All Lands Management, Government-Style

Once again the US Forest Service is blaming everybody but themselves for catastrophic megafires that arise on unkempt, fuel-laden Federal lands and are exacerbated by the USFS’ own Let It Burn policies.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack blames all those private homes, including those that haven’t been built yet, within 30 miles of the unmitigated hazards the USFS has created.

The solution: eliminate all homes with 30 miles of Federal lands. In other words, strip the Western U.S. of all residents. Heck, strip the eastern half, too.

The Federal Government can’t prevent illegal immigrants from pouring over the border, but they are all hot to get the bayonets and cattle cars out to drive legal resident humanity off the continent.

When the Station Fire burned down 89 residences, when the Angora Fire burned down 254, when the Cedar Fire burned 3,241 homes and killed 16 people, whose fault was that? Not the folks who mismanage and unmanage the Federal Estate. Nope, it was the victims who were so self-interested and disregarding of the commonweal as to build a home within 30 miles of Federal land.

Vilsack Highlights Report Showing Threats to Private Forested Lands

Forest Service study supports “All Lands” approach outlined by Vilsack last year

USDA Press Release No. 0401.10, August 11, 2010 [here]

Washington, D.C. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today held a national conference call to highlight a USDA Forest Service report entitled Private Forests, Public Benefits [here], showing that privately held forests in the U.S. are under substantial stress from development and fragmentation, and that increased housing density in forests will exacerbate other threats to forests from wildfire, insects, pathogens and pollution. These threats to the important goods and services provided by privately owned forests — which make up 56 percent of all forested lands — emphasize the importance of the collaborative, cross-boundary approach to conserving and restoring our forests as laid out by Secretary Vilsack in a major address last year.

“Americans rely on their forests for a wide range of social, environmental and economic benefits, including clean water, wood products, habitat for wildlife, and outdoor recreation,” said Vilsack. “The Private Forests, Public Benefits report shows that now, more than ever, we need to take an ‘all lands’ approach to managing our nation’s forests, whether they are national forests or under the stewardship of state or private entities.” …

The study touted above is a product of the USFS Open Space Conservation Strategy [here], the brainchild of former USFS Chief Gail Kimbell.

There is no (none, zero, nada) stautory directive from Congress to engage in the Open Space Conservation Stategy. The civil servants thunked it up all by their lonesomes.

Congress did not order it, the Pipple did not order it, it has never been through any democratic process. It’s just another wild and crazy scheme drawn up by overpaid, underworked, government functionaries with too much power and too much time on their hands. With your money.

Besides catastrophic wildfires, the problems the USFS lays on homeowners include: acid rain, ozone, global warming (of course), species extinctions, and insect pests and diseases.

Here’s a handy map they put out to show where the private forests are at risk from fire.

Percentage of Private Forests with High Wildland Fire Potential, courtesy Private Forests, Public Benefits, USDA Forest Service. Click for larger image.

Funny thing, more than half the “private” forests they show in Oregon are actually Federal forests! Ditto Washington and California! Federal lands have no homes. Readers in New York City might be surprised to find out that you can’t just claim Federal land and build a home on it!

So their maps are wrong, and hence all their numbers are probably wrong, too. It’s a pile of crap report! Junk geography, and junk everything else, too!

Note the use of the term “wildland” to describe private property. The authors were either on drugs, or more likely, propaganda meisters with a propensity for LYING!

Here’s another handy map to show where homes are endangering species like grizzly bears and wolves:

Number of At-Risk Species on Private Forests, courtesy Private Forests, Public Benefits, USDA Forest Service. Click for larger image.

Same defects! And even worse, wolves and grizzly bears are not actually endangered. Their populations are thriving and growing.

Some pregnant quotes from Vilsack’s beloved study:

Private forest land makes a substantial contribution to America’s timber resources, accounting for 92 percent of all timber harvested in the United States in 2001 (Smith et al. 2004).

Isn’t that interesting! One-third of the forest land in the U.S., the Federal portion, produces only 8 percent of the timber harvest. That number has gone down since 2001.

The relationship between timber production and housing density is complex and not entirely predictable.

What do you know! People who live on their tree farms cut trees! Not like the USFS, which doesn’t, and not because of the homes there, because there aren’t any.

Approximately 60 percent of “at-risk” vertebrate and invertebrate animals and plants in the conterminous United States are associated with private forests, and two-thirds of the watersheds in the conterminous United States include private forests identified as having at-risk species (Robles et al. 2008).

Decreases in habitat quality and quantity associated with increases in houses, roads, fences, powerlines, and other factors related to development can lead to declines in terrestrial biodiversity (Findlay and Houlahan 1997, Graham 2007, Houlahan and Findlay 2003, Houlahan et al. 2006, USDA NRCS 2007); increases in invasions by exotic (nonnative) species along forest edges (Meekins and McCarthy 2001); creation of barriers to movement (Jacobson 2006); increases in predation (Coleman and Temple 1993, Engels and Sexton 1994, Kurki et al. 2000, Sieving and Willson 1999, Woods et al. 2003); declines in pairing success (Lampila et al. 2005); and reproductive failures or mortality from parasitism and other factors (Hartley and Hunter 1998). Habitat degradation also has been determined to contribute to declines in fish numbers that could result in extinction within a century if trends continue (Ratner et al. 1997).

Your land has been identified as threatening species to extinction. What’s more important, your private property rights or wolves? According to your benevolent government, it’s the wolves!

The mere presence of your home is going to cause fish extinctions within a century! Of course, without shelter you would go extinct. So what rates higher, according to the USFS, you the taxpaying human or a fish? Do I really need to answer that question for you?

What about wildfire? Well, according to the meisters at the USFS, fire is good for you.

Wildfire is an important component of some forest ecosystems and can provide beneficial effects under particular circumstances…

But maybe not. Here’s a little bit of honesty from the report:

Immediate or long-term effects can include increased soil erosion (Kocher et al. 2001); reduced carbon sequestration (Hurteau et al. 2009); and a host of other impacts including death or displacement of fish and wildlife, changes to stream temperature and chemistry, altered sediment levels, modification of vegetation, and increased access by off-highway vehicles (Rieman et al. 2005). Activities to suppress wildfires can also lead to soil damage (Rieman et al. 2005), water quality degradation, and damage to aquatic life in environmentally sensitive areas (Kalabokidis 2000).

Wildfire suppression is costly; in 2000, for the first time ever, federal wildfire suppression expenditures exceeded $1 billion (Donovan and Brown 2007). Other economic implications include a potential decrease in timber supply over the long term and a consequent stimulus to salvage more timber from damaged areas (Prestemon et al. 2005). Increased wildfire events can also lead to decreases in tourism; in 2002, for example, visitor numbers in Colorado dropped by 40 percent in some areas owing to wildfire and drought (Scott 2003).

So if that’s the case, why does the USFS do Let It Burn? Do all the unstated and mysterious “benefits” outweigh all the stated and quantified damages? How so?

Here’s some more honesty, from an actual forest landowner who resides on his property:

Rick Dunning and his wife Karen purchased land in southwestern Washington in 1988 as a financial investment. After selling 35 acres, the Dunnings now have about 150 acres to plant, manage, and harvest timber; promote fish and wildlife conservation; and use for recreation. …

Rick Dunning — who also wears the hat of executive director of the Washington Farm Forestry Association — prefers to look at development as an “opportunity” rather than an inherent “threat.” He suggests that regulation and taxation issues may overshadow housing development as the most serious challenge to private forest owners. He is convinced that people don’t have to choose between forests and development. “You can have human population and working forests together,” he said. “If we have population and green areas mesh, we can absorb the population and still use the land well.”

What ho? That statement dashes all the foregoing propaganda into the dumpster. It turns out that the people who live on their private forested properties claim exactly the opposite of Vilsack, Kimbell, and the authors of the report.

Who are you going to believe, the taxpayers who know what they’re talking about, or the government functionaries on drugs?

If the USFS wasn’t such a terrible land manager, producing nothing but disasters and catastrophes, then maybe we might consider their land management advice. But unfortunately, they’re the pits at land management.

The idea of “all lands” management has some merit, though, if we kick the functionaries off the public lands and let the people who live in those watersheds manage them.

” … more than half the ‘private’ forests they show in Oregon are actually Federal forests! Ditto Washington and California!” Of course Rick Dunning is correct: he’s using the commonsense factor rather than “computer modeling.” His thinking has not been “facilitated” into oblivion. He’s not welded to the federal (read: taxpayer) teat. There will never be a bridge between those that exist as parasites upon taxpayer dollars, and those that LIVE. It will always be a gulf, thank God, and will be like light and dark: a wonderful contrast to show who the good guys and bad guys really are.

12 Aug 2010, 10:24am
by bear bait

Congress has decreed that the USFS will be incompetent, and they are. That is a surprise?

The issue with “forests” is that they grow trees or some type of vegetation seasonally, every year, in times of plenty, and in times of drought, before incineration and after incineration. The fuel is increased by natural, seasonal plant growth each and every year, with some years much more than others. But always the fuel load increases.

The solution to the problem is NOT fire. Fire does not chose to spare or not spare anything flammable. Fire does not have any follow up repair work. Fire has no fealty to property lines or idiot decisions by government or landowners. It has been societally recognized that fire is damaging, stuff lost is lost forever, and it is in the best interests of HUMANS to put out fires ASAP. If fuels need to be thinned out, controlled, there are myriad ways this clever race of monkeys has of doing so. That we do not is mostly due to USFS Auditor Generals opining about spending money. The AGs do not petition Congress for less restrictive regulations that will allow that fuel to be managed in ways other than general conflagration. All the AGs have done is count beans. Not fighting fire serves bean counting better than a NEPA process to remove fuel, and being exposed to a plethora of other law, regulation, and court decisions on how to cut down a tree, how to remove it, if you can cut it, ad nauseum. The AGs recognize that regulations have become a bottomless pit of indecision and gridlock, and have made the decision to let the damned stuff burn and be done with it. You can do that by NOT fighting fire, and there is no real loss to the US Treasury because the Feds assume no legal or financial liability for their fire, from their land, trespassing onto the private estate and doing its damage. They have a free pass to incinerate your asset.

On the other hand, the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has three teams of three US Attorneys in the West (LA, SLC and Sacramento) who sole purpose is to recover damages from fire origination on private land and burning onto the Federal Estate. They go after private landowners and users when fire from their bailiwick crosses onto Federal land and makes ash and snags. All of the sudden, those trees in a Designate Wilderness Area have timber stumpage value. The “grandeur of the landscape” is lost and must be compensated for. Lost recreation opportunity, forwarded for decades, is compensable. Truly a strange travesty against the private sector by Government, but real, ongoing, and sure to come to your neck of the woods someday as long as fuels management by any other means than unfought fire is the Federal mandate for Federal lands. That the intent, today, is to blame the victim for damages by fire, as is the case when the 30 mile buffer idea is proffered, shows how shallow, mean spirited and ugly our governance has become.

In short, electing Democrats who take the campaign money from environmental NGOs, from public employee unions that promoted this kind of public insanity, is only the path to more of the same, and a greater diversity of insults heaped upon the citizens of this country by the royalty that now inhabits the Administrative Branch of our US Government. The culture of government has to be changed, and continuing to elect the mindset we currently endure is to be our downfall.

Like, having 48 cents of every Federal dollar spent borrowed? And half of that to pay interest on prior borrowing? Who has been irresponsible with the credit card, really? Who promoted liar loans? Who didn’t regulate banks and finance? Who allows fires to burn because they don’t burn anything of value… until a fire from the private side burns the same forest, and then all sorts of values are applied for as damages to Public Lands.

Follow my reasoning closely. If the fire burns value and juries compensate the Feds, find for them, then how can a fire of the “let it burn” (AMR, WFU, FFRB) NOT burn value, equal value? Where is that accountability?

Or, could a viable defense be made that the fire from the private side of the line provided the US Govt a BENEFIT, and the landowner being charged for damages actually should send a bill to the Feds for the estimate of RESOURCE BENEFIT and USE the fire created? Where is the accountability?

We must all ask the question of our Congressman, Senator: Where is the accountability for “resource benefit?” I want the dollar amounts, estimates. We know that the US Attorney can find damages from fire, and I want to know how the damages are balanced against the “resource benefit.” SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!

12 Aug 2010, 6:31pm
by Al B

Noticed this timely post in a Q&A statement regarding public land on Freedom Force International Website, © 2010 Aug 6 by G. Edward Griffin [here]


A: The Freedom Force position is that personal property includes land ownership. We could get all tangled up in the question of whether or not humans can ever really “own” a part of the planet, but that gets pretty philosophical. In the real world, we must deal with territorial instinct. Most mammals, including homo sapiens, have an innate desire for exclusive access to physical locations, especially if they are useful for food or shelter, because those are essential for survival. Humans have a built-in sense of justice that makes it feel “right” to have exclusive access to land if we are the first to claim it (and successfully defend it from other claimants), or if we exchanged something of comparable value for it, or if we received it as a gift from someone who met either of the first two conditions. In all cultures throughout history that have enjoyed flourishing economies and high levels of personal freedom, this territorial instinct has been honored as a positive force.

It is true that this instinct sometimes leads to theft and, when applied to political groupings, can become justification for wars of aggression for territorial acquisition. However, denying the right of private property would not solve either of those problems. The instinct would remain, thieves still would steal, and armies still would invade each other’s territories to acquire more so-called “public property” for their rulers to administer.

If land were to be public rather than private, we soon would be facing the sticky problem of deciding who is going to administer it and what rules must be followed. Once that door is opened, the path leads straight to political corruption and collectivism.

Public ownership of all land is contrary to one of the basic concepts in The Creed of Freedom, which is: “The proper function of the state is to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens, nothing more.” Only in those rare instances where it can be shown beyond question that state ownership of land can serve this function (such as owning forts and military bases or possibly a few administrative office buildings) would it be acceptable. It would be nonsensical to claim that the state must own all land to protect the property rights of its citizens.

Land is one of the most important types of personal property and is a foundation for independence and freedom.

12 Aug 2010, 9:01pm
by Scott A.

Once again another spectacular word of warning to the wise from an awesome group, knowledgeable about what’s really going on in our forests.

I can attest to, first hand, the USFS attempting to “manage” my private land, by telling my how many days I can or cannot visit it.

They closed the only access road to my private property. They did it through unethical, some would say “illegal” means. The only public comment for closing my sole means of access, was done 80 miles away (about a 3 hour drive down dirt roads). County commissioners, general public were not made aware of road closures. Especially the immediately affected public and landowners.

I’ve lived under the shadow of overwhelming USFS corruption all my life. Including them unlawfully imprisoning my entire town with iron gates, which almost cost the life of a respectable elderly gentleman. The reasoning behind the gates was “to improve fish habitat.”

Although the USFS did not get put on trial for attempted murder, they were ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $8 million to pave said road, which was a waste of taxpayer money. Most residents move to the area to get away from pavement.

Now they have recently unlawfully imprisoned five more people behind an iron gate, 20 miles from home, drove off and left them there. And harassed, intimidated myself, my brother, my visitors, my friends with fines or imprisonment for driving to our private property.

Why do I suddenly feel jewish in Hitler’s Nazi Germany? Where is the justice? The humanity? Where is the common sense? Where is a since of compassion and understanding, collaborating with the fellow man? Especially when that fellow man pays the wages of the person who unlawfully imprisons them?

Where is the accountability? The bang for the buck? The return on billions of dollars invested in “feel-good” projects? Where are the RESULTS????



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