4-Forests Restoration Initiative Update: A sinking feeling the Forest Service has done it again

There’s more fall-out from the Forest Service’s questionable decision to award a massive 300,000 acre timber harvesting contract as part of the Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI) in Arizona to an under-the-radar Montana timber corporation represented by a retired Forest Service official.  The 4FRI is a showcase forest restoration project for the Obama administration under what’s known as “the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act” and program.  Late last Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity sent out this press release.

Tommie Cline Martin, County Supervisor for Gila County, Arizona and a member of the 4FRI, had this to say.

“In my opinion, the Contract that was selected is bogus in several ways: If in fact, an agency insider that was involved in setting policy and advising potential contractors in the process and knew the particulars of the other bidding proposals, then “retired” and helped craft the winning bid is true, this is a perversion of our public trust at the highest level.

Meanwhile, yesterday the Grand Canyon Trust – a founding member of the 4FRI – issued this press release, which among other things said:

[W]e were shocked – and to honest – extremely disappointed that the Forest Service did not choose Arizona Forest Restoration Products (AZFRP) as the contractor responsible for implementing 4FRI treatments over the next decade….AZFRP did not receive the 4FRI contract. Pioneer Associates [from Montana] did. We, and the rest of the northern Arizona community, know almost nothing about the rationale for this decision, and know even less about Pioneer Associates. Some of what we do know is not at all encouraging. Pioneer Associates offered $10 million less than did AZFRP in the bidding process – a sum that would significantly address the critical shortfall in funding currently faced by 4FRI….We at the the Grand Canyon Trust find the recent contracting decision made by the Forest Service extremely problematic and worrisome….

We believe that the Forest Service should, for the sake of transparency, release all information regarding the decision-making process and rationale underlying the contract decision. Similarly, we believe that Pioneer Associates should follow the transparency lead modeled by AZFRP and share, in detail, their business model, implementation strategies, and plans for collaboration. Finally, we believe that an independent and transparent review of the bidding and contract award decision-making process is warranted and should be conducted with all due haste.

Yesterday also saw this hard-hitting editorial from the local newspaper, the Payson Roundup under the title, “We have this terrible, sinking feeling that the Forest Service has done it again” below are some snips from the editorial:

Last week the Forest Service somehow managed to turn the most hopeful and visionary consensus on how we can save our forests and our communities into yet another muddled controversy….So after all that preparation, study, waiting and hope — the Forest Service announced its choice: Pioneer Forest Products — an out-of-state [Montana] wood products company. The company plans to partner with Marlin Johnson, formerly the chief Forest Service logging industry supervisor in the Southwest.

The choice proved instantly controversial, mostly because Johnson spent years battling the very environmental groups whose agreement made the 4-FRI approach so promising. Johnson and groups like the Centers for Biological Diversity fought one another to a deadlock, largely over whether the Forest Service should let the timber companies continue to cut a large share of the remaining old-growth trees.

Even conservative, pro-industry experts like Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin have expressed concern about the choice, although they have focused on other elements of the contract — like the assumption that Pioneer can make a go of using a lot of the brush and small trees in a relatively untested process for making diesel fuel from wood products….

Now, we hope we’re wrong. We hope that the Centers for Biological Diversity is overreacting when they condemned as ‘cronyism’ the inclusion of Johnson as a partner with a company he used to regulate….But we have to admit, we’re unnerved by the immediate outbreak of controversy and the Forest Service’s stubborn refusal to accept the advice of local officials, conservationists and other stakeholders. Other bidders seemed to offer a much closer working relationship with those groups at a seemingly lower cost to the taxpayers.

We hope it blows over. We hope the Forest Service and Pioneer find a way to quickly reassure the critics, who have worked so hard and so long to achieve the agreement that this choice of contractors threatens to unravel.  But we’d certainly feel better if this didn’t feel so familiar — and if we could put out of our minds the unnerving recollection that it was the Forest Service’s cozy and short-sighted relationship with industry that got us into this mess in the first place.”

28 Comments

  1. The editorial represents yet another criticism (certainly not limited to green watchdogs) which are coming from across the political spectrum noting the USFS’ reigning culture possessing a “cozy and short-sighted relationship” with industry. This is a disturbing example of an increase in agency audacity to do whatever it wants.

    This also demonstrates the methodology of “Best Value Contracting” definitions in stewardship contracting, where the lowest bid, and the local hire preference gets thrown out of the equation in order to cultivate coziness.

  2. I support full transparency on this issue. With money being a critical factor in “getting the most bang from the buck”, we cannot afford to play any favorites. We need a level playing field for all bidding, so that the public can be re-assured that their money is being wisely spent. Local companies already get an advantage but, it is not their fault for being local. Also, local companies have local knowledge and skills, which might make them a better choice. It makes me wonder if there isn’t a strained relationship between some of the other local companies.

    There is so much at stake here, and even the slightest hint of corruption deserves close scrutiny. I’ve always insisted that the Forest Service must “walk its talk”. I’m sure we will see much more on this.

  3. I am a founding member of 4FRI also, work for a conservation organization, and would like to clarify some misrepresentations here. First, CBD and Grand canyon trust have an MOU with the unsuccessful bidder, so of course they are crying foul, they stood to control the process if Pioneer hadn’t been selected. Second, most of the 4FRI stakeholders (29/32) support the USFS decision to give Pioneer the contract. Pioneer has a local mill in Heber, AZ, and has much more local experience, capacity, and a diversified business approach than the loser. Our local paper, the Arizona Daily Sun published an editorial yesterday morning in support of the contractor selection because Pioneer has a more sustainable business model: making engineered wood products, pallets, boxes, moulding, glue-lams and several other products, and is much more likely to succeed in the long run. Also, stakeholders and USFS have already agreed NOT TO HARVEST OLD GROWTH, and no contractor can make a decision to do so unilaterally. It’s simply not their choice. So get the facts, report the whole story, and realize that most of northern Arizona supports this decision;a very small, but vocal minority does not because they lost.

    • Thanks for the clarification Ed. That presents quite a different take on things that needs to be daylighted as well. Will there be any follow-up press on this to counter what’s being said???

      Please keeep us informed

  4. Hello Mr. Smith: As part of your call to “get the facts, report the whole story” could you please tell us what conservation organization you work for? Also, feel free to post that Arizona Daily Sun editorial. I haven’t seen it.

    Also, do you have any reaction to this information or these articles below regarding Pioneer Forest Products? Thanks so much Mr. Smith.

    I should also point out that despite your claim that the CBD and Grand Canyon Trust’s MOU with the unsuccessful bidder has been “misrepresented” or hidden from view here, the truth of the matter is that the MOU was mentioned on this blog twice. In the original CBD press release that was posted here and again in this post, which directs readers back to that original CBD press release. Thanks.

    —————

    I found out that Pioneer Forest Products is owned by a Herman Hauck of Missoula. Having lived in Missoula for sometime working on these issues, I’m sort of surprised I’ve never heard of either Pioneer Forest Products or Herman Hauck before. I’ll post below some news articles I’ve managed to find.

    Mr. Hauck’s company appears to have access to lots of investor money and wants to open up mills in Canada and the US. One of these articles mentions, “You have to understand that were talking about $120 million-plus investment here, and its not normal investment money. Its venture capitalists money coming from investors from the East, primarily, Hauck said.”

    I assume that’s East as in China, not East as in New Jersey.

    Also, it’s my understanding that Pioneer Forest Products wasn’t the highest bidder for this contract that’s part of the Four Forests Restoration Initiative. I was told that Pioneer Forest Products bid was actually $9 million less than the highest bid. If true, one has to wonder why in the world the Forest Service would basically leave $9 million at the table.

    http://www.lakesideleader.com/newsroom/volume34/050209/story5.html

    SNIP: “The company making the most noise is Pioneer Forest Products of Montana. In a transparent attempt at corporate bullying, Herman Hauck took his case to the press last week.”

    http://smallwoodnews.com/Forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2097&sid=ce5399151bb8b303bc613061daeb8e3e

    SNIP: “The proposed project is being backed by unnamed venture capitalists from the East, and Pioneer is looking for a 10-year commitment from tribes.”

    http://tao.ca/~fol/pa/negp/po04map/po050208.htm

    • “… corporate bullying…”

      And how is this different from the extortion-like threats from eco-groups, promising litigation , if they don’t get their ways?

    • Mr. Smith works for the well-known multi-national corporate front group, The Nature Conservancy. http://azconservation.org/about/edward_smith

      TNC, being the world’s largest multinational “non-profit” “environmental group” has assets measured in many billions of dollars.

      So it is not surprising TNC has been at the center of corporate greenwashing scandals seeking privatization of public lands, sweetheart insider deals facilitating corporate profiteering in the name of “restoration”, as well as being exposed in congressional investigations revealing all manner of sleazy inside real estate deals for board members on lands purchased by TNC, ostensibly, for “conservation”.

      “Corporate bullying” comes in many forms, but absent citizens taking their government to court to thwart such corporate / government collusion and malfeasance, there would not be anything left in the public domain to “extort”.

      Amazingly, there are those who work as foresters who actually publicly admit they can’t tell the difference between corporate malfeasance and citizen court challenges to corporate/government collusion.

  5. “Also, feel free to post that Arizona Daily Sun editorial. I haven’t seen it.”

    Here’s a link Matt:

    http://azdailysun.com/news/opinion/editorial/forest-service-enters-new-era-with-massive-stewardship-contract/article_cfceafd7-bddd-529d-95f1-55328477baf8.html

    “One reason Pioneer Forest Products was chosen was because of its focus on cabinets and furniture, products that would likely withstand a continued economic downturn. The other bidder was set to use the wood for primary building materials, and the Forest Service apparently wasn’t willing to put all of its chips on the housing construction market.”

    [Thanks for sharing the Link JZ. - mk]

    • We have discussed previously on this blog the problems for communities depending on wood products going for construction material, due to issues with markets, international competitors, etc. If one of the goals is job stability, then not going there seems like a no-brainer.

      I don’t understand all the complexities here… why would some people prefer going with a company that seems to be heading down that road, when an alternative is on the table? Does CBD prefer that? It seems very confusing to the casual observer.

  6. Back at it. Here’s what AZ Game & Fish wrote: http://azgfd.net/artman/publish/NewsMedia/Arizona-Game-and-Fish-Department-applauds-award-of-stewardship-contract-for-forest-restoration.shtml
    Here’s from Coconino County supervisors Mandy Metzger and Matt Ryan:
    Coconino County Applauds Initiative Aimed at Northern Arizona Forest Health

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Coconino County officials applaud an announcement today by the U.S. Forest Service and Gov. Jan Brewer that a contract has been awarded to restore the health of four overgrown National Forests and reduce the risk of devastating wildfires.

    Coconino County and several northern Arizona organizations have been integral in helping shape the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI). The initiative aims to restore forest ecosystems on portions of the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgraves and Tonto National Forests.

    “This initiative is a once-in-a-life-time project that has the potential to enhance forest health and our rural lifestyle with outcomes that will resonate on a national level,” said County Supervisor Mandy Metzger. “I applaud this long-awaited announcement to restore our forests across northern Arizona. The significance of the 20-year contract is key as it guarantees a steady wood supply and ensures lasting benefits for Coconino County.”

    The 4FRI project was selected for funding under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), which was established in 2009 to foster collaborative, science-based restoration on priority forest landscapes around the country.

    The aim of the program was to establish job stability, achieve a reliable wood supply and restore the forests to good health, which would reduce the costs and risk of devastating wildfires. Metzger added that the project would also work to clean and protect surface and groundwater supplies across Arizona and provide for increased habitat for wildlife.

    “I’m really excited to see that this contract has been awarded,” said County Supervisor Matt Ryan, whose district rests in Kaibab and Coconino National Forests. “There has been a lot of work done regionally by multiple stakeholders. We have all been working toward this end and look forward to beginning these healthy treatments to our forests.”

    Those stakeholders include conservationists, scientists, local governments and industry leaders and others who have worked for years on 4FRI.

    And from the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership:

    CONTRACTOR SELECTION – FOUR FORESTS RESTORATION INITIATIVE

    PRESS RELEASE and PUBLIC STATEMENT 24 May 2012

    After years of work by many stakeholders and agency staff, the US Forest Service has selected the contractor who will undertake the first phase of ambitious efforts to selectively thin the fire-prone and vulnerable ponderosa pine forest ecosystems on National Forest System lands in northern Arizona. The Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership (GFFP) applauds the selection of Pioneer Forests Products, one of the two business entities engaged with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) during the past few years that competed for this award.

    Since 1996, GFFP has worked to restore our forests and protect communities from wildfire. We’ve also long recognized that sustainable wood based industries are necessary to economically remove the overabundance of small-diameter trees from our forests. Since its inception, GFFP has been a partner with the 4FRI to achieve those goals across northern Arizona.

    GFFP has worked hard to encourage and facilitate the establishment of appropriately-scaled wood businesses in our area, we are proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Forest Service and our partners to celebrate this historic moment, and we pledge our continued efforts to constructively work with all parties to achieve success.

    Working together through 4FRI, we look forward to ensuring the health and continuity of our forests for future generations!

    Board of Directors and Members
    1300 S. Milton #209
    Flagstaff AZ 86001
    admin@gffp.org
    http://www.gffp.org

  7. Thanks for passing along the information Ed. From my perspective, it reads pretty general and not very specific with regards to the concerns brought up by CBD an others.

    Oh, and by the way, in our effort to “get the facts, report the whole story” could you please tell us what conservation organization you work for? Thanks.

  8. Mr Beebe, you are correct! I proudly work for The Nature Conservancy, the premier land and water protection and ecological restoration organization in the world. But here I speak for myself after hours, from my own home on my computer. These are my views; that’s why I didn’t mention my job.
    Larry, you hit the nail on the head! Corporate bullying comes in many colors and shapes. The dynamic duo of cbd and gct has tried to bend the 4fri stakeholder group to their wishes for too long, delaying the group with specious arguments, and spooking some with threat of lawsuit or leaving the sandbox. Now the die is cast, and the duo must either follow the collaborative’s pathway, or find others to extort. I for one firmly believe that we cannot achieve quality restoration with an arbitrary diameter cap, that gets in the way of creating patches and openings in a fairly homogeneous, dry ponderosa forest. I guess that makes me an unabashed corporate shill? Or is it because I think that appropriately-scaled industry should be part of the solution?

    • Unabashed indeed.

      We all have to decide for ourselves if working for a corporate front group which facilitates an (“appropriately-scaled?”) 300,000 acre timber contract on public lands through insider Forest Service connections and venture capitalists “is a perversion of our public trust at the highest level” or not.

      The real litmus test for “conservation” groups is where they stand on global warming policy though. Climate change impacts and the utter failure of our government to address these issues are directly attributable to corporate domination of how resource and energy policy gets determined in Washington DC. Those same corporations seeking monetization of carbon for derivatives trading speculators fund The Nature Conservancy which then unabashedly promotes carbon trading, payments for ecosystem services, “partnerships” with recidivist environmental criminals such as Dow Chemical, Rio Tinto, BP, etc. These measures are not about “conservation” at all, but are suicidal means of addressing global warming which James Hansen has long-since exposed as “Worshipping the Temple of Doom”.

      In 1980 James Hansen attempted to warn Congress about global warming. In 1990 Hansen et al. accurately predicted the present drought/extreme temperature events occurring in Arizona and the rest of the Southwest. TNC’s corporate funders worked hard to squelch an appropriate response over those decades.

      This is the essence of “Disaster Capitalism”, and TNC is practicing the corollary free market environmentalism which is closer to “Disaster Conservationism”.

      • David: Occasionally we are in full agreement. When you state: “the real litmus test for “conservation” groups is where they stand on global warming policy though,” I could not agree more. I think we both realize that this is an efficient way of separating the “wheat from the chaff,” but I’m guessing we likely have way different definitions for wheat and chaff.

        Still, the useful result is a minimum of two piles, with both sides agreeing on the contents of each. Kind of like Democrats and Republicans; and I’m guessing there are strong correlations there, as well. Still, picking sides is an important step in moving toward identifying differences and toward reaching additional agreements.

        On a related note, you seem to be aware that I wrote a paper on carbon sequestration and climate predictive models for EPA in the early 90s (that ended that funding!), when Hansen’s predictions were being taken seriously by both politicians and scientists. However, I would say that most of his 20-year projections from 1990 have been in error — and to say he and his associates “accurately predicted the present drought/extreme temperature events occurring in Arizona and the rest of the Southwest,” is just plain wrong. You could make the exact same statement, for example, and substitute the “Mayan Calendar” or “Deuteronomy” for “Hansen” for this type of pinpoint prophecy.

        Too, you may want to check out the record for droughts (and agriculture!) in the Southwest during the past 800 years. These things have lots of precedent, are well within “normal” ranges, and are entirely unrelated to light bulb or Chevy Volt purchases. In my opinion.

      • David, I don’t agree that a litmus test is where anyone “stands” on a specific topic. I think it’s possible to examine the efficacy of ACTIONS to promote conservation goals.

        In fact, I think TNC probably has some kind of metrics yarded up somewhere. It might be interesting to examine those and compare to other groups with other tactics.

        Similarly I don’t think that lack of “action” on climate change is due to “corporate domination”. I think it’s due to the fact that people- honest, real, non-corporate people- don’t agree on the best policy solutions nor how those solutions fit with other policies such as economic needs and social justice.

        • Sharon, (and other TNC cheerleaders) The Washington Post featured a three part series of the Congressional inquiry into TNC. It is eminently Googlable, I can’t make you read it, but its conclusions are emblematic of my point. Billions in assets for a nonprofit environmental org. really should be a tip-off though.

          Any environmental organization which accepts corporate funding to adopt and / or advocate a climate policy employing methods which are already proven to NOT be efficacious to avert “irreversible, catastrophic climate change”, has failed the most essential test of ethical, principled, action in the name of the environment.

          I had the opportunity to attend a three day symposium in which TNC’s Peter Kareiva, Chief Scientist was the featured keynote speaker, and his message was clear. The first speech started out by taking cheap shots at dead environmental figures of the past and his second speech ended shamelessly shilling his carbon calculating software (of a company he co-founded) for the purposes of monetizing virtually every living and non-living element under the sun (otherwise known as the commons).

          The current state of carbon trading derivatives (as in the past “European Trading Scheme” is a proven failure. When one considers the role of deregulated financial markets which created the 2008 crash and the whole associated “offset” mentality employed in far too many climate mitigation schemes, there is no reasonable expectation the past failures will lead to the future success of the scheme. They are highly likely to fall short of the necessary changes needed before feedback related climate forcings accelerate our current predicament. However, the derivatives trading of these carbon, forest, biodiversity, payments for ecosystem services, etc. etc., WILL result in another corporate enriching bubble which will predictably burst as all the preceding bubbles have.

          Due diligence factors into one’s perspective. Obviously, this necessary condition of an informed electorate is regarded as optional by many. Nonetheless Lincoln warned in 1864:

          “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
          — U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864
          (letter to Col. William F. Elkins)
          Ref: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY)

          Many other presidents warned us of corporate domination as well. President and General Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex awhile ago (1960):

          “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

          We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

          I would remind you that our economic demise is directly attributable to the spending more on “defense” and the hundreds of military bases worldwide, than all credible national threats combined. These funds are going into corporate coffers and the end game is global domination.

          While I represent only my point of view in these comments regarding corporate domination, that POV is most certainly a shared perspective with millions of other Americans — the dimensions of which are found (literally) in the nightly news often under the headings of the “Occupy” movement (the “99%”), civil liberties court challenges to a corporatized government in routine violation of free speech rights, etc., etc., and the myriad nonprofit organizations and millions of Americans either polled, or actively challenging and organizing against the corporate domination of our government and the wars it wages.

          I am continually astonished at the unwillingness of people to follow the money and ascertain either independently, and/or simply READ the massive volume of reports documenting the role of corporate domination of climate policy. The crux of these issues seems to always be an unwillingness to see for oneself — but that’s where we should never underestimate the power of denial, or the ability to understand something when one’s salary depends upon not understanding it. (to paraphrase a famous quote)

  9. Dr. Zybach, you ambitiously claimed:

    “I would say that most of his 20-year projections from 1990 have been in error — and to say he and his associates “accurately predicted the present drought/extreme temperature events occurring in Arizona and the rest of the Southwest,” is just plain wrong.”

    Coincidently, a couple of weeks ago, NOAA’s Martin Hoerling “attacked” (Joe Romm’s choice of verbs) James Hansen, by saying,
    ” I am unaware of any projection for “semi-permanent” drought in this time frame over the expansive region of the Central Great Plains.” http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/05/13/483247/james-hansen-is-correct-about-catastrophic-projections-for-us-drought-if-we-dont-act-now/

    Here’s the study I referred to:

    Rind, D., R. Goldberg, J. Hansen, C. Rosenzweig, and R. Ruedy, 1990: Potential evapotranspiration and the likelihood of future drought. J. Geophys. Res., 95, 9983-10004, doi:10.1029/JD095iD07p09983. http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ri01500p.html

    Here’s a portion of Joe Romm’s response to Hoerling’s attack:

    “That’s a very serious attack on Hansen — if it were true. But it isn’t, and it should be retracted.

    The fact is that the recent literature examining warming-driven drought in America could not be clearer in warning about a “semi-permanent” (or worse) drought in both the South West and the Central Great Plains and “More and more of the Midwest.” Here are two studies that lay things out starkly:

    Aiguo Dai of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “Drought under global warming: a review” (2010) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wcc.81/full

    Michael Wehner et al., “Projections of Future Drought in the Continental United States and Mexico” (2011) http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2011JHM1351.1 http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/4/044012/fulltext/
    (Abstract excerpt: “Drought frequencies and uncertainties in their projection tend to increase considerably over time and show a strong worsening trend along higher greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, suggesting substantial benefits for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”)

    I would also add the 2010, Environmental Research Letters article “Characterizing changes in drought risk for the United States from climate change.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Circling back to my original point, if TNC were actually a science-based conservation organization why would their climate change policy ignore Hansen’s warnings and the IPCC consensus? Answer: they’re too busy pushing corporate partnerships with environmental criminals, and facilitatingtimber mega-contracts through sleazy inside connections with the same USFS personnel who previously administered sales, but now, in the name of “collaboration” and “stewardship”.

    • David: The Devil is in the details. I’m sure you’re not going to like this, but we are NOT having a “semi-permanent drought” in the southwest UNLESS we are ALWAYS having a “semi-permanent drought” in the southwest. Hansen did not make accurate predictions in the late 1980s; he made prophesies. And they haven’t panned out.

      Weather patterns remain normal. If the 1930s doesn’t tell you anything, then archaeology might. Here’s an intro: http://tuvalu.santafe.edu/~johnson/articles.anasazi.html

      No, it’s not peer reviewed. It is, however, factual — which a lot of “peer reviewed science” isn’t. A scientist’s opinions — even when certified by other scientists — is way different than a scientist’s findings. And, just to be clear, a computer model’s projections are NOT the same thing as findings.

      PS For someone questioning the value of my comments and whether they are worth your time contemplating, as you did in your previous post, it seems odd that the first two words in your subsequent post are “Dr. Zybach.” If you truly don’t value my input, then stop asking for it. I could be a sleazy environmental criminal for all you know. And I just might be in “attack” mode, so be careful, there.

  10. This blog has certainly taken some interesting twists and turns, and I appreciate the open and constructive dialogue on these critical issues. I know that what’s been said is done, but upon reflection of what I wrote last Saturday night, I would like to retract what I said about the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Grand Canyon Trust (GCT). I work very closely with the employees of these two organizations in our work on 4FRI, and appreciate their perspectives and passion. Unfortunately, both my passion for forest restoration and my physical exhaustion over working on a busted sewer line in my yard all day pushed me over the top and beyond professional dialogue and reason, and I ranted rather than contributing constructive dialogue. The GCT and CBD staff I work with are focused on accelerating ecological restoration of SW forests as much as any of us are, and we share values and ideals much more than we differ. I get frustrated with the slow pace of progress in this arena, like many others, and against my better judgment tried to scapegoat these two organizations, which was neither correct nor productive. For that I apologize to all who read this post, but especially to GCT and CBD. Also in my first post, I referenced winners and losers. What I intended with that loose language was that one bidder was successful in being awarded the contract, and one was not. I did not intend to imply that anyone of the 4FRI stakeholders or potential contractors is a loser in any other sense of that word. That first post of mine was intended to convey that 4FRI stakeholders support the fact that the contractor selection decision has been made, and we are moving forward together as a functional, if diverse, collaborative stakeholder group.

    • Well, there is one gentleman in the house!

      However, your statements are factual, and the continual advocacy for application of DBH-caps, despite the best available science about their programmatic efficacy in SW PP and the disruption caused by the curiously unmentioned MOU in CBD’s recent statement (which borders on slander) certainly delayed this process a long time. It also distracted from more important discussions about adaptation likely to be needed for such a long-term project.

      As I transitioned from a FS professional with some involvement in 4-FRI to a contractor who decided to stay out of the fray (although I have followed it), I am very glad that quality organizations represented by individuals such as you continue, Ed.

      • Bruce Higgins: Is that really you? Man, I’ve spent some time recently up in your proposed 2004 Mineral Fire Salvage project on the Lolo National Forest. I have to say, many of those trees you were so confident would be dead as a result of the 2003 are alive and doing quite well, thank you. I’m sure glad that Supervisor Austin canceled that #1 priority project and that that little patch of forest (on the border of the Rattlesnake Wilderness with a nice hiking trail down the middle) has been allowed to recover on its own, instead of cut down and trucked down the mountain. Good to hear from you again…what a blast from the past!

  11. Very Professional Mr. Smith. I’m sure an apology in kind will soon be forthcoming from the CBD towards Pioneer Forest Products. Out of respect to the other stakeholders of course. I do respect your candor though.

    Now, here’s a thought experiment. What happens, oh say in a year or two, when the CBD appeals the 4FRI EIS, which they will, and then litigates the 4FRI, which they will,and then the 9th circuit court of appeals enjoins the 4FRI and sends it back to the USFS. Would The Nature Conservancy support a “wolf Rider” to make the 4FRI the law of the land? It’s been ten long years hasn’t it?
    I love watching the PSI guage red line. The 4FRI kumbiya moment will soon come to a head when the EIS is decisioned. The rivets will soon be poppin.

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