13 Jan 2010, 7:12pm
Saving Forests
by admin

Biochar Is a Sidetrack

I attended an interesting mini-conference on “biomass” yesterday. All the speakers were engaging. One of the topics discussed was biochar, charcoal incorporated into soils.

Charcoal has been identified as an important soil constituent in anthropogenic enriched dark soil (Amazonian dark earths or terra preta) found throughout the Amazon Basin.

Biochar is a valuable soil amendment in heavily leached soils because carbon binds to and stores the metallic oxide nutrients essential to plant growth. The addition of charcoal as well as organic detritus and “night soil” to Amazonian lateritic soils helped to create and sustain terra preta over centuries.

But singular additions of biochar to soils do not have much effect, even to very poor and weathered soils [here]. Incorporating compost and wood ash is more beneficial. That was the strategy of the ancient indigenes who created terra preta. Charcoal was not necessarily the key ingredient. Further, biochar is a very expensive soil amendment [here]. It is far cheaper and more effective (at increasing soil productivity) to apply manure straight, rather than to cook the manure in ovens first.

Nor is biochar the solution to global warming. The globe is not warming, CO2 is not a significant driver of global temperatures, and biochar is not made from fossil fuels. Biochar is a part of the natural, organic, carbon cycle. There will never be enough man-made biochar produced to make a detectable difference in atmospheric CO2.

Terra preta has other charms, though. The most significant finding from terra preta research is the reconstruction of human history. Historical human influences over millennia have dramatically altered the landscapes and vegetation in Amazonia and on every continent save Antarctica.

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13 Jan 2010, 12:28am
Climate and Weather
by admin
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Carbon Forestry: A Cautionary Note

By Roger Underwood

from The Forestry Source, January 2010. © Society of American Foresters

My position regarding global warming and climate change, and their impact on forestry is simple: it is one of fairly certain uncertainty.

On the one hand I accept that the world is gradually becoming warmer, as we continue to emerge from the last ice age. This might lead to a rise in average temperature in Australia of a couple of degrees over the next 100 years, probably through an increase in minimum, rather than of maximum temperatures. And I accept that many parts of Australia at the moment are experiencing prolonged drought, or periods of below-average rainfall, but I cannot tell yet whether these are due to global warming or are just natural climatic cycles.

On the other hand I have seen no convincing evidence that global warming is caused by human emissions of CO2. And even if this hypothesis is true, the idea that Australian (or American) foresters can fix the problem by planting trees is ambitious to the point of fantasy. The extent of tree planting needed to counteract the CO2 emissions from Australia alone could never be accomplished without an enormous impact on the high rainfall land-base, which in turn would have a dramatic impact on food production. Besides, the Australian contribution to the world’s carbon emissions is tiny; surely we foresters would be kidding ourselves if we think anything we do will make a difference on a global scale (other than as a symbolic gesture).

I am also puzzled by the view that increased temperatures will lead to reduced rainfall. Across geological time the reverse has always been the case, with the driest climates being associated with the times of coolest temperatures.

Nevertheless, I acknowledge the current political and media hysteria about climate change. It has taken on a life of its own. The situation is made worse by the fact that the world’s smart moneymen see the thing as a business opportunity, a way to get richer. Banks and financial institutions are not just capitalising on global warming hysteria, they are promoting it. Others also have their snouts deep in the trough. Australian academics love global warming—not only is it a source of very large research grants, it is a heaven-sent opportunity for some of them to drive the final nail into the coffin of the native forest timber industry.

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Accountability Matters

by Roni Bell Sylvester, Good Neighbor Law [here]

David Harsanyi’s column “Hide the decline . . . and more” [here and below] prompted me to write the following:

The minute an American Citizen’s paycheck goes to the government, its journey should be tracked to identify where it goes and if we approve.

If our tax payments head off in directions we disapprove, we should have the power to stop it!

Any thievery along the line should be exposed and dealt with before harm befalls anyone.

Trace-back would most likely reveal that a lion’s share of our tax payments one way or another go through a private corporation known as the Federal Reserve.

Someone needs to develop a diagram that clearly shows how eco-activist groups are linked to Hank Paulson, Goldman Sachs, Al Gore, and President Obama. Those of us in domestic resource production know they partner on birthing extractive policies out of climate change, clean water and restoration acts, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea Treaty, health care, stimulus bills, Environmental Protection Agency rulings, Department of the Interior (and more), in order to get land and water assets for themselves and for the Federal Reserve, which they loot periodically.

Each of us in the general public has the right to see the whole picture!

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30 Nov 2009, 10:16pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

The Tidwell-Vilsack Forest Doctrine

Each Chief leaves his or her own stamp on the US Forest Service. Tom Tidwell was named Chief last June [here] and already he is making his mark. Most recently Chief Tidwell has asked for “landscape conservation action plans” to address climate change:

U.S. Forest Service to Adapt Woodland Management to Climate Change

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has directed the agency’s regions and research stations to jointly produce draft “landscape conservation action plans” by March 1

By Noelle Straub, Greenwire, November 30, 2023 [here]

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has directed the agency’s regions and research stations to jointly produce draft “landscape conservation action plans” by March 1 to guide its day-to-day response to climate change.

In a memo earlier this month requesting the plans, Tidwell said climate change is “dramatically reshaping” how the agency will deliver on its mission of sustaining the health and diversity of the nation’s forests. He focused particularly on water management.

“Responding to the challenges of climate change in providing water and water-related ecosystem services is one of the most urgent tasks facing us as an agency,” Tidwell wrote. “History will judge us by how well we respond to these challenges.” …

It would be easy to criticize this action by pointing out that global warming alarmism has just taken a headshot with Climategate [here, here]. By the best measures [here] the climate is not changing significantly, and by the best estimates a slight cooling in global temperatures is expected over the next 30 years [here].

Hence dramatically reshaping the USFS mission to “respond to climate change” is pretty useless for that purpose, but such criticism might distract from more substantive aspects of the Tidwell-Vilsack vision for the US Forest Service. There is more to the emerging policies than that.

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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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Forest Carbon Emissions Model Report No. 3

W.I.S.E. is pleased and honored to announce 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. 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].

For Immediate Release:

To Offset Greenhouse Gas Damage Caused From California Wildfires During 2001-2007, State’s 14 Million Cars Would Need To Be Locked In Garages For 3 1/2 Years, Study Finds

A raging wildfire can burn out of control for a long period of time, but eventually it will be extinguished.  However, the effects of that wildfire can linger for years and be a prime contributor to global warming.

A study by Dr. Thomas M. Bonnicksen, Professor Emeritus of Forest Science at Texas A&M University, released today found that California’s increasing wildfire crisis is causing more destruction and undoing much of the progress California is making to fight global warming.

Dr. Bonnicksen, who holds a Ph.D. in forestry from the University of California, Berkeley, and has studied California forests for more than 30 years, is author of America’s Ancient Forests: from the Ice Age to the Age of Discovery (John Wiley, 2000).

This report, entitled “Impacts of California Wildfires on Climate and Forests,” chronicles how the wildfires that scorched California from 2001 to 2007 seriously degraded the forests in the state and contributed to global warming.  The report notes that political and economic obstacles to managing and restoring forests contribute to causing the wildfire crisis.

Emissions from the last seven years of wildfires documented in this study are equivalent to adding an estimated 50 million more cars onto California’s highways for one year, each spewing tons of greenhouse gases.  To offset this damage, all 14 million cars in California would have to be locked in garages for 3 1/2 years to make up for the global warming impact of these wildfires.

From 2001 to 2007, fires burned more than 4 million California acres and released an estimated 277 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting from combustion and the post-fire decay of dead trees.  That is an average of 68 tons per acre.

This study and previous studies use a new computer model, the Forest Carbon and Emissions Model (FCEM), to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires and insect infestations, and opportunities to recover these emissions and prevent future losses.

“Our most important question is: Can we recover from our mistake of letting forests become unnaturally overcrowded with trees and vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires?” said Dr. Bonnicksen, “the answer is yes, if we care about restoring our forests and fighting global warming.”

There are many other harmful effects of these wildfires as well, including killing wildlife, polluting the air and water, and stripping soil from hillsides.  Ironically, the greenhouse gases they emit are wiping out much of what is being achieved to reduce emissions from fossil fuels to battle global warming.

“While California’s actions to reduce global warming are significant, reducing the number and severity of wildfires may be the single most important action we can take in the short-term to lower greenhouse gas emissions and really fight global warming,” Bonnicksen said.

Some public forests in California have more than 1,000 trees per acre when 40 to 60 trees per acre would be natural.  These dense forests contain small trees that can carry fire into the canopy, and heavy concentrations of woody debris lying on the ground intensify the flames, which helps increase the size and severity of forest fires.  Reducing the number of all sizes of trees per acre by thinning is effective in helping prevent crown fires in forests.

Yet that is only part of the wildfire tragedy.

During the seven years covered by this study, California wildfires deforested about 882,759 acres of public and private land.  Only an estimated 120,755 acres were replanted.  That means about 762,004 acres of forest was converted permanently to brush because no live trees remain standing to provide seed for a new forest.  That is an average loss of 109,000 acres of forests each year, or the equivalent of nearly four times the area of San Francisco.

California’s forests are dwindling due to permanent deforestation from wildfire.  In addition, the estimated 134 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) released by fires and the decay of dead trees from forests that were permanently converted to brush from 2001 to 2007 will continue to worsen global warming.

Harvesting dead trees to prevent them from releasing CO2 from decay, storing the carbon they contain in long-lasting wood products, and using the money from the sale of the wood to replant a young forest that absorbs CO2 through photosynthesis, is the only way to restore deforested areas and recover this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, Dr. Bonnicksen said.  He added that this is done routinely on private industrial forestland but rarely on public forestland.  Therefore, he said, it is critical to expedite and increase the harvesting of fire-killed trees and replanting of young trees on public forests destroyed by wildfire.

The immensity of greenhouse gas emissions from California’s wildfires and the permanent loss of huge areas of forest are a warning.

The report emphasizes that every effort must be made to reduce the amount of fuel in public and private forests to prevent catastrophic wildfires.  That means managing forests to make them healthy, productive, and resistant to crown fires.

Major constraints to managing and thinning private forests are government regulations and the high cost of Timber Harvest Plans (THPs).  Solving this problem by streamlining regulations and reducing THP costs on private forests, and expediting environmental reviews for thinning and timber harvesting on public forests, could dramatically reduce wildfires and greenhouse gas emissions.

Data used in this report come from a variety of government and other sources.  They include the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region Ecosystem Planning Staff, U.S. Forest Service Region 5 Silviculturalist, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

For a copy of the full report please visit the Western Institute for Study of the Environment at https://www.westinstenv.org/ffsci


A Sane Proposal for a Middle Path to Wilderness Fires

By Charley Fitch

It appears to me that the U.S. Forest Service took a middle path on the recent Backbone Fire. After failing to control the fire in the first few days, they decided to work on indirect firelines some distance from the actual fire. But after many days of no real movement in the actual fire, the completion of those indirect firelines and numerous local concerns about another summer of smoke choked skies, a proposal was developed that instructed the firefighters build fireline directly on the fire edge. And that is how the fire was safely contained.

In the mid-Nineties the USFS undertook a study of the Trinity Alps Wilderness to see what could be done to “allow” fire to burn in the Alps. The study concluded that there are areas in the eastern portion of the Alps where fire could be allowed to burn within certain weather parameters without becoming a major wildfire. The middle and western portions were found to be a fairly continuous green forest, which means that once a fire starts it will continue until extinguished by man or wet weather. This we have seen in three of the last ten years in the western Alps.

So the real key is the weather. Allowing a fire that starts prior to late September to burn unchecked will most always result in a long duration large fire. A midsummer fire will most always lead to a very hot, stand destroying fire before it would be extinguished naturally. A stand destroying fire is one that most fire advocates do not want to talk about. It burns off all of the live and dead woody material, the top layers of soil measured in inches, and removes all available nutrients, microbes and protective layers from the soil. The subsequent rains will continue to remove more soil and deposit it in streams that we value for clarity and purity. Lost will be several hundred years of soil formation and require several hundred years to replace what was lost. The post-fire landscape is more like a moonscape than a forest.

Here is a proposal for a middle path. No longer consider indiscriminately started natural wildfires to be good things. Instead, use the science and technology that we possess and use only fire that is “prescribed”. This means that a fire would only be ignited when the appropriate weather and fuel conditions exist to achieve the desired results.

The other condition that must exist is that fire management and firefighting must be in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and have an appropriate EA or EIS approved prior to any ignitions. The so-called environmentalists look these documents over quite extensively for any actions on National Forest lands, yet are turning blind eyes to “allowing” wildfires to burn. The law (NEPA) does not exclude the action of allowing a wildfire to burn from the requirement of documentation of effects.

All citizens could help the Forest Service prepare the appropriate documents to comply with NEPA. The NEPA process would give everyone concerned a full opportunity to present scientific assertions about the damage done by fighting a fire compared to allowing it to burn over thousands of acres, put hundreds of thousand of tons of pollutants into the atmosphere, destroy wildlife habitat, increase global warming by releasing carbon monoxide and dioxide into the air rather than keeping this carbon in a solid state in the form of woody material, destroying hundreds of years of soil formation and polluting our pristine waters that flow from our wilderness areas.

Some vocal eco-activists, whose opinions have been expressed in newspapers recently, do not live in the Klamath Mtns but rather in Eugene, OR. So it is very understandable that they are not concerned with the health effects caused by fires and smoke on residents in the Klamath Mtns. Those vocal eco-activists are not foresters or firefighters, either.

Local residents do not wish to breathe the smoke from their forests afire or to look upon the snag patch for the next many decades. Folks from the big cities should be grateful to local residents for saving forests from devastating fires and protecting watersheds and recreation opportunities.

Those who advocate the protection of communities should remember that a community is more than a group of houses. When people are protecting their rural communities we know that what lies with in the town boundaries needs protection, but so do the forests, the air, and the waters running nearby. The Klamath Mtns are as much a part of us as we are of them.

Charley Fitch, a member of the Concerned Citizens for Responsible Fire Management [here], was District Ranger on the Big Bar Ranger District, Trinity NF, for twenty years. He is a professional forester with a degree from Colorado State University in Forest Management. He has over 35 years of forest and fire management experience.

Roadless Rule Will Harm Forests, Not Protect Them

Note: see also 9th Court Decision on Roadless Rule Is Illegitimate and Destructive [here], and Ninth Circuit ruling to reinstate Roadless Rule leaves wilderness areas vulnerable to fire [here].

Government’s Hands-Off Policy is Directly Responsible for Forest Overcrowding and Wildfires

National Center for Policy Analysis, August 20, 2009, [here]

The Obama administration’s recent decision to support the roadless rule is not only counterproductive, it is ridiculous public policy, according to NCPA Senior Fellow, H. Sterling Burnett.

“The roadless rule is bad as a matter of principle and bad as a policy,” Burnett said. “We don’t need a one-size-fits-all roadless rule. Instead, forests should be managed on an individual or regional basis, allowing roads and attendant logging to take place for economic reasons and to reduce catastrophic wildfires, enhance endangered species protection and improve the forests carbon storage capacity.”

The roadless rule, which was issued by the Clinton administration in 2001, has been a heated topic of discussion in the courts for nearly a decade. On August 5, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the roadless rule across the country.

The Obama administration has endorsed the rule, supporting the Ninth Circuit’s decision, and wants the Tenth to uphold it as well. If the Tenth Circuit also upholds the rule it will be fully reinstated, which would be bad for the health of forests and will continue to cause overcrowding and forest fires, Burnett said.

“Americans and America’s forests deserve better,” he said. “At a time when the government claims to be concerned about fighting global warming by preventing and reducing carbon emissions, clinging to the roadless rule is absurd. Forest fires account for a growing percentage of human CO2 emission each year - topping six percent of U.S. emissions, yet it seems increasingly clear that the government isn’t very concerned about decreasing CO2 emissions. Indeed, environmentalists praise the government for leaving the forests alone, but forest fires are a growing threat.”

“Government’s hands off policy is directly responsible for forest overcrowding, massive pest invasions and even larger wildfires that burn hotter and destroy more acres of forest and surrounding businesses, homes and towns every year,” Burnett said. “Letting nature take its course on our national forests is tantamount to neglect, and the roadless rule is a prime example of that. When the federal government leaves our forests to die, rot and burn, we all suffer but no one is held accountable.”

9th Court Decision on Roadless Rule Is Illegitimate and Destructive

by Mike Dubrasich

On Aug 5th the San Francisco based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals set aside the State Petitions Rule and reinstated the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, more commonly known as the “Clinton/Dombeck Roadless Rule”.

The 9th Circuit Court, the most overturned court in the U.S., has once again overstepped its authority, written law from the bench, and worst of all, engendered massive environmental destruction across nearly 60 million acres of federal land in the West.

We have discussed this issue before, most recently [here].

Background: the Clinton (Dombeck) Roadless Rule was rushed through (by proclamation) in the waning days of that administration. It was immediately litigated in more than a dozen courts. In 2003, Judge Brimmer, a United States District Court Judge for the District of Wyoming, found, in response to the Complaint filed by the State of Wyoming, that NEPA had been violated on several different levels, including the fact that Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) input from the states had been excluded, the process had been rushed, the United States Forest Service (USFS) had failed to take the requisite “hard look” at the proposed rule, and that the NEPA process was a sham in order to adopt a political rule. Judge Brimmer also found that the Roadless Rule violated the Wilderness Act in that it designated 58.5 million acres as defacto wilderness despite the fact that only Congress has the authority to do so. Judge Brimmer enjoined the Roadless Rule. The USFS developed an alternative plan to ensure that states would be part of the process. This plan, called the State Petitions procedure, ensured that not only state concerns would be addressed, but that tribes, local governments, and the general public would be able to express their concerns in order to develop site-specific rules for each National Forest.

The usual environmental groups sued in the Ninth District Court and, in 2006, Magistrate Laporte concluded that the State Petitions procedure violated NEPA because it was not accompanied by an EIS. In the strangest twist of legal logic, she then reinstated the illegal Roadless Rule, and ordered that the USFS comply with its terms. She made that ruling despite Judge Brimmer’s earlier decision, despite the fact that Judge Brimmer reached his conclusions after a comprehensive review of the Administrative Record, and despite the fact that she had no idea as to whether the Roadless Rule complied with NEPA or not. Her decision was odd to say the least, which is confirmed by the fact that the State Petitions procedure was not an environmental action per se but a remedy to fix the original defective and illegal Roadless Rule EIS. Requiring an EIS to fix an EIS sets up an infinite loop of EIS’s.

Wyoming again filed suit in an attempt to fix the mess created by Magistrate Laporte’s decision. In August 2008, Judge Brimmer issued yet another permanent national injunction against the Roadless Rule.

Magistrate Laporte played a game of judicial chicken, perverting NEPA, and causing catastrophic harm to the environment. The 9th Circuit Court has now affirmed Laporte’s ruling and reinstated the defective and repeatedly enjoined Clinton/Dombeck Roadless Rule.

In legal terminology, that is abuse of discretion. It is certainly within the power of the 9th Circuit Court to throw out the the State Petitions Rule for violating NEPA. But it is not within their power to reinstate the Clinton/Dombeck Roadless Rule, which has itself been found to violate NEPA.

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26 Jul 2009, 11:27pm
Forestry education Politics and politicians
by admin
1 comment

A Proposal For A New Institute of Venture Science

Proposed: a new institute that will invest deeply in science with breakthrough potential. The proposed institute would focus on high-risk, high-return research only, identifying and funding promising status-quo-challenging ideas in all areas of science.

The idea is to create an institute that supports scientific research which challenges existing paradigms and thereby produces breakthroughs in medicine, ecology, climatology, and many other scientific disciplines — revolutionary science, such as the kind that led to the laser, the transistor, the polio vaccine, the Internet, and indeed most of the truly innovative advancements in science and technology that we know of today.

Currently, status-quo science commands all the funding. Those who challenge paradigms are excluded from mainstream grants for many reasons: principally (perhaps) a timidity born of institutional risk-aversion together with old-fashioned intellectual stultification.

Could a bold, new Institute of Venture Science become a reality? Such is the goal of a group of leaders in science who have sent a letter [here] to President Obama, to his science advisor, John Holdren, and to Congress. Drafted by Gerald H. Pollack, Ph.D., Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, the letter is endorsed by more than 60 leading American scientists in the fields of medicine, biophysics, forest science, anthropology, engineering, geography, astronomy, nanotechnology, and numerous other fields.

The letter requests that an Institute of Venture Science be funded:

… with a budget of about ten percent of the combined NSF and NIH budgets, or about $4 billion per year. The IVS would be set up for a test period of ten years. If it fails to produce scientific revolutions during that period, it could be dismantled — the investment having been modest relative to current scientific investments, which have produced few revolutions. If it succeeds, as some of us think inevitable, then it will have restored science to the richly bountiful enterprise it was before the funding agencies began imposing top-down management and inviting mainstream scientists to judge their challengers. With proper investment (in part perhaps from private sources) in the most promising and farreaching breakthrough ideas, science should once again revolutionize human existence.

Appended to the letter is a Proposal for Implementation [here] that describes how such an Institute would operate.

Current agencies… are not set up to deal with the most critical obstacle to realization: the reluctance of a conservative scientific community to entertain ideas that challenge their long-held views. Challenges are perceived as antithetical to their best interests, and hence, few transformative ideas ever ascend to realization in reasonable time frame no matter how compelling may be the case.

The IVS is designed to overcome this obstacle. It does so by investing in groups of scientists who pursue the same unconventional approach to an intractable problem or an entrenched way of thinking. Grants are awarded following rigorous review. Challenger and orthodoxy present their arguments to a panel of disinterested scientific observers, who decide whether the challenge is meritorious. The most highly ranked proposals are funded liberally, allowing multiple laboratories to pursue the same challenge theme. This multiplicity of efforts creates a critical mass that cannot be ignored; challenge and orthodoxy compete on equal footing and if the challenge prevails, then the result is a realized paradigm shift or even a revolution in scientific thinking.

The need for funding science that researches “outside the box” is becoming more and more obvious even to lay persons. Last June the NY Times published:

Grant System Leads Cancer Researchers to Play It Safe

by Gina Kolata, NY Times, June 27, 2023 [here]

Among the recent research grants awarded by the National Cancer Institute is one for a study asking whether people who are especially responsive to good-tasting food have the most difficulty staying on a diet. Another study will assess a Web-based program that encourages families to choose more healthful foods. …

The cancer institute has spent $105 billion since President Richard M. Nixon declared war on the disease in 1971. The American Cancer Society, the largest private financer of cancer research, has spent about $3.4 billion on research grants since 1946.

Yet the fight against cancer is going slower than most had hoped, with only small changes in the death rate in the almost 40 years since it began.

One major impediment, scientists agree, is the grant system itself. It has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer. …

Last week the Science and Public Policy presented a study [here] that found:

The US government has spent over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, education campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks.

Yet, those who challenge the prevailing theories have not only not been funded, in many cases they have been fired. Gaping holes in Greenhouse Gas and Global Warming models have been exposed by grassroots scientists outside the funded agencies because within them orthodoxy has grown oppressive. “The debate is over — there is a consensus,” is the political cry, but true science does not work by consensus; science functions by challenging hypotheses with experiments and the collection of empirical data — by putting orthodoxy to the test.

Despite the incredibly one-sided research funding and political sermonizing, less than half of U.S. voters believe global warming is caused by human activities [here]. And if lay people are skeptical, then scientists should be even more so — the scientific method is based on skepticism.

But the funding is closed off to those who challenge global warming orthodoxy, and that is true in forest science as well. Clementsian theories of “natural balance,” “natural fire regimes,” and “natural succession” still hold sway despite over 80 years of research that has amassed strong, empirical, counter-evidence. Those who espouse new thinking have been ostracized by the Establishment, and one result has been a crisis of megafires that are destroying our heritage forests.

Bob Tom, Tribal elder of the Siletz and Grand Ronde Tribes, described the growing Cultural Renaissance taking place in the Native American community [here]. We need a Science Renaissance as well, around the world within the entire human community.

Science unchained can provide us so much: cures for deadly diseases, rediscovery of lost civilizations, the shattering of hoary paradigms, a vastly improved understanding of the universe and our role in it. The old walls should imprison us no longer. Open the doors and windows. Unbind the Prometheus of rational inquiry. Shine the bright searchlight once again.

We have allowed ourselves to become fettered by antiquated myths. It is so boring, so debilitating, so Medieval. Let us instead cast off into the unknown and seek new shores.

It is not my habit to request assistance. I never ask you, dear readers, to “write your congressperson.” I am reticent to promote contributions to W.I.S.E.’s empty coffers by begging for donations, something I am supposed to do in my capacity as Executive Director. It is uncomfortably gauche to implore your generosity, (although your occasional generosity is deeply appreciated).

In this instance, however, I am asking you, please, to write your elected representatives, to add your voice to those who are calling for a new Institute of Venture Science. Download the letter [here] and add your name to the list. Send it to your congressperson together with a note in your own words. It is truly in your best interest to do so, and in the interest of all humanity, to free the sciences from the present dismal swamp of calcified thinking.

Thank you. On behalf of all of us.

Forest Fires and Biomass Skipped Over at Boxer Cap-and-Trade Hearing

by Randy Shipman, W.I.S.E. Correspondent

Yesterday the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer, questioned heads of departments regarding the Climate Change and Energy (Cap-and-Trade) Bill now before them.

The opening statement provided by Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack did not mention public forest lands. He did not mention the US Forest Service by name during the hearing (even when asked about wood pellet utilization in Vermont schools) until Senator Udall of New Mexico questioned the water capability provided by the Colorado River Compact, alluding to early snowpack melt, drought, and assumptions held in the Compact from “100 years ago” of river capacity. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley posed the last question of that session pertaining to federal forested lands, thinning fuels, and using USFS forests in the equation of carbon offsets while gearing something up resembling the Secure Rural Schools Act.

Although vague at best, Secretary Vilsack said USDA was looking into how all of its agencies will be involved in biomass and renewable energy (mentioning NRCS, farmers, ranching and private forest land often) and most hesitantly mentioned that he personally thought USFS might also have a role.

I doubt his answer reflects this administration’s position however, and that is the reason Vilsack was reluctant to bring USFS into the mix in his opening statement.

But Vilsack did say that presently the USFS was going through a new 5-year strategic plan for water and forests based on human-caused climate change. Human-caused global warming is considered by Energy Secretary Steven Chu (reflecting the Obama Administration) to be a fact of science.

Senator Merkley was very specific on two occasions in his limited 3 minutes of questioning, voicing concerns about managing “locked-up” lands to assist local communities while at the same time figuring federal lands into carbon offsets. Vilsack was at a loss to respond directly to those questions which apparently arose out of the 2007 and 2008 energy bills locking those lands out. He seemed to base his stance on waiting for the USFS strategic plan. Roadless areas were never specifically mentioned by anyone and smoke from wildfires was never mentioned during pollution talks (regarding asthmatic children) when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was asked about global warming conspiracies by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ).

Secretary Salazar did mention biomass on 500 million acres of DOI lands and indicated they were under consideration for carbon offsets, but overall both federal land management agencies are attempting to convince the “rural” farmers, ranchers and private forest land owners what a great deal they are about to receive.

Secretary Salazar was big into wind energy off the Atlantic coast and other areas, and also hit hard on his department’s assertion that 29% of America’s electrical energy needs can be produced by solar thermal energy generation in the Southwest. Those projects should be under construction by end of 2010, and are projected to create some 50,000 jobs.

Secretary Salazar maintained that wildfires, bark beetles, fishery problems, and Midwest agricultural shifts are all due to climate change. His three main goals are to reduce dependence of foreign oil, head off climate change, and save our children. He said his department consists of some 6,000 scientists and 14,000 land managers who will accomplish this feat, but he also mentioned that DOI produces over 50% of the coal and 25% of the nation’s domestic oil and gas.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said something to the effect that climate change technology will amount to about a cost of one USPS letter stamp per day for the average American family, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson thought any parent would go that amount to protect their children.

Jackson and Chu disagreed, however, about whether the Cap-and-Trade Bill (if enacted) would actually have any effect of climate. EPA Administrator Jackson confirmed an EPA analysis showing that unilateral U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have no effect on climate.  When presented with an EPA chart depicting that outcome, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he disagreed with EPA’s analysis.

Some of the questioning regarded the alleged failure of Congress to remove personal vehicles and trucks off the highways. The Administration desires more mass public transportation and moving freight by train. Lisa Jackson stated that union workers were behind them 100 percent, but I am not certain she meant auto industry workers or teamsters.

Nuclear and other issues were discussed as well. The hearing can be viewed on C-Span.

Is There a Forest Fire-Climate Connection?

by Mike Dubrasich

The Web is all atwitter with the latest news about an alleged global warming - forest fire relationship. The buzz was instigated by a new research paper published in the June issue of Ecological Applications.

The paper is Climate and wildfire area burned in western U.S. ecoprovinces, 1916–2003 by Jeremy S. Littell, Donald Mckenzie, David L. Peterson, and Anthony L. Westerling. The full text is [here]*, generously provided to us by the lead author**.

*The original link to the full text was withdrawn following threats made by Ecological Applications. For more discussion regarding that worm can, see [here].

** A new “legal” link to the full paper [here] has been supplied by the lead author, Jeremy S. Littell of the Univ. of Washington.  Thank you, Dr. Littell.

The USFS PNW Research Station (where co-author David L. Peterson works) posted a News Release about the paper [here].

In the warming West, climate most significant factor in fanning wildfire flames

Study finds that climate influence on production, drying of fuels-not higher temperatures or longer fire seasons alone-critical determinant of Western wildfire burned area

PORTLAND, Ore. June 26, 2009. The recent increase in area burned by wildfires in the Western United States is a product not of higher temperatures or longer fire seasons alone, but a complex relationship between climate and fuels that varies among different ecosystems, according to a study conducted by U.S. Forest Service and university scientists. The study is the most detailed examination of wildfire in the United States to date and appears in the current issue of the journal Ecological Applications. …

“We found that what matters most in accounting for large wildfires in the Western United States is how climate influences the build up-or production-and drying of fuels,” said Jeremy Littell, a research scientist with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group and lead investigator of the study. “Climate affects fuels in different ecosystems differently, meaning that future wildfire size and, likely, severity depends on interactions between climate and fuel availability and production.” …

Note the careful use of the word “climate.” And note the disclaimer: global warming is NOT implicated. The News Release and the paper itself do not blame global warming (aka “higher temperatures”) for forest fires.

Instead, the researchers found that a combination of weather factors, including precipitation in the years immediately prior to the fires, may be partially correlated with fire acreage.

Note my use of the term “weather”. Average precipitation has not changed. Some years are dry, some are wet. Note also my use of the term “correlation.” Correlation is NOT causation. Note also my use of the term “partial.” The correlations found by the researchers were weak.

However, that did not stop the USFS PNW Research Station from leaping to conclusions that are at odds with what was carefully parsed in the paper:

Findings from the study suggest that, as the climate continues to warm, more area can be expected to burn, at least in northern portions of the West, corroborating what researchers have projected in previous studies. In addition, cooler, wetter areas that are relatively fire-free today, such as the west side of the Cascade Range, may be more prone to fire by mid-century if climate projections hold and weather becomes more extreme.

Note that the USFS PNW Research Station uses the word “warming” in their headline and in the paragraph quoted above, despite the fact that “warming” was not even studied or correlated, much less causational.

Note that the conclusions of the USFS PNW Research Station rely on “climate projections” that have nothing to do with the paper and are themselves unskillful and largely failures at predicting anything.

So what did the researchers actually find, and how skillful were they at their historical analysis (note again that they attempted no “projections” or “predictions” as those words are generally interpreted)?

more »

19 Jun 2009, 10:59am
Federal forest policy
by admin

Tidwell Interviewed by the Missoulian

Newly appointed Chief of the US Forests Service Tom Tidwell was interviewed by the Missoulian, published today. The questions were weak, the answers fairly stock.

Personally, I take little inference from the interview. The emphasis on climate change is not realistic, in the sense that climate realism provides evidence that global warming is a hoax and fraud. There has been global cooling for 10 years. There has been no change in snowpack. There has been no change in date of snowmelt. Catastrophic fires are late-season, anyway. But official obeisance to irrational paranoia might be expected in today’s political climate of global warming madness. The implication is that “climate change” will continue to be used as an excuse for megafire. That is not reassuring.

Tidwell’s emphasis on water and watersheds is a refreshing change, however. I am also pleased that he did not use the term “wildlands.”

The interview:

New USFS chief to address climate effects, watersheds

By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian, June 19, 2023 [here]

Watershed management and climate change science will become top priorities for national forest management, according to newly designated U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

The 32-year veteran of the Forest Service spent the past two years leading the Region 1 headquarters in Missoula. He spoke with the Missoulian on Thursday while wrapping up a senior executive service training session in Maine.

Missoulian: Tell us about the selection process. Who was in charge of the choice, and what were they looking for in a new chief of the Forest Service?

Tidwell: The Secretary of Agriculture (Tom Vilsack) was in charge. They wanted someone who had demonstrated they can work with people, be able to reach out. I expect to develop a collaborative approach. We’ve very successfully been able to move those concepts forward in the Northern Region. And also to have someone who’s been with the agency.

Missoulian: Homer Wilkes backed out of the undersecretary of agriculture job last week. That was the post formerly held by Mark Rey, and it oversees the chief of the Forest Service. Who’s going to be your boss?

Tidwell: Jay Jensen is our acting undersecretary. He’s my boss.

more »

4 Jun 2009, 12:50am
Forestry education Saving Forests
by admin

Junk Science Rules

Nothing comes close to the eruptions of absolute junk science when it comes to forestry in Oregon. Every kook in the world is suddenly an expert on matters they know nothing about. (Unless it is global warming alarmism, another arena in which junk science abounds).

Case in point: the “discussion” today at the Oregon Board of Forestry hearing regarding management of the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests.

Clowns in fish costumes paraded the grounds before the meeting, a fitting precursor to the lunacy they brought inside.

The circus was covered by the Oregonian:

OREGON ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS: Going green, green living, eco friendly tips and articles

Liveblogging: Tillamook and Clatsop state forests debate

by Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian, June 03, 2023 [here]

Salem — The Oregon Board of Forestry is hearing input this morning in Salem on a proposal to increase logging at the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests. …

Before the meeting began, salmon advocates rallied with signs and fishing boats to show their support for keeping more of the 500,000 acres of state-managed timber land as wildlife habitat. …

Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity kicked off the public response by critiquing the method behind the department’s analysis.

“Increasing the cut, it’s not supported by the science,” he said. …

What “science” is Noah talking about? Let’s look at some facts.

more »

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