Court Enjoins Logging Using “Condition-Based Analysis”

A federal district court judge has preliminary enjoined the Tongass’ largest timber sale because the Forest Service relied on “condition-based analysis” in its EIS. In addition to stopping logging, the court’s decision puts a wrench in the Forest Service’s proposal to add condition-based analysis to its NEPA rules.

Condition-based analysis treats acres as fungible; location doesn’t matter. From the Forest Service and timber industry’s perspective, a board foot may be a board foot, but for wildlife, recreation, scenery, and most everything else, location does matter: “the Project EIS does not identify individual harvest units; by only identifying broad areas within which harvest may occur, it does not fully explain to the public how or where actual timber activities will affect localized habitats.”

The decision stops logging until the court issues its final merits ruling, which is promised by March 31, 2020.

27 thoughts on “Court Enjoins Logging Using “Condition-Based Analysis””

  1. While somewhat similar to “adaptive management”, I wondered if “condition-based analysis” would pass the “do you trust me?” test? It seems the answer is “no” in AK.

    • Does “condition-based analysis” … pass the.. “do you trust me test” in AK?

      Excellent question Anthony — and prescient. The question of “public trust” in the agency has been effectively answered by the resident commenting public with a resounding, “Nope!”

      And even more interestingly, this failure of trust spans the political spectrum from diehard timber industry supporters (such as Wrangell’s economic development director), to many outspoken subsistence-dependent residents of the Tongass National Forest.

      Condition based analysis is a transparent agency attempt to subvert NEPA.

      This agency culture of expressing open contempt for NEPA, NFMA, Clean Water Act, ESA, APA, MUSYA, etc. is being normalized, (as demonstrated in the courts over decades) and the disdain remains painfully evident by both current and former agency careerists and eNGO collaborateurs on this blog. The R10 IDT members and astonishingly even the “IDT leader/NEPA Coordinator,” has openly expressed her disdain for NEPA recently in an “open house” public meeting on the next “condition based review” long term timber sale already in the pipeline (Central Tongass Project — which will likely also be forced back to the drawing board.)

      “Efficiency” ranks highly as the favored dog whistle for NEPA neoliberal de-regulationists.

      Then there is that leaked agency document never intended for public disclosure, known as the Washington Office Activity Review (WOAR). Its ten member team investigated two recent large timber sales on R10. Under the heading,”Need for Review”, the WOAR was explicit:

      “National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) disclosure, decision implementation, and timber theft from National Forest System land continues to attract national attention.” Failures to implement NEPA designated prescriptions were rampant in both timber sales reviewed on two separate ranger districts. Failures to abide by the Gate system, failures of record keeping including producing a legal contract on request, and too many other violations of federal law to list here was uncovered, and then systematically covered up!

      In fact, besides the many millions of Americans and international citizens of the planet who are already on record as defenders of the Tongass — the entirety of those Tongass residents who have chosen (to my knowledge) to publicly testify seemingly shared a unanimous and well-justified, or at least, implied DIStrust in an agency having long-since demonstrated its open contempt for NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act.)

      NEPA of course, is known by legal scholars as “the Magna Carta” and “gold standard” of environmental law: NEPA is an internationally-significant legislation which has been copied by many other nations.

      So the question is, “If it takes several centuries for coastal temperate rainforest Structure, Function, and Composition to establish its complex interconnected plant and animal communities across the Alexander Archipelago, how would a mere 3 or 4 years of thorough NEPA review be regarded as”wasteful” by the very agency charged with public trust, and “caring for the land?”‘

  2. I found it interesting that the Forest Service internal webinar on the proposed NEPA changes noted that condition-based NEPA is more suited to places where we have good knowledge about the effects; if we don’t have that, then condition-based NEPA is probably not suitable. I wonder if that was the case here? Kind of sounds like it from what the judge said. One place that I have seen it used is to thin managed stands that are 40-60 years old. That seemed to be a case where we can identify the effects and the locations on the ground.

  3. From the court decision: “An EA is meant to determine whether an action will have a significant impact on the environment, such that an EIS is necessary. In contrast, an EIS must compare the environmental impacts of different alternatives, not just determine whether environmental impacts will occur. While the Forest Service’s analysis of the Project’s maximum potential impacts to wildlife may be appropriate for an EA, it may not be sufficient to meet the requirements for an EIS.”

    This appears to be the basis for granting the injunction, but the Tongass analyzed 4 alternatives, including No Action. What am I missing here?

    • I think the court blurred two distinct legal issues: (1) condition-based management and (2) maximum potential effects. The court faulted the former, not sure about the latter.

  4. (Re: “What am I missing here.”)

    The Tongass, among the last remnants of our planet’s rarified coastal temperate rainforests, is situated within an archipelago. In its natural state, it is already naturally fragmented and prone to isolated, endemic, old growth-dependent populations of plants and animals. This includes our already decimated wild salmon runs.

    The unnatural scale of deforestation and conversion of its most biologically important habitat to short rotation tree farm status in the last century is permanently destroying old growth structure, function and composition.

    The Tongass now faces a perfect storm. As it has endured an extreme drought for the last two years, and a second unnaturally warm and massive area of ocean occurs (known as “the Blob” in the Gulf of Alaska and North Pacific, resulting in the toxic and starvation deaths of tens of thousands of seabirds and marine mammals); the state of Alaska, the Arctic, its tundra and interior BC, Siberia, Greenland, and elsewhere is also on fire.

    Our planet is on fire. That’s what you’re missing.

    And you are missing the corporate capture of a thoroughly corrupted agency and especially its Region 10, which is forced by Alaska’s delegation to get the cut out with extreme prejudice and open contempt for public process, environmental laws, and USFS protocols to function in the public’s best interest.

    And you are missing the fact that Alaska’s state government was found to be the most corrupt in all 50 states by percentage of convictions of elected public officials and state employees per capita by two social scientists.

    And you are missing the corporate capture of environmental groups which have already greenwashed the privatization and deregulation of 80,000 acres of these public lands, (to Sealaska Native Corporation— indisputably the worst land managers in the history of Southeast Alaska). And currently, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is now poised to double-down on their SEACC/Sealaska accomplishment by greenwashing the next privatization bill in the name of endorsing known carbon credit scams their funders will handsomely profit from through transferring 115,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest to the same Native Corporate extractivists under the rubric of “Landless Natives.“

    And you are missing the fact that you as a taxpayer are paying heavily for the systematic destruction and conversion of the Tongass to a colonial export tree plantation status.

    And you are apparently missing that all this is resulting in the consequent acceleration of our biosphere towards “irreversible, catastrophic” climate chaos, far sooner than was predicted by international scientific consensus.

    Now that we know what is going on by these actions we cannot claim the triggering of unstoppable climate-forcing feedbacks were unintended consequences.

    And for that, we are missing the ugly fact never before, have so few so irreversibly triggered the destruction of our beautiful planet inhabited by so many.

    The ethical dimensions of such disregard, our inaction, and amoral apathy are truly staggering to behold.

  5. Any Forest Service conclusion that the location of any vegetation manipulation is not important flies in the face of wildlife-habitat concepts of interspersion, juxtaposition and limiting factors – concepts I learned in the 1950s. What has happened to this wonderful agency?

  6. I just don’t think that the Forest Service has earned enough trust to be allowed all that power. Never mind that the eco-groups deny them opportunities, though. These ‘slippery slop-isms’ are just scare tactics, and we’ve now seen them taken to the extreme. (Clearcut the Giants Sequoias?!?!?)

    In a perfect world, this plan would be the way to go but…

  7. To Dave’s question, I agree that the court didn’t quite connect the dots here, but I think it makes an important distinction. In an EA the question is whether effects are significant, and the maximum effects can be used to determine whether the EIS significance threshold is crossed. In an EIS the question is which alternative has the desired outcomes and effects, and maximum effects don’t fully address this question. If all alternatives might have unknown effects at or below their maximums, the EIS does not ‘reasonably set forth sufficient information to enable the decisionmaker to consider the environmental factors and make a reasoned decision.’ (All alternatives might even have the same effects.) The FS likes to say (as they did here) that “the Project will produce environmental effects that fall within those already disclosed and analyzed in the EIS.” While relevant, this is not the only purpose of an EIS (and this court also references the CEQ regulations that pertain to the importance of alternatives).

    The Forest Service seems to like to suggest that this is “adaptive management.” Adaptive management has an explicit feedback loop based on monitoring, and it must meet NEPA requirements for new information and new or changing decisions. It doesn’t mean “we’ll figure it out when we get there, so trust us” like “condition-based management” does.

    I think there is still the question of whether the FS has actually considered all the impacts of the specific locations and methods of timber harvest selected for this first timber sale. They would have had to have site-specific analysis for every potential location and treatment and impact in this EIS. I agree with Anonymous that this would be more plausible for managed stands with a data base history.

    • Actually, my name is David (apparently yours as well?) and I understand your intended context was limited to legalese. That was precisely my point.

      The difference in our perspectives is the chasm between legalese, (the letter), vs. the intent— (the ethical roots of NEPA).

      That I personally witness whole watersheds, and landscape level degradations akin to war-torn battlefields and old growth communities under neoliberal siege and you do not, and that I personally suffer, the direct effects of the Petersburg (Central Tongass Project), and the Thorne Bay Ranger Districts of Region10, both of which the Washington Office Activity Review of 2016 provided all the circumstantial evidence necessary to conclude corruption of a captured agency exists at the Regional Office, Supervisor Office, and Ranger Districts level, have been bent not only on subverting the letter, but the intent of NEPA as well. To ignore the ethical dimensions of this matter, from my perspective, has significant ethical consequences.

      Perhaps the agency once functioned under an ethical aegis (and perhaps you have a career in that agency?)

      I know without out a doubt, the agency is full of well-intentioned individuals. But as Upton Sinclair noted long ago, “It is hard to get someone to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.“

      • Here’s a visual of what David Beebe is talking about.

        Tonka Timber Sale clearcuts, Tongass National Forest( Lindenberg Peninsula, Kupreanof Island – Southeast Alaska 7/12/2019)

        Old-growth forest clearcutting was ongoing on the Tongass National Forest’s Big Thorne timber sale on Prince of Wales Island. Photo by Jacob Ritley, as part of the Tongass Groundtruth Expedition, 2016.

      • That is a marvelous quotation by Upton Sinclair. I’ve seen it before and should be quoting it elsewhere, because it is so true.

        I find it interesting that under President Trump some of the land management agencies have turned on a dime on some of these fraught environmental and aesthetic/cultural issues.

        The deep-state theory says that this is impossible, that the agencies answer only to their own culture, which in turn is mired in stasis and achieve results at a rate appreciably slower than a bottle drifting across the Pacific Ocean and reaching the opposite shore.

        But it’s happening. Interior secretary David Bernhardt’s recent order directing all DOI agencies to open formerly nonmotorized multiuse trails to e-bikes in just two weeks is an example. I wonder how the e-bike industry achieved this. The order probably violates the Administrative Procedure Act. I am agog that he dared to do it and, despite the likely APA violation, which I do not approve of at all, I find it a bit refreshing that something actually happens for once. If it becomes a problem, Secretary Bernhardt can repeal his order.

        • “I know without out a doubt, the agency is full of well-intentioned individuals. But as Upton Sinclair noted long ago, “It is hard to get someone to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.“

          I’m not really sure that the Sinclair quote fits. Many FS employees receive their salaries via funding streams that are not timber (e.g. wildlife, fisheries, watershed, recreation, and so on). Plus the FS is full of people of an environmentally protective bent. So.. why are there timber harvests? Because Congress asks there to be, and they, when contested in court, have been found to be legal.

          Forest Service employees as do other government agencies, sign up with the idea that they are part of the executive branch and that elected officials will tell them what to do.

          As to Bernhardt’s order, he could order it (thereby pleasing parties and getting them off his back) while the agencies’ general own stasis will lead to .. who knows.. something definitely worth watching.

          • I didn’t mean to disparage Forest Service employees by approving of the Upton Sinclair quotation. I like it because I’ve seen it apply generally to human behavior.

            I myself have been told to do things by employers that I knew were not the best-advised course. But their directions weren’t evil, just suboptimal; I needed my paycheck; and so I followed orders.

            Only a relative few are immune to this necessary compromise in life: financially secure retirees; tenured professors (and they not always); and the independently wealthy. They should not look down their noses at others not so fortunate.

          • “I’m not really sure that the Sinclair quote fits. Many FS employees receive their salaries via funding streams that are not timber (e.g. wildlife, fisheries, watershed, recreation, and so on). Plus the FS is full of people of an environmentally protective bent.”

            Since you are quoting my statement, and since I have already clearly stated there exists well-meaning USFS employees of conscience, and and since this article focuses on R10, and since you clearly feel compelled to conflate R10 (apparently with R2 and beyond?), as if you shared the same personal knowledge and experience and countless FOIAs I’ve acquired over the last two decades, I feel obligated to respond.

            The lion’s share of the budget pie in R10 has always gone to the timber department of old growth liquidation– with up to 50% for round log export, and 100% young growth.

            That’s the case even though recreation revenues easily eclipses all timber revenues.

            Taxpayers for Common Sense has just released a report documenting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars as a result of R10 timber program funding.

            I am utterly certain my quote above fits R10 precisely. But don’t just take my word for it– the Washington Office Activity Review team of specialists’ Findings of Fact documented profound abuses of agency protocols (FSM, FSH, S&Gs, etc.etc.) resulting in millions of dollars of losses to the regional economy from stark failures to follow NEPA, contract law and countless other acts of maladministration, and coverup.

            I have personal friends and acquaintances who are/were employees of R10, who have privately admitted to me the essence of Sinclair’s axiom, over the last two and a half decades of my activism — of the systematically-applied, extreme agency reprisal measures to “bucking the system” on the Tongass.

            I lost a personal friend who died as a whistleblower under such extended and extreme agency reprisals for successfully appealing the timber sale he was the IDT leader of.

            Glen Ith suffered false charges of employee misconduct as a result of his adherence to his professional obligations to report official fraud and abuse.

            Abigail Kimbell, former Tongass National Forest Supervisor, was responsible for the single largest reprisal of whistleblowers in the history of the USFS. Later, 8 of those whistleblowers filed a class action lawsuit for being falsely accused and were rewarded by a court of law, tens of thousands of TAXPAYER dollars each in reparations;

            Abigail Kimbell was rewarded with PROMOTION to Chief of the USFS.
            (You and I have already had this discussion in detail long ago, or perhaps you’ve forgotten?)

            I am frankly astonished at your personal disregard for such well-documented agency abuses, and your willingness to explain-away my personal experiences and well documented facts through your facile apologetics and vacuous rationalizations on matters you clearly have no personal experience with, while freely exhibiting your profoundly baseless biases.

            How dare you Sharon? Is it Kind? Is it True? Is it Helpful? (If so, please explain to whom?)

            • “. . . your willingness to explain-away my personal experiences and well documented facts through your facile apologetics and vacuous rationalizations on matters you clearly have no personal experience with, while freely exhibiting your profoundly baseless biases. How dare you Sharon?”

              Facile apologetics. Vacuous rationalizations. Baseless biases.

              Is this kind of rhetoric really necessary to get one’s point across? I think not.

              • Howdy “Lourenco Marques.”

                RE: “Is this kind of rhetoric really necessary to get one’s point across? I think not.”

                Do you not remember posting this 5 days ago?

                As for Great Old Broads for Wilderness, was there ever a more embarrassing name for an organization? (Well, maybe Riverkeeper or Earthjustice.) And how many of GOBFW members are there? I’d bet a few dozen at the most. I bet it’s a Potemkin village. I wonder who funds it.

                • Greetings, Matthew, and top of the day to you,

                  Do you not recall that I retracted the Potemkin village comment, after investigating the GOBFW at your invitation?

                  How often does anyone retract any comment on these pages? I can’t think of another time besides my instance.

                  As for Great Old Broads for Wilderness being an “embarrassing name for an organization,” I adhere to that opinion. It’s cringeworthy.

                  You called my comment faintly misogynist. That was the first time I had ever seen anyone rush to defend the classically misogynist (and fortunately fading) noun “broad,” by suggesting that it’s misogynist to criticize it as misogynist.

                  As Mr. Spock used to say, “fascinating.”

                  I should start a mountain biking advocacy group. I’ll consider calling it Wheeljustice or Trailkeeper or some such!

  8. Andy and others, in the Tennessee Creek case, that we talked about here, the judge apparently thought condition based analysis was OK. Can anyone explain what the Tongass did wrong and the PSICC did right? Or was it a random judge predilection factor? Or ???? My italics below.

    “The EA analyzed what could happen whatever sites were eventually chosen for treatment by the Project, so long as the Project restrictions were satisfied. The Service’s analysis accounted for the uncertainty about treatment locations by evaluating the Project’s effects on lynx in a worst-case scenario in which all the mapped lynx habitat in the Project area is treated, and by including conservation measures to protect high-quality lynx habitat, such as not treating healthy spruce-fir stands or any stands with greater than 35% dense horizontal cover. Moreover, the Service had a valid reason for not identifying specific treatment sites in its EA: it intends to select treatment units based on changing on-the-ground conditions over the 10 to 15 years of the Project. NEPA leaves “substantial discretion to an agency to determine how best to gather and assess information” about a project’s environmental impacts.”

    Which of course, seems like it would also have ramifications for the legality of the proposed rule. Judges don’t seem to be in agreement on the basic principle, unless I’m missing something.

  9. I explained in some detail what I thought went right with Tennessee Creek in my comments at the link you provided above. The issues and facts in that case just lined up nicely for the Forest Service to defend it; condition-based analysis was ok IN THAT CASE. The main difference between these two cases was that Tennessee Creek was an EA (the importance of that is discussed in my comment above – which can supersede my speculation about an EIS in the Tennessee Creek comments).

    • Thanks Jon, for pointing out the obvious: For Sharon to suggest an EA is an appropriate comparison to the scale and magnitude of destruction occurring on the R10 is most curious.

  10. “Lourenco”,
    Thanks for your “think not” thoughts as to whether my rhetorical thoughts are “necessary”—

    or not.

    To begin with, context matters — but you’ve rhetorically excised the relevant context, so in the spirit of “restoration”, here it is again:

    (The context here is about my indignation over Sharon’s)”personal disregard for such well-documented agency abuses.”

    But first, here’s further context — not merely derived from my personal experience, but from a 2012 article in the Eugene Oregon, Register-Guard, titled:

    “A culture of corruption and political payoffs harms the land and ourselves”

    GUEST VIEWPOINT: The timber racket
    By Jeffrey Kent
    For The Register-Guard
    Jan 1, 2012

    “As a federal prosecutor in Eugene I oversaw in the late 1980s and early
    1990s a dozen investigations and prosecutions exposing rampant theft of
    federal timber. These thefts ran into the tens of millions of dollars and
    mocked thousands of hours of scientific work that established federal
    timber sale boundaries.”

    (This is a fascinating article -one of countless others worthy of full attention and consequent indignation by all present and future owners of the NFS.)

    Having reestablished context fortified by informed opinions other than my own, I continue..

    Over the years I’ve been commenting on this blog, I have yet to see Sharon register a level of concern commensurate with the scale and gravity of documented agency abuses and fraud that even the agency itself has admitted having occurred. This includes the relatively recent gobsmacking, “Findings” of Fact by the Washington Office Activity Review investigative team — declaring in its ”Need for Review”, (again, coyly stating 4 years after publication of, “The Timber Racket” by Jeffrey Kent…,)

    “National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) disclosure, decision implementation, and timber theft from National Forest System land continues to attract national attention.”

    (So, these issues of NEPA and USFS – enabled timber theft have been ongoing. Like, from at least the 80s, through the 90s, and to the brink of 2020 … right?)

    FOIA’s of the Big Thorne and Tonka Timber sale revealed only 6 units out of several scores of units of the Tonka Timber Sale alone were actually inspected. However by the ONLY two Law Enforcement officers on the entire Tongass — both were found to often not be bothering to even test for tracer paint. The Field Guide to Timber Theft (written by former whistleblower Special Agents) advises to ask for the District’s Prevention of Timber theft manual. None existed on the Petersburg Ranger District in response to my specific FOIA request.

    I find it extremely disquieting, that the former agency careerist running this blog isn’t as concerned as ANY member of the affected public on matters such as taxpayer losses measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, subversions of NEPA, large scale timber theft, species extinction, anthropogenic climate disruption, and all the aforementioned documented facts of agency corruption listed in my past comments.

    Sharon’s positions routinely belie, contradict, and render meaningless, the agency credo of “Caring for the land, serving people.”

    Here’s the most recent example:

    I was referring to Sharon’s facile (“appearing neat and comprehensive only by ignoring the true complexities of an issue; superficial”) apologetics: (“writings in justification for something.”) specific to the WOAR Findings of Facts (NOT allegations, rather, Findings of Fact).
    In Sharon’s own words:

    “Forest Service employees … sign up with the idea that they are part of the executive branch and that elected officials will tell them what to do.”

    So let’s unpack that:

    With that facile statement, Sharon, “neatly,” and “comprehensively,” “ignores the true complexities of the issue” which is that several whistleblowers over several decades (including federal prosecutors, Law Enforcement Special Agents, biologists and timber contracting specialists alike, have come forward because WHAT THEY WERE TOLD TO DO BY THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH AND LINE OFFICERS was FLAT-OUT ILLEGAL.

    However, failing to blow the whistle assures the collaborating federal employee glowing evaluations, intact retirement benefits, steady promotions, and future bonuses. (Yet Sharon states, “I’m not really sure that the Sinclair quote fits.”)??

    In the case of the WOAR, the Contracting Officer at the center of both the Tonka Timber Sale and the Big Thorne Timber Sale maladministration caught in full blown violation of NEPA, Contract law, FSH, FSM, etc. etc. was PROMOTED TO DISTRICT RANGER and the agency has yet to produce an independent forensic audit of those sales.)

    Failing to whistleblow on the other hand, will also constitute violation of federal ethics laws as well as be subject to “Misprison of a felony” (the failure of a federal employee to report agency fraud and theft.)

    Again, what’s left to conclude when Abigail Kimbell was rewarded with appointment to Chief of the USFS –for falsely accusing and retaliating against more than 40 whistleblowers?

    A prior USFS Chief, Jack Ward Thomas, disbanded the Timber Theft Investigative Branch just as it was investigating and closing in on the unprecedented scales of timber theft documented on the Tongass.

    Federal prosecutors refer to the USFS as “Unindicted Co-conspirators,” and a white paper on the PEER website with that title comprehensively documents this, along with another white paper titled “Stealing the Tongass.”

    Agency whistleblowers conversely, are routinely charged with false claims of “employee misconduct,” then suspended without pay, relieved of duties, forced to hire an attorney, and to incur tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees during extended EEOC investigations and hearings which can last years. This rigged agency game and war of attrition functionally checkmates any supposed protections of the Whistleblower Protection Act.

    To think of the ruination of the countless careers of principled professionals across the USFS ranks being reduced to Sharon’s vacuous rationalizations and facile apologetics because professionals “signed up” to follow executive orders, “tell(ing) them what to do” — is akin to advocating the internationally-derided, long-discredited, “Nuremberg Defense.”

    This failure to acknowledge these abuses is especially disquieting, regarding such well documented executive and line officer abuses and the hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer losses documented by Taxpayers for Common Sense and other oversight agencies — all of which deserves nothing BUT righteous indignation — not from just me, but from all members of the public and all agency careerists such as Sharon.

    I have yet to read of any acknowledgement or concern commensurate with the gravity and magnitude of these agency documented, prior House investigations and several investigative journalist’s findings consistent with evidence of a captured agency.

    The silence here on such matters in fact, is deafening.

    • Thanks, David Beebe. Actually, I welcome these observations about the Forest Service. Do you think that the agency is accountable to any external force, or only to itself and its self-described “culture”? If the latter, what is the remedy, if there is one?

      • Rampant timber theft across the NFS is well-documented and well-known by Sharon. (and might explain why “timber theft” is absent from the Smokey Wire “Categories”?)

        The solution to this is simple: the legislative establishment of a national program to prevent timber theft.

        Such a law enforcement program must be totally-independent from the agency and fully-funded. Alaska’s Representative, Don Young successfully subverted prior House directives to establish such a program when this rose to national attention in the early 90’s. He accomplished this along with a cabal of rightwing legislators (Larry Craig and Helen Chenowith).

        according to Jeffrey Kent in the same article above:
        “This culture originated in the political sphere with campaign contributions
        and eventually permeated the entire regulatory agency. Timber sale
        administrators learned early in their careers that tough regulatory stances
        were routinely trumped by supervisors responding to industry complaints.
        These low-level administrators soon realized that it would be easier to get
        along than to fight such a formidable foe. They learned that any
        inappropriate logging of reserve trees was presumed to be a result of
        mistakes, and never willful criminal acts. They also learned early that
        potential crimes were not to be reported to law enforcement without
        explicit supervisor approval, which seemed to never come.”

        As Jeffrey Kent explained further:
        “High-ranking Forest Service supervisors routinely referred to the timber
        industry as their “partner” rather than as companies doing commercial
        business with the government. This terminology betrayed naïveté and carried
        a strong suggestion of a political rather than a regulatory choice of
        “The system of elections supported by campaign
        contributions, now made unlimited under recent irrational U.S. Supreme
        Court decisions, poisons the entire political and regulatory system.
        Whether the industry is oil, finance, defense, or timber, all decisions
        inevitably favor industry, typically at the expense of the public interest.

        “The only remedy, in my opinion, is a constitutional amendment that
        nullifies the Supreme Court opinions and mandates publicly financed
        campaigns so that politicians’ and bureaucrats’ obligations and loyalties
        are no longer compromised by campaign contributions from special interests.
        Unfortunately, the path to such a solution is clogged by the very
        politicians who are already indebted to their campaign contributors.”

        Sharon knows this too, yet heartily endorses following orders based upon status quo legalized bribery of the executive branch ordering corruption from the highest levels of the agency. Doing so, Sharon effectively turns her back on those countless brave, principled, agency whistleblowers who were made to pay dearly for standing up for ethical, professional principles.

        • Speaking of timber theft, this news story also includes wildfires.

          Timber thieves indicted in conspiracy that started 3,300-acre forest fire: Defendants attempted to burn bee’s nest – Started August 2018 fire in Olympic National Forest

          Seattle – Two former Hood Canal area residents are under arrest on an indictment charging eight federal felonies related to their scheme to steal the wood of big leaf maple trees from Olympic National Forest, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. The indictment alleges that between April and August 2018, JUSTIN ANDREW WILKE and SHAWN EDWARD WILLIAMS felled and sold publicly-owned maple trees. The indictment alleges that, in August 2018, the defendants started a forest fire when they set fire to a bee’s nest in a tree they were trying to unlawfully harvest from the National Forest land. The resulting fire – known as “The Maple Fire” – burned more than 3,300 acres between August and November 2018 and cost approximately $4.5 million to contain.


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