2011 Wish List For Congress

As the 111th Congress, the Worst Congress in History, waddles lamely into oblivion (but not before laying rotten egg after rotten egg), our thoughts turn hopefully toward the new 112th Congress scheduled to convene Jan. 5, 2011. ‘Tis the season of hope, after all.

To aid the new batch, we propose a list of tasks that will advance (rather than retard) America. Our suggestions are below. You are cordially invited to add your suggestions to the list.

1. Repeal or radically revise the Endangered Species Act

The ESA has failed to protect species; indeed it has failed to even define what a species is or adequately elucidate what “endangered” means. Under the aegis of the ESA whole regions of this country have been plunged into economic nightmares without any appreciable protection of anything. The ESA is a worthless boondoggle joke that does far more harm than good (in fact, a lot of harm and zero good).

Many of the species on the List are not endangered in any way, shape, or form, such as Gray Wolves, Grizzly Bears, and Polar Bears. Others have seen their populations plummet after listing. Still others do not even exist, but are imaginary species. The cost/benefit of the ESA has never been examined by Congress.

Please fix all that, 112th-ers, in open, public, transparent fashion.

2. Repeal or radically revise the National Environmental Policy Act

NEPA is another worthless boondoggle that does more harm than good.

3. Repeal the Equal Access to Justice Act

This misnomered law excludes equal access to justice by the people most affected. The EAJA has squandered $billions on monkey-wrenchers whose mission is to rob the Treasury while fomenting environmental and economic disasters.

4. Stop incinerating America’s priceless heritage forests

Here’s a thought: maybe our land management agencies should practice stewardship instead of catastrophic annihilation of our natural resources.

5. Fund forest restoration

$Trillions have been squandered on pork barrel boondoggles that are truly bridges to nowhere. It would be nice if the 112th Congress could invest a few $million in restoring our forests instead of $billions in burning them down. One first step: define forest restoration in an open, public, transparent fashion.

6. Restate through statute the USFS mission

The USFS has lost its bearings. Every new Chief brings in his or her own agenda that has no relationship to the statutory mission. Past Congresses have failed to direct the agency through law. Nobody is steering the ship. It has run aground on rocky reefs of nonsense. If Congress cannot or will not lead, then they should give all those acres back to the states for the states to manage.

7. Terminate the Global Warming Hoax

The globe is not warming, but if it were it would be a good thing. Federal agencies have run wild with pseudoscientific calamity-inducing programs based on a complete lie. Congress should quash all that immediately, starting with (but not limited to) the EPA and NOAA.

8. Repeal or radically revise the Wilderness Act

Wilderness is a pernicious and racist myth, ala Hitlerism. The proponents are deluded, which is a nice way of saying it. Wilderness designation leads directly to environmental catastrophe, holocaust, and extirpation of species. It is the opposite of “protection”; wilderness is live sacrifice to gods that do not exist.

9. Terminate the “Roadless Rule”

See #8 above. The Roadless Rule is illegal. Congress writes the laws; they should not have so much trouble obeying them.


I can think of a great many more instructions to the 112th Congress, but I want to give you the chance to chime in. Please use the leave-a-comment app to expand this wish list. If we don’t tell our elected representatives what we want, they won’t do the right things but will continue to do all the wrong things.

Enviro-Extortion Is the New Game


It is no surprise that there is a big difference between legal requirements, radical opinion, political power, private extortion… and then there is the rest of the story.

With regard to the payment of attorneys’ fees to radical environmental groups, radical opinion and political power seem to often win and legal requirements are ignored. In fact, political power supporting radical opinions forced payment of at least $4,697,978 in taxpayer dollars to 14 environmental groups in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Political power payments for radical opinions happens 21% of the time when attorneys’ fees are paid.

And then there are the cases where these same radical environmental groups are extorting millions from major corporations and local governments as payment to drop appeals and protests. For example, recently Western Watersheds Project (“WWP”) and Oregon Natural Desert Association (“ONDA”) extorted $22 million from El Paso Corporation to drop their protests of the Ruby Pipeline project. In another case, the Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”) extorted almost $1 million from Alameda County, California to drop its protests to a City’s approval of a residential and commercial development project. The general theme is that money changes hands, development moves forward and the taxpayers and consumers get stuck with the bill.

The story goes like this:

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Schultz Fire Aftermath: Placing Blame

The sue-happy Center for Biological Disaster has attempted (unsuccessfully) to deflect criticism after the Schultz Fire [here, here]. The community is well-aware, however, that the the multi-million dollar, super-litigious, anti-forest, pro-holocaust “activist” group headquartered in Tucson has thrown legal monkey wrench after legal monkey wrench into any and all stewardship efforts in and around Flagstaff.

The CBD does it for the money. The Feds pay CBD tens of $millions every year to sue the USFS, USFWS, and other agencies via something called the Equal Access to Justice Act [here]. The EAJA is an endless gravy train of our money that is poured into the coffers of radical (Maoist) pro-holocaust groups whose original goal was violent Communist revolution but now is corrupt scam and profit.

It is abundantly clear that the CBD has zero ecological goals. That myth is a cruel joke, but nobody is laughing.

The Arizona Daily Sun ran this guest column Wednesday by Jim Wheeler, Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Marshal of the Flagstaff Fire Department:

Coconino Voices: Use collaboration, not obstructionism,on forest thinning

by Jim Wheeler, Guest Column, Arizona Daily Sun, July 21, 2010 [here]

I take issue with the recent op-ed piece by the Center for Biological Diversity (”Schultz fire: Setting the record straight,” July 11) that seeks to divert personal responsibility for wildfire damage because of “the market” and “untested practices.” As a founding member of the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership, I can attest that this smokescreen could not be further from reality.

The federal government does not have the money to thin forests to the level necessary to protect communities and forests and taxpayers do not have to bear the burden to fund projects. Thinning is done by contractors, who either get paid by tax dollars or make a small amount of money on the wood they remove. When controversy arises, contractors go elsewhere.

Appeals by the Center for Biological Diversity that attempt to force arbitrary diameter limits on thinning projects affects the market.” Contractors cannot make money here in Flagstaff when arbitrary diameter limits are placed on projects because the small-diameter utilization industry is not here at this time. While we are all working to bring sufficient industry to our area, we cannot wait to thin the forests. We must work with what we have now! Waiting invites disaster — just like the recent Schultz Fire.

The market is also affected by the fact that an appeal has been filed. Why would any contractor pursue a project that is engrossed in an appeal? The fact than an appeal is in place affects the viability of any project, which in turn tells contractors that there is no guarantee of a supply; thus again affecting “the market.”

The CBD affected the market of the Jack Smith/Schultz Project and then attempts to hide behind “the market” in order to deflect accountability. The Center for Biological Diversity is an outside gunslinger from Tucson negatively affecting the local Flagstaff condition. Just take a look at the east side of the Peaks to see the results of their actions.

On the subject of “untried practices,” the public should know that the Jack Smith/ Schultz project was the last of 10 or so projects fostered by the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership (GFFP).

GFFP is one of the most highly successful collaborative ecological restoration and wildfire reduction initiatives in the United States. Having the CBD contend in their appeal that the Forest Service is using “untried practices” flies in the face of the broad collaborative of the GFFP Partners that have worked so hard with the Forest Service since 1997 to thin from Freidlein Prairie Road northwest of town, Woody Mountain, Kachina Village, Mountainaire and East Flagstaff, using the same or similar thinning treatments that were proposed on Schultz Pass.

How sad that other local conservation groups such as the Grand Canyon Trust and the Nature Conservancy, who have collaborated on this initiative, have now been trumped by those who prefer to obstruct rather than collaborate.

Our local practices have used the best available science from the NAU Ecological Restoration Institute and the collective efforts of other professionals and conservation groups who were willing to collaborate instead of obstruct local fire risk reduction efforts. Adaptive management has also “tweaked” projects to improve them based on past projects.

Our “practices” are some of the leading practices of restoration and wildfire reduction in the nation and we have been using them since 1997. To say they are “untried” is ludicrous and untrue. Forest treatments work to allow firefighters to be effective and to protect values such as homes and the surrounding forest itself.

How sad that the GFFP’s efforts have now been usurped by a catastrophic wildfire that will continue to wreak havoc on our community and landscape for years to come. Arguments over thinning around communities must stop! No one is going to cut old-growth trees. No one is going to clearcut anything. Wildfire reduction and forest restoration efforts go hand-in-hand in maintaining and improving the ecosystem and our collective quality of life. Obstructionism does the exact opposite.

The Douglas County Forest Predicament

by Mike Dubrasich

Yesterday Douglas County Commissioner Joe Laurance delivered an excellent testimony to Congress. I amplify that testimony with the following of my own, which was not invited by Congress, nor delivered to them, but is instead posted here.

Douglas County extends from the crest of the Oregon Cascades to the Pacific Ocean and encompasses the entire watershed of the Umpqua River, over 5,000 square miles. As of the census of 2000, there were 100,399 people, 39,821 households, and 28,233 families residing in the county.

Douglas County is one of the premier timber-producing counties in the nation. Approximately 25-30% of the labor force is employed in the forest products industry. Agriculture, mainly field crops, orchards, and livestock (particularly sheep ranching,) is also important to the economy of the county.

In 2008 approximately 416 million board feet of timber were harvested in Douglas County, less than one third of the historical average. The reason for that is the USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management administer more than 50% of the county’s land, and their combined timber harvest in 2008 was less than 50 million board feet, less than 5% of their historical harvest and less than 1% of the annual growth on those lands.

In economic terms, considering stumpage value, remanufacture value, and the multiplier effect, a million board foot of timber is worth a million dollars and/or ten family wage jobs.

The precipitous decline (from historical levels) in timber harvest from federal lands in Douglas County costs the county’s economy 10,000 jobs per year. That has been the case for nearly 20 years now, since inception of the Northwest Forest Plan, and Douglas County has suffered enormously as a consequence.

As of last October, 23,336 Douglas County residents received food stamps. That is roughly a quarter of the population. The number has risen since.

The federal (USFS, BLM) forestland in Douglas County continues to grow timber at a prodigious rate. Over a half billion board feet are added very year. In other words, less than 1% of the annual growth is harvested each year.

That accumulating biomass has another effect on the economy of Douglas County. It fuels catastrophic fires that damage the watersheds, wildlife, public health and safety, recreation, and all businesses.

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An Open Letter to Senator Mark Udall

Dear Senator Udall,

I read with interest your Newsletter Update: Fire Season in the Rockies [here] today. You note:

Fire season has officially begun in Colorado. Already we have three active forest fires across the state. The fire in the Great Sand Dunes National Park has burned nearly 5,000 acres, and on Monday, another fire near Cañon City destroyed several buildings, including at least one home. As U.S. Senator, I’m doing everything I can to ensure the Forest Service and the state have the resources they need to keep Coloradans and their property safe during fire season.

In Colorado, one of the biggest threats is bark-beetle-damaged trees. The bark-beetle epidemic, which has devastated large swaths of forest in Colorado and across the Mountain West, has created what is essentially a 3.6 million-acre tinderbox. We now have millions of acres of dead and dying trees that threaten public safety, add fuel to wildfires, endanger water supplies, and put mountain economies at risk.

Ever since I was first elected to Congress in 1998, I have been focused on maintaining the health and safety of our forests, and as your U.S. Senator, I have doubled my efforts to reduce the risks of another event like the Hayman Fire of 2002.

Thank you very much for your rational and reasonable concerns regarding fire risks to Coloradans and to the resources of the great state of Colorado. However, there may be a few items that you may be unaware of:

1. Two of the three active wildfires in Colorado today are Let It Burn fires: the Medano Fire [here] at the Great Sand Dunes NP and Pike and San Isabel NF in Saguache Co.; and the Water Creek Fire [here] on the Roan Plateau northwest of Rifle in Garfield Co.

2. By “Let It Burn” I mean the fire management strategy is not contain-control-extinguish but rather to “monitor” the fires while they burn unchecked.

3. In the case of the Water Creek Fire, the fire reports are sparse and inaccurate but some facts are evident. Wildland fire use (whoofoo) teams (modules) have assumed management of the fire. Although their job (ostensibly) is to monitor, not fight the fire, they do not file monitoring reports, ironically. The BLM, Colorado River Valley Field Office (formerly Glenwood Springs — site of Storm King Mountain Monument) is the responsible agency. Downwind of the fire are the communities of Rifle, Silt, New Castle, and Glenwood Springs. The Roan Plateau is a very valuable piece of property. In 2008 the Roan Plateau lease sale netted $113.9 million, making it the highest grossing onshore oil and natural gas lease sale in BLM history in the lower 48 states.

One might think that with such valuable resources at stake, the BLM could do a slightly better job in managing and reporting on fires in the vicinity. Do you think that allowing the Water Creek Fire to burn unchecked until October rains arrive is wise?

4. In the case of the Medano Fire, the fire was ignited by lightning June 6 at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It could have put it out on that date with a garden hose, but the NPS chose to Let It Burn with no plan whatsoever, and then on June 17 it blew up to 3,000 acres. The fire burned off the Park onto the Reserve (still NPS). To date 4,891 acres have burned, including 120 on the Pike and San Isabel National Forest.

The NPS alleges to be doing “long-range planning” but that was an afterthought. There was no planning until the fire blew up. There is still no plan. The plan will come later. It’s already too late. The damage is done. No computer model is going to fix that.

The fire is still very active (it grew another 120 acres yesterday), and what little efforts are being made to “confine” the fire are ineffective. Over a $million have been spent not fighting a fire that could have been doused on the day of ignition for less than ten $thousand.

Do you think it is responsible or even sane to let a fire burn from now until October on the Rocky Mountain Front?

5. A pertinent issue has arisen in New Mexico. Certain elements are invoking the name of your late cousin Stewart Udall to promote the takeover of the Valles Caldera National Preserve by the National Park Service. It is important to note that the NPS is incompetent at fire management, lacks effective fire crews, and has adopted a Let It Burn fire policy. In 2000 the NPS actually lit a fire at the nearby Bandolier National Monument that burned all the way to Los Alamos and inflicted a billion dollars in damages.

Currently, the South Fork Fire immediately north of Valles Caldera is 15,000 acres on the Santa Fe National Forest. Direct attack of the fire has been unsuccessful and evaluation of conditions has shown it would be unsafe to place firefighters adjacent to the fire. An indirect strategy is being implemented instead, using the existing road network and extensive back burning. It is hoped that the strategy will contain the fire within the indirect lines until monsoon rains douse it (expected sometime in July).

If the fire had been on NPS land, no such strategy would have been employed. Instead, the NPS typically does Let It Burn until the fire is on someone else’s property and becomes someone else’s problem.

Do you think it is responsible to break the trust documents at Valles Caldera and convey the property to an agency that refuses to do fire suppression?

I sincerely appreciate and share your concerns about the looming threat of megafires, such as the 2002 Hayman Fire (138,000 acres). That fire cost $40 million to suppress and inflicted at least $170 million in direct, indirect, rehabilitation, and additional costs and losses.

The solution you have promoted, to “expand the Forest Service’s authority to take proactive measures to protect at-risk communities and watersheds,” is certainly laudable. May I respectfully offer some other suggestions?

1. Perhaps Congress could fund the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) ten-fold or more over current meager levels. The CFLRP promises to do exactly what you advise: implement landscape-scale (50,000 acres and up) forest restoration projects designed to reduce fuels, enhance forest resiliency to fire and insects, restore ecological functions, and provide jobs.

The CFLRP is a national program. It applies to every state. It is not just for one state. Our forest and wildfire crisis is a national one, not confined to any one state. Therefore it makes sense to approach the issue in a holistic, comprehensive manner. I realize that you represent Colorado and seek what might be best for Coloradoans. But a piecemeal, state-by-state approach is actually counterproductive and will result in less forest restoration, not more. Don’t you think it would be wiser to fund the existing program, one that you voted for I might add, than to create 50 new little one-state programs?

2. Restoration forestry projects proposed under the authorities of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (2003) and the Forest Landscape Restoration Act (2009) have been held up by an endless stream of lawsuits. Certain well-funded litigious groups have made it their mission to sabotage and undermine projects that were generated with the intention of fulfilling restoration mandates which Congress established. Federal land management agencies are attempting to impart forest resiliency as you instructed them to, but have been paralyzed by lawsuits.

Wouldn’t it be wise to examine the pitfalls of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Equal Access to Justice Act, and other laws that litigious groups use to monkey wrench and subvert the will of Congress? No matter what new initiative to restore forests that you promote, if lawsuits stymie implementation, then nothing substantial will have been accomplished and the megafire hazard will not be mitigated. Don’t you agree?

3. The current red tape that constrains Federal fire suppression and disconnects fire managers from land management programs has led to indecision and poor decision-making on wildfires. Let It Burn policies increase the probability of megafires. Allowing fires to burn unchecked and uncontrolled for months at a time invites catastrophes such as the Hayman Fire.

Ironically, fire suppression decisions are not subject to NEPA, ESA, or other environmental laws. Fire managers can make the choice to Let It Burn in abeyance of those laws, decisions that circumvent legally mandated intents, significantly impact the environment, destroy endangered species and their habitat, incinerate watersheds and pollute waterways, and compromise public health and safety.

Wouldn’t it be wise for Congress to investigate the policies that Federal fire managers are employing, to see if they comport with Congressional intent, and to see if they are effective in fulfilling the mandates you have established for Federal lands? If the fire policies implemented on the ground contravene Congressional intent, then no matter what new forest restoration programs you establish, the land will be incinerated anyway by misguided fire management. You don’t wish that to happen anymore, do you?

Thank you for your concerns and efforts to save lives and property, and to protect our Nation’s heritage and natural resources.

I look forward to receiving and reading your answers to the questions I have posed.


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

The Western Institute for Study of the Environment is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational corporation and a collaboration of environmental scientists, resource professionals and practitioners, and the interested public.

Our mission is to further advancements in knowledge and environmental stewardship across a spectrum of related environmental disciplines and professions. We are ready, willing, and able to teach good stewardship and caring for the land.

W.I.S.E. provides a free, on-line set of post-graduate courses in environmental studies, currently fifty topics in eight Colloquia, each containing book and article reviews, original papers, and essays. In addition, we present three Commentary sub-sites, a news clipping sub-site, and a fire tracking sub-site. Reviews and original articles are archived in our Library.

8 Jun 2010, 2:05pm
Monkeywrenching forests
by admin
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Incinerating Elliston

Note: The following opinion piece was written by Ellen Simpson, executive vice president of the Montana Wood Products Association. For more on this fiasco see: Holocausters Sue to Stop Another Healthy Forest Thinning [here].

Note 2: SOSF operatives on the scene are keeping a close eye on this situation. We will have more to report soon about the nefarious doings of the serial litigators involved.

Litigators ruining forest, habitat

By ELLEN SIMPSON, Your Turn, Helena Independent Record, June 7, 2010 [here]

Five years ago the Forest Service started the public process to thin some trees around and near the community of Elliston, 20 miles west of Helena. Citizens from Elliston commented in writing and in person in favor of the project that was designed to help protect the community from possible catastrophic wildfire. The national forest near the town and residences were starting to show the effects of beetle infestations.

Powell County has identified the project area in its Community Wildfire Protection Plan as a high priority for treatment. Local residents in 2005 were in stages of protecting their private property from the beetle outbreak and fire dangers and encouraged the Forest Service to do likewise on adjacent public lands. The Forest Service proposed a thinning project.

Of course, two serial litigators, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council, saw an opportunity to harass the agency and make some cash by filing an appeal and then litigating the much-needed project.

Fast forward five years to now. The only thing that has changed is that the condition of the forest is even more deplorable. The proposed project of under 800 acres has again been appealed and litigated by the same two groups. And, apparently, for the same reason — harass the agency and try to make some cash for their attorneys under the Equal Access to Justice Act.

No consideration by the litigants is being given to the seriousness of the danger to the lives of the residents of Elliston. In a recent op-ed, Michael Garrity of AWR claims the project area is all about elk winter range and Sarah Jane Johnson of NEC wrings her hands over lack of goshawk habitat if logging occurs. Two other lawsuits come to mind when reading the comments from these two and it sounds reminiscent of the Clancy-Unionville and Jim Town projects, both near Helena.

The Clancy-Unionville project was stalled by litigation for so many years that beetles killed nearly the entire area. The Jim Town project was likewise litigated and eventually over half of it burned in a wildfire. I wonder where the goshawks and elk go when their habitat dies from bugs and fire. Probably to an area that has been managed by logging.

The Elliston area might have been elk winter range at some point, but agency biologists say that is no longer true. The critters just move through on their way to a destination that perhaps has forage and where the trees are not dead. It amazes me that the litigators cannot understand that critters of all flavors prefer to live in habitat with a food source. That’s why so many of them live on managed ranches where they are safe and can eat!

Lastly, how totally disingenuous for the litigators to claim to be worried about the project costing the taxpayers money if it goes forward. This from serial litigators who lead Region 1 of the Forest Service in the number of appeals and lawsuits filed to halt and stall projects like the one proposed for Elliston. The real cost to our citizens cannot even begin to be measured in terms of lost time and jobs, wasted agency efforts, and worst of all the damage done to Montana’s once healthy forests that did provide a home for our wildlife.

Forest Killers Sue Again

The pro-holocaust “Death to Forests” crowd has struck again.

Groups sue over forest logging plan

By Karl Puckett, Great Falls Tribune, May 27, 2010 [here]

Two conservation groups are suing the Lewis and Clark National Forest for the second time in two years over plans to burn and cut timber in mature forest.

The Ettien Ridge Fuels Reduction Project, planned 22 miles south of Stanford, was approved to reduce the threat of wildfires and protect homes, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Missoula, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council state that the project will destroy old-growth forest habitat used by elk and goshawk, a large hawk the state lists as a species of concern.

Now that’s a honking Big Lie. The thinning will save old-growth, whereas the holocaust that will happen if no thinning is done will kill old-growth.

The holocausters follow the old nazi adage: repeat the Big Lie often enough and the masses will succumb to the brainwashing. Just like Hitler’s propagandist Joseph Goebbels, the Death to Forests propagandists spit out their Big Lies to cover up the truth — their goals are to destroy forests, destroy habitat, and destroy society in the process.

You see, it is their fellow man whom they truly hate and to whom they wish to inflict suffering and death. Burning down forests are merely the means to that end.

The Ettien Ridge Fuels Reduction Project on the Judith Ranger District of the Lewis and Clark National Forest has been planned, and those plans documented, to the nth degree. You can read those documents [here].

The project is heartbreakingly small, a mere 1,731 acres. Mechanical thinning will be done on only 641 of the acres adjacent to Sapphire Village and Utica, at-risk communities within the wildland-urban interface. The purpose of the Ettien Ridge Fuels Reduction Project is to save lives — the lives of residents, of firefighters, and of wildlife. Reducing fuels will modify fire behavior so that raging crown fires will not kill everything and everybody.

But the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council make their money by suing the Federal Government. There is a giant pot of gold waiting for holocauster lawyers called the Equal Access to Justice Act. The EAJA was set up by nutzoid Congressoafs to reward extremists for monkeywrenching. $Billions upon $billions have been drained from the Federal Treasury into the pockets of grasping lawyers who will litigate at the drop of a hat.

Even tiny projects like the Ettien Ridge Fuels Reduction Project, designed to prevent disasters and save lives, are repeatedly litigated — at huge expense to the taxpayers because we pick up the tab for all the lawyers, plaintiff counsel and defendant counsel alike.

The lawyers are in it for the dough. They don’t care who or what gets killed by their nonsense. The lawyers can’t tell a pine tree from a fir tree and will not be anywhere close by when the firestorm rages through the forest and adjacent communities.

For that matter, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council don’t care who or what their actions kill, either.

Nor does Congress give a hoot, either. They set it up for holocausters to rake in your money for monkeywrenching the US Forest Service. Congress hands out your money to a select few political insiders. Their notion is that by looting the wealth of America, by graft or by holocaust, this country is served. We elect mafiosos, moonbats, and Maoists; what do we expect them to do?

Meanwhile a handful of sue-happy holocausters are running amok. From the GF Tribune article above:

The alliance and ecosystem council also filed a lawsuit against the forest in 2008 over a 345-acre timber sale near White Sulphur Springs, citing concerns over wildlife habitat. That thinning project was meant to reduce the spread of mountain pine beetle. The forest later withdrew the project.

In April, the alliance and ecosystems council successfully appealed a plan by Lewis and Clark National Forest to burn and log 763 acres of forest in the Benchmark Road corridor, west of Augusta. That project was proposed to reduce the threat of fire to cabins and the intensity of future wildfires.

These are dinky projects. If they were clearcuts they would have no real impact. But they aren’t clearcuts — they are healthy forest thinnings. They cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to plan and prepare. Then they cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars to litigate (paying for both sides and the judges). Then the projects aren’t even done. It’s all a game to bleed the taxpayers dry.

Then the firestorm comes through, kills every last tree and creature, jumps the legal boundary and burns private lands all the way into town, homes are destroyed, people choke to death, and we all pay for that, too.

What a way to run a country!

Necessary Changes to the Equal Access to Justice Act

Federated Women In Timber [here]

Position Paper [here]


POSITION: Federated Women in Timber (FWIT) urges Congress to make necessary changes to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). This well intended act, which requires the federal government to pay plaintiffs’ court costs incurred in successful lawsuits against federal agencies, has become misused and abused through endless appeals and lawsuits by so-called “non-profit” environmental groups who are, technically, allowed to sue under this act and benefit financially from the results. The actions of groups such as these are holding our rural communities hostage to an uncertain future. FWIT suggests the following changes to the act to add accountability without limiting a private individual’s right to fairly protect their liberties and lives in court.

* Consider having plaintiffs pay government attorneys’ fees if they lose.

* Ensure meaningful accountability by requiring litigants to post a significant bond to cover the cost of delaying projects.

* To reduce legal fees, use the average hourly rate for the state in which the case is filed.

* Consider limits on total amounts awarded.

* Consider pro-ration of costs based on claims supported or lost.

* Add a means test for non-profits to meet the same qualifications as individuals or small businesses.
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Open EAJA Act of 2010

From: Budd-Falen Law Offices, LLC
300 East 18th Street
Post Office Box 346
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82033-0346

Call To Action

Tuesday March 2, 2010 Is the Day!!!

Western Legacy Alliance is proud to announce that on Tuesday, March 2, 2010, Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wy) and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-S.Dak) will introduce the “Open EAJA Act of 2010.” This Act is a start to bringing transparency and accountability, and level the playing field in the payment of attorney fees. Research has documented that radical environmental groups are reaping millions and millions of dollars of taxpayer funding from suits against the federal government which push their radical agendas and beliefs — $42 million and counting. These groups are being paid by the federal government to sue the federal government using American taxpayer dollars.

If passed, the “Open EAJA Act of 2010″ would require the federal government to create a publicly searchable database of all attorney fees awarded under the Equal Access to Justice Act (”EAJA”) including the total amount of attorney and expert fees paid in each case, the hourly attorney fee charged and who is collecting the American taxpayers’ money. This is the first step to leveling the playing field and stopping the abuse of the legal system.

I have a short-term request and a long-term request for you.

Short-term: By Tuesday morning, March 2, 2010, please e-mail or mail a note of support for this legislation. We need as many groups and organizations as possible to support the introduction of this bill.

Long-term: Upon introduction, please contact your Congressmen and request that they co-sponsor this legislation.

Shedding light on the payment of taxpayer money under EAJA will start to bring the transparency and accountability to this system. Please help to get this bill started on the right track.

Letters of support from organizations and individuals may be sent to me for forwarding or can be sent directly to Congresswoman Lummis. Please also copy <WesternLegacyAlliance at gmail.com> on your letters.

Thank You!!
Karen Budd-Falen
February 25, 2010

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25 Feb 2010, 11:13am
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin
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Nicholas Dennis: Put National Forests To Work For Community

Note: This guest editorial appeared in the February 14th edition of the Redding Searchlight [here], and at Evergreen Magazine Online [here]

By Nicholas Dennis

Last August, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Seattle to deliver a speech laying out the Obama administration’s goals for conserving the national forests. Vilsack noted that polarization has long dominated the national forest agenda, but that the threats currently facing the forests make it imperative to move toward a shared vision “that conserves our forests and the vital resources important to our survival while wisely respecting the need for a forest economy that creates jobs and vibrant rural communities. Our shared vision begins with restoration. Restoration means managing forest lands first and foremost to protect our water resources, while making our forests more resilient to climate change.” Closer to home, California Regional Forester Randy Moore lists five strategic priorities for managing the state’s national forests on the region’s Web site. Unfortunately, sustaining rural communities isn’t mentioned.

Restoration forestry is not the way national forests were managed before the spotted owl listing. Restoration does not involve clear-cutting, at least not in our mixed-conifer forests. It involves selecting smaller trees from crowded patches in the forest understory, patches that if unmanaged would likely fall prey to insects, diseases or stand-replacing wildfires. Who would oppose forest restoration? Professional appellants, such as the Montana-based Conservation Congress, who make their living filing claims for legal fees have used appeals and litigation to stop or stall several local restoration projects that would otherwise have improved forest health and created dozens of well-paid jobs. These self-serving outsider legal challenges have increased unemployment, decreased revenues for schools and county governments, and undermined economic opportunities in our rural communities.

Last year, a Natural Resources Defense Council spokesman lauded the 700,000-acre addition to the federal wilderness system in California, proclaiming wilderness the “gold standard for forest protection.” Shasta-Trinity and Klamath National forests neighbors will see the irony in this statement after the fires that burned uncontrolled through the forests, including wilderness areas, in three of the past four summers, causing sickening air quality. Protecting forests takes more than Congress redrawing maps. It requires the hard work of restoration by a skilled forest work force.

Rural communities in Shasta, Siskiyou and Trinity counties are not economically vibrant today. The recent recession has only deepened a downward trend that’s continued since federal timber harvests plunged in the early 1990s. Layoffs and social service cutbacks have taken a heavy toll on families. Essential public infrastructure repairs have been postponed indefinitely. Empty storefronts are gradually dominating our main streets. The Siskiyou County district attorney recently opted not to prosecute an alleged child murderer based on fiscal considerations. But bad as things are, wait until Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act funding runs out in three years, as it surely will. Then the pinched budgets for the three counties will have to absorb an additional $18 million hit and our collective belt-tightening will take on a different specter.

All conceptions of forest sustainability give social and economic resources equal priority to environmental resources. The Northwest Forest Plan was intended to restore national forests and rural communities. Yet of all the major commitments in that plan, only one has never come close to being met: the commitment to harvest enough timber to sustain reasonable levels of forest-sector employment. Over the past decade, the Shasta-Trinity and Klamath National forests have sold less than half the timber called for in their land management plans.

The need to manage our national forest assets so as to provide sustainable income sources is as valid today as ever. A 2009 economic study for the National Association of Forest Owners found that the average per-acre contribution to gross domestic product from public forests in California was only 18 percent of the average contribution from privately owned forests. When public forests don’t do their share to create wealth, they become more of a liability and less of an asset for rural communities.

The U.S. Forest Service has been doing its best to get forest management projects approved and implemented, but it’s fighting a losing battle. The ground rules are stacked against it, varying from abuses of the Equal Access to Justice Act, which rewards nearly all litigants, to planning rules addressing sensitive species that are so complex that even in-depth expert assessments can’t pass legal muster. Former Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth aptly described this as “analysis paralysis.”

Two things need to happen to put the national forests to work for our communities. The agency’s planning rules must be changed to make it feasible to get projects through the environmental compliance process. And we must align behind a shared vision for forest restoration and make clear to its opponents that their obstructionism is counterproductive and unwelcome.

Nicholas Dennis is chairman of the Northern California Society of American Foresters. He lives in Weed.

Accountability Matters

by Roni Bell Sylvester, Good Neighbor Law [here]

David Harsanyi’s column “Hide the decline . . . and more” [here and below] prompted me to write the following:

The minute an American Citizen’s paycheck goes to the government, its journey should be tracked to identify where it goes and if we approve.

If our tax payments head off in directions we disapprove, we should have the power to stop it!

Any thievery along the line should be exposed and dealt with before harm befalls anyone.

Trace-back would most likely reveal that a lion’s share of our tax payments one way or another go through a private corporation known as the Federal Reserve.

Someone needs to develop a diagram that clearly shows how eco-activist groups are linked to Hank Paulson, Goldman Sachs, Al Gore, and President Obama. Those of us in domestic resource production know they partner on birthing extractive policies out of climate change, clean water and restoration acts, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea Treaty, health care, stimulus bills, Environmental Protection Agency rulings, Department of the Interior (and more), in order to get land and water assets for themselves and for the Federal Reserve, which they loot periodically.

Each of us in the general public has the right to see the whole picture!

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Equal Access to Justice Act Abuse

Note: the following report was extracted from the November-2009 issue of the American Forest Resource Council News [here]. The author, Ann Forest Burns (her real name), is Vice President, American Forest Resource Council, Portland, OR. Before turning to association work, Ann practiced timber and forestry law in Seattle for many years. She was associate professor of forest policy and law, University of Washington College of Forest Resources. An SAF Certified Forester, she holds degrees in forest management from the University of Washington and in law from Willamette University.

Equal Access to Justice Act Abuse

by Ann Forest Burns, AFRC News, Nov 25, 2009 [here]

In a brief filed on October 30, attorneys representing defendant-intervenor Silver Creek Timber Company asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals not to pay the exorbitant attorneys fees demanded by EarthJustice under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) for its work in defense of the Clinton Roadless Rule. EarthJustice is seeking $189,412 in attorney fees for filing a single answering brief and oral argument in what Silver Creek’s attorneys characterize as “a garden variety” case.

Although the EAJA was designed to protect the ability of ordinary citizens to seek redress for government misconduct, evidence filed by Silver Creek shows that EarthJustice is no ordinary citizen. It has $35,922,744 in net assets, including nearly $1.2 million invested in an offshore limited partnership and $26 million in corporate stock. The attorney fee demand seeks between $500 and $600 per hour for EarthJustice’s in-house attorneys, nearly three times the statutory rate allowed under the Act and in far excess of the prevailing rate for private attorneys doing this work.

The issue of abuse of the EAJA by well-heeled environmental organizations using taxpayer dollars to fund lawsuits against the government was the subject of a November 3 letter from the Western Congressional Caucus to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder. Twenty-three Representatives and Senators expressed concern that “organizations with a narrowly focused political agenda regarding the management of public lands in the west are abusing the Congressional intent of the EAJA.” The letter stated that since 1995, there has been a lack of Congressional oversight of EAJA expenditures and called on the Department of Justice to develop a central, publicly searchable database of organizations receiving funds and the amount paid out by the government. A copy of the letter is [here].

Recent studies by Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen shows that Forest Service Regions 1, 5, and 6 paid out over $1 billion in EAJA funds between 2003 and 2005. Budd-Falen found that the EarthJustice Legal Foundation and Western Environmental Law Center are seeking attorneys fees and costs totaling $479,242.05 for their work on the recently concluded Northern California District Court case against the Forest Service planning rules. The case resulted in the agency’s withdrawal of the 2008 rules, involved no trial work and was not appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

Karen Budd-Falen’s 4-part report is available at the Western Legacy Alliance website [here].

AFRC shares the concerns of the members of the Western Caucus and the Western Legacy Alliance. We have suggested that Congress remove this incentive to litigation that has gridlocked management of our nation’s natural resources. Others have suggested reimbursements be limited to the hourly rate paid to public defenders, thus placing the defense of natural resource values on the same footing with the defense of human liberty. — Ann Forest Burns

17 Oct 2009, 11:39pm
by admin

Billions Paid to Enviro Litigants


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

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

Consider these facts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6 Sep 2009, 3:57pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
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BLM Permanently Drops Fuels Management, Grazing Categorical Exclusions

Secret deal includes irregular payoff to enviro lawyers






Below please find a press release/letter to the editor regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s Instruction Memorandum dated August 21, 2009 discontinuing the use of Categorical Exclusions for term grazing permit renewal in all cases.


On August 21, 2009, the Bureau of Land Management (”BLM”) issued an instruction memorandum (”IM”) which “immediately and permanently” stopped all BLM field offices from issuing term grazing permit renewals based upon categorical exclusions (”CE”). According to the IM, the nation-wide discontinuance of the use of CEs for term grazing permit renewal was required by a settlement agreement in an Idaho Federal District Court case entitled Western Watersheds Project v. Lane, No. 07-cv-394-BLW. Although according to the court’s website, the settlement agreement was “restricted,” this firm was able to acquire a copy. The terms of the settlement agreement mandate a discontinuance of the use of CEs for term grazing permit renewals nationwide regardless of circumstance. Additionally, the U.S. Justice Department paid Western Watersheds Project (”WWP”) $43,000 in fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act.


There are several things about this settlement agreement which should concern the livestock industry. First, there were no intervenors in this litigation, thus no one to advocate the livestock industry’s points, legal arguments and concerns. While I agree that money is tight, and certainly no one can guarantee that there would have been a different outcome if ranchers were represented in the case, it may have made a difference and certainly the outcome would not have been worse.

Second, there will be no use of categorical exclusions to renew term grazing permits, regardless of the factual circumstances. That will amount to significantly more paperwork for the BLM. I guarantee, however, that the WWP will not stop here. I have been involved in a significant number of cases related to BLM permits where the environmental groups argue that if the NEPA compliance is not completed before the term permit expires, grazing should be eliminated from the allotment. This would be an untenable position for permittees. The BLM admits that it is woefully behind completing its NEPA compliance paperwork, even on the smallest of permits and even when the rangeland conditions are in excellent condition. However, WWP and other environmental groups are arguing that if the NEPA paperwork is not completed before the end of the ten year term, livestock grazing has to be eliminated from the allotment until NEPA is done. Do not kid yourselves, it is not the compliance with NEPA that the environmental groups want; it is the elimination of livestock grazing.

Third, the restriction on acquiring the settlement agreement is concerning. Settlement agreements, particularly those involving an entire program of the federal government as well as attorney fees paid from agency budgets, should not be restricted from public view particularly in an administration that pledged more “transparency and an open government.”

Finally, WWP was paid $43,000 for this case. This case was not “won,” but settled. The settlement agreement specifically states that it is based upon compromise and that there is no admission by any party to any fact or claim. The attorney fees payment was premised upon the Equal Access to Justice Act (”EAJA”). EAJA only applies in those cases with a “prevailing party” and when the federal government’s position is “not substantially justified.” The EAJA requirements are directly contrary to the language in the settlement agreement, but the federal government voluntarily paid $43,000 from the BLM’s budget to WWP. If anything, those funds should be used for the additional NEPA compliance which the settlement agreement and the IM now require.

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