Choking Smoke from LA Fires Denied By Enviro Wackos

W.I.S.E. announced the web publication of Dr. Thomas M. Bonnicksen’s Impacts of California Wildfires on Climate and Forests: A Study of Seven Years of Wildfires (2001-2007), FCEM Report No. 3 last month [here].

The Executive Summary and link to the full text are now posted at the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: Forest and Fire Sciences [here]. The Forest Carbon And Emissions Model Reports No. 1 and 2 are [here].

Last week the SoCal media reported on FCEM Report No. 3:

Study: Greenhouse gases from wildfires damaging

By BEN GOAD, Riverside Press-Enterprise, September 3, 2023 [here]

Wildfires raging across California have belched out hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases since the beginning of the century, significantly adding to the problem of global warming, a new study has concluded.

State and federal officials have speculated for years that increasingly long and severe fire seasons can be partly attributed to the effects of climate change.

But the study, released by forest expert and author Thomas Bonnicksen, is novel in that it suggests the trend isn’t a product of global warming — it’s causing it. The assertions have met with a mixture of interest and skepticism.

Between 2001 and 2007, fires in California torched about 4 million acres and spewed 277 million tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, Bonnicksen found.

That’s the equivalent of running all of California’s 14 million cars for about 3 1/2 years, according to the study.

“If we really are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the first place to look is to reduce the severity and extent of wildfires,” Bonnicksen said Thursday. “We could make a greater impact in the short run than we could ever make by converting to hybrid vehicles.”

Much of the carbon dioxide emitted during fires is later absorbed back into the vegetation as it grows back. But Bonnicksen contends that fires destroy more than 100,000 acres of forest in California every year, leaving less vegetation to absorb the growing amounts of pollutants.

Bonnicksen’s calculations, he said, don’t involve any new science, but rather reflect a combination of previously published and accepted formulas relating to the density and types of vegetation in forests, the amount of carbon they store and the wildfires that have torn through the state in recent years.

He proposes a far more aggressive federal policy of thinning the nation’s forests, and harvesting the wood for a wide variety of products. He also favors more replanting programs after fires, since dead, decaying trees also emit greenhouse gases long after the smoke has cleared.

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Diversifying Forest Continuity

Here’s another Orwellian newspeak gem courtesy the YP Times:

BNF Fire News:

BOISE NATIONAL FOREST

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 4, 2023

Information Contact David Olson 208-373-4105 (office) 208-861-0768 (cell)

Resource Benefit Fire Evaluations Lead to Varied Options

Boise, ID – Since the strong lightning storms last weekend, Boise National Forest fire lookouts have reported nearly 60 new fire starts. Five were evaluated for resource benefits, with the remainder being suppressed, or not immediately located.

The Abby Fire was the only fire chosen to be managed for resource benefits, and it is located in the Idaho City Ranger District near Crooked River. It is near the edge of the old 1994 Rabbit Creek Fire at an elevation of 6,500 feet.

“Our objective with natural ignited fires in designated forest areas is to evaluate them for the benefits we hope to achieve, which in this case is to diversify forest continuity, modify heavy fuel conditions, and provide different wildlife habitats,” said Cecilia Seesholtz, Boise Forest Supervisor. “About 23 percent of the Forest is approved for resource benefit fire management, and with each new lightning caused wildfire we evaluate social, economic and resource factors.” …

Resource benefit fires were approved for about 23 percent of the Boise National Forest through the Forest Plan and a subsequent Fire Management Plan. The approved area lies primarily on the east boundary of the Forest, and adjoins the Frank Church River of No Return and Sawtooth Wildernesses.

Diversify forest continuity? That’s a new one.

In other words, the “resource benefit” of Let It Burn is to inflict giant fire scars across the landscape and convert old-growth forest to tick brush. Hysterical acornists used to decry that kind of thing as “forest fragmentation”, but that was last week. This week it’s a benefit to “diversify forest continuity”.

In 2007 the Boise and Payette National Forests diversified their forest continuity to the tune of 1,250 square miles of holocaust-induced moonscape wasteland. Then the denuded hillsides slid into the creeks and rivers, diversifying the aquatic habitat with mud.

Fortunately, before all that happened the Boise NF diversified their LRMP (Land and Resource Management Plan) with no public notice, no public hearings, and no NEPA process. It was a drive-by diversification, done in secret by government acornists.

Drive-by, seat-of-the-pants, spur-of-the-moment social, economic and resource factor evaluation is the name of the game at the Boise NF these days. Lightning strikes, and then their crack team of resource evaluators evaluate the diversity of Burn Baby Burn within minutes. They know from diverse experience just which fires to Let Burn and which ones to put out. They have been so successful at fire behavior prediction in the past. Just look at their handiwork.

More lovely photos of diversified forest continuity on the Boise NF are [here]

Note that it’s not just the Wilderness slated for forest continuity diversification; it’s a quarter of the entire Boise NF, including “approved” areas that “adjoin” the Wilderness. Of the 2.6 million acres on the Boise NF, 600,000 acres are to be diversified with catastrophic holocaust, according to the approved plan.

Just who pre-approved that mega-disaster is not clear, but it wasn’t the public, who were shut out of the process, no doubt in the name of diversity.

Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart,
You’re shaking my confidence daily.
Oh Cecilia, I’m down on my knees,
I’m begging you please to come home.

21 Aug 2009, 12:34am
2007 Fire Season
by admin
1 comment

Ned Pence on the Cascade Complex Fires of 2007

Note: the following essay and photographs are by Ned Pence, USFS (ret). Mr. Pence was a District Ranger on three different National Forests, including the Krassel District of the Payette NF. He is co-author (with his brother, Carl) of Lost in the Forest: A Story About the Forest Service “Four Decades of Change”. The photos in this essay have also been posted at SOSF Photo Page 1: Boise and Payette Post-2007 fires [here] where other photos by Ned Pence may be found. Some other posts about the Payette fires of 2007 may be found [here, here, here, here, here, here, here].

The Cascade Complex Fires of 2007

by Ned Pence

Below are some pictures I took on my recent trip to Yellow Pine, Idaho. It is difficult to write about the fires because, as it can be pointed out, I was not there in 2007. However, I have talked to Joe Harper the Krassel District DFR, and folks at Yellow Pine and the Zena Creek Ranch.

Harper states that the Cascade Complex was the result of a fire start in Zena Creek, another fire that started near Loon Lake on the Secesh River, and fires on the Boise NF that burned onto the Payette NF. All the fires burned together to make the Cascade Complex that burned from the headwaters of the South Fork of the Salmon River to the confluence at Mackay Bar. The fires stared in early July 2007 from a lightning bust and burned the rest of the summer. The area is of special interest to me because I was Krassel DFR from 1971 to 1976.

The Zena Creek Fire is interesting. The pictures of the East Zena Creek fire pattern show that the fire burned intensely in strips with other areas burned only as a light ground fire until it reached the unlogged upper part where it burned as a crown fire, spreading onto the old Circle End Fire (that burned in 1949 and again burned in 1992) where it found enough ground fuel to build up a head of steam. The fire then jumped the SFSR and burned with intensity along the East Fork of the SFSR, then jumped the East Fork and South Fork and burned south, eventually joining the Boise NF fires.

East Zena Creek in 2009 (click for larger image)

Folks at Yellow Pine pointed out that fire intensity was also a result of back fires set to protect Yellow Pine in the point protection strategy. I include one picture of an intense fire area in lower West Zena Creek. I believe this fire resulted from a back fire to protect the Zena Creek Ranch. Much of the West Zena Creek area burned only as a light ground fire, but beetles subsequently killed many trees that survived the fire.

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Emergency Declared in Forest Recovery

The following article appeared in the Plumas News today. It has some lack of clarity, and some details are missing, so I will insert those I deem important:

U.S. Forest Service declares emergency for Moonlight, Wheeler fires restoration

by Traci Bue, Plumas County News, July 30, 2009  [here]

The Chief of the U.S. Forest Service has declared an “emergency situation” in the Moonlight and Wheeler Fires restoration project area, which calls for the immediate implementation of the recovery and restoration project.

Tom Tidwell replaced Gail Kimbell as Chief in June. This is Tidwell’s call.

The Moonlight Fire  burned 65,714 acres (47,174 acres of public lands and 18,540 of private lands) in September 2007, mainly in the Plumas National Forest. Private forest landowners have removed dead trees and planting seedlings, but USFS has not, as yet.

Some concurrent and post-fire photos of the Moonlight Fire are [here]. The USFS Rapid Assessment of Vegetation Condition after Wildfire (RAVG) stats are [here]. An excellent report, Fire Behavior and Effects in Fuel Treatments and Protected Habitat on the Moonlight Fire by Scott Dailey, JoAnn Fites, Alicia Reiner, and Sylvia Mori is [here, 3.03 MB].

The Wheeler Fire made up the bulk of the Antelope Fire Complex which burned 23,420 acres, also in 2007. Another excellent report, Fire Behavior and Effects Relating to Suppression, Fuel Treatments, and Protected Areas on the Antelope Complex Wheeler Fire by Jo Ann Fites, Mike Campbell, Alicia Reiner, and Todd Decker is [here, 4.98 MB]. (Note: many thanks to Linda Blum of the Quincy Library Group for sending us these reports).

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Return Fire

A 5-part essay by Mike Dubrasich

No Forest Worries, Mate, Says the JSFP

The Joint Fire Science Program (JSFP) is a government bureaucracy dedicated to wildfire [here]. Fire is the be-all and end-all of their existence.

Now, I’m not saying that the JSFP is made up of bug-eyed arsonists, but fire is their bread and butter, the source and inspiration of their funding, their primary focus, and their conceit.

Forests are not their focus, although wildfires often burn forests. Fire is the consuming concern of the JSFP; forests are merely the backdrop — in their eyes piles of fuels ready to burn –- and in some ways justification for the existence of the JSFP and buttering their bread.

Because forests sometimes erupt into forest fires, which enflame the passion and conceit of the JSFP, and because the JSFP styles itself as a scientific institution, they occasionally foray into forest science. Sadly, those forays betray a profound ignorance of the subject. The JSFP knows next to nothing about forests, and indeed, next to nothing about why and how forests burn.

That ignorance is on display their web publication, Fire Science Brief, Issue 49, May 2009 [here]. In that issue the JSFP resurrects a two-year-old paper and badly fumbles the context and the findings.

The resurrected paper discussed in Fire Science Brief is from an actual forest science study, (Shatford J., D.E. Hibbs and K Puettmann. 2007. Conifer Regeneration Following Forest Fire in the Klamath-Siskiyous: How much, how soon? Journal of Forestry 105:139-146), but the JSFP discussion does not reprint the report. Instead, they misinterpret it out of context.

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10 Jul 2009, 9:34pm
2007 Fire Season
by admin
2 comments

Lasting Bitterness Over the Poe Cabin Fire

In 2007 the Poe Cabin Fire burned 59,686 acres in Western Idaho, mostly on the Nez Perce National Forest. Both forest and grazing land burned, including grazing allotments.

Map courtesy USFS Rapid Assessment of Vegetation Condition after Wildfire (RAVG) [here].

The Capital Press reported on the immediate aftermath in August of 2007:

Poe Cabin: The postmortem begins

Rancher questions Poe Cabin fire management

Patricia R. McCoy, Capital Press, 8/31/2007 [here]

LUCILE, Idaho - Heartbreak is too weak to describe it.

There’s nothing to see for miles but blackened trees, shrubs, and acres of ashes.

Someone brave enough to walk or ride back into the wrecked landscape away from the road can find dead or dying cattle and wildlife - their hooves and feet so badly burned there’s no hope of healing. The most merciful thing to do is shoot them.

Rancher Melvin Gill, his daughter Shelley and her husband, Garrett Neal, put eight calves out of their misery by Aug. 20. They know they must look for more, but it’s dangerous. They must constantly be watching over their heads as well as under their feet. Burned, dying tree trunks and branches can snap off at any moment, crashing down on whoever is underneath.

The old-time loggers called such falling snags widow makers, with good reason.

Plenty of animals are already dead, Gill and Neal said. They’re easy to find on the Cow Creek Allotment leased by the Gill family. Crows and other carrion eaters are readily spotted. They’re feasting in the wake of the Poe Cabin fire in the Seven Devils Mountains, on lands managed mainly by the U.S. Forest Service as the Wallowa-Whitman and Nez Perce National Forest, and the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Loss goes beyond individual animals or numbers. There’s the ranch breeding program, bloodlines built up and improved over the years, and the future calves those heifers will never produce, the rancher said.

It’s the third time in 11 years Gill has been burned out. This time he seriously wonders if his operation can recover. The Neal’s love the lifestyle and hope to one day run the ranch themselves. They’re uncertain of their future. …

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25 May 2009, 11:47pm
2007 Fire Season
by admin
4 comments

Blackened Idaho

By Joe B.

An ecological disaster on a grand scale in 2007 was largely ignored by the outside world. Because we live near the forest, it’s our fault, or so they said.

Summer before last Central Idaho burned to the tune of 800,000 acres, mostly along the South Fork of the Salmon River and its tributaries. These photos capture only some of the destruction and only one emotion of the many that have been and are still being evoked.

Grown men and women have been brought to tears when they first saw what happened to their beloved forests. These aren’t the environmentalists, no sir, the environmentalists have largely applauded this destruction. The people who have shed tears are people who lost homes, lost memories, and lost landscapes. We lost our backyard. We lost our forests — forests we grew up in, forests we cared deeply about.

I thought long and hard about this. Mike at W.I.S.E. asked for photos from the fires in Central Idaho last year on his website. I sent him over 70 shots, many of which he posted [on the SOSF Photo Page 1: Boise and Payette Post-2007 fires, here].

Here are some more.

Between Warren and Secesh

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17 Mar 2009, 6:41pm
2007 Fire Season Federal forest policy
by admin
4 comments

Yellow Pine Road Workshop Planned

In 2007 the US Forest Service burned 800,000 acres (1,250 square miles) of the Payette, Boise, and Nez Perce National Forests in Central Idaho [here]. The fires were directly atop the Idaho Batholith [here], composed of highly erodable granitic soils.

During the following winter massive erosion, landslides, and mudflows clogged the creeks and washed out numerous roads [here, here] (much to the delight of anti-everything pseudo-environmental groups, such as the Wilderness Society [here]).

In November of 2007 Payette Supervisor Suzanne Rainville thanked the residents of Burgdorf, Secesh, Warren, Yellow Pine, Copenhaver, Mackey Bar, Badley Ranch, Big Creek, Indian Valley, and Weiser for their “positive feedback” [here]. She promised to “work on fire restrictions to improve their effectiveness and intention without causing adverse impacts to land owners, business owners and recreating public.”

Then a year later (October 2008), after the mudslides, Rainville decided to shut the roads to Yellow Pine permanently. Evidently she did not see any “adverse impact” to cutting off the town.

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‘Appropriate Management Response’ Tantamount to Arson

The Ukonom Complex Fires were ignited by lightning June 21, 2008. Initial attack was slow and meager. Four days later, when the fires totaled 750 acres, the Six Rivers National Forest invoked “Appropriate Management Response” and drew (on maps) a fire perimeter that encompassed 40,000 acres. They began to build fire breaks on that line and backburn towards the fire, then miles away.

Eventually the Ukonom Complex [here] burned over 80,000 acres and cost over $40 million in “suppression.”

The exact numbers are unknown because the Ukonom Complex was bureaucratically merged with the Panther Fire on the Klamath NF [here]. The Panther Fire was ignited a month later (by lightning) and eventually grew to 75,000 acres. Both fires were merged into the Siskiyou Complex and then into the Klamath Fire Theater [here]. The numbers became impossible to extract from the accounting jumble, but something like 200,000 acres burned at a cost of over $160 million.

Appropriate Management Response was applied to fire starts on the Shasta-Trinity NF, too. The final result: 208,460 acres burned at a “suppression” cost of $158.9 million.

All told, on those three NF’s (Klamath, Six Rivers, Shasta-Trinity) something like 650,000 acres (1,000 square miles) burned at a “suppression” cost of over $400 million. The fires burned for three months, choking Northern California airsheds, causing extensive public health problems, ruining agricultural crops, all but eliminating an entire season of recreation, and inflicting (conservatively) $10 billion in collateral economic damage. Major traditional heritage sites were incinerated, and an unknown but significant number of spotted owl nesting stands and salmon spawning beds were destroyed.

Twelve firefighters lost their lives, in machine accidents — not burnovers.

Appropriate Management Response broke the USFS fire budget, too.

Large amounts of private land were burned, too, in backburns set by USFS fire crews. Fires that could have been contained miles away were allowed to burn to the city limits of Junction City, Hayfork, and other NorCal towns.

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Hundred Thousand Dollar Jobs

The US Forest Service has announced that the first round of Stimulus projects have been selected. The USFS received $1.15 billion from the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Of that, $98 million (12 percent) is to be spent in this first round.

Region 5 (the Pacific Southwest Region in California) will be spending $7.75 million. They foresee creating 70 jobs with that money, jobs that will last one year. That’s $110,714 per job. The jobs entail maintenance and construction on facilities, roads, and trails.

The USFS Region 5 News Release [here]:

NEWS RELEASE: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region

Forest Service Contributes To National Economic Recovery

VALLEJO, Calif., Mar. 5, 2009 — U.S. Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell announced today the Agency’s plan to participate in the nation’s economic recovery program. The Forest Service has received $1.15 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The first group of Forest Service projects nationwide created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, totaling $98 million, have been selected. These initial projects will create 1,500 jobs, giving the Agency the early opportunity to put people to work. The remaining projects, totaling $1.052 billion, will be announced shortly and will create an additional 23,500 jobs nationwide.

First round projects on lands managed by the Forest Service in California will include maintenance and construction on facilities, roads and trails totaling 70 jobs and $7.75 million. The jobs are estimated to last from four months up to a year. These projects will benefit 11 counties.

“I am proud that the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region will be playing an important role in creating private sector jobs for Californians on their national forests,” said Regional Forester Randy Moore. “With the construction industry being one of the hardest hit, these projects will be right on point. In addition we have the opportunity to provide jobs to counties with high unemployment up to as much as a year.”

Under the language of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Forest Service will create as many jobs as possible to support communities and to get money flowing through the economy again. All funds will be spent on specific targeted projects that are, or soon will be, ready to go.

“The Forest Service anticipates playing a key role in our nation’s economic recovery,” said Chief Kimbell. “We are grateful for the confidence Congress has shown us and look forward to demonstrating how the Forest Service can create good jobs during difficult times,” Kimbell added.

Many of the most affected communities of the economic downturn are located near national forests. Rural jobs will be created in areas needing restoration work with shovel ready projects related to fire prevention, roads, bridges, buildings and recreation facilities.

More detailed information about new Forest Service projects and jobs in California will be forthcoming.

Information on the overall U.S. Forest Service role in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act can be found at: http://fs.usda.gov/recovery. Information on the total federal effort can be found at http://www.recovery.gov.

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Quincy Sawmill To Close

Monday Sierra Pacific Industries announced the closure of its Quincy, CA, small-log sawmill. The company is unable to obtain enough timber to keep the mill running.

From the NY Times [here]

Logger withdraws from Calif. fire reduction effort

By Jessica Leber, ClimateWire, March 5, 2023

Environmental lawsuits have long made it difficult for Sierra Pacific Industries, the second-largest lumber producer in the United States, to obtain local timber for its small-log sawmill in the tiny Northern California town of Quincy.

This week, the flagging economy hit the final nail into the mill’s coffin: The company announced on Monday that it will close the plant in May.

The mill was conceived to use small-diameter logs from programs that thin trees on national forest lands for the purpose of reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

But due to a long series of administrative appeals and lawsuits from environmental groups that object to any commercial logging in national forests, the Forest Service has only achieved 20 percent of its overall sales targets, said Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI).

Nearly two-thirds of this year’s timber sale program is being held up by pending litigation, the company said. The result is that SPI has had to haul logs from farther away to run the mill and make up for the difference.

“Today’s lumber prices are not sufficient to cover these increased costs,” said the company in a statement. “To make things worse, environmental litigation has not only reduced the mill’s raw material supply, but also increased the risk of wildfires in the area.”

Small trees — a big problem in the area’s large forest fires — can’t be cut

Linda Blum of the Quincy Library Group, a group formed in an effort to reach a compromise between environmentalists and loggers to restore the health of the region’s forests, said the closure is symbolic of the difficulties in managing forest land to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires and benefit the community at the same time (ClimateWire, Sept. 18, 2008).

In 1998, five years after the group was founded, Congress passed the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act, which promoted tree thinning on national forest land to reduce the threat of wildfires while providing raw material for local timber companies. Sierra Pacific Industries began building the mill in Quincy even before the act was officially passed. …

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Congressman Greg Walden On Forest Health

Greg Walden represents Oregon’s 2nd District in the U.S. House. He is the author and principal sponsor of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (2003).

He has spoken in favor of fuels management, forest thinning, and the protection of forests from catastrophic fire numerous times on the House floor. The following YouTube videos of a speech he gave are somewhat dated (October 17, 2023) but the message is still critically important.

Walden discusses forest priorities on the floor - PART 1 [here]

Walden discusses forest priorities on the floor - PART 2 [here]

He also spoke in support of  the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act of 2008 [here]. The FLAME Act was passed by the House but died in the Senate.

Congressman Walden on the FLAME Act (July 09, 2023) [here]

All 35 Walden YouTube videos [here]

Audio From a MT Legislative Hearing Dealing with the Fed Fire Hazard

As reported [here], the Montana State Senate passed Senate Bill 34, extending the authority of counties to reduce fire hazards on USFS lands, by a vote of 42 to 7 in January. SB 34 is one of several bills developed by Montana Interim Fire Committee last summer.

A subsequent hearing on SB 34 was held in the House Local Government Committee on February 3rd. An audio recording of that hearing is [here]. The streaming audio comes in a .rm file. That’s an outdated file type that plays in Real Media. If you don’t have that software, or have trouble paying the .rm file, you might try downloading Real Alternative v1.9.0 from Afterdawn.com [here].

The discussion on SB 34 begins about 29 minutes into the audio file and runs through 01.44.00.000. It is very much worth listening to.

In his opening remarks, sponsor Sen. Dave Lewis, Dist 42, explained that the six counties he represents contain tens of thousands of acres of bug-killed timber on Federal lands, presenting an enormous fire hazard. The potential exists for 1910-style catastrophic fires due to the enormous fuel loadings. People who live near to Fed lands are at significant risk.

SB 34 would allow counties to enter on those Federal lands to reduce the fuel hazards (the text of SB 34 is [here]). The question arises: does the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution preclude citizens from defending their properties from catastrophic fire? Does the right to self-defense and public safety extend to controlling and removing dangerously excessive, unnatural, and a-historical fire hazards on Federal grounds?

Richard Van Auken, Teton Co. Fire Chief, testified that in 2007 186,000 acres were incinerated in Teton County along the Rocky Mountain Front. Communities are at risk. County Commissions need a tool to address the hazards.

A number of other individuals testified in support of the bill. One individual testified against it. That person represents an envio-litigious group that frequently sues the USFS to halt healthy forest fuels management. Tom Tidwell, Regional Forester for the Northern Region, spoke as an informational witness (neither for nor against the bill).

An article about the hearing was published in the Great Falls Tribune [here].  That article fails to give a fair and balanced review of the testimonies heard.

Rather than attempt to describe every salient remark, I recommend you listen to the audio recording. It is very revealing.

The USFS is not prepared to deal with the enormous fuels problems in Montana. They claim they are treating fuels, but during the question and answer period it came out that the USFS counts wildfire acres as “treated” acres.

The USFS has been hamstrung by litigation and has resorted to “collaborative” planning with the litigious enviro groups. The process has dragged on and the USFS has consequently failed to layout mechanical forest restoration treatments over broad landscapes. Only a few acres are ready to be treated, and so the new Stimulus funding will be not be used for (very much) fuels management.

Not revealed in the hearing is that the USFS has dedicated 4 million acres in Montana and Idaho to Let It Burn [here, here, here].

Whether the Montana Legislature can spur the desperately needed hazard abatement or not remains to be seen. At least they have recognized the problem and are making an attempt.

W.I.S.E. to Forsgren: Time for Public Dialog About USFS Fire Policies

Dear Mr. Forsgren,

Thank you for your email of Feb 5th. I have posted it in its entirety at SOS Forests [here].

Your email was in response to Mr. Glenn Bradley’s email of Feb. 3rd, posted [here]. Mr. Bradley is a retired USFS Forest Supervisor, as you know, and his concerns regarding the South Barker WFU Fire have been posted numerously at SOS Forests. Mr. Carl Pence, another retired USFS Forest Supervisor, has also weighed in on this topic, posted [here].

The Fires

Over the last three years SOS Forests has posted many, many essays and discussions about WFU (Wildland Fire Use). We have explored WFU fires that have blown up and caused extensive damage to heritage forests. These include:

• The Warm WFU Fire in 2006 [here, here, among many other posts]. The Warm WFU blew up to 58,640 acres and caused over $70 million in damages to old-growth spotted owl habitat on the Kaibab NF. Ancient home sites, soils, air, and watershed values were incinerated or severely damaged, along with rare old-growth ponderosa pine. The Warm Fire was designated and managed as a WFU in a prohibited zone in direct defiance of a legally binding Decision Notice issued by a federal judge and acknowledged in the Forest Plan EIS. In the aftermath the District Ranger was reassigned, and at angry public meetings USFS officials, including the Regional Forester, were excoriated, as I am sure you recall.

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Senate Pushes Massive Forest Holocaust Act

In the very first act of the 2009 Congress the US Senate pushed through a catastrophic incineration bill that guarantees megafire holocausts across Oregon the West.

While the national economy collapses, the US Senate fiddled and earmarked 200,000 acres in Oregon and 2 million acres in eight other states for wholesale destruction by raging wildfire. It is important to note that those fires will not stop at the newly designated holocaust boundaries, either.

The Oregonian reported today [here]

WASHINGTON — Crashing through a barrier that blocked popular wilderness bills for more than a year, the Senate on Sunday voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation that would permanently protect more than 200,000 acres of threatened “natural treasures” near Mount Hood and other Oregon locations, as well as 2 million acres in eight other states.

The 66-12 vote on a rare weekend session cleared the way for final passage later this week of a sprawling public lands bill that extends formal wilderness status and protection to federal land across a wide swath of the country in addition to expanding national parks.

Though many senators grumbled about a Sunday session, the vote was a happy milestone for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has been pushing the Oregon elements for more than a year only to be blocked by objections from a single Republican lawmaker.

With Sunday’s vote, those objections have been overcome and the path to additional protection for land and streams in Oregon has largely been cleared.

Protection? Guaranteed destruction is more like it. Last summer alone catastrophic fires incinerated old-growth forests, habitat, and heritage in the Boulder Creek Wilderness, Sky Lakes Wilderness, South Sierra Wilderness, Jarbidge Wilderness, and Ventana Wilderness. The damages beyond the Wilderness boundaries from smoke, fire, and watershed destruction were severe and will be long-lasting.

Other designated wilderness areas subject to catastrophic fires since designation include Alpine Lakes, Bandelier, Black Canyon, Bob Marshall, Bull of the Woods, Frank Church-River of No Return, Golden Trout, Gospel Hump, Hells Canyon, Lake Chelan-Sawtooth, Manzano Mountain, Marble Mountains, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Okefenokee, Rogue Umpqua Divide, Saddle Mountain, Selway-Bitterroot, Siskiyou, Tatoosh, Yolla-Bolly, San Rafael, Dick Smith, Three Sisters, Kalmiopsis, Matilija, and many others.

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