Malmsheimer Testifies on Litigation Study

Dr. bob Malmsheimer in DC

Dr. bob Malmsheimer in DC

Thanks much to Joseph Smith of SAF, who posted this on the SAF Linked- in site.

SAF member and SUNY ESF professor Bob Malmsheimer testified before House Subcommittee about litigation’s impacts on managing fire-prone forests – http://goo.gl/JiQX18

Between 1989 and 2008, 1,125 lawsuits were filed challenging Forest Service land management decisions.

SAF members Chris Topik (The Nature Conservancy) and Dale Bosworth (former US Forest Service Chief) also testified.

Additional information about the hearing is available at http://goo.gl/9zCYok.

Here’s a link to Bob’s testimony care of David South. And here’s a news story in the Sacto Bee with excerpts below.

Hanvelt, in his written testimony, elaborated that even if lawsuits based on the National Environmental Policy Act or other laws ultimately fail, forest projects “can be stopped or at least delayed indefinitely while additional analyses are completed.”

The subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts, countered the hearing’s GOP-dominated theme by stressing that “bedrock environmental laws are making sure our public voice is heard” in the management of federal lands.

Between 1989 and 2008, according to a study presented Thursday, 1,125 lawsuits were filed challenging Forest Service land management decisions. The agency settled about one-quarter of the cases and won nearly 54 percent of them, study co-author Robert W. Malmsheimer testified.

More than 40 percent of the cases challenged the Forest Service’s “vegetative management” decisions, meaning logging and salvage programs, and these were also the lawsuits the agency was “most likely to settle,” the analysts found.

“Legal factors are now as important as biological factors and economic factors in the management of our national forests,” said Malmsheimer, a professor at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

During the last Congress, McClintock wrote a bill to speed the salvage logging from forests damaged during the Yosemite Rim fire. The measure passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on a largely party line vote but did not advance in the Senate.

Sharon’s observation: I would argue that the public’s voice is not being heard when cases are settled in a room with attorneys ;), And don’t county commissioners represent the public? I think it’s sad that something that people can agree on (in Colorado), they can’t in D.C., where arguably the stakes for public policy are higher.

In fact, I’m looking for a liberal/conservative equivalent of a “coexist” bumper sticker for religions.. if anyone knows where I can find one, please let me know.

8 Comments

  1. I don’t think you can begin to solve problems until you agree on what they are. In opening this hearing, Representative McClintock defined this problem as, “A quarter century of extremist litigation has placed our forests in extreme distress.” Do people in Colorado agree that this is the problem that needs solving?

  2. What I said was that D’s and R’s in Colorado have agreed on the general concept that cutting trees and making products out of them helps make fuel treatment projects less costly and provides social and economic benefits to our communities, while maintaining important environmental values.

    Expressed in a non-confrontational way, it’s kind of common-sensical.

    Here is evidence to support that claim, with regard to the mill in Montrose. http://forestpolicypub.com/2011/07/20/timber-wars-bayoneting-those-on-life-support/

    People like former Senator Udall have been to these communities and listen to their concerns as well as those of environmental groups. They know and trust people with different opinions from the state and work together with them. In Colorado, you need to solve problems and not spend your time berating the other party because there’s a fairly large group of people in the middle.

    The other reason that Colorado might be different is that Colorado never had a big timber industry to start with, so deals with timber reality and not feelings and ideas left over from the “timber wars” days.

    • Maybe expressed in a non-specific way it’s something we can all agree with. But I think some people part ways on what it means to ‘maintain important environmental values.’ And there happen to be some laws that apply to that, and so the problem becomes seen as ‘extremist litigation.’ Common-sensical is those who agree with you; extremists are those who don’t. Neither a very helpful term.

      • I didn’t call it “extremist litigation” the Congressperson did. I did say that it seems like it’s common sense that cutting trees has some advantages and can be done in an environmentally protective way. But don’t believe me. The folks at FSC, whom I don’t agree with on many of their details, nor the way they operate vis a vis competitors.,I think ascribe to this same generic common- sensical thought. So no they don’t have to agree with me on everything to agree on the general principle.

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