What Rep Daines Mandated Logging Bill Would Mean for National Forests in Montana

Here’s some new information to consider regarding Rep Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Rep Steve Daines (R-MT) mandated logging bill, the so-called “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act” (HR 1526), which passed the US House on September 20.

In Montana, it’s estimated that Rep Daines’ mandated logging bill would result in a 6 fold increase in National Forest logging across the state. However, the logging mandates contained in Daines’ bill would impact each National Forest differently. As such, it’s estimated that Daines’ bill would result in:

•  300 X’s more logging on the Helena National Forest;
•  150 X’s more logging on the Lewis and Clark National Forest;
•  30 X’s more logging on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest;
•  13 X’s more logging on the Lolo National Forest;
•  7 X’s more logging on the Gallatin National Forest;
•  6 X’s more logging on the Kootenai National Forest; and
•  4 X’s more logging on the Flathead National Forest.

(Note: Compared with 2012 National Forest timber sale volumes)

These dramatic increases in logging would be achieved by undermining America’s public lands legacy by simply having members of Congress mandate dramatic increases in industrial logging by exempting all National Forest logging sales up to 15.6 square miles in size from public input, environmental analysis and gutting the Endangered Species Act.

Rep Daines’ “Logging Without Laws” bill also has the US Congress simply closing the US Federal Court House doors, forbidding any citizen lawsuits on certain types of industrial logging projects, which is inherently undemocratic. Daines’ bill applies to all of America’s 155 National Forests, not just those National Forests in Montana.

New information also reveals that, contrary to claims by Rep Hastings and Rep Daines, rural counties throughout America would get less money for roads and schools under the Hastings/Daines mandated logging bill than what they current receive through Secure Rural Schools funding.

While Rep Daines, Senator Tester (D-MT) and the timber industry claim “gridlock” prevents National Forest logging, between 2008 and 2012 the US Forest Service sold enough logging sales in Montana and North Idaho to fill over 239,000 logging trucks, which if lined up end-to-end, would stretch for 2,048 miles.

Fortunately, President Obama has threatened to veto Rep Daines mandated logging bill.  The battle now goes to the US Senate, which in theory should be against mandating huge increases in National Forest logging through “Logging Without Laws” and gutting the Endangered Species Act, limiting public input and environmental analysis.However, the fact that Senator Tester and Senator Baucus (D-MT) have their very own mandated National Forest logging bill (the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act) already introduced in the US Senate all bets are off and basically anything can happen in the Senate.

Certainly it doesn’t help the political situation that Sen Tester, Sen Baucus and groups like the Montana Wilderness Association, National Wildlife Federation and Montana Trout Unlimited also support politicians mandating huge logging increases of our National Forests through Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA). Make no mistake, both the Daines and Tester bill would be an extreme and radical departure from over 100 years of America’s public lands legacy.Remember, Montanans have been bombarded since 2009 with a million dollar plus advertising and public relations campaign supporting Tester’s mandated logging bill paid for largely by the out-of-state Pew Foundation.

According to official tax forms, as far back as 2009 the Pew Foundation’s Campaign for America’s Wilderness actually hired the Montana Wilderness Association as an “Independent Contractor” to the tune of $304,500.00 in just 2009 alone. Montanans have also witnessed one-sided, down and pony show “public meetings” on Tester’s bill in which only hand-picked supporters of Tester’s bill were allowed to speak to the crowd. And who hasn’t noticed the dozens of canned, scripted Letters to the Editor (most of which from college students without a firm grasp on these issues) cheerleading for Congress to mandate more logging through Tester’s bill?

Let’s also not forget that all summer long we watched the Montana Wilderness Association spend some of their money on an Ad campaign making Rep Steve Daines (a “Tea Party” member of the House) out to be some great “bi-partisian” and encouraging Daines to work together with Senator Tester and Senator Baucus to support Tester’s mandated logging bill. Honestly, how good of a strategy is it to publicly encourage a “Tea Party” member of the US House to work together to support mandated logging of our public national forest lands? How naive must you be to actually think that getting Rep Daines involved with Tester’s mandated logging bill wouldn’t actually make Tester’s bill that much worse?

While the Montana Wilderness Association was busy all summer courting Rep Daines to be their new BFF not one single person from the Montana Wilderness Association (or any of the other environmental ‘collaborators’ supporting Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill) managed to uttered one single peep of protest, concern or opposition about Rep Daines’ very own mandated logging bill, which cuts the public process, NEPA analysis and effectivness of the ESA.

And what about the Montana Wilderness Association’s “timber mill partners” from their much lauded private “collaboration?” Do you think the Montana timber industry supports Rep Daines mandated logging bill? Of course they do! And one can assume the timber industry has no problem dropping Montana Wilderness Association like a bad habitat once the industry gets what they really wanted in the form of Rep Daines mandated logging bill.

In December 2009, as I sat in the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resource’s Committee hearing room, I heard Montana Wilderness Association’s director Tim Baker (who is now Gov Bullock’s “Natural Resource Adviser”) tell the Committee that MWA wouldn’t support Tester’s bill is the logging mandates were removed. So too, Sun Mountain Lumber owner Sherm Anderson told the Committee the timber industry wouldn’t support Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill without the Wilderness acres. Well, looks to me like Montana’s timber industry has dumped MWA in front of Daines’ mandated logging bus. All is fair in love and legislation, I guess.

“Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act” (HR 1526)

• Creates a legally-binding public lands logging mandate with no environmental or fiscal feasibility limits, and reestablishing the discredited 25% logging revenue sharing system with counties that was eliminated over a decade ago.

• Public participation and Endangered Species Act protections would be severely limited in Rep Daines’ bill. The bill creates huge loopholes in NEPA and such biased ESA requirements that in practice these laws would almost never meaningfully apply. For example, any project less than 10,000 acres (that’s 15.6 square miles) would be categorically excluded from environmental analysis and public participation, and the Forest Service would be required to submit a finding that endangered species are not jeopardized by any project, regardless of its actual effect on the species.

• Rep Daines successfully attached an amendment to the bill that would forbid the US Federal Courts from ever issuing injunctions against Forest Service logging projects based on alleged violations of procedural requirements in selecting, planning, or analyzing the project.

• Another amendment successfully added to the bill has the US Congress closing the US Federal Court House doors for any national forest timber sale resulting from the 2013 wildfires. Essentially this results in “Logging Without Laws,” as one entire branch of the US Government (the Judicial branch) is forbidden from hearing this issue.

If you’d like more “policy-wonky” information about Daines’ mandated logging bill check out this fact sheet.

76 Comments

  1. Matthew, You write that Rep Daines’ bill would amount to “Logging Without Laws.” Not so! An excerpt from the bill:

    “The Secretary shall give published notice and complete an environmental assessment pursuant to section 102(2) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)) for a covered forest reserve project proposed to be conducted within a Forest Reserve Revenue Area, except that the Secretary is not required to study, develop, or describe any alternative to the proposed agency action.”

    The act also address compliance with ESA.

    So it’s not “Logging Without Laws,” but logging with streamlined NEPA processes and ESA compliance.

  2. Hello Steve. Did you see this?

    “the Forest Service would be required to submit a finding that endangered species are not jeopardized by any project, regardless of its actual effect on the species.”

    or this?

    “Another amendment successfully added to the bill has the US Congress closing the US Federal Court House doors for any national forest timber sale resulting from the 2013 wildfires. Essentially this results in “Logging Without Laws,” as one entire branch of the US Government (the Judicial branch) is forbidden from hearing this issue.”

    So, do you support the bill as written Steve? Also, what’s SAF’s official position on the bill. I asked that question earlier but never got a response. What about Jon Haber’s retired-USFS view of the bill here?

    • Matthew, SAF ocassionally does support some bills, such as the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (regarding EPA’s treatment of runoff from forest roads as nonpoint sources under the Clean Water Act). SAF has taken a neutral stance on HR 1526.

      Haber says that “this bill could exempt the entire tree-growing portion of National Forest System completely from NFMA, except for designated wilderness, national monuments and where there are statutory prohibitions.” I don’t see that happening. That portion of the bill states that “the Secretary shall establish one or more Forest Reserve Revenue Areas within each unit of the National Forest System,” but doesn’t set minimum or maximum sizes.

      Personally, I prefer the trust type of management that would be established under TITLE IV–COMMUNITY FOREST MANAGEMENT DEMONSTRATION.

  3. “… regardless of its actual effect on the species.” I did not see this in the bill, Matt. Please provide proof that this is mandated by the bill, or tell us that it is simply your opinion. Thanks

    I would advise people to read the entire text of this bill at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1526/text In a quick scan of the bill, I found at least a dozen “easter eggs”, hidden within the text of the bill. I did warn people about these amendments after I viewed the Natural Resources Committee meeting, as it happened live.

  4. Larry,

    By doing a simple search for “Endangered Species Act” in the link to the bill you provided above I got this:

    “(e) Compliance With Endangered Species Act-

    (1) NON-JEOPARDY ASSESSMENT- If the Secretary determines that a proposed covered forest reserve project may affect the continued existence of any species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1533), the Secretary shall issue a determination explaining the view of the Secretary that the proposed covered project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species.

    • The key part you are ignoring is that “…a proposed covered forest reserve project MAY affect…”. You are assuming that projects WILL “jeopardize the continued existence of the species.” That seems to continue the preservationist views that ANY project threatens species viability, and it just isn’t true. Thinning projects actually ENHANCE owl and goshawk foraging habitats, and ENHANCES their hunting ability, and that ENHANCES their species viability.

          • Huh, Larry? What do you not understand about this section? It seems fairly clearly written. Hint: the work “SHALL” is pretty strong when contained in legislation. The word “may”….not so much.

            “(e) Compliance With Endangered Species Act-

            (1) NON-JEOPARDY ASSESSMENT- If the Secretary determines that a proposed covered forest reserve project may affect the continued existence of any species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1533), the Secretary shall issue a determination explaining the view of the Secretary that the proposed covered project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species.

            • Here is an example of how it might play out. Here in the Sierra Nevada, we deal with Pacific Fishers. Eco groups like to say that projects “jeopardize” their survival. In this case, the Secretary would say that proper crown closure was followed and that fishers aren’t impacted by the proposed project. That is how the Forest Service currently deals with the issue but, eco-groups would still cling to the extinction meme. In this case, those groups wouldn’t be able to litigate, claiming “irreparable harm” to the species. Another example is that roadside hazard tree project, where owls are NOT impacted by cutting hazard trees. I see it as another example of “Agency deference”, with the Secretary putting his name on the line. Hey, I am all for the Secretary making these decisions, instead of judges!!!!! Yes, he SHALL make those determinations, and that is fine with me. I can see why you aren’t OK with this, Matt. *smirk*

    • I think there’s a word missing in that section. Would it make sense like this:

      ” If the Secretary determines that a proposed covered forest reserve project IS NOT LIKELY TO affect the continued existence of any species…”

      After all it’s entitled “NON-JEOPARDY ASSESSMENT.”

      • It looks pretty deliberate to me. The good news (for listed species) is that the rest of this section would eventually lead to formal consultation if the consulting agency disagrees with the ‘non-jeopardy assessment.’ The strange thing is that it would require the Secretary (of the action agency) to lie in some cases.

        • Why would the Secretary have to lie when the Agency’s highly-qualified wildlife biologists have said their piece? This idea that Agency “ologists” are corrupt should be left in the last millennium. It is a clear slap in the face to “ologists” when people make these false accusations that aren’t backed up with facts. I have worked very closely with them, in my career, and I respect their work ethics and scientific objectivity. If you have actual evidence of corruption, by all means, bring it forward. Otherwise, it is just bitter blather, political fantasy and unfounded accusations.

          • Larry, I think you don’t understand the implications of what the language in the bill actually means…and therefore, much of what you have written on this topic in this comment stream is just blather. Sorry, but it’s difficult to have a debate, much less a discussion under such circumstances. The bill language is clear. Please read it again. As Jon Haber points outs, the secretary is forced by this bill to lie.

            • I simply don’t buy your “snake oil”, Matt. You cannot pick and choose the ologists’ decisions that you like and reject all of the rest. As Steve was saying, the language in the bill could be tweaked to be more clear and accurate, so that no “bait and switch” can occur. What it comes down to is that an ologist is an ologist is an ologist. They do their jobs and you don’t like their results. So what! Their decisions count and you cannot change them when you don’t agree. And neither can I. I’m OK with that but, you think you know better than them?!? That’s rather elitist. Yeah, so go ahead and run away from this thread, Matt… and take your baseless accusations with you! However, it is very clear where you stand on Forest Service ologists. We get it. You don’t trust them. So what!!!

              • For the love of God….One final time Larry:

                Read the language of the bill and try and understand what it means!

                This has nothing to do with ‘snake oil,”elitisim,” “ologists” “baseless accusations” or “trust” or any of the other stuff you’ve offered up here. Rather it has everything to do with the words of the bill, as written. Sure, the words of the bill could be changed, or “tweaked” and then the meaning of those words in the tweaked bill would be different. But they weren’t changed or tweaked, so all we have to go on is the bill language, which is very clear….just not to you. Jon Haber read the bill and offered his views. Is there anyone else that can help Larry understanding what this part of the bill means? Thanks.

                “(e) Compliance With Endangered Species Act-

                (1) NON-JEOPARDY ASSESSMENT- If the Secretary determines that a proposed covered forest reserve project may affect the continued existence of any species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1533), the Secretary shall issue a determination explaining the view of the Secretary that the proposed covered project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species.

                • Yes, I AM thoroughly amused at the fretting and fuming over this bill’s “wish-list”. Especially Matt’s claim of “logging without laws” meme. I contend that it is merely “logging with LESS laws”, instead, to accomplish a “greater good”. Jon also saw the collapse of NFMA from “Section 14(g) of the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 472a(g)) is amended by striking ‘Designation, marking when necessary,’ and inserting ‘Designation, including marking when necessary, or designation by description or by prescription,’.” So, he seems to have joined the ranks of the “Chicken Littles”, like you, Matt. The “serial litigators”, clearly, don’t like the idea of legal reform, especially in this crude version. Just because the Secretary relies (not “lies”) on expert Agency personnel to make his decisions regarding wildlife, that doesn’t mean he is lying. That would be your slanted opinion, Matt. Reminds me of “conspiracy theorists”!!

                  I think we need to take this opportunity to review ALL the items on this wish-list, and evaluate whether they are necessary, effective, and written properly. The goal is legal reform, to cut through the red tape to implement projects which do the “greater good”. Those who don’t want reform are going to not want ANY of this, so they won’t offer anything to reduce the ability to litigate any and all details of projects. I’ll offer up the first idea(s). USFS shouldn’t block out the public’s participation in planning projects but, they shouldn’t be tied to the public’s opinions, informed, or not. I think we also need the No Action alternative, to explain the impacts of “whatever happens”, and to help illustrate the purpose and need. I’m also worried about the selection criteria in picking the acres for those FRRA’s. Those areas should be selected to avoid as many endangered species issues as possible.

                  In the end, some people want to preserve the controversy, at ALL costs, while using those goalposts equipped with wheels. This bill not only wants to remove those wheels, but to cement the goalposts in the place where they might belong.

                  (By all means, Matt, please fret some more!)

                  • Larry,

                    I’m glad that you claim Jon Haber has joined the ranks of “chicken little.”

                    You continue to show a complete lack of understanding for what the words in the bill mean.

                    For example, you state: “Just because the Secretary relies (not “lies”) on expert Agency personnel to make his decisions regarding wildlife, that doesn’t mean he is lying. That would be your slanted opinion, Matt. Reminds me of “conspiracy theorists”!!”

                    For one, that’s not what the words of the bill say or mean. Also, it wasn’t my “slanted opinion” Larry. it was Jon Haber’s opinion, expressed above, that:

                    “The strange thing is that it would require the Secretary (of the action agency) to lie in some cases.”

                    As I’ve said, most everything you’ve written here is complete blather and has nothing to do with the actual language of the bill, which apparently you cannot read or comprehend.

                    • You support his opinion so, I’m addressing those “Chicken Littles” who spout the “logging without laws” meme. That’s sooooo 90′s!!! Join us in the new millennium!

                      To Jon, currently, policy already allows “designation by description” and “designation by prescription”. NFMA hasn’t been impacted by ALLOWING their use, at least in the last 18 years of my personal experience. BTW, private industry doesn’t really like those ideas very much. They would rather just cut the marked trees without having to make all those individual decisions, especially from inside a feller-buncher.

                • Larry, you previously told me, “You might (or might not) notice that I rarely endorse Republican forestry bills. It isn’t very useful to propose bills that have no chance of passing.”

                  So, is this a forestry bill you do endorse?

                  Citizen groups use the word “jeopardize” because the ESA uses that word.

                  The language of the bill that Matthew noted above regarding ESA compliance is poorly drafted at best, deliberately aimed at pre-determining jeopardy assessments at worst.

                  In statutes, “shall” means “must.” “May” in the context used typically means “might.” The language of the bill as written does not indicate the Secretary first needs to ensure there are changes to or design criteria in proposed projects to avoid jeopardizing listed species before making a a non-jeopardy determination. As written, the bill says the Secretary “shall” (must) issue such a determination with an explanation, apparently regardless of whether or not the proposed project will actually jeopardize listed species. This hopefully is just poor drafting, but who knows.

                  Steve’s suggested language change above would make more sense, but I would want any bill attempting to change or “streamline” ESA procedures to be very transparent and clear about what would happen if a proposed project “might” (may) affect or “IS likely to affect” a listed species’ continued existence.

                  • “Steve’s suggested language change above would make more sense, but I would want any bill attempting to change or “streamline” ESA procedures to be very transparent and clear about what would happen if a proposed project “might” (may) affect or “IS likely to affect” a listed species’ continued existence.” Total agreement, here, John. Who knew that lawyers (almost 50% of Congress is lawyers) were so bad at making laws?!? *smirk*

                    Even though HR 1526 is touted as “bipartisan”, I would prefer more Democrats jumping on-board, with accompanying changes in the bill to facilitate the legal reform our Forests need. I don’t support the bill, as written but, I do support many of the ideas in it.

                    I would hope that the Secretary would not “rubber stamp” any and all projects under the bill. I would also hope that he could “veto” projects with recommendations to correct the issues. Again, I would MUCH rather have the Secretary make those decisions, rather than Judges and lawyers.

                    This pushback from the “serial litigators” is to be expected, and I’m enjoying the handwringing over a bill that won’t pass. Again, let’s focus on how we could alter the bill in order to get it past the Senate, and signed by the President. We need those evil “C-words” of collaboration, consensus and compromise.

                    • So, how should we alter the bill in order to get it past the Senate and signed by the President, particular related to the ESA? What are your ideas?

                    • Larry

                      Re your comment above “BTW, private industry doesn’t really like those ideas very much. They would rather just cut the marked trees without having to make all those individual decisions, especially from inside a feller-buncher”

                      Actually that isn’t true. At least it isn’t true in the south. We found out in the ’90s that, with a little training, contractor feller-buncher operators could consistently do a significantly better job than a trained forester with a paint gun. It is quite a savings in cost and has a better outcome whether you are shooting for a residual # of stems or basal area or whatever. The key is the visibility provided by the feller-buncher.

                    • Many of those “Designation by Description” ideas involve diameter limits. Our guys out west don’t want to have to get off the machine to measure those borderline trees. Since old growth protections are being considered, diameter limits will probably be embedded within those descriptions. Additionally, there are many folks who will insist on Agency personnel marking each and every tree. There might be a precedence already, too. The Forest Service had to use their own personnel to mark “leave snags” on the Biscuit Fire salvage projects, instead of letting private industry folks do it. I worked for 22 days there, doing just that. In a green sale situation, IMHO, there is a valid concern when descriptions include diameter limits. I think it is important, in those situations, that any hint of corruption is eliminated. Sure, some private industry folks think selecting their own trees is pretty cool but, in practice, inspectors can be overly-strict in enforcing compliance. I know, because I have been there, and done that. I call it “New Inspector Syndrome”, where they exceed their delegated authorities.

                    • Gil: I think you are right about what we used to call “logger’s choice” in the west, but Larry points out the actual problem on federal lands (of which we we have a super abundance) — people will challenge any thinning in which all the trees haven’t been pre-marked. We need good, well trained loggers on private lands for the reasons you say, and we need full-time experienced tree markers on government lands for the reasons Larry says. And we need people to learn the necessary and aesthetic values for appropriate clearcuts, is what I say. I think we can all agree on salvage logging, and I’m willing to have Larry mark bird trees under advisement of competent ologists when it comes to that.

                    • Larry

                      Re: “I’m enjoying the handwringing over a bill that won’t pass. Again, let’s focus on how we could alter the bill in order to get it past the Senate, and signed by the President. We need those evil “C-words” of collaboration, consensus and compromise.”

                      –> :-) Come on Larry, I know that you weren’t born yesterday. :-)

                      - COMPROMISE: As I’ve said many times before, the environmental groups have no reason to compromise. They run the show with litigation as their veto tool. The foundational principle of negotiation is that both parties must have something that the other party wants. When you have everything, you’d be foolish to negotiate because you can only loose.

                      - CONSENSUS: Environmentalists have nothing to gain from consensus. If they agreed to certain basic principles, they couldn’t change their mind if it worked against them in the future. It is much better to let someone else make the proposals, live with the one’s that you like and use the courts to veto the rest.

                      - COLLABORATION: I realize that it has happened occasionally on the local level but it is a pretty steep hill to climb on a national level when one of the parties despises “logging” for any reason and espouses “nature only ecological principles” for every reason.

                      The only hope at the present time is to point out every failure of the environmental movement, explain why it happened and what could have been done to minimize or eliminate the problem with sound forest management. The SAF principally and the rest of us, as best we can, have to do this in an honest but aggressive way that exposes to all the foolishness of the uninformed and counterproductive environmental mantras being fed to the public by the environmental movement. Only when these falsehoods are exposed and understood by the voting public can we change the inappropriate and internally conflicting laws and policies that determine what happens on our federal forests.

                    • BINGO, Gil!! Since they don’t subscribe to those “C-words”, which most Americans want in the Forest Service decisions, they can either get with the program, or be left behind, on the outside, looking in. If they choose to not participate, then they should be barred from litigating. A democratic society thrives on those “C-words”, and I think we could use them to force the preservationists and “serial litigators” to the table, or send them home with their tails between their legs. Of course, I also like to inject a little humor and sarcasm in there, as I propose a way out of the litigation quagmire. If the majority of Americans want to reduce, or eliminate unneeded litigation, we should be able to accommodate the will of the people.

                  • John: Thank you very much for so clearly and concisely explaining to Larry and everyone else on this blog what that section of the bill means, based on the language of the actual bill. I hope it’s crystal clear to everyone by now that most all of the discussion and debate above about this paragraph drifted far away from the pretty simple and straight-forward meaning of the bill language in that section. Thanks again.

                    In statutes, “shall” means “must.” “May” in the context used typically means “might.” The language of the bill as written does not indicate the Secretary first needs to ensure there are changes to or design criteria in proposed projects to avoid jeopardizing listed species before making a a non-jeopardy determination. As written, the bill says the Secretary “shall” (must) issue such a determination with an explanation, apparently regardless of whether or not the proposed project will actually jeopardize listed species. This hopefully is just poor drafting, but who knows.

                    • So, substituting John’s words into the wording….

                      (1) NON-JEOPARDY ASSESSMENT- If the Secretary determines that a proposed covered forest reserve project MIGHT affect the continued existence of any species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1533), the Secretary MUST issue a determination explaining the view of the Secretary that the proposed covered project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species.

                      My view says that the Secretary won’t sign off on the project if he/she feels that it WILL affect…… If he/she thinks that it MIGHT affect…., and the projects plans mitigate those issues, he/she MUST issue the non-jeopardy statement, based on the project plans, purpose and need, mitigations and other issues (ignored by eco-groups). I truly believe that is the actual intent of the wording. I would think that if the Secretary anticipates a conflict over eco-group’s claims of impacts, he/she would issue the statement, and reasonings, why there is no “jeopardy”, or he/she won’t approve the project.

                      Does anyone else see it this way??

                    • No I’m not Bob, but you are entitled to your own opinion. I was merely thanking John for so clearly and concisely explaining to us all what a specific section of HR 1526 means, especially in the context that there was some confusion, as is evident in many of the previous comments above. Thanks.

                    • Larry, I think your view is what most would hope would happen, i.e., the Secretary would only issue a non-jeopardy assessment after making sure the project design criteria and mitigation measures ensure a project will not threaten a listed species’ existence. But the language of the bill doesn’t require that. I don’t know for sure if it was the bill authors’ intent to omit such a requirement, or if it was just poor drafting but they intended it like you’ve suggested. It’s pretty plain language though. Maybe there are House committee reports available somewhere that would shed more light on the intent of the wording.

                    • Many times, controversial decisions are pushed up the chain of command, making that official “accountable”, by making him/her actually sign off on it. I do think it was poorly written and unclear but, I doubt it was a covert attempt at allowing every project, regardless of ESA issues. Democrats would never fall for such a weak attempt like that. I did watch the live Committee meeting, as they voted on the amendments, and De Fazio was talking about how the bill would not endanger listed species. He seemed to be the only member who voted against many of the amendments, but not against the original bill.

  5. IMO, HR 1526, as written, is hopeless. Mandating but not funding harvest levels is like ordering pigs to fly but providing no wings, The O&C land section is so complicated that it needs to be deleted and addressed in separate legislation. One indisputable fact remains paramount. In FY 2014 The Forest Service plans to sell about 7% of the annual growth on its non-reserved timberlands (a reduction of 15% from 2013). This while 46% of the growth will die.

    Does anyone claim that the F.S. is properly managing its timber resource? Does anyone believe that the F.S. is capable of properly managing its timber resource under the present system?

    HR 1526 does contain one idea for change that appears to be worthy of further consideration -Community Forest Demonstration Areas. The concept, a version of trust management, looks workable and, if properly sized and specified, salable. Who could object to using now virtually un-managed lands whose highest and best use is commodity production being used to produce commodities? Who could object to providing local governments and schools with funding from these locally produced commodities sustainably produced from locally managed forests? Who could object to providing jobs, security and family stability to communities that are now denied these fundamental human needs? Who could argue against clarifying and simplifying (in some cases by eliminating) the tangled web of laws (93 at last count), regulations, directives, executive orders, legal interpretations and judicial mandates? Who could argue that change is not urgently needed?

    Can we all agree that something MUST be done and that portions HR 1526, substantially amended to focus on locally managed Community Forest Demonstration Areas, could serve as the beginning for needed change?

  6. I suppose I should provide a bit of balance to Matt’s story. For the umpteenth time…for those who might not have seen them before. For the last 20 years, the USFS in Montana has been logging about 1% of their “forested acreage” per “decade.” At the current rate of harvest…it’ll take the USFS 30 years to log 1% of the “forested” on the Helena, Beaverhead-Deerlodge, and Gallatin. Sen. Tester’s “Partnership Plan” would log 5,000 acres/year on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge…which is “10X” the 500 acres/year the USFS is currently averaging. Even at that harvest…Tester’s plan would log only 2% of the “forested acreage” on the BDNF per decade. Wow….would someone please… please think of the children!(Or the black backed woodpecker).

    Whether you support Tester’s plan or not, the point to take away from here is that every major Newspaper in the state has endorsed his plan and therefore that harvest level. The Missoulian editorial board endorsed it….even though they probably aren’t aware that the BDNF hasn’t harvested that many acres since the 60′s. LOL. The annual Montana Chamber of Commerce (capitalist pigs) 2012 opinion poll found that 85% of Montanans want more timber harvest while only 10% wanted less. It’s pretty obvious that the citizens of Montana want a lot more harvest, both Dem’s and Repup’s want more timber harvest and are sick and tired of the radical enviros thwarting the will of the majority. If that ain’t “local control”….I don’t know what is. But then, I guess….it depends on what your definition of “is” is. In the last few years the alliance for wild rockies has litigated 13 timber sale projects…most of them WUI timber sales. You’d think litigating WUI sales would be a public relations disaster, but then I guess you don’t have to worry about winning hearts and minds when you can dictate by litigation.

    Tester’s response to Daine’s bill was, “Jon prefers balanced solutions built from the ground up.” Well…as long as the fringe element keeps kicking the ground out from under Tester’s preferred solution, he’ll eventually come around to Daine’s solution. The Northern Region FY 2013 “cut and sold” report will be coming out soon…and I have a feeling it’s going to be the lowest timber harvest since 1933. Let’s see if the Missoulian will report that! Oh well….time is on our side. I give it five years.

  7. I’m going to answer both these lines, Haber’s and Koehler’s:
    I would assume the lands in the reserve areas are those that have long been determined as suitable timber. On the Flathead, that would be about 700 thousand acres. Out of 2 million, of which I guess a million is already wilderness.
    The thing is, the suitable base is so tied up in litigation, road obliteration, ESA this, ESA that, FNF went from 100 million feet to 20, the nadir being TWO million feet on a 14 million dollar operating budget. Further, only about 300,000 acres have ever seen a harvest of any kind, much less clearcuts. We’ve burnt more in just the last decade.
    I was just up in Northforkistan, looking at the Red Bench/Robert/Wedge/Moose fire areas. Couple weeks ago we saw the Brush fire area, and was in Skyland earlier this spring and early last winter just before the road closed. You have GOT to be kidding me….nuked mountainsides from ridge to creek, just toothpicks and jackstraw, and somehow that thucks leth than logging? A megafire is good. but any kind of logging is evil?
    So yeah, I’d like to see at least the suitable lands managed without the Greens suing to make them de-facto wilderness or delay action long enough for lightning to hit and burn it all. I don’t give a darn what Greens or the parkies do with their ground, but by gosh, leave the rest of us an actual forest.

  8. Matthew

    This bill isn’t going to go anywhere in the senate. You are on the winning side – relax and chill out.

    Your fact sheet at: http://forestpolicypub.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Conservation-Community-Fact-Sheet-Oppose-H.R.-1526-FINAL-9-17-13.pdf
    Says that: “In order to meet this mandatory logging volume requirement, the Forest Service would have to increase extraction activities to unprecedented and unsustainable levels”
    –> If “this mandatory logging volume” is only 50% of long term sustainability, how can it be unsustainable? If you believe your fact sheet, then you just aren’t thinking – It is as black and white as it gets.
    –> Did you check harvest volumes prior to 1990 and see that these really are unprecedented levels?

    Your use of % increase in mandated volume harvested is a very misleading comparison. It suggests impending disaster where there isn’t even a remote chance of any such occurrence. The 2012 base line is so low, any increase would look horrible.
    Re: “30 X’s more logging on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest”
    –> BDNF 2012 = 0.4MMBF Versus the minimum required is 12MMBF if the bill passes.
    If the harvest volume is only 5mbf/acre, we are only going from 80acres cut in 2012 to 2,400 acres out of 3.35 million acres – Even if only one mbf is cut per acre, we are still only talking about going from 400 to 12,000 acres/year out of 3.35million. Can’t you see that you are worried about nothing?
    Re: “300 X’s more logging on the Helena National Forest”
    –> Why didn’t you just round to the nearest million and say it was an infinite increase? In reality the change is from 30mbf to 10,500mbf. Do you realize that 30mbf could have conceivably come off of as little as half of an acre? Again, if the mandated minimum only removes 5mbf/acre we are only talking about increasing the cut to 2,100 acres/year out of almost a million acres.

    • Hello gildehuff:

      That’s not my factsheet. The organizations that produced the fact sheet are clearly listed on the fact sheet, so if you have questions about what’s in their fact sheet, please contact the organizations that put it together.

      The other numbers (ie % increase in mandated volume harvested) came from a recent Missoulian article. I linked to that article in my original post above. I also clearly wrote in the original post that the numbers were “Compared with 2012 National Forest timber sale volumes.” Thanks.

  9. Nope, Larry, your comment is just another example of your blather trying to “gotcha me” over the work, words and actions of other people and organizations.

    I will own my own words, work and actions. May I suggest that you do the same Larry?

    Yes, often times on this site I will post information, research, lawsuits, press releases, etc that come from other people, scientists, organizations, etc. If people on this blog have questions or concerns about the words, work and actions of other people, scientists, organizations, etc I will continue to ask them to direct their questions or concerns to the people, scientists, organizations, etc who’s words, work and/or actions are being questioned.

    Look above for an example of how this works:

    Gildehuff claims that the fact sheet from Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Wilderness Society, Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife and Environment America etc is mine. The fact sheet is not mine. I never claimed it was mine and anyone who reads the damn thing can clearly see where the fact sheet came from. I have nothing to do with it.

    So when Gildehuff asks me: “Did you check harvest volumes prior to 1990 and see that these really are unprecedented levels?”

    My response is “if you have questions about what’s in their fact sheet, please contact the organizations that put it together.” Such a response seems pretty professional and rationale to me. If it’s not my fact sheet how in the hell can I answer Gildehuff’s question? If he is serious about getting his question answered why wouldn’t he contact the organization’s that put it together? I don’t speak for other people or organizations or scientists, so please stop asking me to.

    • Matthew

      Your opening words to this thread are:

      “Here’s some new information to consider”

      So if you haven’t evaluated whether or not it is worth considering, why do you say that it is “new information to consider”

      In fact, it is misinformation that you claim is “information”

      Your statement: “I have nothing to do with it” – Yet you propagate it. So you do have something to do with it. As a propagator of obviously self contradictory falsehoods you are irresponsible. If you read it you should have clearly seen the contradiction claiming that 50% of sustainability was unsustainable.

      Re the Missoulan article you clearly ignored the table of numbers included in the articles which clearly show that the alarmist statements that you extracted totally misrepresented the situation. Yet you chose to use the misrepresentation instead of the underlying facts.

      Congratulations, you have mastered the fine art of disseminating misinformation by innuendo. Unfortunately, you have failed to maintain plausible ignorance – you are outed.

      • Hello Gildefuff: I don’t even know how to response to some of these comments you are making. I find them confusing and just bizarre, as do others I’m sure. Honestly, it is getting quite tiring.

        The “new information to consider” was the info contained in the Missoulian about the X’s fold increase in logging estimated under the Daines bill. At least that’s what I intended when I wrote that. I did evaluate it, and upon evaluation, thought it was relevant, etc to this blog, based on our discussions here for the past 3 years or so. I clearly linked to the Missoulian article, so anyone could read that, and see the chart for themselves.

        The PDF from the Sierra Club, et al was posted at the bottom of my blog post, as I thought it would be helpful information to consider (ie what some of the nation’s largest enviro groups think about the bill). That type of information is often posted on this blog, from a variety of sources and variety of people.

        I once again will ask that you contact the groups clearly listed as the authors of the HR 1526 info sheet if you have questions how far back some data collecting went, or whatever the heck you are so upset about. The rest of what you are writing about me, while it mike make you feel better, is just blather, and is really borderline on inappropriate for this blog.

        Sharon, can we get some guidance here as moderator of the blog? Thank you.

        • Matt, Matt, Matt: You mock a man’s name, discount what he has to say, claim that what he is saying is “inappropriate” and “blathering,” and then call for an intervention. At the least, I think your timing is poor. You and I have both had our verbal battles, you and Larry have been going at it a bit again lately, and others on this blog have also been out of sorts at times. By contrast, Gil has been a model citizen for the most part, even despite having been called a male appendage (in conjunction with me) by you in a past comment. And now you want rules on polite intercourse? Like I say, it’s a good idea, but consider the source and the timing. Won’t work.

          PS Speaking of timing, Friday night on this blog is a really poor time to try and get responses to your questions, Gil. I’d suggest trying again early next week if nothing comes up over the weekend.

          • Bob: I made an honest typo mistake and wrote “Gildefuff” instead of “Gildehuff” (which doesn’t exactly type out very easily for me). If you want to make a big issue about a typo, go right ahead.

            I’m asking Sharon for assistance as the moderator of this blog for a number of reasons, which have popped up in this comment thread. One, Gildehuff repeatedly is asking me to answer some specific data collection question about the Sierra Club’s HR 1526 info sheet:

            “Did you check harvest volumes prior to 1990 and see that these really are unprecedented levels?”

            Gildehuff claims even though I had absolutely nothing to do with the Sierra Club’s info sheet that I should be able to answer that specific question and he told me, “You buy it, you sell it, it is your fact sheet whether you wrote it or not.” Well, if that’s the case, and how this blog is now going to be run, it changes the entire nature of the blog. No longer would anyone be able to share any information, whether from SAF or Sierra Club, or a member of Congress or a newspaper, or an economist…..which I honestly feel is what some people on this blog may prefer.

            Anyway, there was another suggestion in the comment section recently that this blog should only share peer-reviewed information and nothing else should show up here.

            Again, these are questions and suggestions that should be posed to Sharon, as moderator of the blog, so I have asked for her assistance. If it takes her until after the weekend to get it, that’s fine with me, as I’m headed out to the shooting range anyway to prepare for elk hunting. I got some beautiful new, hand-loaded copper-tipped Barnes TTSX and I’m curious to see how they fly out of my Tikka T3 Stainless 30.06. Thanks.

            • Since Derek has already debunked and put that “fact sheet” into the perspective it deserves, I consider it a closed issue. I give Derek’s facts more relevance and importance, showing the bigger picture. I also think that it wasn’t to Matt’s advantage to post a thing like that here, so I have moved on. Let’s all learn from this, folks.

            • Matthew: As you know, we typically disagree with one another on this blog — however, every so often we are in full agreement on key issues. I think the idea of restricting this blog to peer-reviewed journal articles is terrible, and for the ideas you state as well as others. I can’t remember who exactly made that proposal, but I remember not having the time to post a comment. It’s a topic I have fairly strong feelings about, and I think science writing and thinking have suffered due to the peer reviewed journal industry in the past few decades. And I don’t want to do anything that gives deference to (most of) that kind of literature.

              As for civility on this blog, I’m all for it and having been inching in that direction — with occasional backsliding here and there. However, it appears to me this might be a case of the pot and kettle, Matt, when it comes to your remarks to others, including myself on several occasions. Sharon is definitely the person to refer to on the blog, but I have noticed — and I think you may have originally brought it up — that readership increases when a food fight is taking place. Maybe just a coincidence, but there seems to be a large number of Type A and swelled egos here (probably everywhere), and snarky comments are the inevitable outcome of such discussions. Let’s see what Sharon thinks.

              • Bob, thanks for sharing your thoughts. As for “civility” on this blog I would put forth that any objective person who looks at this entire comment stream on this specific blog entry, starting at the top and working to the bottom will clearly see what’s up. Fact is, Larry was originally originally unable to understand what the specific language in a part of HR 1526 means, and therefore he constructed a story with plenty of insults based around his mis-understanding. All I was asking Larry to do, repeatedly, was read the language and try and understand what it means. That seemed pretty civil to me. And Gil Dehuff apparently had a question about one aspect of the Sierra Club, et al’s info sheet on HR 1526 and Gil decided that I’m the man responsible for answering a rather specific (and I’d say largely irrelevant) question about how other people and organizations put together their own info sheet, instead of Gil taking the personal responsibility of actually contacting the authors of the info sheet. From there, yes, much of the discussion and comments went downhill, including Gil Dehuff making some completely comment that somehow he had bloodied my nose in this fight and I ran home to mommy and daddy. I mean, WTF is up with that? Easy for Gil to say those things sitting behind his computer. Less easy for him to say those things to my face. Anyway, like I said yesterday I have tired of this whole comment thread with Larry and Gil, as I’m sure others on this blog have too. I’ve found the entire thing very confusing and bizarre. In the future, I will do my best to keep it civil, but civility on this blog is a 2-way street. Thanks.

                • You are entitled to your spin on the issue, Matt, as do I. Your view is just as uncertain as mine is, due to the unclear wording of the bill. You assume that “might” and “may” means “will”. I contend that it doesn’t. Until the wording is changed, NO ONE is right about what that part of the bill ACTUALLY means. Wordings in bills are changed ALL THE TIME, especially when they aren’t clear. You are assuming the worst, while I am assuming a logical process for deciding whether there are worthwhile impacts to species, or not. I consider your constant accusations to be insults, and I ask you to cease and desist. When Jon considers “designation by description” to be a downfall of NFMA all across the country, I have to question his opinions on everything else. His substitutions of words and meanings doesn’t clarify the situation, and he is assuming that the Secretary will willingly lie about impacts. It is a VERY weak argument, IMHO.

                  • OK, Larry, you are entitled to your opinion about what that specific part of the bill means. I still firmly believe that you are confusing and misrepresenting what the language, as written on the paper and passed by the US House, means. I, and others, don’t believe the word of that part of the bill is “unclear” in any way. That’s not an insult, just sharing with you my perspective and my belief. I have tried to the best of my ability to explain to you what it means, especially the word “SHALL” in the context of the entire section. So too, Jon Haber and John Persell have offered their expert opinion on what that part of the bill means. At this point, we’ll just have to agree to disagree about what the bill language means. Thanks.

                    • If I called you “confused” and “misrepresenting”, you would also consider that to be an insult. Notice I did not call you that. But, yes, you ARE being insulting to me, STILL! How many times have you said those things!!!??? STOP!

                    • Larry, if you said I was “confused” about the meaning of the language in a bill, or if you said I was “misrepresenting” something about the bill I wouldn’t consider it an insult. What I would do instead is re-read that part of the bill, and if I still had questions I would consult with other people I know who really have a firm grasp on public policy, legislation, laws/regulations and take it from there. Thanks.

        • Matthew

          You are acting like a little kid bully who finally gets his nose bloodied and runs home to get mommy or daddy to finish his fight.

          I sure am not wasting my time with the groups that you suggest we contact. Why should I think that they are going to be any more open to the truth and correcting their misinformation than you are. Quit hiding behind other peoples skirts.

          We could start a whole new thread as a parking place for your insults, dismissals and disparagement of others in this blog. How about these quotes from you just from this one thread:

          October 4, 2013 at 9:20 am – “most everything you’ve written here is complete blather and has nothing to do with the actual language of the bill, which apparently you cannot read or comprehend.”

          October 4, 2013 at 7:10 am – “For the love of God….One final time Larry:
          Read the language of the bill and try and understand what it means!
          … which is very clear … Is there anyone else that can help Larry understanding what this part of the bill means? Thanks.”

          October 4, 2013 at 7:05 pm – “I find them confusing and just bizarre, as do others I’m sure. Honestly, it is getting quite tiring” <– Let others speak for themselves instead of showing your arrogance by presuming that you speak for them.

          Your repeated attempts at verbal intimidation are not working so you are wasting your time when you bother to make comments like these above.

          If "it is getting quite tiring" then maybe you should think before you post garbage like '50% of sustainability is unsustainable'. Stick to the facts that you have determined to be the truth and you won't get so tired from having to back away from what you have disseminated/propagated. You are duplicitous in that you tell me "That’s not my factsheet." yet you tell Mac "If I didn’t believe it was pertinent, factual and useful I wouldn’t have shared it." You buy it, you sell it, it is your fact sheet whether you wrote it or not. Either you believe it or you are a snake oil salesman. Which is it? Is 50% of sustainability sustainable or not? Can you do anything other than use innuendo and equivocation? Oh, yea, I forgot, you are pretty good at obfuscation when you get caught with your innuendos and equivocations.

          If you continuously disparage, expect to be disparaged occasionally. Grow some thicker skin.

          • Gildehuff: Please look in the mirror and review your own comments directed towards me. Like I said, I find most of your comments confusing and just bizarre. I assume other people on the blog feel the same way about some of your comments, and that’s why they just ignore you, which is good advice I should take myself.

            And for the final time, I didn’t author the HR 1526 fact sheet from the Sierra Club, et al. If you or anyone have questions about how the data was collected in that fact sheet contact the damn authors please.

            And while you huff and puff “Gildehuff” let’s make sure everyone on this blog realizes that this is the question you asked me about the Sierra Club HR 1526 info sheet:

            “Did you check harvest volumes prior to 1990 and see that these really are unprecedented levels?”

            How in the world can I answer that question when I didn’t author the damn information? The other day I posted an article here about the Gov of Colorado’s task force about home/community protection from wildfire. While I posted that info for everyone to see, discuss, debate on this blog (just like the Daines bill information) why would anyone in their right mind with questions about specific data collection methods in the task force report direct those questions at me, and not the task force members?

            Yet that’s what you are doing here. Your stubborn refusal to contact the authors of the fact sheet should be the issue here. And, honestly, how does that question of yours really change anything about the fact sheet?

            I mean, if there is something wrong in the Colorado task force recommendations am I now the one responsible since, as you have claimed about the Sierra Club HR 1526 sheet: “You buy it, you sell it, it is your fact sheet whether you wrote it or not?” Again, I just find such statements confusing and bizarre. Oh, and saying I find your statements confusing and bizarre is no more an insult or disparagement than asking Larry (repeatedly) to “Read the language of the bill and try and understand what it means.”

            Your childish, stubborn refusal to contact the authors of the fact sheet should be the issue here. And, honestly, how does that question of yours really change anything about the fact sheet?

            And, yes, I do believe that the fact sheet is pertinent and useful in this discussion or else I wouldn’t have shared it. I still don’t understand just what you are saying isn’t factual or correct in it. Again, for the most part I find you comments here bizarre and confusing.

            Once again, Sharon, can we get some guidance here as moderator of the blog? Thank you.

            • Matthew

              Re: “I still don’t understand just what you are saying isn’t factual or correct in it”

              In my October 4, 2013 at 12:58 am post above quotes the fact sheet as follows: “In order to meet this mandatory logging volume requirement, the Forest Service would have to increase extraction activities to unprecedented and unsustainable levels”

              My specific question in that comment, and since, that you have repeatedly ignored was:
              –> If “this mandatory logging volume” is only 50% of long term sustainability, how can it be unsustainable?

              So please address the question immediately above and this following question:
              –> Does this glaring physical impossibility raise any questions in your mind as to the validity of the fact sheet?

              Is there any doubt left in your mind as to what I am saying is physically impossible and therefore isn’t factual/correct?

              • Gil DeHuff: Once again, it’s not my fact sheet. I didn’t write one single word that appears in the fact sheet. The groups listed on the sheet did.

                That said, yes, I do believe that the Daines/Hastings’ mandated logging bill, HR 1526, would push national forest logging levels in many places beyond sustainable levels.

                The “sustainability” you seem to be hanging your hat on is only tied to growing trees. When I (and many, many others) think of “sustainability” we are thinking in terms of the ecosystem, ie the wildlife, watershed/aquatic health, health of the soils, biodiversity, road system, etc.

                Sorry, but when I view statements in the bill and from you that “this mandatory logging volume is only 50% of long term sustainability, how can it be unsustainable” we aren’t talking or thinking about even remotely close to the same things. So there is no “glaring physical impossibility,” except, perhaps, for all this mandated logging to occur without any negative impacts to some of the ecosystem sustainability measures I shared above. Thanks.

                • Matthew – Thank you for your response

                  Re: “When I (and many, many others) think of “sustainability” we are thinking in terms of the ecosystem, ie the wildlife, watershed/aquatic health, health of the soils, biodiversity, road system, etc.”

                  Your thinking of ecosystem sustainability can not be defined in any measurable way, therefore any statement as to what is sustainable or not sustainable is nothing but a subjective guess based on your subjective belief system. Nor do you have any way to choose between conflicting needs of the minor ecosystem components and between those minor components and the keystone species. Your subjective approach leaves no room for you to be wrong. It leaves no room for decision making based on established science and professional experience since you reserve the right as an english and history teacher to override the knowledge of people who have dedicated their whole lives to studying, implementing and observing what works and what doesn’t work and where it does and doesn’t. Even those of us who have dedicated our whole lives to understanding forests and their ecosystem components don’t insist on being right if results or established science (reproducible, indisputable research) says otherwise. Many of us recognize past mistakes and learn from them and even incorporate the new learnings into BMPs and etc. I honestly haven’t seen a single confession by an environmentalist group confessing to their part in our current forest ecosystem mess.

                  So if the key stone species in the Forest Ecosystem is the trees, why can’t we define sustainability in terms of the sustainability of those trees as is refered to in H.R. 1526. The forest ecosystem only dies when the trees cease to be. On the other hand anything that tries to create mostly old growth stands, to save the NSO who is being displaced by a cousin and other such single focus efforts, is interfering with the long term ecosystem balance by not providing for a reasonable mix of heterogeneous stands to meet the needs of other component species and to meet the need for stands which will be in place to eventually replace those old growth stands when they die as they surely will.

                  If you see no merit in anything that I have said here, then there is no need for you to reply and I will understand your position with no hard feelings. I too am a lifelong environmentalist but with a totally different view as to what is necessary for a healthy and vigorous planet both in the short and long term.

                  Best Regards

                  • Re: “When I (and many, many others) think of “sustainability” we are thinking in terms of the ecosystem, ie the wildlife, watershed/aquatic health, health of the soils, biodiversity, road system, etc.”…”Your thinking of ecosystem sustainability can not be defined in any measurable way, therefore any statement as to what is sustainable or not sustainable is nothing but a subjective guess based on your subjective belief system.”

                    Gil, I think that all of those indicators of sustainability that Matthew mentioned are quite measurable, regardless of how much relative value one places on them. Wildlife? We measure and manage for game animal sustainability very intensively, e.g. when elk populations in Idaho start declining, it gets a lot of attention to help keep them sustainable at a level that hunters appreciate. Watersheds/aquatic habitat have many eminently measurable parameters that affect fish and other animals in predictable ways (e.g., suspended sediment/turbidity, cobble embeddedness, BOD, temperature, pools, cover, etc. etc.) Soil health (which we emphasize heavily in agricultural sustainability) is quantifiable in terms of organic C, soil N in different forms, other macro/micronutrients, pH, soil structure, organic pollutants, etc etc.) Biodiversity (whether of plants, birds, mammals, arthropods, microbes etc) is analyzed in a variety of very quantitative ways. So I don’t think there necessarily has to be a touchy-feely aspect to it, any more than forest mensuration equates with tree-hugging. “Keystone species” to most ecologists has a somewhat different meaning than how you’re using it, typically it refers to species that have ecological linkage effects making them disproportionately important relative to their population size. “Trees” wouldn’t be a species anyway, of course, though some tree species have been suggested as keystones (quaking aspen, personally I think that alder is a likely candidate (food for herbivores, slope stabilization, and a N-fixer too!) Beavers get mentioned a lot (keystone effects don’t necessarily have to be all beneficial). The term gets used for NSO, but I think that’s a misapplication of the concept. Some folks think the whole keystone idea is overblown anyway, good article about it here: http://bio.research.ucsc.edu/people/doaklab/publications/1993mills_soule_doak.pdf
                    Anyway, not trying to give a lecture, just think that there are a number of ways to think about forest sustainability (and sustained yield is one), they’re all related to some extent but the ones we focus on may indeed relate to our personal value systems. -Guy

                    • Thanks Gil and Guy: I think you have both articulated very well some of the key perceptions and problems dealing with “sustainability.” When I was in college in the 1990s (after both of you) this word was defined essentially as Guy defines it, with some emphasis on “keystone species”:

                      ““Keystone species” to most ecologists has a somewhat different meaning than how you’re using it, typically it refers to species that have ecological linkage effects making them disproportionately important relative to their population size.”

                      And that was my argument: by this definition, people are the most important keystone species on the landscape — although almost everyone refuted this idea, despite their definition. That’s the point where it became political, vague and value-laden, as Gil describes. Although things could certainly be quantified, they mostly added up to human values, not objective perceptions.

                      I thought that if we were truly going to measure the “sustainability of an ecosystem” we needed to consider the keystone species component first, and those measures should be similar to those established by the United Nations: absence of war, infant mortality, level of education, individual health and longevity, average income, population per square mile, etc.

                      Think of all of the “ecosystems” (I prefer river basins) on this planet right now in which war is being waged; in which children are starving or dying of disease, in which large numbers of people are in poverty, or densely crowded into squalid neighborhoods. All quantifiable and all “sustainable.”

                      Are those conditions”natural”? “Critical habitat”?

                      Gil says a forest ecosystem requires tree species to be present, and I agree with that definition. But how about trees planted throughout a city: urban forests? Same criteria? Once we take people out of the environment we are dealing with different answers and different questions: who is going to do the measuring? Why? For what reason? Etc.

                      Not trying to be philosophical here so much as real. Abstract concepts lead to abstract perceptions, whether we can measure them, or not. What is the point, and why do we do it? Just because we can? Personally, I think the idea of “conservation” (in the traditional sense) is far more important guide in managing our resources than “biodiversity,” or “sustainability,” or any of the other abstract concepts we seem determined to follow.

                  • Hello Gil Dehuff:

                    I guess we will just have to disagree on this topic, as I don’t see any way of us two coming to a census. As Guy pointed out very well below, despite your claims here, the indicators of sustainability that I mentioned above are actually quite measurable. Do you disagree with Guy’s points in this regard?

                    Let me also state that, in general, I find much of your 3rd paragraph to be confusing. You sure seem to know about my belief system, which I’ve developed over the past 41 years through the course of my life experiences, just like any other human-being. The fact that you claim to know so much about my belief system is especially puzzling to me based on the fact that we’ve never spoken, we’ve never meet face-to-face and the entirety of our ‘relationship’ has taken place over a few hours of blog comments during the past few months. I certainly wouldn’t devote any of my time telling you what your entire belief system is all about, but maybe that’s just one of the differences between us.

                    RE: your statement, “I honestly haven’t seen a single confession by an environmentalist group confessing to their part in our current forest ecosystem mess.”

                    And just what, in your view Gil, is the correct confession you seek from environmentalists? And just what, in your view, was the environmentalists’ “part in our current forest ecosystem mess?”

                    Finally, you state, as if a matter of fact, that “the key stone species in the Forest Ecosystem is the trees.”

                    As Guy already pointed out:

                    “Keystone species” to most ecologists has a somewhat different meaning than how you’re using it, typically it refers to species that have ecological linkage effects making them disproportionately important relative to their population size. “Trees” wouldn’t be a species anyway, of course, though some tree species have been suggested as keystones….”

                    But, if we were to agree with your statement, Gil, that “Trees are the keystone species in the Forest Ecosystem” what do you believe is the keystone “specie” in Yellowstone National Park, the lodgepole pine? Certainly lodgepole pine is the dominate tree throughout most of the part. It’s my understanding that lodgepole pine in Yellowstone National Park are highly serotinous, and if lodgepole pine are the keystone specie in Yellowstone National Park, I can only assume that you openly embrace wildfires in Yellowstone NP, right?

                    As Guy so rightly put it,

                    “[T]here are a number of ways to think about forest sustainability (and sustained yield is one), they’re all related to some extent but the ones we focus on may indeed relate to our personal value systems.”

                    And, you Gil Dehuff, seem to think that your personal value system is superior to mine, or apparently anyone else you disagree with.

  10. Seems to me that if you post something in this blog you should have reason believe that its pertinent, factual and useful. After all, we just don’t root around through the literature, find something sensational and thrown it into the mix just to see what we can stir up (or do we?). I would suggest that we restrict our references to material from peer-reviewed professional journals and that we accept responsibility for viewpoints that we express. Using “fact sheets” from special interest groups, whether environmental or industrial, or quotes from the media contributes nothing to our search for “truth and solutions”. Just the facts, m’am

    • Mac: I do have reason to believe that the information put together by the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, etc on HR 1526 is pertinent, factual and useful. If I didn’t believe it was pertinent, factual and useful I wouldn’t have shared it. I hardly think the information from Sierra Club, Wilderness Society fails under your “find something sensational and throw it into the mix just to see what we can stir up.”

      However, while I read and reviewed the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, etc sheet prior to sharing it here on this blog, I cannot answer specific questions such as the one, “Did [the authors of the sheet] check harvest volumes prior to 1990 and see that these really are unprecedented levels?”

      That’s why I referred Gildehuff to ask the organizations that produced the document, which again seems pretty professional and rationale to me.

      As to your suggestion that “we restrict our references to material from peer-reviewed professional journals.” Well, I’m pretty sure that 99% of this blog’s content would disappear if we did that. I also don’t know how we’d talk about legislation, public policy or laws and regulations using your new suggested restriction. Thanks.

  11. John asks “So, how should we alter the bill in order to get it past the Senate and signed by the President, particular related to the ESA? What are your ideas?” I think you should ask the Democrats about that. They need to offer some solutions and compromises, instead of the status quo.

  12. Larry, I asked that in response to your statement above: “Again, let’s focus on how we could alter the bill in order to get it past the Senate, and signed by the President.” I thought maybe you included yourself in the “we” of “how we could alter the bill” and had some ideas. Your response directly above makes it seem we just need to ask the Democrats in Congress to propose something so we can discuss the matter further. I think they have been asked. There will likely be forthcoming proposals, at least from the Senate, but probably not until the government shutdown and ongoing budget crises get resolved (if that will ever happen). I’m still interested in your ideas on how to alter the bill to address ESA compliance in the meantime.

    • Democrats in the Senate said they wouldn’t vote for Healthy Forests, until some concessions were made in the bill, back in 2003. Actually, I was very much in favor of the concessions, and was hopeful that progress would be made in bi-partisan solutions. Was it actually a “giveaway for the timber industry”, as many critics claimed?? Not really!

      Since I do not know what the Democrats would accept, or change, in HR 1526, I will let them speak for themselves. However, Congress seems more polarized than ever, and I doubt we’ll see any solutions on the issues contained in the bill. Compromise just doesn’t seem possible for the rest of Obama’s term. With a majority in the Senate, it is up to Democrats to put their cards on the table. Eastern Democrats seem locked in on voting against ANY bills proposing legal reforms or increasing active management. We NEED a compromise, and Congress isn’t open to that, right now. Neither are eco-groups.

      Meanwhile, we lose more and more old growth and habitat to wildfires, like the Rim Fire.

  13. Larry and John as how we could alter the bill to get it past the Senate and signed by the President. OK , Here goes, with a very broad brush..

    1) Delete Title 1 (mandated harvest levels) See 4) below

    2) Delete Title II (Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention) and consider this vital aspect of public land management in a separate bill that can address the problems in a more directed fashion.

    3) Delete Title III (Oregon O&C lands) and consider this highly complex and important problem in a separate bill where it can receive the focused attention it deserves.

    4) Title I ( Forest Reserve Revenue Areas) and Title IV (Community Forest Demonstration Areas) appear to be two different approaches to the same goal – manage public lands to increase production of commodities and thereby better serve the local communities that are directly affected by these lands. HR 1526′s very desirable goal would be better accomplished by merging Title I into Title IV to create a totally new management system based on the premise of using selected non-reserved lands best suited to commodity production for producing commodities (maximizing revenues), consistent with sound land management techniques. This is the approach used, very successfully, on the State Trust Lands in Oregon and other Trust Lands in the west.

    You’ll recognize that Community Forest Demonstration Areas are Trust Lands Lite . While the concept is workable, Title IV is so obscurely written (e.g. Section 407) that implementation would a real problem. Managing these commodity-focused lands under Trust Status and cleaning up the ambiguities would be a more elegant solution to the non-management problem.

    5) Title V (Secure Rural Schools Reauthorization and Stewardship Contracting Authority ) are, I believe, universally favored and certainly must be part of the final legislation.

    The question of over-regulation/planning/litigation ( ESA, NEPA, MUSYA, NFMA etc.) is resolved by removing the surface estate of these selected lands from federal control into Demonstration Areas owned and managed by an Advisory Board (aka Trust). Lands would be subject to the same environmental constraints as private and state owned lands in that state. Litigation would be under English Rule (loser pays costs of winner). Lands would be selected jointly by the Forest Service and the Advisory Board and revenues would be used to fund management, support participating local governments and schools, and make annual payments to the U.S. Treasury for the transferred surface estate.

    Have at it..

    • Mac: Very Nice! The one throw-away line you put near the end ( “Litigation would be under English Rule (loser pays costs of winner)”) would put an immediate halt to much of the serial litigation Larry keep pointing to, in my opinion. I think it is a key reason very little environmental intervention takes place on Indian lands — they require bonds up front from all challengers, making boiler-plate filings an expensive gamble. Just like a casino!

  14. If one feels like they just HAVE to “respond in kind”, do it as a reply to the offending comment, then move on. However, initiating insults because of a previous situation shouldn’t be allowed. I’m sure that most of us have done that, at some point in time on this blog but, as educated humans, we should be able to get past the schoolyard bullying and pointless insults. Remember, there are other people viewing this blog, and these kinds of childish exchanges doesn’t actually encourage others to post and express what might be important facts and interesting opinions. It is up to us regulars to make this place civil and available for others to join in and enjoy the enlightenment.

  15. Not to interrupt what has become a blog about blogging, but … John Persell’s comments helped, but a couple of clarifications of my original points still seem in order (even if late; sorry if I’m not as regular at this as some).

    I only mentioned the tree-marking provisions to point out how disingenuous (or ignorant) it is to have this be the only acknowledgement that this bill overrides any NFMA requirements. (Tree-marking is not something I would pick a fight over.)

    My point about ‘lying’ assumed a situation where the ‘ologists’ found that jeopardy is likely, but this bill would require their boss to say that it is not. We can’t assume (like Larry apparently did) that Forest Service biologists would never find jeopardy likely (Chicken-Little’s oblivious twin, Pollyanna). I did not intend to disparage anyone (except maybe the bill’s drafters). I like ologists. For anyone still interested in the ESA questions, read on.

    Some background on current law and terminology may be helpful. There are currently three possibilities for consultation. If the action agency determines there is no effect on listed species, the consulting agencies don’t normally get involved. If the action agency determines that a project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect a listed species, the consulting agency has an opportunity to concur or (rarely) not. If the action agency determines that a project may affect and is likely to adversely affect a listed species, formal consultation occurs and the consulting agency determines jeopardy.

    I had a hard time figuring out what this bill was trying to do with ESA. The end result is the same as current requirements – the consulting agency has an obligation to determine jeopardy and provide reasonable and prudent alternatives. The main difference is for projects that are likely to adversely affect listed species, but not jeopardize them. Current regulations require formal consultation in this situation to determine jeopardy. This bill would only require formal consultation after the consulting agencies reject the action agency’s non-jeopardy determination.

    This is potentially a problem because action agencies don’t have any experience determining jeopardy (which includes cumulative effects) under the current law, but the bill fixes this problem by making the determination for them that there is never jeopardy. A question that remains is what kind of information the consulting agencies will have available to them to make a decision about rejecting the action agency’s non-jeopardy determination. The existing formal consultation process would not address jeopardy until after the action agency had prepared a biological assessment and the consulting agency had prepared a biological opinion. Under this bill a jeopardy determination occurs at the beginning of the process. (I kind of hate to point this out, but they seem to have forgotten that formal consultation is also required if a project is likely to adversely affect critical habitat.)

  16. thanks Jon, for pointing out some differences with the proposed bill that didn’t immediately jump out (at me, anyway). At risk of being redundant with what you wrote, I made a little flowchart of current Section 7 ESA events, for comparison with the proposed bill:

    CURRENTLY:

    -Action Agency (e.g. USFS) first asks: if listed species “may be present” or critical habitat is present?
    If answer is “yes”, then….

    1) USFS conducts Biological Assessment (BA)
    a) If BA determines “will not affect species or crit habitat” —> NO CONSULTATION WITH FWS

    b) If BA determines “may affect species or crit habitat”, then…

    i) if it’s “unlikely to adversely affect” —> “INFORMAL” CONSULTATION WITH FWS

    Does FWS concur with “may affect but unlikely to adversely affect”?

    -if FWS CONCURS, then ESA Section 7 process stops here, project can go ahead.

    -if FWS DOESN’T CONCUR, then go to (ii) below…

    ii) if BA determines “likely to adversely affect”, or…

    if FWS DOESN’T CONCUR WITH USFS —> REQUIRED FORMAL CONSULTATION

    -Then, FWS evaluates info and issues Biological Opinion (BO), with 3 possible results:
    1- no jeopardy or adverse modification of critical habitat (green light for project)
    2- jeopardy of species or adverse modification of crit habitat, and FWS suggests “reasonable and prudent alternatives” (RPAs)
    3- jeopardy or adverse modification, but no RPAs identified

    (note, the FWS formal consultation result won’t legally stop a project, since the BO is considered “advisory”, but for the USFS to go against it generally won’t play well in court if a lawsuit is filed).

    -As Jon noted, currently the determination of jeopardy (or adverse modification of crit habitat) occurs well along in the process, as the result of the consulting agency’s BO. The new bill would seem to put the cart before the horse, since the conclusion is being asked for before the information is analyzed.

    -One other thing I noticed in the proposed bill that’s a change, is that it puts the onus of consultation on FWS, whereas currently the obligation belongs to the action agency… the new version seems a little strange.

    -It’s been noted that probably this bill isn’t going anywhere, so maybe this is all a moot point, but on the other hand these things have a way of popping up again in different contexts, so probably worth thinking about anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>