Hazard Tree Lawsuit Update- Volunteers Needed for “Adopt a Project”

I spoke to Ms. Boggs, the Executive Director of the Conservation Congress. She said that she does not post or make available the 990’s and Board of Director information but that that can be found in the State of California records since the organization is incorporated in California.

I asked if she had a plain English version of what the issues are, but she said that if people were “too lazy” to read the complaint it was too bad. She also said that the things written on our blog about the project were not true (as to me, I just looked at the project map and the ESD). What was interesting to me about this conversation is that most people I speak with are interesting in explaining their point of view, so as to get public support. One of the things I don’t like about managing forests from the courtroom, as Tony articulated in a comment in the last week or so, is that it’s a confrontational kind of win/lose world. Sometimes it’s hard to be civil in that kind of atmosphere.

Now, as you all know I have read EA’s, maps, appeal responses, and complaints in the past on various projects, but I would appreciate if others (closer to the project?) would be willing to do that work.

1) Look at the complaint and the project documents (sometimes it’s as simple as comparing the claims in the complaint to the wildlife bios’ report or the FWS letter)

And write.. “this is the claim in the complaint and here is what the FS says in their documents here, plus here’s what common sense tells you (e.g., gravity causes dead trees to fall down)” for posting on the blog and general public information. Media around the area might also be interested in a summary.

2) Take photos of the area when the project documents don’t have them. And or send us a googlemaps link. Note to FS folks- this would generally be handy to include in project documents.

I am willing to help any volunteers, but what I do is not difficult.

64 Comments

  1. I love the inherent passive aggressiveness in your post, Sharon. Especially since you talk about “being civil.” Could it be, perhaps, that Ms. Boggs (and others) have watched your words, actions and tactics on this blog long enough that a call from you elicits such a rather straight-forward “read the complaint” response based on the simple notion of “cause and effect?” In my view, after your previous passive aggressive post wondering and sort of raising suspicion about her organization Ms. Boggs was plenty enough kind to you. In the future, please read the actually complaint before complaining, Sharon. Fact is, your original post left out too many details about the project (including the actual complaint) to be taken as anything resembling a serious inquiry.

    • Matthew.. I don’t have access to court records, so I couldn’t just find and post the complaint.
      I looked up “passive aggressiveness” and it says in Wikipedia.

      “Passive-aggressive behavior is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, hostile jokes, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.”

      It sounds like you and Ms. Boggs are assigning me the task of reading the complaint if I want to understand her position.

      But I do not work for her nor for you. It is a cultural norm that says “legal documents are how we communicate with the public.” It’s not my cultural norm.

      Suppose this was a neighborly dispute. One person says “let’s talk about what you need from this” the other person says “read my court documents.” If an outsider were looking at this (say, a mediator) who appears to be hostile (directly or indirectly) in this scenario?

      That’s really why I think that mediation should be required.. then both sides and the public would be allowed to express their positions in an open and forthright way, in English. Because claiming that NEPA is bad does not directly lead to what the plaintiffs want. It just leads to more NEPA, a la Colt Summit.

  2. Sharon, it might not be especially informative to compare the complaint with the project documents, because it’s a little bit apples and oranges. USFS project documents can be very extensive, as you know (I just waded through a 15,000 page admin record), whereas the complaint is in a condensed form called “notice pleading”, meaning the plaintiff needs to put the defendant (agency) on notice about the harm to plaintiff that will occur if the project happens, what the general legal basis of plaintiff’s claim(s) is, and what remedy is requested (e.g., injunction, full EIS, etc.) But the real meat of Plaintiff’s case, which details specifically how the FS is (allegedly) doing bad stuff, comes later, in a more lengthy brief. The complaint isn’t expected to (or allowed to) get down to the full nuts and bolts argument, so it probably isn’t appropriate to compare it to the full project record.

      • I think it does: look at Line 1 (contributions, gifts, grants…) vs Line 3 (membership dues and assessments), is that what you mean? Nonprofits are either membership or board-only, looks like this one is probably the latter in which case there won’t be revenue from member dues.

    • Andy, Thank you for the info. I am not interested in guns smoking or otherwise.

      Here is my opinion. If we currently manage forests by court case, then I think the public deserves to know what their goals are and who is funding the effort.

      So I looked at the two folks on the Board of Directors on the internet. One is affiliated with the Swan View Coalition and the other the Utah Environmental Congress.

      Here are the ideas of the Swan View Coalition in the words of Keith Hammer the secretary of the Congress:

      We subscribe to these principles:

      All remaining roadless and unlogged areas must be preserved. The continued march into increasingly scarce native forest does not promote sustainability.

      Watersheds which are below standards for water quality, fisheries, wildlife habitat and wildlife security must be brought up to all standards before further timber sales are contemplated.

      Road obliteration and reclamation are the primary and most cost-effective ways to accomplish watershed recovery, protect fish and wildlife habitat and reestablish wildlife security.

      Ecosystem restoration is a goal and process worthy of public investment. It also provides meaningful, well-paying jobs.

      Timber sales neither provide reliable funds for restoration work, nor duplicate the natural role of wildfire. They shall not be promoted for such purposes.

      Forest stewardship must be viewed and practiced as more than a kinder and gentler form of tree farming. In already damaged areas, it must begin with ecosystem restoration.

      It must also recognize the essential role that dead trees play in the forest ecosystem.

      Written By Keith Hammer

      So I still don’t get why these Montanans and Utahan went after a hazard trees project in California. It could be that this was the closest place where laws were being broken (???) to Montana and Utah? Because they are only interested in making sure that the FS follows the law?

      It could be that some well-off people are funding this effort, which affects people of different social classes in California. It’s the social justice aspect of this which would be worthy of more attention if the information were public, IMHO.

      The way that it is structured now, folks with money to hire lawyers can impose their views on the public lands (without even identifying themselves). And people without lawyers get the short end of the stick in terms of having their views considered. I just don’t think that is the way it should be.

      • “If we currently manage forests by court case . . .” Last I checked, Sharon, the Forest Service manages forests pursuant to law. If the Forest Service would stop breaking the law, it wouldn’t have to contend with the lawsuits.

        • Thank you Andy for pointing out, and correcting, another one of Sharon’s Strawman arguments. They are flowing rather freely these days.

          Hey, when is Sharon going to post information about timber industry Board of Directors? Can we get some info, Sharon, on International Paper? Sierra Pacific Industries Weyerhaeuser? Boise Corp? Plum Creek Timber? Sun Mountain Lumber Co?

          Or how about the Society of American Foresters? Can we look at SAF’s 990 and Board of Directors? OMG! SAF’s CEO Michael Goergen was paid $154,128 in 2011.

          Or how about the Western Wood Products Association? What does their 990 say? You mean WWPA’s President, Michael O’Halloran was paid a salary of $191,636 in 2011 and also received another $20,559 in compensation that year?

          Or how about the American Forest & Paper Association. Wow, according to their 2011 990, AF&PA is a $21 million plus organization and the CEO, Donna Harman, was paid a cool $940,185 in 2011. And their secretary, Janet Poling was paid $275,240. And their “Key Employee” Cathy Foley was paid $259,136. Another “Key Employee” Paul Noe was paid $298,929. “Key Employee” Elizabeth Wandersarl was paid $241,948. Tim Hunt, just an “employee” was paid $227,696 while another “employee” Jerry Schwartz was paid $237,785.

          Let’s keep in mind that making over $150,000 makes you “rich” according to what the American people think, and if you make $200,000 you are a top 1.9%’er.

          See, we can all play this game Sharon. What fun it will be! Good thing I have a Guidestar account and can view the 990’s for every non-profit resource extraction organization in the country.

          And I just love how Sharon never seems to want to focus on the ins/outs of the actual timber sale or litigation. Instead, Sharon’s pattern for a few years now on this blog has been to passive aggressively raise suspicions about environmental groups, while not focusing on the actual facts of a project or lawsuit.

          • Matthew,

            SF does not have a Board of Directors, but does have a Council. What would you like to know about it?

            FWIW, here’s a bit about SAF. I’ve been a member since 1982.

            Steve Wilent
            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

            SAF Core Values are:

            Forests are a fundamental source of global health and human welfare,
            Forests must be sustained through simultaneously meeting environmental, economic, and community aspirations and needs,
            Foresters are dedicated to sound forest management and conservation, and
            Foresters serve landowners and society by providing sound knowledge and professional management skills

            Mission Statement
            The Society of American Foresters (SAF) is the national scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States. Founded in 1900 by Gifford Pinchot, it is the largest professional society for foresters in the world. The mission of the Society of American Foresters is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and, to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethic of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society. SAF is a nonprofit organization meeting the requirements of 501 (c) (3). SAF members include natural resource professionals in public and private settings, researchers, CEOs, administrators, educators, and students.

          • Matthew..

            1) really I never want to focus on the details (?) seems like I waded into the details of Colt Summit to the extent that folks felt we were “bogged down in details”- not you perhaps.

            For those of you who have (blissfully) forgotten this project here are a couple of links..
            http://forestpolicypub.com/2012/07/24/colt-summit-lynx-cumulative-effects-lets-hear-both-sides/

            Megan was kind enough to do the reading and post this.http://forestpolicypub.com/2012/07/12/excerpts-from-judge-malloys-decision-on-colt-summit/

            Anyone can search this blog for “Colt Summit” and find a variety of places where I cited specific things. I am just trying to increase public scrutiny by finding more people to do this kind of analysis.

            Actually I don’t know where the Colt Summit case is..now that the FS redid the way the analysis was organized. Does anyone know?

            2)

            I think you are missing my point about being curious about environmental groups who litigate. My point is at the end of the day when the lawyers are settling cases and determining whether plans and projects go forward, some interests are represented and others not.

            We know what the State of Oregon wants. We know (or can assume) we know what Vail Resorts or Arch Coal want. If the decision about people’s use of the people’s land is going to be settled by lawyers representing a specific point of view and DOJ, I’d like to know whose point of view it is. I don’t care if the groups or their employees are paid lots or little, but I would like to know who is paying them and what their interests are. If we knew who they were, we could try to have a conversation with them. I guess I like openness and transparency about decisions about the management of public lands.

            • Wow, Sharon, so now you have made this post about Colt Summit?

              And why in the world, Sharon, should we trust what The Wilderness Society has to say? Especially based on your methods and rationale expressed elsewhere and towards other groups?

              I mean, you questions the motives and raise whacky suspicions of other environmental groups, why not TWS?

              After all, The Wilderness Society is an organization based in Washington DC with annual revenues of around $25 million dollars that paid their President $312,693 in 2011. Check out TWS’ 990 here.

              Aren’t you going to ask if TWS has “well-off” board members that fund the group, or do you just ask those questions about the Conservation Congress and smaller groups?

              Or, Sharon, are you going to wonder aloud how many of TWS’ Board members have actually visited the Colt Summit Timber Sale, or even Montana for that matter? Or are you just going to question why Conservation Congress board members are interested in federal public lands projects in states they don’t currently live in?

              So, in the future Sharon, if you are going to continue your current trend and tactics of being “curious about environmental groups who litigate” then perhaps I will be “curious” about timber mills and resource extraction non-profits that lobby for more logging through a gutting of the ESA and excluding 10,000 acre logging projects from public input and some aspects of NEPA analysis.

              • Here’s a link to some of the career campaign contributions that Rep Doc Hastings (R-WA) lead sponsor of the mandated logging bill that passed the US House last week has received:

                Forestry and Forest Products: $201,488
                Oil and Gas: $371,303
                Mining: $153,653

                I’m curious as to why these 3 industries would give nearly 3/4 of a million to Rep Hastings. I’m curious if these industries expect something in return for all this donated cash? I’m curious if all these industries donating to Rep Hastings actually live in his district? If not, I’m curious why they would donate money to his campaign? After all, I don’t donate money to political campaigns in Florida. All this information has me wonderin’.

                • Matthew.. Hastings was elected. His donations are public.

                  My point is that management by litigation means that people who are not elected and don’t identify where they get their money from make the decisions.

                  • More strawman arguments Sharon. As Andy and Guy have already schooled you on, we don’t manage national forests by court case.

                    I still remain curious if these industries expect something in return for all this donated cash to Hasting? I mean, 3/4 of million dollars is a lot of dough for rural people, and urban people, alike. I’m curious if all these industries donating to Rep Hastings actually live in his district? If not, I’m curious why they would donate money to his campaign? It just all seems very suspicious to me.

                    • Matthew, Andy and Guy cannot “school” me out of my personal experiences. I may not be articulating them adequately for them to understand …

                      I’m sure you don’t mean to be patronizing. But neither Guy nor Andy have been in the meetings I’ve been in, and heard the things I’ve heard. I just need to write up my experiences more clearly so everyone can see why I have come to the conclusions I’ve come to.

                      That is the gift of this blog … for us to share our different experiences and see how they all fit together. Because they all occur within the same physical world, and we won’t understand what the elephant is like until the toenail- holder converses with the ear-holder. Without the certainty the the elephant is only composed of toenails or ears.

      • This group (Conservation Congress) has not just litigated (or filed notices of intent to sue) on this hazard tree abatement project in northern California, but almost every single proposed action on the Mendocino, Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity National Forest in the last 6 years. There is no reasoning with the Executive Director…..it is evident in planning documents available on the respective Forest’s websites that this group has been requested to participate in project planning through the NEPA’s public involvement process time and time again. This group chooses to work through appeal or objection and litigation. This group purports to ‘care’ about the northern spotted owl but their actions show otherwise. If it did, the Executive Director would come to the field and public meetings and participate in the planning phase, just like members of the LOCAL public do. Instead, Conservation Congress chooses litigation. Operating in this manner tells us one thing; they want and only care about recovering court costs – nothing else. And this is an easy way for them to tie up the National Forests and bogg restoration work. Why else would this group remain so focused on National Forests and do absolutely nothing about what is occurring on private lands in northern spotted owl habitat?

        • Hello Laura Jackson: Can you please help further explain something you wrote? You stated, “it is evident in planning documents available on the respective Forest’s websites that this group has been requested to participate in project planning through the NEPA’s public involvement process time and time again.”

          Can you explain to me how “project planning through the NEPA’s public involvement process” (which you claim/infer the Conservation Congress doesn’t participate in) differs from the Conservation Congress fully and completely participating in every step of the NEPA public involvement process, which I’m sure you are aware is already required for any timber sale project to be appealed or litigated by any person, group or business.

          Unless you have evidence to the contrary, I’m betting the Conservation Congress fully participates in the NEPA process. Perhaps that’s the real source of your problem and concern. Thanks.

  3. I think the worst part of the appeal process is that it delays the sale of the timber and the real value of the timber will deteriorate, not just the money part of the value, but what you can make out them part.
    I would guess that this project represents about 1 or 2% of the amount of timber that was killed in this fire.
    If the sale does go through, which they usually do, I hope they break up it in to smaller sales than one 28 million bft sale.
    Though I am sure by the time the sale actually happens the volume would be less. (the sale we are currently working on was originally 14 million bft, then six, and we will be lucky to harvest 4. out of about 800 million that was burned.)
    I think this really shows that the appeal process is broken if the FS can’t even sell roadside salvage after a fire. Just looking at the mountain of paper work that the FS produced on the project shows why it is almost impossible to get anything done.
    (and here on the Powers Ranger District they are busy today falling more green old growth trees into the Coquille River, most likely enough wood to keep a mill going for months and create millions of dollars of worth of stimulus for our economy, while at the same time in the last 10 years they have sold maybe 2 truck loads of older trees, and those fell on the roadway.)

      • It is for woody debris in the river, salmon spawning grounds, river restoration work.
        I really don’t object to this, though I don’t really know how well this is working, (I know that on our fork of the river we have less fish than we did 20 years ago, after spending millions of dollars in restoration work, just like the owl, just like jobs.)
        I do object to that they never consider that maybe someone could make something really beautiful out of one of those trees and maybe the fish could use a tree that wasn’t so valuable.
        That maybe there is enough for the fish and people.
        I mean currently its fish or bugs get all the trees and the local people get zero.

  4. Sharon, I think some of your concerns were addressed by others, but a few points:

    “If we currently manage forests by court case, then I think the public deserves to know what their goals are and who is funding the effort.”

    -As Andy pointed out, we don’t manage forests by court case. Policy is set by legislation (e.g., NFMA, Planning Rules, ESA, NEPA, etc.) and the agency itself, including mandatory standards that are incorporated into the forest plan by the agency (I know you know all this, just fleshing out my point). It is a mistake, though one commonly perpetuated by FS administrators (e.g. Tidwell’s misguided “liberal judges” bluster), to say that “courts set policy”. When the FS loses a court case, the judge isn’t saying “your policy is wrong”, he/she is quite literally saying: “hey, FS, you are breaking the law.” That’s a tough thing to hear, but agency justifications and excuses don’t change the bottom line. Federal judges rarely rule by wishful thinking, they tend to very carefully apply the laws that are on the books, as best they can.

    “So I still don’t get why these Montanans and Utahan went after a hazard trees project in California. It could be that this was the closest place where laws were being broken (???) to Montana and Utah? Because they are only interested in making sure that the FS follows the law?”

    -Not sure what your point is here. It’s a federal forest, we all own it as U.S. citizens, doesn’t matter what state we live in. We all (should, IMO) share an interest in having the FS follow the law.

    “It could be that some well-off people are funding this effort, which affects people of different social classes in California.”

    -“could be”?? Lots of things “could be”…. or not, this seems to be a variant of the old “communists under the bed” theme.

    “It’s the social justice aspect of this which would be worthy of more attention if the information were public, IMHO. The way that it is structured now, folks with money to hire lawyers can impose their views on the public lands (without even identifying themselves). And people without lawyers get the short end of the stick in terms of having their views considered.”

    -Again, I think you’re conflating law- and policy-making (which do have some opportunity for public input, though I think a good case could be made that people with money, such as the large extractive resource interests and their political allies, have a disproportionately large influence there)… with what goes on in a NEPA/ESA lawsuit: in court, one party claims the other party broke the law, and both try to prove their case. “Views” aren’t being imposed, the law is being imposed. Nobody’s “views” are considered in court, on either side, so the point just isn’t relevant. As a side note, most small enviro groups don’t spend lots of money to hire lawyers, typically they might pay a small retainer that amounts to about minimum wage to prosecute the case, then if they lose the lawyer has worked for almost nothing, and if they win there are usually some fees, but if you do the math you’ll see that few if any are getting rich from it (at least none that I know). -GK

  5. Dear Sharon,

    I admire your enthusiasm and wish we could speak in person. It is very rare for me to every chime in on these web logs but since you questioned my standing or character I’ll make this brief exception. I am an American, just as my parents parents have been on all sides of my family for over a half dozen generations. The USA is blessed by a federal system of government, and the original confederation of American states failed. California wasn’t even among them. When evaluating my ‘relevance’ when it comes to concern over management of the STNF or the Mendocino NF – it matters that I am an American. It does not matter that I lived on Roberta St in Salt Lake City on the 2011 990 for Conservation Congress.

    Let me ask you, would it matter to you if you knew I’ve lived immediately downstream of the Mendo, that my family has a farm in the Central valley that gets its water from the Mendo and employs over 100 people? Or that my mother is a school teacher (retired) in an ag support community north of Sacramento in the central valley? Or that another brother of mine has made a career out of designing and overseeing construction of hospitals and public facilities around north-central California? In your mind does my or CC’s so-called standing change due to my address in California or somewhere else in the USA, or due my immediate family’s businesses and civic contributions (totaling dozens of millions of dollars generated locally, and growing) to rural communities downstream from the Mendo or ST?

    None of that should matter. As a matter of fact it does not matter. The CC works on National Forests, not County Forests, and not town or city Forests. But, Sharon, I think you implied it does. Therefore, I’m interested in you sharing your proximity to the immediate watersheds of the Mendo and STNF, and dollar figures for how much money your family is directly creating and giving locally in the rural communities in the watersheds coming off the Mendo and STNF? Finally, in what states and cities have you lived and does any of that make you more or less American?

    • I agree that they are National Forests.. however, international environmental groups usually consider that local people have a special role to play in determining how land is used. My point is that when legal settlements are done, which determine what happens on the landscape, those local people tend not to be at the table.

      What your argument seems to be is that property rights (they are federal lands) trumps this basic value. I am aware of the historic tensions around local and national interests in public lands, but I was critiquing a decision making process in which local interests are left out.

      You can argue that the Responsible Official considers local people, but if the decision is made in the courtroom or in a settlement session among lawyers, the local people are not there.. it’s likely no FS official who has even attended a public meeting is there or involved in the decision.

      I do have many relatives in the Central Valley and I have lived in the Placerville area. But I am not the one involving myself in that particular project in term s of litigation or appeals. I am just reporting on it and giving my opinion.

      • Local community input on proposed projects is sought and received throughout NEPA and other planning processes. Interest groups have the opportunity to intervene in litigation to get a seat “at the table,” including settlement talks. But how do you know that some local people are not also opposed to any given project? Should we assume all local people think exactly alike and desire the exact same things for national forest lands?

        If local people were “at the table” for litigation (assuming they are not already involved and that they all think the same), how would their presence change a judge’s ruling applying the facts of a case to the governing laws? If a judge finds an agency decision is contrary to the law, are you suggesting local people should be able to override such a judicial outcome? Doesn’t the rule of law matter? And if local people don’t all think and desire the same things, then what?

        How local is local? How long does someone have to live in an area to be considered a local? If you have connections to an area but don’t live within a certain radius, does that count for anything? How much weight exactly are you suggesting should go to “local people” as opposed to someone who lives an hour away, or two states over, or on the other side of the country?

        • Your argument seems to be that “if it is outside the law then there is nothing you can do” which would make you wonder why there is a settlement conference at all.. after all it must absolutely clear what was done wrong and exactly how it should be redressed.???

          I believe they have interests that should be represented or at the very least, the discussions should be public so that people can understand the impacts of settling land management disputes in the courts.

          I believe that non-local counts for “something” but if a person from New York, who has never been there , counts just as much as someone from Delta Colorado, for land management of the nearby forests, then I think it is only just for people from Delta to weigh in equally about which roads and bridges are repaired in New Jersey following hurricanes. After all, those actions are federalized by federal bucks being spent for fix-ups.

          And if your argument is that federal land ownership is different from federal tax bucks being spent, well then you are arguing for property rights without associated responsibilities to the local people which goes against both what corporations and environmental NGO’s would do in other parts of the world.

          • John: Here is the 1905 Secretary of Agriculture and Forest Service “Use Book” reference to “local”:

            “You will see to it that the water, wood, and forage of the reserves are conserved and wisely used for the benefit of the homebuilder first of all, upon whom depends the best permanent use of lands and resources alike. The continued prosperity of the agricultural, lumbering, mining, and live-stock interests is directly dependent upon a permanent and accessible supply of water, wood, and forage, as well as upon the present and future use of these resources under businesslike regulation, enforced with promptness, effectiveness, and common sense. In the management of each reserve local questions will be decided upon local grounds; the dominant industry will be considered first, but with as little restriction to minor industries as may be possible; sudden changes in industrial conditions will be avoided by gradual adjustment after due notice, and where conflicting interests must be reconciled the question will always be decided from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.”

            References to homebuilders, agriculture, lumbering, mining, and livestock in regards to water, wood, and forage prior to the pre-automobile age strongly suggests “local” to mean those families in close enough proximity to their nearest national forest to take advantage of those uses of the land and its resources. If you moved to Portland, Oregon tomorrow your “local” national forest would be the Mt. Hood, under those guidelines. Too bad we’re not following them anymore. Especially the “promptness, effectiveness, and common sense” aspects.

            • I don’t know how much weight I’d give a 1905 use book, but it’s interesting to see that language in light of all the knowledge we’ve accumulated about the impacts of some of the uses discussed, as well as the changes in demographics in the country. But MUSYA altered any notion that “dominant industry will be considered first,” at least in theory. Although not every acre is used for every use, the national forests are managed for multiple uses, not just historically dominant uses. Plus, we’re no longer in the pre-automobile age, and the use book was not created by Congress, our elected body. Congress has since mentioned wilderness, recreation, fish, and wildlife in a number of statutes that guide national forest management. I do like the idea of “the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.” But I’m still interested in what “local” should mean now, in the automobile age and mobile-economy age, and in the context Sharon has described (land management litigation and settlement discussions), and what weight “local” voices are given over “not-quite-as-local” voices or the opinions of someone who visits a certain national forest unit every summer but doesn’t live in the same state. And if “local” voices matter more, what happens when “local” opinions conflict, as they inevitably will?

              • John: The Constitution was written in the 1700s and the Bible was written before then. Lawyers call it “precedence.” In the automobile age I’d be inclined to define “local” as the National Forest closest to your home, either in aerial distance or driving time (commuters choice). And I’d stick with the basic principles if it was my decision — “local” conflicts are almost always easier to settle than chaotic free-for-alls in my experience.

                • There have been many Forest Service Handbooks and Manuals since 1905. Congress has spoken regarding national forest management multiples times since 1905 as well. I’m aware of precedent in the legal context. Agency handbooks and manuals generally don’t have the independent force of law, and unless the 1905 Use Book is still in effect, which I’m pretty sure it isn’t, it’s not binding precedent in the legal context.

                  Your definition of local seems pretty appropriate, but many folks use a lot of different forests on a regular basis, since different forest units are often all within a fairly short drive.

              • Jon

                I am of the opinion that if a forest is not a significant attraction or endangered species concern at the national level then it should not be part of the USFS or the NPS but, instead should be turned over to the state to address local and state interests. If it’s usage is primarily at the local or state level, it shouldn’t be federal.

                As I stated in an early thread:

                I don’t see why the Lands from the great plains to the west coast require that the federal government control 57% of the timberlands over all ownerships yet the federal government only needs to control 8% of the timberlands east of the great plains? For the lands east of the great plains (regions 8 and 9), there are 29.1million acres of federal timberlands available for use by a population of 234.1million people (= 8.05 people/federal timberland acre). On the other hand, the rest of the country to the west of regions 8 and 9 needs 79.9million acres of federal timberlands for 83.7million people (= 0.95 people/federal timberland acre)?

  6. “if the decision is made in the courtroom or in a settlement session among lawyers, the local people are not there.” “My point is that when legal settlements are done, which determine what happens on the landscape, those local people tend not to be at the table.”

    My impression is that most ‘decisions’ made in these forums do not ‘determine what happens on the landscape.’ They are more likely to be decisions that the agency will do or re-do their public decision-making process (considering new information, preparing an EIS, publishing a new ESA listing rule). It may mean that a decision previously made can’t be implemented right away, but rarely is a permanent ban imposed (if it is, because of some substantive violation, that’s probably not negotiable any way). Nor should a new decision be made without recycling through any necessary public process. I remember some issues with FS appeal settlements that purported to change a decision without following NEPA, and I think any changes coming out of judicial proceedings would have to consider relevant decision process requirements.

    (Have you defined ‘local people’ somewhere? Or is it more to your point to use your phrase ‘people without lawyers?’ If so, I’m not sure what that really means either.)

    • Jon, Are you arguing that there are no substantive changes in projects, plans or rules due to litigation? Just more paperwork? It does seem that way sometimes, but some groups that litigate have substantive goals.

      Take the John Muir Project, (http://www.johnmuirproject.org/about.html):

      “Our goal is to ensure ecological management of our National Forests by ending the federal timber sales program and eliminating its system of perverse economic and political incentives that undermine science and threaten native wildlife and forest ecosystems.”

      Do they think that they could do this by making the FS write longer NEPA docs and no substantive outcomes…? Of course, there is the pure “psychological warfare” component so eloquently articulated by Mr. Suckling, but I don’t think people would keep doing it, if piling more paperwork were the only outcome.

      And as to the meaning of “local communities” I meant it in the sense that it is used in the international conservation literature.. here’s an example..http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol17/iss4/art14/

      Are we using the “best available science” in management? Does that include social science? 😉

      CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PROTECTED AREA MANAGEMENT
      Removing local communities from lands that they have been exploiting for generations without consultation or adequate compensation can result in retaliation and hostile attitudes toward PA objectives. Restricting local access to natural resources, which can play a crucial role in their livelihoods, health, and culture, might favor biodiversity conservation in the short term. However, in the long term, such strategies may fail to preserve biodiversity if park authorities disregard the importance of simultaneously promoting active local community participation in PA management, capacity building, implementing adequate outreach programs and also efficient governance, guaranteeing that penalties will be applied and consistently enforced. The recognition of the dependence of adjacent communities on some natural resources inside PAs has revealed to decision makers the real downside of the conventional command-and-control management systems (Fu et al. 2004). Thus, the importance of collaborative management to enhance biodiversity protection has become critical for the long-term success of PAs (Mbile et al. 2005, Yonariza and Webb 2007, Kaltenborn et al. 2008).

      Establishing and maintaining PAs require both political and financial commitment in the long term. Often PAs in developing countries have a common funding deficit feature (Bruner et al. 2004). Considering this, we believe that partnerships with local communities and PA authorities could promote a win–win outcome. Allowing more active local participation in PA decision-making processes means that PA financial resources can be better invested in improving governance, local capacity building, participation, and outreach programs rather than draconian measures. For instance, patrolling and management costs could be reduced with local collaboration (Boissière et al. 2009).

      We have shown that one of the most important general strategies for developing local community acceptance of PAs may be community participation in PA management. Including locals in decision-making processes can potentially create a sense of stewardship, where local residents collaborate with PA managers and act together to conserve biodiversity in PAs and local livelihoods (Horowitz 1998). However, putting such concepts into practice is not an easy task. There are no simple formulae for combining conservation objectives with local community needs. What has worked in one PA may not have worked in another. Understanding the peculiarities of each PA and the people who live in and around them is paramount for the success of each PA’s conservation program. How we effectively manage today’s PAs will determine whether those areas will remain under protection, or whether we will continue to see their gradual degradation.

  7. After taking the time to read the comments posted to this blog (and now wishing I hadn’t due to the waste of time) I will make a few observations. The majority of the people (with some notable exceptions) who post to this blog don’t understand the NEPA process, the legal process, or how to read a Form 990. CC participates in every step of the NEPA process of every project we are involved in. I spend more time in the field on the STNF, Mendo, and 6-Rivers than virtually anyone I know, including FS personnel who seem to rarely go in the field and spend most of their time sitting behind a desk. I know these forests far better than the people who live around them. I have thousands of photographs of project areas before and after logging. I have thousands of scenic pictures from recreational activities. I have been to the Bagley area many times and so have some of our members. Not that it matters, but I lived in the area previously and off and on in CA since 1980. I find it ironic that Sharon begrudges me living in MT and our BOD members living outside CA, yet she cites to what “international” groups do. Would you rather the people of Norway, Jamaica or Russia manage our federal lands? We win our lawsuits because the FS lies and violates the law – it’s really that simple. CC does not make any money when it wins a lawsuit. If you knew how to read a 990 you would know that. We are reimbursed for filing fees, etc. but the independent attorneys are the ones that may or may not collect fees. You read that correctly – not all attorneys get paid for their work. CC is a membership organization and virtually all of our members live in the communities surrounding the forests we work on and they clearly do not support what the FS is doing on their public lands. Again, if you knew the reporting requirements of Form 990 you would understand where those figures are recorded. Sharon, I was told you are a retired FS employee. If that is true the level of ignorance you display regarding the public participation process and the role of federal lands belonging to all Americans speaks volumes about the ineptitude of the Forest Service; why it consistently violates NEPA and why it often loses in court. I don’t understand why the FS can’t hire people smart enough to understand and follow NEPA which is the shortest, most easily understandable federal environmental law on the books. Sharon, your very first post states you know so much about the process and what you do is “easy” yet you ask someone else to do the work for you. Yes, I believe you are lazy and ignorant of the facts. If you’re too lazy to access the complaint which is a public record and too ignorant to understand its contents then why do you even have this blog? Is it just to hear yourself talk? Regarding the woman who commented that I don’t work with the FS all I can say is she too is ignorant of the facts. I know many of the employees on the forests I work on and they know me on a first name basis, including the Forest Supervisors, NEPA Coordinators, Wildlife Biologists, among others. I have gone out in the field with many of them over the past decade and sat in some of their meetings. I won’t be posting anything further on this blog because its a waste of time talking to people who know nothing about what they are talking about. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. No one is entitled to lie and make things up as they go. Thanks to the few folks, some of whom I don’t even know, who provided intelligent, cogent and accurate posts.

    • Denise, through some synchronicity as I was reading comments, the one right before yours was from Matthew (Matthew is really good at finding previous posts and bringing them up when we seem to be going over old ground). One he found was here
      http://forestpolicypub.com/2012/08/27/who-is-robert-kahn-and-why-is-he-saying-those-things/
      and had this quote from me:

      One thing I’ve noticed about CNS is that many of the articles have what I call “snarky lawyer tone”. Now I don’t mean this to be offensive to lawyers, but in some cases in their culture, it is OK to have a tone that “other people are stupid and malevolent and we are smart and good.” It’s a style that you often see in appeals and litigation.

      I remember one late night, a person was working on an appeal and wrote the response in the same tone “if the appellants had read the case they cited, they would understand that in fact…”. There wasn’t much I could do to help her, so I volunteered to “desnarkify” the response. Hype, snark, nastiness, snark, hype.

      Having been brought up in the more genial groves of forest science, I find the tone.. well, nasty and offputting. And when I see hype, I tend to think “either that person has a casual acquaintance with the truth or they aren’t choosing to tell me the truth for some reason”. Either way, they are off my list of “people to whom I listen.”

      Oddly enough, the next comment I read was yours.. which I have to say sounds just like the tone I described.

      Anyway, my point about the international groups is that they have a different tone towards local communities than some US environment groups. Why would a local community in Zambia be recorded respect that say Hayfork would not in terms of economic development? That was my point.

      I don’t know much about 990s but I am trying to learn. Andy has helped me out with this.

      On the other hand, I do know quite a bit about NEPA, though, and if you’d done “due diligence” you would have found that out. But you didn’t about me.. which makes me wonder if you did about the project.

      Anyway, for all those of you who have not worked for the FS in NEPA, appeals and litigation, now you understand how people are sometimes treated by appellants.

      If they really believe “We win our lawsuits because the FS lies and violates the law – it’s really that simple”.. even if there is common ground, it’s going to be hard to find it through the fog of invective.

      • On the other hand, I do know quite a bit about NEPA, though, and if you’d done “due diligence” you would have found that out. But you didn’t about me.. which makes me wonder if you did about the project.

        Really Sharon? So because Ms. Boggs didn’t drop everything to do a bunch of research on the lives of those people (including you) largely attacking her with allegations and rumors (ie the “fog of invective”) you make a snarky allegation that maybe she didn’t do “due diligence” about a Forest Service NEPA project? It’s no wonder so few people in the public lands environmental movement actually engaged in the NEPA process want to spend any time on this blog.

        • Well, she made a claim about my professional knowledge (which is not the same as my personal life). in my experience, people who adamantly and with strong language, make claims about things that are not accurate, tend not to restrict their inaccuracies to one topic. But maybe that’s just my experience.

          • “In my experience, people who adamantly and with strong language, make claims about things that are not accurate, tend not to restrict their inaccuracies to one topic.”

            I couldn’t agree with you more, Sharon. And this blog has become full of such examples over the years.

        • Gee, Matthew

          You always want us to drop everything and do a bunch of research on baiting posts that you make and then don’t stand behind. At least you are consistent in your application of your double standard.

          Also appreciate that great insight about what other people think. Seems like you claimed a week or so ago that you didn’t do that and promised not to do it again if you had done it before. Zork!

  8. I didn’t waste too much time skimming through this, even though Denise had the courtesy to sign her actual name (I think) — mostly thanks to her opening sentence, the dizzying array of “I’s” in the first few paragraphs, and Larry’s succinct summary. I think Denise thinks a Form 990 is “simple” and we are mostly lazy idiots and liars because she does more things and knows more stuff than just about anybody she knows that does about anything that she knows about. So we should pay very close attention to what she has to say, etc. I think that was the main message. Oh, and she doesn’t have time to elaborate, so will not be returning.

    Blogs work!

    • Bob, Why do you have to make some sort of allegation, or question the fact that Ms. Boggs isn’t using her real name? Seems to me that both on this post, and another one on this blog, that more than a few unsubstantiated allegations have been directed towards Ms. Boggs, the Conservation Congress, their 990, their court case and allegations that the CC’s doesn’t fully participate in the NEPA process. As such, I have no problem with Ms. Boggs sharing some facts here and also sharing her honest feelings in regards to largely being attacked with allegations and false rumors. If other people can just largely fly-off against Ms. Boggs and CC then why shouldn’t she be able to respond however she sees fit?

      • Jeez, Matt: I thought she WAS using her real name! Now you’ve ruined everything. I just thought she was being awful rude and dismissive as well as Very Self-Important in her pronouncements. Sure she should be able to respond however she wants. So should I. Right?

      • Matthew

        Re: “I have no problem with Ms. Boggs sharing some facts here and also sharing her honest feelings in regards to largely being attacked with allegations and false rumors”

        If they are on your side, it’s okay.
        So why do you get upset when some of us share our ‘honest feelings’ and call you out for equivocation, innuendo and etc.?

        Oh, yea, I left out duplicitous.

        • Gil, for the record, what I wrote in its entirety was this:

          Seems to me that both on this post, and another one on this blog, that more than a few unsubstantiated allegations have been directed towards Ms. Boggs, the Conservation Congress, their 990, their court case and allegations that the CC’s doesn’t fully participate in the NEPA process. As such, I have no problem with Ms. Boggs sharing some facts here and also sharing her honest feelings in regards to largely being attacked with allegations and false rumors. If other people can just largely fly-off against Ms. Boggs and CC then why shouldn’t she be able to respond however she sees fit?

          You are clearly trying to bait me Gil Dehuff, and like I said, I will not take your bait anymore.

          • Ms Boggs had an opportunity to explain what actual harm there is, regarding any and all hazard tree projects, properly implemented. If there is an ACTUAL harm, let’s see some real, actual evidence! I tend to think that Ms Boggs knew what she was doing, and seems to have succeeded in misdirecting the debate here, away from the actual issues. Of course, work would not interfere with the nesting and fledging, and would not cut or damage any nest trees. So, let’s talk about evidence of actual harm, folks. I don’t think there is any, when issues are given appropriate weight.

  9. So, let’s get back to the actual project. Where is the harm in cutting hazard trees along a road??? WHERE? Either we continue to have and use this road, or we abandon it, altogether. Of course, some people have already decided that this road, and many others (including roads to trailheads and other important places), are wanted and needed. You simply cannot have a road with a one-sided “buffer”. Roads NEED these buffers, to protect their ditches and culverts from being clogged and blocked.

    • Sure, let’s get back to the actual project, Larry. You may recall that the original post from Sharon didn’t include much info about the actual project, but on September 24 (over 3 weeks ago) I made this post:

      Looks to me like 55% of this logging sale is within an official Inventoried Roadless Area and 45% of it is in designated critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl.

      The average mean diameter of trees is 28.8″ DBH. 3% of the sale would log legacy trees over 250 years old; and the trees didn’t even burn. They are all on class 2 roads that passenger level vehicles can’t drive on and the sale didn’t sell because the log trucks couldn’t even drive the road safely. Seems like there is no public safety threat from the trees – maybe the road – but not the trees. Seems like this was a timber grab of 28 MMBF off of 19 miles of road.

      But again, why focus on these specifics when we can wonder why in the world any American citizen would have a problem or concerns with this type of Forest Service (mis) management.

      To which, you Larry directly replied:

      If it is a hazard tree project, then there must be a set of guidelines regarding what constitutes a hazard. Yes, it is a kind of project that has been exploited in the past. Even from my point of view, I have seen big marked trees that really aren’t hazards, marked on projects on other Forests. I always felt that since the (my) project is along a road, it would be all-too-easy to find any abuse of the marking guidelines. In fact, many of the timbermarkers I have worked with miss some of the significant defect in some of those roadside trees. There must be some kind of value in keeping that road open and safe.

      • And I stand by that statement. I would also stand by ANY tree I, personally, would mark as a hazard. Ya know, full transparency, and all that stuff. Additionally, many of those hazard trees were damaged when the road was originally built. I have seen it and dealt with it. Many kinds of trees will continue to decay and rot after the damage is done. Catfaces from old fires represent hazards, too. These are known facts.

        However, your data doesn’t matter all that much. It is no big revelation that larger and older trees next to roads have more decay, defect and danger. While the class of road has been shown to matter, legally, in the Sierra Nevada (due to Ninth Circuit court decree), the Shasta-Trinity NF doesn’t fall under that document. Also, if there were no bidders, then everything is moot, and the road should be gated, to keep all people out. Either you “treat” both sides of the road, or you must deem it to be unsafe. Simple as that but, remember, this could set a precedence for ALL of those same situations, including roads to Wilderness trailheads, campgrounds, hunting areas, fishing lakes, etc. Again, roads NEED buffers on BOTH sides, to protect the proper functioning of drainage structures, and public safety.

        Now, I am not saying that these trees MUST be harvested. Yes, there ARE situations where it is better to fell the hazards and leave them where they land. I’ve seen that, too.

          • For one reason, most hazard trees have limited merchantability. If it causes erosion problems, especially on fill slopes, it is better to leave them. Many roads are within stream buffers, too. Not every operator has a “tongs pitcher”. End-lining can cause damage that is hard to fix. Roadside hazard tree projects are inherently messy, and some impacts are better avoided, sometimes. I’ll look for a photo example of an excellent hazard tree project.

  10. Wow, Ms. Bogg was kind of upset. You can see why it is hard to have a conversation with the “other side”. I don’t see anything balanced or interesting in what she stated, just that “I’m right and know more.” (Guess I feel that way too.)
    Six Rivers, STNF, Medo, I don’t think has sold any real timber in years, probably due to her help. I thinks she should start out stating that she doesn’t believe in harvesting trees, NEPA or not, and will use any methods she can to stop all timber related projects.
    It’s easy to say the FS lies and breaks the law, a few examples would of been nice. I think that is the point to a lot of this, it impossible to have perfect NEPA documents and they really don’t make much sense on the ground anyways, my experience.

  11. I’ve been poking in a secret stash of 990s that gives some more history of CC. Started in 2004, with 179,000 of Direct Public Support, of which 60 some went to a lawyer in SFO, Thomas Lippe. Ms. Boggs started CC in Montgomery, AL. The howler was line 94 of Part 7 which lists income producing activities — membership dues of 343 dollars total, which “provides for educational outreach to members and general public; provides legal standing for Forest Monitoring Program.
    The funding is really consistent, 180 grand or so each of the first five years, which is unusual. The next year, 2009, CC claimed 100 percent public support — with almost invariable funding through a major recession? Not one dime in membership dues? Must sell LOTS of water bottles.
    Fund for Wild Nature funds CC, and also gave her a grassroots award that reads in part: “Denise founded the Utah Environmental Congress to provide a bold voice on national forest issues in Utah. As executive director of UEC, she successfully challenged numerous logging projects. By the time she stepped down as director in order to create Conservation Congress, the volume of timber sold from the national forests in Utah had fallen by 66 percent! ”
    Oh, my, what an accomplishment. But it explains how Denise goes from zero to 180 grand, well, maybe it does.
    I’ve heard of FWN, which is actually SMALLER than the grassroots CC. Strangely, FWN does not list grants made on their IRS forms, the first entity I’ve seen that doesn’t. Made 87 grand in grants in 2009 fy, to entities such as Blue Mountain Biodiversity, the husband wife team in Fossil, and the Earth First! Speakers Bureau. You’ve GOT to be kidding me.
    Anyway, back to CC, or basically Denise Boggs —
    Oh, Denise Boggs — Peter Mennen! Ah, Mennen Foundation, the St Helena Postmaster’s armpit stick heir’s foundation! Oh, yah. I get it now. I’d have stopped buying Speed Sticks if there was anything else out there.
    Yep, there it is on Guidestar:
    How This Organization Is Funded:
    Mennen Environmental Foundation
    Environment Now
    Fund for Wild Nature
    Kevin Mueller is not only still at UEC as program director, but also a director at Mennen, 275 grand in grants made for 2011, including, ta daaah, 155 grand for Conservation Congress! 100 percent publicly supported? By one foundation! And 100 grand for UEC same year!
    Somehow, I don’t have the heart to look at UEC’s tax returns right now. But I will.

  12. Pretty ridiculous overall when this so-called defender of animals is primarily funded by a company that continues to test on animals (Mennen/Colgate Palmolive). Regardless of the good work they claim to do via appeals and litigation, this is still hypocritical. Anyone who claims to know someone’s backyard better than the people that live and/or work in a place day in/day out, is not someone to argue with. Ignoring them and succeeding locally with local input (e.g, those who come out when invited) is the best path to take.

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