Bosworth Op-Ed on Tester’s Bill

Thanks to Terry Seyden for this one!
From the Billings Gazette, here.
Guest opinion: Tester’s jobs & rec bill would benefit Montana forests

By DALE BOSWORTH

As regional forester for the Forest Service here in Montana and as chief of the Forest Service in Washington, D.C., I have watched how the heavy traffic of opinion about public land management has grown more and more contentious, until our management processes resemble traffic jams. When so much comes to a halt, our forests suffer.

More recently however, I’ve found cause for encouragement in the local community partnerships on three national forests in Montana, partnerships that laid the groundwork for Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

Like many Montanans, I read the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act when it was first introduced and I let Sen. Jon Tester know that I supported his efforts, but I also took the time to offer a few suggestions. Then, over the next couple years, I watched as something very uncommon happened. As the suggestions came in, changes were made and the bill got better and better.

Timely land legislation

With the news that the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act may move forward in the Senate as part of the Interior appropriations bill, it’s important to recognize why this legislation is both necessary and timely.

First, there are many areas in Montana that are long overdue for being protected as wilderness. Almost half of the elk harvested in Montana come off the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, where most of the lands in this bill are located. The elk are there because the backcountry is there. Many of these special places, from the Sapphires to the Centennials, have been in limbo for decades, and it’s time for Congress to act.

Second, Sen. Tester’s bill will enable the agency to take a larger, watershed approach to managing our forests. It gives the agency tools to help it succeed. And, it requires the use of stewardship contracting to accomplish much needed restoration work on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests. This tool allows the Forest Service to harvest timber and reinvest that income in other local projects like removing unusable roads so that elk can flourish, or restoring streambeds to support native fish. I strongly support the use of stewardship contracting and I believe it is the tool of the future for accomplishing needed work on national forest system land.

Unprecedented Montana partnerships

Third — and perhaps most important — this bill is based on collaborative efforts across Montana. Members of communities from Deer Lodge to Troy who have historically been at odds did the hard work of working together. And they have stuck with it. That itself is huge. We need to make sure these efforts are rewarded so that we can build even stronger partnerships in the future.

The chairman of the Senate appropriations committee said this about the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and the work that went into it: “Decisions on how to use and protect our natural resources are never simple or clear-cut. They require commitment and fortitude. They force conversations and compromise. They make us stronger by overcoming differences and looking toward the future.”

I commend Montanans for working together on this vision. After a career of 41 years as a steward of our national forests, I’m truly encouraged by their commitment and fortitude.

Dale Bosworth of Missoula served as U.S. Forest Service Northern Region forester from 1997 to 2001 and as U.S. Forest Service chief from 2001 to 2007.

19 Comments

  1. When “heavy traffic of opinion”(otherwise known as public process and Due Process) gets characterized as creating a “traffic jam” by this former Forest Service Chief of the Bush-era, we can then expect no less than an excuse to apply a corporate remedy to democracy’s failings (otherwise known as citizens resorting to the judiciary demanding their government follow its own laws.)

    The chilling characterization suggesting THIS is the cause of “our forests to suffer” is the height of Orwellian doublespeak. If there was any “traffic jam” it was created by the Forest Service, not the public process which depends upon the separation of powers to see that our government follow the laws of the land. It is reasonable for citizens to expect, and then Demand an end to unaccountable recidivist line officers violating environmental law.

    That the supposed solution is simply to draft new legislation to do end runs around these agency-created “traffic jams” by assembling collaborating “stakeholders”, most with a financial stake in the outcome of the “collaboration”, turns the notion of public ownership of these lands, into a high stakes game played “by invitation only”. This process most certainly cannot legitmately replace public process, nor can one expect the wider public interest being served.

    Tester’s Bill’s title as most marketing hype goes, follows the Bush tradition of naming bills for what they largely won’t accomplish, while leaving obscure and in the shadows, what they will accomplish, such as corporate outsourcing of government functions, privatization masqueraded as “community partnerships”, weakening of existing bedrock environmental laws, ignoring carbon sequestration and sink functions of forests in the name of “jobs”, creating more wilderness without reversing the recurring causes of environmental degradation (routinely euphemized as “development”.)

    There is more bitter irony to Bosworth’s shameless corporate huckstering in this speech: Tester’s bill is a product of the same corporatized government bent on deregultion and reregulation that is at the center of the present (and growing) Occupy Wall Street protests.

    Shoving this bill down the throats of the electorate by attaching it to the Interior’s appropriations process only further illustrates this shameless corporate charade of democracy.

  2. David- I think that Bosworth and the people in Montana who support the bill are unlikely to see themselves as allied with Wall Street and the banking industry. I would say they are trying to use the resources that Montana has been blessed with in a sustainable way to help provide jobs (perhaps with pay which will support a family?) for people in Montana. I know you disagree with the details of the bill, but their intentions seem fairly transparent to me, and don’t have to do with being “hucksters” for “corporations.”

    • Sharon, I agree, supporters of FJRA are “unlikely to see themselves as allied with Wall Street and the banking industry”. If this is your interpretation of my statement:
      “Tester’s bill is a product of the same corporatized government bent on deregulation and reregulation that is at the center of the present (and growing) Occupy Wall Street protests.”, it goes beyond a misinterpretation.

      Likewise, you are suggesting I claimed the people were “hucksters” with your statement, “their intentions seem fairly transparent to me, and don’t have to do with being “hucksters” for “corporations.” I never said that Sharon — you did. My clear reference was to Bosworth and his speech.

      History is replete though, with roads to hell paved by good intentions, and with billboards all along the way hawking hellish ways to die as fashionable. Might the selling of cigarettes also be marketed as “a sustainable way to help provide jobs (perhaps with pay which will support a family?”)

      I am disagreeing, not only with the details of the bill, but with the devolved process used to give the bill a false imprimatur of public process. Self-selecting, financially conflicted, “stakeholders” should not be given the public purse to dispense to themselves. Whatever “intentions” you are invoking here, one cannot overlook the fact that people who stand to financially benefit from the bill will of course, support it.

      As for your use of “sustainable”, it seems as if you’ve forgotten how urgent the need for the role of standing forests in carbon sink and sequestration of our increasing carbon emissions. There are plenty of ways to provide employment without condemning present and future generations to the road to climate hell.

      FJRA sets a precedent which if applied to all NFS lands, will have us all stepping on the gas to get to that hellish destination.

      • David-

        what I was responding to was your statement:

        There is more bitter irony to Bosworth’s shameless corporate huckstering in this speech: Tester’s bill is a product of the same corporatized government bent on deregultion and reregulation that is at the center of the present (and growing) Occupy Wall Street protests

        .

        I thought you were accusing Bosworth of being a corporate huckster, and I was saying he is not. Maybe I misunderstood?

        • (Sharon, you began your response with, “Bosworth and the people in Montana”, then later referenced “their” intentions, not “his” intentions.)

          Yes, I am accusing ex-USFS Chief Dale Bosworth in this oped titled, “Tester’s jobs & rec bill would benefit Montana forests” of being a corporate huckster:
          “a person who employs showy methods to effect a sale, win votes, etc.”,

          That’s because Tester’s FJRA makes “restoration” of prior agency mismanagement– as not an agency obligation to self-correct– but CONDITIONAL to the precedent setting acceptance of the the terms of corporatization and devolution of public process while sidestepping existing environmental laws in the management of public forests.

          The people in Montana you refer to who support FJRA are likely unaware their support is being used to advance a larger corporatization of public lands management through stewardship contracting. Most people will not realize on their own (and certainly won’t be told), their support of place-based legislation excludes much of the public from having a say in management of public forests we ALL own. Local stakeholders though, will of course support any bill which is marketed and huckstered as “jobs”, especially when it’s their jobs.

          Martin Nie will certainly not be telling the people of Montana place based legislation is a product of overwhelming corporate influence in DC. I find that particularly odd, because that fact is as inescapable as bloody police batons are to public protestors, from Oakland to Wall Street.

          Instead, Dr. Nie dangles the notion we can all have our collaboration cake and eat it too, conflict-free, magically unlocking “agency gridlock” by “untangling existing legal framework”. Such are Martin’s plot lines in these adult fairy tales with curiously similar storylines to corporate tales of privatization’s happily ever afters.

          The fundamental mechanism of place based legislation is otherwise known as deregulation and reregulation — a MAJOR neoliberal objective on most corporate lobbying agendas in DC., by those who’ve always sought greater access to public resources regardless of the externalities of environmental or social consequences.

          With place based legislation like FJRA, those special interests can profit in the trading of public resources in exchange for claims of “restoration” and “stewardship” promising to finally, finally doing it right this time.
          Sustainably.
          Really.

          Stewart M. Brandborg, wrote of FJRA “We need not open this Pandora’s box of special loopholes, corporate subsidies and federal lands management that excludes the public.”
          (snip) “In years past, Congress responded to voices from the people and protected our public lands legacy from raids of special interest groups. Now, I hope we will again mobilize to stop Sen. Tester from severing our national forests into 535 separate corporate-ruled fiefdoms.”

          (Stewart M. Brandborg, recipient of the Robert Marshall Award, was referring to the fact that FJRA would establish a precedent in which any senator or representative financially incentivised to pass pre-written legislation rewriting the rules of public forest management. )
          http://helenair.com/news/opinion/forest-bill-would-undo-years-of-good-stewardship-of-our/article_da495e44-193a-11df-acb9-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1bwHYCBfH

          In order to fully understand Bosworth’s huckster role though, a constellation of dots must be connected.

          “Just prior to becoming chief, Dale served as the regional forester for the Northern Region, where he developed a program of stewardship contracting, involving citizens in planning and land management activities.”
          (http://www.foresthistory.org/ASPNET/People/Bosworth/Bosworth.aspx)

          That would be back in the late ’90’s –one of the earliest references I know of where the scam of “stewardship contracting” entered the agency lexicon. The program Bosworth developed, no doubt, was his springboard to the status of Bush’s pick for agency Chief to nationalize stewardship contracting.

          Timber sales involving “Stewardship Contracting” in my neck of the woods (the Tongass National Forest, aka the “Crown Jewels” of our NFS) allows for 100% export of round logs overseas to the benefit of multinational corporations and routinely paid for with taxpayer subsidies.

          A typical thinning contract could be done on an average of $300/acre or less on the Tongass.
          The same activity has been rebranded on the Tongass as “Stewardship and Restoration” with the pilot project costing $5-6000/acre. The GAO reports the actual accounting of stewardship contracting in general is often never available so it can’t even begin to track the promised “efficiencies” made by proponents.

          Bosworth was a mere functionary of the inevitable end game of defunding regulatory and management agencies responsible for public lands oversight. Now he’s a genuine “huckster” giving speeches for the promotion of stewardship contracting at the center of funding FJRA.

          So what does a government agency do when it no longer has the funds necessary to adequately function? Why, it outsources its functions to for-profit corporate “partners”, (eg. gets those corporations’ help to setup and administer user fees, thinning, etc. etc., which amount to double taxation of the public users of their own lands, also of course, augmenting corporate bottomlines with not only taxpayer owned natural resources but taxpayer subsidies. All this, while claiming it and the agency are working with “local communities” providing “jobs”.

          What’s wrong with corporate outsourcing of agency functions? Agencies are required to act in the best interests of the public. Corporations are required to act in the best interests of their shareholders. Why Martin Nie fails to point out this simple fact in the storyline is beyond me.

          This predicament of defunded government was infamously articulated back in (’83-’84) by spokesperson of the National Chamber of Commerce, Grover Norquist, who stated as their speechwriter and spokesman, their goal was to shrink government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform(ATR), which helped implement the regressive tax structure that is now behind our nationwide fiscal collapse. ATR is a member of ALEC, connected with the Tea Party Movement, and infamous for its agenda of defunding “Big Government”, promoting climate change denialist strategies, and undermining environmental protections.

          “ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.”
          http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

          Examples of Bosworth in action are too numerous, too tedious to list here but here’s one of many:

          http://www.funoutdoors.com/taxonomy/view/or/42 provides some images of Bosworth in action, most notably presenting an award for the notorious American Recreation Coalition (ARC), headed by Derrick Crandall, to Frank Lewis, who received the ARC award while working for the USDA .

          So what’s ARC all about?

          “ARC introduced a proposal to the House Agriculture Committee on May 8, 1998 that argued private companies should take over Forest Service campgrounds.
          (http://www.wildwilderness.org/docs/crandall.htm)

          “Sustaining Members” include American Council of Snowmobile Associations, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, Kampgrounds of America, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Park Hospitality Association, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, and the Walt Disney Company. ”

          Yes, in my estimation, ex USFS Chief Bosworth is a bona fide corporate huckster.

        • (Apropos in the news two days after my initial post on the 25th):
          “What if rising sea levels are yet another measure of inequality? What if the degradation of our planet’s life-support systems — its atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere — goes hand in hand with the accumulation of wealth, power, and control by that corrupt and greedy 1% we are hearing about from Zuccotti Park? What if the assault on America’s middle class and the assault on the environment are one and the same? ( http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/10/27-4 )

          • And what if sea levels are SUPPOSED to be higher than they are right now?!? Who says that the current levels are ideal? Is it better to put lands under glaciers than under oceans? What about the 4000 year old “dissolved organic matter” detected coming from under current Alaskan glaciers?!? Apparently those glaciers were gone long enough for forests to grow back.

            Forget about the 1%. How about taxing the top 33% to bring those back down to their “proper level of suffering”?? Or, how about a “Millionaire Tax”, where everyone with assets above one million have to pay a tax to people with less?? Or maybe a special “Apple Tax”, where those who are “special” enough to own Apple products should pay extra to keep the poor from destroying the rich’s “techno toys”?

  3. Please consider contacting Senator Tester and let him know your views on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA).

    Via EMIAL: http://tester.senate.gov/Contact/index.cfm

    Missoula
    130 W Front Street
    Missoula, MT 59802
    Phone: (406) 728-3003

    Washington, D.C.
    724 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510-2604
    Phone: (202) 224-2644

    Over the past two year many Montanans – as well as Americans – have expressed serious, substantive concerns with Senator Tester’s FJRA. Concerns and opposition has come from not only the 50 plus conservation organizations that make up the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, but also from conservation groups such as the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility – some of the most respected environmental groups in our nation. Concerns have also been expressed publicly from some of the former Chiefs of the Forest Service and a host of former Forest Service supervisors and district rangers.

    If one looks beyond the flowery rhetoric and actually deals with the substance of the bill, one will clearly see that the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA) has one member of Congress – for the first time in America’s history – simply mandating how much logging should take place in our public National Forest lands. This dangerous precedent would open the door for other members of Congress to simply mandate more logging, oil & gas drilling, grazing or mining on federal public lands in their own states.

    Senator Tester’s mandate to increase logging levels on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests comes at a time when the economic crisis has resulted in nearly a 75% reduction in new home/business construction in the U.S. and almost a 50% reduction in over all U.S. lumber consumption. Based on recent cost estimates from federal timber sales in Montana, Senator Tester’s mandate to log 100,000 acres (156 square miles) on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests could cost U.S. taxpayers $100 million. That’s why, during official Senate testimony, the head of the US Forest Service had this to say about the federal budget implications of Senator Tester’s logging mandates:

    “We would urge you to consider the budgetary implications to meet the bill’s requirements. If we were to go forward with the FJRA it would require far greater resources to do that and it will require us to draw these monies from forests within Region One or from other Regions….My concern [with FJRA] is that there will be somewhat of a balkanization that occurs between the different Forest Service regions in the country. Those [National Forests] who are first in may get funded and those who come later may find there are less funds available. There will be certain ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ that result from this process. Then in someways there is no longer a national review, an effort to sift out what priorities ought to exist across the country.”

    The FJRA would also turn some of Montana’s roadless wildlands – including Wilderness Study Areas protected by former Montana Senator Lee Metcalf – into permanent motorized recreation areas and would allow motors and other non-compatible uses in Wilderness.

    Take, for example, the 229,710 acre West Pioneers Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA), which includes the 151,00 acre Metcalf Wilderness Study Area (WSA). What Sen Tester’s bill does is turn 129,252 acres of this IRA into a permanent, motorized Recreation Management Area (RMA). Not even the “Beaverhead Partnership” supported this. Do we really want politicians ignoring the Forest Service’s travel plans to just legislate where they want motorized recreation permanently permitted?

    Or take, for example, what Tester wants to do to the West Big Hole IRA, a 213,987 acre area along the crest of the continental divide that provides linkages and connectivity between the Greater Yellowstone area and forests to the west and north. Sen Tester’s bill turns just 44,084 acres of this IRA into two small, far-apart Wilderness Areas while turning much of the IRA into a single, large, permanent, motorized National Recreation Area (NRA) totaling 94,237 acres. The large NRA would be twice as large as the two proposed Wilderness areas together and access to these two proposed Wilderness areas would be forced to use the motorized NRA trails. Again, this extreme move by Senator Tester to mandate motorized recreation in our wildlands wasn’t even supported by the “Beaverhead Partnership” in their original proposal.

    According to George Nickas – one of the nation’s leading experts on the Wilderness Act – from Wilderness Watch, “While the bill is improved in some areas due to the efforts of groups in the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign as well as Senate committee staff, the FJRA still stands for the unacceptable proposition that local politicians should largely dictate management of national public lands. The FJRA, with its politically mandated logging levels, off-road vehicle and snowmachine playgrounds, and similar mandates, flies in the face of almost a century of public lands’ policy evolution that has made America’s public lands protections the envy of conservationists around the world.”

    Unfortunately, Senator Tester has refused to accept the fact that the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act contains a number of irresponsible and unnecessarily risky provisions, which not only will cause negative impacts to Forest Service budgets in our region, but also threatens America’s national forest legacy by establishing a new precedent where DC politicians simply mandate resource extraction levels on our public lands. Thank you for taking the time to contact Senator Tester and express your views: http://tester.senate.gov/Contact/index.cfm.

    ——————————-

    Below is the exact language from Senator Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act regarding the release of Wilderness Study Areas in Montana.

    SEC. 205. RELEASE OF BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT STUDY AREAS.

    (a) FINDING.—Congress finds that, for purposes of section 603 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1782), any portion of a wilderness study area described in subsection (b) that is not designated as a wilderness area by section 203 or any other Act enacted before the date of enactment of this Act has been adequately studied for wilderness.

    (b) DESCRIPTION OF STUDY AREAS.—The study areas referred to in subsection (a) are—

    (1) the Axolotl Lakes Wilderness Study Area;
    (2) the Bell and Limekiln Canyons Wilderness Study Area;
    (3) the Blacktail Mountains Wilderness Study Area;
    (4) the Centennial Mountains Wilderness Study Area;
    (5) the Farlin Creek Wilderness Study Area;
    (6) the Henneberry Ridge Wilderness Study Area;
    (7) the Hidden Pasture Wilderness Study Area;
    (8) the Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area;
    (9) the Ruby Mountains Wilderness Study Area.

    (c) RELEASE.—Any study area described in subsection (b) that is not designated as a wilderness area by
    section 203—

    (1) is no longer subject to section 603(c) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1782(c)); and
    (2) shall be managed in accordance with the applicable land management plans adopted under section 202 of that Act (43 U.S.C. 1712).

    SEC. 206. RELEASE OF SAPPHIRE AND WEST PIONEER WILDERNESS STUDY AREAS.

    (a) FINDINGS.—Congress finds that—

    (1) the studies conducted under section 2 of the Montana Wilderness Study Act of 1977 (Public Law 95–150; 91 Stat. 1243) regarding each study area described in subsection (b) are adequate for the consideration of the suitability of each study area for inclusion as a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System; and (2) the Secretary of Agriculture is not required—

    (A) to review the wilderness option for each study area described in subsection (b) prior to the revision of the forest plan required for each land that comprises each study area in accordance with the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.); and

    (B) to manage the portion of each study area described in subsection (b) that is not designated as wilderness by section 203 to ensure the suitability of the area for designation as a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System pending revision of the applicable forest plan.

    —————–

    Below are snips from the official written testimony that Harris Sherman – the head of the US Forest Service – gave before the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee concerning S. 268, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. http://www.wildrockies.org/files/Sherman-Testimony-S_268_05-25-11.pdf

    As you’ll see in the official testimony, the U.S. Forest Service and Obama Administration still have substantive concerns regarding the mandated logging provisions within the FJRA. Astute readers will notice that many of these same substantive concerns are shared, and have been expressed to Senator Tester, by members of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign and by conservation groups including the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and others.

    From Harris Sherman, USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, official written testimony on FJRA:

    “In general, and as the Department has testified to this Subcommittee in the last Congress, we have reservations about legislating forest management direction or specific treatment levels on a site specific basis because it could establish a precedent leading to multiple site-specific laws in the future….I will now point out several specific concerns that the Department would like to work with the Committee and Senator Tester to address.

    One concern is the definition of mechanical treatment in Section 102(6). The Department acknowledges the inclusion of language that allows fiber to be left on the forest floor after treatment only if an option for removal of the fiber was provided. However, while we acknowledge the importance of encouraging the development of woody biomass and other small diameter timber markets, requiring that an option be provided for removing the fiber creates a barrier to using certain contracting methods that may be more effective in achieving the objectives of the bill.

    Another concern arises in Section 103(b)….we are concerned about the precedent set by legislating these targets given constrained Federal resources. Further, the Department would not want to draw resources from priority work on other units of the National Forest System in order to accomplish the goals in this legislation. Finally, we do not want to create unrealistic expectations by communities and stakeholders about the quantity of treatments that the agency would accomplish.

    The reporting requirements in Section 103(f) raise two concerns. First, the requirements overlook an important opportunity to evaluate whether the Act’s prescriptions continue to provide optimal performance in light of potential changes in budget trends, wood markets and forest health conditions. Second, the analyses prescribed by this subsection may be duplicative of reports required by other laws and regulations.

    Regarding Section 103(g)….we are concerned that the provision as written could give rise to potential litigation about the appropriate allocation of funds among the Regions.

    Finally, the Department is concerned about several prescriptions in the legislation that codify scientific assumptions and value determinations that, while consistent with our shared vision today, may come to be recognized as undesirable or ineffective as new data and circumstances arise in the future. These include the road-density standards in Sections 104(a)(4) and 104(b)(3), and the INFISH compliance requirement in Section 104(b)(1).”

    • Mathew, thanks for the well-written discussion of Tester’s bill. You’ve provided some good food for thought concerning the bill and I’d like to raise some further questions for consideration and clarity here. However, I feel its first necessary to be clear that I am a big lover of wildlands and all that wildlands provide. We need wildness in our lives more than it “needs” us. yet, experiencing real wildness is all too rare in our increasingly urbanized, technologized, and domesticized (if that’s a word) society, and that is a real tragedy

      In response to Mathew’s post, I would like to ask whether the argument is against ALL mandates concerning National Forest management, or whether it is the specific mandates included in this bill that are problematic. You see, I think there are real problems with legislated National Forest management as a means of making policy. Martin Nie has written a good deal on this topic and I tend to share his view. It has been argued, for instance, that legislating National Forest management obfuscates the intent of both NEPA and NFMA and could even be considered anti-democratic in nature (especially when it is attached as a rider to another bill as is the case here).

      On a related note, and perhaps of greatest concern to the agency, legislating National Forest management also diminishes USFS capacity to interpret how best to manage our National Forests. Taken in this light, the snips from USFS testimony on the Tester bill that Mathew shared are not surprising (and perhaps even understandable) in that the FS has always resisted legislation that removes its managerial discretion. Yes, there are good arguments to be made concerning the agency’s current budgetary woes, and the potential for pitting one Forest against another should this bill pass (as argued in FS testimony). But when looked at more broadly, the agency has a long history of resisting legislated National Forest management in general. Just ask anyone who has been part of citizen-led movements to designate Wilderness on National Forest lands. In fact, the USFS initially resisted any movement toward “The Wilderness Act” in part, the agency argued, because many of these areas were already managed as wildlands and the agency saw no need for further protections. Stuart Brandborg might be able to tell this story well I would imagine.

      So, coming full circle, I think its important for you, Mathew, and/or the others you cite who are opposed to the Tester bill to clarify whether you are opposed to the bill because it is “mandated National Forest management”, or whether you are opposed to the specific mandates in the legislation itself, for the answer to this question could have significant implications.

      There was a time when I lobbied in DC on behalf of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), and I very much understand the temptation for groups frustrated with the current situation to try the legislative route to accomplish their goals. But in the long run, I just don’t see legislating National Forest management as a real solution, especially in our completely dysfunctional political climate. Mathew or others, it would be really helpful to hear some more of your thoughts on this very interesting topic. Thanks again for your post Mathew.

      • Mike, I too am curious about the “mandated FS management.” Because the Wilderness Act seems like the same concept. Also, you say it has been argued that

        legislating National Forest management obfuscates the intent of both NEPA and NFMA and could even be considered anti-democratic in nature (especially when it is attached as a rider to another bill as is the case here).

        I am so not a political scientist, but aren’t NEPA and NFMA laws passed by Congress also? So why would past laws be more legitimate than current laws? Isn’t that the way that the three branches are supposed to work, that if Congress thinks the other branches aren’t doing something right, that they have the right to pass a law?
        I just read a piece (and can’t find it now) about how the 2001 Roadless Rule won’t be really safe until it’s in legislation because rules can be changed by new administrations.
        I would argue that the best and cheapest way (both in terms of costs and relationships) to resolve these kinds of disputes are neither in the courts nor in Congress. It is slow, slogging discussion, debate and final resolution by the affected parties, however designated.

        • Hi Sharon,

          I am in general agreement with you that “the best and cheapest way (both in terms of costs and relationships) to resolve these kinds of disputes are neither in the courts nor in Congress. It is slow, slogging discussion, debate and final resolution by the affected parties, however designated.”

          However, to clarify my earlier comments regarding NEPA and NFMA. The distinction between these two laws and say, the Tester bill, is that the while the former laws prescribe considerations and processes that the agency must undertake, the latter mandates specific “on-the-ground management actions the agency must make.

          I think you interpreted the analogy I was drawing with Wilderness designations correctly. That is, I question whether it wise for environmental advocates (of which I am one) to challenge a piece legislation based upon the fact that it “mandates” specific on-the-ground management actions, for Wilderness Act designations do exactly the same thing. I just don’t want well-meaning advocates to paint themselves into a corner on this issue. Besides, there may be some very important criticisms of the Tester bill that need to be aired without attempting to make the argument on a principled basis as I was interpreting Mathew’s earlier post.

          Personally, I really grapple with this one on a principled level, because I see such significant value in Wilderness, while at the same time I find it really problematic to remove managerial discretion from the agency. Hope that clarifies my earlier comment a bit.

  4. Tester’s plan would log only 2% of the “forested acreage” on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in the first decade. That’s only 20% per CENTURY. At the current rate of harvest(five year average), the BDNF is logging 1% every 30 years.

    Enough said.

  5. “Enough said?”

    With a statement like, “That’s only 20% per CENTURY.”, it begs the question, “Which century and which planet are you referencing?” Surely not the present century on planet Earth.

    There’s much more to be said and included here — especially because you certainly must NOT be referring to THIS century in which we will likely see (given the heretofore-up-to-present policy failures to even nominally address the threats of climate change and ocean acidification), the deliberate triggering of climate response feedbacks which are predicted to accelerate the effects of climate change into an “irreversible, catastrophic” state.

    1) Please take a moment to ponder the gravity of these implications.

    2) (…)

    3) Please consider the consequences of the absence of an ethical decision to be enacted within a limited window of opportunity to correct our present course.

    4) Due to inertia and the incomprehensible complexity of planetary climatology, the timing window for efficacious action is in truth, unknowable. In other words, given the magnitude of what is at stake, and presently already witnessing evidence of climate response feedbacks, there is no time to waste.

    5) To give approval to special interest legislation by a group of self-selecting, self-serving, self-appointed proxies of the larger public, collaborating with principal antagonists of environmental regulation, (many of whom are NOT coincidentally, also deniers of climate change), is unlikely to produce policy products with ethical decisions in regards to treating public forests less as a commodity, and more as a life support system.

    6) We desperately need all the sink and sequestration functions that extant old growth forests provide. That is, while ALSO desperately needing watershed protection, habitat, etc., etc.

    The hazards of irreversible, catastrophic climate change are clear and well-known by DC’s policy makers.

    Consequently, I ‘m not sure which planet you (or our policy makers) are referencing. With a rationalization suggesting backroom negotiators have decided profiting from removal of “only 20% per century.” trumps the ethical necessity of doing everything we can, as soon as possible, on public lands to reverse the trend in our atmospheric CO2 exceeding safe levels, it calls into question your business as usual percentiles.

    A great deal more most definitely needs to be “said.”

    • David,

      I don’t see how the Tester bill is related to irreversible climate triggers. In fact, if folks are using wood rather than burning it in the atmosphere, (or using wood for heat) you could argue that the impacts to GHGs are better than a “no cut” alternative.

      As a scientist, I know there is the possibility of catastrophic climate change and feedbacks. But that is not proven beyond a doubt. We simply don’t understand the world well enough to know. The policy question is how we should react to those possibilities and who will win and who will lose from different policy options.

      We could discuss the ethics of any policy option on the table. The question is not “should we act given the uncertainty” but how can we achieve a low carbon future respecting people’s needs? In the process, how can we do better at providing people food, health care, and a culture that enhances and supports the good side of our humanity (arts, etc.)?

      Here is what I said on Roger Pielke’s blog a few years ago here..

      Sharon F. said… 27 My point was it’s not the beef, chicken or pork, that is “subsidized by a tremendous amount of energy”. But the way we choose to raise the beef chicken or pork. If the pig is in my backyard and eats garbage or ranges in the woods and eats acorns- don’t see a big carbon footprint.
      If you mean “industrialized meat production has negative environmental impacts” and “meat is likely to be more expensive and less available if we were stricter about reducing the negative environmental impacts.” I would agree.
      If you said “those of us with money should preferentially choose to support ranchers and farmers whose practices are less environmentally damaging” I agree.
      You say that “meat is not the most efficient way to feed folks.” Eating is not all about efficiency- nor is human life. Rosemary Radford Ruether, the ecofeminist theologian, once said something like her vision was “men and women living in harmony with each other and all earth beings with (something like this is the part I can’t remember) a celebratory culture.”

      A world without traditional cultural extravagances and inefficiencies(meat dishes, roses, dancing, art, literature)would be a world not quite human.

      It is the balance that is the challenge to all of us.

      I still don’t get the connection between Tester’s bill and climate change, though.

  6. “I still don’t get the connection between Tester’s bill and climate change, though.”

    (I almost began citing key published papers on climate science Sharon but I reread your arguments above.)

    And I still don’t get your DISconnection between Tester’s bill’s precedent for potentially “untangling existing legal framework” unleashing the corporatization of the management of 193 million acres of public forests and its impact on climate change.

    Your position on climate change is a minority position in the international scientific community of climate scientists. You are using the same excuses of “uncertainty” as the fossil fuel industry. One need not be demanding certainty about the exactitudes of the mechanism of irreversible catastrophic climate change, before it logically becomes too late to do anything about it.

    Given what is at stake, yours is a peculiar personal battle for the maintenance and protection of BAU and “traditional cultural extravagances and inefficiencies”.

  7. Second thoughts:
    Given this is an open dialogue, your reluctance to accept (“as a scientist”) the risk of “catastrophic climate change and feedbacks” because it requires “proof beyond a doubt” should not stop the exchange of information. Others may find the information useful even if you may not.

    The connection between Testers bill and climate change is considerable. This is not only because the precedent-setting bill potentially affects land management on 193 million acres of public land by legislating mandated clearcutting in the absence of applied climate science, but because of what the consequences mean.

    Your statement, “In fact, if folks are using wood (from timber harvests) rather than burning it in the atmosphere, (or using wood for heat) you could argue that the impacts to GHGs are better than a “no cut” alternative.”, is decidedly erroneous. You may want to revisit FJRA and how much biomass will be mandated for “burning in the atmosphere.” You may also want to consider the significant carbon losses associated with timber harvest.

    The published science refuting your position is voluminous:

    (Skog and Nicholson 2000):
    This tudy tracked forest carbon between 1910 and 2000 after timber harvests. 71% of forest carbon was released to the atmosphere. 17% was stored in wood products, and 12% ended up in landfills.

    (Janisch and Harmon 2002)
    This study showed that logging can remove 95% of the non-soil carbon stored in a forest ecosystem with half of it being lost to the atmosphere in the first year.

    (Harmon 2007)
    “Timber harvest, clearcutting in particular, removes more carbon from the forest than any other disturbance (including fire). The result is that harvesting forests generally reduces carbon stores and results in a net release of carbon to the atmosphere.”

    (ScienceDaily (Apr. 14, 2011) — “A research group has concluded that forests and other terrestrial ecosystems in the lower 48 states can sequester up to 40 percent of the nation’s fossil fuel carbon emissions, a larger amount than previously estimated — unless a drought or other major disturbance occurs.”

    (I would add, timber harvests tend to worsen droughts and exaggerate the effects of drought and erosion via runoff.)

    (Climate Change 2007: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of IPCC pp.541-584)

    “Reduced deforestation and degradation is the forest mitigation option with the largest and most immediate carbon stock impact in the short term per hectare and per year globally…”

    ————

    As a practical consideration, I’ll end my list there for now. There is much, much more to cite. I look forward to your peer reviewed published research refuting these citations.

    You stated paradoxically, “The policy question is how we should react to those possibilities (of potentially triggering catastrophic tipping points) and who will win and who will lose from different policy options.”

    Clearly, those who are doggedly holding the position of “uncertainty”, and proof “beyond a doubt” in regards to climate feedbacks triggering catastrophic climate change, are dominantly those who have a financial interest in maintaining the status quo and BAU (business as usual). In their minds, they regard themselves among those “who will lose” as you bizarrely frame it.

    But this policy framing itself, makes no sense, unless the issue is confined to bad investments (which happen more often than not!)

    The most curious aspect of your position is that, at the same time, you invoke the question,”how can we do better at providing people food, health care, and a culture that enhances and supports the good side of our humanity (arts, etc.)?”

    Clearly you are either, not aware of the ethical necessity to address the fact that developed countries such as our own are disproportionately producing carbon emissions which are already creating climate disasters depriving hundreds of millions of people in other countries in equatorial regions and elsewhere, of “food, health care and a culture that enhances and supports the good side of humanity…”, or you regard those hundreds of millions of people as not part of this discussion and not also sharing this planet.

    I trust you will honor this discussion with a response.

    • It mandates NOTHING! There will be NO clearcutting in California National Forests, and there hasn’t been since 1993, David. There will be NO clearcutting in all of the other many “protected” sites, like wildlife zones, Wilderness Areas, cultural sites, stream buffers, Research Natural Areas, campgrounds, rock and low-site areas, botanical sites, bottomlands, picnic sites, etc, etc, etc. Preservationists always offer only two choices; preservation or “intensive forest management” (aka clearcutting and highgrading). Yes, there MANY other tools in the forester’s toolbox. AND, our tools for public forest management have become much more “greener” than preservationists want to admit. THAT is why preservationists are becoming marginalized. That, and their unwillingness to compromise, are making them feel “left out” of the new collaboration “conspiracy”.

    • David, thanks for being patient as your comments deserve thoughtful replies and it takes me some time to think about an appropriate response.

      I think there is a risk of “catastrophic climate change and feedbacks” but I don’t see how that risk would cause us to choose different policy approaches to dealing with climate change. It is hard to get a policy that will work. So far attempting to get certain policies established (such as cap’n’trade, which neither you nor I agree with) by invoking fear, has not been successful.

      You said “The connection between Testers bill and climate change is considerable. This is not only because the precedent-setting bill potentially affects land management on 193 million acres of public land by legislating mandated clearcutting in the absence of applied climate science, but because of what the consequences mean.”

      First of all, I don’t agree that because someone in Montana proposes a bill, that all states will jump on a similar approach. For a Tester-like Bill to be desirable, I am hypothesizing that you need 1) a current timber industry and 2) frustrated people/ perceived gridlock.

      From my knowledge, in many parts of the interior west, southwest and southern California, the timber industry is basically gone. Then in the Southeast, there is an industry but no apparent gridlock.

      Second, I would have to see where in the bill it mandates clearcutting and exactly what it says.

      Third, I know there is a variety of research from different places, but we would have to examine a fairly place-based prescription, I think, to make those calls.

      Maybe we can ask some Montanans to provide us with a prescription that we can work through in our heads.

      For example, let’s use an example of “frequent fire interval” ponderosa pine. Suppose you thin ponderosa pine in a unit along an existing road, with removal over snow of logs, and smaller material broadcast burned, compared to piling and burning of all material, or not thinning, and the midsize pondos competing for water with the big trees so the big trees lose vigor, and becoming ladder fuels so ultimately the whole stand burns. Back when we had the “range of historic variation,” we felt that the ecological thing to do was to bring back fire to these stands.

      When you say “(I would add, timber harvests tend to worsen droughts and exaggerate the effects of drought and erosion via runoff.)” I would say that in many cases thinning pine trees helps them deal with drought.

      Peer-reviewed studies use a logic path given certain framings and data. You must still make a case that those generalizations apply to the prescriptions that would be applied under the Tester Bill.

      “Clearly you are either, not aware of the ethical necessity to address the fact that developed countries such as our own are disproportionately producing carbon emissions which are already creating climate disasters depriving hundreds of millions of people in other countries in equatorial regions and elsewhere, of “food, health care and a culture that enhances and supports the good side of humanity…”, or you regard those hundreds of millions of people as not part of this discussion and not also sharing this planet.”

      I believe that there is an ethical necessity to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc.. It is not proven that there is a link between these disasters and climate change- climate by its very definitional nature is a long-term average.

      We also need to consider that if trees are turned into logs they are used for something. If people didn’t use logs from Montana, they would use something else, generated by people in some other place, giving off some other carbon, paying wages to support sending someone else’s child to a doctor, etc.

      I believe that we should work to reduce GHG emissions.
      I believe that we should support the poor in our own country and around the world.
      I just don’t see how that directly translates to anything about an using a couple of thousand acres of the trees that Gaia (sorry, Foto) has provided so benevolently to the people of Montana.

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