced S. 2593, the Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2008 [here] which was co-sponsored by Sen. Wyden. In June Wyden introduced his own bill [here], which was a poor amalgamation of the other two, leaning heavily towards DeFazio’s.

No hearings were held on any of them although Bingaman’s bill came closest, with a hearing scheduled for July but cancelled at the last minute [here].

Then Barack Obama was elected, the Democrats took over both houses, and they began to pass sweeping legislation in ill-considered spasms. Among the avalanche debris that collapsed on America this winter is Bingaman’s S. 2593, The Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 [here].

The conflicts between the new law (FLRA) and Wyden’s also-ran OFROGPA bill are numerous and significant.

more »

20 Apr 2009, 12:40am
Federal forest policy The 2008 Fire Season
by admin
4 comments

Long-Term Health Effects of Fires

Fire suppression costs are a fraction of the total cost-plus-damages that wildfires can inflict. As The True Cost of Wildfire in the Western U.S. [here] stated:

The millions of dollars spent to extinguish large wildfires are widely reported and used to underscore the severity of these events. Extinguishing a large wildfire, however, accounts for only a fraction of the total costs associated with a wildfire event. Residents in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) are generally seen as the most vulnerable to fire, but a fuller accounting of the costs of fire also reveals impacts to all Americans and gives a better picture of the losses incurred when our forests burn.

A full accounting considers long-term and complex costs, including impacts to watersheds, ecosystems, infrastructure, businesses, individuals, and the local and national economy.

Among those long-term and complex costs are long-term health effects. The Redding Record Searchlight published a report about that today [here].

There’s still much to learn about long-term health effects of last year’s fires

By Jocelyn Weiner and Ryan Sabalow, The Redding Record Searchlight, Sunday, April 19, 2009

The smoke crept in during the final weeks of June. From the blazing forest, it reached its ashy brown fingers into Frank Walden’s garden, choking his corn and poisoning his apple trees. It snuck under the doorway of his three-bedroom home on the edge of Big Bar. It entered his lungs. It refused to leave.

Ten months after the lightning storms that triggered 136 wildfires in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and clogged this region with smoke for an entire summer, Frank Walden doesn’t feel much better. His resting heart rate recently clocked in at 141 beats per minute - twice as fast as normal, he says. He struggles to catch his breath.

“It probably took years off me,” says Walden, 75, his voice now scratchy like a smoker’s, though he’s never lit up. “By damn, those fires have done me bad.”

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19 Apr 2009, 10:06am
Forestry education Saving Forests
by admin
1 comment

Owl Ridge Trails Project Garners Oregon Heritage Excellence Award

The Owl Ridge Trails Project, a historical analysis of the pre-Contact South Santiam watershed, has earned a 2009 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award.

At a banquet last Friday the Oregon Heritage Commission presented the award to David Lewis of the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde and Bob Zybach of Oregon Websites and Watersheds in recognition of their study of the trail network and landscape patterns prevalent in the Oregon Cascades prior to Euro-American occupation.

The Owl Ridge Trails Project website is [here]. The project is a necessary precursor to restoration forestry efforts in the South Santiam watershed. Among the purposes of that restoration are:

1. To restore and maintain Santiam Molallan cultural landscape patterns.

2. To re-create traditional Molallan hunting, gathering, and resource management practices.

3. To reduce wildfire threat to local communities and native wildlife populations.

4. To protect historic old-growth tree populations.

5. To develop local and Tribal employment opportunities.

6. To enhance forest aesthetics, traditional spiritual sites and values, and local recreational opportunities.

Forest restoration of the South Santiam watershed has been proposed in the Gordon Meadows Restoration Plan [here]. Gordon Meadows are located one ridge north of Owl Ridge and were a high-use area of the Santiam Molalla.

The Owl Ridge Trails Project investigated the historical uses of the Gordon Meadows and the greater Owl Ridge area in order to describe in detail the reference conditions requisite for restoration.

About 150-200 people attended the Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards ceremony where Governor Kulongoski’s wife, Mary Obrist made the presentations. Dr. Zybach accepted the award and credited Grande Ronde Tribal Elders Pat Allen and Bob Tom, CTGR Director of Operations John Mercier, Tribal GIS specialist Volker Mell, the Tribal Council, and Wayne Giesy, Jeanne Gay, and Stuart Hemphill from ORWW.

Others involved in the Owl Ridge Tails Project include Tribal Elder and Cultural Resources Site Protection Specialist Don Day; Tribal member and Cultural Resources Cultural Protection Coordinator Eirik Thorsgard; Kim Rogers, Tribal Planning and Grants manager; Tribal member and Tribal Executive Officer Chris Leno; Tribal member and former Cultural Resources staff member Khani Schultz; and former Tribal Executive Officer Greg Archuleta. Tony Farque, archeologist, and Douglas Shank, geologist, of the Willamette National Forest, provided consultation and review.

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