The Bipartisan REPLANT Act- Does Everyone Agree?

Forest Service crew plants trees. Michael Giagio, Colorado Springs Gazette

Thanks to NAFSR for their post about this. Does everyone think this proposed legislation is a good thing?
Off the top of my head, I can only think that the folks who are currently collecting the monies (if there are any such people) might not like it. Or perhaps that the difference currently goes into the Treasury which does need the funds. Still, it doesn’t seem like a lot of money, relatively speaking (a billion here and a billion there..).

Here are the introducers of the bill: Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID), Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA), and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) introduced the Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees Act or the REPLANT Act, legislation to expand funding for the U.S. I don’t know if it’s going anywhere but…

Repairing Existing Public Lands by Adding Necessary Trees
The REPLANT Act would:
• Remove the cap on the reforestation trust fund, so that the Forest Service would receive all the monies generated from imported wood products and lumber tariffs.
o The Forest Service currently receives $30 million/year for the Reforestation Trust Fund. The yearly authorization for the Reforestation Trust Fund has not increased since it was established 40 years ago.
o Monies are generated from imported wood products and lumber tariffs. The 10-year annual average amount of tariffs collected on those products is nearly $124 million per year ($309 million in 2019).
o The Reforestation Trust fund provides most of the funding for post-disturbance reforestation on national forests. Reforestation needs caused by wildfire, insects and disease, and weather events have increased and collectively account for 85% of reforestation needs on national forests.
o To address our current and anticipated reforestation needs over the next 10 years, it is estimated to cost approximately 1.8 billion, or $183 million annually.
o Raising or eliminating the cap on the reforestation trust fund would help to close the funding gap and enable the Agency to more fully address reforestation and stand improvement needs across the national forests.
• Require the Chief to work with the Regional Foresters to create a list of priority reforestation projects to promote effective reforestation following unplanned events;
• Emphasize using Stewardship contracting and Good Neighbor Agreement authorities to conduct reforestation activities and directs the Forest Service to quantify the backlog of
replanting needs; and
• Require an annual report to Congress on progress and number of acres in need of reforestation.

To read the full version of the Bill, click on this link

Unifying the Country: What Would That Look Like on Federal Lands?

This map has more than federal lands on it but you can click to size.

We’re heading into election season, so the verbiage weather report is for lots of hype, blame, castigation and name-calling. Assuming the worst of the Other and smoky shading of the truth. Not my favorite time, however…

We have an opportunity to develop ideas and proposals that we think would be uniting.. because, after all, one candidate said that that uniting the country is a goal. We can see plenty of unity around federal lands, even on this site, although media coverage and we tend to focus on the controversial.

I’d like to go back to Dave Freudenthal’s 2010 letter to then Interior Secretary Salazar.

Unfortunately, Washington, D.C. seems to go from pillar to post to placate what is perceived as a key constituency. I only half-heartedly joke with those in industry that, during the prior administration, their names were chiseled above the chairs outside the office of the Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals. With the changes announced yesterday, I fear that we are merely swapping the names above those same chairs to environmental interests, giving them a stranglehold on an already cumbersome process.

Can you think of mechanisms that might avoid the “pillar to post-iness” of swapping out Administrations? They have the difficult task of representing everyone, while favoring their friends.

Ted Zukoski brought up the concept of accountability via legal means earlier this week. We could broaden the discussion to “accountability to whom” and “for what”? What mechanisms have been tried (e.g. multi-party monitoring) and have they been successful?

There’s also building trust. One way that was thought about was to develop third-party certification procedures or some milder and less expensive form of that. Or perhaps how to spend GAOA windfalls, an advisory committee for that?

Fortunately here you can be in the weeds if that’s your preferred habitat. So ideas like the People’s Data- making it more easily available, public access to PALs and so on, would also fit.

For those of you into metrics, it’s interesting to think about how you would measure unifying efforts in a way that could be applied to any Administration. Not that we would think of something, but it might show the different ways we think about it.

So I’m encouraging posts which you can send to me which contain:

1. Proposals, ideas, processes, or structures that you think would be unifying.
2. Examples of something unifying that has worked in practice and you would like to see more of.
3. Possible metrics

There are plenty of folks and organizations here and in other countries who do great work so feel free to steal ideas, proposals or examples from someone else. The only requirement is that you explain why you think it makes sense and why you think it’s unifying. I’m encouraging folks to write guest posts with the links and your thinking, and less preferred would be a comment below.

I’d like to stick to “things to do” and not “things not to do” which tends to descend into a spiral of negativity. I think there’s enough of that out there right now.

Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee: Fifty Year Later

The Sierra Club seem to really not like Colorado Senator Gardner-e.g. billboards, TV ads, newspaper ads and so on.. link here Perhaps ironically, Gardner was responsible for shepherding the Great American Outdoors Act, including fully and permanently funding LWCF, through Congress.

I’m taking a break from posting Forest Service Folktales, as I am trying to locate authors who sent only paper copies. I’ve been thinking that It might be good to look back at the last 50 years or so and see how things have or have not changed. What did the federal lands landscape look like prior to OHV’s? prior to climate change (as an issue)? Perhaps the past will lead us to new insights about today.

Let’s begin with John McPhee’s book, “Encounters with the Archdruid” . It was originally run in The New Yorker in March of 1971. Remember, the original Earth Day was 1970. There was no CAA, no CWA, no ESA, no NFMA. NEPA had been signed into law on January 1, 1970. In this book, McPhee organizes hikes/camping trips with David Brower, founder of the Sierra Club, and Charles Park, a mining engineer, Charles Fraser, a resource developer, and Floyd Dominy, a builder of dams. According to reviewer Steward Udall, “McPhee reveals more nuances of the values revolution that dominates the new age of ecology than most writers could pack into a volume twice as long. I marvel at his capacity to listen intently and extract the essence of a man and his philosophy in the fewest possible works.” Why this is a fun read for me is that people discuss their philosophies about specific things- dams, mines, housing, and the trade-offs between peoples’ needs and leaving Nature alone.

What was interesting to me is that the worldview of Brower is still around today, as in “don’t mess with the earth- at least not “special places”” but the rationale for this view has become more complex. Biodiversity, climate change, tourist and recreation economies are all reasons supporting this philosophy today. Look in any press release about a Wilderness bill. So it made me wonder if the “let things alone” is an underlying value, with only the expressions and arguments of today carefully included or excluded. For example, Brower was not fond of dams. Yet now hydroelectric power is seen to be good for climate change, so we don’t notice that so much. Climate change is obviously unnatural- so leaving land alone doesn’t make the vegetation conditions or wildlife “natural,” due to climate change, but the idea is still that leaving it alone is best.

I didn’t expect that 50 years ago McPhee would have noticed some of the things we observe today.

When Brower was the executive director of the Sierra Club, the organization became famous for bold full-page newspaper ads designed to arouse the populace and written in a style that might be called Early Paul Revere. One such ad called attention to the Kennecot Copper Corporation’s ambitions in the Glacier Peak Wilderness under the headline “AN OPEN PIT, BIG ENOUGH TO BE SEEN FROM THE MOON.” The fact that this was not true did not slow up Brower or the Sierra Club. In the war strategy of the conservation movement, exaggeration is a standard weapon and is used consciously on broad fronts.” (p. 37)

What’s interesting is thinking about how the conflict was deemed to be a “war” and so “anything’s fair” would naturally follow. The ends justify the means.
At around the same time, the Civil Rights movement had just lost Dr. Martin Luther King, who saw that struggle as anything but warlike. This was more than likely based on his beliefs and role as a Christian minister. What was it about the Sierra Club that led to the “warfare” thinking? Was it a cultural accident- the impact of certain leaders early on?

Fifty years later, there are still remnants of the “warfare” orientation in some people in some environmental groups. We still see the Early Paul Revere style of communication and the casualness with regard to the accuracy of statements. If I had to guess, I think it’s become a habit. But to many, it’s kind of an annoying habit. Maybe after 50 years, it’s time to change?

If you’d like to read Encounters with the Archdruid” please feel free to come back and tell us your own observations. What has changed over the last 50 years? What hasn’t? What surprised you?

Empathizing With Everyone: Patty Limerick and Violence in Western History

A Kiowa ledger drawing possibly depicting the Buffalo Wallow battle in 1874, one of several clashes between Southern Plains Indians and the U.S. Army during the Red River War. Image from TARL Collections (TMM-1988-21 Reverse).


Folktales will return next week.  The recent discussion about Oregon counties reminded me that we can feel compassion for everyone.  There’s no need to ration compassion, as the human heart can be infinitely elastic. In Patty Limerick’s words:

Refusing restraint, empathy defied and transgressed the most clearly marked lines of antagonism and opposition,

So I thought I’d post this piece by University of Colorado history professor Patty Limerick that talks about her journey toward CTA (compassion or empathy toward all) in terms of Western American history.  Which is not unrelated to #EnvironmentWithoutEnemies.  Somehow many environmental (including forest) issues have folks involved who tend to see “good guys” and “bad guys’.  Or black-and-white issues (e.g., salvage logging must always be bad).  Or perhaps they don’t really think that way, but choose to communicate in those ways because they think good guy-bad guy narratives get more clicks, or portraying something as black-and-white is more persuasive.  Hard to tell. There are also many people who don’t see the world this way, but perhaps it is more difficult to find them on social media.

Anyway, Here’s the link to Patty’s entire piece and an excerpt below.

In the early 1990s, I called a halt to this awkward effort at self-protection and wrote an essay called “Haunted America” on violent conflicts between whites and Indians. This essay appeared in a book of photographs taken at places where calamities and tragedies had occurred. With rare exceptions, most of these sites had become places of forgetfulness, without any visible indication of the brutal events of the past.

For three months, I read nothing but stories of violent encounters between Indian people and Euro-American soldiers and settlers. When I woke in the middle of the night and when I got up in the morning, my mind found no refuge from bullets, knives, arrows, sabers, ropes for hanging, and torches for burning.

Soon, there was nothing left of the emotional distance I had tried to keep between me and the violence of the Western past.

There is no question of who provoked these wars and who invaded whom. Euro-American people were the invaders, and Indian people were the inhabitants of the lands the invaders wanted.

And yet, immersed in wrenching stories of violence, I lost the ability to choose sides.

I empathized with Indian people, who had been besieged, pursued, and attacked in episodes beyond counting.

I empathized with settlers, who were often genuinely oblivious to their status as disruptive invaders, but who became, for reasons that would be hard to miss, targets of attack.

When people suffered devastating attacks on their homes, I responded with equal anguish to the miseries inflicted on families of Indian people, families of white people, and, maybe most vulnerable of all, families of people of mixed heritage.

Refusing restraint, empathy defied and transgressed the most clearly marked lines of antagonism and opposition, and I found myself unable to discount the ordeals of the soldiers who had been placed squarely in the middle of situations where resentment, retaliation, and rage ruled.

Many of these soldiers were immigrants who arrived in the United States with little money and who saw signing up as soldiers as one of their few routes to opportunity. Others were African American men who were emancipated slaves, or refugees from the injustices of Southern tenant farming and sharecropping. Meanwhile, even if Army officers may have come from origins in what we would now call “white privilege,” there was nothing that could pass for comfort or ease in the life of soldiers from the white working class.

Indisputably an army of invasion, this was also an army of unreliable equipment and inadequate clothing, especially in seasons of heat and cold; meager and often inedible rations; and constant risk of accidents, exposure, illness, exhaustion, and injury and death in battle. Perhaps most important, the soldiers faced these risks because they were following the orders and executing the policies decreed by distant presidents, senators, congressmen, and appointed officials who had only a sketchy knowledge of the conditions in the West.

Yes, these soldiers participated in devastating military campaigns against Indian people. But nothing in their stories could convince me to lead the campaign for their demonization.

By the time I sat down to write the essay, I had empathized with nearly everyone. But a few individuals, who had moved through life with a savage and intentional cruelty, gave empathy a chance to take a break. In truth, it was a relief to come upon dreadful people who I could simply find contemptible.

I’m not sure that we have any of those in our (forest) world.