Your Story Is Your Brand

Note: I am busy preparing my comments for the National Forest System land management planning rule DEIS. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure and general edification, I highly recommend:

Your Story Is Your Brand

A speech by Jim Petersen, Co-founder and Executive Director, the non-profit Evergreen Foundation

To the Thirty-third Annual National Indian Timber Symposium, Lewiston, Idaho, April 20-23, 2009

which may be viewed [here].

Selected excerpts:

Scientific forestry has been with us for a very long time. Its principles come to us from the Prussian School of Forestry. They were first taught in our country by Bernard Fernow, who set up the old Division of Forestry, which later became the U.S. Forest Service, and Carl Schrenk, who set up the first demonstration forest at Biltmore, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s fabulous country estate in North Carolina. I believe both Fernow and Schrenk were graduates of the Prussian School of Forestry.

But there are much earlier examples of the successful manipulation of land by people in pursuit of civilization’s most basic necessities: food, clothing and shelter. One of them is referenced in the diary of a soldier who was part of the Desoto Expedition that marched the length of Florida in the 1500s. He wrote about the vast corn fields that he observed - part of the highly advanced maize-based culture Indians established along the eastern seaboard in Lord only knows when.

Archeologists were to later discover remnants of water diversion systems in the Southwest, where some of your ancestors irrigated crops hundreds if not thousands of years ago.

Early white explorers also found you using fire to manage your forests - in many ways a tool every bit as efficient as chain saws and mechanical harvesting systems.

Today, we are again using fire in our forests, and some of us think we invented it. Of course, we did not - you did - and I tend to think its modern-day use is as much for political purposes as it is for reasons have to do with the need to remove excess biomass from forests.

Although you ancestors did not have science in the same way we have science today, they were nonetheless very keen observers of nature - and equally important - they were pursuing a goal or objective, which was to feed, clothe and shelter their number by first manipulating nature. …

Somehow, we need to find a way to build on this idea. What passes for forestry on federal lands today is a travesty. Even so, it’s unlikely that the Congress is simply going to hand you the keys to the national forest system. But they might be interested in setting up some very large demonstration projects that you could manage the way you manage your own forests. What if the Colville tribe had the chance to actually manage say, half the Colville National Forest through the next rotation? What if the same opportunity were given to the White Mountain Apache or the Yakama or any other tribe that owns and manages timberland adjacent to a national forest?

Does this idea have any validity? I’d like to think so, but then I am biased in your favor. Be that as it may, I sincerely believe that a side-by-side comparison of what you are doing on your lands with what the government is doing on federal lands would give the public the opportunity they need to decide once and for all which management program yields the results they prefer: yours or the governments. I can’t help but think they’ll like what you do much better than they like what the government is doing.

As you can readily see, there is a lot to think about in the larger context of what branding is, how brands are created and what branding may bring to tribes that own and manage timberland in these United States. Since 1986, we have made it our mission at Evergreen to tell the forestry story in all of its grandeur - and where forestry converges with cultural, historic and spiritual values I know of no grander story than yours.

Always, always, always remember, your story is your brand, and thus a window on your soul. And always remember that where your story is concerned, we will be with you every step of the way.

12 Feb 2010, 5:26pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
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Contradicting Missions and the New USFS Planning Rule

Last December the US Forest Service announced their intention to create a new Planning Rule [here]. We presented some guidance, written by NAFSR Exec Dir Darrel Kenops, for drafting comments to assist the USFS in that process [here].

Now we present some excellent comments written by W.I.S.E. member Randy Shipman of Rock Springs, Wyoming. For a pdf version of Mr. Shipman’s comments, click [here].

BTW, comments must be received by February 16, 2010.


February 12, 2010
Forest Service Planning NOI
C/O Bear West Company 172 East 500 South Bountiful, UT 84010

Reference: Federal Register/Vol.74, pp 67165-67169 – Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze and disclose potential environmental consequences associated with a National Forest System land management planning rule.


The USDA-USFS has allowed itself to gradually be placed into a contradiction of missions, in part, by purging itself of professional foresters and engineers to make way for a new grand experiment as explained by the Committee of Scientists. Today, the USFS with the aid of the Congress have provided the taxpayer an agency that:

* has not retained workforce expertise to promote and finalize rule promulgations in concert with local affected governments and sometime the public as is consistently proven through the hiring of 3rd party contractors to disseminate information to the public and the agency;

* allows confusion of purpose within its ranks as proven through inconsistent application of planning methodology and/or policy or directive that currently exists between identical forest regimes in adjacent districts or regions;

* provides excuses to the public rather than a system of accountability when USFS actions impact private, local and state real properties;

* knowingly relinquished the charge of the agency’s Organic Administration Act among others in the promulgation of the 2000 36CFR219 rule and associated rules that require consistency with the ill-conceived 36CFR294 Roadless Area Conservation rule promulgation;

* is increasingly becoming a drag on the entire U.S. economy by devastating local forest dependent community stability through internal dictatorial processes that today is purposely leaving local and state governments out of the loop and on the hook to pay for and pick up the pieces of carnage that have followed three decades of USFS attempts to be “responsive to the challenges of climate change; the need for forest restoration and conservation, watershed protection, and wildlife conservation; and the sustainable use of public lands to support vibrant communities.” No one can be entirely certain what that really means, with perhaps the exception of those individuals or organizations who professionally and constantly litigate USFS processes in order to gain easy access to federal government funds rather than address issues found in the Substantive Principles for a New Rule. But then that is a particular matter for the Congress to account.

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Ecosystem Management and Statist Bureaucracy

Nearly twenty years ago the US Forest Service adopted “ecosystem management” as a primary mission. Ecosystem management is a nebulous term that means whatever they want it to mean, and surprise surprise, it has entailed a massive transfer of power from the individual to the state.

An excellent synopsis of the meaninglessness of the phrase, and of the statist power grab that lies hidden beneath the veneer of “ecosystem management”, may be found in our latest addition to the W.I.S.E. Colloquium, Forest and Fire Sciences [here]

The paper is:

Travis Cork III. 2010. The Fictional Ecosystem and the Pseudo-science of Ecosystem Management. W.I.S.E. White Paper No. 2010-3, Western Institute for Study of the Environment.

This is the third in our new series of White Papers. More are to come.

It has been our practice to place most comments regarding Colloquia papers here at SOS Forests. We don’t wish to clutter the Colloquia with off-topic and less than scholarly comments, but we do encourage your participation in the discussion. So comments on Mr. Cork’s paper should be directed towards this post.

If you have a pertinent scholarly commentary that meets the quality criteria of our Colloquia editors, then we can place it over there. We reserve the right to control placement.

Some excerpts from The Fictional Ecosystem and the Pseudo-science of Ecosystem Management by Travis Cork III:

LAND USE CONTROL has long been the goal of the statist element in our society. Zoning was the first major attempt at land use control. Wetland regulation and the Endangered Species Act have extended some control, but nothing has yet brought about a general policy of land use control. Ecosystem management is an attempt to achieve that end.

In The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts and Terms, A. G. Tansley coined the term “ecosystem.” Tansley rejected the “conception of the biotic community” and application of the “terms ‘organism’ or ‘complex organism’” to vegetation. “Though the organism may claim our primary interest, when we are trying to think fundamentally we cannot separate them from their special environment, with which they form one physical system. It is the systems so formed which, from the point of view of the ecologist, are the basic units of nature on the face of the earth. … These ecosystems, as we may call them, are of the most various kinds and sizes… which range from the universe as a whole down to the atom” 1/

The ecosystem may be the basic unit of nature to the ecologist, that is—-man, but it is not the basic unit to nature. Its proponents confirm that it is a man-made construct. …

The nebulous nature of the ecosystem has not deterred bureaucrats, statist academics, and green advocacy groups (GAGs — The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Audubon, et al.) from pushing it as the basic management unit in nature. …

Lack of a rigid operational definition of an ecosystem gives the designer a blank check. Corruption and exploitation are inevitable. …

Given that Mother Nature does not delineate ecosystems, who will delineate these fictional ecosystems? The answer is obvious, the self-interested elitists in the ruling class. …

Supporters of the fictional ecosystem demand that it be managed. Enter the pseudo-science of ecosystem management. …

A management policy that cannot define its basic unit, the ecosystem, cannot have clear, operational goals. It cannot be based on sound models or understanding at any scale or in any context.

That life is complex is no argument for the ecosystem or ecosystem management, especially by government. No entity is less prepared to deal with complexity or to be adaptable and accountable than bureaucracy. …

Ecosystem management will mean more government control. It will intrude on private property rights. If a justification is to be created using the Constitution, it will result in a further perversion of that document and our long-lost republican form of government. …

The ecosystem management literature is filled with this command-and-control, central planning mentality. Ecosystem management is a process rife with opportunities for exploitation and corruption by government and its allies. …

Palin likens global warming studies to ’snake oil’

Note: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference in Redding, CA yesterday. The following is the AP report.

Palin likens global warming studies to ’snake oil’

By JUDY LIN, San Jose Mercury News, 02/08/2010 [here]

REDDING, Calif.—Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called studies supporting global climate change a “bunch of snake oil science” Monday during a rare appearance in California, a state that has been at the forefront of environmental regulations.

Palin spoke before a logging conference in Redding, a town of 90,000 about 160 miles north of the state capital. The media were barred from the event, but The Associated Press bought a $74 ticket to attend.

Palin said California’s heavy regulatory environment makes it difficult for businesses to succeed, a point that is shared by many business leaders in the state.

She criticized what she said were heavy-handed environmental laws. As Alaska governor, for example, she said she sued the federal government to overturn the listing of polar bears as a threatened species.

As Alaska North Slope wells dry up, the state is examining offshore drilling for oil and natural gas reserves. Protections for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act could thwart those explorations, according to Palin and her successor, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, who has picked up the cause.

Palin told the audience that filled the 2,000-seat Redding Convention Center that she disagreed with the science the government used to support the listing.

“We knew the bottom line … was ultimately to shut down a lot of our development,” she said during her 40-minute speech, which was followed by a 20-minute question-and-answer session.

“And it didn’t make any sense because it was based on these global warming studies that now we’re seeing (is) a bunch of snake oil science.”

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Battling Over the Forest Restoration Meme

When does “forest restoration” mean “abandonment to catastrophic destruction”? Answer: in the “Green Budget 2011″ proposal.

A coalition of quangos (quasi-governmental non-governmental organizations) is playing games with words. They want the word “restoration” to mean the opposite of what it actually means, prompting a battle over the meme.

The “Green Budget 2011″ [here] was prepared by 34 “environmental” lobbying groups including perennial litigation-happy bullies such as Defenders Of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and the World Wildlife Fund. Note that these same groups are the big pigs at the EAJA trough, raking in $billions from the government to sue the government in order to sabotage restoration programs [here].

The Green Budget 2011 defines “restoration” this way:

Restoration management should be viewed as a way to recover the natural processes, structure, composition and function of a healthy forest ecosystem; it is an intentional effort to restore land, air, and water degraded by human activities to a more natural state, enhancing our forests’ ability to adapt and be resilient to disturbances and change. This is a separate and distinct vision from traditional logging or hazardous fuels reduction; while these activities may have a place on national forests, the goals and objectives are not necessarily consistent with ecosystem restoration, and the terms should not be used interchangeably.

In other words, to the quangos “restoration” means No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch It Rot.

In actuality, real forest restoration means active management to bring back historical cultural landscapes, historical forest development pathways, and traditional ecological stewardship to achieve historical resiliency to fire and insects and to preclude and prevent a-historical catastrophic fires that decimate and destroy myriad resource values.

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Summarizing the Defects in Wyden’s OEFROGPJA

I fear that I have been too florid in my analyses of Sen. Ron Wyden’s proposed “Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009″ (OEFROGPJA). My excess verbiage has obscured the key defects. In this post I simplify and specify with minimal artisticality of prose.

Previous posts regarding Wyden’s bill (OEFROGPJA) are:

Wyden Proposes the End of Forest Stewardship in Eastern Oregon [here]

AFRC Sells Out [here]

The Principal Defects in Wyden’s Forest Bill [here]

Harris Sherman on Jon Tester’s Forest Bill (same problems in both bills) [here]

What’s wrong with the eastside forest compromise (by Jack Ward Thomas) [here]

From those I have extracted the main issues, and who made the particular point:

1. prescriptive language violates NEPA and NFMA (Harris Sherman) (Mike Dubrasich)

2. draws action and funding away from other projects (HS)

3. will NOT result in any increased harvest (HS) (MD) (Jack Ward Thomas)

4. creates unrealistic expectations on the part of communities and forest products stakeholders (HS)

5. provisions are duplicative of existing authorities, such as the Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 (HS) (MD)

6. will not achieve undefined “comprehensive ecological restoration” (MD)

7. proposed management guidance by “plant association” scientifically untenable, unmappable, obtuse (MD)

8. statutory limits on the size of trees removed scientifically untenable, unworkable, will not achieve resiliency goals (MD)

9. proposed management guidance by “site potential tree heights” scientifically untenable, unmeasurable, obtuse (MD)

10. proposed management guidance by “heterogeneity” scientifically untenable, unmeasurable, obtuse (MD)

11. will not limit or preclude obstructionist lawsuits (which have already been threatened by eco-litigious groups) (MD) (JWT)

12. delays and implementation failures will lead to more and larger destructive (severe, high intensity) wildfires (MD)

13. does not protect (increases risks to) heritage, utility, resiliency, sustainability, public health and safety, private property, and other human values (MD)

14. does not protect (increases risks to) vegetation, habitat, wildlife, water, air, soils, and other ecological values (MD)

15. “local forests” managed under separate laws and overseen by advisory panels financed with federal dollars and staffed with federal employees supplant current legally prescribed planning and management processes (JWT)

16. no guarantee of long-term funding (JWT)

17. does not address systemic problems with USFS mission, existing conflicting laws (JWT)

Hope that helps.

27 Jan 2010, 1:25pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
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Commenting on the New USFS Planning Rule

Last December the US Forest Service announced their intention to create a new Planning Rule [here]. The Planning Rule guides the creation, amending, and revision of National Forest Land and Resource Management Plans (LMRP’s) under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA).

The USFS cannot write forest plans as the mandated under NFMA without an overarching Planning Rule. The old Planning Rule(s) have been enjoined by the courts, and so a process has been instituted to create a new one.

The USFS set up a website to assist people in providing comments and feedback to the USFS [here]. They explain:

The USDA Forest Service has issued a notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a new planning rule. This is the first step toward a new planning rule. The next step will be for people to provide the Forest Service feedback to help develop the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and proposed planning rule.

The NOI will begin the scoping period under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and a 60 day public comment period. The Forest Service will use the submitted comments to decide what to analyze in the environmental impact statement. Comments on the scope of analysis for the DEIS must be received by February 16, 2010.

How to Submit Comments:

Comments may be sent via e-mail to

Written comments concerning this notice should be addressed to:

Forest Service Planning NOI

C/O Bear West Company

172 E 500 S, Bountiful, UT 84010

or via facsimile to (801) 397-1605.

All comments, including names and addresses, when provided, are placed in the record and are available for public inspection and copying. The public may inspect comments [here].

The matter is complex and esoteric. Useful comments should be based on a familiarity with NFMA, since that is the (principal) applicable law. The USFS has provided some references to study [here].

In addition, the USFS provided some guidance in their Federal Register Notice of Intent posting [here]. Darrel Kenops, Executive Director of the National Association of Forest Service Retirees (NAFSR), has reviewed and summarized the key questions that the USFS is asking the public to comment on. Mr. Kenop’s summary [here] is excellent, and is very helpful.

Comments are due by Feb 16th. Please use the following (posted in full) from Mr. Kenops and NAFSR to assist in making your comments pertinent and germane to the exercise.

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Poor Forest Science Leads to Forest Policy Failures

It is a truism that reliance on defective forest science leads to defective forest policies which then fail miserably. The prime ignominious example in Oregon is the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP).

The NWFP was based on outmoded and outdated forest ecology theories that were originally proposed by Frederic Edward Clements (1874-1945) in the early 1900’s. From the Wiki [here]:

Clements suggested that the development of vegetation can be understood as a sequence of stages resembling the development of an individual organism. After a complete or partial disturbance, vegetation grows back (under ideal conditions) towards a mature “climax state,” which describes the vegetation best suited to the local conditions. Though any actual instance of vegetation might follow the ideal sequence towards climax, it can be interpreted in relation to that sequence, as a deviation from it due to non-ideal conditions.

Clements’ climax theory of vegetation dominated plant ecology during the first decades of the twentieth century, though it was criticized significantly by ecologists Henry Gleason and Arthur Tansley early on, and by Robert Whittaker mid-century, and largely fell out of favor. However, significant Clementsian trends in ecology re-emerged towards the end of the twentieth century.

Modern day Clementsians ascribe to “natural succession” that leads to “climax” forests, aka “old-growth.” The modern Clementsian theories have been promulgated by numerous individuals, but championed especially by Dr. Jerry Franklin of the UW School of Forest Resources.

In a recent Guest Opinion [here] in the Eugene Register Guard (co-authored by Dr. Norm Johnson of OSU), Dr. Franklin opined the following:

… Most BLM forests are growing on “moist forest” sites, outside of the interior Rogue River and Umpqua River valleys. These moist forests — typified by Douglas fir and Western hemlock — evolved with infrequent but relatively severe disturbance events, such as intense wildfires and windstorms. These disturbances allowed new generations of trees to become established.

Generally, it is unnecessary to do silvicultural treatments such as thinning to maintain existing old-growth forests on moist forest sites — in fact, such activities generally degrade these forests ecologically. Left alone, these old-growth forests can perpetuate themselves for centuries, barring one of those severe natural disturbances. …

There are many scientific errors in that statement. First, forests do not evolve, species do. Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection applies to species, not aggregations of species. The forests of today are not mutualistic associations of interdependent plant species co-evolved over millions of years; rather they are chance combinations of competitive species filling temporary niches during a temporary break in the Ice Ages [here].

The plant mixes in this interglacial are not the same mixes that occurred in prior interglacials, nor (in most respects) anything like the plant communities of the Miocene, the last time it was as warm (continuously) as today.

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25 Jan 2010, 11:17am
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

Montana DNRC Advises Against “Fires for Resource Benefit”

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation convened a working group to evaluate “lessons learned” from the 2009 Fire Season. Their conclusions matched those of the Oregon Department of Forestry Perspective on 2009 Federal Wildfire Policy Guidance [here] — let it burn fires use for “resource benefit” don’t benefit resources and should not be allowed:

Given the breadth and scope of the concerns raised by use of resource benefit fire management strategies, many state fire agencies agree that broad application of such strategies –- particularly adjacent to the WUI, commercially viable timber stands, or critical watersheds/wildlife habitat is not advisable.

Which watersheds are not “critical”? None — all the watersheds in Montana are critical and vital to the well-being of society and the environment. The Montana DNRC would just as soon the USFS and BLM bagged the concept of “resource benefit” wildfires. They said it nicely, though:

Here are some recommendations that merit additional discussions by the work group:

1. The USFS should limit the use of resource benefit fire strategies to those areas where priority areas identified in local CWPPs have been treated either through mechanical means and/or prescribed fire.

2. Expanded use of resource benefit fire management strategies may transfer a significant amount of financial and safety risk to state and local governments. Consequently, representatives from these entities should be informed well before the fire season and directly involved with any decisions to expand use of this tool.

In other words, Let It Burn wildfires (LIBWF’s) should only be undertaken where the watershed has been prepared to receive the wildfire via “mechanical means and/or prescribed fire” — the techniques of restoration forestry. Hopefully, the mechanical means and prescribed fires are not ends in and of themselves, but rather treatments carried out under a framework of scientific restoration to achieve multiple resource goals based on a collaboratively agreed upon desired future condition.

Simply put, first we agree on the multiple resource goals, then we apply active management to establish those desired conditions, and then and only then do we allow wildfires to burn through (only) the treated areas.

Fire can be a useful tool to achieve resource goals, but it is a tool, not a weapon. You don’t throw hammers and nails at the boards — you use the hammers and nails in a thoughtful and expert way to build the desired structure.

If our land management agencies allow LIBWF’s to run willy-nilly wherever and whenever such wildfires accidentally erupt, then we might as well use our national forests as bombing ranges — the real world impacts are very similar.

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What’s wrong with the eastside forest compromise

By Jack Ward Thomas,, January 22, 2010 [here]

Sen. Ron Wyden’s proposed legislation on eastern Oregon forests — the Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection and Jobs Act of 2009 — clearly recognizes that the governance of the national forest system is increasingly dysfunctional, expensive, inconsistent, confused and frustrating.

Surely, those who cobbled together this “compromise” did so with the best of intentions. And Wyden has the courage to address the impasse. But the proposal sidesteps the real problem and opens a Pandora’s box. This solution will prove to be neither feasible nor long-lasting while further confusing the situation. Should the national forests become “local forests” managed under separate laws and overseen by advisory panels financed with federal dollars and staffed with federal employees? Who cut this deal — which is proposed as law supplanting current prescribed planning and management processes?

I don’t question the proponents’ integrity or motivations. I applaud their willingness to step forward. But the approach is flawed, inappropriate, less than fully informed and has implications for the management of the entire national forest system. It should be debated in that context.

If current laws, regulations and legal precedents continue in force, success is questionable. Proposed actions remain subject to legal challenge. And unless Oregon’s congressional delegation routinely earmarks funds to execute Wyden’s plan, the anticipated results are unlikely.

The deal assumes status-quo conditions – political, economic, ecological and legal. But dramatic change is but one insect and/or disease outbreak, one fire season, one mill closure, one appeal, one successful legal challenge, one budget, one new research result or one shift in market conditions away.

The deal hinges upon trade-off s between interest groups. Those who wanted environmental protection got their wishes – upfront. Those who wanted a “guaranteed” supply of raw material or a certain number of acres to be “treated” are, in gambler’s terminology, “betting on the come.”

What happens when this deal plays out? Who cuts the next deal? Will Wyden be there – ready, willing, and able – to enact the deal into law?

A similar tact is being taken by Sen. Jon Tester in Montana – but in a very different approach. Imagine such individualized deals made into law for 154 national forests by uncoordinated actions of dozens of senators who come and go with elections.

Clearly, the governance of national forests is dysfunctional due to numerous, overlapping, contradictory laws continuously and variously interpreted by the courts. That’s the problem. These bills are “sick canaries in the mine shaft” – indications that something is dangerously amiss.

Would it not be better to recognize and comprehensibly address that dysfunction?

Jack Ward Thomas is chief emeritus of the U. S. Forest Service.

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……

ODF Slams Let It Burn

Last November the Oregon Department of Forestry issued a “perspective” on the Let It Burn policies of the US Forest Service. The short story: ODF has big problems with federal wildfire policy.

Rather than give a synopis, here is the ODF “perspective” in full (unfortunately I can’t supply a link because I can’t find this document on the ODF website):

Oregon Department of Forestry

Perspective on 2009 Federal Wildfire Policy Guidance

November 29, 2009


The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) provides fire protection on 16 million acres of private, state, local government and federal lands. ODF’s protection jurisdiction borders, and is intermingled with, thousands of miles of US Forest Service and other federal ownership. ODF’s fire protection system is funded through a combination of landowner assessments and state general fund (roughly 50/50). Both federal and state protection systems have been well coordinated at both the local and regional levels. Each agency maintains fire fighting resources and cost effectively shares contract resources such as contract crews, engines and helicopters based on established priorities and the availability of the resources.

ODF is supportive of the USFS and the other federal agencies. We strive to maintain the established high level of cooperation that we have between the agencies. ODF is also supportive of the role of fire to help meet resource management goals. However, ODF and the landowners we provide protection to prefer forest management tools other than wildfire to treat unhealthy fuel loads. ODF does understand that with the limitations imposed on the federal lands, by a variety of factors, available federal forest management options are limited. ODF does not want the federal agencies to lose the effective use of fire as a management tool.

However, current and past guidelines for federal wildfire policy that allow wildfires to grow large over peak burning conditions during the summer months without full suppression efforts impact the state. These impacts include loss of ODF protected landowner’s resources, increased state preparedness costs, the possibility of increased suppression costs, competition for firefighting resources, and increased safety risks for all firefighters through additional exposure.

Federal Wildfire Policy guideline changes made in 2009 further complicate the issues by allowing the use of multiple resource objectives within one fire. Actions such as these further complicate state fire management activities, cost share agreements, and the use and coordination of firefighting resources.

ODF Federal Wildfire Policy Issues

* Transfer of risk to ODF and other firefighters. Ability/willingness of USFS to cover suppression costs associated with fires that impact others due to their activities.

* Transfer of risk and damage to non-USFS landowners. Ability/willingness of USFS and federal government to compensate for damages.

* During a heavy fire season firefighting resource shortages:

- Impacts firefighter and public safety and increases resources lost

- Continues to drive up the agencies costs for the availability of limited resources

* Reliability of national federal fire models to help make predictions

- 2008 Bridge Creek WFU – predicted high Haines, wind shift, poor humidity recovery, were the primary drivers in the fire blowing up and burning 1,963 acres of ODF protection.

- 2009 Big Sheep Ridge WFU – fire ignited in wilderness on August 29, on September 28, fire blows up with a dry, cold front passage, resulting in wind shifts and low humidity’s – fire burns 136 acres of ODF protection.

* Safety and least cost objectives seem to be used synonymously for resource benefit. However, what may be least cost for the jurisdictional agency that has the fire may be most costly for the neighbor. For true “least cost”, the focus should be on increased and aggressive initial attack.

* Increased preparedness and coordination cost to ODF to prepare in the event one of the federal fires comes onto ODF protection regardless of who pays the suppression costs. Increasingly, the threat to ODF jurisdiction exists nearly anywhere a federal wildfire is being managed for other than full suppression.

* Federal WFU and non-aggressive suppression fires impact on air quality and global warming through carbon emissions.

* Impact on habitat for threatened and endangered species.

* When the federal fire management objective is to increase the amount of wildfire acres burned across the landscape, through the use of multiple resource objectives, it becomes unclear what decision making is driving when aggressive initial attack is implemented. In other words when is the agency really trying to catch the wildfire at IA versus increasing the amount of wildfire acres burned across the landscape.

* The use of federal emergency wildfire suppression funds to accomplish land management resource objectives.


Federal fire suppression policy guidelines have undergone significant change since the shift from the “10 a.m. policy” of the 1970’s and before. In an effort to address the hazardous fuels issue on National Forests, variations of “let it burn” guidance with differing descriptors has been used over the years on an increasing number of fires that have escaped initial attack. Through discussions last spring and this fall, Forest Service managers have been communicating their intent to continue, and to expand their use of indirect attack and encourage the use of fire for resource benefit to accomplish land management objectives. It is ODF’s opinion this will result in larger, more expensive fires with the likelihood of increased impacts to the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon’s forest landowners.

Schizophrenic Forest Unmanagement

My blogging mentor, the Rogue Pundit, has written another perceptive essay about forests. The Rogue Pundit is a Renaissance man, interested in and knowledgeable about a vast array of topics — forests and forestry are not his sole or even primary themes. But whenever he focuses on forests, he hits the nail on the head.

RP’s latest essay is [here]. Some excerpts:

The Aborigines and Cap & Trade

by the Rogue Pundit, January 17, 2010

One of the first things Kevin Rudd did upon his election as Australia’s prime minister was sign the Kyoto Protocol. However, his Liberal government’s attempts to pass cap & trade legislation have gone poorly. Lurking behind the overheated rhetoric regarding catastrophic climate change grew a bill that was more about pork and income redistribution than reducing emissions… same as what our Democratic leaders have produced thus far.

In August and again in December, the Australian Senate soundly rejected the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). Rudd was really hoping to fly triumphantly into Copenhagen with the bill signed. However, he couldn’t even get the Greens to vote for it. …

Big businesses are perfectly willing to support a cap & trade system so long as it doesn’t hurt their bottom line. Even better, supporting the CPRS greenwashes those which will come out even or profit from the scheme. Meanwhile, those that pay will try to pass along the costs to their customers. That indirectly taxes the public while making many Australian goods less competitive on the international market. When activists claim that such initiatives will boost the economy via green jobs, they’re either ignorant or lying… higher energy costs function as a tax on the economy. And of course there’s the additional bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, most Australians have managed to ignore the fact that Aborigines aren’t particularly thrilled with the CPRS either. The legislation essentially freezes them out of the pork and income redistribution [here].

…Aborigines have no way to participate in the carbon trading because native title does not give them any control over vegetation. Generally, they have limited rights to hunt animals and enjoy customs on land shared with other interests.

Pastoralists, as well, have no means to enter the carbon economy. They do not own their land, they merely lease it from governments. Governments will be able to use the vast native title and pastoral inventories to offset their own pollution, or to trade on the open carbon market.

The CPRS will become subject to an indigenous legal challenge but not directly. The challenge will be directed at native title, specifically the Mabo case. Aborigines will argue that if Mabo found that indigenous title was never extinguished by colonisation, then indigenous rights are deeper than the right to wander and hunt. If animals and bush fruit are an indigenous asset, do they have rights to the ecosystems which sustain them? If so, they could use the bush to trade for carbon offsets.

An indigenous backroom agitator from Darwin, Tracker Tilmouth, is pushing this idea. …But Mr Tilmouth says not much Australian bush is really virgin.

“Aboriginal people have been fire-farming this land for 40,000 years,” Mr Tilmouth says.

“If you’ve been in central Australia and seen the spinifex [grass] plains of the Tanami desert, that is man-made. They burn it every year and use it for hunting kangaroos and other animals. They do it to this day.”

Most environmentalists would prefer that Aborigines stop managing the land and let it return to nature… whatever that is after 40,000 years of fire-farming. Gee, do you suppose that many of the plants, animals, etc. haven’t evolved over that time to become dependent upon man’s regular fires?

That same dynamic is at work in many parts of the U.S., especially here in the West. Anthropogenic fire has been missing here for most of two centuries now, subsequent fire suppression strategies have been schizophrenic, we’ve added some invasive species and killed off others, and on and on. Our forests aren’t returning to anything they’ve ever been.

Our forests aren’t returning to anything they’ve ever been.

That’s exactly right. Millennia of human stewardship through intentional, frequent, seasonal anthropogenic fire and the application of traditional ecological knowledge led to open, park-like forests, savannas, and prairies, arranged in an intentional anthropogenic mosaic.

Absent that stewardship we get fuel build-up, megafire, and conversion of forests to fire-type brush which infrequently erupts in return (or repeat) fires.

The ancient methods encouraged light-burning fires that allowed trees to grow to very old ages. The new un-methodology leads to catastrophic stand-replacing (or eliminating) fires that preclude long-lived trees.

Good-bye old growth, hello repeated disasters. Not smart.

How Coordination Plans Work

And How They Can Help Protect Your Rights

Note: the following is a introduction to “coordination plans,” a tool that local governments can use to become meaningfully involved in federal land management.

Additional information on this topic is available from Standing Ground [here], a periodical published by American Stewards for Liberty (formerly Stewards of the Range, now allied with the American Land Foundation).

Federal law (specifically the Federal Land Policy Management Act, FLPMA) mandates federal agencies to coordinate actions with local governments. That process occurs if and only if local governments insist upon it. County Commissioners need not sit on the sidelines while federal agencies promulgate and implement plans to burn public forests, degrade watersheds, pollute air and water, and cripple local economies. The FLPMA can be invoked, forcing federal agencies to deal directly and substantively with local interests.

By Fred Kelly Grant, Stewards of the Range, American Land Foundation and Liberty Matters, February/March 2007 [here]

Local governments that have implemented “coordination” status with federal management agencies are successfully fighting erosion of private property rights in their communities. The “coordination” status is authorized by almost every federal statute relating to management of land, resources, and the environment. All the local government has to do is formally accept the congressional invitation to “coordinate,” and federal agencies have no choice but to agree.

What is this “coordination” factor, which elevates the involvement of local government in federal planning and management actions? The foundation for the concept is found in the Federal Land Policy Management Act, commonly known as FLPMA. Section 1712 of Title 43 of the United States Code requires that the Bureau of Land Management must coordinate its “land use inventory, planning, and management actions” with any local government which has engaged in land use planning for the federal lands managed by the federal agencies.

Congress did not leave the definition of the word “coordination” to chance, or to the whim of the federal management agencies. Congress defined the word by specifying the duties and responsibilities of the BLM regarding local plans. The statute REQUIRES the following:

1. BLM must keep apprised of local land use plans;

2. BLM must assure consideration is given to local plans when federal plans are being developed;

3. BLM must attempt to resolve inconsistencies between federal and state local plans;

4. BLM must provide “meaningful…involvement” of local government officials in the development and revision of plans, guidelines and regulations;

5. The Secretary must, finally, compare local and federal plans and make sure they are consistent “to the maximum extent…consistent with federal law.”

BLM regulations set forth a very clear process by which the local government, which has developed a plan is able to “coordinate” with the BLM, and this process includes an elevation of the participation level of the local government to a point of notice and “meaningful” participation above and ahead of “public participation.”

Note that the statute does not limit mandatory coordination to “counties,” but rather extends it to “local government.” That language includes any unit of local government, often identified as any separate tax-raising unit of government, i.e., school districts, road districts, fire districts, irrigation districts, and cities and towns.

So, in a county where county commissioners or supervisors refuse to develop a local plan for coordination status, any school board or other tax-raising unit of government can gain coordinate status for itself. The ideal goal for local government would be to develop a plan by which the county, towns within the county, school districts, irrigation districts, fire districts, could all participate in the same coordination activities.

Other federal land management agencies are also required to deal with local governments on a higher plane than they do with the general public. This applies to those which operate under and implement the National Forest Management Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the National Preservation Act, Soil Conservation district statutes, and the National Environmental Policy Act. … [more]

The Principal Defects in Wyden’s Forest Bill

There are so many defects in Ron Wyden’s proposed “Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009″ (OEFROGPJA) that it is difficult to know where to start this analysis.

We have pointed out a few of the problems in previous posts [here, here, here]. They include conflict with other laws, rules, regulations; imposition of prescriptive forestry limits handicapping good management, political chicanery, bait-and-switch, and furthering of mass forest destruction by catastrophic megafires.

As written, OEFROGPJA is a vehicle for environmental disaster, and economic disaster, too.

That realization is slowly sinking in. An interesting Guest Opinion was proffered in the Oregonian yesterday, written by none other than two of the Gang of Four who together with Clinton and Gore forced the colossal failure of the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) on western Oregon, Washington, and Northern California 15 years ago.

The NWFP has failed miserably in every one of it’s stated goals [here]. Misery is the right word - The NWFP has caused the demise of the spotted owl, the population of which has crashed 60 percent or more since imposition. The No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch It Rot provisions have led to catastrophic fires of historical proportions that have decimated old-growth. And the regional economy has also been decimated — Oregon has led the Nation in unemployment, business bankruptcy, home foreclosure, and hunger for 15 years, all thanks to the NWFP.

So it might be instructive to parse the pronouncements of the Gang O’ Two [here] to see what they really think about Wyden’s OEFROGPJA bill. Let us read between the lines of the Guest Opinion:

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