Forest Supervisor Explains Jarbidge Firefighting Decision

Today the Elko Free Press published a defense of USFS fire management decisions regarding the East Slide Rock Ridge WFU Fire written by Edward Monnig, Forest Supervisor of Humboldt-Toiyabe NF [here].

The East Slide Rock Ridge WFU Fire [here] was ignited by lightning in the Jarbidge Wilderness Area on Aug 8th about 15 miles southeast of Jarbidge, Nevada. The fire was declared a WFU (Wildland Use Fire) by Mr. Monnig and allowed to burn unchecked.

By Aug 20th the fire had grown to 5,000 acres and was threatening 30 historic cabins and the Pole Creek Guard Station.  By Aug 21st the fire was nearly 10,000 acres and had spread out of the Maximum Manageable Area (previously established at 113,000 acres). Even so, the WFU designation was retained.

On Aug 21 the ESRR WFU Fire grew to 11,250 acres and the wind was blowing. The WFU designation was scrapped. A Type 1 IMT was requested to suppress the fire [here].

As of yesterday evening the ESRR Fire was reported to be 54,545 acres and 50% contained. Approximately $7,700,000 had been spent suppressing it.

The following is Mr. Monnig’s statement regarding the ESRR WFU Fire. We post it in full, with comments after:

by Edward Monnig, Forest Supervisor, Humboldt-Toiyabe NF

To the Editor: I am sitting in the Incident Command Post of the team of fire fighters that I have charged with controlling the East Slide Rock Ridge Fire. I have just finished a discussion with county law enforcement officials on our joint plans for protecting the public from the fire. These cooperative efforts are an important part of the first priority of our fire fighting efforts - protecting fire fighter and public health and safety.

On Friday I met with Governor Gibbons, Congressman Heller, Commissioner John Ellison, and Assemblyman John Carpenter during their aerial tour of the fire. Their over-flight gave them a greater appreciation of the challenges of managing wildland fire in the rugged terrain of the Jarbidge Wilderness with its large number of dead and dying trees.

During our meeting I also informed the Governor that the Forest Service would be conducting an “After-Action Review” of all decisions and actions taken with the East Slide Rock Fire. I invited him to provide a representative from the Nevada Division of Forestry for this review team.

I recognize the impacts this fire has had on local communities and the questions from the local public on my decisions in managing this fire. I would like to clarify some of the confusion that surrounds this incident and explain my decision process. I have read and heard statements asserting that the fire was allowed to burn unchecked and out of control or that it could have easily been extinguished on the first day. These statements do not accurately capture the reality of this fire or our actions on this fire.

The East Slide Rock Fire was very likely started by a lightning storm on August 8. The fire was actually first discovered by an aerial reconnaissance plane on August 10. We immediately dispatched a helitack crew to the fire. Unfortunately, soon after deployment the helitack crew was diverted to a higher priority fire elsewhere in Elko County.

On August 11 an elite crew of smokejumpers was assigned and jumped the fire. They assessed the feasibility of suppressing the fire safely and efficiently. At that point the fire was 50 to 100 acres in size and burning in steep terrain with spotty but heavy timber. Because of the remote location, the steep terrain, the fuel loads of dead and dying subalpine fir, they validated at ground level that attempting to suppress the fire in this location would be a difficult, dangerous, and costly multi-day exercise with an uncertain outcome.

At that point I had to weigh two things: What were the costs and risks of deploying fire fighters? And, what were the values at risk?

The risk to fire fighters is not insignificant. This year alone we have tragically lost the lives of 19 wildland fire fighters killed in the line of duty. I seriously consider when and where to deploy these men and women and what we are gaining from their effort and risk. In this case, the potential risk to firefighters was very high.

I then discussed with my District Rangers the values at risk from this fire. We have been in the Jarbidge country, and our visits have confirmed what many local people have already observed. Over the past 10 to 15 years many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of subalpine fir trees have been killed by insects and diseases, both inside and outside the Wilderness. The cycle of birth, growth, and eventual death in the forest has been unfolding before us. For thousands of years fire has played a role in recycling and preparing the ground for a new forest.

Are there alternatives to fire? In some instances, yes. In other parts of our National Forests we have been able to alter this cycle somewhat through the judicious harvest of timber. However, even outside the Jarbidge Wilderness I have had no luck in finding a significant market for subalpine fir, a tree generally dismissed in the logging world.

The effects of fire on the ecological system of the wilderness are, of course, only one consideration. I also considered the possibility that the fire would escape the Wilderness. I consulted our fire behavior experts. Computer prediction models based on current fuel moisture, fuel type, past and predicted weather and other factors indicated a less than 2 percent chance that a fire in this remote location would escape the Wilderness.

So as I have done five other times this summer, I decided that the risk to resources inside and outside the wilderness, the effects of the fire on these resources, and the risk to fire fighters did not warrant a full scale assault on this fire. The fire was doing what the fire would eventually do at some point despite our most valiant efforts - consume a lot of dead and dying trees. If we were going to fight this fire, we would have to do it at a less dangerous place of our own choosing.

That does not mean we simply walked away from the fire. We put additional people on the ground on August 13 in order to provide protection to cabins and other resources in the vicinity of the fire. We assigned an additional experienced fire manager to the fire on August 14 to specifically direct this effort. We activated a fire management team on August 18 and gave them specific instructions to confine the fire to the wilderness. As the fire began to threaten the wilderness boundary, they activated hand crews, dozers, a strike team of engines, and air resources to prevent the spread. Unfortunately strong wind events on August 19 and 20 and August 24 and 25 stymied this effort.

On August 22, as fire complexity increased, we activated the best we have, a Type 1 team, one of a select few national teams that handles our most difficult incidents. They have made excellent progress confining spread outside the wilderness.

I fully understand the sense of loss that many people will feel in seeing the forest in parts of the Jarbidge Wilderness disappear in the smoke. Watching the dead and dying trees over the past years has been a bit like watching an old friend succumb to illness. The Jarbidge has been changed for our lifetime. But there is hope and rebirth in a new spring. The grasses, the brush, the trees will again flourish. The elk and the deer will relish their new habitat. The mountains have seen this many times before and will see it again.

Come September, the burning window in these high elevations shuts down, and snows blanket the area. The narrow intense burning period of August will come to an end.

One of the commitments that came from my meeting with the Governor was an agreement to get into the Jarbidge next summer with him to view conditions on the ground and to discuss our management options. Even after the East Slide Rock is extinguished, there will remain many more thousands of acres of dead and dying trees inside and outside the wilderness.

One of our grazing permittees and outfitters who has spent many years in the Jarbidge country has observed “It is no longer question of: ‘if the fire will come’ it is only a question of ‘when it will come.’” I would like to believe that our fire fighting expertise and technology can stop every fire at our choosing; however, we have limits, and we must exercise this power wisely in these remote fire-adapted ecosystems.

I am committed to continuing this dialogue on our management of the National Forests. These lands belong to all of us, and we must all be a part of their management and conservation.

With all due respect to Mr Monnig, some parts of this statement lack full explication.

He failed to mention that the fire was declared a “Wildland Fire Use” (WFU) fire. That is an official designation with specific procedures and goals. Many months ago the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF  adopted WFU into their Fire Plan and mapped a Maximum Manageable Area of 113,000 acres for lightning fires in the Jarbidge Wilderness Area.

The “fire management team” Mr. Monnig referred to was actually a Fire Use Module, a special team of fire monitors whose job it is to watch, not fight, WFU fires. That team was trained and equipped for that purpose, not for fire suppression.

In other words, the H-TNF planned and trained for this fire ahead of time. They mapped the potential (desired) burn area long before the lightning struck. However, they did not pursue any form of “dialogue” with the community when they did that.

Normally (legally) when the USFS plans an action that will have significant impacts to the environment, they follow the NEPA process (National Environmental Policy Act). For instance, when undertaking Hazardous Fuels Reduction projects, the H-TNF sends out scoping letters and prepares an Environmental Impact Statement. That EIS must have alternatives and the public is invited to make comments at certain stages in the process. The H-TNF is required under NEPA to evaluate those comments and take them into consideration before a Decision Notice is issued.

Nothing like that happened when the H-TNF adopted WFU into their Fire Plan. There was no scoping letter, not EIS, no public comment period, no NEPA process at all. And when Mr. Monnig declared the ESRR Fire to be a WFU, again it was done with no consideration whatsoever for NEPA or the wishes of the affected community.

That fires have a significant impact on the environment is without question. Mr. Monnig claims such in his statement. His analysis of forest conditions and the effect of fire on those conditions is sorely lacking, however. He cites “the cycle of birth, growth, and eventual death in the forest.” That is pure poppycock, unscientific, and grossly wrong.

The stated goal of the NEPA process is to utilize the best available science in making decisions. Mr. Monnig chose to ignore NEPA and substitute fantastic falsehoods in the place of forest science. Not only did the H-TNF subvert the letter of the law, they subverted the purpose of law. Expensive disaster resulted.

Mr. Monnig makes the plea that he had no alternative. He suggests that he might have utilized some sort of silviculture , but then blames “the logging world” for failing to provide a significant market for hazardous fuels that might have been removed. But it is not fault of “the logging world” that Mr. Monnig did not follow the NEPA process, wherein alternatives are evaluated with rigor.

Excuse me for being offended. As a professional forester I have implemented a variety of fuels reduction and restoration forestry projects, and marketed biofuels, chips, firewood, and a variety of other materials composed of subalpine fir and other “secondary” species. Please do not blame me, Mr. Monnig, or the wood product markets for your failure of competence and criminal abrogation of the laws of the United States of America!

I am glad, however, that you are committed to “continuing a dialogue” that you avoided and eschewed, did not initiate, and have never taken part in before. Except that I seriously doubt your words. I suspect that there will be no participation from you in this ongoing dialog, although you are cordially invited.

The dialog you speak of is here, at SOS Forests, and it has been underway for three years. At no time have you participated. Many others have; you have not.

Unfortunately the time is passed for that. You have broken the law, perpetrated a disaster, and cost the taxpayers many millions of dollars. Your excuses do not hold water or pass muster. What is there to talk about now? Your incompetence? Your foolish and absurd forest science theories? Your refusal to obey the law?

Without a doubt firefighting is dangerous. All woods work is dangerous. I appreciate that you sometimes have to make serious life or death decisions. It cannot be easy. I respect your position and the difficulty of the decisions you must make.

The H-TNF is a very large forest. It extends from eastern Nevada all the way to California. And right now a fire is burning in the CA portion of the H-TNF. That fire is the Burnside Fire [here] and it is 15 miles south of Lake Tahoe near the town of Woodfords in Alpine County.

The Burnside Fire ignited 08/31 and was immediately attacked with two airtankers and four heavy helicopters. As of last night it was 204 acres and 50% contained, despite strong winds. The Sorenson and Hope Valley Resorts were evacuated, along with nearby residences and campgrounds, but the evacuations have been lifted already. The Burnside Fire is nearly contained and controlled. To date a mere $500,000 has been spent on fire suppression (most of that cost due to the airtankers).

But on the last run of the day yesterday, an airtanker headed for the Burnside Fire crashed while taking off from the Reno Airport [here]. All three crew members aboard were killed.

That accident was not your fault, Mr Monnig. You could not have foreseen it, nor could you have refused to attack the Burnside Fire given the population in the area.

We can, however, reduce the frequency of catastrophic fire by tending our public forests with intensive and extensive restoration forestry. That is a far cry from WFU’s and the “cycle of birth and death” of forests. Restoration forestry is active management that prepares forests to receive fire without catastrophic mortality and uncontrollable canopy fires and firestorms.

It is time to turn over a new leaf, time to obey the law and do NEPA in an above board and open, inclusive manner. And it is also time to actively restore our forests, not with fire but with stewardship.

That is what the dialog is about. If you wish to join it, please do. We shall continue it with or without you, however. And we will continue to press for good stewardship, again with or without you.

3 Sep 2008, 3:25am
by Charley in SC

I don’t know enough about it. Do you do NEPA when the fire is blazing due to a lightning strike?

Also, do you really want to engage Mr. Monnig in a discussion of this? Just wondering because first you say, “I suspect that there will be no participation from you in this ongoing dialog, although you are cordially invited.” but you follow it up with, “Unfortunately the time is passed for that.”


3 Sep 2008, 7:38am
by Mike

No, Charley, you do NEPA when you propose the program. That is how it’s done when the USFS wishes to conduct a hazardous fuels treatment; they propose, do NEPA, and then do the treatment.

Do you think the USFS announces a timber sale when the chain saws are running? No, they propose and weigh alternatives BEFORE the cutting starts.

Mr. Monnig does not want a dialog. If he did, he wouldn’t have proposed and implemented his WFU program in secret behind closed doors with no public involvement whatsoever. Those are not hallmarks of someone who wants to dialog.

The discussion has been going on rather intensely right here for three years. Anyone can join in, even you. So can Ed Monnig. It won’t save the Jarbidge forest, however. Too late for that. It’s dead, burnt to a crisp. We call that Kevorkian forestry.

3 Sep 2008, 7:43am
by Bob

It is pathetic that these forest service cretins can get away with what they get away with. About 5 years ago Terry and I packed into the Jarbidge Wilderness on our horses. We entered the Wilderness at Slide Creek. Our first night was very high on the East Fork of the Jarbidge River. Day two found us winding up the very steep ascent to Emerald Lake. As we were giving the horses a blow, we commented on how horribly beetle-killed Slide Rock Ridge was. This is VERY steep country, and the East Fork is allegedly prime bull trout habitat.

Upon our return, I spoke with the District Ranger, and mentioned that if a fire got going in that area, we would have wreck. It is too steep to fight, and with over 70% (my visual estimate) dead trees, the fire would burn very hot, sterilizing the soil and creating a setup for massive erosion the following spring. Since I had staked a fair amount on fighting the bull trout listing, I added that there would be no more bull trout left in the East Fork should such a fire occur, as the entire watershed would wash into the river (Trout Unlimited and USFWS argued that sediment from our South Canyon Road would put bull trout in jeopardy; imagine what the denuding of an entire ridge could do to the sensitive little guys).

Anyway, my pen is warming up. These people are never held accountable, and therefore act like teenagers with a cheap bottle of fortified wine. This is nuts. I agree that fire plays a very important role in wildland management, especially in the West. However, this fire should have been allowed to burn only in cool, wet seasons (I would argue it should have been prescribed in 2005). Furthermore, Mike is absolutely right: NEPA mandates that locally-effected governments and people be offered an opportunity to comment on major federal actions. To allow a fire to burn in August, under the conditions prevailing, was pure idiocy. To avoid public input, or consultation with Elko County, was pure arrogance.

The fight over South Canyon Road was not about bull trout; the USFS didn’t care one iota about the Jarbidge Wilderness, the Jarbidge River, or the town of Jarbidge. They only cared about the politics of control. I still believe that.

I hope this finds both of you doing well. I need to ask a lot of forgiveness from our Lord tonight, as I have watched the fires from about 50 miles east all weekend, and have not had kind words or thoughts for the USFS.

3 Sep 2008, 9:04am
by bear bait

The BINGOs have pummeled the USFS on many fronts, for many years, and have eroded any semblance of common sense to nothing. What WFU is, essentially, is a blank check given by the BINGOs (Big International NGOs) to the USFS to burn the public estate without penalty, outside the NEPA process, which evidently only they, BINGOs, have the ability and right to enforce.

Where the AG of the US is on this I don’t know. But NEPA is not enforced, by either USDA-USFS Mark Rey et al., the Bush Admin folks, or the US AG office out of the Justice Dept. So the blank check to “let ‘er burn” is in place and used with frequency. Add to that a blank check (a credit card without limits) that dings all other USFS accounts to pay fire fighting expenses, and you know this ship of state is rudderless. It would be interesting to see if there is proposed change in the WFU area from the Agent of Change, Candidate Obama. Or from the McCain camp, for that matter. The Bush Admin has been USELESS to rural resource conservation proponents or resource users.

“Ooops!” is not a credible defense. Nor is landscape incineration a credible management decision. Yes, there is a dead tree problem. Yes, dead trees are fuel. But when you spend all your money on PR and FireCamp, and use up all the extraordinary fire budget AND your other resource management money for the this year and next, proactive management is gone. There is no need for other management personnel. Just a few people to “watch” WFU fire, contemplating if and how you might keep it inside a prescribed area of hundreds of square miles, all the while polluting the air in illegal amounts, and devastating all the non-vegetative resource as well as that which might burn as vegetation dead and alive, plus seeds and all the organic material in the soil, and even the soil itself, much of it gone to sky in the fire plume. It is a BAD, BAD deal, and BAD PUBLIC POLICY, formed outside of public review and oversight.

The Secret Fire Police are at work. Putin would make a good USFS Chief. He has more understanding of how to run a public dictatorship, and he would have no trouble finding funding or not finding funding (wink, wink) to suppress fire. The Billiard Table National Forest concept is one he could find in the historical precedent: Russia’s ability to lay waste to it resources to keep them out of enemy hands is legendary. It appears that is the USFS policy as defined by its most ardent WFU supporters and most vocal opponents of logging: burn it all, now, and Weyerhaeuser and Big Timber is without competition in the woods products markets.

The people will go to the National Parks to recreate, where they can be more easily controlled and money collected for the use. USFS money collection for recreational use is a losing proposition because of dispersion, and the effort to collect fees costs more than the returns. They will have to come up with a public annual pass program, and tax us all for their sifting the cat crap out of their sandbox.

Meanwhile, the night sky is alight with WFU, and in spring, the hillsides and gullies roar with sediment to kill the fish so that dams might be blamed. 500 year-old green trees die, along with the younger dead and bug-killed trees that used to be removed by anthropogenic fire in a benign process that kept the forest floor open, accessible, and providing for easily obtained game and abundant human useful plants. Anthropogenic fire was the “natural” fire since the last Ice Age, and this mean spirited, hateful WFU deal is ignorant and criminal [not to mention racist - Mike]. All the USFS spin doctors and apologists can rattle their blather from here to eternity and the program will still be wrong, still be hateful, still be destructive to the very forests they claim to protect and to the humans that trust them to be conservators and keepers of the commons, the public trust.

I am tired of the bullshit from the git of the JW Thomas political correct school of human engineering passing as forestry. I want old time foresters with old time forestry common sense, level headedness, and cool intelligence. I am sick and tired of this woo-woo crap from the kumbaya crowd, from incomplete and meritless science like the Donato paper. It is time for regime change in USDA-USFS, and all other Federal land management agencies.

3 Sep 2008, 9:05am
by Bob Z.

This is what happens when local people are excluded from the resource management process and Government Centra1 replaces them with smug bureaucrats and technicians (no matter how “diverse”).

The telling parts of Mr. Monnig’s feedble excuses for Worst Possible Management (”WPM”) practices is when he states that his “fire behavior experts” consulted their computers to arrive at a “risk factor”:

“Computer prediction models based on current fuel moisture, fuel type, past and predicted weather and other factors indicated a less than 2 percent chance that a fire in this remote location would escape the Wilderness.”

So this is a 50-to-1 shot, to safely let a wildfire burn uncontrolled in August? Doesn’t sound very expert to me. More like overpaid government computer geeks hiding behind their “scientific” software (again). Thank you, taxpayers!

Then Mr. Monnig buries himself a little deeper:

“So as I have done five other times this summer, I decided that the risk to resources inside and outside the wilderness, the effects of the fire on these resources, and the risk to fire fighters did not warrant a full scale assault on this fire.”

Bad Decision, of course, Mr. Monnig, and what right under God, nature, and federal law gave you the ability to make such a terrible pronouncement? Computer models? Congress? Knowledgeable local citizens?

Your actual experience now says that there was a 20% chance of escapement (1/5), making you 10 times more accurate (1,000%) than the computer models. And you made a bad call. A serious error in judgment.

Mike is right. This fire was both predictable (see “Bob” above) and preventable.

Wood chips can be readily marketed, especially when combined with more salable materials. That’s the forester’s job. Only we don’t have very many actual forester’s collecting paychecks in the Forest Service anymore. But we have lots and lots of “fire experts.”

And even if wood chip marketing were subsidized, it would have been tens of millions of dollars cheaper to taxpayers and would not have destroyed a public forest. Run THAT through a computer model to see what I’m saying.

Time to clear the dead wood.

3 Sep 2008, 10:10am
by Forrest Grump

And that’s why “Wilderness” is such a hoax. You want to INDUCE fire, as Bob NLN says, there IS a time to do it, such as in 2005. But you have to use hand crews which are spendy, can’t get rid of any intervening fuels by transporting them to a biomass or other cash-flow outlet, et cetera.

Gents, are you seeing the same pattern I am? Seems like this year’s icky fires, expensive fires, mostly tended to be wilderness originated, like the two doozies in California, the Gunbarrel, and Slide Rock. Any others I’m missing?

And let’s not forget, this HAS been a “good” fire year in the Pacific Northwest.

3 Sep 2008, 10:37am
by Bob Z.

Mr. Grump:

Almost all of the big fires of the past 20 years have originated in Wilderness areas, for the reasons you and Bob NLN point out.

In Oregon we’ve had the Kalmiopsis burn twice in that time (Silver Complex and Biscuit Fire), which are the two largest wildfires in the history of SW Oregon, and the B&B Complex (the largest wildfire in the history of the western Cascades) originated in the Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters Wilderness areas. Those are places where bugs and dead trees thrive, and man is a visitor who does not remain. And no wonder!

Mike: In the three years you’ve been tracking western wildfires, what percent would you estimate have NOT originated in Wilderness areas?

These events are unnatural and unprecedented and need to be stopped. Passive management is not working.

3 Sep 2008, 11:42am
by Mike

That’s not the right question. It should be: what is the percentage of the total forest fire acreage due to fires that originated in wilderness, roadless, or other pseudo-wilderness areas on national forests.

The answer to that question is: over 98%.

When fires start in managed roaded areas or on private land (and they do), they are doused immediately. The acreage burned is minimal. The only exceptions are fires in mis-managed roaded areas on national forests, where fires are allowed to burn while firecrews sit in their trucks and watch them.

Roughly two-thirds of the forested acres in the US are privately owned. That acreage has at least twice as many fire starts, but accounts for less than 2% percent of the forest fire acreage.

Un-managed, unkempt, untended, federal forests where roads have been removed and where the policy is Let It Burn are the source (ignition and spread) of almost all the forest fire acres.

3 Sep 2008, 12:05pm
by Joe B.

Here’s a frustrating point and an aside at that. When they talk about the damage humans can do to whatever endangered fish they happen to spotlight in order to justify in their own minds that we can’t cut trees down or build roads and that we can let something burn because that’s “nature,” it would be helpful if there were someone on the fisheries side of things who would honestly realize there is a problem with sediment in both cases, and forest fires, especially the major ones we seem to experience every year, are monumentally more dangerous to the welfare of whatever endangered fish swimming in the streams than a road or a timber sale.

But I really just want them to meet me halfway and admit to the fact that these massive mudslides are extremely detrimental to the Chinook, Steelhead, and bull trout of the East Fork of the South Fork River and the South Fork of the Salmon River and the Secesh River and all these tributaries that are experiencing a massive change in hydrology overnight.

But the fishery people just say, and some without ever going out to look, that there is no cause for alarm for the fish, this is a natural system and highly connected and the fish will just go somewhere else.

Literally millions, perhaps billions, of tons of sediment slid into the East Fork of the South Fork in one miserable afternoon. Entire tributary confluence areas were completely covered in sediment, the main river was choked in half, and in places more than half covered in piles of sand, boulder and trees. If these fish are endangered, and you know what, they probably are, then guess what, we just killed at a minimum half of the population that was in those rivers.

“Well, fish hide behind boulders during extreme current events,” said the moron fishery person.

No, dumbass, they can’t hide behind a boulder that got swept down the mountain into the main river. They were crushed. They were buried in sand and sediment 20 feet deep to be discovered eons from now by some archeologist who will pen a paper about a fish that no longer exists today.

The cards are marked, the fix is in.

If I may paraphrase Fox Mulder from the X-Files

“I’m the key figure in an ongoing government charade, the plot to conceal the truth about the existence of (foresters). It’s a global conspiracy, actually, with key players in the highest levels of power, that reaches down into the lives of every man, woman, and child on this planet, so, of course, no one believes me. I’m an annoyance to my superiors, a joke to my peers. They call me Spooky. Spooky (Bourbon), whose sister was abducted by BINGOS when he was just a kid and who now chases after little green men with a badge and a gun, shouting to the heavens or to anyone who will listen that the fix is in, that the sky is falling and when it hits it’s gonna be the shit-storm of all time.”

3 Sep 2008, 1:34pm
by Mike

As a reminder that problems with Let It Burn fires are nothing new, see 1988 Canyon Creek fire remains seared into memory at W.I.S.E. Forest, Fire, and Wildlife News [here].

4 Sep 2008, 9:05am
by Mike

Thursday morning update:

Situation as of 09/02/2024 6:00 PM
Personnel: 271
Size: 54,549 acres
Percent Contained: 50%
Desired maximum fire size: does not apply anymore

Costs to date: $8,400,000

Containment of areas outside the wilderness occured today.

Jurisdictional interest and involvement has declined.


What in the blazes does “Jurisdictional interest and involvement has declined” mean? That’s a direct quote from the West Basin GACC report, taken off the 209.

To me it means they got away with it. Ed Monnig incinerated 55,000 acres in an illegal whoofoo and walked away scott free. Crap science, no NEPA, total holocaust, $8+ million down the tubes, a seared wasteland, erosion, pollution, and forest destruction — the USFS just gave the big finger to America, again.

We have a crisis on our hands, people. The USFS has become a criminal arsonist eco-terrorist rogue agency hell-bent on total scorched earth disaster and destruction. And they gloat about it. In your face America. We are going to fork up your forests and laugh.

4 Sep 2008, 12:34pm
by just tryin' to understand

NEPA for WFUs is no more plausible than NEPA for a suppression fire. What if environmentalists require NEPA before we suppress a fire start….it’s just not realistic.

If the FS does not start the fire, it would be difficult to give the same type of site specific analysis for a managed treatment. Attempts are made to detail objectives/consequences for WFUs and suppression fires…

I’m not sure what you expect.

4 Sep 2008, 1:33pm
by Mike

JTU, Environmentalists don’t “require” NEPA, the laws of the USA require it. NEPA is a law, passed by Congress, signed by the President, implemented by the Executive Branch, and adjudicated by the Judicial Branch of the Federal Government.

Yes, fire suppression is an emergency action in response to unpredicted (though quite predicable) events. But Wildland Fire Use is fully planned years in advance. The areas to be burned are mapped. The procedures to be followed are documented in manuals. The objectives are written down in black and white long before the lightning strikes.

In the case of WFU, yes indeed there is ample opportunity to obey the law and follow the NEPA process. That process involves presentation of alternatives, public involvement, scientific analysis, and opportunity for appeal of decisions.

The ESRR WFU Fire was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. The very specific 113,000 acre MMA is codified in the H-TNF Fire Plan. Neither you nor I had any opportunity to evaluate that codification prior to the fire, not because of immediacy but because the H-TNF and USFS leadership believe that they do not have to obey the laws that ostensibly govern Federal agencies.

When the government breaks the laws that have been established by representatives of the people in OUR country, then not only do disasters occur, but the very foundation of our self-government system is ripped asunder.

I expect something different than that. So should you.



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