14 Jun 2009, 1:10pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

Ninth Court Rules Against Wackos, Approves Thinning in Kootenai NF

Note: Sorry for the delay in posting this. We have been too busy this Spring but are trying to catch up.

On April 17 the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling (by Donald W. Molloy, US District Judge for the Montana District) that allowed the Kootenai National Forest to proceed with nine planned forest health thinnings.

The thinning projects were challenged by the WildWest Institute and The Ecology Center. The plaintiffs made a number of specious and defective claims that were summarily rejected by a three-judge panel made up of justices Thomas M. Reavley,Richard C. Tallman and Milan D. Smith, Jr. The decision is [here].

The Bristow Area Restoration Project, Fortine Project, West Troy Project, Pipestone Timber Sale and Restoration Project, Lower Big Creek Project, South McSwede Timber Sale and Restoration Project, Alder Creek Project, Cow Creek Project, and McSutten Project may now proceed.

Raul Grijalva Is Clueless

We have been discussing employee job dissatisfaction in the US Forest Service for the last two posts. Now Congress has chimed in, with predictable stupidity.

The Washington Post reports today that the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a hearing regarding USFS employee morale. The comments made by Congressoafs, especially those by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Tucson), are so outlandish as to deserve special attention.

Struggling to Boost Forest Service Morale

By Joe Davidson, The Washington Post, June 10, 2023 [here]

When cowboys and school kids sing “Home, home on the range. . . . Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,” they probably aren’t thinking about employees of the U.S. Forest Service.

But on the nearly 200 million acres of forests and grasslands the service manages, there are plenty of discouraging words to be heard. The grumbling is so bad that the agency’s low morale was the focus of a recent congressional hearing.

Prison guards “enjoy their jobs more than park rangers,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said during a hearing of the House subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands. “We want to find out why.”

Raúl, you dunderhead, the US Forest Service does not employ park rangers. People with that job description work for the National Park Service. The NPS does not have a morale problem. In the Office of Personnel Management survey NPS ranked 61 out of 216 in job satisfaction. That’s in the upper third in their class (Agency Subcomponents).

The US Forest Service manages the National Forests. They aren’t parks. They don’t have park rangers. Get with the program, Raúl!

More from the WaPost:

While trying to figure that out, Grijalva wants to put more staffers into the national forests, parks and other public lands through legislation the House Natural Resources Committee will consider today. His Public Land Service Corps Act would train public land managers to fix trails, clean campgrounds, control erosion and restore marine systems along the oceans and Great Lakes.

So Raúl would fix the morale problem at the US Forest Service by building more trails. Professional land managers are to be trained how to pick up shovels and do stoop labor, and that will fix their attitudes. As if!

Here’s a pic of the Congressoaf from Tucson:

Yep. you guessed it. He’s a global warming alarmist who wishes to cripple the American economy in service to Al Gore’s hoax. There is no global warming, the globe has been cooling since 1998 (despite increasing CO2), nothing that Raúl proposes will alter global temperatures one iota, but he wants to bomb us back to the Stone Age anyway.

Raúl has a freaking problem: he’s clueless about damn near everything.

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Exploring USFS Employee Dissatisfaction

In the previous post we noted that the US Forest Service ranked close to last among federal agencies in employee job satisfaction, according to the annual survey administered by the Office of Personnel Management.

Why might that be? What is it that is so awful about working for the USFS?

Many if not most people would assume that USFS employees get to work out-of-doors, in gorgeous settings, in the bosom of Mother Nature, with respectable pay and benefits, and so should be quite happy, or at least relatively happy compared to other federal employees.

But they are not happy, evidently. Why not?

We can only surmise, and invite you to consider the question as well. One clue is that USFS employees rated Effective Leadership - Leaders near the bottom. The employees are not happy with the USFS leadership. And the Office of Personnel Management rated leadership as the single most important factor in job satisfaction.

But that is a little too vague to really answer the question. What is it about the leadership that is so disheartening to the employees?

One answer might be that USFS leadership has put their employees in untenable situations. USFS policies have alienated rural communities, and the employees have to live in those communities where the public is at odds with their agency.

The USFS leadership has shut down all commercial uses of public forests, and that has been a hammer blow to the people whose livelihoods depend on resource production of one type or another from public lands.

The USFS leadership has promulgated megafires that harm adjacent communities in myriad ways. The residents don’t like that. They are also very aware that land management and fire policies are set by DC insiders and urban know-nothings without the least regard for the opinions of those most impacted.

Rural residents have watched in shock and awe as the USFS has burned their watersheds and destroyed their lives and livelihoods. Residents have been forcibly evacuated as USFS fires have been allowed to burn uncontrolled in mid-summer, exploded across federal property lines, and burned the homes, ranches, farms, and businesses of the evacuees.

The USFS leadership has promulgated road closures, roadless areas, wilderness areas, and other bans on human uses of the public estate, which may not affect dim-witted Easterners  and other urbanites, but most definitely affect rural residents who work and recreate on public lands.

USFS Chief Gail Kimbell has made it her personal mission to shut people out of 400 million acres of their own private lands, as well. Her Open Space Initiative is designed to ban roads, homes, lawns, and any other form of human presence on lands that do not belong to the government but are the private property of rural residents, who were not consulted.

The USFS has lost any and all goodwill they once enjoyed with the rural public. Nowadays when the USFS holds a public meeting in an “affected” community, they must bring along federal marshals to safeguard the employees assigned to attend, because the affected public is madder than wet hens.

The cases are legion of angry crowds screaming imprecations at the poor sot employees who themselves have no say-so regarding USFS policies. None but the clueless rookies wear USFS uniforms in public or otherwise let it be known who they work for, for fear of angry backlash from understandably bitter and angry rural residents.

So that could be one reason for declining job satisfaction. Employees who thought they were going to commune with Nature have discovered they are looked on as an occupation army, one hellbent on utter destruction, and who have become the targets of extreme dissatisfaction from the citizens they oppress.

That would be my surmise. What’s yours?

The Forestry Gap

Last April the USDA Forest Service, Fire and Aviation Management, issued a Briefing Paper entitled Large Fire Management in 2009. In that paper “the Agency” found that

* The risk of very large fires occurring, and the associated threats to life and property, are increasing at a phenomenal rate.

* One-quarter of one percent (0.25%) of the fires each year are the costliest in terms of consuming fire management resources and a large portion of the Forest Service suppression budget.

* The increase in the number of acres with hazardous fuels conditions far exceeds the acres being treated for fuels reduction.

* The Agency has worked with predictive services to identify forests that exhibit characteristics which make them likely to have these large “problem fires” in 2009.

* The forests chosen will “pave the way” in developing a system for how large-complex fires should be managed given the increasingly more complex fire environment of the 21st century.

* Fire suppression does not always provide for resource protection and safety.

What are we to make of these stunning findings?

First, it is admirable that the Agency now realizes that biomass fuels fires. It is also admirable that they now realize that megafires are breaking their budget.

But beyond that, has anything changed in their thinking? Sadly, the answer is no.

The Agency, specifically Fire and Aviation Management, is directly responsible for the megafire crisis. Their attitude of Let It Burn, through whoofoo (WFU, wildland fire use) and hammer (AMR, appropriate management response) has generated megafires every year this century.

The practice of eschewing rapid initial attack and dropping way, way back as hundreds of thousands of acres burn IS the reason fires go mega. That and the elimination of responsible forestry practices prior to the predictable and preventable holocausts.

Fire and Aviation Management is biology-challenged. They cannot get it through their thick little heads that biology is where fuels come from. Nor do they grok that megafires do not eliminate biology. The Agency burns and burns, and the vegetation grows back, typically as pyrophytic brush, which together with the dead woody biomass left on the ground from the last fire generates even bigger and more severe fires.

Fire and Aviation Management apparently believes that if they don’t do the job they are paid to do — suppress fires — that the fires will just go away. That is so dunderheaded and counter-rational that it defies description.

The Agency has lost touch with biology. They canned all their foresters and do not practice forestry anymore. They don’t even know what forestry is.

For what it’s worth, forestry is the art and science of managing forests so that they provide resource benefits. Without forestry, forests tend to build up enormous quantities of fuel and then burn in catastrophic megafires. When that happens, all resource benefits are degraded or lost forever.

Restoration forestry in particular is the art and science of preparing forests to receive fire so that forests are protected, maintained, and perpetuated. If restoration forestry is properly applied, fires are not severe and do not destroy resources.

In the briefing paper Fire and Aviation Management promises to:

… work with the identified forests, pre-fire season, so they have time to practice scenarios, and engage cooperators and the public regarding these innovative approaches.

Engaging the public is something they are totally inept at. When the Agency instituted whoofoo and hammer, they did NOT engage the public. They gave the public the finger and adopted catastrophic fire with no public involvement at all.

There have been no Environmental Assessments, no Environmental Impact Statements, no public discussion or involvement whatsoever. Whoofoo and hammer have been jammed down the public throat with back-of-the-hand disregard.

The latest bureaucratic atrocity is the adoption of Leave Early Or Stay And Defend, the selfsame program that led to over 200 deaths of men, women, and children in Australia last February. The Agency has instituted a “we don’t fight fires, we watch them burn your forests, watersheds, and communities to the ground” program — again with zero public involvement.

When the Agency says they wish to “engage the public,” they really mean they intend to burn you out whether you like it or not.

There is a forestry gap. The US Forest Service is death on forestry as well as death on forests and forest-adjacent communities.

Because they eliminated all professional foresters, the Agency no longer knows how or why to practice forestry. All they know is Burn, Baby, Burn.

It would behoove the Agency and Fire and Aviation Management to at least make an attempt to bridge the forestry gap. It would behoove the public, as well. It would behoove our forests and watersheds if some professional forestry, in particular professional restoration forestry, was actually implemented.

But that is not going to happen as long as the Agency remains clueless about what forestry is.

28 May 2009, 11:07pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
1 comment

National Forest Timber Management: Myth, reality, and some questions for the future

by W.V. (Mac) McConnell, U.S.F.S. Retired (1943-1973)

Timber harvesting from National Forest land, the single largest timberland holding in the nation, has decreased by some 80% over the past two decades. The impacts of this decline have been far-reaching and well documented. Insect epidemics, fire hazard, fire frequency, and fire control expenditures have increased hugely. Community dislocation, business closures, job losses, and school and local government distress are widespread.

While the fact of the decline is widely known, the public would seem to have little understanding of the relationship of harvesting to forest growth, mortality, and the realities of management and forest health. The widespread misconception that the Forest Service was “overharvesting” the timber on the National Forests contributed to the demand, led by environmental activists, that the Forest Service reduce, or eliminate entirely, commercial harvesting of timber from its lands. This image of a national resource being decimated by a rapacious timber industry was a far cry from actuality. The record shows that at the apex of harvesting the agency cut each year only 50% of the gross annual growth, while the equivalent of about a quarter of the volume grown died and slightly more was added to the inventory of standing trees.

In contrast, today the Forest Service is harvesting only 6% of the growth (a remarkably low figure) while 36% dies, adding to the fuel loading and increasing fire hazards and suppression costs. The remaining 58% of the growth is added each year to the existing volume, resulting in over-dense, fire-prone stands and deteriorating wildlife habitat.

Although the emphasis has been on correcting past mistakes by reducing the volume of the cut, the problems seen by environmentalists and others of the concerned public stemmed not from the “quantity” of the harvest but from the its “quality”. Extensive (and unsightly) clearcuts on unstable slopes, logging on unsuitable terrain and of heritage stands of patriarch trees, failure to use Best Management Practices with resultant harm to soil, water, and aesthetic resources, reluctance to implement the imperatives of the Endangered Species Act — all have contributed to the public demand for a more restrictive approach to timber management on public lands. The Forest Service’s and industry’s belated recognition and correction of many of these errors came too late and the perception of the Agency as permanently favoring timber as the “best among equals” now appears to be embedded as dogma in a large part the environmental community. This view may be the single most important impediment to balanced resource management on our National Forests.

Is current National Forest timber management making its optimum contribution to the “Greatest good for the greatest number in the long run”? Does the current ratio of growth/harvest/mortality represent sound forest management? Should this ratio be changed? In what way? Can it be changed? How do you answer these questions?

What a Difference 25 Years Make

Today the US Forest Service announced a set of projects for the Willamette and Mt. Hood National Forests to be funded under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. One of those projects is entitled “Ramsey Creek Fish Passage Enhancement” and will cost $18,580.

That really takes me back. You see, 25 years ago I personally rebuilt the fish ladder on Ramsey Creek. It was attached to the small dam and pond on Ramsey Creek located at Camp Baldwin, the Boy Scout Camp west of Dufur in Wasco County, Oregon. When the Boy Scouts built the dam they included a fish ladder, but debris had plugged it and broken the step boards.

The Camp manager and I hauled a gas-powered air compressor down to the dam. I cleaned out all the debris and set new boards so that fish could again get over the dam. Although the Dufur District of the Mt. Hood NF was notified (as was the Oregon Dept. of Forestry, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife), none of those agencies gave a crap nor lent a hand. Total cost to the taxpayer: zero, zilch, nada.

I note this as a matter of historical record only. You can draw your own conclusions.

Fixing the fish ladder was a peripheral project to the restoration of the Camp Baldwin forest [here]. The forest there had become choked with dead fuels which we cleared out, leaving widely spaced older trees at a park-like density. We thus saved the camp from total incineration by severe fire, and maintained all the program activities the Boy Scouts enjoyed.

We also saved the habitat for a pair of spotted owls that nested there. The owls continued to nest at Camp Baldwin and fledge young for at least ten years.

Fours years after the restoration project, spotted owls became a listed endangered species. The USFS had a map of where all the owls were, but on the map the Camp Baldwin owls were located in the middle of severe burn on Fed land, not where they actually were at the Camp. I pointed out this error to the wildlife specialist at the Dufur District headquarters. She told me that she “could neither confirm nor deny” the owls real location. Of course, I could do exactly that, but what the hey.

I will always remember that bit of bureaucratic doggerel and obfuscation. However, I only note that it happened; you can draw your own conclusions.

This year I proposed similar restoration forestry treatments on the Willamette National Forest to be funded under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. The Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) rejected my proposals. The Forest Supervisor of the Willamette NF was quite upset with me for even making the proposals. He wanted me to make it quite clear to the RAC that the Willamette NF wanted no part of restoration forestry, had not contributed nor collaborated in any way, shape, or form, and were dead set against it.

You can draw your own conclusions.

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Today the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by Henry Waxman (D-Hollywood, CA), rejected Greg Walden’s (R-Hood River, OR) amendment to the Carbon Cap-and-Trade bill that would have allowed biomass from federal lands to count as a renewable fuel and receive the same incentives from the federal government as wind, solar, and other renewables. The bill as written excludes biomass from “mature” federal forest land, which includes most federal forests in Oregon.

Rep. Walden’s amendment was voted down 26-32, mostly along party lines.

On Tuesday the Society of American Foresters issued a letter [here] to Waxman requesting that biomass from Federal forests be included, stating that “Excluding these lands has no basis in science.”

The SAF request was ignored.

Walden has posted a YouTube video [here] in which he explains what occurred. Sort of. The audio is quite garbled, so I could not actually make out what he said. Perhaps those with a better Internet connection will not have that problem.

The bottom line is this: there is no global warming. The globe has been cooling for the last 10 years. The Greenhouse Gas Theory of “climate change” has been disproved. It is a hoax. Waxman’s Cap-and-Trade bill will have zero effect on global climate, but it will cripple the US economy by taxing energy to the tune of $trillions.

There is a forest fire crisis. Over the last 20 years 105,330,500 acres (164,580 square miles) have burned in wildfires, 70 million acres in just the last 10 years. The fires are due to two things: the build-up of fuels in the absence of forest management, and Federal firefighting policies that amount to Let It Burn.

The SAF has had ample opportunity to affect Federal land management and fire policies. They have not done so, instead opting to embrace the global warming hoax and blame the forest fire crisis on non-existent warming.

The SAF threw their lot in with the GW hoaxers, and now they have been betrayed by the same.

For the last 3+ years SOS Forests has posted time and again about the fire crisis, the root causes, and the GW hoax. We have been consistent on all those issues. We have taken the SAF to task for their ignorance and duplicity, but to no avail.

Now the chickens have come home to roost. The SAF has slept with the enemy, and now they have been stabbed in the back.

Do you get it yet, SAFers?

As professional foresters your allegiance should have been to forests, not politicians. As true professional experts you should have seen through the GW hoax. You should have striven to protect, maintain, and perpetuate forests regardless of political winds.

The opportunity to do so still remains. The SAF could and should condemn Cap-and-Trade forcefully and unequivocally. The SAF should reject the GW hoax, Wildland Fire Use, and every other manifestation of deliberate incineration and conversion of our forests to burnt out wastelands.

I hope this betrayal stings. I hope the SAF is shaken. The message should be burned into your consciousness: the destruction of America’s priceless, heritage forests is not by accident but by design.

Please join me in fighting to save our forests through excellence in science and stewardship.

There is no more time to waste hobnobbing with power-tripping scam artists who have and will betray you at the drop of a hat.

Profess forests. Work to save forests. Shed yourselves of the Neville Chamberlins who have attempted to appease the anti-forest, pro-holocaust crowd.

As professional foresters you owe that to yourselves and to all your fellow Americans.

Roadless Is Clueless

In the waning days of the Clinton administration, just before Clinton’s staff trashed the White House computers and destroyed all the digital records, Slick Willy promulgated the “Roadless Rule” that condemned 58.5 million acres to unmanagement, zero stewardship, and catastrophic megafire.

The incoming Bush Administration let it stand, honoring the office of the Presidency, but numerous lawsuits arose anyhow. The basis of those lawsuits was explained by Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman [here]:

[Clinton's Roadless Rule] was adopted following what was arguably the most truncated, superficial and scientifically-devoid NEPA rulemaking in history. The alleged “public process” associated with the Roadless Rule was politically driven rather than scientifically supported, with less than thirteen (13) months having elapsed between the announcement of the proposed Rule and publication of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

It was an illegal, Washington, D.C. driven, one-size-fits-all approach to management of 1/3 of our National Forests. It was designed to ignore the physical aspects, management considerations, economic issues, and social/cultural dimensions that make each National Forest unique. It treated Wyoming’s National Forests exactly the same as the National forests in North Carolina and Puerto Rico, and violated the individualized Forest Management Plans that have been painstakingly developed pursuant to the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The Roadless Rule bypassed scientific analysis; hijacked local participation in forest management; and anointed Washington, D.C. as the supreme authority on forest management decisions …

The numerous lawsuits coalesced into one (brought by the State of Wyoming), and US District Court Judge Clarence A. Brimmer issued a permanent injunction against Bill Clinton’s 58.5 million acre Roadless Rule in 2003. The issue festered and a minor judge, Magistrate Elizabeth Laporte of San Francisco, reinstated Clinton’s Roadless Rule in 2006. Judge Brimmer was forced to enjoin the Rule for the second time in 2008 [here].

Still, it wouldn’t die [here, here]. Lock it up and burn it down is exceedingly stupid and destructive, but the Holocaust Now Party is dead set on roasting America’s forests in the name of World Socialism. And after electing Socialist activist and community rabblerouser B. Hussein Obama as President last year, the anti-environment (and ascientific, ahistorical, arguably racist) Roadless Rule has crawled out from the grave again like a zombie that will not stay buried.

North Carolina forester Steve Henson wrote a perceptive opinion piece last week that distills the issue, and we post his words in full below. Unfortunately, it will take more than cogent argument to finally rid ourselves of zombie Clinton’s zombie Rule.

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18 May 2009, 11:14am
Federal forest policy
by admin

Bayoneting the Wounded

Soon, very soon, Evergreen Magazine will launch their new website. We anxiously await the announcement which will be immediately trumpeted here. Until then, however, we are pleased and proud to present the latest speech by Evergreen founder and executive director, Jim Petersen.

Jim’s talk to attendees of 2009 Montana Loggers Association Convention concerned  utilization of woody biomass from Federal forests, a practice that would help stem the ecological collapse of our public forests if Congress would please get out of the way.

The title of this post (not Jim’s talk) is drawn from a quote by former USFS Chief Jack Ward Thomas (noted in Jim’s speech):

I my dark moments I remember Jack Ward Thomas’ very vivid description of what we were all witnessing a decade ago on public forest policy battlefields all over the rural West: “And now the victors walk among the dead and bayonet the wounded.”

It is interesting to note that in the decade since JWT’s vivid description, tens of millions of acres our public forests have been incinerated in megafires, destroying habitat for forest creatures, fouling air and water, ruining recreation opportunities, threatening public health and safety, and dismantling rural economies. The victors, the pusillanimous anti-human crackpot wing of the Crackpot Party, have reveled in the destruction they have wrought, while the wounded, the rest of us, have suffered enormously.

But you knew that. Here is Jim Petersen’s latest public lecture, soon to be posted on Evergreen’s new website:


When You Are Up To Your Armpits in Elephants

by James D. Petersen
Co-founder and Executive Director
The non-profit Evergreen Foundation
2009 Montana Loggers Association Convention
Hilton Garden Inn, Kalispell, Montana
Saturday, May 16, 2023

Good morning.

I have never felt so poorly prepared for a speech in all my life.

It isn’t that I haven’t worked on my remarks, or that I don’t understand the subject matter; it is that so much is at stake and so few seem to get it – the “it” here being the fact that Montana’s timber industry is teetering on the brink of collapse at the precise same moment when it ought to be laying the cornerstone for its own bright future.

I had a ring-side for the spectacular but tragically unnecessary collapse of the timber industries in Arizona and New Mexico. I watched as mill after mill closed its doors, like a long row of dominos toppling one into the other. It has left both states without the means to deal with the ecological collapse of their dying forests. Now instead of mills toppling like dominos, the trees are – millions of them, crashing to earth in forests where, even if we hear their sound, we are powerless to do anything about it.

What no one seems to understand is that the same steady cadence of collapse can now be heard here in western Montana. It is the elephant in our room that no one seems to want to talk about, the sound of the collapse of The Last Best Place.” Unless you who sit before me this morning chose to do something about this, you too will become like collapsing dominoes.

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Burning Out Private Landowners

The destruction of forests by deliberate incineration is not limited to public land. When the US Forest Service decides (without public notice) to burn vast tracts of USFS land, the fires often sweep across private land, too. And in some cases private lands are deliberately burned in backfires set by USFS personnel.

We discussed the (uncompensated) damages to private landowners done by the 2007 Egley Fire [here]. We also discussed the unnecessary and incompetent backfiring that destroyed homes and private property in Ravalli County, MT, during the Spade Fire of 2000 [here]. That incident led to a lawsuit.

Last summer the same idiotic and destructive backfiring of private property occurred in Trinity County, CA, during incompetently managed fires that burned 256,000 acres and caused ten firefighting deaths in the county.

In that case the Feds screwed up royal and then backpedaled in their usual manner: we take zero responsibility but you can go ahead and file a claim — you’ll just get burned again.

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Wilkes to Be Nominated for USDA Under Secretary for the USFS

Mississippi NRCS Administrator Homer Lee Wilkes was tapped yesterday by Obama to serve as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the USDA.


USDA News Release No. 0148.09

Last Modified: 05/06/2023

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2023 - President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate Homer Lee Wilkes as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wilkes will serve with Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“For nearly thirty years, Homer has worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service where he has been dedicated to conserving and improving the environment in multiple states,” said Vilsack. “It would be a privilege to have a public servant like Homer join the USDA leadership team to help carry out President Obama’s vision of protecting our natural assets.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the primary federal agency that works with private landowners to help them conserve, maintain and improve their natural resources. The Agency emphasizes voluntary science-based conservation, technical assistance, partnerships, incentive-based programs, and cooperative problem solving at the community level.

Wilkes is a 28 year veteran of the NRCS, currently serving as State Conservationist in Mississippi where he administers the natural resources conservation program for the state. He has also served as a Budget Officer for NRCS in Amherst, Massachusetts, the Assistant Financial Manager and Fiscal Specialist for NRCS in Washington, and served as the Chief of Administrative Staff for the South Technical Center for NRCS in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wilkes received his Bachelors, Masters of Business Administration and Ph.D. in Urban Conservation Planning and Higher Education from Jackson State University.

Wilkes and his wife, Kim, have three sons - Justin, Austin, and Harrison. They presently reside in Madison, Mississippi, and are members of New Hope Baptist Church.

He enjoys fishing and family activities.

Biomass Logic Spreads to MSM

The Oregonian has dutifully followed our lead and reported on Congressman Greg Walden’s YouTubed exchange with Al “The Very Definition of Fatuous” Gore, in a stirring editorial. They even almost got the point:

Rural Oregon has energy to burn

by The Editorial Board,  May 02, 2023 [here]

More than 1,000 people from 25 countries gathered in Portland last week for a conference on the vast promise of crop residues, wood waste and other sources of biomass to help power a greener, cooler, safer world.

At roughly the same time the world’s biomass experts were in town, the Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives released ant energy bill that explicitly disregards the largest available source of biomass in Oregon: federal forests.

That makes no sense as a matter of energy policy, economics or environmental stewardship. Oregon has hundreds of thousands of acres of federal forests that are overgrown, infested with insects and disease and vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires. It has rural communities struggling with 17 percent unemployment. It has everything it needs — and every economic motivation — to become a center for biomass energy.

But that won’t happen, can’t happen, if Congress approves an energy bill that sets out incentives and an ambitious goal — requiring that 25 percent of the nation’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025 — and then expressly discounts biomass from the nation’s federal forests.

Congressman Greg Walden, a Hood River Republican who represents much of rural Oregon, has a reasonable question: “What’s the science behind this decision to say biomass from federal lands is not a renewable energy source?” Walden said he can’t get an answer, not from Democratic leaders, not from former Vice President Al Gore, who testified on the bill last week, and not from the leaders of national environmental groups who helped draft the energy legislation. …

The Editorial Board is onboard with Fatuous Al as far as climate change hysteria is concerned:

… we disagree with his [Walden's] general opposition to what he labels “cap-and-tax” legislation to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible [for] climate change.

But they are willing to repress it long enough to advocate against catastrophic wildfires, which, by the way, emit more CO2 in Oregon than all the rest of the to-be-regulated CO2 emissions combined [here]. Too bad the Oregonian didn’t report (hasn’t yet reported) that story, too.

Be that as it may, kudos to the Oregonian for realizing that biomass from Federal land is a useful commodity for many reasons, and that fatuousness should not plague Federal legislation.

3 May 2009, 6:47pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Let It Burners Obfuscate the Facts

The Redding Record Searchlight continued its series of articles about forests and fire [here, here] this week with a Dylan Darling piece on firefighting methods [here].

Firefighting methods questioned

By Dylan Darling, Redding Record Searchlight, May 1, 2023

Last summer Rayola Pratt experienced the fear that haunts so many in the north state. Wildfire tore through the woods near her home off Rock Creek Road west of Redding.

“From here we could just watch the trees burst into flames,” she said.

When she evacuated as the Motion Fire pushed flames toward her place, she left her home in the care of a fire crew from Montana that slept on her deck between shifts. It was the biggest fire to burn near the home in the 40 years Pratt has lived there and she partially credits the firefighters for saving it.

While people with opposing points of view about wildfire issues in the north state agree that homes threatened by flames should be saved, they disagree about the level at which fire should be fought in the wildland.

At the crux of most any debate about wildfire suppression is the question of how aggressively to attack — when should firefighters hit fires with everything available, and when should they let them burn. The issue is complex, with firefighter safety, threats to life or property and potential benefits of fire for the land all taken into consideration by the agencies fighting the flames.

That would be nice if it were true, but it isn’t. The “agencies fighting the flames” do not take “potential benefits of fire for the land” into consideration, principally because there aren’t any.

Wildfires that are allowed to burn hundreds of thousands of acres all summer long do not benefit the environment. That canard is mousy propaganda, a falsehood, a raft of bilge, not the facts, sophistry, and too easy fodder for numskull journalists anxious to grovel in front their government informants.

The facts are that wildfires destroy forests, incinerate habitat, pollute air and water, cripple rural economies, and scar landscapes for lifetimes.

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Obama Installs Political Apparatchiks in the USDA

President B. H. Obama has orchestrated the appointment of political campaign operatives to newly created posts in the upper hierarchy of the US Department of Agriculture.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on April 17, 2023 the appointment of 14 “key staff positions” in the U.S. Department of Agriculture [here].

The 14 staff positions are “Confidential” and “Special” assistants to Under Secretaries who themselves have not been appointed yet! As Jerry Hagstrom of the Congress Daily (a subscription news service [here]) put it:

Former Obama Campaigners Filling Many Slots At USDA

by Jerry Hagstrom, Congress Daily, Tuesday, April 28, 2023

Only one Agriculture Department undersecretary and one assistant secretary have been confirmed by the Senate, but when the holders of many USDA sub-Cabinet positions get to their desks they will find that Agriculture Secretary Vilsack has already put their confidential and special assistants with proven Obama campaign experience in place.

The 14 new positions are not subject to Congressional approval. The appointments are based on political campaign efforts on behalf of Obama. For instance, the new Undersecretary for the USFS, who has not been appointed yet, already has a “Special Assistant” (from the USDA Press Release):

Meryl Raymar Harrell, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary, Natural Resources and the Environment. Most recently, Harrell served as the State Political Outreach Director for the Obama Campaign for Change in Wisconsin. Harrell previously worked as the Public Lands Associate at The Wilderness Society.

The Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service Under Secretary, whomever that might eventually be, already has a “Confidential Assistant”:

Elisabeth Reiter, Confidential Assistant to the Under Secretary. Most recently, Reiter was Deputy Director of Advance for the Obama for America campaign. She worked previously on the successful campaigns of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) in 2005 and Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) in 2006. She also worked on Senator John Kerry’s (D-MA) 2004 presidential bid. Reiter is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.

The peppering of the USDA with political apparatchiks is a slap in the face to the career professional civil servants in the USDA. More importantly, it taints with political bias every decision made by the USDA for the rest of Obama’s term.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed over a single Bush employee accused of political bias. Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie MacDonald allegedly “interfered” with endangered species and habitat decisions by agency scientists.

There will be no “allegedly” about political interference in the Obama Administration. The cadre of political operatives are in place, even before the senior management. Even if the cadre do nothing but sleep on the job, the appearance of interference for political purposes will remain.

The cadre have been appointed for their partisan political loyalty and campaign efforts, not expertise with the agency or issues. Their expected work output is political oversight. That is their purpose within in the USDA.

Never before has there been a political apparatchik cadre in the USDA, at least not in such an open and blatant fashion. The new system smacks of political commissar tactics employed by Communist dictators in the former Soviet Union.

The outrageous politicization of the USDA by Obama is a profoundly bad step for America.

Walden Roasts Gore

Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) lambasted former VP Al Gore regarding overgrown fire-prone forests last week at a hearing on the new Energy Bill (cap-and-trade, carbon tax, bankrupt the nation, etc.).

It seems that Al Gore is a key spokesman for a deeply flawed bill that outlaws the use of USFS fuels for biomass production. Walden pointed out the destruction of our public forests from catastrophic fires. Al hemmed and hawed and put his ample foot in his ample mouth.

The YouTube video is [here]. Some of the dialog:

Walden: Have you read the bill in it’s entirety?

Gore: … It took me two transcontinental flights …

Senator Warner: No I have not…

Walden: .. Do you support the use of biomass from Federal forests as a renewable energy source?

Gore: Uh, you know, I think the protection of the Federal forest is important…

Walden: (showing Al a photo of post-fire devastation) … This is the Malheur National Forest. It’s out in Harney County. They have 20 percent unemployment right now. This is what happens when you don’t treat it and it burns.

Gore: When you say treat it, uh? …

Walden: Get in and manage it the way the biologists believe it should be managed.

Gore: Hmm

Walden: We have a 79-year backlog, at the rate we’re treating right now, to get these forests into balance to deal with the climate change that you outlined. … That Malheur National Forest I referenced — they’re at least 25 years out based on the limited amount of acreage [treated each year]. We had investors that were ready to go into that county with 20 percent unemployment and do woody biomass production of renewable energy, and they cannot even get certainty from the Forests for supply.

Gore: Hmm

Walden: This legislation on Page 8 says woody biomass is not renewable if it comes off Federal ground period.

Gore: Hmm

Walden: Beyond that, the way it’s written, I’ve had private land foresters tell me even off their private land it would shut down biomass facilities if you followed this.

Gore: Hmm

Walden: Does that make any sense to you?

Gore: Yeah sure. Yeah, no, I understand exactly what you’re saying.

Walden: Do you agree with shutting it down? Do you agree with this language?

Gore: I, I don’t have a lot of, uh, confidence based on what has happened in the past when, uh, something, uh, you know, I think that if you and I could, uh, sit down and talk about every little detail of which tree and so forth …

Walden: … On the Fremont-Winema National Forest we have more than 200,000 acres of Federal forest land … bug-infested lodgepole pine. When that material comes out, why in the devil do we say it’s not renewable … why do we preclude it in this bill?

Gore: Hmm, well, I, I think the record of what’s happened, uh, when it’s been opened up in the past has given a lot of people pause and, uh, diminished their confidence that, that it could be managed in the right way that resembles the right result.

Walden: As you know, Mr. Vice President, every Forest has a management plan, and every activity on that forest requires full NEPA … every activity on a forest already is covered by NEPA, isn’t it?

Gore: Uh, I, I don’t think those provisions of NEPA have been effective in preventing some of the abuses that occurred during some times in the past.

Walden: … Why don’t you come out and I’ll take you to the Malheur National Forest and together we’ll walk in these stands … and we’ll meet with the professionals …?

Gore: I, I appreciate your invitation, Congressman. I have been to the forests of Oregon. I, I would love to come back. Uh, I was active in, uh, forming the forest plan in 1994 for the Pacific Northwest.

Walden: the Northwest Forest Plan — it has it own set of issues …

Gore: Yeah, but it’s been largely a great success …

Walden, No. I dispute that.

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