11 Sep 2009, 11:58pm
Politics and politicians
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Harris Sherman Nominated As Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment

USDA Press Office Release No. 0432.09 09/10/2023 [here]

PRESIDENT OBAMA, SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCE INTENT TO NOMINATE HARRIS SHERMAN AS USDA UNDER SECRETARY FOR NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT

WASHINGTON, September 10, 2023 - President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate Harris Sherman as Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sherman will serve with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“For decades, Harris Sherman has been dedicated to conserving and improving the environment in Colorado and beyond,” said Vilsack. “It would be a privilege to have a public servant like Harris join the USDA leadership team to help carry out President Obama’s vision for protecting the natural resources we need for a healthy and prosperous America.”

The Natural Resources and Environment mission of USDA includes the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which are the United States’ primary public and private lands agencies charged with conserving, maintaining and improving natural resources. President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have charged this mission area with the restoration, conservation, and management of America’s forests and private working lands in order to make them more resilient to climate change and ecologically sustainable for current and future generations.

Sherman is the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and a member of Governor Ritter’s Cabinet. As Director, he oversees Colorado’s energy, water, wildlife, parks, forestry, and state lands programs. He also serves as the Director of Compact Negotiations for the Colorado Interbasin Compact Commission, Chairman of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and Co-chair of the Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Council.

Sherman has also served on a wide variety of public and private agencies and organizations. He has been Chairman of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, Chair of the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board, and Chair of the Denver Regional Air Quality Council. He has served as a Commissioner of Mines, as a Commissioner of the Denver Water Board, and as a Trustee of Colorado College. For several decades, Sherman has been active in land conservation efforts with the Nature Conservancy, Colorado Open Lands, and the Trust for Public Land.

Sherman received his B.A. degree from Colorado College and his law degree from Columbia University Law School.

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11 Sep 2009, 12:58am
The 2009 Fire Season
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Indian Firefighting: The Little People Fire

The following fire report was compiled from various information sources and posted at W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking [here]. I thought it might interest SOS Forests readers, so I am posting it here, too.

I post daily about many active fires. This one was different. On this fire the landowners jumped on it aggressively and put it out forthwith. On many fires that I report, the landowner is the US Government and many of the fires are not fought at all or half-heartedly at best. The landowner on the Little People Fire is not the Feds. They are resident landowners, not the absentee kind. It makes a big difference.

Little People Fire

Location: Crow Reservation, 16 miles E of Bridger, Big Horn Co., MT
Specific Location: Pryor Creek above Pryor Gap, 45.313 latitude, -108.528 longitude

Date of Origin: August 31, 2023
Cause: Lightning

Situation as of 09/10/2023 6:00 pm
Personnel: not specifically reported
Size: 126 acres
Percent contained: 100%

Little People Photographs [here]

Incident Overview [here]

More than 3000 lightning strikes hit the Crow Reservation as a cold front passed through Monday, August 31. Lots of rain accompanied the storm, yet smoldering smokes appeared for several days afterward.

The Flatlip fire was reported at 12:30 Wednesday, September 2 in Lost Creek Canyon by homeowners south of Pryor. A squad from Crow and 16 smokejumpers contained that fire September 6. Responding to the Flatlip fire Wednesday Sept. 2, at 12:40 Pryor Engine Boss Darin Plain Bull saw a second smoke behind the Castle Rocks.

Recognizing that the second fire would have more burn potential and better access, he brought the Pryor squad and Engine 204 to the Little People fire, calling for air support. The firefighters had to ford Pryor Creek six times and climb almost 1000′ to the fire.

Within a half hour after the crew arrived, single engine and heavy air tankers from Billings supported by an aerial observer (”air attack”) were dropping retardant on the Little People fire, which then burned across retardant lines during the night two nights in a row.

Firefighters needed the fire to be dampened by water or retardant before they could dig line on the extremely steep, inaccessible canyon slopes at the fire. The fire area was too hazardous and inaccessible for work after dark.

Five helicopters and about 130 line firefighters were on the fire during its most intense fire behavior. Crews came from the Blackfeet, Crow, Ft. Peck, and Rocky Boy Reservations, and from the Bighorn National Forest. Helitack came from Yellowstone National Park and the Boise National Forest. Photos of crews and helitack are posted at “Photographs” above.

The fire slopped across containment lines for two nights due to rolling material. To rectify that, smokejumpers from the Flatlip fire spiked out on the fireline two nights to catch any fire growth early in the morning.

On September 6 crews maintained lines around the 126 acre fire for a full day without any further slopovers. Wetting rain of 0.13″ or so fell on September 7, the same day the fire was declared contained. Two crews demobed September 8. Two more crews worked through the day extinguishing hotspots, and putting water bars into fireline to prevent erosion. Most personnel demobed September 9, when the fire was turned over to Type 4 management from Crow BIA Forestry.

9 Sep 2009, 10:29pm
Forestry education Saving Forests
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Wakimoto Discourses On Anthropogenic Fire

Dr. Ronald H. Wakimoto is Professor of Forestry at The University of Montana, Missoula. He received his B.S. in Forestry and M.S. and Ph.D. in Wildland Resource Science from the University of California at Berkeley, studying under the legendary Harold Biswell.

Dr. Harold “Doc” Biswell was a pioneering advocate for the study of the ecological role of fire, for the use of prescribed fire in land management, and for fuels management. Dr. Biswell passed in 1992. Ron Wakimoto was one his last graduate students (I believe Dr. Biswell was already emeritus at that time). Ron’s Ph.D. dissertation (Wakimoto, R. H. 1978. Responses of southern California brushland vegetation to fuel modification. UC Berkeley, 278 p.) is well known and respected in forestry circles. Both men advocated prescribed burning and fuels management in chaparral and other vegetation types to mitigate and ameliorate the hazards of severe and catastrophic fire.

I was an undergrad at Berkeley in the early 70’s and had the occasion to meet and talk with both Ron and Harold. I have studied their research papers in the intervening years. My feeling is that a great many extreme and tragic fires could have been avoided if federal, state, and county officials and land management agencies had taken their advice. I still feel that way, in that future tragedies could be avoided if we listened to these great forest scientists and took better care of our landscapes.

Dr. Wakimoto has been at The University of Montana since 1982 teaching and conducting research in wildland fire management. He teaches academic courses in wildland fire management, fuel management and fire ecology. Dr. Wakimoto currently conducts research on the social acceptability of fuel management treatments, smoke quality and quantity from smoldering combustion, fire fighter safety, crown fire spread and the fire ecology of the Northern Mixed Prairie.

Yesterday Forest Service retirees meeting in Missoula were privileged to receive a discourse from Dr. Wakimoto on anthropogenic fire. I wasn’t there (sadly) but received this report over the ether:

Forest Service reunion in Missoula explores myths, realities of wildfires

By KIM BRIGGEMAN of the Missoulian, September 9, 2023 [here]

For most of his life, Ed Heilman has been thinking about wildfires and what to do about them.

The Missoula man retired from the U.S. Forest Service after 35 years as director of fire management in the Northern Region.

So Heilman listened with skepticism to what University of Montana professor Ron Wakimoto had to say Tuesday about Native Americans and their historic use of fire.

Then the Missoula man chuckled at himself.

“He changed my mind today,” he said of Wakimoto. “And that doesn’t come easy, by the way.”

Wakimoto is part of a heavyweight lineup of speakers and panelists at the 2009 Forest Service Reunion at the Hilton Garden Inn, which started Monday and runs through Friday morning.

His topic was billed “Fire in the Forest: Myths and Realities” and among the myths he dispelled was the notion voiced in 1959 by Raymond Clar of the California Division of Forestry.

Clar wrote that it was a “fantastic notion” that Indians systematically used fires to improve the forest.

Wakimoto said there has been “a tremendous amount of research” in the past 50 years to prove they did.

They set fires to clear trees to improve hunting prospects, to enhance the production of berries and medicinal plants, to improve grazing lands for their horses. They did it to clear lodgepole pine blowdown, to clear space for campsites and to remove cover that enemies could use to sneak up on them.

While white settlers viewed the land they claimed as wilderness, it actually bore extensive marks of management by fire over the centuries. As early as the 1750s, Wakimoto said, New York and other colonies were passing laws to outlaw Native Americans’ use of fire.

“Think about it. There was that much fire,” he said.

Heilman read the book “California Government and Forestry” in which Clar made his assertions soon after it was published, and he still has a copy.

“That was kind of the start of my foundation, you might say,” he said. “In all these years I believed it. I thought the Indians set plenty of fires, whether accidental or to get even with somebody. But ecology? Come on now.

“It turns out there was a deliberate pattern to it. And I don’t doubt Ron. I would take his word over Clar’s.”

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Why Spend Money On Fire Suppression?

Today yet another Government Accounting Office report on fire suppression costs was issued. It is Wildland Fire Management: Federal Agencies Have Taken Important Steps Forward, but Additional, Strategic Action Is Needed to Capitalize on Those Steps GAO-09-877 (49 pages; 1.33 MB) [here].

It the fiftieth or so such report from the GAO on that topic since 1999. Like the others, it is useless.

GAO-09-877 decries all the funds spent on firefighting. They are just too much, according to author Robin Navarro, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, GAO.

Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, federal agency officials,and others have expressed concern about mounting federal wildland fire expenditures. Federal appropriations to the Forest Service and the Interior agencies to prepare for and respond to wildland fires, including appropriations for reducing fuels, have more than doubled, from an average of $1.2 billion from fiscal years 1996 through 2000 to an average of $2.9 billion from fiscal years 2001 through 2007. Adjusting for inflation, the average annual appropriations to the agencies for these periods increased from $1.5 billion to $3.1 billion (in 2007 dollars).

The report then blathers on about this funding problem and offers less than the usual non-solutions. USFS Chief Tom Tidwell acknowledges the report in an appended letter, stating:

The Forest Service generally agrees with GAO’s findings and confirms the validity of this draft report, which contained no recommendations for further actions.

Now, that’s a non-responsive response if there ever was one, but who can blame him? Trading blather is what bureaucrats do.

Nowhere in this GAO report, or in any of the preceding 50, is a fundamental question asked: Why spend any money on fire suppression at all?

That question is a very worthy one, and pertains, and ought to be considered when contemplating this issue. After all, the feds are not the only governmental body to fund firefighting. Every state has a fire suppression budget, as do all the counties and cities in the USA. You can’t go anywhere in this country, or to most other countries on Earth, and not find a fire department.

There must be some reason for that. Every government, large and small, in democracies and dictatorships, funds fire suppression. It’s a universal function of government. Every government, benevolent or tyrannical, envisages some need for firefighting. Every government allocates funds for that purpose, and must make some sort of analysis as to how much spending is appropriate.

That’s the unaddressed question behind all the blather in the GAO report. How much funding for fire suppression is appropriate?

And that begs the fundamental question: Why spend anything at all to put out fires?

In economic terms, the question is better stated in technical language: What is the economic utility of fire suppression?

It’s a heck of a question, and one that ought to be asked to the GAO, and to every Congressperson, and to Chief Tom Tidwell and the USFS, and to every government official, large or small, who oversees and/or makes allocation decisions about money spent on firefighting.

There is an answer, a valid, rational, and logical one, and it is obvious if you think about it.

The economic utility of fire suppression funding is the reduction in potential damages caused by fires.

Fires damage stuff. Homes are valuable commodities, as are the possessions within homes, and fires can burn homes to cinders, destroying all that valuable stuff. It is cheaper and better to spent a few dollars on putting the fire out than on letting it burn and doing many times more dollars worth of destruction.

Fires can kill people, and people are also valuable, at least to themselves and sometimes to their families and friends. It is better to extinguish a fire before it harms human lives. Animals are valuable too, and societies large and small see utility in putting out the fire before the pets and livestock succumb.

Even tyrannical dictators value their stuff, the opulent palaces, garages full of limousines, etc. Your average tyrannical dictator had to go to some effort to murder his way to the top, and he is generally less than enthusiastic about having his ill-gotten gains combusted when he gets there. So even murderous thugs see a need for a competent, well-equipped fire department close by the palace grounds.

The thinking worldwide is to spend some amount on fire suppression so that a greater amount of damages are prevented.

One way to phrase this thinking, in technical economic language, is that the economic utility of fire suppression is to minimize the cost-plus-loss from fires.

That language is not difficult to understand. The cost is the fire suppression expense, and the losses are the damages that fires inflict. The total of those is cost-plus-loss, and the idea is to make the total as small as possible.

It is a balancing act. If the fire suppression outlays are too small, the damages mount up, and the total cost-plus-loss can be huge. If the fire suppression outlays are profligate, there may be few damages, but the total sum can still be large. The trick is to find the most efficient amount of suppression that achieves the least amount of damages so that the total cost-plus-loss is as small as possible.

That’s the REAL calculation that governments face and must solve. Unfortunately, the GAO is off on some sidetrack and does not even acknowledge fire damages, let alone express the need to minimize them. They never heard of cost-plus-loss. Their only desire is to reduce suppression expenses. But that’s not the goal of fire suppression funding. The goal is to minimize cost-plus-loss. The GAO doesn’t get it, has never got it, and probably never will get it, sad to say.

It is not clear whether Congress gets it, or the USFS, or anybody except maybe insurance companies, economists, accountants, homeowners, foresters, the peasantry, and assorted riffraff like that.

In order to educate and inform the otherwise ignorant hoi polloi and ruling elites on this very important concept, some folks put together the Wildland Fire Cost-Plus-Loss Economics Project and wrote a paper about cost-plus-loss [here].

We (I was one of the authors) pointed out that the losses (damages) from wildfires are anywhere from 20 to 50 times greater than the costs (fire suppression expenses). Therefore, when contemplating fire suppression funding, it would behoove the ruling elites to consider the losses, to tally or otherwise estimate them, in order to arrive at the efficient funding amount. If total cost-plus-loss is not considered, then the goal of fire suppression funding cannot be achieved, unless by accident, which is unlikely.

However, to date the GAO has not glommed onto the concept, and neither has the Forest Service or Congress. Our ruling elites continue to skip down the garden path in blissful ignorance about what it is they supposed to doing and why.

Hence the question posed in the title of this essay. You know the answer to that question now. Wouldn’t it be revealing and possibly helpful in some respect to ask your Congressperson the question?

Try it and find out if they know the answer. And if they don’t know, as is likely, please inform them. You have only yourself and your stuff and your family and your town, forests, watersheds, neighbors, landscapes, nation, and planet to save.

8 Sep 2009, 4:29pm
Forestry education
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World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492

John L. Sorenson, Carl L. Johannessen. 2009. World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492. iUniverse. ISBN: 978-0-595-52441-9

A book review by Mike Dubrasich

There exists a pernicious myth that American Indians were savages (noble or not) living in roving bands of hunter-gatherers, at one with Nature due to their lack of civilization and technical sophistication.

That myth has been exploded by cutting-edge anthropology, archaeology, and historical landscape geography.

Prior to Columbus’ “discovery” of the “New World”, human beings had lived and thrived in the Americas for 12,000 years or more. They built great cities such as Teotihuacan, which by 700 C.E. had an estimated population of 200,000 and was larger than Paris and London combined four hundred years later!

Pre-Columbian Americans developed writing, mathematics, astronomy, and agriculture. Cropping systems were in use as much as 9,000 years ago [here] and had spread across much of both North and South America by 5,800 years ago [here].

People built incredible earthworks including terraces, raised fields, canals and irrigation systems for agriculture [here]. People modified soils for food cropping across vast territories such as Amazonia [here].

And pre-Columbian people developed food crops such corn (maize), potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, pumpkins (all edible squashes), sweet potatoes, sunflowers, peppers, pineapples, watermelons, strawberries, and pecans. All edible beans except horse beans and soybeans were developed in the pre-Columbian Americas.

It is widely believed that these food crops, common around the world today, were not known outside the Americas until Columbus and other contemporary explorers brought them to Europe 500 years ago. But if so, how do you explain this?

This wall sculpture from the Hoysala Dynasty Halebid temple at Somnathpur, Karnataka state, India, dates between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. Among the numerous representations of maize ears, the shape of the ear, kernels off set in relation to those in adjacent rows, the presence of part of the husk, and other features ensure that no object other than an ear of maize could be represented. The mudra (sacred gesture) made by the figure’s hand underlines the sacred significance of the context and thus of maize. (Photograph by C. Johannessen.)

In World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492 authors John L. Sorenson and Carl L. Johannessen present strong evidence that pre-Columbian Americans engaged in overseas trade:

People moved into America very early across the Bering Strait. By the fifth millennia B.C.E. tropical sailors brought diseases to America and took plants and animals in both directions.

Long before Columbus, tropical sailors carefully selected crops from New World highlands and shorelines, wet and dry climates, and took them to the Old World where they were grown in appropriate environments. Medicinal and psychedelic plants were traded and maintained in Egypt and Peru during separate 1,400-year periods. This implies that maritime trade was continuous.

In this groundbreaking book, learn about:

* 84 plants that were taken from the Americas to the Old World.
* What plants and animals were brought to the Americas.
* Why world trade was essential for transfer of so many.
* Interconnectedness of civilizations had to result from world trade.
* Dating of 18 species by archaeology with radio carbon shows dispersal.
* And much more!

Plants, diseases, and animals from America were distributed throughout the world, across the oceans before 1492. It is time for scientists, teachers, and students to reconsider their beliefs about the early history of civilization with World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492.

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8 Sep 2009, 1:00pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
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Is it Time to Give Our Federal Forests Back to the Indians?

James D. Petersen, Executive Director of The Evergreen Foundation [here] and one of the most knowledgeable, indefatigable, literate, and leading voices for responsible forest stewardship ever, gave a wonderful speech two years ago at Thirty-first Annual National Indian Timber Symposium.

His topic was a philosophical discussion of the decline in federal forest management, and whether it might be the best thing to simply give our national forests back to their original owners, Native Americans. As far fetched as that idea is, it makes sense in the following ways:

* Federal forest management has collapsed into megafire and devastation. Our forests, watersheds, wildlife habitat, rivers and streams, and rural communities have suffered enormously from abandonment of stewardship by ignorant political forces far from the national forest locales.

* Tribal forests, on the other hand, have experienced a renaissance of stewardship. Both traditional and modern techniques are used, and the forests are managed by the residents, who have the most to gain, or lose, by their actions.

* Putting federal forests back into local control would protect and enhance a variety of forest values that are currently in precipitous decline.

* Native American tribes are well-organized and staffed with professionals these days, and so they could step in immediately to correct the glaring deficiencies engendered by absentee, incompetent, centralized government bureaucracies.

There is little likelihood of such an ownership conversion in the near future, but it’s something to think about — if for no other reason than to spur the federal bureaucrats and politicians into a rude awakening.

The entire Petersen speech is [here]. Some excerpts follow:

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Indian Forestry vs. Federal Forestry

Newly posted in the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: Forest and Fire Science [here] is Two Forests Under The Big Sky: Tribal V. Federal Management, PERC Policy Series No. 45, by Alison Berry, a research fellow with the Property and Environment Research Center [here].

Two Forests Under the Big Sky compares the management styles on adjacent forest ownerships in western Montana - the first being that of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the second being the Lolo National Forest.

Some reviewer comments:

We have long been enthusiastic supporters of tribal forestry and less than enthusiastic observers of what is wrong with current federal forest management policy. Two Forests Under the Big Sky strikes deep at the heart of everything that is wrong with the way our national forests are being managed today—and everything that is right about the way Indians manage their forests. I’ve said for years that it is time for America to give its federal forests back to the tribes from whom these once beautiful lands were taken more than a century ago. Alison Berry’s essay only adds to my belief. — Jim Peterson, Evergreen Foundation [here].

Why is it that neighboring forests of similar size and makeup produce different economic and environmental outputs? In this essay, Alison Berry again demonstrates PERC’s unique ability to analyze how different governance structures, and their inherent incentive systems, impact the ability of land managers to achieve their objectives. The comparison Berry provides between federal and tribal forest management is a clever way to demonstrate what works, what doesn’t, and why. — Doug Crandall, Director, Legislative Affairs, USDA Forest Service

The Lolo National Forest (LNF) and the forests of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) are comparable in area, species composition, and ecological factors. The LNF is larger and has a larger timber sale program, but the CSKT actually earns a positive return from timber sales while the LNF loses money.

As one consequence, the CSKT has an effective conservation program and their forests provide “a range of products and amenities including not only timber, but grazing, recreational opportunities, wilderness areas, and habitat for fish and wildlife such as grizzly bears and Canada lynx.” The CSKT has managed for and increased the populations of peregrine falcons, trumpeter swans, northern leopard frogs, and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse.

In contrast, the LNF is beset by widespread beetle infestations and megafires. The ecosystems there are in collapse, including populations of the aforementioned wildlife.

Ms. Berry posits some explanations for these differences:

Since the CSKT rely on timber revenues to support tribal operations, they have a vested interest in the continuing vitality of their natural resources. Tribal forest manager Jim Durglo comments, “Our forest is a vital part of everyday tribal life. Timber production, non-timber forest products, and grazing provide jobs and income for tribal members and enhance the economic life of surrounding communities” (Azure 2005). The tribes stand to benefit from responsible forest stewardship — or bear the burden of mismanagement.

In contrast, on the Lolo, there is little connection between performance and reward. Management decisions are often dictated by politics rather than local conditions. National forests receive funding from Congressional appropriations apparently regardless of timber revenues or ecological concerns. Revenues from forest operations are sent to the general treasury. The disconnect between budget inputs and revenues generated means there is scant incentive to operate efficiently, or to manage the forest for future productivity. Moreover, there is no direct constituency for cost-effective national forest management comparable to the tribal members on the reservation. …

She also notes that

Some problems stem from a rash of environmental litigation on the Lolo National Forest, which diverts time and resources from on-the-ground management (USDA Forest Service 2002b, 2002c). Between 1998 and 2005, nineteen cases were filed against the Lolo (USDA Forest Service 2007a). In 2007, more than 21 million board feet were held up in appeals and litigation (Backus 2007) — about the equivalent of an average year’s harvest for the forest since 2000 (USDA Forest Service 2008a).

In contrast, tribal forest management is rarely challenged in court, so managers are more able to address environmental concerns in a timely fashion (Skinner 2005–2006). As Jim Peterson, editor of Evergreen Magazine said, “The tribes do a lot of things I wish we were doing on our federal forest lands if we weren’t all knotted up in litigation” (quoted in Hagengruber 2004). Only one timber sale has been appealed on the Flathead Reservation.

In the 1980s, Friends of the Wild Swan brought suit against the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The case was dropped, however, when the court required Friends of the Wild Swan to post a bond to process the appeal. “If they lost the appeal, they would lose the bond” (Jim Durglo, quoted in Skinner 2005–2006).

The CSKT is managed by and for the resident owners. The LNF is managed by an absentee government, politicized confusion, and enviro lawsuits. The former has a vibrant, conservation-minded stewardship program and healthy ecosystems. The latter is in ecological disarray and prone to megafire, insect infestations, and disaster.

Can we afford to allow our public forests to be the play toys of lawyers? Are we content to sit back and watch our priceless heritage forests being destroyed by nincompoops? Or should we learn a lesson from the First Residents and tend our lands with care and respect?

7 Sep 2009, 11:23pm
Climate and Weather
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Climate Chains Trailer Released

The Cascade Policy Institute [here] has released a YouTube “trailer” [here] to their upcoming video Climate Chains.

This timely trailer exposes why cap-and-trade is economically destructive and will lead to no measurable environmental benefit. The target release date for ‘Climate Chains’ is mid-September before the U.S. Senate begins tackling cap-and-trade legislation.

The Cascade Policy Institute promots public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon.

The Liberal Stewardship Agenda Is Deliberate Failure

by bear bait

I am NOT a scientist. No credentials at all. But I can smell a smear job a mile away. The attacks on Bonnicksen are murders of character, murders of the messenger.

The first issue in fire in these United States is that since the coming of Europeans to this land, fires have been extinguished by accident or intent. The accident was the pandemics that were brought here, extinguishing the native population of humans who molded the landscape with set fire. The Euro-thought of metes and bounds, the descriptive and prescriptive ownership of land, its uses, and the concept of trespass, changed fire regimes if only because fire destroyed what were valuable assets in the mind’s eye of the new inhabitants. Fire as a landscape management tool used by man on this landscape for more than 10,000 years has been a victim of endemic racism that floated across the Atlantic on boats. It is still with us. PhD scholars still cannot fathom that man created the forests, shaped them, and tended the wild, not unlike the fields and forests of Europe. Can’t and won’t. Endemic Old Country racism won’t let them.

The huge disconnect by True Believers of the Gore Global Warming scenario (it is Sept 7, 62 degrees outside… snow forecast for the mountains) from the impacts of natural air inputs from earth sciences like wildland fire, volcanoes, organic decomposition, wind and currents working on the ocean biology, cannot be dismissed. The True Believers stated intent to make man the fall guy for every perceived change in local and global climate, is not science, nor does it serve the betterment of mankind. Academic science needs work. Boy oh howdy, does global warming serve that end.

We now have a self-appointed elite cadre of politically oriented humans, all packing personal baggage of some sort about their findings and educations, determined to demean and extinguish any and all “science” that does not meet their criteria of political (read financial) need at this time in this world. How we got here is by liberal educations at the University, where I saw recent numbers that over 95% of faculty identified themselves as liberals and supporting of the left, liberal agenda. It has become apparent, that earth science is no more than political science in drag and printed in the ever diminishing dead tree press.

Science today is about money, and money comes from government. Witness the Newport, Oregon landing of the West Coast hub for NOAA marine activities. Being billed as a job creator, it is nothing more than a move by a government agency to new offices, all paid for by tax monies. The new jobs are nothing more than a redistribution of wealth to a new area, by government. But the political take is still that of accomplishment, not unlike an eagle stealing a fish from an osprey, by local government. Science is not the reason for the move. Nor easier access to the North Pacific, since many safer, better developed, and more centrally located ports exist (like Seattle). It was a payoff to Lubchenco’s home base, to feather her nest after her stint as NOAA director is over.

When ten thousand or more years of directed, planned, and intentional land management, carried out by the burning brand in hand, is extinguished by racist invaders, you do know that there had to be a change in vegetation and the expression of ecosystems. New managers with a new agenda, and 500 years later the new agenda has been exposed as a failure. The blame has been worded as the failure of the land management agencies to allow fires to burn. Not a word about setting fires at provident times of the years to gain management goals.

The only way to regain that past management, and the forests defined by that activity, is to have a proactive plan in place and carry it out. That we now have to do it with very restrictive job descriptions, planning sessions, with a human element grossly lacking in experience and direction, all now politically determined, is an indication that help is not on the way, and change is not on the way, and rhetoric is all that the citizenry might expect from our leaders in the present situation. Heralds for the present defective condition are all that we hear from on high. And there is a huge, well funded, non-profit machine in place to not change how we do things.

The solution is in the people. Leadership (by elected and appointed elites) has failed us. In time, I would hope concerned laymen might avail themselves to the “one pager” fire assessment program from the creators of the “Wildland Fire Economics Project” (did I get that name right?) to begin a process of assembling a record of fire impacts on the local community, and wherever else any one fire might have changed the local landscape, watersheds, habitats, and qualities.

The solutions won’t come from Academe. Academics are used by liberals to bolster their idea of the world, not from a science platform but from an idealist platform. They are bought and paid for by interests who use them to demean the rigor of science, employing the tactics of personal attack. Dueling academics are producing little good and lots of bad press.

A grassroots movement to record and document definitive, empirical wildland fire outcomes, in terms of dollars, is the best hope to change how we now do business in this climate of racist, dollar driven attacks on common sense from the liberal fire apologists.

When I think about how to change the landscape to one that humanity can live with, I often wonder what would happen if public lands were still public but managed by Native Americans in the old ways. At the very least, a pilot project in that vein on a defined area of magnitude might be worthwhile. Better that than this benign neglect scheme that is nothing more than serial conflagrations to no productive end.

Choking Smoke from LA Fires Denied By Enviro Wackos

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

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

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

Study: Greenhouse gases from wildfires damaging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6 Sep 2009, 3:57pm
Federal forest policy
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BLM Permanently Drops Fuels Management, Grazing Categorical Exclusions

Secret deal includes irregular payoff to enviro lawyers

MEMORANDUM

TO: LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY AND INTERESTED PARTIES

FROM: KAREN BUDD FALEN, BUDD-FALEN LAW OFFICES, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming

DATE: SEPTEMBER 1, 2023

RE: BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT CATEGORICAL EXCLUSION INSTRUCTION MEMORANDUM BASED UPON WESTERN WATERSHEDS PROJECT V. LANE

Below please find a press release/letter to the editor regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s Instruction Memorandum dated August 21, 2023 discontinuing the use of Categorical Exclusions for term grazing permit renewal in all cases.

INTRODUCTION

On August 21, 2009, the Bureau of Land Management (”BLM”) issued an instruction memorandum (”IM”) which “immediately and permanently” stopped all BLM field offices from issuing term grazing permit renewals based upon categorical exclusions (”CE”). According to the IM, the nation-wide discontinuance of the use of CEs for term grazing permit renewal was required by a settlement agreement in an Idaho Federal District Court case entitled Western Watersheds Project v. Lane, No. 07-cv-394-BLW. Although according to the court’s website, the settlement agreement was “restricted,” this firm was able to acquire a copy. The terms of the settlement agreement mandate a discontinuance of the use of CEs for term grazing permit renewals nationwide regardless of circumstance. Additionally, the U.S. Justice Department paid Western Watersheds Project (”WWP”) $43,000 in fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act.

PROBLEMS WITH THE LITIGATION AND SETTLEMENT

There are several things about this settlement agreement which should concern the livestock industry. First, there were no intervenors in this litigation, thus no one to advocate the livestock industry’s points, legal arguments and concerns. While I agree that money is tight, and certainly no one can guarantee that there would have been a different outcome if ranchers were represented in the case, it may have made a difference and certainly the outcome would not have been worse.

Second, there will be no use of categorical exclusions to renew term grazing permits, regardless of the factual circumstances. That will amount to significantly more paperwork for the BLM. I guarantee, however, that the WWP will not stop here. I have been involved in a significant number of cases related to BLM permits where the environmental groups argue that if the NEPA compliance is not completed before the term permit expires, grazing should be eliminated from the allotment. This would be an untenable position for permittees. The BLM admits that it is woefully behind completing its NEPA compliance paperwork, even on the smallest of permits and even when the rangeland conditions are in excellent condition. However, WWP and other environmental groups are arguing that if the NEPA paperwork is not completed before the end of the ten year term, livestock grazing has to be eliminated from the allotment until NEPA is done. Do not kid yourselves, it is not the compliance with NEPA that the environmental groups want; it is the elimination of livestock grazing.

Third, the restriction on acquiring the settlement agreement is concerning. Settlement agreements, particularly those involving an entire program of the federal government as well as attorney fees paid from agency budgets, should not be restricted from public view particularly in an administration that pledged more “transparency and an open government.”

Finally, WWP was paid $43,000 for this case. This case was not “won,” but settled. The settlement agreement specifically states that it is based upon compromise and that there is no admission by any party to any fact or claim. The attorney fees payment was premised upon the Equal Access to Justice Act (”EAJA”). EAJA only applies in those cases with a “prevailing party” and when the federal government’s position is “not substantially justified.” The EAJA requirements are directly contrary to the language in the settlement agreement, but the federal government voluntarily paid $43,000 from the BLM’s budget to WWP. If anything, those funds should be used for the additional NEPA compliance which the settlement agreement and the IM now require.

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Acornistas Sue for Holocaust

Yep, while megafires rage across the West, the Sierra Club is suing the USFS, again, to halt another forest restoration project.

Groups Fight Forest Thinning Project

By Sonya Angelica Diehn, September 3, 2023 [here]

Eugene, Oregon (CN) - Environmentalists sued the U.S. Forest Service over its thinning plan for Umatilla National Forest in Oregon, which they say will fail to serve its purpose and hurt adjacent roadless areas.

The League of Wilderness Defenders-Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and the Sierra Club say the Wildcat Fuels Reduction and Vegetation Management Project was approved after a deficient environmental assessment.

The project is intended to reduce timber losses from insect infestation and restore historic forest conditions, among other purposes, the lawsuit states.

But instead of benefiting the forest, the plan will cut old-growth trees and build roads that damage ecological integrity, hurt sensitive specie, degrade water quality and increase the risk of severe fire, the groups say.

The assessment failed to consider impacts to two contiguous roadless expanses, one at 23,000 acres south of the project area, and another 17,000 acres north of it.

Those areas include inventoried and uninventoried roadless areas, and areas with wilderness potential.

The faulty environmental assessment is based on controversial science that proposes to remove up to two-thirds of the trees to deal with insect outbreaks, the suit states.

Represented by Sean Malone, the plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.

Some facts, just in case you’re interested, from the Wildcat Fuels Reduction and Vegetation Management Project, Heppner Ranger District, EIS Purpose and Need (the entire NEPA document set is [here):

The Wildcat project area is located in the eastern portion of the Heppner Ranger District in Morrow and Grant counties, Oregon, about 15 miles south of the town of Heppner. The project area comprises about 25,450 acres within the National Forest boundary in the Little Wall Creek, Skookum Creek, and Swale Creek subwatersheds located within the Wall Creek Watershed which drains into the North Fork John Day River. The topography is generally a south aspect with 10 to 20% slopes. The elevation ranges between 3600 feet and 5280 feet. There is 4,150 acres of the Monument Big Game Winter Range in the southern portion of the project area.

There are no inventoried roadless areas, no wilderness areas and no wild and scenic rivers within the project area.

The northern portion of the project area is comprised mostly of cold and moist upland forest. Spruce budworm caused widespread mortality in Douglas-fir and grand fir species in the late 1980s and early 1990s resulting in abundant snags, dead topped trees, and down woody material up to 70 tons/acre. A result of this insect outbreak was a change in the tree structure.

In the dry upland forest, stands once dominated by open park-like stands of ponderosa pine have closed in with shade tolerant species such as Douglas-fir and grand fir.

Today, the dry upland forests are comprised of dense multi layered canopies of shade tolerant/fire intolerant species, which are not characteristic of historic conditions. The cold and moist upland forest areas are an open structure with a low to moderate overstory density and abundant reproduction in the understory. Bark beetles and root rot are continuing to cause mortality in ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine. Dwarf mistletoe is prevalent in both western larch and Douglas-fir and is infecting the reproduction coming in underneath the overstory.

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Diversifying Forest Continuity

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

BNF Fire News:

BOISE NATIONAL FOREST

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 4, 2023

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

Resource Benefit Fire Evaluations Lead to Varied Options

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

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

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

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

Diversify forest continuity? That’s a new one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Sep 2009, 5:24am
The 2009 Fire Season
by admin
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Air Tankers, Politics, and Turf

The following editorial and comments appeared in the Idaho Mountain Express last month. We thought they were interesting, and not just because of the clever use of terms like “idiocracy”, “acornists”, and “large women”. Thanks and a tip of the hardhat to RRsue and the YP Times for the link up.

‘Fire bombers’ needed now

Idaho Mountain Express Editorial, August 12, 2023 [here]

A bureaucratic snag that doesn’t make sense to most mortals is holding up $2.5 billion needed to expand and upgrade the Agriculture Department’s fleet of aerial firefighting tankers.

Why? Because Congress wants more detailed justification.

Justification? Hundreds of pages of statistics and graphs available now show conclusively the Forest Service aviation operation is in dire need. Of the 44 tankers it had in 2002, only 19 are now flying, some 50 years old. The others were grounded as unsafe because of age.

So, the agency turns to leasing or renting from a pool of some 800 privately owned fire bombers and helicopters, plus a few U.S. Air Force tankers, at premium rates.

Because of the shortage of Forest Service tankers, about 150 fires that were not attacked early led to additional suppression costs of between $300 million and $450 million. A large new air tanker reportedly costs about $75 million.

Fighting wildfires is big and costly business. Considering just fires of 40,000 acres or more in 2008, tentative costs were estimated at $706 million. During the year, air tankers dropped more than 12 million gallons of retardant.

States such as Idaho, whose spectacular forests always are vulnerable to rapacious fires, should pressure Congress to end the delay and get on with procuring new aircraft.

Aircraft deliveries take time, but fires don’t wait. The federal government shouldn’t risk destruction of entire communities, whose restoration can take years, in wrangling over saving a dime.

——————————————-

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing Inc.

——————————————-

Duncan – Ketchum, Id 08/14/09 - I am a former air tanker pilot. I worked for the company that lost two aircraft in ‘02 due to structural failure. Currently I am flying as an “Air Attack,” and I’m flying on the La Brea fire in Santa Barbara County.

Your article is mostly correct. In 2002 we actually had 56 air tankers available nationwide as well as many others owned by individual states. Currently, there are 16 available nationwide. This does not include the ill-advised DC-10 and 747 VLAT (Very Large Air Tankers). There has been a proliferation of the smaller SEATS (single Engine Air Tankers) and massive expansion in the helicopter capability. California has upgraded and modernized its fleet of 16 S-2’s and converted them to turbine engines, increasing the capacity and capability.

Fire fighting is unfortunately very political. In its sweeping decision of 2002 the FEDS threw out the baby with the bathwater. Fearing liability, all tankers were grounded and only the P2’s and P-3’s were eventually allowed to return to service after much lobbying by those who had the right contacts. ALL Douglass aircraft, the 4’s, 6’s and 7’s were denied returning to service. This deprived the country of nearly 20 capable and reliable aircraft. The hypocrisy of the FEDS became apparent when they continue to fly the Douglass DC-3 converted to the Bassler BT-67 used by the smokejumpers. Politics.

There are literally dozens of P-3 aircraft sitting in the desert at Davis Mothan outside of Tuscon. These aircraft will NOT be released to the few remaining tanker operators, because private individuals are not allowed, by law, to possess front line military aircraft.

Ultimately, what is going to happen is the responsibility for flying air tankers will be assumed by the military at ten times the costs and one tenth of the effectiveness. It’s not the military’s fault, and I do respect them, it’s just that they rotate personnel and their protocols prevent them from being effective. This is an inherently hazardous business and is best left to the professionals.

What is truly needed to avert this folly is for a National Fire Service to be set up and run as an agency similar to the Coast Guard. This will never happened either, the USFS derives the greatest portion of its budget from firefighting and will not willingly give up this cash cow. They will continue to fight over turf, hoard resources, and generally do a poor job. So poor in fact, that their performance would get them fired in the private sector. But thank god for government employment. It is a perfect example of the “Peter Principle” in action. I have witnessed it over 12 years in my career and frankly am disgusted by the waste and inefficiency.

Yes, the Castle Rock fire was a great success. But remember, it was the political clout of this valley that brought in all the tools and made that fire a national priority. This does not happen everywhere and is not the norm.

Those of us who fly the planes on fire in this country live a ground hog day existence.
Some things never change.

——————————————-

Duncan – Ketchum, Idaho 08/20/09 - The sad thing is, I am working on the La Brea fire with Pincha-Tulley. I took OPS up for a recon yesterday early, we were told, “kill it, do whatever it takes to knock this sucker out.” Five hours later a NIMO Team showed up and said shut down the tanker base, you are spending too much money. They cut off food, and water. Never mind that contractually, food and water are provisions of the service we provide.

So then we had to leave the base and go to town and buy our own food on our own time.
Sounds not so bad right?

We”ll guess what happened when all the flight crews were in town having lunch at different restaraunts on their own dime? If you guessed the fire blew up and crossed the containment lines, then you win… more tax dollars spent.

The effort to save money on meals (around $1000.00 for all base personnel) ended up costing over $75,000.00 because of terrain compromised and increased efforts after everyone made it back from town.

Now the dispatchers, mind you, are not subject to these rules, they are feds, are well fed, and if you are not careful, they will eat not only your lunches while you are up flying, but if you try and grab any leftovers, they will eat your fingers. These large women are the problem, they are entrenched bureaucrats who scream discrimination if you try and get them to do their jobs, for which they are paid.

Grabass is the name of the game. They can all be found in the bar at the nearest hotel after sunset. Meanwhile, we pilots can be found walking along the highway to the nearest Taco Bell to try and get some sort of nourishment before we fly again in the morning.

So the fire has once again escaped containment lines, more money is being spent. Lives are at risk. And they shut down the base Tuesday afternoon, sent everyone home. Ooopps, Wednesday morning they brought everyone back, and had to take the time to reset what they had spent the previous day undoing. All in the name of saving money, hundreds of thousands more was spent.

The “Feral” government is the Peter Principle in action. There are good people trying to fight the idiocracy of “Change we can believe in,” but these voices are drowned out by the acornists who call us dinosaurs.

I am truly afraid we are witnessing the last days of the American republic. We will soon be a backwater banana republic where buffoons like like Pat Murphy are our leaders, pied pipers leading us all over a cliff. Goodnight Gracie

——————————————-

NOrdas – NV 09/02/09 -  Duncan, your comments are factual and correct. Those from the aviation know truth. The P-3 are the perfect solution. But that’s only if you wanted to put the out fires. (loaded Wass in Minden) I knew that day it would change aviation fire fighting forever, but not for the better.

I also witnessed the Feds actions against the State of Nevada NDF pilots. False charges and destroying pilots careers are not becoming attribute of the federal government. Getting rid of pilots and grounding aircraft is the fuel for a spending out-of-control intoxicated government.

I too share your disgust… glad I am no longer in the business!

4 Sep 2009, 10:00am
Forestry education Saving Forests
by admin
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No Natural Fire Regimes in Old-Growth Redwood

In a stunning and gutsy scientific study, it has been revealed that old-growth redwood forests of California were dominated by anthropogenic (human-set) fires for hundreds and probably thousands of years.

Dr. Steven P. Norman (currently of the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station), working out of the U.S. Forest Service Redwood Sciences Laboratory in Arcata CA, has discovered that the historical fire frequency in old-growth redwood was cultural, not “natural”.

His paper, A 500-Year Record of Fire from a Humid Coast Redwood Forest, is in the form of a report to the Save the Redwoods League [here], the 90-year-old organization dedicated to saving redwoods. Interestingly, the verbiage from the Save the Redwoods League extols “naturalness”:

Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has saved ancient redwood forests and redwood ecosystems to ensure that current and future generations can feel the awe and peace that these precious natural wonders inspire. We also save redwoods because they are rare — their natural range is only in central and northern California and southern Oregon — and because they are Earth’s tallest and some of the oldest and most massive living beings.

Yet the redwoods have been tended by human beings for millennia. Human burning on a frequent, seasonal basis in an eco-zone with little lightning kept redwoods free from severe fire as well as competition and allowed trees to reach phenomenal ages.

Absent frequent, ground-hugging, anthropogenic fire, infrequent severe, stand-replacing fire would have shortened tree life-spans considerably. Biologically, redwoods do not require long life spans to reproduce. There is no biological imperative for great ages. The long lives of redwood trees are an artifact of human intervention in the ecosystem, without which redwoods may have gone extinct during the Holocene.

We have not been given permission to post Dr. Norman’s paper in toto, but the abstract follows (at present the entire paper may be downloaded from the SRL site [here]):

California’s coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests have long been associated with moderately frequent to frequent fire, particularly in the southern and interior portions of the species range. The historical importance of fire in northern coast redwood forests is generally thought to be much less because lightning ignitions are rare, and cool coastal temperatures and summer fog ameliorate the fire hazard. Support for this climate-fire gradient hypothesis has been limited because of insufficient fire history data from the northern coast redwood range. Past efforts to test this hypothesis range-wide are made difficult because of methodological differences among studies and problems with scar preservation in redwood. This research revisits the fire history of an area thought to have experienced fire only a few times per millennium in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. I found that fire frequency was substantially more frequent than previously thought. Between 1700 and 1850, mean fire intervals within 0.25 to 1 ha sample areas varied from 11 to 26 years. Fire intervals did not correspond to a latitudinal, coast-interior or a topographically defined moisture gradient. Instead, patterns of fire frequency better fit a cultural burning gradient inferred from the ethnographic and historical record. Areas close to aboriginal villages and camps burned considerably more often than areas that were probably less utilized. Summer season fires, the ones most likely set by the Native Tolowa for resource needs, were 10 years shorter than the mean fire interval of autumn season fires. In the dryer eastern portion of the study area, frequent fire resulted in unimodal or bimodal pulses of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) establishment suggesting moderate to high fire severity. Near a Tolowa village site, a frequent fire regime before the late 1700s initiated a pulse of Douglas fir establishment that dominated the forest canopy for centuries; long after the village was abandoned, possibly due to epidemic disease. While variability in coastal fog-stratus and drought may also influence fire regimes, these relationships provide a weaker explanation than human ignition history. Variable human and climate influence on old-growth redwood fire regimes suggests that old growth redwood forests are not in equilibrium, but are dynamic due to a long history of variable human influence. Remnant old growth forests are likely to continue to evolve in response to human management. Efforts by managers to restore and sustain these remarkable forests can be enhanced by understanding how complex histories give rise to biodiversity. [emphasis added].

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