800 Trees and 6.5 Acres .. Litigation.. and Mass Extinctions

Popular skiing terrain on Burnt Mountain East. The area is outside of the Snowmass Ski Area’s operations boundary, but inside its permit boundary. The trail in question would allow skiers to access this terrain and then return to the Two Creeks base area. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith

I have been following this project (Burnt Mountain) and here is a link to a news story from Friday from the Aspen Times, and below is an excerpt.

So I am totally not a skier, so perhaps I don’t understand the complexities of why this could be good or bad in terms of safety. I do understand the idea of 6.5 acres and 800 trees, though, and I don’t understand how the Ark Initiative mission relates to 6.5 acres. And how the area around an old road could be special because it’s roadless…

I looked up the Ark Initiative here.. it seems to be concerned with the mass extinction of species. I’m just not getting the connection with 800 trees and 6.5 acres.

In an email earlier this month, Ark Initiative representative D.J. Duerr explained the organization’s position.

“Fitzwilliams could call this part of Burnt Mountain a parking lot if he likes, but that wouldn’t change the simple fact that this forested area contains no roads and is in the same wild and undeveloped condition as the immediately adjacent Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness,” Duerr said.

For The Ark Initiative, the dispute pertains to terrain beyond the egress.

“Around 2002, the USFS drew the original boundary for the ‘inventoried’ Burnt Mountain Roadless Area to exclude the exact area where Skico wanted to cut the new ski runs,” Duerr claimed. “It appears the ‘inventoried’ roadless boundary in this part of Burnt Mountain wasn’t based on whether the lands were actually roadless but on Skico’s desire to cut up this area for more profits. The Colorado Roadless Rule reclassifies even more of the roadless lands on Burnt Mountain out of ‘roadless’ status to facilitate the new ski runs.”

Fitzwilliams countered Thursday that the Forest Service spent six years on administrative analysis of Skico’s proposal and that two courts upheld the decision. He maintained that work on the egress is allowable, but he wanted the Forest Service attorneys to make sure the process was adequate in case of a challenge from The Ark Initiative.

“If we’re not going to affect roadless, I don’t know what the issue is,” Fitzwilliams said.

He also questioned the legitimacy of The Ark Initiative as an environmental organization. No local groups, such as Wilderness Workshop, have challenged the Forest Service decision, he noted.

Fitzwilliams suggested The Ark Initiative is a front from powder skiers who don’t want their stash turned into inbounds skiing.

“This isn’t about roadless,” Fitzwilliams said. “This is about fresh tracks at the bottom of the hill.”

In practical terms, the status of the traverse remains in limbo at least for this ski season.

“That is part of the area that is still under Forest Service review,” Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said.

Burkley said Skico can work on a small portion of the 1,900-foot-long traverse from below and from above, but it can’t touch the middle 1,400 to 1,500 feet. The traverse, ironically following an old road, is 15 to 30 feet wide and steeper than Skico wants for intermediate customers.

“We don’t want to create a terrain trap where we suck people in,” he said. “For an expert skier, it’s not an issue.”

The new terrain will be accessed from Longshot. Skiers and riders will work to their right. The new terrain won’t be named.

“You’d be hard-pressed to identify any one run,” Burkley said.

Let me just add that skiers are not roads, and removing trees as part of “activities not otherwise prohibited” seems to be OK under the 2001 Roadless Rule. It’s just not clear to me why this is a Big Deal, related to extinctions of species, and worthy of expensive lawyer time for the plaintiffs, and, ineluctably, the taxpayer.

I’m with Scott.. something here simply doesn’t add up.

Here’s another article from 2009 (!) on the same subject and here’s a quote

Ark’s lawsuit contends that the Skico’s master plan amendment should have triggered studies on effects on roadless areas and on elk. The initial approval and environmental studies were performed in the early 1990s, so conditions might have changed, the group contended. As an example, it wanted a new study on the work’s potential impact on elk.

“If it’s a minor amendment, it might not need NEPA analysis,” Brawer said. “This wasn’t minor and [the initial approval] was old.”

Ark contends that the Forest Service analysis has been piecemeal and it has lost sight of the cumulative impacts on Burnt Mountain. It wants the ski area project blocked “until and unless” full-blown environmental studies are performed on Skico’s amendment to its master plan.

The Forest Service’s arguments essentially flip all the claims made by Ark. The agency said its review was cumulative and satisfied NEPA requirements. The project has no significant effect on elk or endangered species like lynx, the agency said. It wants the review to stand.

The two sides argued the case in Denver earlier this year before U.S. District Judge Walker Miller. It is unknown when a ruling will be made.

Here’s another article from 2011 about how the legal battle was “over”..

A trio of judges in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal on Nov. 8 in a lawsuit seeking to block the construction of an egress trail connecting lower Burnt Mountain East to Two Creeks, which was approved by the U.S. Forest Service in 2003.

The decision, written by Judge Paul Kelly, Jr., ends the legal process for the plaintiffs in the suit opposed to the trail, the Ark Initiative, Donald Duerr who is connected to the Ark Initiative, Paul “PJ” Smith, who works at the Gene Taylor’s ski shop in Snowmass Village and Alex Forsythe, a Florida resident who skis frequently on Burnt Mountain.

The U.S. Forest Service was the defendant in the suit and Aspen Skiing Company was not named.

However, Skico legal counsel David Bellack attended oral arguments recently in Denver just in case he was needed to support the Forest Service’s case.

It’s not clear yet what the resolution of the legal challenge to the trail means in terms of actually building the trail.

“We are aware the appeal was rejected but haven’t discussed anything internally regarding Burnt Mountain at this time,” said Aspen Skiing Company Vice President of Mountain Operations Rich Burkley.

The trail in question exists today in crude form, but the legal battle begin after the U.S. Forest Service approved a wider and formalized trail.

So.. people already go there and there are folks against something “wider and more formalized”; but it’s not a road and it’s bad for “roadless”??

Like I said, something just doesn’t add up.

17 thoughts on “800 Trees and 6.5 Acres .. Litigation.. and Mass Extinctions”

  1. Still can’t, (and perhaps never will) understand how adjudication (the foundation of Constitutional Law and the foundation of a Constitutional Republic — a central construct of which, being the separation of powers) is something Sharon regards as anathema on a level that eclipses all else, such as the predicament of captured agencies, climate change, ocean acidification, and other myriad consequences of corporatism infecting national forest planning and all corners of American society.

    Clearly, triage of the multitude of converging crises we face, (some, quite small), many of global import and loaded with irreversible catastrophic consequences, is not a high priority for discussion on NCFP.

    Go figure?

  2. David, we have talked about climate change.. not exactly sure what you mean by “corporatism” nor if Sally the outfitter guide or Joe the sawmill owner fall into those categories. I think you must mean some combination of “large” and “not owned locally” but I’m not sure. And like I said before, I don’t think the agency has been “captured” by anything other than the elected officials who appoint people to decide what happens in the executive branch, which I believe is outlined in the Constitution.

    Are you saying that you believe both R’s and D’s allow the agency to do whatever it wants? Or that both Rs and Ds are also “captured”? I have been in meetings with appointees where it was very clear that they had expectations of the work they wanted done, and while they are willing to listen to representatives of the agency.. at the end of the day things would be done their way. Which is as it should be. As one of the judges said at the 2001 Roadless Rule hearing, “elections have consequences.”

    I do believe that open discussions among people who have different approaches is the key to solving problems in a democracy. But the fact is, the people on this blog are experts in a narrow subfield of all these problems, and all we can do is try to solve the ones we understand and provide an example to other groups, dealing with other issues, of people who disagree without being disagreeable.IMHO.

  3. corporatism |ˈkôrp(ə)rəˌtizəm|
    the control of a state or organization by large interest groups.

    I’ll be glad to revisit past statements I’ve made demonstrating, for instance, the profound impacts of the Supreme Court slim majority’s predilection for corporate activism by reinforcing First Amendment rights to corporations (under the spurious claim that anonymous contributions totaling billions of dollars to reelection campaigns is covered as “free speech”) further propping-up their “personhood” status under Citizen United vs. FEC; the profound effects this is having on the elections of our representatives, Governors, President, state legislatures, etc.; the post-Citizen United activities of the Koch Brothers, ALEC, etc., etc. (The CU Decision, of course, occurred long after agency capture was well documented.)

    Media concentration in the hands of a powerful few also skew the ability for an electorate to be well informed.

    Again, just because you refuse to admit Agency Capture does not exist, doesn’t mean all the academic, political science, social science, historical documentation, investigative journalism, congressional inquiries, etc. exposing agency capture, also, doesn’t exist.

    As you have persistently responded to my statements on this subject in the past, you again attempt to obfuscate my points here on this issue by conflating Billionaires and multi-millionaires with small corporate enterprises, and local businesses such as brew pubs and coffee houses which have nothing or little to do with forest policy. Until you are willing to have a straightforward conversation on this without deliberately injecting this feigned confusion, I see no point in repeating the exercise.

    For the record, NCFP has posted the following categories, for the year (to the best of my ability to count) and this list includes how many were posted by you. Obviously, this is your blog and you can post anything you want. I’m simply supporting my points with statistical information here, and it should in no way be construed as my not being appreciative for this excellent forum for discussion.

    Litigation: 57 posts (by Sharon:33)
    Climate Change: 27 posts (by Sharon: 11)
    Accountability: 18 posts (by Sharon: 0)

    It is notable that you have not posted a single article for discussion under “Accountability”, and deny agency capture even exists.

    As always, my primary concern in problem solving national forest policy has been to discriminate between the causes of problems and the effects. We can hand-wring all we want about (inevitable) litigation of the effects of mismanagement, but are assured to get nowhere if we do not address the root causes of mismanagement which falls under “Agency Capture” and “accountability.” Agency Capture and the super rich contributions to the election of our political parties, of course, are also the single greatest impediment to addressing climate change in a timely and efficacious manner.

    It is hard not to take your statements about the non-existence of agency capture as prevarication of the obvious: you are describing the very definition of the term while claiming the term does not exist.

    From Wiki:
    “The idea of regulatory capture has an obvious economic basis, in that vested interests in an industry have the greatest financial stake in regulatory activity and are more likely to be motivated to influence the regulatory body than dispersed individual consumers,[1] each of whom have little particular incentive to try to influence regulators. When regulators form expert bodies to examine policy, this invariably features current or former industry members, or at the very least, individuals with contacts in the industry.
    Some economists, such as Jon Hanson and his co-authors, argue that the phenomenon extends beyond just political agencies and organizations. Businesses have an incentive to control anything that has power over them, including institutions from the media, academia and popular culture, thus they will try to capture them as well. This phenomenon is called “deep capture.”[4]

    “In the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which had had regulatory responsibility for offshore oil drilling, was widely cited as an example of regulatory capture”

    (This of course was after MMS staffers under GW Bush administration were exposed for literally sleeping with the oil company reps they were supposed to be regulating. To be succinct, that was CERTAINLY not the only demonstration of agency capture. So, under the Hope and Change rubric of the Obama Administration we got the shell game (pardon the pun) of accountability and reform, but only a continuation of a captured agency.)

    “Salazar’s appointment was controversial because of his ties to the energy industry.[9] As a senator, Salazar voted against an amendment to repeal tax breaks for ExxonMobil and other major petroleum companies[10] and in 2006, he voted to end protections that limit offshore oil drilling in Florida’s Gulf Coast.[11] One of Salazar’s immediate tasks was to “[end] the department’s coziness with the industries it regulates”[9] but Daniel R. Patterson, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, said “Salazar has a disturbingly weak conservation record, particularly on energy development, global warming, endangered wildlife and protecting scientific integrity. It’s no surprise oil and gas, mining, agribusiness and other polluting industries that have dominated Interior are supporting rancher Salazar — he’s their friend.”[9] Indeed, a spokesman for the National Mining Association, which lobbies for the mining industry, praised Salazar, saying that he was not doctrinaire about the use of public lands.[9]

    Please see many other examples posted at

    • So David, I agree with MMS, but you got me with Salazar. The guy sees and understands both sides. You gotta do that in Colorado, and you really got to do that everywhere. Being “doctrinaire” could make you mildly colonialist vis a vis the people who live there balancing their needs and the environment.

      My opinion is that Salazar and Sherman were good picks because of their backgrounds and knowledge of both sides, not in spite of it. Maybe Colorado is really different because we still believe it’s not a war and both sides can work together.

  4. ‘Being “doctrinaire” could make you mildly colonialist vis a vis the people who live there balancing their needs and the environment.’ (Sounds like you’re talking about Texas. I thought you were talking about CO.)

    “(Salazar) The guy sees and understands both sides.”

    I appreciate your implied acknowledgement Bush’s MMS demonstrated Agency Capture. So it might possibly exist — Now I invite you to scrutinize what happened with Salazar’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe (which is still on-going). Afterall, here’s something that easily eclipsed the magnitude of the Exxon Valdez, and the dispersants made and are still making it far worse.

    Also, I’m more than a little surprised you can only come up with two sides.
    (But let’s just say there are only two)

    Are you serious? Salazar, as the guy who sees and understands both sides? I’m only seeing one side represented here. Besides, the Salazar’s a rancher for chrissake, Do you really think he, “sees and understands both sides” of delisting the almost extirpated wolf? His decision suggests otherwise.

    (from Wiki)

    1) “In 2005, Salazar voted against increasing fuel-efficiency standards (CAFE) for cars and trucks, a vote that the League of Conservation Voters believes is anti-environment. In the same year he voted against an amendment to repeal tax breaks for ExxonMobil and other major petroleum companies.”

    2) Salazar “voted to end protections that limit offshore oil drilling in Florida’s Gulf Coast”. “In 2007, Salazar was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote against a bill that would require the United States Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming when planning water projects.”

    3) Salazar received huge “criticism over his handling of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, both because of the way his agency handled the permitting process for underwater drilling, and also because of the way the aftermath of the spill has been handled by the government.”

    4) On March 6, 2009 Salazar agreed to move forward with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove the Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf from the Endangered Species List in Montana and Idaho…” On May 9, 2009, Salazar announced the upholding of a Bush-era policy that prevents the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions via the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

    5) “Soon after arriving in the Senate, Salazar generated controversy within his party by introducing Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales and sitting by his side during Gonzales’ confirmation hearings.”

    And what did Salazar’s wonderful friend, Alberto Gonzales bring us?

    “Gonzales fought with Congress to keep Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy task force documents from being reviewed.”

    “Gonzales also helped draft the Presidential Order which authorized the use of military tribunals to try terrorist suspects” (even American citizens)

    “Gonzales is considered a key architect in establishing the legal foundations for the war on terror” — (this includes implying the Geneva Convention was outdated and establishing the widespread use of torture by America the Beautiful.)

    “During Gonzales’ tenure, the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were accused of improperly, and perhaps illegally, using the USA PATRIOT Act to uncover personal information about U.S. citizens”

    During Gonzales’ tenure, “on December 7, 2006, seven United States attorneys were notified by the United States Department of Justice that they were being dismissed, after the George W. Bush administration sought their resignation.” This was clearly intended to punish those who exhibited independent thinking, contrary to the Bush Administration’s values.

    Salazar and his close friends can in no way be regarded as being in the fictional middle ground with a personal history of DOI decisions and especially with close friends such as Gonzales.

    I can understand Salazar is a Colorado guy and the loyalties he apparently inspires in you, but this is not the Broncos’ sports legacy we’re talking about here.

    • 1) I don’t know about Deepwater Horizon, and based on what I read about subjects I do know about, I don’t believe much I read in the press.
      2) I know something about Wolves and GHG’s and I don’t think what he did was wrong.
      3) I don’t think that introducing someone, and sitting by their side, has serious policy implications or really mattered, except to their relationship, which is not really any of my business.
      4) Judging someone who is a rancher based on their occupation, would be like judging someone who works for a conservation organization..I think we want to judge people’s assertions and not who they are.

  5. ” I don’t know about Deepwater Horizon, and based on what I read about subjects I do know about, I don’t believe much I read in the press.” (Sharon Friedman)

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a (person) in everlasting ignorance. That principle is contempt prior to examination.” (Reverend William H. Poole)

    What a person does for a living, such as Mark Rey’s two decades of lobbying for the timber industry prior to running the USFS, is not irrelevant to what he accomplished there. Nor am I judging Salazar based upon his friends and his occupation. Again these observations are not irrelevant — that’s precisely why journalists include such facts into their coverage.

    Your response disbelieving much of what the press reports is contempt, a dodge, and it is deliberately moving the goal posts in this discussion by categorically denying the validity of the evidence I raise. (This leaves me wondering why you’re administering a blog since we’re discussing press articles.)

    The information on the regulatory failures leading up to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe is voluminous, and granted, often dissembling. Just today, Reuters gave this little pre-election ‘head’s up’ update:

    WASHINGTON, Sept 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department is ramping up its rhetoric against BP PLC for the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, laying out in a new court filing examples of what it calls “gross negligence and willful misconduct.”

    The filing is the sharpest position yet taken by the U.S. government as it seeks to hold the British oil giant largely responsible for the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

    “The behavior, words, and actions of these BP executives would not be tolerated in a middling size company manufacturing dry goods for sale in a suburban mall,” government lawyers wrote in the filing on Aug. 31 in federal court in New Orleans.

    The government lawyers wrote that they decided to elaborate on BP’s alleged gross negligence because they believed BP was trying to persuade a federal judge to exonerate the company.

    The oil spill started in April 2010 when an explosion destroyed the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and killed 11 workers. Some analysts have put the cost of the spill at $60 billion or more.

    Spokespeople for BP did not respond to a request for comment late on Tuesday.


    What is striking about the article (besides only quantifying costs in dollars) are its sins of omission — the Obama administration is at least as culpable as BP — given the role of regulators is to keep this from happening. And, it shows how far Reuters’ report departs from what we already know as reported in Wiki — there are a familiar collection of recidivist environmental criminals implicated in this event — not just BP. Reuters’ barely hinted at this rogue’s gallery (which includes Halliburton).

    Reuters’ failures, however, do not keep me from wanting to know more.

    I’ve resorted to citing from Wikipedia precisely because it is an excellent example of what true collaboration is.

    “Wikipedia is a collaboratively edited, and multilingual Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 22 million articles (over 4 million in English alone) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site, and it has about 100,000 regularly active contributors.” ( it is based upon what people can agree upon as accurate and balanced. I am not saying it is flawless, but correctable. It admits flaws and invites correction to those flaws.)

    Wiki defines it elsewhere, “Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective) ”

    This is worth repeating: “…but a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective.”

    Notably, collaboration cannot occur in a blog when the goal posts get moved while unabashedly embracing denialism. (Nor, for that matter, is collaboration an opportunistic affair funded by billionaire philanthropists who pay “environmental” staffers to advance the corporate agenda by arranging exclusive “collaboration roundtables” composed of self-selecting “stakeholders”.)

    Nor, is “collaboration” a Forest Service District Ranger staging “stewardship working groups” (of which I have taken part in) to advance what are clearly predetermined outcomes.

    I’ve always regarded this forum as a collaborative effort to get at truths, but denial is not how this gets accomplished.

    • Really, though, collaboration, in the Forest Service’s sense is a way to get the facts of what can be done, and what cannot be done in forest projects, to the interested public. Once the public knows the facts, they are free to disagree, and that comes with a risk. Of course, we have a pre-determined outcome! We base it on our superior knowledge of local conditions. In our project, we’re completing units as fast as our silviculturalist can design unique prescriptions, based on actually walking the entire unit. What else are we going to do? Create detailed ”alternative unit marking prescriptions”?!?!? If the public, after a free tour of our work, didn’t like what we were doing, they certainly could request changes on specific items. The desired future conditions are lined out in the GTR-220 paper on ecological restoration in the Sierra Nevada.

    • David,

      here’s what I mean..
      like you just gave evidence in the article you quoted, which left out the response of the adminstration, you can’t depend on the press to give you both sides of a complex issue.

      It’s not their fault.. they are not paid to do it.. it’s too complex for people to be patient enough to read. It may be our responsibility, as citizens, to ask the question “if the business model of newspapers is falling apart, and some issues are too complex for the journalism we can afford, what the heck we going to do?”

      My answer to the question is to attempt to illuminate the things I do know and understand, and steer clear of those where my knowledge depends on “the astuteness of strangers,” to paraphrase Tennessee ;).

      There are also the concepts of “circle of concern” and “circle of influence” (Stephen Covey); I prefer to try to stay within my circle of influence (which may be infinitely small, now that I’ve retired, but at least my circle of knowledge).http://www.breakoutofthebox.com/circle.htm

      BTW, Stephen Covey died in July, which I didn’t realize until I went to look up the circle of influence. Here’s the press release. I found many of his books and concepts enormously useful in my work and the rest of my life.

      • Sharon,
        Thanks for the link. It definitely helps me understand where you are coming from and reinforces my perception of how we differ. We’re definitely approaching life differently, which is an essential component and expression of the diversity of life.

        I have no interest in Covey’s approach to life as something to be reduced to a business model which assumes hyper individualism and selfish pursuits for “success” is the ultimate expression of and formula for finding meaning to existence.

        The Reuters article example I quoted, seems to provide your excuse to deny and my incentive to apply further investigation.

        “Covey recommends examining what you can do instead of focusing on worries over which you have no control.”

        Given control is routinely imposed by those who maintain their control by making people feel powerless, and by deliberately controlling information; and given this quote fits into and reinforces that notion, (I can’t control the press) there are reasons to question its premise — especially as it relates to democracy, and how to understand its devolution.

        I’ve found I can learn by searching for truth, comparing it with others’ truth, and use that to participate in democratic processes as something that is both essential to democracy, essential to connections with other participants and essential to building connections with all life forms. That approach is something I can do to give life greater meaning and fulfillment.

        Here’s my offering to you apropos to this discussion from:

        Economy and Society Volume 41 Number 1 February 2012: 107

        • I think you must be thinking of someone besides Covey.. here are the seven habits from Wikepedia..

          Independence or Self-Mastery

          The First Three Habits surround moving from dependence to independence (i.e., self mastery):

          Habit 1: Be Proactive

          Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.

          Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

          Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life. Create a mission statement.

          Habit 3: Put First Things First

          Prioritize, plan, and execute your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you toward goals, and enrich the roles and relationships that were elaborated in Habit 2.

          The next three have to do with Interdependence (i.e., working with others):

          Habit 4: Think Win-Win

          Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way.

          Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

          Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, respect, and positive problem solving.

          Habit 6: Synergize

          Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone. Get the best performance out of a group of people through encouraging meaningful contribution, and modeling inspirational and supportive leadership.
          Self Renewal

          The Last habit relates to self-rejuvenation:

          Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

          Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes on exercise for physical renewal, prayer (meditation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to the society for spiritual renewal.”

          Habits 4, 5 and 6 seem to me to be the opposite of individualistic.

          Anyway, I think I am trying to do the same thing you are when you said you:

          “I’ve found I can learn by searching for truth, comparing it with others’ truth, and use that to participate in democratic processes as something that is both essential to democracy, essential to connections with other participants and essential to building connections with all life forms. That approach is something I can do to give life greater meaning and fulfillment.”

          I think our hyperpartisan current time shows that groups keep uncomfortable knowledge at bay … when it doesn’t agree with their tribal worldview. I don’t think it’s solely institutions.. it can also be groups of people who think the same way.

          To me the key is talking across that divide where opposing groups’ sacred cows can be examined carefully where everyone’s ideas can be exposed in discussing policy.

          • Sharon,
            We’re talking about the same person but through different lens and values. I stand by my perspective as being opposed to reducing life to a business model which is supported by the perspective of Simon and Schusters noting:

            “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century.


            Unfortunately, the Fortune 500 are becoming ever more successful, presumably in part from Covey’s wisdom while vast segments of the other 99% of America are becoming more success-less — calling into further question how success gets defined by the 1% who were supposed to have embraced, “a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way”.)

            “He also set up a massively-successful consultancy company, which boasted dozens of Fortune 500 companies as clients.”

            I chose not to elucidate in detail why Covey’s popularity did not resonate with me, but to be succinct, his motivational messaging had a clear target audience and a clear influence coming from Mormonism, business school, and life in general being reduced to business “success.”

            I would be remiss, in the midst of a Presidential Campaign Season, to not mention another fabulously “successful” mormon and how the “success” of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital was achieved. The New York Times noted, “Campaigning in the Iowa Republican primary last year, Mitt Romney referred to the book in offering his “seven habits for highly successful economies.”

            ( For detailed insights on how Mitt’s success was achieved, please see,
            “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital
            How the GOP presidential candidate and his private equity firm staged an epic wealth grab, destroyed jobs – and stuck others with the bill”

            Obviously, one could apply Covey’s “7 Habits” to achieve whatever else one deems “success”, including Covey using his own Habits to convince others the LGBT community should have a constitutional ban on their rights to legal marriage (for instance):

            “Stephen Covey had been active in opposition to same-sex marriage, including giving the keynote address at a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser in Honolulu for Save Traditional Marriage 98 (“STM98″), a political action committee that was sponsoring a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in the state.”

            For me, and many others, this calls into question Covey’s sense of enlightened “spiritual renewal.” (I won’t elaborate on criticisms of their spiritual underwear, spiritual polygamy, etc.)

            Here are other quotes from the references to Covey, also from Wikipedia:

            (from Fortune Magazine, “WHAT’S SO EFFECTIVE about STEPHEN COVEY? The author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People sells a message of moral renewal, and corporate America is buying it. Is this a good thing?”

            By Timothy K. Smith REPORTER ASSOCIATE Ani Hadjian
            December 12, 1994
            “I believe in this concept that you learn by teaching,” Covey says. He urges, in his books and tapes, that people apply that principle to his own Seven Habits. And people who buy into the Seven Habits do tend to become proselytizers. But Covey’s missionary zeal also tends to promote speculation of a kind that causes him and his associates to recoil in horror: that the Seven Habits program is simply a secularized shadow of Mormon dogma, repackaged and sold as management training. “I say nothing that is unique to my own religion,”
            “Jan Shipps, a (non-Mormon) professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, who has studied Mormonism for 34 years, says of the Seven Habits book: “This sounds to me like distilled advice from a Mormon pulpit. I can’t even tell you exactly now how I came to that conclusion, except that I did not know who this man was, and I said, I’ll lay you money this was written by a Mormon.” On the other hand, self-improvement is self-improvement, and any management consultant who lived in Utah and dared to use the word “moral” would probably be in for suspicion. As the sociologist Thomas O’Dea wrote, the Mormon faith has embraced a “transcendentalism of achievement.” It was Joseph Smith himself who announced in 1844: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man. . .you have got to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one.” Covey says his system came to him through a more prosaic route. After receiving an MBA from Harvard, he served another mission (three years in Ireland) and then returned to Salt Lake City, where he became an assistant to the president of Brigham Young University in Provo and raised nine children with his wife, Sandra. They kept a family mission statement on the wall of the living room. Finding himself interested in “the human side” of business, Covey obtained a cross-disciplinary doctorate in business and education…”

            • David,
              I don’t think the 7 habits are just a Mormon idea. For example, an easy Google search found where they echo the Torah. http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Stephen_Covey__the_Jewish_7_Habits.html

              Many other religions besides Mormonism (all?) have branches that are not welcoming to the LGBT community. In fact, many including Mormonism (last I checked), do not allow women to be ministers!

              And for those who like to see the world through a partisanized lense, we might note that VP candidates from both parties belong to one of those. Just sayin’ This is way off topic, though.

              • Sharon,
                I agree — I also think that the 7 Habits are NOT just a Mormon idea. The main point being the politicization of religion and cult alike, is pandemic, coinciding with the steady regression of the crucial requirement that the separation of the Church and State is necessary to democracy and constitutional republics.

                I also agree — Mormonism is especially off-topic to my central points in response to your link explaining your philosophy “to stay within (your) circle of influence”, and to “steer clear of those where your knowledge depends on “the astuteness of strangers.” I was merely pointing out that those 7 Habits can be used for being more effective at anything, whether for altruistic or for amoral purposes. In the case of the 7 Habits, the overwhelming evidence clearly demonstrates it has been used for the amoral purposes of the aggregation of wealth and power into the hands of fewer and fewer people– at the expense of the environment and society. This is especially relevant to the predicament resulting from agency capture driving forest policy and resulting in mismanagement and devolution on our NFS.

                I was hoping though — in the spirit of reciprocity — that you had a chance to read and respond to the countervailing link I offered, which persuasively describes the mechanisms by which this concentration of wealth and power occurs resulting in agency capture driving forest policy and resulting in mismanagement and devolution on our NFS. I would deeply appreciate your response to this.

                Understanding its thesis of how “uncomfortable knowledge” gets suppressed by “denial, dismissal, diversion and displacement,” is not only key to understanding the macro scale of the dynamic,(which we can do little about) but on an individual level — which IS something we can have an influence upon.

                What resonated with me in reading,

                “Uncomfortable knowledge: the social construction of ignorance in science and environmental policy discourses” by Steve Rayner,


                was the high degree of similarities within its thesis and your individual level responses to my central point in our dialogues — my point being, differentiating cause from effect is fundamental to problem solving. Despite your denials, Agency Capture exists, and it is the underlying causation of a long history of NFS mismanagement. Your continual attacks on citizen participation in litigation responding to the effects of agency capture constitutes diversion and displacement of understanding and addressing causation.

                I see, “I don’t believe much I read in the press” as denial and dismissal of the validity of the proof I presented demonstrating agency capture exists. Agency Capture is a major concern of legal and political scholars, legislators, lawyers and laypersons.

                I see Rayner’s opening line as the quintessential expression of your responses here:

                “To make sense of the complexity of the world so that they can act, individuals and institutions need to develop simplified, self-consistent versions of that world.”

                I don’t see how the use of denial, dismissal, diversion and displacement can be rationalized by you, whom I believe to be an earnest, forthright, and fundamentally moral person.


  6. “Really, though, collaboration, in the Forest Service’s (sic) sense is a way to get the facts of what can be done, and what cannot be done in forest projects, to the interested public.”

    Forest Sculptor,
    Thanks for helping to point out, that just because the USFS uses the term “collaboration”, (and even defines it, in its own special way, FSH 2409.19, ), it is not collaboration at all — just another marketing term used for selling their latest “stewardship and restoration” gimmickry to the public.

    Collaboration (in Chapter 60 of 2409.19) of the Forest Service Handbook (FSH) is defined as,
    “Collaboration. A process through which parties who sees (sic) different aspects of a problem constructively explore their differences and search for solutions that go beyond what any one group could envision alone.” (yeah, right)

    Notice, there is no mention of the exclusive parameters you’ve listed. Notice also, the most interesting thing about the use of this marketing gimmick is the obvious conclusion that up until recently, the USFS has NOT been practicing “stewardship” on our NFS for the last several decades, but now — magically — it has reformed itself. It now even admits its past mismanagement (based upon their “superior knowledge of local conditions”) is now requiring “restoration”.

    Well, sort of. Just as long as the public pretends the generally accepted definition of collaboration no longer matters, and accepts the USFS definition as conditional, optional, and up to the deciding officers’ discretion as to whether the definition is met or not.

    As for your statement, “If the public, after a free tour of our work, …”

    I first heard the USFS complaint (two decades ago) of giving members of the public a “free tour” of their (mis)management activities — ever incensed that the tour typically failed to impress the public.

    Perhaps the biggest mistake made by the public was in the assumption that the USFS employees making the assertion of a “free tour” would sooner or later have to privately conclude: “Hmm. Well, come to think of it, I guess this wasn’t a “free tour” at all — it was paid for by the taxpaying public — just as my salary is — And the tour was on land owned by all members of the American public………..oh well ……….. now what was I supposed to be doing?”)

    • For the tour of our project, NO ONE had ANY negative thoughts about our forestry work. Criticism was welcomed, and even our previous eco-opponent wanted us to do MORE cutting that we couldn’t defend in court ( ie cutting a few more white fir trees that are over 30″ dbh, in favor of enhancing the ponderosa and sugar pine populations). Sorry David but, your “marketing gimmick” that everyone else is wrong, and that you, alone, are the only one who is getting it right, isn’t convincing anyone.

      I’ve never said that historical clearcutting and highgrading aren’t bad. Again, you are stereotyping and insulting 1000’s of people across the US. Your postings border on the trollish, and few people believe your unfounded accusations, as well as your focusing on what happened in the LAST millennium.

  7. “Sorry David but, your “marketing gimmick” that everyone else is wrong, and that you, alone, are the only one who is getting it right, isn’t convincing anyone.”

    You are mistaken on a series of false assumptions and false accusations.
    1) I am not saying, nor have ever said, “everyone else is wrong”.
    2) I am not saying, nor have ever said, I “alone, (am) the only one who is getting it right”.
    3) You are definitely saying though, and have falsely accused me before (this is where I get confused), what I didn’t say (above) “isn’t convincing anyone”.

    Since this is a double negative, (what you are falsely saying I never said, “isn’t convincing anyone” — then it is true, because it is a double negative and because it is based upon a false premise. But I still don’t get how you can be correct claiming it “isn’t convincing anyone” unless anyone is limited to just you (which is not “any”, because this false construct is only happening in your head, not in the head of “anyone”.)

    4) re: “I’ve never said that historical clearcutting and highgrading aren’t bad.” This is another double negative that leaves my head spinning, because I never said that you, “never said that historical clearcutting and highgrading aren’t bad.”

    I can’t recall you never saying “historical clearcutting and highgrading aren’t bad”,(or are bad) which is to say, I never raised this question of where you stand on historical clearcutting and highgrading of the USFS. Thanks for clarifying where you stand on this though.

    I do recall in a previous conversation with JZ, of specifically regretting not clarifying and repeating often enough, whatever critical statements I make about the agency or collaborationists, I know for a fact that such ranks are composed of many people who are excellent humans and fine professionals working for the Forest Service. I know this because they are both my friends, and work for the agency I criticize. I have had many private conversations with agency careerists who thank me for being critical of the agency because they cannot without suffering extreme intimidation and fear for their financial stability.

    So I cannot be “stereotyping and insulting 1000′s of people across the US.” unless they believe what you are saying I said is actually true — and it is unequivocally, NOT TRUE !

    I stand fully behind what I have said though, and will be delighted to clarify any misunderstandings you continue to have about what I have stated.

    Larry, please though, just stick to quoting what I actually say, and not quoting what you falsely say I’m saying.

    Otherwise, it is just another baseless personal attack in the long string of personal attacks by you upon me — often based upon your lies — and that does not reflect well on you.


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