Judge stops FS thinning in lynx habitat on border of Yellowstone NP

Below is a press release from the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.  Seems like this issue might be related to the discussion we had over here about pre-commercial thinning and lynx. -mk


Judge Candy Dale, Chief United States Magistrate Judge  of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho today ruled in favor of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council in their lawsuit challenging the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Split Creek Pre-commercial Thinning Project which authorized logging 7,000 acres of lodgepole pine forests on the western border of Yellowstone National Park near Island Park, Idaho.   Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies said, “Once again a federal Court had found the Forest Service is in violation of the law.”

In 2005, the United States Forest Service adopted a revised map delineating analysis units for the Canada lynx within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The Canada lynx is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and the land within the boundaries of Lynx Analysis Units (“LAUs”) is subject to various restrictions, including a prohibition on pre-commercial thinning of trees.  The 2005 map eliminated eight LAUs located within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and removed approximately 400,000 acres of land previously subject to the restrictions applicable to LAUs.

In December of 2009, the Forest Supervisor for the Caribou-Targhee National Forest authorized the Split Creek Pre-commercial Thinning Project.   The Project authorized the pre-commercial thinning of approximately 7,000 acres of lodgepole pine located within the Island Park and Madison- Pitchstone Plateaus Subsections of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest

“In essence, the Court stated that the Forest Service failed to hold the 2005 map to public scrutiny and peer review, as required by National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA.  Then, they implemented the Project based upon this illegal map, which in turn constituted illegal tiering,” explained Garrity.  “The Court stated that the Forest Service should have prepared an EIS for the 2005 map because it was a significant action affecting a listed species.  The Court addressed one ESA claim, and found in our favor, regarding the Agencies’ failure to reach a jeopardy determination on the 2005 map.”

Judge Dale wrote in her order:

“[T]he Court finds that the Forest Service’s failure to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for a decision that ultimately opened approximately 400,000 acres of previously protected land to precommercial thinning violated NEPA.  Moreover, like a house of cards built on an unsound foundation, because the 2005 map was not analyzed under NEPA, the agency’s analysis under the ESA – which is based upon the validity of the 2005 map – cannot withstand judicial review.”

“The 2005 map removed eight LAUs from the 2001 map.  It eliminated almost 400,000 acres of land that was previously subject to greater environmental restrictions under the Lynx Management Direction.  It opened nearly 400,000 acres of land to precommercial thinning projects – projects that would be prohibited under the earlier map and the restrictions applicable to LAUs.  Although the 2005 map was subjected to public comment prior to the approval of the Project, the map was never subjected to independent NEPA review, which would have required an analysis of the potential affects the removal of the LAUs would have on the lynx, its habitat, and the habitat of snowshoe hare.  Such analysis is absent in this case.  The absence of such analysis violates NEPA’s procedural requirements…

Further, “[t]he Court agrees with Plaintiffs that the failure to analyze the 2005 map under NEPA undermines the Forest Service’s decision under the ESA.  And, although the Court does not reach Plaintiffs’ claims under NFMA, the danger that the Project does not comply with the Forest Plan is a real one.”

The Forest Service also failed to evaluate “whether the … elimination of 390,000 acres of land within the boundaries of LAUs i the 2005 map would adversely affect the lynx or its habitat.  The failure to assess whether the adoption of the 2005 map would jeopardize the lynx or its habitat violated the ESA.”

“There can be no dispute that the Project itself is altering the physical landscape by removing tress on land that was previously subject to restrictions for the benefit of a protected species under the ESA.  In the absence of a valid FONSI and biological assessment, the Court fails to grasp how the Project can continue.”

“Our challenge was based on the failure of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate all occupied and unoccupied areas that are essential to the conservation of the species as required by the Endangered Species Act and to base the this designation on the best scientific data available as required by that law,” said Garrity.

The Canada lynx is comparable to the bobcat in size and particularly distinguished by its long legs and large paws, which make it well-adapted to hunting in deep snow.  It is highly dependent on snow-covered areas due to its specialized predator-prey relationship with the snowshoe hare – a species which, like the lynx, evolved to survive in areas that receive deep snow.

“The Split Creek proposal authorizes extensive pre-commercial thinning in occupied lynx habitat and in snowshoe hare habitat,” explained Dr. Sara Johnson, a former wildlife biologist for the Targhee National Forest and Director of Native Ecosystems Council. “The logging would have driven out snowshoe hare, which are the primary prey of lynx.  Although these federal agencies are required by the Endangered Species Act to try and recover lynx populations, logging 7,000 acres of critical lynx habitat does just the opposite.”

Judge Dale’s order is here.

52 thoughts on “Judge stops FS thinning in lynx habitat on border of Yellowstone NP”

  1. Makes sense to me. Why, oh why, does the once-great USFS continue to make such remarkable booboos? The learning curve shouldn’t be that hard for those professionals.

    • Because there is absolutely no accountability for people who make these decisions. These court decisions aften occur several years after the project planning has taken place. There is so much shuffling of FS personnel, those who make bad decisions never suffer the consequences of them. Rather, they are often promoted to make even more consequential ones.

  2. Thanks Matthew. This post on the legal outcome helps put into context all the comments and commenters in the referenced previous discussion on this issue.

    Yet it is the same old story:

    Chap 1 — Agencies get exposed in the process of seeing how much they can get away with — in clear violation of their own laws.

    Chap 2 — The inevitable citizen court challenge finds the agencies have violated the law.

    Chap 3 — Industry/agency sympathizers scream bloody (frivolous!) murder when agency management is found in violation of the law, (and ironically, complain of the added taxpayer expense of complying with the laws). Agency/Industry gets quoted in the press it was the greenies who took our jobs!

    Doesn’t the agency have enough to get done on public lands (and in a diminishing funding scenario) without doing the same job badly twice? Then on the other hand, this is “job security” like no other.

    In so many other areas of American society, when people (especially the powerless little people) unintentionally or otherwise, violate the law, there are increasing repercussions for the purposes of imposing deterrence factors and personal accountability.

    Absent these essential mechanisms of personal accountability and deterrence, NEPA, NFMA, ESA, etc. will always be at the center of systemic agency mismanagement.

    The most enduring and evident collaborative dynamic going on here is between a captured agency and industry, working in concert to monkey-wrench these laws so they can “prove” they don’t work — with the specific goal to get the laws changed or eliminated.

    At what point will taxpayers begin to realize they are being robbed of precious natural resources while being robbed in broad daylight of dwindling economic resources?

    Normally, when someone gets paid to do a job and found to violate laws regulating their activity while also not doing that job well, that person loses their job.

  3. Well, Matt was certainly right about this being a courtroom decision, rather than one based on biology or common sense. I’m wondering if the attorneys were from Portland, Oregon?

  4. You are describing the critical elements of neoliberalism. Deregulate, outsource government agency function, defund public-benefit programs, and privatize public land, water, air and services. Subsidies are okay if it helps lower cost of production for predatory industries.

    • Steve, I don’t think anyone on this blog is a neoliberal. But if anyone were, what does that have to do with doing an EIS to support a map?.

      Here’s what I think… a map is a map and not a federal action.
      Projects using that map can be litigated and appropriately so.
      But it would be silly in my opinion to do an EIS for a map because by the time any actual projects would be proposed, the EIS would be arguably out of date (or be able to be litigated as being out of date).

      I know judges say so, and I respect their opinions, but a map, in and of itself, is not a major federal action.

      A map may indicate that actions may be proposed but I am for NEPA for projects but against NEPA for innumerable, intractable, and just plain unpredictable layers of “might-could.”

      • But the map is not just a map. It is a map to show where Lynx protections should apply and where they should not. In other words, it seems to me it is more of a policy in map form.

        • so is the map part of the Northern Rockies Lynx Decision that did require an EIS? Is it an amendment to that decision?

          My point being that policies don’t have environmental effects until a specific project is proposed and those restrictions are applied or not..

          • Also, designating “Potential Lynx Habitat” with an arbitrary elevational line doesn’t seem to be very scientific. In many places, the differences above and below the line are minimal. This type of mapping is often resulting in the preservation of fuels-laden dead forests, which causes real impacts to real human beings, when it burns.

          • The 2005 map was not part of the Northern Rockies Lynx Management Direction. See the block quote on page 11 of the opinion. It never underwent proper NEPA analysis, which was one of the claims in the lawsuit.

            I think you are correct in that the plaintiffs probably would have lost if they had challenged the 2005 map, which is the policy, without also challenging a site-specific project that implemented the map (policy).

  5. I think it’s wonderfull that the AWR has endorsed by their actions the concept that clearcut logging makes excellent lynx habitat. That almost puts them up there with the Quisling collaborators at the CBD.

  6. Propagating the myth of the quintessentially infallible agency and other rear guard rationalizations of violations of environmental law:

    “policies don’t have environmental effects until a specific project is proposed and those restrictions are applied or not”

    “doing an EIS to support a map?”, ” a map is a map and not a federal action.”

    We, however have noticed all the agency whistleblowers who’ve sacrifice their careers because of deeply held principles. Noticed how they’re treated as criminals by the agency Sharon defends (beyond belief, despite the facts), while line officers who routinely violate environmental law are rewarded with promotions.

    Meanwhile other federal workers also known as “service”members are committing suicide in record numbers at home and abroad — motivated by a hopelessness created by their own government.

  7. Oh Sharon, you stepped into a quagmire of sloppy thought. If an EIS is not required of a policy ’til a specific project action is proposed, why are you (USFS) doing EISs for forest plans? And that lynx map delineation certainly was a final result of some decision about habitat that should have been covered by an EIS. I am surprised by your defensive comments here.
    And as for Fotomat and his nitpicking about the use of an elevation line, any map of consequence with “lines” have some rationale behind the line. It is a line of sight, or a ridge line, or an elevation, or some meaningful geologic feature that delineates something. I am amazed at Larry’s relentless defense for any proposal or action that might result in a thinning project for him to bid on. Or his support for the opposite…more thinning or “removal” of wood in some fashion.

    • Few of your assumptions about me are true, Ed. I am simply very much in favor of active management, versus preservationism. We CAN choose to design beneficial AND economical projects, if given the chance.

    • Ed,

      I think Sharon is right that the agency doesn’t need to complete any NEPA analysis on a policy, whether it is contained within or a Forest Plan or otherwise, until that policy is felt in a concrete way. Otherwise, you are arguing over abstract ideas that may or may not ever come to pass. This is known as the “ripeness” doctrine. The U.S. Supreme Court expounded upon it in a case commonly known as “Ohio Forestry.” In that case, the Court said that you can’t challenge a Forest Plan until it is felt in a concrete way. For the sake of fun, let’s say a Forest Plan contained a policy that said the agency can clearcut the entire forest, but it did not require the agency to clearcut the entire forest. Enviro groups would probably lose if they tried to challenge the policy, regardless of how hair-brained it might be, if the agency was not putting the policy into effect on the ground.

      My answer to your question is that the Forest Service completes EISs for Forest Plans because they not only contain policies, but they also contain directives that have immediate, concrete impacts to site specific areas. I’m imagining a Forest Plan that says this area is open to motorized use, this area is closed, etc. The decision is not implemented by a site specific action, but by the Forest Plan itself. Therefore, the policy contained within the Forest Plan has immediate impacts and an EIS is required. An idea similar to this is found within Ohio Forestry.

  8. I did a clearcut on Split creek and several clearcuts on the Madison Plateau back in the early 80’s. Salvage logging MPB killed timber. The salvage program on the Targhee Nat. Forest was very intensive. I’m guessing that 50% of this area was clearcut. The unlogged mature looked like the “left” side of the “MOntana Hillside” posting of a week ago.And yet Garrity claims it’s prime Lynx habitat. Oh, thats right, he’s not claiming that…he’s claiming that some Map didn’t have an EIS. And therin lies the whole problem. I will agree with the neo liberals in that since the USFS is in the NEPA industry now and not the timber industry…why bother paying for any pre-commercial thinning at all.They should be budgeting that money to lay out real timber sales like the big ones in the near future. I suppose it’s some kind of KV budget funding thing.

  9. Your prior references to your day job (reviewing NEPA docs, appeals and court challenges to them) puts you in a position to “eliminate the appearance of unethical behavior, rather than the behavior itself”– doesn’t it? Your professional defense of the agency, notwithstanding privately blogging in defense of the agency, while completely legal, makes it difficult (for me) to separate your day job from your blogging advocacy.

    “If any organization, such as a corporation or government bureaucracy, is asked to eliminate unethical behavior within their own group, it may be in their interest in the short run to eliminate the appearance of unethical behavior, rather than the behavior itself, by keeping any ethical breaches hidden, instead of exposing and correcting them.”

    As hundreds of court decisions have exposed agency wrongdoing, it is understandable that someone of your position as a paid loyal employee of the agency, to resort to decrying the court system, or the judges, or the law, or the plaintiffs — rather than provide the public with a simple admission that the agency you work for screwed up, (legally, ethically, procedurally, etc.)

    Matter of fact, as a public servant, have you ever admitted agency wrongdoing? Corrected or exposed unethical breaches? Admitted that the agency you work for is “captured”, or that it has ever been guilty of institutional malfeasance, etc.?

    • David, it’s hard to imagine anything more fun than debating moral philosophy with you.
      However, right now I am still dealing with family needs.
      We can explore this further next week if you are still interested.
      FYI I have filed a Whistleblower complaint which I guess would be intended, at least, to “expose unethical breaches.”

  10. I want to thank you for broaching the subject David. You’ve brought up a question that I’ve wanted to ask..but good taste has prevented me from doing so. Are you a paid provocateur? Are you on the payroll of an environmental group like Mathew or Garrity? Is your wood house payment(and you all have wood houses-right?)dependent on your ability to raise revenue by impressing foundations and donors with your performance? How about the rest of you guys above? I don’t bemoan a man how he makes his living. But I just think it should be out in the open. Nobody pays me to do this. I haven’t logged for 25 years.I know Sharon never did this on “company time.” I don’t think anyone is paying Larry or Bob-but I’ll let them answer for themselves if they wish. Help us to determine WHO has a conflict of interest here?

    • Well, last week was my first week back in the Forest Service. I’ve been gone for more than 3 years so, no, I haven’t been getting paid to blog. I have never been paid to blog, directly, or indirectly. We should have full transparency here, as those of us using our real names should not be able to hide the facts available to those who search.

      I’ve worked in 24 different National Forests, in 11 different states. Have I seen potential “corruption”? Yes. Have I seen something worth reporting? Maybe. Do I see it as widespread? Not at all. The timber people I have worked with across the country are overwhelmingly ethical, wanting to do “the right thing”.

      I did once have a post-employment reporting of a salvage sale that ballooned from an estimated 2.2 million BF, to over 8 million, due to having a Sale Administrator whose wife was the School Board President. My report found its way to my old boss, and maybe his boss, too (District Ranger). The funny thing was when I returned to do goshawk surveys, three years later. I definitely got a few “cold shoulders”.

    • Derek: I like your idea of “full disclosure.” I saw where our friend Mr. Beebe testified to Congress as an expert on Global Warming and ocean acidification as “ex-mayor” of the smallest incorporated “city” in Alaska; yet he keeps demanding “full disclosure” from the rest of us bloggers, and going so far as to accuse people by name of “conflict of interests.” The self-proclaimed ex-mayor seems pretty conflicted all right, so I’ll play along, too. I’m always a little curious about what fuels these trolls.

      No, I have never been paid a dime to blog. I do it on my own time, during the course of days (most of them) when I am stuck in the office (“home”) writing reports, editing maps, building webpages, and the types of things that do pay me money. For the past 15 years I have worked nearly full-time for a 501 c(3) nonprofit research and educational organization (plug: http://www.ORWW.org), for which the bulk of my time is spent as an involuntary volunteer. My job duties or titles do not include blogging, but blogging does offer me opportunities to plug my own work and organizations — so there’s that. Plugging on blogging has never been lucrative, though, I’m certain of that much.

      (@Larry: Congratulations! The USFS can use more experience and common sense — and photography skills. Best of luck!)

    • (Since Sharon tellingly disapproves and declines to answer), You’re welcome Derek. “Good taste”? Obviously, our differences about the subjective notion of what constitutes “good taste” is what brings us into these conversations.

      “I know Sharon never did this on “company time.”
      (you must’ve missed, “privately” in, “… notwithstanding privately blogging in defense of the agency”)

      “Are you on the payroll of an environmental group…?”
      No. I’ve been an environmental activist and commercial fisherman for nearly 30 years, and have NEVER received any remuneration for my defense of ecosystem integrity upon which my livelihood and the planetary health depends. Regardless of how I make my money, though, I would not hesitate to donate towards principled environmental groups such as Mike or Matthew represent. Matter of fact, I have.

      There is a big difference between defending the ecological integrity of public lands, and defending the mismanagement of public lands.

      “Are you a paid provocateur?”
      I’ve always been sacrificing my time and energy at a personal loss but could never match the magnitude of “provocation” arising from agency actions which represent direct threats to ecosystem integrity and to the commons in general.

      ” Nobody pays me to do this”
      I never said direct payments for commenting on this blog is occurring. That is not the only condition of conflict of interest — defending while deriving money from timber sales occurring on public lands on the other hand, would be.

      Speaking of your sensibilities for “good taste”, what, exactly, does my “wood house” (or whether it’s paid for or not) have to do with this?

      • Now that you’ve brought up your wood house David, please unfurl your long list of justifications for living in such wood house. Shouldn’t you be living by example.Shouldn’t you be living your idealism? Free up living space for a young family and move into one of the many alternatives housing choices such as rammed earth,”recycled tires, steel,straw bale, concrete… I’m serious. The readers want to know.Oh, thats right, you’
        re not “opposed to logging”,you’re for it when it’s for you. I mock your enviro hipocricy.

    • http://helenair.com/news/opinion/readers_alley/investigate-the-alliance/article_f0f1e05e-b2c0-11e1-845f-0019bb2963f4.html?mode=comments

      Hello: People might be interested to note that Derek Weidensee, posting under his anonymous pseudonym “logger,” has gone to the Helena Independent Record website (link above) and provided this comment to an letter to the editor attacking the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

      Here was Derek’s comment in its entirety:

      “So tell us Matthew. How much money are you paid?”

      You can see just how much this “debate” we are trying to have here has devolved. Now apparently the big issue impacting federal forest policy is how much (or really, how little) low-budget grassroots groups pay their employees. What’s sort of funny is that I’ve been working for a non-profit conservation group since 1998 and the most money I’ve ever made in one year has been about $30,000. Most years I made somewhere between $12,000 and $25,000 annually for full-time work. As you can see, we’re just rolling in the dough and paying ourselves crazy wages!

        • I’ll debate you on these issues ’til the cows come home Derek. Anytime, anywhere…you can take that to the bank, buddy. In the meantime Derek, your anonymous posts on various newspaper sites in Montana wanting to know how much (or actually little) money I make or telling me, “you’re finished Koehler” fall somewhere between childish and creepy on the commenting scale. Thanks.

  11. Ah, Doctor Zybach strikes again, (even though he promised he wouldn’t anymore ):

    If you must, then:
    Please provide evidence, good Doctor, that I, ” testified to Congress as an expert on Global Warming and ocean acidification”. Please demonstrate how any testimony I might have given represents a conflict of interest as an “ex-mayor”? (Finally, please explain what exactly does that have to do with anything we’re discussing?)

    And good Doctor,
    It seems you’re in need of some peer reviewers. How do my words, “Looks like”, (like: (preposition) “having the same characteristics or qualities as; similar to”), somehow become in Doctor Zybach’s words, “accuse” (“charge someone with an offense or crime”)?

    I would remind you, that conflicts of interest are not necessarily “an offense or crime”.

      • Thanks for demonstrating you refuse to provide proof of false claims, refuse to explain false rationales, but prefer to provide links for personal attacks. Quite professional, Doctor.

        • Bob, I’m getting mighty darn sick and tired of some of you people tossing out rural myths and rumors and inaccurate information on this blog and then flat out refusing to document any evidence to prove the validity of what you are claiming when your called out on it. In the future, you need to do that or I will make sure that, if I have any say in the matter at least, that such comments are not approved here. Thanks.

          • Matthew: What “Urban Myth?” And what lack of documentation? What “false rationale?” “Validity” of what? All sounds a little vague and threatening — and inaccurate.

            Are “you people” basically anyone with a different perspective than your own? Who else are you painting with this broad brush of vague charges?

            If you are saying that I need to keep responding to bizarre claims and charges — no matter their source — then you’ll be advised to not hold your breath. I’m tired of doing 15-second Google searches to argue against mangled “interpretations” of my own words. That’s what “Boxxy” is for.

            If you follow any of the links I provide, you will find all the documentation you can absorb.

            If you can come up with something more specific regarding your illness, maybe I can help.

          • I’d have to say that the urban myths dealing with forests and public lands FAR outnumber the rural myths on the same issues. The public is constantly hammered by the “wildfire is natural and beneficial” meme, and it just isn’t true, for the great majority of wildfires. The public is also led to believe that logs from public lands are going to China, as well as being fed that the Forest Service wants to log ancient Giant Sequoia trees. Of course, these are stories that aren’t true, and eco-groups are quite happy to let the public buy into them.

            • Larry Harrell states,

              “The public is also led to believe that logs from public lands are going to China…, Of course, these are stories that aren’t true, and eco-groups are quite happy to let the public buy into them.”

              (I could of sworn I’d already covered this false assertion made by Larry in past posts, as the facts demonstrate otherwise.)

              Logs from the Tonka Timber Sale, a few miles from where I live are intended to go to China. This of course is being appealed by several groups, but round log export to China is only one of many egregious elements of this illegal timber sale.

              (excerpt from the Juneau Empire Oct. 2011)
              “Larry Jackson owns Tongass Forest Enterprises, a small lumber mill near Ketchikan. He said he has tried to create a business that buys as many logs as possible from local logging operations.

              “So every log I buy that isn’t exported is a win,” Jackson said. “We use a couple hundred thousand board feet a year. A very small amount compared to the Tonka sale,” he said.

              Jackson said he is not opposed to a large sale like Tonka, “I just do not like large exports of logs,” he said.

              Large harvests in the past have set up a pattern of round-log export, he said. Southeast Alaska had exported 23.7 million board feet of round logs from federal land in the first quarter of 2011.”

              (from: http://juneauempire.com/local/2011-10-26/kupreanof-island-timber-sale-open-public-review#.T9diC47YeFI )

              100% of the Tongass National Forest’s Alaska Yellow Cedar is approved for round log export by the RO.

              50% or more of all other species derived from federal timber sales can be exported as well, with most of it going to China. Close to 100% of Native Corporate timber unsustainably clearcut from Southeast Alaska is exported in the round too.

    • Wow, this is very interesting debate. David, you shouldn’t point the finger about the realms of conflict of interest as we all know these things happen. Please leave out the nonsense and keep posting the good stuff. “like” your first post in this blog. I do agree with all you have said and what others on this site have tried so hard to look into and discuss. It’s such a valuable medium to express ideas, not personal endeavors! This is not what Nie and others had in mind.

      It seems to me that the environmentalist are the bully’s, the feds are just trying to cope, and the public has lost all faith or doesn’t care because nothing really happens on FS lands anymore besides rec and wildlife preservation (which is great). However, I would like to see a new paradigm of management where we give the USFS at chance to breath from this unnecessary litigation and try to learn how to manage the land rather than manage the talk and procedural steps with a limited budget and workforce. Who knows? Mabey the USFS can provide all of the recreation, wildlife and ecosystem services, as well as in the future include other economic and social values more important to those that live near these resources. I hope we can at least try. Imagine, a day when public lands can be managed efficiently for wildlife (lynx/hare), ascetics, clean water, ect.. but also provide a means to support local beliefs, culture and families. It’s a win win and is happening in some areas in the U.S. however, these lawsuits overshadow the basics of what will happen in the future of these lands if they are not thinned. That is it will be a lose lose situation.

      • I am all for collaboration, consensus, and compromise through education. The public will not learned from seeing any kind of custom-tailored science to support a political stance. They want to know the broad general facts, explained in laymen’s terms, complete with alternative solutions.

        However, we will not see an end to the timber wars until the public is educated about the issues enough to demand that the three C-words be the law of the land. Compromise should not be optional. Each side has to offer the other side something they really want, AND it has to qualify as beneficial and appropriate for the longterm health of the forested lands.

        I fear the final goal of a Forest Service that can be trusted is still too far off in the future to save the teetering forests we have today. Some are saying this Colorado fire could burn completely through the summer. Such a lovely scenario, where firefighters are tied up for weeks and months, unavailable for other fires bound to pop up during the summer. I’m sure we’ll be seeing major health problems, both in kids and the elderly. My own Uncle passed away, from wildfire smoke related exposure.

        That goal cannot be achieved until we have legal reform. The serial litigators aren’t willing to give up their power, so it must be taken from them. Right now, my power is in my right hand, at work. It is known as a Nelspot D-203! Believe me, timbermarking has gotten a little different since 2007. (More in a later stand alone post)

  12. Sharon, I so admire you as a person. I admire your moral discipline, your “respect for the human spirit” (as you once said to me), and your geometric logic. You are a doer and not just a hearer. You should be the goal for all of us to emulate in life.

    I think this blog has been a tremendous success at proving one thing: and that is there is no compromising with radical enviros. In the last two years, I haven’t heard one word of compromise from Mathew, David, or any of the other radicals that pop up. Can you think of one compromise that THEY have offered up? The concept that “if they have a chance to voice their concerns they may come to the negotiating table”-has been successfully proven false by this blog. This blog has been a success in that the “moderate enviros” who have popped in, those who have been branded collaborators, are now clearly seeing that their true enemies are these radical enviros who repeatedly thwart THEIR years of hard work, compromise, and consensus building. This blog has proven that the radicals aren’t going to change, but how society looks at logging is changing.

    You invited suggestions to retool this blog-well here’s mine. Get rid of the radicals. Get rid of Mathew, David, and me…and invite the moderate enviros who have popped in from time to time to share their stories of collaboration. I believe in these collaborations. You do too. These collaborations have shown that “there is enough national forest to go around for everyone.” These collaborations ARE a return to at least a sense of local control of forests, the lack thereof which is the true source of low USFS morale when your people daily encounter a hostile local public.

    Give these collaborative’s a blog where THEY can share their stories of compromise, finding common ground, and respect for the human spirit. I admire those at the Montana Wilderness Association who have sat down with those at the Montana Wood Products Association. I admire the Four Forest Initiative. But the kumbiya moment of “finding common ground” will soon give way to the “heavy lifting” of attracting AND retaining infrastructure, timber harvest guarantees, increasing the USFS timber sale budgets, and sooner or later the moderates are going to have to confront the radicals and decide how they are going to “change the laws” to stop the fringe element from gaming enviro laws to impose their will on the majority. Give them a blog where they can share ideas to solve these difficult problems, without being insulted as “collaborators.” That’s the way forward.

    • I can think of only one collaboration that ever got to the stage where it was implemented,the Quincy Library Group, where industry geared up, invested heavily, and I do believe the whole thing failed. The rest of the collaborations haven’t really sawed anything. Have they? The real work of implementing now begins. In Colorado you don’t need collaborations, you just have a bunch of counter culture liberals who believe its a right to have government bail them out and log off, at any cost, the roads that lead them to their favorite wilderness trailhead.

    • Derek- when we actually stick to specific points of view on specific topics, we learn a great deal from each others’ views and experiences. We find out that we disagree and agree in unexpected ways.. e.g. David and I are not fans of cap’n’trade, nor REDDs. Somehow, though, I think the people who are here are here for a reason that we share, we care about these issues enough to spend time out of our paid work hours. I always had that philosophy about planning speakers at conferences; the people who are meant to be there will be there.

      I believe that there are strong divisions in our country that keep us from feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, etc. from being all that we can and should be.

      I believe that to engage in any efforts towards healing those divisions is a sacred mission.

      Which is a long way of saying I like the people we have on the blog (even though like any community of people who are being real, I find them irritating from time to time) and I like the real diversity of opinions, I just wish there would be fewer attacks and less snark.

      But then I reread this quote from this post of mine:

      “As a faculty trainer working for an international pacifist organization, he leads workshops and seminars designed to bring people from polarized sides together for dialogue, conflict resolution and peace building. This evolving, difficult process requires patience and courage, empathy and attentiveness. But first it requires that everyone recognize that “conflict is not bad”; it can be “productive and creative.” Luther describes the process when groups come together who have a history of distrust and violence. First they begin by “mapping the conflict”- acknowledging it, naming it, establishing its scope and boundaries, and finding the points of greatest resistance and discord. Identifying the conflict is the first “way out of the growing circle of revenge.” The conflict , Luther says, is like “the tip of the iceberg, but there is lots going on underneath.” To begin to excavate the subterranean layers, the group members must engage in “deep dialogue” Each one must be courageous enough to tell his or her personal truths and “listen without denying.” This is very hard. Emotions flare; people get defensive; they project their pain onto others . There are advances in understanding, moments of reconciliation, even epiphanies followed by retreats and accusations as people slide back into their comfortable and familiar stances. The learning that goes on in the group is both individual and collective, personal and public.”

      And I’m thinking perhaps this could be the natural process of sliding back, which makes it easy to get discouraged and give up.

      • Sharon: Nice essay! I’m in full agreement. The sooner we can identify our differences — and who the individuals are holding competing viewpoints — the sooner we can begin addressing the really important problems (which aren’t points of law or parliamentary procedures).

      • I think your talents could be spent better in a new direction.”We learn a great deal from each others views and experiences, we find out that we disagree and agree in unexpected ways…” If you and Dave agree on cap-n-trade, then thats the first “common ground” I’ve seen on this blog(pretty much). If the process is the goal, then I guess you’re succeding here. If progress is the goal, then you’re just spinning wheels. I haven’t seen really any compromise on this blog. I think you should facilitate people who are “willing” to compromise. There is no willing here. I see no progress. Maybe in your world, lotsa people sitting in a room is progress, in my world something has to be acheived. You’re argueing the unacheivable. Do you think you’ll persuade Mathew by your logic? That hasn’t happened in two years. Allowing him to “share his views” isn’t going to bring him in from the cold. He’s simply co-opted your blog as another venue for his cut and paste propoganda.I could cut and paste his cut and paste from half a dozen newspapers, and it would be identical to his cut and paste on this blog. I just think your time would be better spent facilitating and encouraging people like the MWA and the Montana timber industry who actually are actually practicing what you preach above.

        • Derek, it’s quite telling that you’d post this message here the same day the Missoulian editors had to remove an anonymous post you made at their site in which you simply wrote, “You’re finished Koehler.”

          For anyone interested, an archive of the posts I’ve authored on this blog is available at: http://ncfp.wordpress.com/author/cleangreensustainable. As anyone can clearly see, the posts cover a wide range of topics related to the Forest Service and public lands policy, which is the purpose of this blog. I also make every attempt to ensure that my posts are well formatted, reader-friendly and include plenty of links for further exploration. Thanks.

  13. Interesting perspective Derek. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to take it all at face value and not assume you are snickering as you wrote….

    You wrote:

    “You invited suggestions to retool this blog-well here’s mine. Get rid of the radicals. Get rid of Mathew, David, and me…and invite the moderate enviros who have popped in from time to time to share their stories of collaboration….Give them a blog where they can share ideas to solve these difficult problems, without being insulted as “collaborators.” That’s the way forward.”

    Again, I’m taking you at face value, although I suspect you are making a deeper point with underlying implications…

    Get rid of all challenging and dissenting opinion as a way forward? Share stories of running over the cliff following the rest? That’s pretty boring. Almost sounds like the oft cited “Nazi” references we’ve come to love…

    While we may not “come to concensus” here, I can say that personally I read all the posts comments/commentary (no matter how supportive-or not), evaluate and try to apply to my job. There have certainly been times I disagree or wanted to comment “how’s the view from up there” to what I believe to be more some of the more “self righteous” comments, but I’ve refrained…nothing to be gained as demonstrated above. I have come to welcome this blog and discussions as a source of inspiration and knowledge.

    I am a “collaborateur”….”Head Collaborateur” for that matter…but it doesn’t stop me from challenging the convictions of myself and others. As a skeptic I will continue to challenge this strange “quest for common ground” to everyone involved and make sure they understand where the cliff is. I expect the same of others, namely Matthew, yourself and (to a lesser extent David – sorry David). Do not try to excommunicate the “radical element” on here!

    A blog dedicated to “kumbiya” and collaborative success stories, as you put it, would be exceedingly boring. I deal with that crap at work.

    Am I insulted? Not at all…more of a backhanded compliment is how I take things…


Leave a Comment