The Scenic Vegetation Mosaic Effect

The Fishlake NF offers a novel reason for their Twitchell Holocaust By Idiots Fire [here, here, here]. In numerous pronouncements the USFS claims their purpose in incinerating 20,000+ acres is:

“to manage the fire for a scenic vegetation mosaic effect”

Yup. It’s for the scenery — the old “Blackened Dead Forests Are Beautiful” campaign cooked up by the Wilderness Society on behalf of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council.

Just in case you don’t know what high severity fire does to the viewshed, here are some pics of other “successful” Let It Burn Because It’s So Lovely Projects inflicted on America courtesy your Helpful Federal Bureaucracy.

The esthetically pleasing aftermath of the 2007 Let It Burn fires in Central Idaho.

More of the same.

The beauteous Zaca Burn (2007, 240,000 acres, Los Padres NF).

Scenic splendor of the B&B Burn (2003, 90,000 acres, Deschutes NF).

More of the same.

Evidently the USFS has adopted the position of Cascadia Summer, a Eugene “environmental” organization affiliated with Earth First! and the Oregon Natural Resource Council (now Cascadia Wild). In their own words [here]:

Last week [one week before the pictured B and B Fire was ignited] Cascadians paid a visit to the Clark Fire which burned 5,000 acres near Fall Creek earlier this summer. The area is still off-limits to the public, but we wanted to get a first-hand account of just how bad it was… so we quietly hiked in after crossing the stream a ways before the road-block.

The forest looked amazingly beautiful… stark contrast to the lush green forests we were used to seeing along Fall Creek, but beautiful nonetheless. Ferns had already begun sprouting back up through the ash. Scorched Doug Firs and cedars sparkled in the sunlight.

Yes, sports fans, the Federal Gummit wants to beautify your neighborhood and your watershed by turning it into a moonscape. It’s a stark contrast, but what the hey. The Scenic Vegetation Mosaic Effect is all the rage among the arsonist set, and it’s now the Official Mission of the USFS. Gaze in awe at your Gummit in action.

Letter to the Salt Lake Tribune Re the Twitchell Canyon Fire

Dear Sirs and Madams,

Your reportage of the Twitchell Canyon Fire leaves out some important facts and context.

The Twitchell Canyon Let It Burn Fire has been burning on the Fishlake National Forest since July 20th [here].

It was declared a Let It Burn fire from the get go, without any NEPA process or public oversight. In the words of the USFS:

The fire is being managed for multiple objectives, which included providing for the safety of the public and firefighters, to increase structural diversity in forest and shrubland ecosystems through use of fire, reducing fuels in a mosaic pattern to effectively manage future fires, and to manage the fire for a scenic vegetation mosaic effect in the Manderfield Reservoir viewshed.

Get that? The “purpose” of this wildfire is to create a scenic “mosaic” of incinerated forest with “structural diversity”. Those are environmental “objectives” but without any sort of environmental analysis or EIS as required by law.

A barebones crew of 26 were assigned to “monitor” the fire. They watched while the fire grew and grew. By August 14th the fire had grown to 4,128 acres and a real fire crew was called in. Over 200 personnel fought the Twitchell Fire for a week, but then they went home. By August 26th the fire was 4,508 acres and a “monitoring” crew of 20 was all that were left. By that date $2.5 million had been spent to “achieve objectives”.

On Sept. 3 the Twitchell Fiasco Fire blew up to 5,400 acres. Two days later the fire was 7,000 acres and the Kimberly Mining District was evacuated. The Great Basin Type 2 Incident Management Team was been called in. $3.2 million had been spent on “suppression” by that date.

Again, no effort was made to contain the fire, but it settled down at around 11,000 acres on Sept. 7. For a week. Then on Sept. 14 it blew up again. As of last night the fire was over 20,000 acres and was impinging on I-70 and the adjacent power line corridor.

Over $6 million has been spent not suppressing this Let It Burn fire to-date. Aerial firefighting has been undertaken with the attendant ratcheting up of costs.

Rather than “creating a scenic mosaic” the fire has displayed flame lengths of over 200 feet. Historically high ERC’s (Energy Release Components, an index that measures fire intensity) have been recorded. This fire is burning VERY HOT. It is not a lazy or light “mosaic” burn. It is total incineration. Nothing is left alive withing the perimeter, animal or vegetable.

Numerous historical structures have been burned. More are threatened. I-70 has been closed. Smoke has poured to points east for two solid months.

The watershed being incinerated contains a number of reservoirs. $Millions are being spent to turn that watershed into a moonscape. Flash floods are sure to follow this winter. The government functionary directly responsible is Fishlake NF Supervisor Allen Rowley. No NEPA process was followed. This Let It Burn fire is patently illegal.

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13 Jul 2010, 11:39pm
2007 Fire Season The 2010 Fire Season
by admin

Roasted Yellowstone

The aerial photo below shows the Doane Fire, a small (1/4 acre) untended fire now burning amidst the snags from the Columbine Fire (2007, 18,500 acres).

Click photo for a larger image (1.5 MB), courtesy InciWeb.

8 Jun 2010, 11:17pm
2007 Fire Season
by admin

Payette NF Roads Wash Out

Note: the following courtesy the Yellow Pine Times, an email-only publication. Central Idaho has been hit by heavy rains, causing flash flooding of numerous rivers. More rain and more floods are expected next weekend.

By Ned Pence, Yellow Pine Times, June 7, 2010

It is interesting for me to read the reporting in your Yellow Pine News. I remember the flood of June 1974. That flood was the result of a heavy winter snow pack and a cool spring until June. The June runoff was regulated by the weather. The SFSR (South Fork Salmon River) was very high for most of June. There was no damage to the road because the runoff was weather regulated; however, it was in June 1974 that the Oxbow at Teapot was breached indicating that the runoff was a record. The weather regulated runoff flushed the logging related sediment out. We had completed closing several logging roads that had been a problem. Logging had affected about 15% of the SFSR and the sediment problem was a result of problem logging roads that had not been closed. The SFSR looked very good after the runoff.

The 2010 flood is much different since there was not a heavy snow pack. It is the result of heavy spring rains that saturated the soil at a time when the soil damage from the 2007 fires has not healed [here]. The 2007 fires affected almost the entire SFSR drainage. This years flood is a flash flood and not regulated by weather. The runoff is occurring over a very short time. It will be interesting for me to observe the effect on the fire related sedimented condition of the SFSR later this summer.

The Idaho Batholith granite soils are fragile as evidenced by the steep, river-formed landscapes that developed over many centuries. However, the fire events starting in the 1990s are unprecedented in historic times due to the fuel loading that was evident to me when I was DFR.

I am also concerned that there will be a desire in the Forest Service to not rebuild the road and to close it. There was a desire in the 1980s to close the road until Senator McClure obtained the funds to solve the sediment problem the road was causing. That rebuilding was very successful. The current problems is not due to the roads. The problem is caused by fuel loading and resulting fire. Without active management the problem will not stop.

East Fork Weiser River Road Bridge Collapse, photo courtesy Payette NF

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Road Closure Meeting With the Payette National Forest Highlights

By Scott Amos, Letter to the Editor, Yellow Pine Times, May 25, 2010

Folks from Big Creek and I did attend the meeting with the Payette National Forest office in McCall today. Much material was gathered which was not otherwise available to the public. It shows that the USFS believes there is only one job in Yellow Pine related to tourism and 40 government employees reside in the Yellow Pine area.

I started to offer the loan of my calculator to the PNF, but figured with their government budget they should have plenty. Then I thought they may have not been sufficiently task trained in the operation of calculators. I held a brief class with present PNF employees and counted five businesses in and around Yellow Pine. I even used a visual aid, my fingers on one hand, but it was like explaining differential calculus to a kindergartner. I really got a lot of blank stares when I explained some of the five businesses in fact have MORE than one employee, and one employee does not run, operate, and maintain all five businesses simultaneously. Therefore, I will offer a class free of charge to any PNF employees who are interested in operating, maintaining, and understanding calculators. They can even be clean and green solar calculators, if they prefer.

Clearly being alone in the woods for long periods of time with the hazardous fumes from our incinerated forests has affected the understanding they once had of calculator operations and basic math. Deciding one employee in tourism was too hard a concept, we did not dare talk about the 40 missing government workers with no Yellow Pine mailing addresses. That material will be offered in subsequent advanced government mathematics which is too advanced for introductory classes and could not be offered due to time constraints in explaining it to the students.

RS2477 Roads

From this point the discussion has been deemed to go to appeals. We briefly discussed RS2477 roads, but the PNF thinks we should spend lots of federal, state, and county money to find out that which we’ve already agreed upon as valid; i.e. yes many of the roads the county claims as their right of way ARE county RS2477 roads, but you, I, and the folks who don’t spend as much of the government money as we can aren’t qualified to settle the debate. Sounds like only a highly paid federal judge can read the documents we currently hold [presented by highly paid government lawyers] and say “yes, sounds like you’ve got a valid point.” Even though the PNF agrees the county has a valid point in claiming RS2477 jurisdiction.

The West Side Road to My Property

The representative present today stated on behalf of Suzanne Rainville, Forest Supervisor, that the roads (including my driveway) that she deemed “unworthy of public comment” would be “closed by de facto.” In other words, the roads the public wasn’t allowed to comment on will likely be obliterated, removed, and destroyed, even though some of them may qualify for protection due to their historical value under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1963.

The NHPA states:

(1)(A) The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to expand and maintain a National Register of Historic Places composed of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.

and that

(B) Properties meeting the criteria for National Historic Landmarks established pursuant to paragraph (2) shall be designated as “National Historic Landmarks” and included on the National Register, subject to the requirements of paragraph (6).

The National Historical Preservation Act of 1963 can and does include roads. Look up Historic Route 66 [here].

My driveway, Smith Creek Road, Three Mile Road, Hennesey Meadows Road, the Old Thunder Mountain Road, the Frog Pond Road, the Road Adjacent to the Frog Pond, and the Road Across from the Trail to Buckhorn Lake, are all historic and significant, especially to local residents. According to Yellow Pine legend and some maps dug from their dusty tombs these historical roadways are much older than the Route 66.

Just a thought.


Note: see also Yellow Pine Road Workshop Planned [here], Payette Road Closure Appeal Meeting [here], and Boise NF and Payette NF Post-2007 Fire(s) Photos [here].

Clearcuts Don’t Burn

By Derek Weidensee

I’d like to share with readers of W.I.S.E. and SOS Forests several photographs I’ve taken of seven different Montana wildfire burns — of a phenomenon I call “clearcuts don’t burn”!

Unburned area on the right is a 25-year-old regenerated clearcut. Photo by Derek Weidensee. Click for larger image

In fairness, I should say clearcuts seldom burn. The “green islands” in a sea of burned old forest are often “regenerated” clearcuts.

The Rat Creek Fire (2007) Burn west of Wisdom, MT, in 2009. Photo by Derek Weidensee. Click for larger image

This is a hobby of mine. I’ve spent my last four summer vacations going to Montana to study and photograph this phenomenon. I think it’s the best kept secret of forestry.

A 30-year-old regenerated clearcut surrounded by burned forest. Photo by Derek Weidensee. Click for larger image

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The True Crisis

The LA Times spit out an editorial today that missed the mark by a mile.

Climate change is the true crisis

LA Times Editorial, May 10, 2010 [here]

West Virginia’s mining disaster and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were disastrous and investigations are justified, but the real threat is much worse. …

Blah, blah, blah…

… beaches are going to vanish within half a century (along with much of Miami) under the worst-case scenarios presented by climate modelers.

Blah, blah, blah…

Lawmakers today aren’t seeing the forest for the trees; that will change when the forest has burned or been destroyed by bark beetles, but by then it will be too late.

It may be too late for the LA Times, and for “climate modelers”, but you can be assured the beaches of Florida are not disappearing. Global sea level rise since 2005 is a whopping 1 millimeter per year, down from 2 millimeters per year over the last century or so. And now that global ice caps are growing again, it is likely that sea levels will fall; over the next 30 years at least. In fact, sea levels may have peaked in this interglacial (the Holocene) and could fall for the next 100,000 years or thereabouts.

More important to the principal theme of SOS Forests, we must point out (yet again) that even the most generous estimates of US temperature change indicate that over the last 130 years temperatures have risen no more than 1 deg C.

That’s 2 deg F. On a day when it might have been 90 deg F 130 years ago, today it might be 92 deg F. That change is so small as to be largely undetectable, unnoticeable, and of no significant consequence to forests.

We have been experiencing a forest fire crisis, however, and bark beetle infestations, but they are not due to temperature change.

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The GAO Let It Burn Policy

The newly reconstituted Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) has embarked on a “Cohesive Strategy” planning process [here, here, here].

The “Cohesive Strategy” was mandated by the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement or FLAME Act [here, here, here].

National Blueprint on Wildfire Management

by Phil Leggiere, HS Today, 26 April 2010 [here]

On Wednesday April 21 at the Wildland Fire Leadership Council in Washington, DC, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar jointly announced a blueprint for the first comprehensive national strategy for wildfire management. …

The new strategy will analyze three key components: landscape restoration, fire-adapted communities, and response to wildfire and is scheduled to be completed this fall in accordance with a recent act of Congress.

The FLAME Act of 2009 requires the Forest Service and Department of Interior to submit to Congress a report that contains a cohesive wildfire management strategy consistent with recommendations in recent General Accountability Office (GAO) reports regarding management strategies. Following its formal approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Interior by October 2010, the Cohesive Wildfire Management Strategy is to be revised at least once during each five year period to address any changes with respect to landscape, vegetation, climate, and weather conditions.

According to the legislation the Cohesive Strategy is required to provide for the identification of the most cost effective means for allocating fire management budget resources. This includes the reinvestment in non-fire programs by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, employing the appropriate management response to wildfire, assessing the level of risk to communities, allocation of hazardous fuels reduction funds based on the priority of hazardous fuels reduction projects, and assessing the impacts of climate change on the frequency and impact of wildfire. …

Note two key points. First, the “Cohesive Strategy” is to be consistent with recent General Accountability Office (GAO) reports regarding fire management strategies. Second, the goal is “cost effective” fire management budgeting.

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DOI Responds to W.I.S.E. Letter to Salazar re WFLC

On March 6, 2010, in my capacity as Executive Director of W.I.S.E., I wrote an Open Letter to Ken Salazar regarding the reconvening of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) [here]. In that letter I observed that in the past the WFLC:

… did not work with stakeholders but instead was a closed door, exclusionary, non-transparent Federal advisory group that violated various laws with impunity. The laws repeatedly violated by the WFLC include the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

I also observed that:

The WFLC excluded the public and the press from their meetings. They did however seat deep-pocket lobby groups including the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Society. Federal funds were passed to these lobby groups through the WFLC. The lobby groups also provide a “revolving door” of high-paying positions to former government employees formerly seated on the WFLC.

and furthermore:

During closed door meetings in 2008 the WFLC directed the five Federal land management agencies under their purview to adopt Appropriate Management Response (AMR) and Wildland Fire Use (WFU). The agencies did so without implementing any NEPA process, without public comment or review, and in violation of the laws listed above.

As a result, numerous wildfires were allowed to burn without aggressive suppression actions. Tremendous destruction and degradation of natural resource values occurred.

Finally, I advised Sec. Salazar that:

The WFLC in its prior manifestation violated transparency and the rule of law with disastrous consequences.

Please be advised that if you reconvene the WFLC under the previous format and model, you will be doing a great disservice to America.

Yesterday I received a response from DOI, a very nice letter from Pamela Haze, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, Finance, Performance and Acquisition acting on behalf of Ms. Rhea Suh, Assistant Secretary for Management & Budget and CFO.

That letter in its entirety follows:

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Backroom Deal Brewing On Carbon Taxzilla

The biggest single tax in the history of civilization is about to be imposed by the Obama Administration and his Democrat cronies in Congress — without due process and using the same dirty tricks that were used to pass ObamaCare.

Carbon Taxzilla will smack every man, woman, and child with a $10,000 per year Godzilla of a tax, that will not change global temperatures one scintilla of a degree.

Algore’s massive carbon hoax/scam is about to come to fruition, and the result will be the flushing of the American economy down the proverbial toilet.

Taxzilla will not go through any Senate committee. It will not be read by any member of the Senate, much less the public, before a parliamentary end-around will make it law.

Already Obama henchman Rahm Emanuel has met with the Goreacle’s money men and Democratic leaders to plan the stealth legislative strategy.

The WaPo announced yesterday that Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman will slip Taxzilla into the hands of Harry Reid on April 26, not April 21 as we reported [here].

Senators will unveil climate bill April 26

By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, April 15, 2010 [here]

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) will roll out their compromise climate proposal April 26, according to several sources.

While the date is a bit later than originally expected — many environmentalists had anticipated it would become public next week, in time for Earth Day next Thursday — the definitive date shows the senators are coming close to finalizing their package. …

Kerry, Liebermann and Graham will not be introducing their bill. Instead, Harry Reid will take it straight to the Senate floor and bypass the committees.

In Liebermann’s own words: “If we introduce [the carbon tax bill], it’ll get referred to committees,” Lieberman said. “We want [Majority Leader Reid] to be able to work with it and bring it out onto the floor as a leader whenever he’s ready.”

Reid to ‘Backroom’ National Energy Tax Bill

HUMAN EVENTS, 04/14/2010 [here]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is set to take charge of new legislation aimed at imposing a national energy tax on all Americans, according to Greenwire, the news service for all things environment (article available on the Senate Republican Environment and Public Works “EPW” Press Blog here.)

Called “cap-and-trade” or “climate change” or “global warming” legislation, the new attempt to place a crippling national tax on America’s energy resources is being cobbled together by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). According to the new report, the trio will not formally introduce the bill in the Senate when it’s unveiled next week.

“If we introduce it, it’ll get referred to committees,” Lieberman said. “We want him to be able to work with it and bring it out onto the floor as a leader whenever he’s ready.”

This opens the doors for more Reid backroom deals on the bill instead of going through the normal committee process. …

Backroom deals will be cut, and the normal Committee processes will be circumvented. The same game plan, secret deals made behind closed doors and stifling of open debate, that was used to pass ObamaCare will be employed by the same power elite for Carbon Taxzilla.

And for what? Taxzilla will not have any effect on mythical global warming or dependence on foreign oil. It will merely jack up prices on everything and send the economy into a tailspin.

There is a big rush to get Taxzilla into law before outraged voters send every Democrat packing next November. By then, the scammers hope, severe and irreversible damage will be done to America.

QLG Update

An excellent news report written by Joshua Sebold of the Plumas County News follows this essay. He reports on the progress that has been made by the Plumas National Forest working in collaboration with the Quincy Library Group [here].

The Quincy Library Group is a grassroots effort initiated in 1992 in Quincy, California. A group of citizens were concerned over the demise of the timber industry and the concomitant build up of hazardous fuels in the National Forests surrounding their communities. Discussions held at the local library led to a series of proposals recommending improvements for management of the Lassen N.F., the Plumas N.F., and the Sierraville Ranger District of the Tahoe N.F.

The strong community involvement also led to the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act [here]. In October, 1998, the United States Senate approved the legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) and Representative Wally Herger (R-Chico).

The HFQLGFR Act directed National Forests in the QLG area to do 40 to 60 thousand acres per year of strategic fuel reduction in defensible fuelbreaks for five years and to implement group selection silviculture on an area-wide basis.

Numerous appeals and lawsuits followed. The usual suspects, eco-litigious pro-fire anti-logging groups, threw up roadblock after roadblock. The fuelbreaks and the thinnings were delayed. One outcome of the delays was the 2007 Moonlight Fire [here] that burned 65,000 acres and destroyed old-growth and spotted owl habitat.

See [here] for photos of the damages caused by wildfires in Plumas County and the Sierras.

But the Quincy Library Group forged ahead undeterred. In 2008 the HFQLGFR Act was extended to 2012 [here]. The fuelbreak construction has never met the 40 to 60 thousand acres per year target, exceeding 30,000 acres only once, in 2006 [here]. However, over 200,000 acres have been treated despite all the hurdles erected by eco-litigious groups.

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Yellow Journalist Lies Again

Noted extreme lefty journalist Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman yesterday accused Congressional Republicans of delaying a forestry bill:

Republican protest holds up Risch’s beetle bill

Submitted by Rocky Barker on Fri, 03/26/2010 [here]

Idaho Senator Jim Risch’s efforts to protect forests against the ravages of pine bark beetles hit a snag this week.

It wasn’t radical environmentalists who opposed the bill, co-sponsored by Colorado Democrat Mark Udall, because it would make some logging easier on national forests. No, the bill that would speed up thinning of beetle-threatened timber near communities to reduce the threat of wildfire was held up this week by Republicans.

It’s all about the health care bill and their anger that the Democrats passed it over their objections. In response Senate Republicans used a rule to stop hearings from occurring more than two hours after the start of the Senate’s daily session.

That stopped a hearing on Risch’s and Udall’s bill cold. That leaves logging contractors waiting to get into the woods across the West cold.

Hold on there, Rocket. It’s the Democraps who control Congress. How can a tiny of minority of Republicans stymie the majority party?

Didn’t we just witness the specter of one-party rule with the $trillion dollar grab of the health care industry? Even though every single Republican opposed Obamacare, it didn’t matter one iota to the jackbooted Democraps, who marched through Congress like Hitler’s Brownshirts at a beerhall putsch.

But now it’s Republican recalcitrance holding up a beetle thinning bill? Rocky, Rocky, Rocky. Everybody knows the Democraps don’t give one about forests. Your party is the Arsonist Party. Your party favors megafire destruction of forests.

Rocky Barker himself is the author of “Scorched Earth: How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America,” a (poorly written) book that extols the virtues of million-acre holocausts and prescribes wholesale forest destruction for the entire country. Rocky is famous for defending the incineration of Idaho in 2007. He spit on the 10 Oregon firefighters who died in in 2008, before their families even had a chance to bury their dead. Rocky wants to ban fire retardant so even more firefighters get killed.

Rocky Barker has never seen a forest he didn’t wish to burn to the ground for his own sick, twisted, homicidal pleasure.

Just to set the record straight, there are no “logging contractors waiting to get into the woods”, sitting in their pickups with the engines idling while they wait for Risch’s bill to pass. It isn’t going to pass. Not because the Republicans have stymied Congress, but because the Democraps control the Hill and Democraps are arsonistic forest-haters.

No pack of lies from an anti-forest, anti-forestry, pro-holocaust jerk like Rocky Barker is going to change that fact.

A Short History of the WFLC

Questions have arisen regarding my Open Letter to Open Letter to Ken Salazar Re WFLC [here]. By way of clarification, I have prepared the following.

Note: this essay refers to the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, not the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition, which shares the same initials but is an entirely different organization.

The Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) was established in April 2002 by the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to provide an intergovernmental committee to support the implementation and coordination of Federal Fire Management Policy. [here]

The Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) was established in April 2002 to implement and coordinate the National Fire Plan, the Ten-Year Strategy (a component of the National Fire Plan) and the Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy. WFLC consists of senior level department officials, federal, state, tribal and county representatives, including all five federal wildland firefighting agency heads. WFLC was established to address interagency, interdepartmental differences to ensure seamless delivery of a coordinated fire protection program. The Council brings together wildland firefighting organizations to implement the 10-Year Comprehensive Strategy and Implementation Plan. WFLC meets regularly to monitor progress of the Ten-Year Strategy, to discuss current issues, and to resolve differences among wildland firefighting agencies.

Authority. The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior are authorized to enter into cooperative agreements by the Protection Act of 1922 (42 Stat 857; 16 U.S.C. 594) and the Public Land Administration Act of 1960 (74 Stat 506; 43 U.S.C. 1361-1364).

In addition, the Secretaries entered into a Memorandum of Understanding dated January 28, 1943, and February 21, 1963, to provide adequate wildfire management and protection to the lands under their respective jurisdictions. State representation is authorized by the Clarke-McNary Act of June 7, 1924, Sec. 1 (43 Stat 653, 16 U.S.C. 564). [here]

In Fall of 2006 it came to my attention that lobbying groups, specifically the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Wilderness Society (TWS), were participating in WFLC meetings. I made an inquiry to the Committee Management Secretariat (CMS) of the GSA which oversees the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). They informed me that the incorporation of registered lobbyists on Federal Advisory Committees was a “gray area” of the law, and that I could file a lawsuit if I so desired.

I consulted with my attorney and he asked me how much money I had. That killed that idea.

In the meantime the WFLC received some sort of communication from the CMS regarding my inquiry, and in early 2007 they asked Federal attorneys to draw up a Memorandum of Understanding that would declare them NOT to be a Federal Advisory Group and to allow registered lobbyists to continue to participate. From the WFLC minutes of February 22, 2007 [here]:


* Request Secretaries to extend MOU
* Revise MOU language for NGO participation consistent with WFLC goals. WFLC should not become a Federal Advisory Committee. Consider addition of a fire chief’s representative as WFLC member, in a manner consistent with FACA. Confer with legal counsel. Draft business rules for review.
* Circulate draft, convene conference call to discuss. (WFLC Staff)
* New MOU at June meeting

TNC and other NGOs will assist with communication plan for wildland fire use as part of TYIP Goal 3, Task 2.

On April 3, 2007 I reported all this at SOS Forests [here]. As a direct result, on April 5, 2007 the WFLC removed the Feb. 22 minutes and their entire directory at, a URL that no longer exists.

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Open Letter to Ken Salazar Re WFLC

Letter in pdf format may be downloaded [here]

To: The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Re: Reconvening the Wildland Fire Leadership Council

Dear Secretary Salazar,

In a letter to western governors dated February 19, 2010, you indicated your desire to reconvene the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC). You also stated in that letter that you are committed working closely with “key stakeholders at all levels” to address wildfire issues.

Please be advised that the prior manifestation of the WFLC did not work with stakeholders but instead was a closed door, exclusionary, non-transparent Federal advisory group that violated various laws with impunity. The laws repeatedly violated by the WFLC include the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The WFLC excluded the public and the press from their meetings. They did however seat deep-pocket lobby groups including the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Society. Federal funds were passed to these lobby groups through the WFLC. The lobby groups also provide a “revolving door” of high-paying positions to former government employees formerly seated on the WFLC.

During closed door meetings in 2008 the WFLC directed the five Federal land management agencies under their purview to adopt Appropriate Management Response (AMR) and Wildland Fire Use (WFU). The agencies did so without implementing any NEPA process, without public comment or review, and in violation of the laws listed above.

As a result, numerous wildfires were allowed to burn without aggressive suppression actions. Tremendous destruction and degradation of natural resource values occurred. Some examples:

* South Barker WFU Fire (2008, Sawtooth NF, 38,583 acres) – The South Barker WFU Fire escaped and burned 38,583 acres. The fire eventually cost over $7 million to suppress. It incinerated miles of riparian zones, stripped erodable hillsides of vegetation, and destroyed forest plantations that had been carefully tended for 50 years.

* Gunbarrel WFU Fire (2008, Shoshone NF, 67,141 acres ) – The Gunbarrel WFU Fire was allowed to burn until it blew up. The fire eventually cost over $11 million to suppress. An estimated 420 residences, 11 commercial buildings, and 149 outbuildings were threatened and 7 buildings destroyed. The highway leading to Yellowstone Park was closed, and numerous residents were evacuated. During the fire USFS officials proudly declared that the MMA (Maximum Manageable Area, or desired incineration zone) was 417,000 acres (652 sq miles) and included public and private properties north and south of Highway 14.

* East Slide Rock Ridge WFU Fire (2008, Humboldt-Toiyabe NF, 54,549 acres) – The ESRR WFU Fire was allowed to burn unchecked until it blew up and threatened the community of Murphy Hot Springs, ID, as well as numerous rural ranches and farms. The fire eventually cost over $9 million to suppress. Riparian zones adjacent to stream habitat for endangered bull trout were incinerated.

* Mill Flat WFU Fire (2009, Dixie NF, 12,607 acres) – The Mill Flat WFU Fire was monitored until it blew up. The fire roared into New Harmony, Utah, forced the evacuation of 170 New Harmony residents, destroyed three homes and damaged eight buildings. The fire eventually cost over $6.5 million to suppress.

* Iron Complex AMR Fire (2008) – Including this fire, 650,000 acres were incinerated in Northern California on the Shasta-Trinity, Six Rivers, and Klamath National Forests. The fires were allowed to burn vast tracts for three months in implementation of “Appropriate Management Response.” Building firelines miles away from the fires and backburning hundreds of thousands of acres of private and public land alike, including habitat for two endangered species, Salmon and Spotted Owl, were deemed “appropriate.” Despite the indirect firefighting techniques, ostensibly intended to save money and protect firefighters, over $400 million was spent on suppression and 12 firefighters were killed.

* Basin/Indians AMR Fire (2008) – 244,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest and private lands were incinerated in 3rd largest fire in California history. Despite indirect AMR methods, more than $120,000,000 was spent on fire suppression, making the Basin/Indians AMR Fire the most expensive fire in California history, and the 2nd most expensive in U.S. history (the Biscuit Fire in Oregon in 2002 cost $150,000,000). In addition, 26 private residences were destroyed.

Numerous other disastrous AMR and WFU fires could be cited. The suppression costs noted above do not begin to account for the cost-plus-loss damages inflicted, which were 10 to 30 times the nominal suppression expenses. Nor do they express the tragic loss of human life.

Both Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and US Forest Service Chief Tidwell have recognized (in public speeches) that an increasing number of catastrophic wildfires are plaguing the Nation, and that a collaborative management approach to restoration and conservation are needed.

The secretive and non-collaborative WFLC has been the cause, not a source of solutions, of our ongoing forest fire crisis.

The Obama Administration has promised transparency, accountability, and tougher restrictions on lobbyists. In his 2009 State of the Union address, President Obama said, “Let me say it as simply as I can – transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

The WFLC in its prior manifestation violated transparency and the rule of law with disastrous consequences.

Please be advised that if you reconvene the WFLC under the previous format and model, you will be doing a great disservice to America.


Mike Dubrasich
Executive Director, the Western Institute for Study of the Environment

cc: Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack
Chief of the US Forest Service Tom Tidwell
Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey
National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis
Governor Brian Schweitzer, Chairman, Western Governors Assoc.
Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter, Vice Chairman, Western Governors Assoc.
Ann M. Walker, Forest & Rangeland Health Program Director - WGA
NM State Forester Arthur Blazer, Chair, Western Forestry Leadership Coalition
AK State Forester Chris Maisch, Chair-Elect, Western Forestry Leadership Coalition
Congressman Doc Hastings (WA-04)
Congressman Greg Walden (OR-02)
Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (WY)
Congressman Wally Herger (CA-02)
Congressman Denny Rehberg (MT)
Congressman Norm Dicks (WA-06)
Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, (AZ-07)
Congressman Peter A. DeFazio, (OR-04)
Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, (SD)
Senator Ron Wyden (OR)
Senator Maria Cantwell (WA)
Senator John Barrasso (WY)
Senator James E. Risch (ID)
Senator Robert Bennett (UT)

The Grandeur of the WFU

by bear bait

The legal situation in the US concerning WFU fire and the Feds is this: they don’t have any financial responsibility for the fire when it leaves Federal Land, unless they are in an agreement with the other public and private land firefighting entities to assist in a cooperative agreement.

On the other hand, the US Attorney General has three teams of US Attorneys, one in Sacramento, one in LA, and one in SLC, whose sole job is to litigate and secure damages when fire from other than Federal origins damage the Federal Estate. They can sue you for your fire and its damages to Federal land and assets, but you can’t sue them if their fire crosses onto your property and damages your land and assets. In two cases [here] that have gone to trial, Pacific Gas and Electric paid $14.75 million due to a right-of-way ponderosa pine that fell across power lines, starting a fire during a wind event. The issue was that PGE was negligent in not removing a tree that was damaged or rotten. I do imagine that a phalanx of utility attorneys have given instructions to lay waste to any possible vegetation that might fall across a power line.

The other case involved the Union Pacific RR, and the judgment against them was for $102 million, due to a broken rail repair fix that resulted in sparks into duff in the right-of-way and the confusion of who did what to suppress the fire and how. You have to know that five barely literate railgang crewmen are not the best witnesses, and they were led into various traps by the Ivy League US Attorney swells, who used their language skills and reasoning skills to baffle, confuse, and demean the blue collar workers. Poofs from law school dazzling a judge. Whoopee. It was established that the fire fighting effort was not that of Hot Shots, and therefore the Railroad was liable. So they ended up paying 102 million bucks for damage to trees that would never be logged, ever, due to specific area protections, but the trespass by fire garnered double stumpage. And then there were estimates of wildlife damage, and habitat damage, and watershed damage (in the Feather River, a river that sends zero water to the ocean, all of it claimed for irrigation and potable water use, and dammed to keep salmon out of it almost in the river’s entirety), and the best one of all “loss of the grandeur of the landscape.”

So if “loss of the grandeur of the landscape” is a compensable damage, where in the hell is it in the WFU, “fire for resource use” handbooks? Where is the NEPA document that so states that wildland fire can result in “loss of grandeur of the landscape?”

I would like the ODF to mention to the Feds that they have the right as a State to petition the Feds to control their freaking fires, and keep them off the non-Federal lands, as we are losing the “grandeur of our landscape” along with other compensable damages as are now recognized in Federal case law by precedent of trial results and judicial opinions.

The tyranny of the Federal Court is upon us, and the irresponsible actions of Federal land managers need to be addressed. If the US Military is not permitted to wage war on its own people, how is it that the Federal land managers can loose fire on the private estate without penalty or Congressional oversight???

The flaming liberals that Oregon elects to Congress need to answer these questions on the campaign trail, and since all but two have been there for a decade or longer, it isn’t like this is something new. This is something blue, and the blue state reps and senators need to go to the firelines and have their feet held to the very same fires.

When Tom Brokaw was still a news anchor, and I believe it was the Derby Fire that threatened his Montana ranch and hideaway, there was no end to the resources the Feds put forth to make damned sure his ranch was not consumed as were so many others. The Derby was a WFU that blew up, and was in “dangerous” terrain (are they not all?), and it was not worth the risk or time and effort to contain in the wilderness, so there was little effort until it was a full fledged fire front. But no public complaints were ever aired on the evening news because the effort to contain it was right where it was supposed to be: at the doorstep of the leading US news anchor.

It is not a world of equality. Never was, never will be. But at the least we can implore the ODF Board to flex some muscle and talk tough to the USFS about the WFU deal, and the impacts on Oregon private resources, for after all, fire protection is paid for by a property tax assessment in most cases. If you don’t have a protection agreement with the state, your fire does not get fought. By ODF or the Feds.

The other question should be, of course, is why does a private person have to insure or pay to protect himself from fire from the Federal estate? Aid to Haiti? Sure. Aid to Iraq? Sure. Aid to New Orleans? Sure. But have the conflagration from the Feds run over your land, where is the aid? Ha ha ha ha……

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