Comments Submitted on Draft Cohesive Strategy

The Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) has embarked on a “Cohesive Strategy” planning process [here, here, here, here, here].

The “Cohesive Strategy” was mandated by the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement or FLAME Act [here, here, here].

A draft report entitled National Wildfire Management Report to Congress and Cohesive Strategy Draft has been issued [here, 3.2 MB] and comments were requested.

W.I.S.E. has complied and submitted our Comments today [here, 1.7MB].

Some additional comments:

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2 Sep 2010, 3:38pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Comments Requested on Draft Cohesive Strategy

The newly reconstituted Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) has embarked on a “Cohesive Strategy” planning process [here, here, here, here, here].

The “Cohesive Strategy” was mandated by the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement or FLAME Act [here, here, here].

A draft report entitled National Wildfire Management Report to Congress and Cohesive Strategy Draft has been issued [here, 3.2 MB]

The timeline for this report is extremely tight since it is due to Congress by November. As a result, public involvement opportunities have been limited, which means many in the natural resource and wildfire communities may have not had a chance to provide comments. In haste, the WFLC is missing opportunities to hear from people with years of experience in natural resource management and fire use and protection.

The future of the report is uncertain since Congress has more than enough issues to consider. However, it would be a mistake for as many knowledgeable and experienced people as possible not to go on record with their thoughts. If the report surfaces and Congress decides to follow some or all of its recommendations the impact on federal agencies, state, local fire and natural resource as well as governments and land owners in general could be significant. For this reason it important for the fire and natural resource community to provide WFLC with good counsel.

W.I.S.E will gather your comments as best it can with this short response period and craft a response which we will post.

If you are able to provide input and would like to share it, you can do that by making it into a comment and placing it at the bottom of this post.

Thank you,

Mike Dubrasich, Exec Dir W.I.S.E.

OFRI: Numbskulls On Parade

More money down the tubes. The Oregon Forest Resources Institute has issued a new “special” report six years in the making: Federal Forestland in Oregon - Coming To Terms With Active Forest Management of Federal Forestland [here, 3.1 glossy MB].

The report is “special” only in the sense that it is filled with errors, misstatements, and poppycock. Which is about what you’d expect from yet another government bureaucracy.

The Oregon Legislature created the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) in 1991 to improve public understanding of the state’s forest resources and to encourage environmentally sound forest management through training and other educational programs for forest landowners. OFRI is funded by a dedicated harvest tax on forest products producers [here].

Tax the victims, shove the knife in deeper, and twist it.

The problem with crappy forest policy is that it is based on crappy forest science. Political solutions crafted by numbskulls, with no conception of what it is they are attempting to regulate, is doomed to failure.

Failure is OFRI’s middle name.

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Ten Forest Restoration Projects Selected by USFS

The US Forest Service has selected ten landscape-scale forest restoration proposals nationally to begin implementation of Title IV - Forest Landscape Restoration of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 [here, here, here, here] (among many other posts - for the full panoply see here).

Out of the 150 national forests in the system, 31 submitted CFLRP project proposals [here]. Regional Foresters screened proposals first, so the 31 possibly represent a reduced subset of the total number proposed at the forest level.

The ten projects selected are:

* Southwestern Crown of the Continent, MT

* Uncompahgre Plateau, CO

* Colorado Front Range, CO

* 4 Forest Restoration, AZ

* Southwest Jemez Mountains, NM

* Dinkey Landscape, CA

* Tapash, WA

* Deschutes Skyline, OR

* Northeastern Florida, FL

If Congress continues to fund the CFLRP, ten more landscape-scale forest restoration proposals will be selected next year and in future years.

These first proposals are of varying quality; it is possible that future projects (and proposals) will be better, having been informed by this first go-around.

On the other hand, the language in some of the proposals is completely obnoxious. Why our government has to talk in Stalinese is beyond me. The uber Potemkin Village rhetoric is depressing.

Also, there is no discussion in any of the proposals regarding landscape history, particularly cultural landscape aspects. Even the Yakama Nation is apparently unaware that they have a heritage on the land — they certainly don’t discuss that aspect in their proposal. It is not clear what the USFS thinks it is that is to be restored.

Also, there is no discussion of the overall USFS mission and how the proposals might or might not dovetail with that.

These are fumbling, stumbling first steps. I suppose it is the best that can be expected from the competency-challenged folks we have hired.

As usual we welcome your comments. You may wish to inspect the proposals first.

Another Forest Tragedy

The Rooster Rock Fire [here] near Sisters, Oregon is now 6,124 acres and 65% contained. It is unlikely to grow any larger because winds have died down and the CO2’s (Central Oregon Type 2 Incident Management Team, Mark Rapp I.C.) in cooperation with the Oregon Dept. of Forestry have done their usual excellent job of controlling the fire.

The fire began from unknown causes on US Forest Service (Deschutes NF) land on August 2nd. It quickly spread east and south to private lands. Approximately three-quarters of the area burned by the Rooster Rock Fire is private land.

Rooster Rock Fire Map, 08/06/2010, courtesy Central Oregon IMT. Click for larger image.

The fire was about 5 miles south of Sisters. A few homes were evacuated, but the evacuations have now been lifted. An estimated 50 homes were threatened, but no homes burned.

The Rooster Rock Fire was the 13th large fire in the northern Deschutes NF in the last 8 years. Over 160,000 acres, primarily in the the Metolius River watershed, have been incinerated. The scar of burned old-growth now extends from Warm Springs to the north to the Three Sisters Wilderness to the south, from the Cascade Crest to private lands to the east. The following Burns make up this destroyed forest landscape (this list is missing a few smaller ones):

Cache Mountain Fire (2002) - 3,894 acs

Eyerly Complex Fires (2002) - 23,573 acs

B&B Complex Fires (2003) - 90,769 acs

Link Fire (2003) - 3,574 acs

Black Crater Fire (2006) - 9,400 acs

Puzzle Fire (2006) - 6,150 acs

Lake George Fire (2006) - 5,740 acs

GW Fire (2007) - 7,500 acs

Dry Creek Fire (2008) - 110 acs

Summit Springs Complex Fires (2008) - 1,973 acs

Wizard Fire (2008) - 1,840 acs

Black Butte II Fire (2009) - 578 acs

Rooster Rock Fire (2010) - 6,124 acs

Total - 161,225 acres in eight fire seasons

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Squandering the Wisdom

Native Americans maintained American forests before the Europeans arrived and knew what they were doing.

Words and photos by Steven H. Rich, Range Magazine, Summer 2010 [here]

Selected excerpts:

The Danish forest ecologist sighed explosively, then spoke: “Your government’s wildfire and forest policy is a foolish and ignorant insult to the poor, and an insult to nature.” His voice was shaking, his tone illustrating the fact that grownups sigh when weeping seems out of place.

“Do you know the estimates of unused logging residues and dead wood rotting in your country are equivalent to 32 billion barrels of oil [more than four year’s supply for the whole nation]? When ecologists project a yearly total of the ecologically available logging waste [branches and tops] generated on private lands in the United States to all your forests, it makes 1.36 billion barrels [a good start on the 20 million barrels a day we use].

Do you know what that waste does to the price of fuel in poor countries? Every year you let another two- to six-million acres burn up! You do nothing effective to stop it and you do nothing with it!” …

The American public is not told that three times the CO emitted during any severe fire event continues to reach the atmosphere as the dead wood continues to degas and decompose. The environmentalists’ pro-wildfire/no-logging policy is a gigantic CO and other biogas factory, stacking up more and more “production units” in the form of billions of “sacred” dead trees which — due to lawsuits — no one is allowed to harvest. Frivolous fund-raising lawsuits that prevent sound use of forest biomass alternatives could end up as the single greatest cause of American fossil carbon releases, while hugely accelerating detructive fire emissions. …

The policy — letting disease-ridden too-dense forest structures continue and allowing fuel loads to build — kills forests. On average, they burn at least twice by the time the trees of the first fire decompose. The fire that burns the wind-fallen and/or rot-fallen fire-killed trees is vastly more destructive than the first.

In close contact with forest soils, the 1,700-degree Fahrenheit heat of 200 tons per acre of downed logs deeply sterilizes the forest floor. These intense blazes can last for many hours. Few biological potentials survive, nor does the wildlife that depends on these habitats.

Researchers Matthew Hurteau and Malcolm North modeled six prescriptions for mixed-conifer forest structure to study their potential for carbon sequestration. They came up with basically the same answers that Dr. Wallace Covington at Northern Arizona University reached in his work: Do it the way the Native Americans did.

Allowing a tangled mass of stunted trees to grow does sequester (take out of the atmosphere) lots of carbon — until it catches fire. When fire is added to the model, it becomes clear that a forest of widely spaced big trees is much safer from fire and sequesters more carbon for much longer. …

The ecological, social and economic benefits vastly favor restoring the Native American forest-structure maintenance system. Every year, the stream flows will increase and stabilize, wildlife will increase and soils will grow richer. This is a grazeable woodland, very productive of biodiversity and progressively healthier. These are the landscapes from which dozens of Arizona trout streams once flowed down to broad, beautiful, lower-slope grasslands, which are now choked with alien Utah junipers and chaparral shrubs. …

Who would object to restoring paradise while aiding the cause of energy independence? Who objects to restoring rural economies, relieving taxpayers of the burden of supporting the Forest Service (which used to make money), and greatly enhancing our national security both through an ecologically positive boost in tax revenues and a huge drop in oil imports? …\

Long ago, Native Americans knew that the trees and shrubs grew too thickly choking out everything else and then catching fire, doing huge damage. They worked very hard and used cool-season fire to thin tree and shrub stands, release grasses and flowers from domination, make meadows, attract game and increase useful plants and animals. They also did it to protect their families from being burned to death. They greatly admired large trees and used small ones. They increased nut crops by decreasing competition from other trees. Their management plan greatly increased nuts, berries, bulbs, corms, basketry and cordage materials, grass-seed production, game and water. It created farming opportunities. It was intelligent, superbly adapted, highly sophisticated, and it created beauty.

The environmental movement must abandon the false belief that the America the European explorers found was “pristine” in any way. Almost every American landscape was what ethnologists and ethno-biologists call an anthropogenic (human-created) landscape. Doctrinaire environmentalists are trying to recreate a world that never existed. To deny the Native Americans’ role in the beauty and abundance Europeans found is to perpetuate the 15th-19th century assumption that they had no role. Rural Americans must firmly resist any plans which use nature unsustainably and result in diminished potentials.

New forest-products technologies make smaller trees profitable in making beautiful homes. We can now spare many of the forest giants to make a safer, more beautiful, more productive forest using the research-proven model that Native Americans created.

Steven H. Rich lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is president of Rangeland Restoration Academy [here]

Schultz Fire Aftermath: Placing Blame

The sue-happy Center for Biological Disaster has attempted (unsuccessfully) to deflect criticism after the Schultz Fire [here, here]. The community is well-aware, however, that the the multi-million dollar, super-litigious, anti-forest, pro-holocaust “activist” group headquartered in Tucson has thrown legal monkey wrench after legal monkey wrench into any and all stewardship efforts in and around Flagstaff.

The CBD does it for the money. The Feds pay CBD tens of $millions every year to sue the USFS, USFWS, and other agencies via something called the Equal Access to Justice Act [here]. The EAJA is an endless gravy train of our money that is poured into the coffers of radical (Maoist) pro-holocaust groups whose original goal was violent Communist revolution but now is corrupt scam and profit.

It is abundantly clear that the CBD has zero ecological goals. That myth is a cruel joke, but nobody is laughing.

The Arizona Daily Sun ran this guest column Wednesday by Jim Wheeler, Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Marshal of the Flagstaff Fire Department:

Coconino Voices: Use collaboration, not obstructionism,on forest thinning

by Jim Wheeler, Guest Column, Arizona Daily Sun, July 21, 2023 [here]

I take issue with the recent op-ed piece by the Center for Biological Diversity (”Schultz fire: Setting the record straight,” July 11) that seeks to divert personal responsibility for wildfire damage because of “the market” and “untested practices.” As a founding member of the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership, I can attest that this smokescreen could not be further from reality.

The federal government does not have the money to thin forests to the level necessary to protect communities and forests and taxpayers do not have to bear the burden to fund projects. Thinning is done by contractors, who either get paid by tax dollars or make a small amount of money on the wood they remove. When controversy arises, contractors go elsewhere.

Appeals by the Center for Biological Diversity that attempt to force arbitrary diameter limits on thinning projects affects the market.” Contractors cannot make money here in Flagstaff when arbitrary diameter limits are placed on projects because the small-diameter utilization industry is not here at this time. While we are all working to bring sufficient industry to our area, we cannot wait to thin the forests. We must work with what we have now! Waiting invites disaster — just like the recent Schultz Fire.

The market is also affected by the fact that an appeal has been filed. Why would any contractor pursue a project that is engrossed in an appeal? The fact than an appeal is in place affects the viability of any project, which in turn tells contractors that there is no guarantee of a supply; thus again affecting “the market.”

The CBD affected the market of the Jack Smith/Schultz Project and then attempts to hide behind “the market” in order to deflect accountability. The Center for Biological Diversity is an outside gunslinger from Tucson negatively affecting the local Flagstaff condition. Just take a look at the east side of the Peaks to see the results of their actions.

On the subject of “untried practices,” the public should know that the Jack Smith/ Schultz project was the last of 10 or so projects fostered by the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership (GFFP).

GFFP is one of the most highly successful collaborative ecological restoration and wildfire reduction initiatives in the United States. Having the CBD contend in their appeal that the Forest Service is using “untried practices” flies in the face of the broad collaborative of the GFFP Partners that have worked so hard with the Forest Service since 1997 to thin from Freidlein Prairie Road northwest of town, Woody Mountain, Kachina Village, Mountainaire and East Flagstaff, using the same or similar thinning treatments that were proposed on Schultz Pass.

How sad that other local conservation groups such as the Grand Canyon Trust and the Nature Conservancy, who have collaborated on this initiative, have now been trumped by those who prefer to obstruct rather than collaborate.

Our local practices have used the best available science from the NAU Ecological Restoration Institute and the collective efforts of other professionals and conservation groups who were willing to collaborate instead of obstruct local fire risk reduction efforts. Adaptive management has also “tweaked” projects to improve them based on past projects.

Our “practices” are some of the leading practices of restoration and wildfire reduction in the nation and we have been using them since 1997. To say they are “untried” is ludicrous and untrue. Forest treatments work to allow firefighters to be effective and to protect values such as homes and the surrounding forest itself.

How sad that the GFFP’s efforts have now been usurped by a catastrophic wildfire that will continue to wreak havoc on our community and landscape for years to come. Arguments over thinning around communities must stop! No one is going to cut old-growth trees. No one is going to clearcut anything. Wildfire reduction and forest restoration efforts go hand-in-hand in maintaining and improving the ecosystem and our collective quality of life. Obstructionism does the exact opposite.

The Douglas County Forest Predicament

by Mike Dubrasich

Yesterday Douglas County Commissioner Joe Laurance delivered an excellent testimony to Congress. I amplify that testimony with the following of my own, which was not invited by Congress, nor delivered to them, but is instead posted here.

Douglas County extends from the crest of the Oregon Cascades to the Pacific Ocean and encompasses the entire watershed of the Umpqua River, over 5,000 square miles. As of the census of 2000, there were 100,399 people, 39,821 households, and 28,233 families residing in the county.

Douglas County is one of the premier timber-producing counties in the nation. Approximately 25-30% of the labor force is employed in the forest products industry. Agriculture, mainly field crops, orchards, and livestock (particularly sheep ranching,) is also important to the economy of the county.

In 2008 approximately 416 million board feet of timber were harvested in Douglas County, less than one third of the historical average. The reason for that is the USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management administer more than 50% of the county’s land, and their combined timber harvest in 2008 was less than 50 million board feet, less than 5% of their historical harvest and less than 1% of the annual growth on those lands.

In economic terms, considering stumpage value, remanufacture value, and the multiplier effect, a million board foot of timber is worth a million dollars and/or ten family wage jobs.

The precipitous decline (from historical levels) in timber harvest from federal lands in Douglas County costs the county’s economy 10,000 jobs per year. That has been the case for nearly 20 years now, since inception of the Northwest Forest Plan, and Douglas County has suffered enormously as a consequence.

As of last October, 23,336 Douglas County residents received food stamps. That is roughly a quarter of the population. The number has risen since.

The federal (USFS, BLM) forestland in Douglas County continues to grow timber at a prodigious rate. Over a half billion board feet are added very year. In other words, less than 1% of the annual growth is harvested each year.

That accumulating biomass has another effect on the economy of Douglas County. It fuels catastrophic fires that damage the watersheds, wildlife, public health and safety, recreation, and all businesses.

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Douglas Co. Commissioner Joe Laurance July 15 Testimony

Today the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held an Oversight Hearing on “Locally Grown: Creating Rural Jobs with America’s Public Lands”. Among the testimonies [here] was that of Joseph Laurance, County Commissioner, Douglas County, Oregon.

Commissioner Laurance brought up many important points, not the least of which is that that our national forests today are unnaturally loaded with fuels. Over 110 million acres are in Fire Regime Condition Class 2 and 3, the most hazardous conditions.

The safest condition is FRCC 1, of which there are 60 to million acres. Commissioner Laurance noted that FRCC 1 closely approximates the natural, historic conditions “characteristic of the ‘anthropogenic’ forest in the year 1800, immediately prior to the European American presence.”

The following is the full text of his remarks, with complementary photographs:

Testimony of Joseph Laurance, County Commissioner, Douglas County, Oregon before the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, July 15, 2010.

Distinguished members of the committee,

At a meeting of Oregon county commissioners last summer, I complained to my colleagues that while endless debate continued in congress about how federal forests should be managed, fires were ravaging federal timberlands in my county and throughout the western United States. The worldwide financial crisis that was draining the national treasury made re-authorization of “Secure Rural Schools” funding seem doubtful, threatening many of Oregon’s 36 counties with social and economic ruin. Bad news just kept coming with the word that unemployment in Douglas County had reached 16.4% and if unreported joblessness was considered, was probably greater than the 19% experienced here during the height of the “Great Depression”.

Talks were ongoing in Copenhagen about greenhouse gas emissions while the three fires in my county burned toward an eventual total of 20,000 acres, equal to the greenhouse gasses emitted by one million cars in a year’s time. My fellow commissioners suggested that I craft a solution to the problems you of this body are all too familiar with. The resultant resolution* has been carefully considered by commissioners from across the western United States who helped in its preparation. It has been unanimously adopted by the Association of Oregon Counties, Western Interstate Region of Counties, and the National Association of Counties (NACo) Public Lands Committee and is expected to be adopted by NACo at its annual national conference next week.

Twenty years and twenty days ago the Northern Spotted Owl was listed as threatened under the federal “Endangered Species Act”. It was then thought that loss of old growth habitat through logging was the culprit causing a declining population. In response, federal timber harvests were vastly curtailed. The Umpqua National Forest in my county saw an annual harvest of 397 million board feet in 1988 reduced to 4 million board feet in 2002. In the years since a policy of “benevolent neglect” of federal lands has seen Spotted Owl numbers continue to decline through habitat destruction caused by increasingly numerous and intense forest fires and through predation by the Barred Owl which favors this new “unmanaged” forest habitat. Federal policy, which had been multiple use of the forest with an emphasis on industrial harvest, sought a new strategy which has yet to be formulated in all these intervening years.

The resolution presented you provides that needed new strategy, not only for Oregon but for all of our nation’s federal forests from Appalachia to Alaska. Federal forest managers would now have a clearly defined desired forest condition that must be obtained within a specified time. If this becomes the “Intent of Congress”, the Forest Service and BLM would join with private industry to restore forest health and rural economies without drawing on the national treasury.

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The New Approach to Forest Stewardship

An encouraging Guest Editorial appeared in the Dead Tree Press yesterday, written by Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council:

Beyond the spotted owl: It’s time for a new approach in our federal forests

By Tom Partin, Guest Columnist, the Oregonian, July 08, 2023 [here]

The Oregonian’s recent article commemorating the 20th anniversary of the listing of the northern spotted owl on the endangered species list exposed the personal, largely hidden agendas of those who have advocated for the owl over the years. …

Now, after 20 years, it’s evident that slashing the harvest from our federal lands has not only made our forests into tinder boxes ready to ignite and burn the very habitat the owl needs, but has not kept the owl’s numbers from continuing to decline. By listening to the questionable wisdom of self-interested scientists whose livelihoods depend on grants to study the bird, we have come to a place where the owl is in far greater danger from fire and barred owls than from the boogeyman fall guy, logging. It’s time for a new approach.

Unfortunately, the new recovery plan for the spotted owl now under development by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is unlikely to be that new approach. …

When are Oregonians and our society going to say enough is enough? Our state is on the brink of bankruptcy, unemployment is topping 20 percent in rural Oregon, county payments that are handouts in lieu of cutting timber will expire in 2012, and our forests are ready to burn. What we are doing and have been doing isn’t working. … [more]

We concur with Mr. Partin’s observation that what we have been doing isn’t working. Specifically, the The Northwest Forest Plan has been a catastrophic failure. The NWFP had (has) four fundamental goals. It has failed spectacularly to meet any of them.

1. The NWFP has failed to protect northern spotted owls

By most estimations, the northern spotted owl population has fallen 40 to 60 percent since inception of the NWFP.

2. The NWFP has failed to protect spotted owl habitat

Since inception, millions of acres of spotted owl habitat have been catastrophically incinerated. Millions more acres are poised to burn.

3. The NWFP has failed to preserve habitat continuity throughout the range of the northern spotted owl

The dozens of huge and catastrophic forest fires have left giant gaps in the range. The Biscuit Burn alone is 50 miles long and 20 miles wide.

4. The NWFP has failed to protect the regional economy

Since inception of the NWFP, Oregon has experienced 15 long years of the worst economy in the U.S., with the highest rates of unemployment, bankruptcy, home foreclosure, and hunger of any state. These are not just statistics, but indicators of real human suffering. Over 40,000 workers lost their jobs, and the rural economy has been crippled ever since.

The plan to save the owls has not saved anything; not owls, not old-growth, not the economy. The cost for nothing? $100,000 per job per year x 40,000 jobs x 17 years = $68 billion. That’s what Northwesterners have paid, for nothing. And the bills continue to mount.

Mr. Partin calls for a “new approach.” We concur. More significantly, here at W.I.S.E. we have laid out the strategy for that new approach: restoration forestry.

Restoration forestry is active management to bring back historical cultural landscapes, historical forest development pathways, and traditional ecological stewardship to achieve historical resiliency to fire and insects and to preclude and prevent a-historical catastrophic fires that decimate and destroy myriad resource values [here].

Those values include:

1. Heritage and history
2. Ecological functions including old-growth development
3. Fire resiliency and the reduction of catastrophic fires
4. Watershed functions
5. Wildlife habitat protection and enhancement (including spotted owl habitat)
6. Public health and safety
7. Jobs and the economy

Restoration forestry begins with the study and elucidation of forest history. Mr. Partin is correct in his assessment that establishment forest science has failed to provide the research and understanding needed. Forest history has not been a key component of establishment forest science in univesities and forest research centers.

Despite that deplorable state of affairs, in enclaves outside the Establishment a handful of intrepid forest scientists have been exploring forest histories. Their principal findings have been that human influences over thousands of years have played an enormous role in shaping our forests. Human influences — including frequent, seasonal, anthropogenic fire — provided the conditions whereby trees could reach old ages.

Human influences gave rise to our old-growth. That’s a stunning finding. It contradicts the old paradigm of forest development, which is based entirely on non-human factors. But the old paradigm is wrong. Too many anomalies exist in the real world, such as thickets of fir underneath ancient overstories of pine. The old paradigm cannot explain how natural forces alone created those (species-specific multicohort) forest conditions. The new paradigm, which accepts historical human influences as significant, does explain how our old-growth forests came to exist.

That’s an ecological issue. The old ecology is wrong. The new ecology is a vast improvement.

The Northwest Forest Plan is based on out-dated and incorrect assumptions about forest ecology. It is no wonder that the NWFP has failed; the scientists who crafted it were deficient in their understanding about how our forests developed.

Restoration forestry seeks to restore the actual, historical forest development pathways within the actual watersheds where that development took place. That is why restoration forestry stands a chance of succeeding where the NWFP and old paradigm ecology has failed so miserably and catastrophically.

We are encouraged by Mr. Partin’s call for a new approach, and in turn we encourage him to seek a greater understanding of what restoration forestry is, where its basis lies, and why it might succeed where the old approach has failed.

We encourage Mr. Partin, and all others, to review the papers in the W.I.S.E. Colloquia History of Western Landscapes [here], Restoration Forestry [here], Forest and Fire Sciences [here], and Wildlife Sciences [here].

Our Colloquia are works in progress. We have not gotten all the key papers up yet, but what we have posted so far should give readers a good introduction to new paradigm thinking.

We encourage Mr. Partin, and all others, to ask questions. That’s how learning occurs.

If more people begin to understand the new findings, the new ecology, and the new techniques of restoration forestry, then the “new approach” will become clearer. We won’t have to wonder what that new approach might be, nor be stuck any longer in the failed approaches of the past.

Too Little, Too Late to Save Flagstaff’s Forests

An article about the Shultz Fire from Northern Arizona University:

NAU experts weigh in on lessons of Schultz Fire

Inside NAU, June 30, 2023 [here]

Expected to be fully contained today, the Schultz Fire [here] that scorched more than 15,000 acres in northeast Flagstaff and captured worldwide attention is human caused in more ways than one, said Northern Arizona University experts.

“This is a human caused fire from two perspectives,” said Daniel Laughlin, a research associate with the university’s Ecological Restoration Institute [here]. “A human campfire was left to burn in an ecosystem that became dense because of 100 years of mismanagement.”

A century of fire suppression has successfully kept fire off the peaks—a landscape dominated by ponderosa pine, which typically burn every two to 45 years. The blaze torched an area not burned since the 1890s in an ecosystem historically subject to frequent, low intensity fires.

There is a glaring misstatement in that.

Historically, the ecosystem was subject to frequent, seasonal anthropogenic fires. i.e. set by the indigenous residents.

I don’t know why ERI is so reticent to admit or even to investigate the historical forest development pathways in what is so clearly an ancient cultural landscape. It’s not like their host institution, Northern Arizona University, is equally deaf, dumb, and blind to the former inhabitants of the San Francisco Peak area (i.e. Flagstaff vicinity). See:

Dating Wupatki Pueblo: Tree Ring Evidence [here]

San Francisco Mt. Ware [here]

The Hopi’s, whose home mesas are east of Flagstaff, consider the San Francisco Peaks (Nuvatukya’ovi) to be sacred mountains. In fact, the Peaks are held sacred by over 13 Native American Nations [here].

The Tribes claim ownership and residency going back many hundreds of generations. There is no reason to doubt their veracity, since archaeological relics are frequent and widespread in the area. The Forest Service has identified the Peaks as a Traditional Cultural Property. It’s common knowledge that people have been living there for millennia.

It would be safe to assume that the native residents practiced landscape burning, since every other indigenous tribe in the Southwest (and elsewhere) burned their homelands regularly. And it is clear to many observers that frequent anthropogenic fire led to open, park-like forests and prairies. Putting those two well-known facts together leads to the inexorable conclusion that anthropogenic fire shaped the vegetation in the pine forests of Flagstaff.

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Ancient Human Environmental Influences In Yellowstone

It turns out that Yellowstone is not a pristine, untrammeled wilderness after all.

Science Daily reported today that a 10,000-year-old hunting shaft (atlatl dart) has been discovered in the Rockies near Yellowstone.

Hunting Weapon 10,000 Years Old Found in Melting Ice Patch

ScienceDaily, June 29, 2010, [here]

To the untrained eye, University of Colorado at Boulder Research Associate Craig Lee’s recent discovery of a 10,000-year-old wooden hunting weapon might look like a small branch that blew off a tree in a windstorm.

Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Lee, a research associate with CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research who found the atlatl dart, a spear-like hunting weapon, melting out of an ice patch high in the Rocky Mountains close to Yellowstone National Park.

The US Forest Service didn’t invent Let It Burn, the National Park Service (NPS) did.

The most infamous Let It Burn fires in our National Parks were the Yellowstone Fires of 1988 when 1.2 million acres (1,875 square miles) of Greater Yellowstone were proudly incinerated by the NPS.

It is not a stretch to say “proudly” because the NPS gushes all over itself for the Yellowstone Fires [here].

Among the justifications presented by the NPS for the Yellowstone Fires was that the fires were “natural”, as if “natural” made any difference.

The natural history of fire in the park includes large-scale conflagrations sweeping across the park’s vast volcanic plateaus, hot, wind-driven fires torching up the trunks to the crowns of the pine and fir trees at several hundred-year intervals.

Such wildfires occurred across much of the ecosystem in the 1700s. But that, of course, was prior to the arrival of European explorers, to the designation of the park, and the pattern established by its early caretakers to battle all blazes in the belief that fire suppression was good stewardship.

That bit of racist nonsense fails to mention that Native Americans had been residing in and visiting the Yellowstone region for at least 11,900 years. The “early caretakers” were not the NPS!!! The actual early acretakers set frequent, seasonal, non-catastrophic fires that precluded holocausts like 1988.

The ignorant racism was readily adopted by NPS “scientists” too:

…[B]y the 1970s Yellowstone and other parks had instituted a natural fire management plan to allow the process of lightning-caused fire to continue influencing wildland succession. …

Only a miniscule portion of once vast wilderness landscapes has been preserved, and the boundaries and spatial extent of these preserved bear little relationship to the natural processes necessary for their preservation. The 1988 fires have laid bare the broad extent of our ignorance of those natural processes. — N. A. Christensen, et al.

The NPS is profoundly ignorant of the historical human influences on ecosystem development in all of our national parks. They have blinders on in that regard. NPS fires wipe out any trace of the real natural history on those landscapes. It’s more than ignorance — it’s their deliberate policy to do so. That is because the foundational conceit of the NPS is the American Creation Myth: God made the Wilderness for the Salvation of Humanity, specifically Euro immigrants as paternally cared for by NPS neo-Victorian elitists.

But Yellowstone is not wilderness. Modern (non-NPS) scientists are well-aware of the historical human environmental influences in the Yellowstone and the non-wilderness (homelands) quality of that cultural landscape.

The newly discovered atlatl dart is proof that human beings have been living in the Yellowstone area for (at least) 10,000 years. It is proof that for millennia human beings have been the key predators, the most effective and deadly hunters, armed with advanced technology capable of killing any other animal.

The dart is circumstantial evidence that human beings have controlled animal populations in the Yellowstone area for 10,000 years.

Because human beings everywhere, for our entire existence as a species, also employed landscape anthropogenic fire, the atlatl dart is circumstantial evidence that human beings have been burning Yellowstone deliberately, frequently, for survival purposes, for 10,000 years.

The Science Daily article continues:

Later this summer Lee and CU-Boulder student researchers will travel to Glacier National Park to work with the Salish, Kootenai and Blackfeet tribes and researchers from the University of Wyoming to recover and protect artifacts that may have recently melted out of similar locations.

“We will be conducting an unprecedented collaboration with our Native American partners to develop and implement protocols for culturally appropriate scientific methods to recover and protect artifacts we may discover,” he said.

Modern Native Americans, archaeologists, historians, and cultural experts recognize the continuity of human occupation of the landscape for many hundreds of generations. It wasn’t until the Euro-Victorians came along that humanity was driven off the land.

An important component of restoration is the reintroduction of humanity into the landscape, including the restoration of human-nature connections and traditional practices. Thus restoration is at odds with the American Creation Myth and with the NPS policy of denying human heritage and historical human influences on the environment.

Restoration seeks to restore the anthropogenic fire and anthropogenic wildlife management extant for the entire Holocene, save the last 150 years or so. That is why the current NPS policy of banning hunting and allowing catastrophic lightning fires to incinerate watersheds during the peak summer months is anathema to restorationists.

We look at the myth-bound, arguably racist, definitely destructive policies of the NPS and wonder how such horrific policies ever became ingrained, and how we might shake the NPS out of it’s ignorance and destructiveness.

An Open Letter to Senator Mark Udall

Dear Senator Udall,

I read with interest your Newsletter Update: Fire Season in the Rockies [here] today. You note:

Fire season has officially begun in Colorado. Already we have three active forest fires across the state. The fire in the Great Sand Dunes National Park has burned nearly 5,000 acres, and on Monday, another fire near Cañon City destroyed several buildings, including at least one home. As U.S. Senator, I’m doing everything I can to ensure the Forest Service and the state have the resources they need to keep Coloradans and their property safe during fire season.

In Colorado, one of the biggest threats is bark-beetle-damaged trees. The bark-beetle epidemic, which has devastated large swaths of forest in Colorado and across the Mountain West, has created what is essentially a 3.6 million-acre tinderbox. We now have millions of acres of dead and dying trees that threaten public safety, add fuel to wildfires, endanger water supplies, and put mountain economies at risk.

Ever since I was first elected to Congress in 1998, I have been focused on maintaining the health and safety of our forests, and as your U.S. Senator, I have doubled my efforts to reduce the risks of another event like the Hayman Fire of 2002.

Thank you very much for your rational and reasonable concerns regarding fire risks to Coloradans and to the resources of the great state of Colorado. However, there may be a few items that you may be unaware of:

1. Two of the three active wildfires in Colorado today are Let It Burn fires: the Medano Fire [here] at the Great Sand Dunes NP and Pike and San Isabel NF in Saguache Co.; and the Water Creek Fire [here] on the Roan Plateau northwest of Rifle in Garfield Co.

2. By “Let It Burn” I mean the fire management strategy is not contain-control-extinguish but rather to “monitor” the fires while they burn unchecked.

3. In the case of the Water Creek Fire, the fire reports are sparse and inaccurate but some facts are evident. Wildland fire use (whoofoo) teams (modules) have assumed management of the fire. Although their job (ostensibly) is to monitor, not fight the fire, they do not file monitoring reports, ironically. The BLM, Colorado River Valley Field Office (formerly Glenwood Springs — site of Storm King Mountain Monument) is the responsible agency. Downwind of the fire are the communities of Rifle, Silt, New Castle, and Glenwood Springs. The Roan Plateau is a very valuable piece of property. In 2008 the Roan Plateau lease sale netted $113.9 million, making it the highest grossing onshore oil and natural gas lease sale in BLM history in the lower 48 states.

One might think that with such valuable resources at stake, the BLM could do a slightly better job in managing and reporting on fires in the vicinity. Do you think that allowing the Water Creek Fire to burn unchecked until October rains arrive is wise?

4. In the case of the Medano Fire, the fire was ignited by lightning June 6 at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It could have put it out on that date with a garden hose, but the NPS chose to Let It Burn with no plan whatsoever, and then on June 17 it blew up to 3,000 acres. The fire burned off the Park onto the Reserve (still NPS). To date 4,891 acres have burned, including 120 on the Pike and San Isabel National Forest.

The NPS alleges to be doing “long-range planning” but that was an afterthought. There was no planning until the fire blew up. There is still no plan. The plan will come later. It’s already too late. The damage is done. No computer model is going to fix that.

The fire is still very active (it grew another 120 acres yesterday), and what little efforts are being made to “confine” the fire are ineffective. Over a $million have been spent not fighting a fire that could have been doused on the day of ignition for less than ten $thousand.

Do you think it is responsible or even sane to let a fire burn from now until October on the Rocky Mountain Front?

5. A pertinent issue has arisen in New Mexico. Certain elements are invoking the name of your late cousin Stewart Udall to promote the takeover of the Valles Caldera National Preserve by the National Park Service. It is important to note that the NPS is incompetent at fire management, lacks effective fire crews, and has adopted a Let It Burn fire policy. In 2000 the NPS actually lit a fire at the nearby Bandolier National Monument that burned all the way to Los Alamos and inflicted a billion dollars in damages.

Currently, the South Fork Fire immediately north of Valles Caldera is 15,000 acres on the Santa Fe National Forest. Direct attack of the fire has been unsuccessful and evaluation of conditions has shown it would be unsafe to place firefighters adjacent to the fire. An indirect strategy is being implemented instead, using the existing road network and extensive back burning. It is hoped that the strategy will contain the fire within the indirect lines until monsoon rains douse it (expected sometime in July).

If the fire had been on NPS land, no such strategy would have been employed. Instead, the NPS typically does Let It Burn until the fire is on someone else’s property and becomes someone else’s problem.

Do you think it is responsible to break the trust documents at Valles Caldera and convey the property to an agency that refuses to do fire suppression?

I sincerely appreciate and share your concerns about the looming threat of megafires, such as the 2002 Hayman Fire (138,000 acres). That fire cost $40 million to suppress and inflicted at least $170 million in direct, indirect, rehabilitation, and additional costs and losses.

The solution you have promoted, to “expand the Forest Service’s authority to take proactive measures to protect at-risk communities and watersheds,” is certainly laudable. May I respectfully offer some other suggestions?

1. Perhaps Congress could fund the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) ten-fold or more over current meager levels. The CFLRP promises to do exactly what you advise: implement landscape-scale (50,000 acres and up) forest restoration projects designed to reduce fuels, enhance forest resiliency to fire and insects, restore ecological functions, and provide jobs.

The CFLRP is a national program. It applies to every state. It is not just for one state. Our forest and wildfire crisis is a national one, not confined to any one state. Therefore it makes sense to approach the issue in a holistic, comprehensive manner. I realize that you represent Colorado and seek what might be best for Coloradoans. But a piecemeal, state-by-state approach is actually counterproductive and will result in less forest restoration, not more. Don’t you think it would be wiser to fund the existing program, one that you voted for I might add, than to create 50 new little one-state programs?

2. Restoration forestry projects proposed under the authorities of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (2003) and the Forest Landscape Restoration Act (2009) have been held up by an endless stream of lawsuits. Certain well-funded litigious groups have made it their mission to sabotage and undermine projects that were generated with the intention of fulfilling restoration mandates which Congress established. Federal land management agencies are attempting to impart forest resiliency as you instructed them to, but have been paralyzed by lawsuits.

Wouldn’t it be wise to examine the pitfalls of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Equal Access to Justice Act, and other laws that litigious groups use to monkey wrench and subvert the will of Congress? No matter what new initiative to restore forests that you promote, if lawsuits stymie implementation, then nothing substantial will have been accomplished and the megafire hazard will not be mitigated. Don’t you agree?

3. The current red tape that constrains Federal fire suppression and disconnects fire managers from land management programs has led to indecision and poor decision-making on wildfires. Let It Burn policies increase the probability of megafires. Allowing fires to burn unchecked and uncontrolled for months at a time invites catastrophes such as the Hayman Fire.

Ironically, fire suppression decisions are not subject to NEPA, ESA, or other environmental laws. Fire managers can make the choice to Let It Burn in abeyance of those laws, decisions that circumvent legally mandated intents, significantly impact the environment, destroy endangered species and their habitat, incinerate watersheds and pollute waterways, and compromise public health and safety.

Wouldn’t it be wise for Congress to investigate the policies that Federal fire managers are employing, to see if they comport with Congressional intent, and to see if they are effective in fulfilling the mandates you have established for Federal lands? If the fire policies implemented on the ground contravene Congressional intent, then no matter what new forest restoration programs you establish, the land will be incinerated anyway by misguided fire management. You don’t wish that to happen anymore, do you?

Thank you for your concerns and efforts to save lives and property, and to protect our Nation’s heritage and natural resources.

I look forward to receiving and reading your answers to the questions I have posed.


Mike Dubrasich, Exec Dir W.I.S.E.

The Western Institute for Study of the Environment is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational corporation and a collaboration of environmental scientists, resource professionals and practitioners, and the interested public.

Our mission is to further advancements in knowledge and environmental stewardship across a spectrum of related environmental disciplines and professions. We are ready, willing, and able to teach good stewardship and caring for the land.

W.I.S.E. provides a free, on-line set of post-graduate courses in environmental studies, currently fifty topics in eight Colloquia, each containing book and article reviews, original papers, and essays. In addition, we present three Commentary sub-sites, a news clipping sub-site, and a fire tracking sub-site. Reviews and original articles are archived in our Library.

President Clueless About Wildfires

Obama is clueless about a lot of stuff, so it is no surprise that he is in the dark about wildfires.

Obama and his Admin have proved themselves useless in a crisis many, many times. Now as we enter the 2010 fire season, the White House is proving that wildfires — like oil spills, financial meltdowns, and other disasters — are completely beyond their ken.

Note the Presidential utterances of yesterday:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release, June 22, 2023 [here]

President Obama Receives Update on Arizona Wildfires and Calls Governor Brewer
Earlier today President Obama was updated by senior staff on the ongoing response to the wildfires in Arizona and the Administration’s continued work with state and local officials to fight it. Under the President’s direction, both the U.S. Forest Service and FEMA have been in close contact with state and local emergency management officials and continue to monitor the fire activity. The U.S. Forest Service is actively working to support state and local forest fighting efforts and is managing the fires through high level, inter-agency management teams. The Governor of Arizona has made two requests for Fire Management Assistance Grants for the Hardy fire and the Shultz fire; both grants were awarded on the day the requests were made at the direction of the President.

The President also called Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to express his concerns about the wildfires threatening homes and businesses across the state and to assure her of the continued support of the federal government in helping state and local officials protect people’s lives and property. The President indicated that the U.S. Forest Service, under his direction, is actively engaged and working with state and local teams to manage the immediate response to the fires and reinforced that FEMA will continue to closely monitor the fires and remains in close contact with state and local officials. The President offered praise for the tireless efforts of the local and state emergency management officials working around the clock to fight and contain the fires, mobilize resources, carry out evacuations and coordinate shelters, and asked the Governor to keep him updated on additional support the State needs as the response continues.

Note that the press release states “the U.S. Forest Service and FEMA have been in close contact with state and local emergency management officials and continue to monitor the fire activity” and “the U.S. Forest Service, under his direction, is actively engaged and working with state and local teams to manage the immediate response to the fires.”

Those are just plain clueless misstatements. Federal IMT’s are fighting the fire, not monitoring it. The Schultz Fire [here, here] is not a local or state suppression operation, per se, although a variety of crews from a variety of locales across the Nation are involved. The fire began on unkempt Federal land, and the Coconino NF requested the Southwest Type 1 Incident Management Team, Dugger Hughes Incident Commander. Eight federally contracted air tankers are making the most significant impact and have saved North Flagstaff from incineration.

It is the Federal disaster response apparatus that is fighting the fire. The IMT’s are directed by the National Interagency Fire Center [here] headquartered in Boise, ID. The IMT’s also respond to disasters other than fires, such as floods, hurricanes, etc. They are not FEMA, nor are they the US Forest Service.

NIFC Mission [here]

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), located in Boise, Idaho, is the nation’s support center for wildland firefighting. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC. Decisions are made using the interagency cooperation concept because NIFC has no single director or manager.

“The President offered praise for the tireless efforts of the local and state emergency management officials working around the clock to fight and contain the fires…” Well hey, everybody likes praise, but the actual job of fighting and containing the fire is being done by the Southwest Type 1 Incident Management Team, not local and state emergency management officials.

But the incompetence of the White House regarding forest fires goes deeper than mere cluelessness.

The fact is the Obama Admin has promoted Let It Burn by appointing anti-forest, pro-fire political operatives to the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, by expanding roadlessness and wilderness, and through backroom secret deals for more National Monuments.

The stacking of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program Advisory Committee [here] with anti-restoration, Let It Burn types is the latest affront, but the push for more Fed land to be put off-limits to fire suppression has shown up in the Cohesive Strategy, global warming alarmism, National Park Service policy, National Forest policy, Federal “conservation” easements, roadless rule redux, transportation plan road decommissioning, wilderness expansion, etc.

Obama, our grad student President from Chicago or Kenya or somewhere, is himself clueless about natural resource and land management issues, but true to predictions he has opened the White House and his Administration to the kookiest people on the Left. The Executive Branch is crawling with fire bugs right now, and this summer we will suffer disaster after disaster if those bugs get in the way of fire suppression (as is their stated political mission).

The Schultz Fire outside of Flagstaff has been predicted for 30 years. Dr. Wally Covington, his Ecological Restoration Institute at NAU [here], the City of Flagstaff, and community groups like the Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership [here] have all pushed and pushed for fuel treatments and restoration. Everyone with half a brain recognized that a-historical fuel loadings have accumulated in a wind tunnel/venturi between the mountain peaks, and the accelerated winds are aimed directly at Flagstaff. The ongoing efforts and pleadings by ERI, GFFP, foresters and others to reduce the hazards through restoration have been thwarted again and again by radical anti-stewardship groups, the very same groups that have been given high-ranking positions within the Obama Admin.

Obama operatives are opposed to the use of fire retardant, opposed to aerial firefighting, opposed to direct attack, opposed to dozers and other machinery on fires, and opposed to fuel reduction projects. Those kooks are in the inside now, not just kibitzing from the outside.

This summer the IMT’s are going to be caught between doing real fire suppression and political arm-twisting to Let It Burn. We have already seen that arm twisting in numerous fires this Spring [here] including the Medano Fire, South Fork Fire, Aspen Fire, Paradise Fire, and many fires in Alaska.

And fire season has just started!

It is clear that Obama and his spin doctors do not know who fights wildfires in America. They are not aware of the NIFC, or the Fed IMT system, or how wildfire disasters are dealt with. They think it’s a local operation monitored by the USFS. They are ignorant beyond belief. Even worse, the riff-raff Obama gave the keys to the Executive Branch to are pro-holocaust.

That is very dangerous. Obama and his Admin pose a threat to America. The Left has long been at war with the residents of the West. That war continues unabated, in fact exacerbated, on multiple fronts, from border to border.

Duck and cover. The worst is yet to come.

Sidenote: does anyone know where we can contribute to the Stan McChrystal for President in 2012 Campaign?

Return Fire in Flagstaff

The Schultz Fire was reported this morning to be 10,000 acres [here]. Approximately 1,000 residences in North Flagstaff are threatened. Evacuations are occurring. Over 800 firefighting personnel are engaged along with eight airtankers.

Schultz Fire as of 06/22/2010 at 4 a.m. Map courtesy GEOMAC Wildfire Viewer [here].

The fire was ignited two days ago by a campfire in the Schultz Pass vicinity. It quickly burned to the top of of Schultz Peak and then headed northeast toward subdivisions north of the city.

It is not the first fire to burn through the area. In 1977 the Radio Fire burned 5,000 acres on Mt Elden, the legacy of which is still visible [here]. In 1996 the Hochderffer and Horseshoe Fires north of the San Francisco Peaks burned a total of 25,000 acres.

The extreme fuel conditions directly upwind from Flagstaff have not gone unnoticed:

Fire heads toward Peaks; Inner Basin threatened

by CYNDY COLE, AZ Daily Sun, June 21, 2023 [here]

The wildfire now burning northeast of Pass is larger in area than the whole base of Mount Elden. And it could overrun Lockett Meadow at the foot of the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks, say fire officials, who plan to spend at least a week fighting it.

If it goes there, fighting it will likely be tough going, with dense trees, little physical access for heavy equipment and steep terrain, said the individual in charge of firefighting operations.

This fire, when finished burning, will very likely be among the five largest in Flagstaff’s recorded history. It sits partially in an area where forest thinning was planned but had not yet commenced.

The fire had charred 10,000 acres by Monday evening and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residences along the western side of the Highway 89 corridor. …

The topography of Schultz Pass tends to exacerbate these winds, acting like a chimney, and making it a past priority for thinning.

Firefighters and some people living in Timberline have long seen the pass as a problem area, and it received some renewed attention during the 1996 fire season, when the Hochderffer and Horseshoe fires north of the San Francisco Peaks burned a total of 25,000 acres.

“This is a fire that we’ve talked about for 30 years,” Summit Fire Chief Don Howard told an audience of the public gathered at Coconino High School on Monday night. “We knew it would happen — we always hoped it wouldn’t happen — due to this pass’ ability to push wind.”

After 25 years of constant pressure from Dr. W. Wallace Covington of Northern Arizona University, his Ecological Restoration Institute [here], and a community group [here], a total of 193 acres were thinned in the area.

The Schultz Fire could easily burn 50,000 acres before it is controlled.

Who’s fault is that? Certainly not Dr. Covington’s. He could not have done more to warn the city and to provide solutions.

The fault lies with the people who have fought against fuel treatments and restoration for decades, groups such as the Sierra Club, Earth First!, the Grand Canyon Trust, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Earthjustice, Environmental Fund for Arizona, The Conservation System Alliance and other organizations with various shifting names and websites.

Will the anti-restoration groups be held accountable? Not likely.

A wise and knowledgeable friend writes, “We’ve been here before. Learn nothing, forget nothing. … It may be news, but it’s nothing new.”

And so it goes. Fire returns to Flagstaff, as it does so often in so many locales. Panic fills hearts. People evacuate. Umpteen $millions are spent on dangerous and expensive measures to save homes and lives. Damages exceed the fire suppression outlays by 10, 20, even 50 to 1.

We could do better. We could use sensitive and scientific restoration forestry to save homes, lives, watersheds, and landscapes. Unfortunately there is a (largely political) movement that fights against and sabotages restoration efforts, that promotes catastrophic holocaust, that wishes to Burn Baby Burn no matter how tragic and destructive the outcomes.

If responsible people with common sense do not insist on appropriate land stewardship, the crazies will prevail, and disasters will continue to visit our communities.

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