Fuel Treatments : Both/And not Either/Or :The Waldo Canyon Experience

An aerial photo, Thursday June 28, 2012, of the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs shows the destructive path of the fire in Mountain Shadows Subdivision area. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

It’s interesting that some have portrayed treating 100 feet from homes “all that’s needed” to protect homes from fires. Some have even claimed that “the science” supports that, hence fuel treatments further than 100 feet are unnecessary. Clearly either “the science” people selected to promote their views is not complete (did not address the right question, or from the right disciplinary perspectives to be predictive in this case), or not reflective of conditions in nature. If different things work (as seems to be lived experience) at different times, in different situations, why not use all the tools in the toolbox?

Here’s the link:
Below is the excerpt:

COLORADO SPRINGS — For a decade, the Colorado Springs Fire Department has worked aggressively to protect more than 36,000 vulnerable homes from wildfire in the foothills of Pikes Peak.

When the fire everyone feared roared into the city last month, those efforts failed to save nearly 350 houses in one neighborhood — but succeeded spectacularly in another.

In Cedar Heights, a hillside neighborhood that the fire approached from three directions, many homes were rated as “extreme” risks in a wildfire, the worst possible rating. Yet not one house burned, thanks to a forest-thinning mitigation project that stopped the fire a half-mile away.

“We had one community that was threatened … and didn’t lose
anything,” Fire Marshal Brett Lacey said, “and then we had one that in one afternoon got creamed.”

In the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, 71 of the houses destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire were rated “high” or “very high” fire risks by the city fire marshal’s office.

Most had been built in dangerous terrain and had little defensible space around them. At least 20 also had wood roofs or siding, which posed a huge problem because the shingles flew off and spread fire to other houses.

But the fire marshal’s house-by-house risk map also shows many Mountain Shadows homeowners were just unlucky. More than 270 houses rated as moderate risks were destroyed when the Waldo Canyon fire roared down a ridge, incinerating entire streets.
The victims included Dick and Francine Hansen, who had led neighborhood efforts to reduce wildfire risks in Mountain Shadows and labored to make their own home more defensible.

The fire left nothing but the brick archway entrance to their house standing.

“When a fireball came downhill at 65 miles an hour, blew open the garage doors, engulfed the house and burned it down in seven or eight minutes — they said there wasn’t a thing we could have done to save it,” Dick Hansen said.

29 thoughts on “Fuel Treatments : Both/And not Either/Or :The Waldo Canyon Experience”

  1. So are you suggesting that, every time we build a new subdivision, we cut back the forest another two miles from the edge? Pretty soon, we won’t have much forest left if we do that.

    To my admittedly untrained eye, that area doesn’t look like a classic WUI to begin with. It looks more like a dense suburban neighborhood where the fire spread at least partially house-to-house.

    Maybe we should wait for some more detailed information about the fire behavior before jumping to conclusions about the effectiveness of current fire mitigation practices.

    The science is pretty clear about what does — and doesn’t — protect individual homes, and I’ve never seen any reputable source make a blanket claim that 100 feet is enough. Most of the credible materials are very clear that site-specific factors — especially terrain — have to be considered.

  2. An interesting layman’s report that really doesn’t give us any good, objective details of why some areas burned and others did not. Hoping that a good scientific analysis of the practices and the results is made. This article raises questions but no real answers.
    Except for one. When conditions get really, really extreme, such as fire racing downhill at 65 mph, there is little that puny man and his pumper trucks can do. We must accept this fact.

  3. One problem with “defensible space” (e.g. 100 ft.) relative to the picture/context provided here, is that even if “defensible space” is set up, during a firestorm firebrands may be hurled for quite a distance and if they land on a flammable surface like a ‘shake roof’ then there will likely be a fire. Once one home is engulfed in flames in a dense-packed subdivision, others are vulnerable. So I’m with Bob Berwyn (#1) on this one.

  4. What caught my eye was the number of trees left relatively unscathed while ALL the homes in the photo were completely destroyed. It makes one wonder if what is needed might be more fire resistant building codes in developments within forested areas…

  5. Yes, and some have claimed that they can get all the timber to build their wood hipocricy homes from thinning 100′ from houses in the WUI. The city enviro cousin who thinks milk comes from the store and not the cow.

  6. Bob,

    Thanks for this, it took me some time to write a thoughtful reply.
    First, in excerpting the article I didn’t include what they did which was:

    In 2003, the city banned wood shingles on all new homes and roof replacements. The fire marshal’s office then used a 25-category scoring system — including everything from property slope and nearness to forests to house-construction materials and defensible space — to rate the wildfire hazard of every house in the wildfire zone. It now works with 65 neighborhood groups to clear out dead brush, thin pine stands and promote nonflammable building materials.

    With a federal pre-disaster mitigation grant, the fire marshal’s office and the Cedar Heights neighborhood had been working for two years to clear out half-dead stands of Gambel oak and thin Ponderosa pines in Solitude Park, a preserve above the homes.

    One of the problems with excerpting a good article is that you always leave something out.

    (1) So you are saying they “cut back” the forest; while it sounds like they think they “thinned” the forest. A thinned forest is still a forest. I remember when I used to work in central Oregon, they used to want to go back to “open, park- like stands of ponderosa” which had been maintained by Native American underburning (or at least they thought so at the time, and some of our Oregon commenters can update us). I think one of the differences between practitioners and others is that we have an image of a thinned stand of ponderosa .. of course, these may be different based on whether we’re in California, Oregon, Montana, or New Mexico.

    I visited a project in the same part of Colorado for this blog post. We discussed the spacing and grouping of trees on the trip. exactly how much it needs to be thinned to be useful for fuels reduction differs, based on local situation.

    (2) I tried to get a photo by writing the author of the article and he suggested that I contact a neighborhood rep or go in from Rampart Range road (problem is the Preserve is still private property). He’s checking on whether I could use the photos they took and didn’t use. So I just picked this one randomly from the bunch, it wasn’t meant to illustrate the wildland fuel treatment.

    (3) I have seen assertions that fuels treatments (further than 100 feet) are unnecessary because all that is needed is 100 or so feet around houses. But I can’t remember where, either statements in appeals or in other places. I remember when we were working on Colorado Roadless, some people said that they thought fuel treatments ¼ mile from a house weren`t necessary, and that was their reasoning.

    (4) But I don’t want to look back through all that stuff..so I will offer a six-pack of your favorite beer (value up to $15) to the first person who finds such a statement. I have to say “depending on local conditions” is correct and nuanced, but many things that come across my desk (or I read in the press) are neither.

    Others: don’t read too much into this particular photo for the reasons given above.

  7. Sharon, not sure if this was what you’re looking for, but I’m a connoisseur of cheap beer….Busch-lite, “tall boys”…quantity over quality….

    This should be mandatory reading for anyone who chooses to comment about fires and fire policy….


    “By reducing the flammability of structures, WUI fuel treatments
    can be designed such that an extreme wildfire can occur in the WUI
    without having a residential fire disaster. Although general
    wildfire control efforts may not benefit from fuel treatments
    during extreme fire behavior, fuel modifications can significantly
    change outcome of a wildfire within a treatment area. Research has
    shown that a home’s characteristics and its immediate surroundings
    principally determine the WUI ignition potential during
    extreme wildfire behavior (Cohen, 2000a,c, 2003, 2004). The area
    that primarily determines WUI ignition potential is called the home
    ignition zone (Cohen, 2001). WUI fuel treatments can address the
    home ignition zone by removing flammable materials immediately
    adjacent to residences, and by decreasing the flammability of the
    residences themselves (for example by choice in roofing and deck
    materials). There are opportunities for reducing the home ignition
    potential during extreme WUI fires without the necessity of
    changing the broader-scale wildfire behavior.”

    “However, the opportunity exists to explicitly
    define responsibilities for the WUI fire potential (i.e. the home
    ignition zone) consistent with areas of jurisdiction and separately
    from ecological wildfire issues.” (wish I could add emphasis to that last part…”seperate from ecological wildfire issues”)”

    The conclusions:

    “Fuel treatment is an important management tool for reducing
    fire hazard. However, confusion exists as to the purpose and
    potential effectiveness of fuel treatment activities.We feel that fuel
    treatments should be used to reduce fire severity and intensity
    instead of fire occurrence. We also believe that fuel treatments
    should attempt to increase ecosystem resilience, especially in
    wildland settings. The range and variation of historical stand and
    landscape composition and structures should be used as guides but
    not targets. While WUI areas should be managed primarily for
    protection of structures and people, care should be given to ensure
    these fire hazard reduction treatments produce conditions that are
    within the historical range of variation. Exotics, climate change,
    and other human-induced factors will influence fuel treatment
    effects in the future and these factors should be addressed in all fire
    management plans. However, the influence of these factors will
    not diminish the need to treat fuels and restore fire-prone
    ecosystems. In fact, these factors increase the need to create
    landscapes that are as resilient as possible.
    Successful integration of fire management and land management
    programs and objectives can result in treatments that restore
    ecosystems as well as treating fuels. We believe that the primary
    goal of fuel treatment should be to create landscapes in which fire
    can occur without devastating consequences. Once these conditions
    have been achieved, wildfire need not be as vigorously
    suppressed and can itself play a role in maintaining these
    landscapes. Fuel treatments should not be used to reduce or
    eliminate fire from landscapes. Fuel treatment programs should be
    designed in concert with new fire suppression policies to
    encourage a return of fire to the landscape and improve the
    resilience and sustainability of US ecosystems”

    • JZ- Thanks for this contribution…I was looking for something clearer… I couldn’t really understand too well what they are trying to say in this paper. I think somewhere I have seen written that “fuel treatments do not help protect homes from wildfires, only 100-150 feet around the home is important.”

      This paper seems confusing.

      If you read this at face value

      Research has
      shown that a home’s characteristics and its immediate surroundings
      principally determine the WUI ignition potential during
      extreme wildfire behavior (Cohen, 2000a,c, 2003, 2004).

      (what is WUI ignition potential? is it the home? the trees? everything? and if something is principally determined by one thing, should you not work with the other things?)

      Are these quotes accurate? It’s kind of hard for me to believe..

      We feel that fuel treatments should be used to reduce fire severity and intensity
      instead of fire occurrence. We also believe that fuel treatments
      should attempt to increase ecosystem resilience, especially in
      wildland settings.

      My former colleague Tom Mills use to say “shoulds” don’t belong in scientific paper. I am interested in feelings and beliefs of all folks, but honestly, it’s hard for me to believe that the reviewers and editors allowed these through.

      More “shoulds”:

      The range and variation of historical stand and landscape composition and structures should be used as guides but not targets. While WUI areas should be managed primarily for protection of structures and people, care should be given to ensure these fire hazard reduction treatments produce conditions that are within the historical range of variation.

      (this seems kind of silly to me, or at least perhaps not a scientific conclusion, or both, since houses themselves, household pets running around, fruit trees, roads, and driveways are not within HRV – is it “scientific” that the vegetation should be kept within and nothing else?). Plus they just said in the sentence before HRV is a guide and not a target…like I said.. confusing.

      Now this paper is a literature review, and so there is more of an op-ed flavor (whose research do you highlight?) than a standard scientific paper, but still..

      • Sharon,

        I’m curious as to who, besides Tom Mills, subscribes to the point of view that “‘shoulds’ don’t belong in scientific paper”? And then I wonder whether the paper at hand ought to be considered a ‘scientific paper’ in any case, given that it’s published in Forest Ecology and Management.

        As I was pondering my questions, I ran across a recent book by David Keller titled Environmental Ethics: The Big Questions (2010). Pages 379-390 give some insight into my first question. See, here: http://books.google.com/books?id=YKQmqFfrT5EC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=falsef=false

        But the second question remains for those wedded to a strict separation of the “is” from the “ought” in science. The same cannot be said for “management.” Where and when are people (whether or not scientists) to be stopped from expressing “ought” judgements when talking about the practical application of management and policy (as informed by science) in social and or ecological settings?

        I will admit that the conclusion to the article at hand might have been better written, as per your musings.

        • Dave-

          1) thanks for asking this question..it sounds like FEM thinks its articles are scientific. It is kind of funny because I think the work in the paper wer’e talking about (at least some) is actually physical science, not biological or ecological.

          Forest Ecology and Management
          An International Journal

          Forest Ecology and Management publishes scientific articles that link forest ecology with forest management, and that apply biological and ecological knowledge to the management and conservation of man-made and natural forests. The scope of the journal includes all forest ecosystems of the world.

          A refereeing process ensures the quality and international interest of the manuscripts accepted for publication. The journal aims to encourage communication between scientists in disparate fields who share a common interest in ecology and forest management, and to bridge the gap between research workers and forest managers in the field to the benefit of both.

          The editors encourage submission of papers that will have the strongest interest and value to the Journal’s international readership. Some key features of papers with strong interest include:
          1. Clear connections between the ecology and management of forests;
          2. Novel ideas or approaches to important challenges in forest ecology and management;
          3. Studies that address a population of interest beyond the scale of single research sites (see the editorial, Three key points in the design of forest experiments, Forest Ecology and Management 255 (2008) 2022-2023);
          4. Review Articles on timely, important topics. Authors are encouraged to contact one of the editors to discuss the potential suitability of a review manuscript.

          2. When I clicked on your link it told me that pages 250-381 are not shown. Can you summarize the person’s argument? It’s not clear to me how environmental ethics is linked to “shoulds” in “scientific” papers.

          3. Everyone can talk about their values and what they think should happen and why. That’s a fruitful discussion like we have on this blog. But science claims its legitimacy based on empirical claims. We just need to be clear about what is empirical (the scientist’s observations in the paper) and what is normative (what the scientist thinks about how forests should be managed from a policy perspective.)

  8. Howabout this: (still in time for the beer?)

    “Cohen’s Structure Ignition Assessment Model (SIAM) indicates that intense flame fronts (e.g. crown fires) will not ignite wooden walls at distances greater than 40 meters (approx. 130 feet) away. Field tests of experimental crown fires revealed that wooden walls can successfully survive intense flame fronts from as close as 10 meters (approx. 30 feet) away!”

    There’s more here:


    If you’re into the science stuff you can read about the modelling here:


    Sharon, to you questions/concerns:

    Fire ecology and management isn’t an exact science and hence the “shoulds”….even HRV is tough to define depending on what point you go back to. Therefore it’s a “guide”. I prefer “normal range of variation” to avoid discussions or replying to comments of what the climate was like in the little ice age.

    Fuel treatments won’t affect fire occurence. That shouldn’t need a lot of explanation.

    If we do create “fuelbreak” to protect homes (away from the fruit trees and dogs, lawns, etc) it should in some way be designed to emulate natural disturbance in scale and severity, rather than creating a “powerline” or large unnatural disturbance around the WUI…

    My take on the whole paper is that fuel reduction in and of itself is a poor driver for a project designed to protect homes. There are better ways to design and frame the “need”….forest resilience, logs, jobs, etc. Maintaining diversity of age classes and a mosaic of vegetation structures at the appropriate scale will have more influence on fire behavoir than a fuelbreak.

  9. Sharon, Maybe I am reading too much into your post and comments but you seem to want to find some suitably extreme statement, in order to make your point that conservationists are wrong wrong wrong (and by implication more logging is needed). Even if you can find the extreme statement, your preferred conclusion does not necessarily follow.

    As shown by Cohen and others, it is well-established that treatments within a few hundred feet of structures have the greatest influence on the chances of ignition.

    It is also true that firebrands can be a problem beyond the structure-ignition zone, however there really is no socially acceptable treatment that will eliminate the threat posed by firebrands. And, if we manage the forest to avoid firebrands, we won’t have a functional forest.

    Beyond the structure-ignition zone, the focus of forest management should NOT be narrowly focused on fuel reduction but rather on ecological restoration. In some cases restoration might involve careful removal of small trees, while in other cases passive management will best achieve restoration.

    • Tree, you are misunderstanding me. I don’t think more logging is needed. I think that we need a conscious, local, both/and approach to managing the WUI.

      And framing the question as being all about structural ignition, and not about defensible space or not getting fires through your subdivision at all, is your and others’ framing. It is not my framing as discussed in this blog post here
      I italicized my framing of the issue in the quote below.

      let me quote:

      “Situation 3. When Scientists Frame the Issue. This is a situation that occurs more frequently than desirable, and is actually the source of unnecessary tension between scientists and managers. Here is the way this dysfunctional cycle operates. First, there is a pot of money, to be distributed through a competitive process with a panel of other scientists. A scientist writes a proposal with a certain framing (e.g., fire protection of people and their communities is the same as protecting houses). Since none of the communities involved are at the table, and the framing sounds plausible to the other scientists, the proposal is funded. Then the scientist does the work. When they hear about the research results, managers then ignore the results, or only partially use them, because the results aren’t relevant to their framing of the issue. The last step of the cycle is that the managers are accused of “not using the best available science.” I have seen this cycle play out many times.

      The scientific evidence is clear that the only effective way to protect structures from fire is to reduce the ignitability of the structure itself (e.g., fireproof roofing, leaf gutter guards) and the immediate surroundings within about 100 feet from each home, e.g., through thinning of brush and small trees adjacent to the homes (www.firelab.org–see studies by U.S. Forest Service fire scientist Dr. Jack Cohen)

      In this case, the difference in framing is as simple as it’s not about the structures- it’s about the fact that people don’t want fire running through their communities. It is about all kinds of community infrastructure, stop signs and power poles, landscaping, fences, gardens, trees and benches in parks, people and pets and livestock having safe exits from encroaching fires. It is about firefighter safety and about conditions for different suppression tactics. That’s why fire breaks of some kinds around communities (not just structures) will always be popular in the real world. Of course, people don’t actually fireproof their homes either in the real world. “How can we best keep wildfires from damaging communities and endangering people” would be a more complex, but more real framing of the question. Note that one scientific discipline can’t provide the answer to this framing- there are elements of fire science, community design, fire suppression practice, sociology, political science and economics. ”

      Note: I guess I found a paper with the “only effective way” statement the Hanson one here.

    • Tree wrote: “Beyond the structure-ignition zone, the focus of forest management should NOT be narrowly focused on fuel reduction but rather on ecological restoration.”

      Why can’t we have both?!? Or, are you saying that we should be “narrowly focused” on ecological restoration? The cornerstones of my version of restoration is 1) adjusting tree densities to match the annual precipitation, which usually means thinning, and 2) adjusting species compositions for better forest health, vigor and resilience. Both practices work well for a wide variety of forest types, across the west. “Passive restoration” assumes that a stand is already exactly what we want in a forest, and assumes that “whatever happens” will be just fine, including losses to endangered species habitats and old growth.

    • Yes, and some have claimed that they can get all the timber to build their wood hipocricy homes from thinning 100′ from houses in the WUI. The city enviro cousin who thinks milk comes from the store and not the cow

  10. I agree that the focus of National Forest management “should” be on ecological restoration. I can justify this “should” based on the need for resilient, functioning ecosystems in order for the Forest Service to fulfill its mission. This might involve a full range of activities, ranging from “passive management” in some cases to clear-cutting to replace off-site species (e.g slash pine removal to restore longleaf pine) in other cases. The logging (whether “commercial” or not) is one tool to accomplish the restoration.

  11. JZ, and Jim,

    I am beginning to understand why my thinking is diverging from yours on this topic. I think it goes back to working on roadless.

    When is a fuel treatment just a fuel treatment? We got into lengthy discussions about whether in lodgepole, we were doing treatments around communities to “restore ecosystem composition and structure.” Because lodgepole tends to all die and all burn .. if we had only ponderosa, it would be easy to say :”let’s thin around homes, good for fuel treatment also restoring ponderosa -all is good so we don’t have to specifically characterize why we’re doing it.”

    Part of the issue may be that when you have to pay to get people to take it away, you need to be really clear on why you’re doing it.

    So to me it’s OK to have a general principal of “managing for resilience.” But if we are spending and prioritizing $ to change fire behavior, or create defensible space around communities, then we better be good and sure that the treatments actually do that- and not get all mushed around “must also be within HRV.” Because if we were prioritizing funds for restoration we should have a broader discussion.. perhaps we should focus on watershed restoration, or other restoration that will maintain itself indefinitely without additional taxpayer financial infusions, rather than thinning.

    My point is that I just want us to be absolutely clear why we are doing a specific action in a specific place. If our purpose and need is fuel reduction and creating defensible space then we need to say that. If changing veg structure is good for fuels reduction, to protect habitat then we need to say that. If we want to manage lots of acres to create more resilient conditions, we need to say that.

    So that seems to be the vision that many folks have, especially where people work in forest products. My point was more minor, is that if the purpose and need is something, the project needs to meet the purpose and need even if outside HRV.

    Now the whole question of how relevant HRV is given climate change, and potential trade-offs between what used to be and what will be resilient in the future, is also worthy of attention.

  12. Jim hit the nail on the head. Seems to me we should be focusing on management vs. non-management rather than worrying about the efficacy of defensible space or debating the proper use of “should”. I’m not sure that “ecological restoration” is an appropriate term for the management needed to attain the Forest Service “mission” (whatever that may be this month). Bringing back the chestnut and passenger pigeon isn’t going to happen but the nation can certainly do a better job of managing its public lands to better meet the ever-changing needs of its people. Sharon, should you start a Post Topic on Trust Management, or would that fit into the present array (seems like an awful lot already)? For a look at the possibilities check my webpage http://www.wvmcconnell.net/?page_id=591

    • “The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”

      This will require both “active” and “passive” management actions to restore and maintain functioning, sustainable ecosystems. There is no reason why a focus on this can’t also produce other outputs to meet the needs of people.

      There are many good examples of this occurring on national forest under current laws and without the need for some sort of “Trust Management” approach.

      The American chestnut is being brought back through breeding of resistant strains, slowly but surely. Short of a Jurassic Park effort, you’re probably right about the passenger pigeon.

      • Good luck with the chestnut but I don’t expect to see it during the few centuries. You’re right that good examples can occur under the existing system. The problem is that they are few and far between and overall the system is failing. Here’s what happened, and is still happening, in Florida http://www.wvmcconnell.net/?page_id=718. And we’re lucky compared with the west. When the F.S. can only cut 6% of the annual growth on non-reserved lands, something is bad wrong and the system needs to be fixed. Trust Management of selected timberland is one possibility for fixing it. I say “Let’s give it a try”. Any reason why not?

        • It may take centuries for the chestnut to function ecologically as it once did but that’s not a reason to work towards that goal.

          I agree that lots more timber could be harvested in lots of places– as a byproduct of managing for desired ecological goals. Your concerns about the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) not withstanding, I consider RCW management to be a great success story. With RCW recovery and management as the guiding focus, the Southern Region cuts (commercially) more timber than any other region. In general, environmentalists, sportsmen, and the timber industry in the South are happy with the current approach there. Why not export some of those successes to other parts of the country?

          • Jim- good question. We hear stories of individual places where a successful peace seems to have been struck (the Siuslaw?) while work in other places continues to be controversial. Even when some environmentalists, sportsfolk, and timber folks seem to agree, others do not and keep projects from happening.

            I wonder about history and culture, in terms of differences.

            • In terms of history, a past lack of honesty on the part of the Forest Service may be the most difficult to move beyond. A checkered past on the National Forests in Texas, for example, still haunts today’s efforts to find common ground.

          • My goodness, Jim. Where in the world did you get the idea that sportsmen and the timber industry in the south generally are happy with the F.S.? Environmentalists, yes. They are getting just about everything their hearts could desire. For a factual report of what has happened during the just completed planning period on one representative coastal plains forest from one who has spent his entire career in R-8 take a look at this webpage http://www.wvmcconnell.net/?page_id=188. I know personally a lot of timber operators in R-8 and not one has a kind word for my old outfit.

            The situation in the Appalachians is even worse. The Nantahala-Pisgah is cutting about 4% of the net annual growth and early successional habitat has declined by 45% over the past 10 years (grouse population along with it). Saying that R-8 cuts more timber commercially than any other region only tells us how badly the other regions are performing.

            The system is broken. Again I say, why not give Trust Management a try? Reasons please.

            • I got that idea from spending most of my career in R8, starting about the time you retired and working most recently as Regional Director for Biological and Physical Resources for 4 years and as Acting Deputy Regional Forester for a year. True, the Ruffed Grouse Society is not happy with the lack of early successional habitat in the Appalachians, but you should talk with James Earl Kennamer of the National Wild Turkey Federation or with Linda Brett, the current Director of Forest Management for their perspectives.

              Reason #1: “Trust Management “shall be exempt from the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, the National Forest Management Act and the Northwest Forest Plan”.

              I could list more reasons, but, being retired, I’d rather go fishing.

  13. The legislation listed in “Reason #1” for not trying Trust Management are high among the reasons the folks on the ranger district are unable to manage the resources. These laws are the springboard for a large portion of stop-management litigation. As K. Suckling, Executive Director, Center for Biological Diversity has said. “New species listings and new bad press take a terrible toll on agency morale. When we stop the same timber sale three or four times running, the timber planners … feel like their careers are being mocked and destroyed — and they are. So they become much more willing to play by our rules. … Psychological warfare is a very underappreciated aspect of environmental campaigning.”

    Mocking and destroying careers and lowering agency morale through the use of these laws have proven to be a hugely successful (and highly profitable) approach to controlling the management of our public lands. The frustration of hours of make-work on repetitive mindless “environmental analysis” and appeal-proofing a routine timber sale under multiple unclear laws and shifting judicial opinions has had its impact. In the 2010 report on federal employee morale (http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/overall/sub) the U.S. Forest Service ranked 217th out of the 224 agencies studied.

    Some studies show that, despite the plethora of controlling legislation, the FS does not do a better over-all job of management than state agencies but that it does a generally poorer job at substantially higher cost. Here’s one: http://www.perc.org/articles/article639.php.

    When you get back from fishing (Any luck?) you will perhaps offer another reason not to try Trust Management.

    And here’s a solid reason to give it a try. The Congress of the U.S. will never, ever give the Forest Service the funding it must have to adequately manage its land. Trust Management for selected best suited, high-yield timberlands will solve the funding problem for these lands.


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