4 Jan 2008, 2:37pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Ethanol fix needed

This editorial by the Journal Editorial Board appeared in this morning’s Rapid City (SD) Journal [here]. They too take exception to the new energy bill’s programmatic exclusion of bio-energy from wood wastes from National Forests [here]:

The new energy bill that President Bush signed into law at the end of December already needs a fix. H.R. 6 has lots of good news for the ethanol industry in South Dakota, with its policies that promote the increased use of that biofuel in our nation’s gasoline supply. But it also contains at least one policy provision that is disappointing to people who hope to increase the production of cellulosic ethanol.

Late in the legislation-making process, the federal energy bill was changed to discourage the use of wood chips, tree limbs, slash piles and other wood wastes from national forests — including the Black Hills National Forest — by bio-refineries that would use those feedstocks to make ethanol. The energy bill now excludes ethanol derived from materials collected on national forests from being counted toward our new ethanol-usage mandate and the financial incentives that go along with that.

Since one of the stated goals of our new national energy policy is to be producing 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022 — and since 21 billion of those gallons is supposed to come from biomass materials other than corn — that seems like bad public policy to us.

Often, the making of laws, like the making of sausage, is something best done out of public view. Still, we’d love to have the Democratic leadership explain how that particular provision got included so late in the game.

It deprives the forestry products industry in the Black Hills of an important secondary market for its wood wastes. Without a designation as “renewable biomass,” BHNF wood waste offers no incentive for ethanol blenders and refiners to purchase it as a source of fuel.

We think Congress needs to fix that flaw in the energy bill, and so does Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Her legislative director is weighing the congressional options to get that done after Congress reconvenes on Jan. 22, but it likely won’t happen without the passage of a new law.

The 2007 Farm Bill, which has yet to emerge from conference committee or be signed into law, does contain better news for cellulosic ethanol supporters in western South Dakota. Both the House and Senate versions contain Sen. John Thune’s Biofuels Innovation Program, which does provide incentives for the collection of BHNF wood wastes.

Whether via the Farm Bill, stand-alone legislation, or as an amendment to another bill, we urge Congress to fix this problem. Without a remedy in law, the Black Hills will be deprived of an important economic opportunity.

3 Jan 2008, 5:44pm
Politics and politicians
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The Old Hook Tender’s Admonishment

By Bear Bait

DeFazio has seniority, and a reputation as a loose cannon, albeit a smurf loose cannon, and has to run for office every two years. He flies all over the deck in rolling seas, but doesn’t do any good or damage. Just saves himself and his job, while waxing smart about stuff he does not seem to be able to change or alter or move forward.

Democrats are a thin majority. They have been bedded with the radical and moderate wings of Eco-Advocacy, and their minders, the BINGOs, since Frampton was pooping yellow. The Dems, including Perilous Peter, will not vote to cut a tree in public forests because they cannot afford to lose votes in an election year. Under their Big Tent are more Greenies than there ever were folks employing people. Those advocating cutting trees do not have power base enough to sway a Democrat away from the no-cut status quo.

Public lands are the wilderness, and so should be protected and kept in the public grasp forever… unless you are in Nevada. Specifically Clark County, Nevada. Home to Las Vegas and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Thousands of acres of public land, wilderness study area, desert tortoise habitat, have been auctioned and sold to municipalities and private developers, all the money from the sales of the public lands staying in Nevada by Congressional law and special consent. $3 billion dollars worth of money staying in Nevada to be a honey pot for building public good. It is the all time greatest state slush fund ever. All from the sale of lands people in Montana or Vermont or Illinois thought they owned. Ha! Harry sold them for you, and his constituents kept the money. Funny how that works.

You have to understand Las Vegas, and Nevada, home to legalized gambling and brothels for all my lifetime. Meyer Lansky, the head of the Jewish mob, sent Bugsy Seigel to Las Vegas to begin the replacement of the Mob’s Havana and Miami gambling business, because Lansky knew Cuba was not stable and J.Edgar needed a new dress. So the Mob used the Eccles Salt Lake City banking empire as a depository of their money (tch tch… some have said “launder” in their reports), and that wonderful relationship between Reid’s Mormon faith and his constituency working with able gaming managers from the Mob, built Las Vegas. Good, law abiding, hard working Mormons running and working for the casinos, not drinking or gambling in their spare time, and the money poured in from out of town and stayed by design. But they ran out of land, and were surrounded by the unclaimed public domain managed by Interior’s BLM.

Reid has been the architect, vigorish hustler, and driving force to have those lands sold “for the public good” to Las Vegas public and private interests. The environmental values were mitigated by declaring great expanses of Nevada USFS and BLM land “wilderness,” with all the unclaimed ground water under them owned by Clark County. In fact, the whole state except 6 counties in the NE corner around Elko are not covered. Possibly because those are the counties where the big gold mines are. Nevada has a royalty tax on gold and other precious metals that stays in the county of origin.

If you look at an up-to-date map of Nevada, showing public land and private land, and compare it with one of 20 years ago, you will see the big new white donut of private land surrounding Las Vegas. It is noticeable in a state where over 80% of the land is federally owned. Or was. Harry is still alive, still Senate Majority Leader, and evidently still able to what Peter DeFazio never will be able to do: get something done to help his state. I read now that some of that slush fund is headed to Tahoe to buy private lands to buffer special places and bring them back into Federal ownership. Harry is spreading it around Nevada, and harvesting the good will.

Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, all have public land thwarting development. It will never get sold to private interests. For some reason the Mob is not in control here, yet, and our Mormon senators are not senior enough to get the job done, although Oregon should have a leg up on the others.

The Eco-Advocates negotiated deals in Nevada to save face. You have to wonder if they were just saving some legs from getting broken. Plus the values here are nowhere near Las Vegas values. There the chosen few can build billion dollar casinos. Here you have a hard time siting a Home Depot. And even Petulant Peter cannot help you. But $3 billion dollars can, together with an open door to more whenever the powers that be decide it is needed. Wow!! Reid has absolute power. Schools are getting land from the Feds in Nevada for special rates that make miners blush. If it has corrupted him, only the record will show. And it will. His children are in the same class of entitlement as Ted Steven’s are in Alaska, and that is undoing Ted as I write.

So, my take on the reality of thinning in Federal forests is that it is not going to happen as long as Democrats run things, or try to woo the votes so that they might run things. Peter Piss Up a Rope, the Rhode Island white hope, can suggest or promise anything, but he is trying to deliver papers without shoes, a bike, a paper bag, or a job from the publisher.

A great thermal breath… some words on paper… the old hook tender’s admonishment about wishing into one hand and pooping in the other… “Which one fills up first, kid? It ain’t gonna quit raining until it does. Try to make a bonus on that hemlock and the butt cut… and hide behind that tall stump when we go ahead on ‘er.” — bear bait

2 Jan 2008, 2:54pm
Federal forest policy
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DeFazio Plan to Protect Old Growth and Create Jobs

Congressman Peter DeFazio (D, OR) of the 4th Congressional District (where I live) has sent me personally (along with a few hundred thousand other people at taxpayers expense) a mailer with a statement about federal forests. I post it here in full:

I opposed former President Clinton’s Northwest Forest Plan in 1994. I was convinced it would not provide certainty in timber supply, and would not protect the small amount of remaining old growth. At that time, I proposed a compromise solution to provide a predictable supply of timber for local mills and protect the remaining old growth. However, my compromise was opposed by the timber industry and the environmental community.

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2 Jan 2008, 1:16pm
Federal forest policy
by admin
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Conflicting Demands

Re the previous post: isn’t the gummit sending a mixed message here?

How does the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 jive with USFS Chief Gail Kimbell’s executive decision to declare 400 million acres of private property “wildland”?

My property out here in Flyover Country is now slated to be burned to smithereens in a federal “Wildland Use Fire Used For Resource Benefit,” a bureaucratic euphemism for Let-It-Burn megafires that rage for miles from off the Federal Estate, destroying public and private rural and urban property alike. (It’s true; they have a GIS computer program that makes maps of private land they intend to incinerate in whoofoos.)

How am I supposed to produce biomass slash to solve the Nation’s Energy Crisis while you, the US Government, is burning my place down?

I mean, the two demands are mutually exclusive. You can’t burn me out and expect me to crack oil from wood chips simultaneously, can you? If the carbon burns in a whoofoo and goes up into the sky, you can’t pump it into your tank, right?

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Not to mention that it’s my cake, not yours, anyway.

If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not be burned out by a federal whoofoo megafire. Please tell Gail (because she is not paying close attention to SOS Forests like she should be).

By the way, who put into the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 the wording:

but not forests or forestlands that are ecological communities with a global or State ranking of critically imperiled, imperiled, or rare pursuant to a State Natural Heritage Program, old growth forest, or late successional forest.

???? Names, please. Who among you takes responsibility?

Did anybody inside the Beltway read this thing before they voted on it?

Here’s a tip: you can’t save old-growth forests by burning them down. Everybody knows that. Everybody agrees that old-growth forests require stewardship, including biomass removal, to be protected, maintained, and perpetuated. It’s a consensus among forest scientists. The debate is over.

Here’s an Inconvenient Truth: in order to save our public forests and critically imperiled, imperiled, or rare ecological communities, human beings must tend them.

Something is rotten inside the Beltway. BINGOs have taken over our government. There will be more and deadlier megafires, more forests, homes, and communities destroyed, if the behind-the-curve enviro-wackos have anything to say about it, and evidently they do.

2 Jan 2008, 11:33am
Federal forest policy
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Sacrosanct Biomass

The following Letter to Congress regarding bio-energy was written by Charles J. Hendricks, USFS (ret). In his letter Mr. Hendricks points out that Congress has decided to “protect” federal forests by banning the use of federal logging slash for bio-energy production.

Evidently Congress would prefer that federal slash burn in place in horrendous and catastrophic forest fires, rather than be put to any practical use. Instead of heating the homes of the citizenry, Congress would prefer to see homes of the citizenry burned to ashes in holocausts that start in overly dense federal forests, leap across property lines, and scorch neighborhoods of the voters and taxpayers.

Don’t think we voters and taxpayers haven’t noticed this about you, Congress, because we have.

To be fair, Congress-types are just being weenies as usual, groveling for every monied special interest and serving none.

Another part of the problem is that Gaia worship is fraught with inconsistencies (due to the absurdity of the theology). Mr. Hendricks requests rationality from Congress and we support his call, although we have diminished expectations (due to the absurdity of the politicos).

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1 Jan 2008, 3:45pm
Saving Forests
by admin

Parking Out Camp Baldwin

Camp Baldwin is a Boy Scout camp west of Dufur, OR, on the east slopes of the northern Oregon Cascades. In 1985 the Columbia Pacific Council of the B.S.A. engaged my forestry consulting firm to evaluate the forests conditions of Camp Baldwin.

Camp Baldwin is forested with ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, grand fir. There are a few remnant old-growth ponderosas, but not many. Most fell to pioneer logging long ago.

Camp Baldwin has a long history. It is close to the Old Oregon Trail, the segment that went over Barlow Pass. When the first pioneers saw them, the east slope forests were open and park-like, with widely-spaced ponderosa pines and grassy understories. They were more or less pine savannas except along water courses and at high elevations, where other tree species found refuge from the frequent, regular, seasonal anthropogenic fires.

Human-set fires created open, park-like forests where individual trees grew to very old ages. The culprits were the Sahaptin-speaking residents of the mid-Columbia. They did not have chain saws or sawmills, and had little use for trees other than as firewood, so why not set fires?

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31 Dec 2007, 6:04pm
2007 Fire Season
by admin

The 2007 Fire Season: A Year-End Recap

With over 9.3 million acres burned in wildfires nationally, the 2007 fire season was the second worst fire season in over fifty years (the 2006 fire season was the worst with over 9.7 million acres burned).

In terms of total acres burned, seven of the worst ten fire seasons since the early 1950’s have occurred in the last 12 years.

Average acreage per wildfire was nearly 110 acres, again the second worst in over fifty years (the 2005 was the worst averaging 131 acres per fire).

In terms of average acres per wildfire, nine of the worst ten fire seasons since the early 1950’s have occurred in the last 12 years.

The preceding graphs are based on data provided by the National Interagency Fire Center Wildland Fire Statistics [here]. The following is a recap of some of the high and low lights of the 2007 Fire Season.

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30 Dec 2007, 12:48pm
2007 Fire Season
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Fire Season Trend Graphs

The following graphs are based on data provided by the National Interagency Fire Center Wildland Fire Statistics [here].

27 Dec 2007, 3:15pm
Saving Forests
by admin

Backcut at the Gristmill

Restoration forester, photographer, and SOSF stalwart Backcut laid it down at a site called Gristmill [here]. (Be sure to read all the comments).

Some excerpts:

I’ve said it before… and I’ll say it again. What is wrong with restoring western forests to their natural stocking levels?

Until we can agree on the where, how and why, our forests will burn and our chance to sequester carbon by making durable wood products will be lost for the rest of OUR lives. And our children’s lives, too.

I’m currently working on a fire salvage project of about 300 acres of recently-thinned forest. Using the latest fire mortality guidelines, we’re applying cutting edge science to this burned forest, 5 weeks after the fire was extinguished.

The eco-embracement of wildfires is still proceeding, where opponents to fire salvage projects call wildfires “natural and beneficial”, ignoring the high-intensity acres that eliminate full recovery in less than 200 years.

Even the Forest Service has thrown up the white flags on National Forests like the Bitterroot, where they have chosen to make those lands part of a huge “Let-Burn” program, without any NEPA or public involvement.

The future doesn’t look good for our forests, especially if we all continue to be polarized, stubborn and emotional. On the flip side, we can’t just be “giving away” our forests. Even with careful and gentle management, our forests are full of value in many different forms.

But, if we don’t make our forests drought, insect and fire resistant, there will be nothing left to save except for brushfields and plantations.

Forest management deniers??!?

I see that there’s another “Inconvenient Truth” that people here at Grist-world are trying to ignore. I see that most preservationists agree with the Bush Administration on letting massive parts of National Forest burn, too. Nothing like releasing centuries of sequestered carbon, along with other toxic gasses directly into our atmosphere, eh?

Amazingly, no one even blinked when these programs were implemented without NEPA work or public opinion on an issue that will have environmental effects lasting well into your great grandchildren’s lives.

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19 Dec 2007, 3:03pm
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Merry Christmas from SOS Forests

Merry Christmas from SOS Forests. Best wishes to you and yours.

Due to the exigencies of the Season, and general Goodwill, we are going to rest SOS Forests and Wildlife and People, the two W.I.S.E. Commentary subsites, and work on the W.I.S.E. Colloquia over the Holidays.

Then we will hit the New Year running. We have high hopes for 2008. We are going to effect some changes, and maybe even save some forests. That’s the Plan, anyway.

Keep the comments coming; I’m merely refraining from adding new Commentary posts for a little bit. Look for more great references to continue to be posted in the W.I.S.E. Colloquia and Library.

May all your Christmases be bright, including this one.

17 Dec 2007, 3:04pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Testimonies to the US Senate

Testimonies to the US Senate Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests on December 13, 2023.

An important hearing was held by the US Senate regarding forest restoration and hazardous fuel reduction. We will post the testimonies here as they become available.

Testimony of K. Norman Johnson and Jerry F. Franklin [here]

Testimony of  Philip S. Aune [here] (1,624KB)

Testimony of Michael E. Dubrasich [here]

Testimony of Mark Rey [here]

Testimony of James Caswell [here]

Testimony of Russ Vaagen [here]

Testimony of Matthew Donegan [here] (1,760 KB)

Testimony of Russ Hoeflich [here]

Testimony of Boyd Britton [here]

This post has been replicated in Restoration Forestry

17 Dec 2007, 2:35am
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Colloquia Coming Along

You may or may not have noticed (in all the hubbub) but some very interesting titles are starting to show up in the Colloquia. Slowly but Shirley we are installing the best, latest, most advanced, coolest scientific research in a variety of environmental sciences. Many books and articles you may not have read before, or even know about, have been listed already. The full text is available on many.

And we have a pile to go. A month from now it will be quite something. But don’t wait until then or else today’s titles might getting buried in the archives and elude you.

You might want to make it a habit to check the front page (click HOME on the navigation bar) for the latest and most recent titles. I don’t plan on announcing them all here.

Except that once in awhile I might. For instance, I just did the first review ever of Stephen J. Pyne’s brand new book, Awful Splendor: A Fire History of Canada. So that’s pretty cool.

Lots of other goodies in the Colloquia now, and many, many more to come. It feels like a Christmas catalog for the forest-obsessed. And as time goes by, we hope even more so.

15 Dec 2007, 11:45am
Saving Forests
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A Toast to You

Long-time SOSFers may recall my review of Ecological Science Relevant to Management Polices for Fire-prone Forests of the Western United States, Reed F. Noss (editor), Jerry F. Franklin, William Baker, Tania Schoennagel, and Peter B. Moyle, Society for Conservation Biology Scientific Panel on Fire in Western U.S. Forests. Feb. 2006.

That four-part review was sarcastically entitled Save the Tick Brush and I called the Noss-Franklin paper “The Worst Forest Science Paper of the 21st Century.” See [here], [here], [here], and [here].

“Eco…States” will go down in history as the rock-bottom worst forest science paper of the Modern Age. However, the paper is significant because it marks the final collapse of the old forest science paradigm. The inner contradictions, the abundant anomalies, and the tragic destruction of millions of acres of priceless, heritage forests have overwhelmed the old science, and branded it a failure. The Old Paradigm has been dying for quite awhile. “Eco…States” is the death rattle.

Every imaginable eco-error was committed in that paper, which was a paean to holocaust. Recall that Noss-Franklin extolled the virtues of “rare and/or uncommon early successional stands,” i.e. the brushy wastelands created by incinerating old-growth forests. Recall that Noss is a “former” Earth First! monkey-wrenching eco-terrorist.

And recall that I used the occasion to declare the Death of the Old Paradigm.

The Old Paradigm is dead. The shouting is not over, nor the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Congress will be the last to figure it out. There will always be adherents; witness the Flat Earth Society. But for all useful intents and purposes, the Old Paradigm is dead.

There will be no service, no memorial ceremony. It might be nice, but Science is not like that. Science is like a herd of water buffaloes, each a paradigm, and when one goes down to logical lions or anomalous crocodiles, the rest of the herd moves on without stopping. Historians look back; scientists look forward. Most forest scientists of professional caliber eschew the Old Paradigm already, and have for many years. Old adherents do and will deny any affiliation, current or former, with the deceased theories. …

The Old Paradigm was too dumb, too political, and mostly, too destructive. The forest fires of recent years, historically huge and catastrophic, are what really killed it. The gears never meshed. The monkey wouldn’t dance. The Old Paradigm theories flopped, big time. Now the show has jumped the shark.

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13 Dec 2007, 6:23pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

The Paradigm Shifts!!!!

“Our testimony focuses on forest restoration in the National Forests of Oregon and Washington… To conserve these forests, we need to modify stand structure (e.g., treat fuels) on one-half to two-thirds of the landscape.” - Johnson and Franklin, December 13, 2023

Today the Forest Paradigm shifted in public, just a little bit. Drs. K. Norman Johnson and Jerry F. Franklin gave public testimony calling for forest restoration, protection, and maintenance. The statement was given before the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests (Chair Ron Wyden, OR), who heard testimony regarding forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction efforts in the forests of Oregon and Washington in Hearing Room SD-366 today.

Drs. Johnson and Franklin are famously (or infamously) two members of the Gang of Four, the cabal that took over the USFS in 1993 and engendered the Northwest Forest Plan (1994), among other forest-destructive actions.

The set-aside of 25 million acres of public forests (and some private, too) into No Touch Zones has led to catastrophic megafires such as the Biscuit Fire (2002). Moreover, the Northwest Forest Plan has failed to save any spotted owls, spotted owl habitat, or to protect rural and regional economies, all key goals of the NWFP. Indeed, after nearly 14 years of the NWFP, the situation is much worse in all regards.

But the worm has turned. The idea that abandonment is good forest stewardship has been chucked into the dustbin of history by two of its (former) proponents. Shocking but true, and a very good thing. Today is a welcome and historic day for our forests.

Excerpts from the Testimony:

Forest Restoration and Hazardous Fuel Reduction Efforts in the Forests of Oregon and Washington

Testimony of K. Norman Johnson Jerry F. Franklin

December 13, 2023 - Hearing of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

I am Dr. K. Norman Johnson and I am here today to give testimony for myself and Dr. Jerry F. Franklin regarding forest restoration and hazardous fuel reduction efforts in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. I am a University Distinguished Professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. Jerry Franklin is Professor of Ecosystem Sciences in the College of Forest Resources at University of Washington. These comments represent our view and not those of our respective institutions.

Our testimony focuses on forest restoration in the National Forests of Oregon and Washington…

Our definition of “restoration” is the re-establishment of ecological structures and processes on these forests where they have been degraded and, simultaneously, *restoration of economic and other social values on these lands*. One product of this restoration will be substantial reductions in uncharacteristic fuel loadings. We emphasize restoration activities in which ecological, economic, and other social goals are compatible…

Restoration of Forests Characterized by Frequent, Low- and Mixed-Severity Fire Regimes

We will lose these forests to catastrophic disturbance events unless we undertake aggressive active management programs. This is not simply an issue of fuels and fire; because of the density of these forests, there is a high potential for drought stress and related insect outbreaks. Surviving old-growth pine trees are now at high risk of death to both fire and western pine beetle, the latter resulting from drought stress and competition…

Without action, we are at high risk of losing these stands-and the residual old-growth trees that they contain-to fire and insects…

We know enough to take action (uncertainties should not paralyze us). Inaction is a much more risky option for a variety of ecological values, including preservation of Northern Spotted Owls and other old-growth related species. We need to learn as we go, but we need to take action now. Furthermore, it is critical for stakeholders to understand that active management is necessary in stands with existing old-growth trees in order to reduce the risk that those trees will be lost.

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13 Dec 2007, 12:13pm
Federal forest policy
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The War on America

Perhaps I have been too circumspect regarding Gail Kimbell’s latest Pronouncement. Perhaps I have left too many of the dots unconnected.

Kimbell has declared that the policy of the US Forest Service is to commandeer 400 million acres of private land and turn it into wilderness. In effect (and in reality) she has joined the USFS to the Wildlands Project, the Earth First! plan to destroy America.

Gail Kimbell has sunk to level of the eco-arsonists now doing time in Federal penitentiaries. She openly advocates holocaust and takeover, destruction of homes, farms, whole communities, and indeed our American culture and society. She is a radical communist/fascist filled with hatred, not just for public forests but for this entire country.

That’s a big deal, not small potatoes.

In truth, the USFS capitulated to leftwing anarchist arsonists many years ago. But what was more or less unstated is now out in the open and the Official Policy of the US Government.

Saddam Hussein would be proud. So would be Joseph Stalin.

Slowly (due to numerous interruptions) I am posting the story of fire in Canada. But that story is about more than fire; it is about corporatist Socialism and the enslavement/destruction of land and people.

The tragedy of Canada is minor, however, compared to the oncoming tragedy of America.

I have said it before and I will say it again: there is a war going on, right here on American soil. It is not a joke, or hyperbole, or exaggeration. It is real. The devastation of public lands by holocaust is just the beginning, the early skirmishes.

If you value freedom, human rights, and our American Experiment in democracy, then you must become aware of the forces arrayed against us. Gail Kimbell is a monster, and not alone in her bellicose anti-Americanism. The time has come to stand up in opposition.

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