Group intends to sue after retardant kills fish

MercuryNews.com, 12/16/2009 [here]

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—An environmental group intends to sue federal, state and county agencies after fire retardant used on Santa Barbara wildfires killed some 50 protected steelhead trout this year.
The Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics filed a notice Wednesday that they intend to sue the U.S. Department of Commerce, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Santa Barbara County Fire Department. A 60-day notice to sue is required by the Endangered Species Act.

According to the letter, the agencies violated the Endangered Species Act and should regulate the use of the toxic fire retardant within the steelhead’s protected habitat. The fish were killed during the Jesusita Fire in May.

Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki said the county’s helicopters drop only water and referred questions about retardant to the Forest Service. A spokesman for the agency could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Department of Commerce referred questions to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which had no comment.

There are now less than 500 adult steelhead where the fish once thrived in the Santa Ynez, Ventura and Santa Clara rivers and Malibu Creek.

16 Dec 2009, 7:58pm
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Chaos at climate conference

By GLENN THRUSH, Politico.com, 12/16/09  [here]

COPENHAGEN — The Copenhagen climate change conference appeared to be imploding from within and exploding from without on Wednesday.

Police fired tear gas, brandished batons and detained more than 200 protesters who tried to push through the security cordon around the Bella Center, as negotiations inside bogged down, for the second time this week, over differences between China and the West over emissions, funding issues and transparency.

“People around the world [are] actually expecting something to be done from us,” red-faced Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen lectured delegates from nearly 200 nations.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the highest-ranking American yet to appear at the talks, urged attendees to put aside their differences and “make Friday our day of success.”

Minutes earlier — in a surprise move that captured growing uncertainty over conference — Denmark’s climate minister, Connie Hedegaard, stepped aside as president of the conference, handing the gavel to Rasmussen, as head of the host country.

Outside, Danish police — who have been accused of heavy-handedness by human rights groups —  clashed with thousands of environmental activists who descended on the complex from a nearby train station and demanded entry to the Bella Center.

BBC video showed truncheon-bearing Danish police shoving the crowd backward as protesters gasped and covered their faces to avoid breathing tear gas. …  [more]

16 Dec 2009, 12:19am
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Delegates freeze as snow falls on global warming debates

by CATHY ALEXANDER, Sydney Morning Herald, December 14, 2023 [here]

COPENHAGEN: World leaders will meet to tackle global warming - in the snow.

The temperature in Copenhagen, where a landmark UN summit on climate change is taking place, is tipped to hit minus ten degrees Celsius this week.

Snow is expected to start falling on Sunday and continue through to the last day of the summit on Friday.

A white Christmas may please Denmark’s children but Copenhagen in the depths of winter is an odd setting to highlight the dangers of a warming world.

Delegates from Africa, Asia and the Pacific are struggling with the freezing conditions. Some do not have the right clothes and are trying to minimise their time spent outside this week.

Why UN organisers selected Copenhagen for the December summit remains a mystery. They might have had more success in drawing attention to the perils of hot weather if they had chosen Perth, where the temperature is forecast to reach 37 degrees this week, or Canberra where it will be 36.

A central issue at the summit is whether global warming should be limited to 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees. But some delegates are saying that Copenhagen in December might be more pleasant if it was about 15 degrees warmer.

Copenhagen is also being criticised as the summit venue by delegates because it is very expensive.

A cappuccino costs $A5, a beer at least $7, a small hot dog from a street stand $8, and a “cheap”, simple lunch dish can easily cost $30.

Clothes are also expensive, making it difficult for delegates from the developing world to buy gear for the cold snap.

Ed Note: Copenhagen temps from Weather City [here]

Today Dec 16th (high/low) 2°C 0°C
Dec 17th  Thursday 2°C -4°C
Dec 18th  Friday 1°C -4°C
Dec 19th  Saturday 1°C -4°C
Dec 20th  Sunday 1°C -5°C

14 Dec 2009, 11:48pm
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Markey: Climate-Gate Has Become ‘Tree Ring Circus’

FOXNews.com, December 13, 2023 [here]

The release of e-mails that suggest climate change data were manipulated is causing a “tree ring circus” that is trying to inflate a scandal to prevent international efforts to reduce global warming, a leading House proponent of climate change legislation said Sunday.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who co-authored legislation to reduce U.S. manmade greenhouse gas production by 17 percent over the next 10 years, told “Fox News Sunday” that the thousands of e-mails now known as “Climate-gate” are actually a minute aspect of the overall study on global warming produced by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Markey’s legislation with Rep. Henry Waxman passed the House of Representatives earlier this year but stalled after passing the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee. He said efforts to try to minimize studies that prove global warming — like one that looked at the size of rings in trees in Siberia — will make it harder to pass legislation that could help save both U.S. industries and the earth.

“The deniers want to create a Siberian tree ring circus,” Markey said. …

But Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the top skeptic in the Senate of manmade climate change, said the data are flawed, something he warned about in a 2005 speech in which he described complaints from some scientists who claimed they were being sidelined for their dissenting views that the science is “cooked.” …

Inhofe, who appeared with Markey, called the EPA finding an effort to try to “intimidate Congress into passing” legislation that he says will send jobs oversees. He added that the Senate version of the Markey-Waxman bill is dead and the lack of legislation limits the president’s ability to make pledges on behalf of the United States.

“The initial reductions he’s talking about are what you find in Markey’s bill, and that isn’t going to happen. And of course, that bill’s dead. It will never even be brought up again. … So it has to come down to what can the president do without legislation. And I think that is highly limited,” Inhofe said. … [more]

14 Dec 2009, 9:34pm
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UM economists: Smurfit mill closure will have lasting impact

Clark Fork Chronicle, December 14 2009 [here], from a UM news release

University of Montana — The closure of the Smurfit-Stone facility in Frenchtown, with its 417 full-time jobs and about $45 million in payroll and benefits, will have significant short-term and long-term impacts on the Missoula-area economy.

The University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research reports that the area’s largest industrial employer has significant linkages with forest products, trucking, rail and other important sectors of the local economy. The Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. announced Monday that it will permanently close its linerboard plant in Frenchtown on Dec. 31.

BBER estimates that the facility’s closure will:

* lead to significant additional job losses in construction, retail trade and health care services;
* put additional stress on local and state governments dealing with declines in tax revenues;
* produce a measureable impact on the Missoula-area population.

“The jobs at Smurfit-Stone have a very large footprint across the local economy,” BBER Director Patrick Barkey said. “We think that the total job impact from the closure could be as high as 1,500 jobs when all of the linkages are taken into account.”

It is estimated that in the short run this closure will lead to slower growth out of the recession for the Missoula economy than was previously forecast by BBER. The bureau’s updated forecast will be released at the 35th Annual Economic Outlook Seminar in January, but researchers anticipate that the 2010 growth figure may be trimmed to zero or even negative.

This depends on the details of the closure, including employee severance packages that have yet to be released. No growth in Missoula’s economy in 2010 will mark the third straight year of recession in the local economy.

In the long term, the loss of the Smurfit-Stone jobs will have a disproportionately large impact because these jobs represent higher-than-average wages for Missoula. During 2008 the average job at Smurfit-Stone paid more than $70,000 in annual wages and salaries. This compares with the typical wage and salary position in Missoula of $26,000.

The loss of these positions also will account for a permanent reduction in the economic base of Missoula. BBER estimates that the Smurfit-Stone facility represents about 4 percent of Missoula’s economic base.

Todd Morgan, BBER’s director of Forest Products Industry Research, said the impact of this closure will also ripple throughout the forest products industry and forest landowners.

“The Frenchtown mill has played a unique role as both a user of mill residuals from other wood products facilities in the state and a buyer of smaller-diameter, lower-value timber from land management activities,” he said.

BBER monitors economic and business conditions in Montana, providing information to individuals, businesses and government agencies across the state. For more information, visit http://www.bber.umt.edu

14 Dec 2009, 10:08am
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Beyond debate?

by Martin Cohen, Times Higher Education, 10 December 2023 [here]

The Copenhagen summit is in full force, and so too is the idea that man-made global warming is incontrovertible. But Martin Cohen argues that the consensus is less a triumph of science and rationality than of PR and fear-mongering

Is belief in global-warming science another example of the “madness of crowds”? That strange but powerful social phenomenon, first described by Charles Mackay in 1841, turns a widely shared prejudice into an irresistible “authority”. Could it indeed represent the final triumph of irrationality? After all, how rational is it to pass laws banning one kind of light bulb (and insisting on their replacement by ones filled with poisonous mercury vapour) in order to “save electricity”, while ploughing money into schemes to run cars on … electricity? How rational is it to pay the Russians once for fossil fuels, and a second time for permission (via carbon credits) to burn them (see box page 36)? And how rational is it to suppose that the effects of increased CO2 in the atmosphere take between 200 and 1,000 years to be felt, but that solutions can take effect almost instantaneously?

Whether rational or not, global warming theory has become a political orthodoxy. So entrenched is it that those showing any resistance to it are described as “heretics” or even likened to “Holocaust deniers”.

Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize-winning economist, professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University and columnist for The New York Times, has said: “Is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual? Yes, it is - and that’s why it’s unforgivable … the deniers are choosing, wilfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.”

Another columnist, this time for The Boston Globe, has written: “I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, although one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”

Such pronouncements from these commentators and from other people highly placed in government, international organisations, the press, academia and science make the debate seem closed and the conclusion beyond dispute. Yet the plain fact is that there is something deeply unscientific about the theory of global warming. Despite this, it has gained such widespread, uncritical acceptance that any scientist expressing a doubt often finds his or her actions tarred with accusations of the rankest political and personal motivations. … [more]

14 Dec 2009, 9:49am
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Queen Charlotte Islands renamed Haida Gwaii in historic deal

B.C.’s agreement with Haida Nation includes land use, economic development

CBC News, December 11, 2023 [here]

B.C.’s Queen Charlotte Islands have officially been renamed Haida Gwaii as part of a historic reconciliation agreement between the province and the Haida Nation, Premier Gordon Campbell announced Friday in Vancouver.

The modern native name for the group of more than 150 rugged islands off the province’s north coast will appear on revised provincial maps and all other official provincial documents and presentations, the premier said.

The archipelago was first named after one of the ships of British Captain George Dixon in 1778, who called his vessel Queen Charlotte after the wife of King George III.

Haida Gwaii was created as an alternative name for the islands to acknowledge the history of the Haida Nation as part of its land claim efforts in the 1980s. According to the Haida Gwaii Tourism Association, the name translates as “islands of the people” in the Haida language.

The B.C. government later adopted the confusing name Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii.

Carol Kulesha, the mayor of the Village of Queen Charlotte, a community at the south end of Graham Island, says she is pleased with the name change and hopes it will clear up any past confusion.

“This is bringing us back up to more modern times,” Kulesha said Friday. “This is what the islands are named; they’re Haida Gwaii. The confusion is the fact that some maps say one thing, and other maps say another. So now, it’s official, and that’s great.”

Deal spells big changes

While the name change will mean maps will have to be updated, the reconciliation agreement is expected to have more far reaching consequences for the First Nation, which has never signed a treaty with the Crown.

“After 100 years of conflict, we have set the ground for a more productive era of peace,” said Haida Nation president Guujaaw in a statement released after the protocol was signed.

“We have already agreed to the care and protection of the land; and now, we develop processes for more responsible management,” Guujaaw said. “This marks an opportunity to build a relationship on mutual trust and to design a model for a sustainable economy.”

The deal will create a unique joint management council that will make development decisions along with a process to resolve title disputes between Haida and the Crown.

It also includes $10 million for the Haida to buy out forest tenures on the islands and revenue-sharing on future resource development in the region.

The pristine islands are in the centre of B.C.’s vast offshore oil and gas fields, but development of those reserves remains under a federal moratorium.

The deal is the second such agreement announced in as many days that establishes shared decision-making on land use and economic development opportunities between the province and B.C.’s First Nations.

On Thursday, the province signed a similar reconciliation deal with six other coastal First Nations.

It also granted environmental approval Thursday to the Naikun wind project, to be located in the Hecate Strait east of Haida Gwaii. The Haida Nation is a major stakeholder in the project.

14 Dec 2009, 1:11am
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Park’s giant magma plume eating up mountains

Scientists confirm 500-mile finger of molten rock under Yellowstone

By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News, December 9, 2023 [here]

Research has confirmed a 500-mile-deep magma plume under Yellowstone is slowly obliterating mountains in its path as it travels an inch a year to the northeast.

The plume rises at a southeast angle from its origin 500 miles beneath the surface under western Montana, causing the swell that forms the Yellowstone Plateau, according to one of the paper’s authors, Dr. Robert Smith. A Moose resident, professor of geophysics with the University of Utah Department of Geology and Geophysics, and coordinating scientist with Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, Smith teamed with scientists from Utah, Massachusetts, Michigan, Norway, Taiwan and Switzerland on the discovery.

They made their announcement in a paper published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. Other researchers recently discovered a similar plume under Hawaii.

While scientists have long suspected that magma plumes create volcanoes such as Yellowstone, recently some researchers have doubted their existence. Instead of plumes, or fingers of magma – molten rock – that rise from the depths of the Earth, these doubters suspected shallow pockets of magma.

“There was a large crowd that was against plumes in general and against plumes in Yellowstone,” Smith said. “That’s been a bone of contention since the mid-’90s. No one had any data.”

The article, “Geodynamics of the Yellowstone hotspot and mantle plume: Seismic and GPS imaging, kinematics, and mantle flow,” used data from a seismograph network to confirm the presence of the plume, Smith said.

“Now we can see it clear down into the earth’s midmantle,” Smith said. Earth’s mantle – the layer between the crust and the outer core – is flowing from northwest to southeast and deforming the Yellowstone plume like smoke in the wind. Meantime, the North American tectonic plate is sliding to the southwest, effectively moving the top of the plume increasingly toward Billings, Mont.

“This hot, melted material is coming up [at an angle],” Smith said of the plume and the mantle’s “wind.” “It would normally rise vertically.” … Continued (with picture) [here]

Ed Note: Thank you again to rrSue of the Yellow Pine Times (motto: No Extra Crap; Just the News), for her news tips, which we post here frequently.

Forest Deal at Copenhagen Must Avoid Creating ‘Carbon Refugees,’ Scientists Urge

ScienceDaily (Dec. 12, 2009) [here]

Forest dwellers must be included in the design of the upcoming forest deal at Copenhagen in order to avoid a humanitarian crisis, according to a scientist at the University of Leeds.

Writing in the journal Nature, Dr Simon Lewis argues that at least 50% of the carbon credit payments to be agreed at Copenhagen, known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degredation), should be made to forest dwellers directly, and their property rights assured.

“There is the potential here for humanitarian crisis if REDD is not done properly,” said Dr Simon Lewis from the Earth & Biosphere Institute at the University of Leeds.

“Without careful planning REDD stands to create large numbers of ‘carbon refugees’ as governments curb financially unrewarding deforesting activities such as those of small-scale agriculturalist and fuel-wood harvesters who mostly pay no taxes on the products they produce. Forest dwellers could be excluded from their means of subsistence to preserve carbon.”

New research also just published supports the view that people living in forest-dependent communities are a part of the solution to preserving forests, not a part of the problem. … [more]

Australia accused of cooking carbon books

By Gregg Borschmann for Radio National, ABC News, Dec 13, 2023 [here]

By ignoring a massive rise in polluting gases from the agricultural and forestry industries, Australia has managed to make its overall emissions seem much lower than they actually are.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia is allowed to increase carbon emissions by 8 per cent compared to 1990 levels.

But figures supplied to the United Nations earlier this year show that between 1990 and 2007, Australia’s real carbon emissions actually rose by 82 per cent.

The dramatic increase has mainly been caused by rising emissions from Australia’s rural lands, caused by bushfires and drought.

But it is those very same agricultural, grazing and grasslands that both major political parties in Australia hope will help offset the country’s rising industrial emissions.

Australia has led the charge on proposed land use rule changes to the new global climate deal. The changes will open the door to the bonanza of green carbon that can be stored away in the world’s rural lands.

But the move is deeply dividing the Copenhagen conference. Australia - and other big players - have been accused of a trying to pull off a rort [here]. … [more]

13 Dec 2009, 4:39pm
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Centre of the storm

Colby Cosh profiles the gentle Canadian who has changed the climate science world

by Colby Cosh, Macleans.ca, December 13, 2023 [here]

The private emails and logs leaked last month from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia can’t tell us whether industrial activity is really heating the earth’s atmosphere and endangering civilization. But they have settled the identity of the Great Satan of climate science. Torontonian Stephen McIntyre, a gentle, persistent amateur who had no credentials in applied science before stepping into the global warming debate in 2003, is mentioned more than 100 times.

In the emails, leading climate researchers dismiss him as a capitalist hireling or a hapless “bozo,” and argue about the relative merits of ignoring him versus counterattacking him, even as others acknowledge that his criticisms have merit and imitate his use of the Web as a venue for hyper-detailed scientific discussion. At one point in 2005, CRU director Phil Jones, now under suspension, ponders the possibility that McIntyre might use U.K. freedom-of-information laws to obtain raw weather-station data compiled by the CRU. He grumbles: “I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.” The overall impression is that of 100 elephants stampeding in confusion and panic around a mouse.

The political stakes are now so high when it comes to the “Climategate” scandal, and motives are being questioned so loudly on both sides, that few are noticing the remarkable story at the heart of it all: a 62-year-old mining executive and squash enthusiast has, for better or worse, found his way into the centre of a major scientific melée—almost by accident—and been able to make legitimate contributions.

McIntyre first became notorious in 2003 for his statistical critique, co-authored with economist Ross McKitrick, of the “hockey stick graph” that showed global temperatures rocketing upward in the 20th century. The hockey stick, featured in the 2001 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, had a profound influence on policy worldwide, and played a starring role in presentations like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. The McIntyre-McKitrick critique called attention to uncertainties in its temperature reconstructions dating back before 1600, to certain problems with dendrochronology (the use of tree rings to estimate past temperatures), and to issues with the statistical calculations underlying the hockey stick. Some climatologists insist that the graph tells the same story when you correct for all this, but much of the critique is now accepted, and the hockey stick, whose weaknesses are better understood, has itself become a somewhat inconvenient distraction for climatologists and environmentalists.

Meanwhile, McIntyre, working alone, has gone on to score further critical points. In 2007, he caught a mistake in the reporting of U.S. surface temperatures by NASA’s Goddard Institute that was quickly acknowledged, with thanks, and corrected. (NASA’s gracious manner contrasts sharply with the attitudes displayed behind the scenes at the CRU.)

The truth is that McIntyre, 62, little resembles the caricature of a wild-eyed climate-change “denier.” He is scrupulous about focusing his criticism on statistical procedures and disclosure practices. He is polite to, and about, climate scientists. He refuses to make grand categorical statements of the “Global warming is just commie horse puckey” type, preferring to remain agnostic, and he discourages such talk on his website, Climate Audit. … [more]

13 Dec 2009, 11:11am
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San Francisco to pay $7 million for Stanislaus forest fires

Sacramento Bee, Dec. 12, 2009 [here]

The city of San Francisco has paid $7 million to settle federal claims for wildfire damage to a national forest allegedly caused by negligent maintenance of power line rights of way.

The 1999 Pilot fire and the 2004 Early fire burned 5,698 acres in the Stanislaus National Forest in Tuolumne County.

The fires resulted from trees growing too close to the high-voltage power transmission lines of Hetch Hetchy Water and Power, owned by San Francisco, according to two civil lawsuits brought by the federal government against the city and its utilities agency.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Swann, 1913 legislation granted the city rights of way on federal lands, including the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, for a hydroelectric system that delivers year-round, potable water and power to San Francisco and neighboring communities.

Hetch Hetchy is charged with clearing the rights of way, and California law requires the agency to maintain a 10-foot clearance in all directions between its power lines and vegetation, Swann said.

The Pilot fire ignited on Aug. 23, 1999, about 10 miles east of Groveland. U.S. Forest Service investigators determined that the fire was sparked by an electrical discharge from a power line to a cedar tree that had grown to within a few feet of the line, a lawsuit in Sacramento federal court alleges.

On Aug. 9, 2004, the Early fire ignited about six miles northeast of the Pilot fire location. Forest Service investigators again established that the blaze was sparked by an electrical discharge from a power line to an oak tree, a lawsuit in Fresno federal court alleges.

Some settlement funds will finance restoration efforts, said Regional Forester Randy Moore.

Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the San Francisco city attorney’s office, said the settlement is “fair and avoids the added costs of litigation.”

12 Dec 2009, 8:41pm
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Landslide Threatens California Homes, Strands 90 Vehicles

Fox News, December 12, 2023 [here]

LOS ANGELES —  Another in a series of winter storms moved into California Saturday, bringing rain and snow while sending mud and debris on to highways.

As many as 90 vehicles were stranded after rocks and mud flowed down the hillside amid heavy rains along a 12-mile stretch of Angeles Crest Highway north of Los Angeles in an area where a massive wildfire burned earlier this year, said county fire Capt. Frank Reynoso. No injuries were reported.

Reynoso said about half of the vehicles had been freed Saturday afternoon but dozens remained stuck, and some would have to be retrieved after Saturday.

Several small slides have been reported on the highway between La Canada Flintridge and Mount Wilson, and the road was to remain closed indefinitely, the California Highway Patrol said.

The National Weather Service posted a flash flood warning for the area, and a less-urgent flash flood watch was in effect for many other parts of the region.

Foothill communities near slopes scorched by the fire were urged to be on guard, and major canyon roads through the burn areas remained closed. … [more]

12 Dec 2009, 7:28pm
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Hundreds Held During Climate Change Protest

by Andy Jack, Sky News Online, December 12, 2023 [here, with video]

Police say 968 people have been arrested during a climate change protest in the Danish capital Copenhagen.

Hundreds of youths dressed in black threw bricks and smashed windows as at least 30,000 people demonstrated in the centre of the city as world leaders debate global warming.

The rioters, whose faces were covered, went on the rampage in the heart of the city, prompting swift arrests as some 50 policemen in riot gear intervened.

Demonstrators were forced to the ground and then bundled into vans.

Police said those arrested were members of militant groups from northern Europe known as Black Blocs, who were accused of provoking street violence during a NATO summit in the French city of Strasbourg last April. … [more]

10 Dec 2009, 8:09pm
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Trail Gnomes Charged in Jesusita Fire

Misdemeanors Could Mean Fines, Jail Time, and Civil Penalties for Craig Ilenstine and Dana Larsen

By Ray Ford and Chris Meagher, Santa Barbara Independent, December 10, 2023 [here]

More than seven months after the Jesusita Fire scorched nearly 9,000 acres of the Santa Barbara front country — destroying 80 homes, damaging another 15, seriously injuring numerous firefighters, and costing $17 million in its wake — two men have been charged in connection with the start of the fire.

On Thursday, the District Attorney’s office filed charges against Craig Ilenstine, 50, and Dana Larsen, 45, who have each been hit with one misdemeanor count of not obtaining a “hot work” permit when they were allegedly doing trail work on May 5, 2009, the day the fire broke out. The D.A.’s press release indicated that the investigation and evidence collected by the fire investigation team showed that Ilenstine and Larsen were using gas-powered weed cutters to trim vegetation along the Jesusita Trail in the area where the fire started at approximately 1:45 p.m. It’s been long speculated that the fire was caused by trail work of this type, which is usually conducted by volunteers who are known colloquially in hiking and mountain biking circles as “trail gnomes.”

The charge is a violation of California Fire Code, Chapter 26, Section 2601, which requires that a permit must first be obtained from the fire marshal for any “welding, cutting, open torches, and other hot work operations and equipment.” …

According to one such volunteer who’s done 14 years of trail work, this is the first mention of a hot work permit. “None of the local volunteer organizations have ever been informed about, or required to have a hot work permit in the past,” he said. …

Despite community sentiment calling for much harsher charges — especially given the lack of serious prosecution for those thought to be the cause of the November 2008 Tea Fire — the D.A.’s office determined after a lengthy investigation that it would not bring felony charges against the men. That’s due to a “good faith belief” that the D.A. could not “prove beyond a reasonable doubt the required mental state” needed to convict the men of felonies.

What prosecutors do intend to do, however, is seek restitution on behalf of the victims of the Jesusita Fire, a pricetag that’s floating in the millions of dollars, considering the injured firefighters and destroyed homes. … [much more]

 
  
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