The Cone of Silence Redux

Cone of Silence

First, a couple of caveats. I am not picking on Guy here.. he deserves a lot of credit for putting up with us on this blog (!!!). Second, this idea is not original to me, as I have heard it from many folks about many different projects

The simple question was “if one of the points of the complaint was that the “public was excluded” from decision making, then why is it OK for the same group who makes the complaint to participate in closed-door settlement discussions? Does some combo of DOJ lawyers and NGO lawyers somehow de facto represent the public? But how could that be since the people who actually read the “real” public comments are not in the room? Yes, everyone knows that is how the “system works.”

Anyway, again, not to pick on Guy, this last couple of days just illustrates my point.

Guy said “I don’t think it is either hype or hyperbole to say that it has been exempted from public analysis and environmental review (realizing that full and adequate “environmental review” includes public disclosure, oversight, commentary, and interaction)” here.

I ask about his views on amicus brief.
He can’t talk to us (the public?) about these issues.

The idea is that 1) it’s really really important to have public dialogue and interaction (which I agree with, and apparently the people on the two salvage projects did too)
But 2) if it’s so important why is it that the people who actually read the public comments are often (or always) left out of the room when the settlement is reached (the decision is actually being made?)

Maybe I’m too simple of a person, but the idea of public involvement, and how it ends up being implemented, seem to be in conflict to me. And to some others working on the FS side, as well as people working with the FS (cooperators or collaborators), with whom I have spoken. Now I know that people will never agree at the end of the day, but it seems to me, that there is something valuable about a person who has been at the public meetings and read the comments(or has read the summaries of staff) and who writes a ROD with a rationale, seems like it’s easier for the public to understand than folks in a closed room settling and writing up terms.

In 2011, if you were on this blog then, you may recall a similar dialogue I posted with Mr. Garrity. Here’s the link.

36 thoughts on “The Cone of Silence Redux”

  1. I think the Forest Service should work really hard to not accept all the settlements. A better idea would be to “fix” the problems the court had and then do the process again. With funds being such an issue, it isn’t cost-effective to do projects that have minimal benefits to the landscape. Especially when it leaves the stand still overstocked, unhealthy and has the “wrong” species composition.

  2. hi Sharon, I don’t feel picked on, you bring up a number of points, I’m not sure I have a good answer to all of them, maybe others here do, but…

    -Ongoing case: attorneys generally won’t/can’t discuss or argue an ongoing case outside of court, mainly for some ethical reasons (yes we do take those seriously)- first, as an “officer of the court” (yeah that’s the term that’s used) there is an obligation to not do anything that might possibly impede or subvert the judicial process. Second, there’s the ethical obligation to always work for the client’s best interest, and over-discussing the case outside of court could have an adverse effect for a number of reasons, so we don’t do it (these considerations apply to DOJ lawyers equally, of course). Finally, an attorney is strictly prohibited from communicating with a represented adverse party about an ongoing case, which could be a slippery slope on a forum where various USFS and USFWS employees participate, so there’s still another reason to follow Nancy Reagan’s advice and “just say no”.

    -Settlement discussions: I think these play a smaller role than one might think. Commonly plaintiffs go to court looking for something like improved analysis (e.g., an EIS instead of an EA, when significant issues regarding ESA-listed species or Forest Plan violations are implicated), formal consultation on an ESA species, etc. Often times the prospect of a lawsuit will result in the FS saying, in effect, oops, we probably should have consulted on lynx/griz/etc., we’ll go back and do so now. I don’t think I’d characterize that as a settlement. I guess there are settlement (and court) situations where the general public is getting excluded, but arguably they were already excluded when the ROD came out. Some members of the public are willing to fight for inclusion, those are the ones you see in court. I expect we’ll agree to disagree on that point.

    My comment about exemption from public analysis and review referred specifically to emergency determinations, i.e., “the proposed action shall not be subject to the predecisional objection process, etc.” In those cases, I think that actions are by definition excluded from public analysis and review. However, I think more generally that is also the case, if/when the agency produces an EA that is oriented towards supporting a planned project, rather than objectively presenting the different options. And or course, the administrative record supporting that process is largely/mostly unavailable to the public during the limited time in which objections can be made. Again, that’s only my opinion, but it’s a firmly held one.

    • But your argument was that the FS does not like to share info… and yet here were the two projects in the Sierra where they were not required to, based on your read of the CFR, and they did anyway. Wouldn’t that argue that the FS goes over and above what is required?

      I also remember vaguely that the FS NEPA requires you to involve the public in scoping and other agencies don’t have that requirement. Does anyone else remember if that is true?

      As a person who has read many EA’s and EIS’s and mediated inter-specialist disputes ( not to speak of hearing line to line disagreements), I can safely tell you that “objective” is an interesting, and possibly unachievable target (you have an ID team develop a project, and they tend to get rid of the bad parts and keep the good parts in their own estimation). Kind of like expecting a scientist to be objective about her/his work ;). I don’t think you can get there in a document. I think you could get an idea of the pros and cons in a discussion (see why people feel differently). I would really like to see those when experts in a regulatory and management agency disagree.

      But in general, people don’t want to have those openly because of fear of the exchange being used in litigation. It seems kind of ironic, actually.

      And the “admin record” is never available to the public, is it? Only to plaintiffs.

      • “And the “admin record” is never available to the public, is it? Only to plaintiffs.”

        The administrative record is available to anyone upon request. It’s bad form to file suit before reviewing the administrative record because that’s the record the court will base its decision upon.

        • Good to know. My memory was that the process of yarding it up, Bates stamping it, etc. was done when someone decided to sue. Maybe no one else had asked.

          • I think you’re both probably right. My understanding is that it has to get done (part of NEPA process) regardless of whether litigation is imminent or even anticipated. Here’s a pretty good document (from a great website):

            But, getting it all assembled, Bates stamped, and searchable seems to often not happen until after a lawsuit is filed. At least that’s my understanding, since the FS often asks for a couple months or more to get it together. In an ideal world it would be nice to never file suit before reviewing the admin record (and, not knowing just what’s in it is indeed disadvantageous to a plaintiff), but often a ROD comes out and a plaintiff has to do something to get before the court, even though the complete admin record is still just a dim gleam in some FS administrator’s eye…

  3. There are some checks-and-balances built into the settlement process that may assuage Sharon’s concerns. First, the judge has to approve the settlement. In doing so, the judge is barred from breaking the law. For example, a judge cannot approve a settlement that makes a new logging decision that has not itself been through the public comment and environmental review process.

    Second, knowing that the judge’s hands are tied, the government, too, will not make settlement decisions that have not been been vetted through the legally required process. For example, in settling a case where ski areas have sued because the Forest Service required the corporations concede water rights to the federal government, a settlement would not adopt a new water right rule. Instead, the settlement would commit the Forest Service to adopt the new water rights rule through the public rule-making process that the agency had sought to avoid in the first instance.

    Thus, settlements generally lead to more public involvement, more environmental disclosure, and more opportunities for people to be involved in Forest Service decisions — not fewer. In my 30+ years in these trenches, I’ve never seen an exception to this principle.

    • Thanks, Andy for the clarification. I think I am thinking more of project specific settlements as Larry talks about below, where the plaintiffs get to sign off on parts of projects, etc.

      I like your argument that making the FS or BLM do more work is really better for the public because they analyze more stuff and when they analyze more stuff there are more public comment periods. But with all deference and respect, I need to tell you what it looks like to me… at the end of the day those are tactics (and CBD and some groups are open about this) to get people to get tired and possible give up on a project or do what the plaintiffs want. I don’t know that the additional work (for a 150 acre project, in the case of Colt Summit) really helps the analysis or the public (who sometimes get tired of having to comment on the same project several times).

      I know you and Guy talk about “breaking the law” as if it were clear and straightforward. But it is not, in my experience, and there are plenty of areas that you can say “they should have done more here or there.” And if people REALLY don’t like a project, the FS (and BLM, even together, with all the advice of OGC, the Solicitor’s Office and DOJ) can redo it several times and they can still find some analysis that the judge thinks should have been analyzed another way.

      I totally believe that you are only interested in making the FS follow the law. But the behavior and verbiage of other groups are not that way, and I think we have to listen to what they say and observe their behavior (which appear to be in alignment) to draw conclusions.

      And again on the settlement thing, here’s Chief Jack Ward Thomas:

  4. I’ve seen a “settlement” where the plaintiff required the Forest Service to allow required plaintiff oversight of hazard tree selections before fallers can go to work. Of course, there were no problems with the hazard tree marking during the prior year’s work, and there was no law being broken by the marking of hazard trees, too. In essence, both the plaintiff and the Judges were assuming that the Forest Service was not following the environmental documents when selecting hazard trees. It was also assumed that we were taking trees that would have lived, as evidenced by that one single green branch on trees that had fading and faded crowns. We weren’t allowed to cut a hazard tree that had ANY green needles on it, and had to allow the plaintiff to inspect our work. The plaintiff also demanded that any hazard tree over 40″ dbh be felled and left in place, next to the road. Yep, another punitive action, not based in science or law.

    The plaintiff also held cut timber, on tractor ground, hostage, to make sure we would clean up the remaining work, despite no indications that the work wouldn’t get done. Those felled trees ended up sitting in the hot summer sun for months until the plaintiff decided we were, indeed, doing a great job of cleaning up landings, blading roads and removing helicopter logs. The Judges settlement decisions were unduly punitive on a project that made it through District Court, with zero problems.

    I want to know where the Judges’ impartiality went to, and why they were so punitive. (Yes, I know why but….)

      • I simply want to know why, from the eco-perspective, that it is good to keep the Forest Service from cutting and harvesting hazard trees? Does that reason have more value than public safety, protection of road drainage structures (culverts, overside drains, drainage ditches, etc) and the utilization of valuable material?

        Can ANYONE answer those questions?

        • The answer to Larry’s question is blowing in the wind: “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot.” The earliest “hazard tree” court decision I can find on Lexis concerns Glacier National Park’s plan to build a parking lot along the Highway-to-the-Sun. The case, decided by renowned jurist and Montana federal district court Donald Molloy, involved “cedar-devil’s club habitat with trees dating to the year 1517.” Molloy explains that it is “an area with vegetation that the Environmental Assessment admits is rare and vulnerable to extinction” with cedar and hemlock trees “greater than 40 inches diameter at breast height (dbh).”

          Notwithstanding that the Park Service’s draft EA found that “Further permanent loss of this rare and unique habitat, whether it be mature or successional forest, constitutes a long-term significant impact,” the Service decided that the parking lot’s construction and concomitant hazard tree cutting would have “no significant impacts.”

          Two small NGO’s, Coalition for Canyon Preservation and the Wildlands Center for Preventing Roads, sued. They won:

          A hard look in this case shows the FONSI is not supported by the Administrative Record of this Environmental Assessment. The Administrative Record repeatedly shows that tree removal and other impacts are significant. Moreover, the type of mitigation listed by the National Park Service lacks the scientific analysis and supporting data to constitute sufficient mitigation to support a FONSI.

          The Park Service’s own documents-demonstrate and show the significance of the impacts of the proposal. The Finding of No Significant Impact runs counter to the facts and language of numerous references in the Administrative Record. The Administrative Record raises substantial questions that this proposal may have significant impacts on the environment. Consequently, the lack of an Environmental Impact Statement is unreasonable as a matter of law. In ignoring the repeated references in the Administrative Record about the significance of the proposal’s impacts, the National Park Service’s decision not to perform an Environmental Impact Statement is arbitrary and capricious.

          Based upon the court’s decision and this Google map image, it appears the parking lot remains stillborn.

          • So, because of that case in a National Park, which isn’t even a hazard tree case, all future hazard tree projects are “tainted”? It sounds more like it was the parking lot being contested and not tree hazards. Yes, there ARE impacts to cutting and harvesting hazard trees but, the impacts of not cutting them are unacceptable to most of the public.

        Here ya go, Andy.



        Here are those tractor logs that couldn’t be harvested until the plaintiff allowed it. Notice the cracking and decay, after a long, hot summer. The Purchaser was willing to pay extra to fly them out but, the Court (and probably the plaintiff) would not allow that.



        Here is the “after” picture of that tractor ground. What did the plaintiff accomplish by holding those logs hostage?

          • I’ve discussed this before, Andy. I had to follow the settlement so, it’s all true.

            Edit: Because Andy apologized in private, and asked nicely, here’s this, from the settlement:

            “For the purposes of this Settlement Agreement only, “hazard trees” are defined as dead trees with no green needles (i) that occur within one tree length of roadways which are maintained for public use and (ii) which are oriented in such a manner that they could fall on the roadway. Forest Service personnel shall mark the hazard trees prior to removal. Plaintiffs will have ten days (including weekends and holidays) to review the mark and lodge any objections with the Forest Service. Once felled, hazard trees greater than 40 inches diameter at breast height (“dbh”) outside of Protected Activity Centers (“PACs”) or 30 inches dbh within PACs will be left on-site for habitat, except that, outside of PACs, the tops of trees greater than 40 inches diameter which are 20 inches in diameter or smaller may be removed. The definition of “hazard trees” notwithstanding, this order does not preclude removal of individual trees that do not meet one or more of the criteria outlined above (e.g., trees with some green needles) if the parties agree that the tree or trees pose a threat to public safety.”

            Also found in the settlement:

            “The Forest Service shall pay attorneys’ fees and costs to Plaintiffs in the amount of $147,000 (one hundred and forty seven thousand dollars) within sixty days of the entry of the Order herein.”

            I wonder if that also includes the lower court case. Either way, it’s pretty good pay for minimal work. I also wonder if that pays for the plaintiff’s failed “study”, looking for live cambium at dbh. Finally, I’d like to see an itemized list, justifying those costs. Do they match the “going rate” for similar services outside of the EAJA coverage?

            Part of the lawsuit was about an accusation of “overestimation of mortality” of the then brand new salvage marking guidelines. Ironically, those guidelines severely underestimated the mortality, as entire multiple stands of trees died together, from the fire’s impacts, as logging continued into summer and fall. I guess hindsight is 20/20, and predictions are just that.

  5. Well, I’m going to have to jump in here as to what comprises the “public.”
    The plaintiff “groups” are MEDC ($3,000 in assets) and NEC, which hasn’t filed a 990 in ages. The board of directors at MEDC has interlock with at least three other small Montana “nonprofits,” all which focus on litigation when their absolutist positions are dodged by agencies trying to be responsive to clear problems.
    NEC is one lady, a departed USFS bird biologist and two relatives.
    In short, this is a “gang of five” whose network is several shell nonprofits that are so poor, probably because they are so obstinate and radical, they can’t get funded by the billionaire foundations.
    Yet, on a shoestring, they are forcing the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds and putting millions more at risk. Look at those pictures! What if that goes? Does that matter? Not to this unhappy little crew.
    Does that annoy me? Oh, you bet. I’m an American, so Sara and Keith and Kathy and Steve and Arlene clearly have a right to their opinions. They also have a right to try to convince THE PUBLIC that their way is the best way — but they have not, cannot, and never will. Yet under existing law, what THE PUBLIC really thinks (including assent by silence — or silence simply because the usual suspects will sue anyway) doesn’t matter a darn bit. And that’s what’s wrong.
    This is a situation where maybe the best thing in the long run is for lightning to strike. I’m ashamed to have to say it, but it’s true.

    • Dave,

      You’re right.

      What matters “under existing law” is whether the Forest Service follows existing law. It matters not in a court of law what Sara, Keith, Kathy, Steve, or THE PUBLIC “really thinks.”


  6. Dave- I think “are you proud of ” may be a very general question. I’ve done things I’ve been really proud of ( organizing funding for People’s Research with community groups, Power to the People!) but they really never worked out in the long run for a variety of reasons.

    Another question would be ” could the situation in the NW have been handled better with less disruption to communities and more success for the owl ?” I think so, but I don’t think Andy could have done that (on his own).

    I hope you see what I’m saying.. that we can be proud of what we did at the same time acknowledging that the ultimate outcome was suboptimal. Now, this is not to say that Andy agrees with me on this, that the current situation is suboptimal (!).

    But if you look at history, when people reacted to something wrong (and we can and probably all do disagree how wrong the old situation in the Northwest was), there were people who were standing up for what’s better, and there are people who get carried away. I think of Martin Luther, but there are many other examples. Luther can be proud of what he did, but also acknowledge that people did wrong things based on his ideas. Movements have their own momentum and stochastic processes that individuals cannot control.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents..

  7. On this “settlement agreement” thing.. Andy’s experience tends toward one thing, and Larry and I have examples of something else.

    I think it would be interesting for a graduate student to look at a sample of project and plan settlement agreements and see what they say. It would also be nice that if the outcome of project or plan were in a settlement agreement, then the text of that agreement is posted on the web with the other project documents. It probably is in the litigation database somewhere, so perhaps (?) it wouldn’t be too hard to make that accessible to the public.

    • This is what I think is a typical settlement scenario:
      Complaint that agency didn’t follow the process. Agency gets out of lawsuit by agreeing to follow the process. That’s the case for the headline story about the ESA listing settlement with CBD (FWS didn’t comply with deadlines, agreed to meet a schedule).

      It would be interesting to compile some stories about how often a court changes the ‘real world’ status quo (other than by delay). For example, ordering the Columbia River dam operators to increase flow to protect listed salmon (but even this case could be viewed as stopping the damming of some of the flow).

      The example Larry provided may be another kind of fish entirely. Apparently the Forest Service had lost the case and they were negotiating the remedy. In this situation, plaintiffs could probably have prevented the FS from doing anything at all, but allowed removal of some wood (presumably in exchange for something they would not have gotten from the court).

  8. I would like to be able to refuse to participate in projects that make you do stupid things. Like cutting down and leaving trees over 40″ in diameter. What are you trying to accomplish? Punishing the purchaser? Probably half of the large older trees were rotten and could be left, but the other half could of, most likely, be made into some of the most valuable wood products in the world.

    • Not to mention the fact that such logs are easy prey for firewood cutters. The plaintiff (and the Court) ignored the fact that only 55% of the wildfire acreage was included into the salvage project. The plaintiff gave the Forest Service three options.

      1) Take it to the Supreme Court
      2) Walk away from the felled timber
      3) Do whatever the plaintiff wants, regardless of the project’s goals

  9. Although I invited Larry to identify the project and associated lawsuit about which he’s so upset, he declined to do so. Thankfully, Lexis tells all.

    The case is Earth Island Institute v. U.S. Forest Service, 442 F.3d 1147 (9th Cir., 2006).

    The dispute concerned the adequacy of two EISs written to disclose the environmental effects of salvage logging after two large fires. The FS proposed to log trees “killed or severely injured by the fire.” The purpose of an EIS is to compare the environmental effects of not taking the proposed action versus acting. Thus, the EISs should assess and disclose what the forest will look like, e.g., which trees will remain alive and which die, if no salvage logging occurs.

    To that end, the EISs included a table, #3-6, that by its title — “Probability of Tree Mortality” — purported to disclose the odds that fire-injured trees would die. It turns out that’s not what the table disclosed at all. The Forest Service’s expert explained that the Table assessed not the chance that trees would die, but the odds that her model’s predictions of tree death are correct. Turns out that the model is 90% accurate in predicting that 50% of trees suffering a given amount of damage will die. By misrepresenting the “90%” number as the “probability of tree mortality,” the EISs overstated dramatically the odds of tree death, which were only 50%. Here’s how the Ninth Circuit summed up the problem:

    Table 3-6 is, to say the least, misleading. Its title is “Probability of Tree Mortality,” rather than “Probability that Predictions of Probability of Tree Mortality and Survival are Correct.” Second, there is no other table in the FEISs providing the probability of tree mortality. The absence of such a table is significant. The single most important aspect of the FEISs is their estimate of the likelihood that trees with certain amounts of fire damage will die. This is so for the obvious reason that the justification for cutting burned or scorched trees is the likelihood that they will die. Any reader of the FEISs will therefore look for a table providing probability of tree mortality. The only table in the FEISs that appears to provide that information is Table 3-6. It is not unforeseeable that a reader – even an expert reader such as Royce – would misunderstand the table. Further, the explanation for Table 3-6 provided by Smith’s declaration in the district court is nowhere provided in the FEISs. For example, Attachment A to Smith’s declaration is not provided, or even referred to, in the FEISs. The absence of such an explanation in the FEISs obviously increases the chance that the table will be misunderstood..

    A couple of minor points in response to Larry. Larry says that the plaintiffs “gave the Forest Service three options: 1) Take it to the Supreme Court . . . ”

    In fact, the Forest Service did appeal to the Supreme Court; the Court refused to hear the appeal.

    Larry also doesn’t point out that the vast preponderance of the projects were salvage logged before the lawsuit was even brought. And logging continued for months after the lawsuit was filed because it took some time for plaintiffs to obtain an injunction, having been denied by the district court and by a Ninth Circuit motions panel. Thus, for “the Power Project, the USFS reported that 100% of the timber harvest has been completed for the East Panther and Camp Creek sales, but that only 77% of harvesting has been completed on the Cole Creek sale, only 73% has been completed for the Ellis sale, only 29% has been completed for the Bear River sale, and only 15% has been completed for the Rocky Knob sale . . . [and] . . . the timber harvesting that had been authorized for the Freds Project was completed . . . ”

    The settlement that offends Larry applies only to a small fraction of the sales. In fact, as to even that small fraction, the settlement by its own terms affects only roadside hazard trees, which themselves were only a small fraction of these projects.

    Finally, no court imposed the roadside hazard settlement terms on the Forest Service. They were agreed to by the Forest Service and the plaintiffs.

    Perhaps Larry would know the answer to a final question I have. Has anyone been harmed by fallen tree that the Forest Service wanted to cut to which plaintiffs objected?

    • “Perhaps Larry would know the answer to a final question I have. Has anyone been harmed by fallen tree that the Forest Service wanted to cut to which plaintiffs objected?”

      Yes, in the early 90’s, a person was killed when a dead tree skewered him as he drove on a road in that same area. Isn’t THAT enough to prove that hazard tree removal is important for public safety?!?!?!

      My point about the three options was that the Forest Service wasn’t given a “good” option to go with, having to follow the “arbitrary and capricious” desires of Chad Hanson, which required the Forest Service do things not based in science, not part of the “purpose and need” or even common sense. The Forest Service decided that was the best of the three bad options.

      What good does it do to leave trees along roads which have just ONE green branch?!?! That has NO basis in science and is dangerous to the public, as well as leading to road erosion and even total failure. Yes, that very scenario DID happen within the Power Fire, during a rain on snow event. Yep, more of “whatever happens”!!! And then there is the fact that trees will fall across roads, blocking emergency traffic and endangering the public. Hanson has the opinion that only roads designed for passenger vehicles are worthy of being made safe. Nope, hunters, woodcutters and hikers (etc) don’t have a right to be safe on those roads.

      Owls and woodpeckers did not suffer from the actual completed work, with ample amounts of individual snags and clumps of snags, within the cutting units. ( Yes, take a look at the photos I posted on this blog) There were also ample snags outside of the cutting units, but still inside the project area. There were even more snags in the 45% of the Power Fire not in the project area. These facts did not matter to the court when they determined that impacts to the BBW weren’t fully analyzed. I doubt that ANY level of analysis would have been adequate to meet the “do no harm” mindset of Hanson and the Appeals Court.

      “And logging continued for months after the lawsuit was filed because it took some time for plaintiffs to obtain an injunction, having been denied by the district court and by a Ninth Circuit motion’s panel.” Sooooo, you blame the Forest Service for THAT?!? A Ninth Circuit Judge questioned why Hanson waited so long to bring the case to Appeals Court. Hanson’s answer was a personal issue and excuse. One of the Judges didn’t buy it, clearly implying that Hanson was “Judge shopping”.

      The percentages are misleading. Trees were cut, but not harvested, and Hanson held those logs hostage. Value was lost solely because Hanson wanted the punishment to hurt more. There was ZERO evidence that the cleanup work wouldn’t get done. Yes, there was substantial cleanup work to do but, we weren’t about to let SPI and Columbia off the hook for some poor performance. I was very tough in making sure that the work was completed and met my high standards.

      The marking guidelines weren’t “wrong”, and Hanson’s “expert witness” went on and on and on, clearly not understanding the marking guidelines. The guidelines’ author had to set him straight. Unfortunately, the Judges decided that the guidelines were too “confusing”, but not “wrong”. AND, again, those guidelines grossly underestimated the actual mortality. Yes, I did a HUGE amount of the marking of the new mortality, as it showed up. AND, yes, I was conservative in marking, being worried about the expected “eco-oversight”. Yes, I even challenged the “Limbaugh-loving” Timber Management Officer, who was my “boss”, during that assignment. He wanted me to be a lot more aggressive, bending the guidelines to take trees which he knew “were going to die”. I stubbornly stuck to the letter of the guidelines. Of course, he was right about the dying thing. *smirk* I knew that too but, I felt it was more important to follow the guidelines.

      Finally, Andy tried to get me to reveal the project name, saying he was just “curious” and wouldn’t write anything about it. Now, you know “the rest of the story”.

      • “Yes, in the early 90′s, a person was killed when a dead tree skewered him as he drove on a road in that same area. Isn’t THAT enough to prove that hazard tree removal is important for public safety?!?!?!”

        “in the early 90’s” is well before these fires burned, these EISs were written, or this settlement was agreed upon.

        No one, least of all I, has ever asserted that trees (rarely) fall on and kill people. The issue you raised (not I) is that this settlement was imposed upon the Forest Service and unduly tied its hands. The facts, which you chose to omit (even including refusing to provide a copy of the settlement or the name of the case) don’t bear that out.

        • Well, of course, there is still plenty of chances for that to happen, and it would be Hanson’s fault for ensuring the preservation of hazard trees. “When” doesn’t matter when we are talking about people’s lives. Soooo, do we play with fate by determining the odds of falling trees? Do we blame the victims for being on unsafe roads??? Yes, the Forest Service could have also walked away from the hazard trees they were “allowed” to cut but, there still exists plenty of dead trees along those roads that Hanson decided weren’t worth being made safe. HE decided that, and no one else.

          AGAIN!!!!! What is the value in leaving dead trees along roads?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

          Regarding the three options, the plaintiff’s desires were poor choices for the public, but extremely profitable for Hanson. This is exactly the reason why I held this back, as I knew you would try to use it against me. Clearly the court decision is one of the worst to come from the Ninth Circuit Court, and the settlement was just ridiculous and punitive. The settlement clearly illustrates what Sharon has been saying about settlements all along. “Sue and settle” should be eliminated, from both sides.

    • Thanks for digging up all the information Andy. Sometimes when I read this blog I get a feeling that I’m listening to grandpa tell stories about the olden days.

  10. Nothing wrong with grandpa telling stories about the olden days. Why they weren’t even that long ago.
    I am beginning to think that even a 100 year old tree doesn’t take that long to grow.


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