Collaborating With the Enemy

US Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell has been collaborating with the Wilderness Society in order to undermine and sabotage the USFS and to incinerate America’s public forests. Kimbell’s subversive actions are not secret but overt and arrogant, and the rank-and-file of the agency are well-aware of it.

While the field operations of the Outfit (as the USFS is fondly referred to by dedicated life-long employees) have been severely constrained by forced adherence to Byzantine environmental laws, NEPA processes, and endless planning, Gail Kimbell has ordered Let It Burn fires, at the behest of the Wilderness Society, with no planning, no NEPA, and no adherence to any environmental laws or regulations.

Case in point: after eight years of a planning exercise called the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment [here], one that involved thousands of people, hundreds of meeting, and tens of thousands of documents, studies, reviews, rehashes, monitoring, and re-monitoring, a Federal judge last week enjoined a fire-preventative thinning created under SNFPA guidance with the judgment that the planning was not “rigorous” enough to satisfy him [here].

That suit was brought by the Wilderness Society, and in effect destroyed eight years of effort by USFS employees to comply with the law.

Yet the Wilderness Society sits on the highest planning body of the USFS, the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, and has ordered, via Gail Kimbell, the USFS to conduct Let It Burn fires (termed Wildland Fire Use fires of WFU’s) with no planning, no hearings, no studies, no NEPA process, and no adherence to any U.S. environmental law, such as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, or the Clean Water Act.

The Wilderness Society had every opportunity to participate in the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan planning exercise. That was an open process with public hearings and public involvement every step of the way. Indeed, the Wilderness Society was invited and even begged to participate, to become part of the process, to meet with local residents, to resolve differences in an amicable and collaborative fashion.

Instead the Wilderness Society chose to shun that process and instead to sue to kill it, in concert with the Sierra Club, the Center For Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign (who recently changed their name to Sierra Forest Legacy in a marketing/branding move).

The Wilderness Society conspired to sabotage the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan, not only in cahoots with other so-called “environmental” groups, but with the blessing and assistance of USFS Chief Gail Kimbell.
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The Wilderness Society Wants to Incinerate Your Forests

Let us connect the dots. Pay attention now. I will do this carefully and slowly, because I don’t want your brain to explode.

The Wilderness Society lives in Washington DC. They are a corporation. They have assets: in 2006 they reported assets of $54,000,000. They have income: in 2006 they reported revenues of $37,000,000. They have a president. His name is William H. Meadows. They have members, because they are a kind of club. TWS (that’s their pet nickname for The Wilderness Society) claims 300,000 members.

TWS is what is generally known as a “special interest group.” They have special interests. They lobby Congress. They get involved in elections. They sue people, especially the Federal Government. They also sit on important boards and commissions.

We mentioned one of their lawsuits two posts ago. TWS sued the US Forest Service, specifically the Plumas national Forest, for an “improper” SEIS, which is the acronym for Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

It seems the Plumas NF wanted to thin some forests, to make those forests less likely to burn up in catastrophic forest fires. They called that proposed thinning “creating Defensible Fuel Profile Zones” which are areas approximately 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide where fuel loadings are reduced, usually along roads. In order to do the thinnings properly and legally, the Plumas NF first did a plan and analysis, called an SEIS (see previous paragraph).

That involved making a plan, evaluating it, and presenting it to the public for the public’s input. It was all very “by the book.” The Plumas NF followed all the laws, such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Planning Act (NEPA), and even one you may not have heard of, the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act. In the HFQLGFRA the U.S. Congress directed the Plumas NF to do exactly the the kind of forest thinnings they laid out.

That’s how closely the Plumas NF followed the law; they were told by Congress (and President Bill Clinton, who signed the HFQLGFRA) that they MUST do these thinnings and so they did, or tried to anyway.

But the Wilderness Society (TWS, remember them? see the beginning of this essay) did not like all that. TWS is very stuffy about the law. They felt that, somehow, the laws was not being followed just right, so they sued. TWS sued in Federal Court, but they lost at the trial level, so they appealed. TWS’s appeal was accepted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and last week that court ruled in favor of TWS [here].
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9 May 2008, 9:12am
2007 Fire Season Federal forest policy
by admin
8 comments

The Incineration of the Payette

Since 1993 over a million acres of the Payette National Forest have been incinerated. In 1994 300,573 acres burned. In 2000 343,347 acres burned. In 2006 over 70,000 acres burned. And in 2007 a whopping 470,529 acres of the Payette NF went up in smoke. That’s 1.27 million acres in 4 of 14 years (I don’t have data for the other intervening years).

The Payette NF is 2.3 million acres in size, so using the data available, 55 percent has burned in the last 14 fire seasons. I have been told but cannot confirm (because I don’t have all the data) that the actual burn percentage is 70 percent .

The nearly half million acres of the Payette that burned in 2007 was more or less deliberate on the part of the US Forest Service. They planned it, and then carried it out.

Following the 2006 fire season (70,000 acres) USA Today ran the following article [here]:

Forest fire strategy: Just let it go, USA Today, November 2006

In the worst year for wildfires in nearly half a century, it may seem odd to celebrate how well some of them burned. But the Payette National Forest in central Idaho is doing just that.

“It was a real long season, but we got some nice fire effects,” says Sam Hescock, a fire management officer on the 2.3-million-acre forest where more than 150 fires this summer and fall burned about 70,000 acres. “We’re pretty happy with what we got.”

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The Forest Incineration Conspiracy Continued

I presented the Forest Incineration Conspiracy last post. The bottom line is that multi-national forest landowners are engaged in territorial hegemony, taking over as much land as they can for reasons of money and power. That takeover will not serve our economy, will not create jobs, will not increase general community wealth, will nor benefit “nature”; in fact, just the opposite of those things are occurring.

Need more evidence? As Bear Bait pointed out [here]:

We are exporting the value added jobs. The profits are made offshore and not subject to US taxes. That is a real model in Seattle that Weyco and their ilk have to see with some pain. Look for it to happen to logs and lumber.

And then this just in over the insider wire:

2007 Softwood log exports from the West Coast increase [here]

PORTLAND, Ore. April 24, 2008. A total of 879.9 million board feet of softwood logs was exported from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska in 2007. The 2007 volume was up 11.6 percent from the 2006 total of 788.4 million board feet, according to Debra Warren, an economist at the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station.

“ Some 546.8 million board feet or 62.1 percent of the west coast softwood log exports in 2007 went to Japan, 264.8 or 30.1 percent went to South Korea, 42.4 million board feet or 4.8 percent went to China, and 7.2 million board feet or 0.8 percent was exported to Taiwan,” says Warren. …

Other statistics included in the report are:

Log exports for 2007 from Washington and Oregon totaled 673.0 million board feet, up 26.0 percent from the 2006 volume of 534.3 million board feet.

A total of 457,000 board feet of logs was exported from northern California, up from
75, 000 board feet in 2006.

Alaska exported a total of 206.5 million board feet in 2007 compared with 254.1 in 2006.

Douglas-fir accounted for 53.7 percent of the 2007 log exports; western hemlock, 13.6 percent; Sitka spruce (out of Alaska), 17.3 percent; and other softwoods made up the remaining 15.4 percent.

The total value of 2007 log shipments was $544.1 million at port of exportation, and the average value was $618.40 per thousand board feet. Douglas-fir averaged $780.17 per thousand board feet; western hemlock, $521.92; and other softwoods, $460.77.

Those are NOT logs off USFS lands; they are from private lands, and from the Big Baron’s lands in particular. There is next to no cut from USFS lands. Roughly a quarter of the log harvest from the PNW got exported. No mill jobs for you! You will be allowed to purchase the imported wood products, however, if you can afford them!

That’s what happens when multi-nationals own the land base in the U.S.A., land of the slaves, home of the saps.
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6 Apr 2008, 12:46am
Federal forest policy
by admin
4 comments

WFLC Stages Bloodless Coup — America To Be Incinerated

On March 24th the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) held a conference call meeting in which they adopted new “anything goes” rules for Let It Burn fires.

The WFLC is the Federal Advisory Committee that oversees firefighting on Federal land, including USFS, BLM, NPS, USFWS, and BIA [here]. The March 24 meeting notes are [here].

Five unanimous decisions were made during the conference call meeting. First, any fire can be a suppression fire and a whoofoo at the same time. The fire can be suppressed over here and let burn over there.

Wildland Fire Leadership Council Meeting — Conference Call Notes, March 24, 2008

Actions and Decisions

TOPIC: Modifying Guidance for Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire Policy (AMR)

1. Current Direction: Only one management objective will be applied to a wildland fire. Wildland fires will either be managed for resource benefits or suppressed. A wildland fire cannot be managed for both objectives concurrently. If two wildland fires converge, they will be managed as a single wildland fire.

Proposed Direction: Wildland fires can be managed for one or more objective(s) based on the Land/Resource Management Plan direction.

DECISION: No objections – the WFLC approved new direction unanimously.

The new direction means the fire managers can be flexible about where they suppress and where they don’t. This is tantamount to a half-assed approach. The only criteria is that they have a policy known as “Appropriate Management Response” or AMR in their Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP). This is one of the purposes of the change in the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF LRMP proposed March 5th [here] and commented upon by W.I.S.E. [here]

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USFS Scorched Earth Policy To Be Unveiled

The US Forest Service is set to release its new “scorched earth” policy on March 29th. The policy will encourage Let It Burn fires on 15 National Forests. The Let It Burn policy will be installed by formally adding Wildland Fire Use (WFU or whoofoos) to the Fire Plans on the 15 forests.

The Let It Burn policy was instigated by the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, a Federal Advisory Board that includes representatives from the five fed land management agencies (USFS, BLM, NPS, USFWS, and BIA) and is heavily influenced by BINGOs (TNC, TWS). See [here].

The new Let It Burn policy will be installed by altering or adopting language in the Fire Plans known as “Appropriate Management Response” (AMR). The changes will be made without public input or Environmental Impact Statements (EIS’s), even though whoofoos fires have huge impacts on plants and animals including Threatened and Endangered Species. The Let It Burn fires will also impact:

• Non-listed flora and fauna
• Historic/cultural resources
• Water and watersheds
• Air quality and airsheds
• Carbon emissions
• Public and worker safety
• Local economies
• Recreation opportunities
• Soils
• Hydrology
• Transportation networks
• Social resources
• Fisheries
• Invasive and noxious weeds
• Insects and disease
• Wilderness and roadless areas
• Wild and scenic rivers
• Scenic quality
• Short-term and long-term productivity
• Irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources
• Wetlands and floodplains
• Farmland, rangeland, and private property
• Energy sources
• Civil rights and environmental justice

The new USFS scorched earth policy was predicted by this blog, and now it is coming to pass, without public notice in most cases and without the appropriate NEPA process (EIS’s) in all cases. The new policy also violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) among others.
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6 Feb 2008, 5:53pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
5 comments

I Accept Your Obeisance

Not only am I to blame, but it follows that I also hold the power.

Simply by mentioning a USFS project/program on this blog, I shut it down. The other day I posted an extract from the Federal Register about the proposed Thom-Sieder project on the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest [here]. Within hours complaints came in from the USFS blaming me for sabotaging the entire project, and now it’s defunct, and it’s all my fault.

A year ago I complained about the Wildland Fire Leadership Council violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The Federal Government’s response was to shut down the WFLC site and engage a raft of Justice Dept. attorneys in a six-month effort to remake the WFLC into something other than an Advisory Council. All meeting notices and minutes have been squelched ever since. The WFLC held another secret meeting yesterday, and my guess is that SOS Forests and Mike Dubrasich were all they talked about. Their whoofoo program is choking and dying, their budget has been slashed, they are contemplating another 2,500 layoffs, they have alienated the entire country, and it’s all my fault.

Get mentioned on this blog and your career as a public employee is over, just like that. I hold the power to crush and destroy.

It seems unlikely, even outlandish and absurd. But in case after case my blog has wreaked havoc in the agency from Arizona to Boise to Washington D.C.

Many insiders have told me to cool it, allegedly because I am disintegrating the US Forest Service. Frankly, I didn’t believe them. I mean, how pathetic is the USFS if one blog can monkey wrench their trip? Me and my homemade, backwoods, rust-caked computer with a dysfunctional Internet connection are apparently the most powerful influences today on the USFS nationally. Hard to believe but the evidence mounts up.

Never having held this much power before, I’m not sure how to handle it. What if it goes to my head and I become corrupted by my own magnificence? I never had to face a problem like that before. I’ve faced plenty of other problems, but not the burden of commanding and controlling an entire Federal bureaucracy with the stroke of my keyboard.

But fate (or folly) forces me to assume the mantle of power. I accept the obeisance of the USFS, with grace and dignity.

Dear USFS,

Please call me to receive your instructions. I’m in the book. If you do not clear it with me (whatever it is) chances are I will crush and destroy it, sometimes without even trying to. Such is the burden of power; I step on bugs wherever I turn, and sometimes with complete unawareness of the squishing going on beneath my heavy boot heel.

It must be true; you blame me.

Therefore, before you do anything else stupid, please contact me ahead of time. Trying to hide from me is no use to you. I will suss you out, and then slap the kibosh on whatever it is you didn’t want me to know about.

It’s my game now, and you can’t win.

Give me a call. Let’s cut to the chase and move ahead. If you don’t call me today, I can’t save you any grief.

Mike the Powerful

29 Jan 2008, 4:41pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
5 comments

An Open Letter to the SAF Policy Committee

Dear Committee,

I am a practicing professional consulting forester. It has come to my attention that the Wildland Fire Leadership Council will be holding a meeting on Feb. 5, and that they have invited the Society of American Foresters to present a position statement on wildland fire.

Here is my view of the WFLC: they have been captured by pro-fire entities including the Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Society, two big international non-governmental organizations (BINGO’s).

For the last few years the WFLC has been heavily promoting the idea of let-it-burn, variously termed WFU’s, Wildland Use Fires, Wildland Fires Used for Resource Benefit, or “suppression” fires that are more or less unmanned and unfought (de facto WFU’s).

Although no NEPA process has been followed, the WFLC has promulgated maps, models, and statements of intent to let burn more than 50 percent of the entire National Forest system, and is adding more acres all the time. Record fire seasons and record fires have resulted. The largest fires in state recorded history, and/or the most expensive, have occurred in the last ten years in OR, WA, ID, MT, CO, UT, NV, AZ, NM, and CA.

Megafires originating on Federal land have escaped and burned tens of millions of private acres, rural and urban alike. Suppression costs have soared into the $billions per year. But much worse, the damages to forest resources and other assets, public and private alike, has been in the tens of $billions each year this century, and is getting worse year by year.

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22 Jan 2008, 2:07pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
5 comments

Global Cooling Sets In

There has been no global warming since 1998. The solar cycle that lifted the planet out of the Little Ice Age is over. That worm has turned, and we are headed back into a cooling cycle. This year, 2008 is expected to be the coolest since the early 1990’s. And 2009 will be cooler yet.

Global temperatures are not affected by atmospheric carbon dioxide. The planet is cooling despite “record” levels of CO2 (today’s CO2 concentrations are minuscule compared to paleo-atmospheric concentrations). Humanity has not warmed the planet. Temperatures are dipping despite everything humans do.

The current and former Chiefs of the USFS, Gail Kimbell and Dale Bosworth, both blame global warming for record forest fire acreage during their tenures. The Association of Fire Ecologists went so far as to issue a Declaration calling for direct and immediate conversion of forests to brush via a No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch it Rot, No Regrets policy.

The Wildland Fire Leadership Council, the federal advisory committee that oversees federal firefighting and is dominated by special interest groups, specifically the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Society, has launched a “Black, Dead, Burned Forests Are Beautiful” campaign. The propaganda effort is in support of their WFU program, the Let It Burn policy that encompasses most of the western U.S., public and private land alike.

Yes, in December the USFS formally extended its Let It Burn directive to hundreds of millions acres of private land, an official acknowledgment of their de facto policies of the last 15 years.

That announcement comes on the heels of a government-wide “Blame the Victims” approach to addressing the tens of thousands of private homes the USFS has incinerated during the last 15 years. Nearly 90 million acres have burned in wildfires in the last decade and a half, including the largest fires in the history of every western state.

The destruction of America’s public forests has been horrific. Trillions (with a “t”) of dollars in resource values have been lost. Regional economies have been crippled. Wildlife populations have crashed. Millions of acres of heritage old-growth forests have been converted to brush.

But hark! That’s all over now. Since global warming was the cause, now that global cooling has set in the problem has been solved. Right?

Wrong. Global warming was never the cause; bad land management was and is. And since the bad land management promulgated by the USFS and WFLC is getting worse, expect fire seasons to get worse, too, regardless of “climate change.”

Expect more acres, more forests, more homes to be incinerated this year. Your watershed, neighborhood, property has been targeted. It does not matter whether you live in a rural, urban, or suburban setting. Fire does not discriminate. And megafires arising from the deliberate actions (and inactions) of the federal government especially do not discriminate.

The time to act is now. The time to reintroduce stewardship into the landscape is now. The federal government needs to hear that message and get it in gear, now. The mistakes of the last 15 years must be corrected, now.

Regardless of global warming, cooling, or “climate change.”

13 Jan 2008, 7:33pm
Forestry education
by admin
4 comments

Meme Games

I have received a small amount of negative feedback (polite, indirect, but still negative) regarding the term “restoration forestry.” The negativity expressed has some validity; words are tricky things. I am not all that enamored with the term myself.

To be honest, I have been searching for the right buzzword or meme (an idea that spreads from person to person within a culture). Restoration forestry, or forest restoration, are examples of pregnant phrases that might (or might not) resonate politically but actually have no precise definition, and/or mean very different things to different people.

Memes are idea viruses. Every marketer searches for memes to infect the public with notions about his or her product. Things go better with Coke. Not your father’s Oldsmobile. Forests: Tend Them Or Lose Them. Warmer Is Better. Etc.

Our forest problems will not be solved with memes, though. A better approach is to advance the discourse, which is the intention of W.I.S.E.

Forestry does have major conceptual (abstract structure) problems, and “forestry” itself is a meme that means different things to different people. Some folks, like Sen. Ron Wyden the other night, think that thinning is not logging, but of course it is. The conceptual problem here is that too many see forestry as commercial extraction of resources and not as stewardship of ecosystems.

To some foresters, at least to me, the task is the latter, not the former. Unless we are talking about private tree farm land, in which case the idea is to grow and harvest profitable crops, as in any farm business. This is an important distinction. Private tree farming and public forestland stewardship are two completely different land uses. Forestry ought to be adept at both; sadly, in its current manifestations, it is adept at neither.

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31 Dec 2007, 6:04pm
2007 Fire Season
by admin
2 comments

The 2007 Fire Season: A Year-End Recap

With over 9.3 million acres burned in wildfires nationally, the 2007 fire season was the second worst fire season in over fifty years (the 2006 fire season was the worst with over 9.7 million acres burned).

In terms of total acres burned, seven of the worst ten fire seasons since the early 1950’s have occurred in the last 12 years.

Average acreage per wildfire was nearly 110 acres, again the second worst in over fifty years (the 2005 was the worst averaging 131 acres per fire).

In terms of average acres per wildfire, nine of the worst ten fire seasons since the early 1950’s have occurred in the last 12 years.

The preceding graphs are based on data provided by the National Interagency Fire Center Wildland Fire Statistics [here]. The following is a recap of some of the high and low lights of the 2007 Fire Season.

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