Govs Take a Stab At Forest Restoration

The Western Governor’s Association recently released a 16-page glossy publication entitled
“Forest Health Landscape-scale Restoration Recommendations” and a Policy Resolution entitled “Large Scale Forest Restoration”. Both documents may be downloaded [here], from links embedded in a WGA Press Release entitled “Governors call for large-scale forest restoration, realigning federal funding”.

Governors call for large-scale forest restoration, realigning federal funding


DENVER — Western Governors are calling for large-scale restoration of Western forests that have millions of acres of dead trees that impact wildlife habitat, water quality and soil productivity, while placing human life and property in harm’s way.

The Western Governors’ Association has adopted a new policy resolution outlining actions that should be taken to improve forest health. The governors said they support federal agencies making significant investments in large-scale restoration treatments by realigning their existing resources to achieve maximum impact. In addition, they are recommending assistance be provided to collaborative groups in assessment and planning efforts.

WGA also released a report by its Forest Health Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from states, federal entities, the private sector and conservation groups.

“The time is now to address the problem,” said Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (Idaho), WGA’s Chairman. “When WGA initiated this effort, we knew we needed innovative approaches for restoring our forests, and this report has helped lay the groundwork for moving forward.”
The report notes that the need for forest restoration is larger than can be effectively addressed given current treatment sizes, rates of restoration treatments, and typical planning and implementation processes.

Gov. Jan Brewer (Ariz.) requested WGA convene experts from across the West last year to share community and state-level perspectives, experiences and expertise regarding landscape-scale forest restoration. The report released today is based in part on recommendations generated from that meeting held in September 2010.

“More than ever, we need healthy forests and the sustainable economic development opportunities their restoration affords,” Brewer said. “Accelerating forest restoration, safeguarding communities, and creating a sustainable, restoration-based forest economy are high priority goals for our Western states.”

The WGA policy resolution and the advisory committee’s report can be found on WGA’s Web site.

This is a step forward, and we commend the WGA for these resolutions.

There are some deficiencies, however, that need to be addressed.

* The WGA failed to define what forest restoration is or how it is done.

* The WGA failed to collaborate with actual forest restoration experts.

As a result, the documents leave much to be desired. Fortunately, we are here to help them. The following are answers to the questions they failed to address:

more »

Recent Additions to the W.I.S.E. Library

In case you missed it, some papers recently added to our online Library are:

Bjorkman, Anne D. and Mark Vellend (2010) Defining Historical Baselines for Conservation: Ecological Changes Since European Settlement on Vancouver Island, Canada. Conservation Biology, Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 1559–1568, December 2010

Selected excerpts [here]

Some quotes from Bjorkman and Vellend:

… Finally, although frequent fires do not necessarily imply an anthropogenic cause, our results do indicate that the fire regime was influenced by native peoples. The observed patterns are characteristic of landscapes prone to more frequent fires than expected by lightning strikes. Experiments suggest that the unimodal tree size distribution observed on Saltspring Island occurs at a fire interval of <5 years (Fule & Covington 1994; Peterson & Reich 2001). In contrast, a study in the Douglas-fir forests of Vancouver Island estimated a fire cycle of 5700 years, on the basis of the frequency of lightning strikes between 1950 and 1992 (Pew & Larsen 2001). …

… In terms of space, the presence of both forested and open habitats historically suggests considerable spatial variability in the magnitude of human impacts, with prescribed [anthropogenic] fire likely to have maintained at least half of the landscape as open habitat (Table 1). …

… Restoration efforts are often prone to uncertainty about target conditions (Higgs 1997; Hobbs & Cramer 2008), especially in areas with no appropriate reference sites to help define historical conditions. Land managers often follow a do-nothing approach and allow land to return to its “natural” state (Hobbs & Cramer 2008). Nevertheless, our study indicates that the open nature of the endangered savannas on Vancouver Island was likely maintained by fires purposefully set by native peoples.

Thus, restoration of these habitats to their pre-European state cannot be accomplished simply by removing human influences. Achieving the goal of maintaining open savannas would almost certainly need to involve active removal of encroaching trees and shrubs, either through burning or alternative strategies (e.g., mowing, tree removal) (MacDougall et al. 2004; Gedalof et al. 2006). …

Rostlund, Erhard (1957) The Myth of a Natural Prairie Belt in Alabama: An Interpretation of Historical Records. Annals of the Association of American Geographers Volume 47, Issue 4, pages 392–411, December 1957.

Review with excerpts [here]

A quote from Rostlund’s classic paper:

[T]he cause was the Indian practice of burning the woods at frequent intervals. … Indian burning has sometimes been both misunderstood and misrepresented; it was not wantonly destructive but rather, as Gordon M. day puts it, a method of maintaining a balance in the forest favorable to their economy. The woods were burned for several reasons, but one of the most common was the belief that occasional light fires helped to increase the food supply for game, and improved conditions for hunting by keeping down the underbrush. That is, burning was primitive management of a food resource. The hunting territory of the Creeks, their “beloved bear ground” in Bullock County, Alabama, was in fact a sort of managed game preserve, and there must have been hundreds of others in the Southeast. In short, the open, parklike appearance of the woodlands, undoubtedly the most common type of forest in the ancient Southeast, was mostly the work of man. …

McGregor, Sandra, Violet Lawson, Peter Christophersen, Rod Kennett, James Boyden, Peter Bayliss, Adam Liedloff, Barbie McKaige, Alan N. Andersen (2010) Indigenous wetland burning: conserving natural and cultural heritage in Australia’s World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. Human Ecol (2010) 38:721-729

Selected excerpts [here]

A quote from McGregor et al.:

Driven by concerns about the failure of western science and management to address ecosystem degradation and species loss, people are looking to the deep ecological understandings and management practices that have guided indigenous use of natural resources for millennia for alternative ways of sustainably managing the earth’s natural resources (De Walt 1993; Bart 2006; Berkes and Davidson-Hunt 2006). Equitable partnerships between indigenous and non-indigenous researchers and managers are revealing a way of looking after the world that emphasizes human obligations to natural resource management and promotes holistic thinking about the role and impact of humans in the environment (Ross et al. 2009). This new recognition of traditional knowledge, coupled with greater control by indigenous peoples over their land and sea estates, holds great promise for better management of the world’s natural resources.

Wiese, Chuck (2011) Regarding Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer. Weatherwise Inc. Portland, Oregon.

Selected excerpts [here]

A quote from Wiese:

[Al] Gore told [Bill] O’Reilly that the snowstorms of this winter were part of the pattern of changing climate expected by scientists and result from the warming earth air masses with more moisture were running into a patch of cold air. Gore claimed: “These warmer air masses (which Gore claims result from human carbon emissions that create atmospheric CO2) act like a sponge to moisture and soak it up until they hit a patch of cold air.” Gore then claims that this “extra moisture” contained in the warmer air causes more intense precipitation and thus heavier snowfall, and is all consistent with a warming earth.

These statements by Gore are sheer nonsense. While it is true that warmer air can hold more moisture than cold air, the temperature of the air has nothing to do with how much water vapor will ultimately be evaporated (or as Gore puts it “soaked up”) into it. That is determined solely by what is called the vapor pressure gradient that exists between a sample of air that may overlie a surface of water. …

8 Mar 2011, 2:51pm
Climate and Weather Forestry education
by admin

Alaska Glaciers Cover Former Forests

Climate alarmists frequently claim that it is warmer today than anytime during the Holocene. “NASA: 2010 Meteorological Year Warmest Ever” blares the headline [here]. Because of that, entire species are disappearing [here].

Actually, in reality, that’s not true. Not only was last year not the warmest year ever, it wasn’t even the warmest year in the last 100. That honor goes to 1934. Moreover, the globe has almost always been warmer than today during the last 10,000 years (the Holocene), with the exception of the Little Ice Age (1550 AD to 1850 AD).

Holocene Temperature Variations, courtesy Global Warming Art [here]

Strong circumstantial evidence exists that indicates the Pacific Northwest was much warmer than today during the Hypsithermal period [here] from roughly 9,000 to 2,500 years ago.

An interesting study looked at the carbon-dated age of organic discharge from glacial rivers in the Gulf of Alaska.

Hood, E., Fellman, J., Spencer, R.G.M., Hernes, P.J., Edwards, R., D’Amore, D., Scott, D. 2009. Glaciers as a source of ancient, labile organic matter to the marine environment. Nature 462: 1044-1047


Riverine organic matter supports of the order of one-fifth of estuarine metabolism. Coastal ecosystems are therefore sensitive to alteration of both the quantity and lability of terrigenous dissolved organic matter (DOM) delivered by rivers. The lability of DOM is thought to vary with age, with younger, relatively unaltered organic matter being more easily metabolized by aquatic heterotrophs than older, heavily modified material. This view is developed exclusively from work in watersheds where terrestrial plant and soil sources dominate streamwater DOM. Here we characterize streamwater DOM from 11 coastal watersheds on the Gulf of Alaska that vary widely in glacier coverage (0–64 per cent). In contrast to non-glacial rivers, we find that the bioavailability of DOM to marine microorganisms is significantly correlated with increasing 14C age. Moreover, the most heavily glaciated watersheds are the source of the oldest (4kyr 14C age) and most labile (66 per cent bioavailable) DOM. …

… In the most heavily glaciated watershed, Sheridan River, 66% of the riverine DOC [dissolved organic carbon] was readily degraded by marine microbes despite having a D14C value of -386% (3,900 yr D14C age). Heterotrophic microbes in both sub-glacial and pro-glacial environments have been shown to subsist on aged carbon overrun by ice during periods of glacier advance. It is additionally possible that CO2 respired from glacially sequestered carbon may support microbial primary production in glacial ecosystems. Along the GOA [Gulf of Alaska], the last major cycle of glacier retreat and re-advance occurred during the Hypsithermal warm period between 7,000 and 2,500 yr BP. …

What does all that scientific verbiage mean? It means bits of carbon in the rivers flowing out from beneath glaciated watersheds in the Gulf of Alaska were found to be 4,000 years old.

Ergo, 4,000 years ago the watersheds were forested, not glaciated.

The glaciers that are there today formed roughly 2,500 years ago. Before then, going back 7,000 years, there were no glaciers in those watersheds, or only small ones, but there were forests.

Prior to 7,000 years ago the watersheds contained Ice Age glaciers that dated back 115,000 years (roughly), to the beginning of the Wisconsin Glaciation.

When it was warmer than today, forests grew quite nicely, thank you, in places where they won’t grow today due to accumulated ice. If the existing glaciers were to melt, forests would grow there again. Unfortunately that is very unlikely, since global temperatures have been trending downward for the last 7,000 to 8,000 years.

The “catastrophic” warming of the last 160 years has been 1 to 1.5°F. That warming has driven global temperatures up to where they were in the 1500’s before the Little Ice Age, but nowhere near warm enough to melt Gulf of Alaska glaciers and grow forests there (where they used to grow).

Regarding the extirpation of lodgepole pine: it is interesting to note that lodgepole pine invaded western Canada around 11,000 years ago, after the Wisconsin Glaciation continental ice sheets melted. Before 11,000 years ago, going back ~115,000 years, there were no lodgepole pine in western Canada due to the presence of 2 km thick ice sheets. Pine tree roots need soil; they do not grow on ice.

Lodgepole pine grew quite nicely, however, 8,000 years ago during the height of the Hypsithermal when temperatures were 2 to 3°F warmer than today. So did many other species, including all the tree species extant in the Pacific Northwest today.

Yes, it is true that so-called forest scientists want you to panic into thinking that our forests are going to disappear due to the global warming predicted by computer models. Actually, models of models of models. It’s all very theoretical.

But the reality is that forests grow better on soil, even warm soil, than they do on ice. Much better.

There is nothing to panic about, except perhaps the expenditure of $10’s of millions on useless computer models designed to induce irrational paranoia about something that isn’t going to happen. But don’t panic about that either. Vote the crazy bastards out instead.

The Demise of the University

The vilification and attacks on Art Robinson and his children by Oregon State University are more than a tempest in a teapot. OSU and indeed the American public school system, K-12 through graduate school, has degenerated into a liberal babysitting service. Real education doesn’t happen there, and if it does on rare occasion, it is because the student has figured out how to learn on his or her own.

The faculty are a hindrance to education. That’s what happens with one-party, politically-driven, public schools. The PERS salary and benefits for the teachers are exorbitant, but the students are wholly deprived. At all grade levels.

Dr. Art Robinson, Ph.D., an expert in chemistry, physics, and biomedicine, former faculty at the University of California San Diego, President and Research Professor at the Linus Pauling Institute, and currently President and Research Professor at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (which he founded) [here] is an independent scientist of high achievement and reputation. He is also an outspoken critic of public education.

After his wife Lauralee died in 1988 (of a rare disease), Art raised their six children (then ages 12, 10, 9, 7, 7, and 17 months) with home schooling, using a curriculum he wrote himself [here]. Did it work out? Today three of the Robinson children have Ph.D’s and the others are in graduate school working on their doctorates. His curriculum is now used by more than 60,000 home-schooled children.

Today Art and his three graduate student children are under attack by Oregon State University [here]. Extreme liberal professors there wish to expel Art’s kids and steal their research.

Those who can, do. Those who can’t connive and steal.

One of Art’s achievements has been to summarize peer-reviewed research into global warming. That led to the Global Warming Petition Project [here] and a petition that states in part:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the earth.

Controversial? Yes, but the petition has been signed by 31,487 American scientists including 9,029 Ph.D’s. They amply “demonstrate that the claim of ’settled science’ and an overwhelming ‘consensus’ in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climatological damage is wrong. No such consensus or settled science exists.”

Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) is a monumental pseudo-scientific fraud, and claims of scientific consensus regarding it are absolutely false. Why are there so many adherents? Many people are incapable of making rational judgments about the science because their public education has been such a farce, a series of propaganda indoctrination camps from age 5 on up. People actually believe what politicians and journalists tell them. Bizarre but true.

OSU and other universities brook no dissent, no questioning of the politically-motivated false consensus. Rather than being places of open investigation and debate about controversial and patently unsettled scientific questions, our universities have become closed shops where thinking is stifled rather than encouraged.

That is the diametric opposite of their mission.

The blind adherence to propagandistic falsehoods is not limited to climatology (although climate alarmism has spread to every single department on campus). Forest science has also degenerated into myth and fable, eschewing empirical evidence and the scientific method, and demanding litmus test avowals by students to politically “correct” bogosities.

The high degree of dysfunction in forest science has led to our ongoing catastrophic forest fire crisis as well as economic collapse in forest-resource-dependent states like Oregon. Junk science has resulted in junk policies, and both have been promoted and proselytized by professors from the OSU College of Forestry.

Perhaps the most egregious divergence from real science is found in wildlife biology departments, where the theories and methods taught are toxic to wildlife locally and globally. I write from personal experience. It could be that disciplines I am less familiar with, such as economics and sociology, are even more corrupted by extreme fatheadedness.

Political “correctness” has replaced rational inquiry in our universities. Ironically (and tragically) what is politically correct is invariably scientifically false and socially incorrect. The imposition of political propaganda has degraded and usurped higher education and spread like a cancer into our culture.

That which is true, decent, and valuable has been sullied by the dis-education produced in our universities.

The collapse of our education system today is reminiscent of western civilization’s slide into the Dark Ages, concurrent with or following the decline of the Roman Empire ~1650 years ago, when libraries were burned and scientific, artistic, and cultural output shrank and devolved.

My theory is that the latest general collapse of civilization began about 100 years ago. The massive bloodlettings of the 20th Century so shocked humanity that we replaced rational inquiry with delusion and neo-mythology. It is “safer” to cloud minds with falsehoods, to demand adherence to groupthink no matter how misguided, to stifle creativity and genius, than to chance the tumult that might come from freedom of thought and expression.

Of course, such stifling is not safer. It is infinitely more dangerous to march in lockstep delusion than to abide dissent and debate. Yet dissent and debate are feared more than any other cultural phenomena. Cooperation is preferred to conflict even when the cooperation is based on the blind leading the blind into catastrophe.

The latest atrocities of judgment, morality, and rationality at OSU are the barest tip of the iceberg. The rot in our universities goes deep into the core. It may be too late to rescue higher education, and all of public education, from descent into idiocy and irrelevance.

7 Mar 2011, 10:25am
Politics and politicians
by admin

Another OSU Fiasco

Democrats Attack Republican Candidate’s Children

By Art Robinson

Published at WorldNetDaily, March 7, 2011 [here]

The Democrat Political Machine is Attacking Republican Congressional Candidate Art Robinson’s Children and a Distinguished Nuclear Engineer at Oregon State University

Please help save these students and their courageous Professor.

In an effort to do my part in rescuing our country from the out-of-control Obama administration, last year I ran for Congress in Oregon’s 4th District against 12-term incumbent, far-left Democrat Peter DeFazio, co-founder of the House Progressive Caucus.

Although I won the nominations of the Republican, Independent and Constitution Parties and the endorsement of the Libertarian Party, a massive media smear campaign by DeFazio, paid for with money raised by and from special interests favored by DeFazio in Washington, resulted in a 54.5 percent to 43.6 percent victory for DeFazio in a race that was expected to be much closer.

Although I had never run for public office before, I immediately announced my candidacy for Congress again in 2012.

However, when you take a stand for what’s right, sometimes there is retribution.

On Nov. 4, 2010, as soon as the election results were in and they were sure their candidate had won, faculty administrators at Oregon State University gave new meaning to the term “political payback.”

They initiated an attack on my three children – Joshua, Bethany and Matthew – for the purpose of throwing them all out of the OSU graduate school, despite their outstanding academic and research accomplishments. OSU is a liberal socialist Democrat stronghold in Oregon that received a reported $27 million in earmark funding from my opponent, Peter DeFazio, and his Democrat colleagues during the last legislative session.

Thus, Democrat activist David Hamby and militant feminist and chairman of the nuclear engineering department Kathryn Higley are expelling four-year Ph.D. student Joshua Robinson from OSU at the end of the current academic quarter and turning over the prompt neutron activation analysis facility Joshua built for his thesis work and all of his work in progress to Higley’s husband, Steven Reese. Reese, an instructor in the department, has stated that he will use these things for his own professional gain. Joshua’s apparatus, which he built and added to the OSU nuclear reactor with the guidance and ideas of his mentor, Michael Hartman, earned Joshua the award for best Masters of Nuclear Engineering thesis at OSU and has been widely complimented by scientists at prominent U.S. nuclear facilities.

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Humanity in the Americas 30,000 Years Ago?

When did human beings first arrive in the Americas? The “accepted” date keeps getting pushed back.

The Clovis Culture were mammoth hunters whose archaeological sites have been dated to ~13,000 years ago. The Clovis people are thought to have walked here over the Bering Land Bridge, Northern Alaska, and through a Canadian ice-free corridor.

But coastal archaeological sites may be much older, suggesting that people in boats arrived in the Americas as much as 30,000 years ago. Controversy on the earliest date is decades old and one of the favorites questions debated by modern archaeologists.

New evidence has surfaced that supports the maritime hypothesis:

Discovery by Oregon archaeologist looks 12,000 years into past at people who settled the West Coast

by Joe Rojas-Burke, The Oregonian , March 03, 2011 [here]

A trove of Stone-Age tools, discarded shells and animal bones unearthed by a University of Oregon anthropologist and others open a new window on lives of the long-vanished people who settled the West Coast more than 12,000 years ago.

The excavations — made on California’s northern Channel Islands — show that these early Americans were seafaring travelers adept at hunting birds and seals, in addition to catching great quantities of fish and shellfish. Their toolmaking style, especially the finely worked crescent-shaped blades found by the dozens, connects them to the first people in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Delicate barbed projectile points also found resemble stone tools found in ice age sites as far away as Japan.

Human bones uncovered in 1959 on Santa Rosa Island revealed to archaeologists that people occupied the Channel Islands very early. Those 13,000-year-old remains are the oldest human remains found in North America, but their burial site included nothing but the bones. Until now, “we really didn’t know who they were or what they were doing on the island,” says Jon Erlandson, a University of Oregon professor of anthropology and a leader of the new excavations, described in a report this week in the journal Science. …

The team found one shard of obsidian debris from toolmaking, and unlike the island chert used for all recovered tools, the obsidian was imported. Chemical analysis matched it to an obsidian source nearly 200 miles away on the mainland, which suggests long-distance trading networks in place 12,000 years ago.

One site yielded 52 stone projectile points, some with intricate barbs and serrations. Erlandson says the islanders’ projectile points are unlike those of the mammoth-stalking Clovis hunters who migrated along an ice-free inland corridor and rapidly occupied much of North America. Clovis points are famous for their fluted shape. None have ever been found on the Channel Islands. The island’s projectile points and crescents more closely fit with those common in Oregon, Washington and across the Great Basin.

Charlotte Beck, an archaeology professor at Hamilton College in New York, says the new findings support the view that the first Americans followed a coastal migration from Asia — before the Clovis hunters.

“The first colonists to arrive in the Americas probably came from Siberia, leaving that region possibly as long as 30,000 years ago,” Beck says

Erlandson shares that view. He and colleagues believe seafaring people followed a “kelp highway” from coastal Asia across the Arctic and down the West Coast, using the same technology to exploit the nearly identical marine and coastal resources along the way. … [more]

Dr. Erlandson is Executive Director of the Univ. of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The paper referenced above is:

Jon M. Erlandson, Torben C. Rick, Todd J. Braje, Molly Casperson, Brendan Culleton, Brian Fulfrost, Tracy Garcia, Daniel A. Guthrie, Nicholas Jew, Douglas J. Kennett, Madonna L. Moss, Leslie Reeder, Craig Skinner, Jack Watts, and Lauren Willis (2011) Paleoindian Seafaring, Maritime Technologies, and Coastal Foraging on California’s Channel Islands. Science 4 March 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6021 pp. 1181-1185

I haven’t read it yet, but two of his older papers on Channel Island anthropology are posted at W.I.S.E.

Torben C. Rick, Jon M. Erlandson, René L. Vellanoweth, Todd J. Braje, Paul W. Collins, Daniel A. Guthrie, and Thomas W. Stafford Jr. 2009. Origins and antiquity of the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) on California’s Channel Islands. Quaternary Research 71 (2009) 93–98. [here]

Erlandson, Jon M., Torben C. Rick, Michael Graham, James Estes, Todd Braje, and René Vellanoweth. 2005. Sea otters, shellfish, and humans: 10,000 years of ecological interaction on San Miguel Island, California. Proceedings of the Sixth California Islands Symposium, edited by D.K. Garcelon and C.A. Schwemm, pp. 58-69. Arcata: Institute for Wildlife Studies and National Park Service. [here]

W.I.S.E. member and Honored Fellow of the Institute Dr. Carl Johannessen comments:

The analysis in the article is very cautious in posing the date of 30,000 years for the entry of people to the Americas. But human activity of that vintage has already been discovered in Chile [Monte Verde, here] so it makes it highly likely that humans were in North America too by that time.

From my acquaintance with Jon Erlandson at U.O., if he says it, you can be certain that it is an honest report and can be trusted explicitly. Result: it is likely that people came down the Algae Forest Highway early, before anyone could traverse Alaska and northern Canada by foot, and entered the continent in more temperate climes. They may have been replaced when the Clovis hunters dominated the terrain for a few millennia much later.

I consider this research to be of major importance in causing us to re-think our cultural history. Perhaps now Baja California can be examined with greater confidence, and researchers there will find further evidence of people in the Americas much, much earlier than Clovis. Known sites may be re-interpreted to have been really early and not be limited to just 13,000 years of potential record based on foot travel down the ice-free corridor overland through Alaska. Brigham Arnold of Sacramento State University did marvelous work on Baja and found really ancient stone tools in place on the margins of Lake Chapala, Baja.

Note: Dr. Johannessen is the co-author of World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492 [here].

There is no question that people have been living in the Americas since before the Holocene. The Holocene (our modern epoch) began ~11,750 years ago. That date marks the end of the Younger Dryas, the last stadial (cold period) of the Wisconsin Glaciation. When the great continental ice sheets started melting ~15,000 years ago, people were already here. When the modern forest species invaded the tundra and steppe that covered most of North America, people were already here.

People, and anthropogenic fire, pre-date most forests in North America. Human beings have been burning landscapes and altering vegetation and wildlife since before the trees invaded. Our forested lands of today have been experiencing human impacts and human stewardship during their entire existence as forests.

It makes one wonder just what “wilderness” really is. If people have been living on the land for that long, isn’t it rather puerile and jejune to refer to those lands as “untrammeled wilderness”? Maybe we need to exorcise the a-scientific, a-historical myths from our groupthink and get real.

Pyne Undertakes a New Fire History of America

Dr. Stephen J. Pyne of Arizona State University, a frequent contributor to W.I.S.E. and an Honored Fellow of the Institute [here], has embarked on a new project, to write a sequel to his classic work,

Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire. University of Washington Press, 1997 (First published: Princeton University Press, 1982, Received Book Award from Forest History Society, Named by Choice as among Best 100 Academic Books of 1982).

He has created a project website: A Fire History of America (1960-2010) [here] that describes his intentions (to write two new books!) and why.

Fire in America remains the most comprehensive history of America’s fire scene. But it was published in 1982, ends in the 1970s, does not adequately convey the unfolding revolution in policy and practice, and fails to create a narrative for the panoramic sweep of America’s contemporary gamut of fires fought, lit, and left alone. A recent grant from the federal fire agencies will correct that lapse by supporting a history that will examine the past 50 years.

The project, extending over four years, will depend on interviews as well as archives, and on travel as much as close reading. Two books will result. The first, Between Two Fires: A Fire History of America, 1960-2010, will serve as a play-by-play narrative of the past half century. The second, To the Last Smoke, will act as a color commentary with essays on select events, places, personalities, and ideas. These pieces will be written along the way and posted on the project website before being edited and assembled into an anthology.

The purposes behind the project are several. One is simply to update the story over a tumultuous period during which the reigning ideas of wildland fire management were challenged, overthrown, and, as yet, still under reconstruction. But another derives from an appreciation of narrative’s inherent qualities. The current narrative explains the contemporary scene as a response to the Great Fires of 1910 and so shows why the institutional landscape and geography of open burning has the form it does. That narrative, however, relegates the fire revolution to the task of dismantling the old order, not creating a new one. Restarting the story permits the narrative to allow the present its own vitality. And it points to the future.

The grant is administered through the History Office of the U.S. Forest Service, but funding comes from the Forest Service (44%), Department of Interior (44%), and Joint Fire Science Program (12%).

This is exciting news. Not only is Dr. Pyne World’s Foremost Authority on Fire, he is a masterful author of over 20 books, including a book about how to write books [here], Voice and Vision: A Guide to Writing History and Other Serious Nonfiction.

A self-confessed “pyromantic”, his personal author’s website is [here]

Although A Fire History of America (1960-2010) is just getting started, already nearly 20 essays have been posted, with titles such as Flaming Florida – a prolegomenon, The Red Prescribed Longleaf Cockaded Wiregrass Burning Refuge, Every Day’s a Burn Day, and Interlude: from story to history. In the last mentioned, the author stands to one side and “ponders the unexamined life of my purpose.”

In The Cash-Value of Fire History: An Apologia, Pyne explores the value of historical studies to the “applied science” of fire management.

In more cartoonish moments they [the fire community] might imagine historian-miners trudging off to dank archives like the Seven Dwarves, whistling while they work at prying out gems of wisdom.

The sad fact is, historical records were not written to satisfy existing models, and they can rarely provide the ready data that the fire community would like. … The stuff of history is dismissed as anecdotal; its cash-value is suspect or worthless.

[However]… history can create meaning. Instead of pretending it is a social science or shoehorning it into a technological matrix, this vision accepts – encourages – history’s status as a scholarship that deals with values, beliefs, personalities, and idiographic events, and with evidence that doesn’t come from controlled experiment, which is to say, it accepts history as part of the humanities. …

Historians add value when they speak to those issues of ethics, aesthetics, narrative, and perceived understanding of the world that do not reside in the sciences and in fact can help place those sciences within a social and intellectual setting. They provide meaning by comparison and context. They replace certainty with contingency, and a false positivism with pragmatism. …

Meaning is not something you pluck out of the past like nuggets. It is made. It’s not the provenance of professionals: it’s what we all do with our experiences. The value of scholarly history is that it brings a richer sense of context and philosophy. It stands to vernacular life as the Missoula fire lab does to my backyard burn pit. I think the American fire community understands and, within limits, welcomes this role for history. …

Yet in the end science verifies data, while the humanities verify meaning, and it is meaning – that most vaporous of concepts, that least commercial of enterprises – that will ultimately guide practice because we must judge what we do by what we value, and we value only what we can endow with meaning. It’s through constructed meaning that we judge best practice, and what is right and proper, and what it is we ought to aspire to.

Aficionados of fire, history, and artful literature will find A Fire History of America (1960-2010) to be goldmine filled with nuggets and gems of wisdom. You don’t need to be a pyromantic to appreciate its value.

Cost-Plus-Loss Catching Fire

Oregon State Senator Ted Ferrioli (John Day) has written a letter to the Oregon Board of Forestry recommending that they adopt cost-plus-loss accounting procedures for evaluating the true costs of forest fires and the efficiency and value of fire suppression efforts made by ODF.

February 24, 2011

To: Mr. John Blackwell, Chair
Oregon State Board of Forestry
4708 SW Fairview Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97221

Mr. Blackwell,

While the Department of Forestry does a good job of capturing and reporting data on the cost of wildfire suppression in Oregon, it can be argued that the current methodology captures only the actual costs of fire suppression which may reflect a fraction of the actual losses sustained by communities and individuals.

It has been suggested that Oregon Department of Forestry revise it method of capturing data on the value of losses sustained during wildfire by utilizing the “Cost-Plus-Loss” method.

Reporting under-such an expanded methodology would present a more accurate picture of the total values lost during wildfire and make citizens more accurately aware of the true cost of wildfire.

This methodology should reflect the value of property damage including the loss of timber and forage, short and long-term health effects, loss of wildlife and habitat, damage to watersheds and water related improvements, carbon emissions, degradation of soils, loss of recreational opportunities, and damage to transportation communication and energy infrastructure.

Attached is a recent white paper [here] that makes a compelling case for adoption of this methodology. I am requesting the Board of Forestry to adopt this methodology for capturing and reporting data on the true cost of wildfire to Oregonians.

Senator Ted Ferrioli
Oregon State Senate
John Day, Oregon

Some background would be helpful to assist the Board of Forestry in consideration of Sen. Ferrioli’s request.

The 2006 fire season was the worst in the U.S. in over fifty years. Nearly 10,000,000 acres burned in wildfires with suppression costs approaching $1.85 billion. The 2006 fire season was the third record-setter in six years. Seven of the worst ten fire seasons since the 1950’s occurred in between 1996 and 2006.

In response, the USDA Office of the Inspector General issued an Audit Report: Forest Service Large Fire Suppression Costs (Report No. 08601-44-SF). That report was the worst piece of fire cost accounting ever produced, and it inspired me to write an An Open Letter to the US Senate Regarding Fire Suppression Costs [here].

I am a professional consulting forester and I have done many fire damage appraisals. By dint of my training, experience, and common sense, I know that forest fires inflict monetary damages far in excess of the expense of putting the fires out.

But the USDA OIG report was oblivious to the damages wrought by fires. Instead their sole concern was how much money the Feds expended on fire suppression. Even worse, the USDA OIG report recommended allowing fires to burn into large conflagrations in order to reduce the per acre cost of fire suppression.

The report was so cockeyed and illogical that it spurred me to write to Congress and point out all the flaws.

First, reducing per acre costs by allowing fires to get large doesn’t save money; it’s the total cost that taxpayers foot, not the per acre costs. Keeping fires small reduces total costs, even if the per acre costs are relatively large.

Second, the true costs of forest fires are mainly the damages they inflict, not the suppression expenses. Fires damage trees, wildlife, soils, water, air, and all natural resources. Those resources have monetary value. The reason we as a society establish fire departments and fund them is to reduce the damages caused by fires.

We could reduce the government budget by eliminating fire departments entirely, but that would lead to massive losses caused by unfought fires. Community-funded firefighting is one of the original purposes of government, dating back to the Stone Age.

But nobody listened. The Feds decided instead to promulgate Let It Burn, allowing forest fires to rage on for months while fire suppression crews looked on uselessly. The Powers That Be invented whoofoos (wildfire “use”) and hammer (”appropriate” management response). That led to (duh!) more megafires and more total suppression costs, as well as $tens of billions in fire damages, growing ever larger every year.

The gross stupidity of Congress and the utter futility and destruction of Let It Burn policies really rankled me and many others. The old SOS Forests morphed in the Western Institute for Study of the Environment and we (now a cadre of foresters and resource professionals) continued our belly-aching.

Beside almost daily barbs fired from SOS Forests, in 2009 a group of us produced a paper (the one cited by Sen. Ferrioli in his letter above) [here]:

Zybach, Bob, Michael Dubrasich, Gregory Brenner, and John Marker. 2009. U.S. Wildfire Cost-Plus-Loss Economics Project: The “One-Pager” Checklist. Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, Advances in Fire Practices, Fall 2009.

We also created the U.S. Wildfire Cost-Plus-Loss Economics Project website [here].

That paper laid out the basic fundamentals of fire accounting — the cost-plus-loss methodology. We didn’t invent it; cost-plus-loss is a system that has been used since the earliest days of the insurance industry, as practiced by Chinese and Babylonian traders as long ago as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC [here]. The phrase “cost-plus-loss” was first applied to forest fire damage appraisal in the U.S. in 1925.

Our paper cited much historical literature on forest fire damage appraisal as well as more recent studies such as:

Dale, Lisa. 2009. The True Cost of Wildfire in the Western U.S., Western Forestry Leadership Coalition, Lakewood, Colorado [here].

One point we made was that the true measure of fire suppression expenditures should be the efficiency of reducing damages. The purpose of fire suppression is to reduce damages and to do so efficiently. It would not be wise to spend $billions on fire suppression technology and manpower while actually increasing the damages — which unbelievably is exactly the course the Feds have embarked upon.

Many state fire agencies were dismayed and repulsed by the Fed Let It Burn policies, including ODF which produced a Perspective on 2009 Federal Wildfire Policy Guidance in 2009 [here]. They wrote:

[C]urrent and past guidelines for federal wildfire policy that allow wildfires to grow large over peak burning conditions during the summer months without full suppression efforts impact the state. These impacts include loss of ODF protected landowner’s resources, increased state preparedness costs, the possibility of increased suppression costs, competition for firefighting resources, and increased safety risks for all firefighters through additional exposure.

Federal Wildfire Policy guideline changes made in 2009 further complicate the issues by allowing the use of multiple resource objectives within one fire. Actions such as these further complicate state fire management activities, cost share agreements, and the use and coordination of firefighting resources. …

Safety and least cost objectives seem to be used synonymously [by the Feds] for resource benefit. However, what may be least cost for the jurisdictional agency that has the fire may be most costly for the neighbor. For true “least cost”, the focus should be on increased and aggressive initial attack. …

When the federal fire management objective is to increase the amount of wildfire acres burned across the landscape, through the use of multiple resource objectives, it becomes unclear what decision making is driving when aggressive initial attack is implemented. In other words when is the agency really trying to catch the wildfire at IA versus increasing the amount of wildfire acres burned across the landscape? …

Through discussions last spring and this fall, Forest Service managers have been communicating their intent to continue, and to expand their use of indirect attack and encourage the use of fire for resource benefit to accomplish land management objectives. It is ODF’s opinion this will result in larger, more expensive fires with the likelihood of increased impacts to the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon’s forest landowners.

Those statements clearly convey the concerns ODF has regarding Federal Let It Burn policies. They also touch on fire damage accounting; the consideration of damages as well as suppression expenses, i.e. cost-plus-loss.

The U.S. Wildfire Cost-Plus-Loss Economics Project: The “One-Pager” Checklist, recommended by Sen. Ferrioli to the Board of Forestry, was designed as a ledger to be used to account for cost-plus-loss from forest fires. Thus, it is precisely the tool that ODF needs to quantify damages and make the case to the Feds that Let It Burn is a bad idea economically as well as endangering public safety.

If there are any “benefits” to Let It Burn, those should also be quantified using accepted accounting procedures so that defensible cost/benefit analyses can be made. The method outlined in our paper does not exclude such “benefit” accounting. We merely put comprehensive accounting for fires into a proper format (a ledger), such as might be used in any professional appraisal analysis.

We are very pleased that Sen. Ferrioli is now on board with all that, and strongly encourage the Board of Forestry to adopt proper cost-plus-loss fire accounting. That’s the professional way to do it, and it will yield useful insights regarding fire damages and suppression expenses. Those insights will hopefully make forest firefighting more efficient and true to founding purposes. They will also help ODF to communicate common sense to the Feds.

Blame environmental groups for spread of pine beetles

Note: the following is copyrighted but I’m posting it anyway, because the piece is so excellent. If it is any consolation, I recommend that all readers send some money to the Rapid City Journal. That will make them feel better about my theft. Seriously, of all the newspapers in the country, the Rapid City (SD) Journal is one of the most readable and non-Main Stream claptrap. They have some down home common sense that other newspapers don’t.

By Jim LeMar, The Rapid City Journal Forum, February 26, 2011 [here]

In recent months, there have been many fine articles about the mountain pine beetle, but hardly a word about the elephant in the forest.

How has this situation been allowed to multiply? Every time the Forest Service proposed thinning the timber to prevent the spread of the beetle, environmentalists came out of the woodwork with letters, petitions, appeals and all sorts of legal maneuvers intended to slow or stop any action by the Forest Service. This is the elephant to which I am referring.

We hear nothing about the letters of protest, appeals, and e-mails from the Sierra Club and its approximately 800,000 members, the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Friends of Norbeck and others intending to stop any attempt to prevent spread of the pine beetle.

In the mid ‘90s we heard howls of protest from these and other environmental groups criticizing the proposed Forest Service solution to the mess that was developing in the Beaver Park area south of Sturgis.

Years of valuable time were lost because of the delay tactics of the enviros, which resulted in the loss of far more timber than would have been lost had the Forest Service been able to proceed in a timely manner.

The latest example of the elephant surfaced recently when the Friends of Norbeck and the Native Ecosystems Council filed a lawsuit against Black Hills National Forest to prevent harvesting vulnerable trees from the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve. Did you know that when they file a lawsuit against the Forest Service or BLM, the U.S. government must pay for the lawyers hired by the enviros? We taxpayers have to pay for the enviro groups to sue us. This has to stop.

The government is required to pay the enviro’s attorney fees when the enviros prevail in litigation. There have been lots of problems with how that is actually implemented.

Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin was working on legislation called the Open Equal Access to Justice Act of 2010, which would have forced agencies to reveal how much money they now spend on these lawsuits.

According to her news release of March 2: “Fourteen environmental groups filed 1,200 federal cases in 19 states and the District of Columbia and collected over $37 million, not counting settlements and fees sealed from public view.”

This situation has been allowed to exist since 1995 with no oversight by anyone.

Stop all government grants to these groups. All of their income should be subject to high taxes. Contact both senators and your congresswoman and request that they pursue action against the environmental groups including taking away their 501 c-3 tax free status.

A recent article about the Friends of Norbeck quoted Brian Brademeyer, the executive director, as saying that removal of the bug-infested timber is simply a giveaway of public timber.

In my opinion, their delay tactics are grand theft and wanton destruction of public property. Do you recall that the Mount Rushmore Fourth of July fireworks display had to be canceled the last two years because of the number of beetle infested trees in and adjacent to Mount Rushmore?

We know that thinning is effective. Let’s give the USFS funds to do the job and streamline their analyses, appeals and review process. This elephant must be stopped, or there will be neither habitat nor wildlife.

This Forum piece is written by Jim LeMar, a retired businessman who lives in Rapid City.

Copyright 2011, The Rapid City Journal.

Nat Res Agency Consolidation a Dumb Idea

A bill to consolidate 10 Oregon state natural resource agencies was heard in a legislative committee yesterday and got panned by all comers. The 1,117 page bill has more worms than a bait store. The estimable Bear Bait takes aim at the bill following the news blurb below.

Plan would consolidate Oregon’s natural-resources agencies

Testimony during hearing skews toward opposition

by Henry Miller , Salem Statesman Journal, Mar. 1, 2011 [here]

A proposal heard for the first time Tuesday would put 10 of the state’s natural-resources agencies under one roof, statutorily if not literally.

About the only consolidation that was in evidence at the hearing about Senate Bill 521 was that a majority of people who testified opposed it.

“It’s appropriate to have a conversation. … I’m hopeful that this discussion is fruitful,” said its sponsor, Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, in opening the testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Members of the House Committee on Energy, Environment and Water sat in.

Under the provisions of the 1,117-page bill, the Oregon departments of Fish and Wildlife, Parks and Recreation, State Lands, Land Conservation and Development, Geology and Mineral Industries, Water Resources and State Forestry would be abolished, along with the positions of the agency directors and the commission members overseeing them.

The sweep also would include the Land Use Board of Appeals, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the Forest Resources Institute.

All those functions would be consolidated into one state mega-agency, the Oregon Department of Natural Resources under the authority of a single director and a nine-member Oregon Natural Resources Commission.

The director and commission members would be appointed by the governor.

The concept was opposed by groups as disparate as Trout Unlimited and the Oregon Farm Bureau. … [more]


More Harm Than Good

by bear bait

The Sen. Star bill to consolidate the natural resources state oversight into one super agency is a bad plan. My lifetime experience is that the only meaningful outcome is creation of one or more higher levels of compensation for the new administrators with all this new landscape to manage, with the former heads of agencies staying on in their same capacity but now reporting to a grand political appointee and his subaltern minions who manage from his/her headquarters.

The whole of the process becomes even more political as the Governor is the driver in the deal. The ability for the people in power, the Governor’s appointees, to hide, cover up, ignore is magnified, and the paper trail becomes more convoluted as administrative rules are created anew to bamboozle the tax-paying public for some supposed economy of scale and money saving, all the while adding additional layers of bureaucracy that will negate any tax savings as those tend to disappear with business and jobs.

And don’t think Super Agencies will create a simpler, easier path to understanding between the fops with no money on the table who wish to regulate every decision made by private citizens for some idealistic and Edenic vision of how the world should be. Lawyers will expose that in a heartbeat. And lawyers will be the winners of such a consolidation. The Attorney General will have to hire more lawyers, and the private side of litigation will prosper as well.

One of the pots of gold in this thing is the ODFW Federal share of the Pittman-Robertson fund and the Breaux-Wallop fund, the first from sales of guns, ammo, and hunting gear, and the latter from the sale of fishing gear and appliances, both excise taxes at the Federal level that are to be distributed by formula to the States. Once that money is in the new Natural Resources Administration budget, where it gets spent and on what will be the old “under which walnut shell is the pea?”

This is one of those Republican big business is better ideas but it comes with the same baggage, and those are the ones of responsibility, economy, transparency, pure political power and influence. This kind of government action is the further concentration of natural resource decision making in the centers of urban power, and the people who actually own and live on rural lands are left out, even more so than now. It is the tyranny of the urban majority flexing its muscles to squash rural Oregon even more.

The Lottery will be involved, as well as income taxes, and I suppose a vast array of fees, and the budget process to fund the agency will have effectively neutered the Legislature in that process because it will take full time legislative oversight to find under which shell the pea is currently hiding. The Super Agency will have plenty of hires to hide peas, as that will be their full time jobs. I can’t imagine that the Legislature making its job impossible is a good governance strategy.

Is there not a state constitutional problem with the State Land Board, which is the Gov, the Sec of State, and the State Treasurer? How does that play out? And water resources? Is that an issue that needs urban dominance? Does the revenue from the Lottery to Parks still have validity under a Super Resources Agency? Too many structural problem and too much money to solve them, and the solution will further diminish rural influence over rural property, livelihoods, lifestyles, custom and culture.

In short, this is a bad bill and should surely be a non-starter. Squashed, as it were. Not again see the light of day.

I am sure that many believe growing government in the name of consolidation is not the answer. I have seen it with two municipal and one rural fire department merged in Indep-Monmouth-SE Polk Rural. All three fire chiefs still had jobs and no pay cut. A new chief was appropriately paid more. We lost rural volunteer stations as the new chief made more demands on volunteer time. Three urban stations were closed and a super station, not equal as far from all they cover, was built. Response times grew. More full time EMT and firefighters had to be hired. Now it takes three or more rigs to respond to a fender bender. There were no savings. And the poorest of citizens ended up the furthest away from responders. Funny how that works out.

We saw it with school consolidations. And we see the results of what happened where consolidation was not approved. Those are those magnificent small school districts with vastly superior results in Eastern Oregon. In the Valley the promise was more sports, more activities, and a greater academic menu. The reality is that the property taxes from the rural areas were greater than what it cost to educate the rural kids, and in the end all they got for their money was a bus ride, fewer days in school, social stress, fewer activities due to distance and the bus rides being cut due to budget constraints. All a big lie, where the rubber met the road.

In my lifetime I have been through this kind of consolidation many times and in the end, all you get a huge poorly run agency instead of maybe one of a half dozen poorly run. Does Marla Rae really need a bigger job? That is what we would get. The same old worn Democrat hacks fouling their nest again with more money at stake. There are not enough large hearing rooms in Oregon to hold a hearing for an agency like that. And you do wonder if the head of such a deal would wield more power than most elected officials, and what would that mean in the long term?

State government in Oregon is broke. Creating a monster agency which will plough through money like a D-9 cat will be a indecipherable puzzle for legislators to deal with, and that maybe is the Governor’s intent. I don’t know. I do know that bigger is not always better. I do know Carl Ichan is not in charge of government in Oregon quite yet. I do know that I, as a citizen, will NOT be better served by growing government, the power of a new super agency, and my concerns will fall further into the cracks of a dispossessed citizenry.

All you have to do is watch the mindless weather disasters as reported by the Portland television stations, the mindless coverage of an inch of snow, to know that the urban mindset is easily swayed by stupid proclamations and events. No matter the voting power of the urban majority, to let them hold sway across the whole of Oregon is a bad, bad, bad deal. You do have to possess a lick of common sense to survive in the urban world, and that is evident in urban Oregon today and in their representation in the Legislature.

I am sure that Sen. Star has some sort of idea of better management, but evidently he has not had much interface with that enhanced agency kind of governance. I think about the statewide radio system fiasco where neither the Legislature nor the Administration in Salem did anything other than cover up layer upon layer of mistakes and poor judgment; about Jane Cease and the DMV computerization fiasco (my Visa from the Credit Union works, instantly, every time — why does the State of Oregon NEVER get a good deal on technology? Too many cooks at the pot? Too many political appointments of dubious abilities?); the CIM and CAM fiasco from the centralized Oregon Department of Education; etc. etc., and I wonder how large and utter the failures of a new Natural Resources Super Agency would be?

After all, I am a former public land dependent mill and logging employee, and I see how big Federal agencies are hamstrung, hog-tied, and absolutely unable to function, while forests burn, economies die, and critters go extinct. Do you REALLY think that making an Oregon Super Natural Resource Agency would have a BETTER outcome? Seriously? A bad idea. Good intentions, but a bad idea. The unintended consequences of such a move would have huge and debilitating results for the private sector, do more harm than good, and certainly doom Oregon to a permanent state of economic doldrums.

A New Wildland Fire Executive Council

On Feb. 15 last, Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, and Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, announced in the Federal Register [here] the establishment of a new “Wildland Fire Executive Council (WFEC)”.

February 15, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 31)]
[Page 8768]

Establishment of the Wildland Fire Executive Council

AGENCY: Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

SUMMARY: In accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), as amended, 5 U.S.C. App. 2, and with the concurrence of the General Services Administration, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture are announcing the establishment of the Wildland Fire Executive Council (WFEC). The purpose of the WFEC is to provide advice on the coordinated national level wildland fire policy leadership, direction, and program oversight in support to the Wildland Fire Leadership Council.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kirk Rowdabaugh, Office of Wildland Fire Coordination, 1849 C Street, NW., Room 2660, Washington, DC 20240; (202) 606-3447.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The WFEC is being established as a discretionary advisory committee under the authorities of the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture, in furtherance of 43 U.S.C. 1457 and provisions of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a-742j), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), and the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.) and in accordance with the provisions of the FACA, as amended, 5 U.S.C. App. 2. The Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture certify that the formation of the WFEC is necessary and is in the public interest.

The WFEC will conduct its operations in accordance with the provisions of the FACA. It will report to the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture through the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, which is comprised of, in part, the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget and the Directors of National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Geological Survey for the Department of the Interior, and for the Department of Agriculture, the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, the Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, and the Chief of the Forest Service.

The Department of the Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire Coordination will provide support for the WFEC.

The purpose of the WFEC is to provide advice on the coordinated national level wildland fire policy leadership, direction, and program oversight in support to the Wildland Fire Leadership Council.

The WFEC will meet approximately 6-12 times a year. The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint members on a staggered term basis for terms not to exceed 3 years.

Members of the WFEC shall be composed of representatives from the Federal government, and from among, but not limited to, the following interest groups. (1) Director, Department of the Interior, Office of Wildland Fire Coordination; (2) Director, United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Fire and Aviation Management; (3) Assistant Administrator, U.S. Fire Administration; (4) National Wildfire Coordinating Group; (5) National Association of State Foresters; (6) International Association of Fire Chiefs; (7) Intertribal Timber Council; (8) National Association of Counties; (9) National League of Cities; and (10) National Governors’ Association.

No individual who is currently registered as a Federal lobbyist is eligible to serve as a member of the WFEC.

Certification Statement: I hereby certify that the establishment of the Wildland Fire Executive Council is necessary and is in the public interest in connection with the performance of duties imposed on the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture under 43 U.S.C. 1457 and provisions of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a-742j), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), and the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

Ken Salazar,
Secretary of the Interior.
Dated: February 3, 2011.
Thomas Vilsack,
Secretary of Agriculture.
[FR Doc. 2011-3350 Filed 2-14-11; 8:45 am]

What does this mean? For starters, we review some history of Federal wildfire management. Please refer to A Short History of the WFLC [here].

more »

27 Feb 2011, 4:04pm
Climate and Weather Useless and Stupid
by admin
1 comment

Chill Out at the Oscars

And the Oscar for Most Deluded State goes to… California!


Yes, sports fans, the illusions of Tinsel Town have been swallowed hook, line, and sinker by the most gullible citizens in human history, Californians. Tonight, while they freeze their buns off, the Beautiful People will weep crocodile tears about glooobal waaarming, something that is manifestly NOT happening in California.

Freeze their buns? Affirmatory — as reported in the La La Times:

A cold Oscar night on tap as frost warnings issued

By Sam Allen, Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2011 [here]

For Oscar Sunday, the rain and snow of the last few days will give way to clear skies, with temperatures remaining cold. Forecasters said those on the red carpet and at the Oscar parties should have temperatures in the 40s.

The cold weather closed the Grapevine due to snow and ice overnight. But Sunday morning, the California Highway Patrol began escorting vehicles along Interstate 5 again.

A frost advisory was in effect in some mountain and high desert areas, with officials warning of temperatures in the 20s this morning — cold enough to kill plants and crops.

On Saturday, Burbank, Glendale and Studio City were some of the areas that saw flakes of soft hail or snow pellets, according to weather reports. The precipitation was part of an unusual weather system that flowed south from Canada and dropped snow and rain across much of the state. [emphases added]

How unusual is the weather system? Not very. In fact, it’s par for the course and likely to show up ever more frequently in the future. That’s because California has been cooling off unsteadily for the last 30 years!

From the National Climatic Data Center, Climate Services and Monitoring Division, Climate At A Glance [here]

Winter (Dec-Feb) Temperatures, California, 1980-2010, with trend line.
Winter (Dec-Feb) 1901 - 2000 Average = 45.60 degF
Winter (Dec-Feb) 1980 - 2010 Trend = -0.41 degF / Decade

That’s right, sports fans. Winter in CA has been getting colder at the rate of -0.41°F for 30 years! That’s an accumulated drop of -1.23°F. And the chill down is expected to cool even more over the next 25 years, driven by the PDO shift.


Look for blue lips, goosebumps, and faux fur coats on the red carpet tonight!

What is amazing about Hollywoodia is that the denizens are completely blind to their own weather. Despite the FACT that CA has been cooling off for 30 years, the Chic Set are fabulously ALARMED at how much warmer it isn’t.

Proof? The Academy gave Algor an Oscar for his craptastic movie, An Inconvenient Lie. The Congressrodent from Hollywood is Henry “Mouse” Waxman, the author and bottlewasher of the Waxman-Malarkey Glooobal Waaarming Hysteria Bill.

The CA Legislature and Governator Ahnold enacted AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which sets up a carbon offset market (despite the corruption and subsequent bankruptcies of carbon markets in Chicago and Europe [here, here, here]). California voters had a chance to reject AB32 last November, but Proposition 23 failed 60% to 40%.

Yep sir, sports fans, CA voters suckered under to their own glooobal waaarming Ponzi scheme by 3-to-2, even though California has been cooling for 30 years!!!!! And subject to electricity brown-outs already as the principal target of Enron before it collapsed in the largest bankruptcy in history. But they WANT to huddle in the cold and dark for no rational reason.

Is that delusional or what?

Never underestimate the capacity of Californians to self-delude. They are the champs of hubristic mass insanity in the modern era. If they see it on TV, it must be real, and damn their own lying eyes and frozen buns. Plastic fantastic sparkly phoniness trumps reality in CA every time.

Look for lips stuck to frozen statuettes tonight as the winners kiss their economy good-bye. In CA, if it feels good, do it, even if it’s the nuttiest thing imaginable.

Note: special tip of the faux fur hat to Ken S. for suggesting this post

25 Feb 2011, 6:35pm
by admin

Wisconsin Turmoil — Lessons for Oregon

Rep. Richardson’s Newsletter, February 25, 2011

I am State Representative Dennis Richardson and this newsletter is for Oregonians interested in learning more about the economic issues that affect our state. Today’s newsletter begins with an overview on Oregon’s budget crisis, and then compares and contrasts Oregon with Wisconsin to see what we can learn from Wisconsin’s current turmoil.

Oregon’s Economic Crisis

I would like to actually speak with you about Oregon’s Budget — what it is and what economic factors will influence most the preparation of the 2011-13 two year (“biennial”) budget.

Please turn up your computer’s volume, sit back and watch this week’s budget presentation on YouTube. I hope you find it informative. [Click here]

Wisconsin and Oregon — Comparison and Contrast

If you have been watching the action in Wisconsin, you know of the public employee outrage, orchestrated demonstrations and partisan controversy over their Governor’s response to Wisconsin’s budget crisis.

Are there lessons for Oregon to learn from what is transpiring in Wisconsin?

Consider the following facts:

* Wisconsin has a population of 5.7 million.

* Oregon has a population of 3.8 million.

* Wisconsin has a budget shortfall of at least $3.6 billion over the next two years.

* Oregon has a budget shortfall of at least $3.5 billion over the next two years.

* Wisconsin State workers currently pay 6% of their health benefit costs and are being asked to increase the employee’s portion and pay 12% of their health care premiums. (Kaiser Family Foundation states the national average contribution toward healthcare policies among government and private workers is nearly 30%.)

* Oregon State workers currently pay nothing (0%) toward their health benefits. (Oregon is the only state in the USA that pays 100% of its employee health benefit and PERS costs.)

* Wisconsin State workers currently pay 1% of their retirement plan costs and they are being asked to increase employee contributions to 5.8%. (The national average for government worker contributions toward retirement plans is 6.3%.)

* Oregon State workers currently pay nothing (0%) toward their retirement plan (PERS) costs. [Click here]

* Wisconsin’s proposal includes prohibiting most government workers from (1.) collectively bargaining for anything other than their salaries, and (2.) demanding pay increases above the Consumer Price Index measure of inflation. To bypass the salary cap would require voter approval. Additionally, Wisconsin’s proposal would stop unions from requiring public employees to pay union dues.

* Oregon has no limitations on public employee unions or their ability to collectively bargain, and Oregon collects union dues from state employee paychecks. (Oregon’s public employee unions are free to continue negotiating for the State to pay 100% of both health and PERS retirement benefits for all State workers. [Wisconsin information source click here]

How have Wisconsin’s citizens responded to the on-going partisan clash between its Governor and the public employee unions?

A just-released poll of Wisconsin citizens reveals the following:

* By 74-18, Wisconsin voters support making state employees pay more for their health insurance.

* By 79-16, Wisconsin voters support requiring state workers to contribute more toward their retirement/pension plan.

* By 54-34, Wisconsin voters support ending the automatic deduction of union dues from state workers’ paychecks, and support making unions collect dues from each member.

* By 66-30, Wisconsin voters support limiting state workers’ pay increases to the rate of inflation unless voters approve a higher raise by a public referendum.

* By 41-54, Wisconsin voters oppose limiting collective bargaining to wage and benefit issues.

* By 58-38, Wisconsin voters support limiting collective bargaining on matters relating to educational issues such as, (1.) giving schools flexibility to modify tenure, (2.) paying teachers based on merit, and (3.) discharging bad teachers and promoting good ones. [To see poll, click here]

Is Wisconsin’s turmoil a precursor for Oregon? You decide.


Dennis Richardson
State Representative

The Decline and Fall of Forest Science

The failures of the environmental sciences in our day and age are not confined to climatology. Universities and forest research institutions have squandered $billions pursuing the wrong answers to the wrong forest science questions.

The decline and fall of Western forest science can be traced back to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s when rigorous application of the Scientific Method was abandoned along with most of the prior advancements of the 20th Century. And after 50 years of substituting mythology and political ideas for scientific ones, the forest science establishment has hit rock bottom.

Nowhere is the incompetence of modern forest science more striking than the current fad of blaming non-existent “global warming” for every forest phenomenon large and small. Case in point:

Researchers cite climate change in forest decline

AP, the Washington Examiner, 02/19/11 [here]

Aspens and white pines in the West will face worsening devastation because climate change will make them more susceptible to diseases and bugs, including an infestation of bark beetles that has already killed some 33,000 square miles of forests, researchers say.

Jim Worrall, a U.S. Forest Service plant pathologist who studies aspen deaths, told a conference Friday that “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” indicates climate change has left aspens stressed and vulnerable. …

White pines, common in Montana and parts of Wyoming, aren’t as resilient and have begun to fall victim to bark beetles because warmer temperatures allowed the bugs to move north, said Diana Six, professor of forest entomology and pathology at the University of Montana.

Previously, they were protected by temperatures too cold for bark beetles, but when temperatures rise, the trees have few defenses, Six said. …

Phillip van Mantgem, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said 87 percent of old growth stands that he and others on a research team are monitoring have shown increasing mortality rates, and that the rate doubled in the past 18 years.

“The ultimate cause behind it is probably warming,” van Mantgem said. …

Former Vice President Al Gore addressed the conference, defending climate researchers from criticism about their motives, the Aspen Daily News reported.

“I hear from some quarters that the scientists who are presenting this information to us are interested in making money and that they are making stuff up and hyping it in order to get research grants,” he said. “It is an insult to these men and women who were on this stage today.” …

The problem with all those theories are that they are demonstrably false. Winter temperatures in Colorado have been falling for 20 years.

From the National Climatic Data Center, Climate Services and Monitoring Division, Climate At A Glance [here]

Winter (Dec-Feb) Temperatures, Colorado, 1992-2010, with trend line (1901 - 2000 Average = 25.36 degF).

Note that average winter temperatures in Colorado have been below freezing in every year on record since record keeping began in 1895. Over the last 20 years winter temperatures have declined -0.76 degF per decade. In January 2011 (last month) the average temperature was 23.4 degF, one-tenth of a degree below the 1901-2011 January average and 2 degF below the 1901-2011 winter average.

Winter temperatures in Colorado have not changed significantly over the last 115 years, and they have fallen slightly over the last 20 years, the very period that the researchers above cite as so warm as to cause aspen to die off, beetle infestations to irrupt, and old growth stands to experience increased mortality.

Al Gore presents a strawman argument. Some “quarters” allegedly claim that Colorado forest scientists are “making stuff up” for mercenary reasons, according to Al (who, by the way, has made over $100 million on carbon trading and other global warming alarmism scams).

But Colorado forest scientists are not making up aspen decline, beetle epidemics, or old growth mortality increases. Those phenomena are occurring. No one disputes that.

What Colorado forest scientists are fabricating are bogus theories as to why those things are happening. They blame global warming, and specifically increasing winter temperatures in Colorado, but there have been NO increases in said temperatures.

Colorado forest scientists posit a causal link between something that has not occurred (winter temperature increase) and forest decline phenomena. If the causal factor does not exist, it cannot cause anything.

That’s basic science, indeed basic logic, upon which the Scientific Method relies. Colorado forest scientists might as well say that little green men from outer space caused Colorado forests to decline.

Wait, you say, there are no little green men from outer space. You are correct. Likewise there has been no winter temperature increase. The latter is as imaginary as the former.

Science seeks to understand cause-and-effect phenomena based upon measurable factors that exist in the real world, not on imaginary myths and illusions that do not exist.

The real world foundations of science are extremely important. Without them science becomes a fairy tale, an exercise in fiction, a joke, a waste of time, money, and effort.

If science is done by staring at the blank walls of a cubicle in some institution and making up imaginary folk tales without basis in the real world, then it is not science at all.

We pay people to do exactly that, however. We place them in cubicles in institutions and pay them to make stuff up whole cloth, and call it “science”, and to make presentations at conferences in Aspen alongside politicians, and to give off airs as if they were doing real science, and walk around and tell journo-listas that they are scientists, and generally hoax the place up.

Meanwhile forests continue to decline, and the “scientists” have no more of a clue why than your average wino living in a dumpster, who unfortunately does not get paid the big bucks to make up fanciful tales whole cloth. I say unfortunately because your average wino is an expert at delusion, self and otherwise, and would be as good or better at it than your average forest scientist in a cubicle in an institution.

Wait a second, you say, if you’re so smart tell us why forests are declining.

What? For free? On a free blog accessible by anybody (well, perhaps not by the wino in the dumpster)?

For your information, that’s exactly what we have been doing at W.I.S.E. for 3+ years. Maybe you haven’t been paying close attention.

One thing is for sure, we haven’t been offered any paid vacations to Aspen to present non-imaginary facts about forest decline. Which, by the way, has nothing to do with imaginary global warming.

Forest science is not dead. It hangs on in remote locales like W.I.S.E. But it is reeling and gasping for breath in the USFS, the University of Montana, the USGS, and other establishment government institutions.

What those outfits produce is nothing like science. It’s demonstrably false gibberish masquerading as science.

17 Feb 2011, 3:59pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
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Connaughton Named PNW Regional Forester

US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell today named Kent Connaughton to replace Mary Wagner as Region 6 (Pacific Northwest Region) Regional Forester. In a letter to USFS top brass Tidwell stated:

I am pleased to announce Kent Connaughton as the new Regional Forester, Pacific Northwest Region. Kent has served as the Regional Forester for the Eastern Region since 2008.

Prior to his assignment as Regional Forester he was the Associate Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry in Washington, DC. Kent also served as Deputy Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region; Forest Supervisor of the Lassen National Forest; and as a scientist specializing in forest economics at the Pacific Northwest Research Station. He also was responsible for the economic assistance programs associated with the Northwest Forest Plan’s implementation.

Kent holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University, a Master of Forestry degree from Oregon State University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the Society of American Foresters, and was elected Fellow of that professional society in 1991.

Please join me in congratulating Kent on his new assignment. Kent’s assignment will be effective in mid-April.

- Thomas L. Tidwell, Chief

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