New Topics or Questions from Readers

The purpose of comments on this page is to raise new topics that don’t fit existing posts.

64 thoughts on “New Topics or Questions from Readers”

  1. sharon – I’m still enjoying this site, especially the hot debate about the NezPerce-Clearwater.

    Browsing around I found that the link attached to Char Miller on the contributors page goes to a very strange place: an unformatted, barely intelligible diatribe about cell phones and airplanes

    Reply
  2. Hi Sharon and Valued Contributors-

    I was hoping that you all could shed a little light on the status of the Stewardship Contracting Authority. It was my understanding that the Stewardship Contracting Authority was due to expire at the end of September 2013.

    In doing a little digging around, it appears that an attempt to reauthorize it this summer, S. 1300: Stewardship Contracting Reauthorization and Improvement Act, hasn’t moved out of committee. I was wondering if there would be any implications to this authority expiring, possibly with current contracts under the provision (perhaps the 4FRI).

    Your perspectives are greatly appreciated.

    F. Scott Wagner

    Reply
    • I asked SAF’s policy director John Barnwell, about the Stewardship Contracting Authorization. Here’s his reply:

      “Stewardship Contracting Authorization expired on September 30th , but a provision for a short-term extension of the authority was included in the House of Representatives Continuing Resolution prior to the government shutdown.

      “We will see, reauthorization is clearly a priority for the Administration and appears to have bipartisan support in Congress. Reauthorization is also included in the House and Senate versions of the farm bill. A conference committee composed of members of the House and Senate was just designated to discuss and hammer out a negotiated Farm Bill this week.

      “S. 1300 Stewardship Contracting Reauthorization and Improvement Act was introduced by Senators Flake and McCain. SAF and others sent letters expressing appreciation for their recognition of the importance of Stewardship Contracting to federal management of forests. However, this bill would be the third best option for pursuing reauthorization of the authority. The best option is a negotiated Farm Bill, followed by a short-term extension through the appropriations process, and the third option is to garner support for this bill in the House and then finding a vehicle to pass the bill and get it to the President’s desk for signature.”

      Reply
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fires

    Links to a list of historical fires. Records of the fires concentrate on the cause of the fire, (Mrs.. O’Leary’s cow. war. lightning). A few historical records mention weather as a contributing factor.

    Are there weather studies that identified the weather conditions before and during the time of the fire?

    What I’m looking for are the statistical outlying weather conditions associated with fire.

    For instance the Peshtigo – Chicago fire of October 8, 1871. Or the Hamburg fires of 1284 and May 1842.

    Is 2014 California a potential Peshtigo?

    Are there hundred year or thousand year exceedences of a weather feature associated with major fires? Low humidity, high wind, extended drought, lightning, dust devils, are possible weather or climate factors associated with large fires.

    If there is a weather effect, should insurance companies charge for increased risk in areas identified as having higher risk? Should insurance be priced by ZIP code? Should insurance rates be established on historical loss payments within a five mile radius?

    Should building codes be tailored to the expected circumstances? Consider off shore on shore winds like the Santa Ana or Sirocco. Should there be a one size fits all building code? Or should code be tailored to expected conditions? If tailored to expected conditions, which conditions should be considered? Hundred year events? Thousand year events?

    I suspect the Peshtigo fire was associated with a drought summer following a wet spring. Vegetation bloomed early on then died for lack of water. Reports form the time concentrate on fuels from logging. The lumber to build Chicago came from upper Wisconsin. During those two or four days in October 1871 there are also reports of fires from Nebraska to Canada. Following a front line. Forests in Michigan were destroyed. Beaches were created where there had been forests.

    The Hamburg fire resulted in expansion of the re-insurance markets. Larger insurance companies sold risk protection. For a fee, property owners could buy insurance to pay for losses under defined conditions. Insurance companies could lay off the extreme statistical tails of loss by buying risk protection from re-insurance companies. Re-insurance companies sold peace of mind, protection against the extreme known variables. The commodity being sold was not so much reimbursement as it was narrowing the range of loss. Pay a few percent of the value of the property to be protected. Those payments are a loss. If the loss happens, you get reimbursed. If you don’t buy insurance, your are self insuring. You don’t have the loss of paying annual premiums. But when you do have a loss, you pay the replacement cost yourself. Huge variation in outlay. Let’s see, should I pay for insurance to protect myself for variability, or should I bank the money and foot the bill for any loss? Or should I call my cousin the Congressman to bail me out? Hmmm?

    Scientific explanation of weather associated with large, rare fires may be an exercise in futility unless the political masters recognize the value of acting on real life information.

    For instance, Santa Ana winds in southern California are on a daily cycle overlaid by a yearly cycle. Severe years are on a seven to ten year cycle. Shore breezes go up the mountains during sunlight, drop their moisture and then come back down the hill in darkness as warm dry air. A daily cycle. Superimposed is a seasonal cycle. Growing cycle, no precipitation. Drying cycle, fuels build up. Fire cycle stuff burns. Precipitation cycle follows with hillsides washing into valleys. Followed by construction season to replace the houses lost to fire or flood. Followed by a growing cycle, followed by a ….

    Should structures in a Santa Ana footprint have building codes that reflect observed hazard? Or should there be a single building code for an entire county? If a single building code, how do you explain the additional cost to those not in the Santa Ana footprint? How do you explain the increased marginal risk to people in the footprint?

    Politically the scientific question of identifying fire risk areas is moot.

    One result of the efforts defined in the fire tax bill was to quantify risk using fenced money. The “fire tax” would be used to prepare a map. A map that would identify areas in need of special construction. For instance areas lacking in water might require sprinkler systems, automatic call to 911 if a smoke detector activates. Fire tax would fund local programs under a clearing house selection. Things like fuels reduction, preparation of Community Wildfire Protection Plans, correction of access issues.

    The reaction to the fire tax was less than acceptance. The “fire tax” is roughly three times as great as the tax to pay for fire fighting provided by special district fire fighters or Amador Contracts with CalFire. The Board of Equalization protested that the amount of money to collect the tax was out of line compared to the cost of collecting other taxes. Howard Jarvis Tax Foundation protested on the grounds that the “fee for service” aspects of the Assembly bill were actually taxes and not fees.

    The fees have been collected for several years, but not spent. There are eight areas in which the “fire tax” money can be spent. The law required annual appropriation bills to spend the money. Though the collection method suggested that Legislators intent was to allow the Executive Department, Governor, CalFire, local fire agencies to collect the money as a fee and fence it for dedicated fire mitigation efforts. And to modify the amount collected.

    Not fire fighting. For Mitigation.

    One item was mapping. Where are the most hazardous areas? For that matter, where are the State Responsibility Areas? Where are the geographic areas covered by a fire department? Where is the water that can be used for fire fighting? Do visiting firemen know where that water is? Do dispatchers know where that water is? Should dispatchers and visiting firemen really care about identifying sources of fire fighting water?

    The total amount requested for the first year, $80 million seems to be in line with the eight items. The process to determine future year tax based on prior year results, in my estimation, is prudent. This is not an open purse collection. Results doesn’t mean having receipts to show where the money was spent. Results would be things like reduced insurance premiums, fewer loss payments, watershed protection. reservoirs not silting. Power distribution not interrupted.

    Who pays the tax is suspect. Only people living in structures in the SRA pay the tax. Was the tax imposed only on those residents based on the increased risk of fire and the increased losses due to their presence in the SRA? Was the tax a social measure to discourage building in an SRA? Do other beneficiaries contribute? For instance, water districts using water collected in SRA catchments. Would water districts benefit by having more reliable sources of water? Sources not threatened by fire or weather?

    Bottom line. We, in my opinion, are caught in a do nothing loop. The law was passed, legislators look good. The law is challenged, Jarvis and the BOE look good. Does the home owner in a SRA feel good? Who cares, that was not a question to be answered by the money collected by the fire tax.

    Another political overlay is that government becomes insurer of last resort. Insurance companies pay loses only up to some dollar maximum. Then the feds and states shell out to keep insurance companies from going belly up.

    Without fenced money to pay for mapping and weather information, those two activities will not happen. Nor will the other six.

    Money for CalFire will be dedicated to firefighting. Period.

    Activities that citizens can see. Period.

    Nothing for prevention.

    Citizens do not see prevention. Except maybe inspections. One of the things to be funded by the fire tax is inspections. Anticipate yearly inspections on a ten year cycle. Expect at least two inspections. One from CalFire, One from you insurance company. Expect the two inspections to be in conflict.

    You don’t have to burn down the house to eat roast pig.

    Reply
  4. Hi… I am glad to find this site/portal and wish I had more time to read; I am completely ignorant in this area. I am looking for a good intro/connection to support some/any arguments against the American Lands Access Association’s arguments for unfettered access etc., as supported by regional and national mineral club federations. I’m also a busy parent and just can’t keep up with reading, even good reading. I would welcome any helpful comments or contacts… find me via email if you are an admin, or contact me via the Danbury Mineralogical Club PAGE on Facebook. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. I just finished reading Jack Ward Thomas’ book, The Journals of a Forest Service Chief, based on his journal entries 1990-96. As expressed in the book, Thomas was warm to the concept of “ecosystem management” as a replacement for the Forest Service’s previously more ‘timber-centric’ mode of pursuing multiple use.
    My question is, is “ecosystem management” still the holy grail? If so, has it been achieved? If not, why not? and what, if any, is the new buzzword/paradigm/etc.??
    Appreciate readers’ thoughts — thanks.
    BTW, my Forestkeeper blog is wwkeye.wordpress.com

    Reply
    • Pretty cool blog stuff you have. Welcome!

      However, you should know that there is an extreme eco-group that goes by the name of “Forestkeepers”, too. I have butted heads with them before, about 10 years ago. They accused the Sequoia NF of “breaking laws” on active salvage projects, using photographs as evidence. I truly enjoyed using photos of my own to prove each accusation wrong.

      I certainly do not think that the current management system is working for too many western forests. I do like the three “C-words” of Collaboration, Consensus and Compromise in using site-specific science to restore long-lived forests.

      Reply
  6. Sharon:

    This blog has been stuck on Chapter 4 of Botkin’s book for several months now. Maybe it is time to move forward with Jack Ward’s book now? I’m good for the first four chapters of that one, too, and then willing to move on if no one else wants to push forward. Should we create a “Book Discussion” page, with Botkin rated at Chapter 4, and then begin featuring The Journals in the right hand column, with both books listed on the Discussion Page? A lot of the people on this blog are USFS professionals or retirees, and the rest of us realize how important it is that we properly manage our nation’s forests. Thomas’ book would seem to be a good choice to discuss at this time. In my opinion.

    Reply
    • Yes, that sounds good, and I even ran across my copy of Thomas’s book when cleaning out yesterday, but I don’t have the time to work on it.. I can help you (or anyone) figure out how to do the design part if you want, though.

      Reply
  7. Larry, I am aware of the Sequoia Forestkeepers group. There are other ___keeper groups out there, as well. I decided years ago that I was a “forestkeeper” myself, and wasn’t going to cede this moral high ground to anybody. So I named my little corporation, back in 2002, California Forest Keepers Incorporated.
    It’s only this year that I have come out as “The Forestkeeper.” And why not? Thank you for your kind comments about the blog (wwkeye.wordpress.com).

    Reply
    • Well, the Sierra Club has overruled their local chapter, clinging to the idea that all salvage logging is very bad for recovery. Also not mentioned is the groups that have vowed to fight ANY efforts to recovery in the Rim Fire, claiming that more dead acres means more blackbacked woodpeckers. The “best available science” says otherwise, in this particular situation. If you put each and every BBW in California inside the Rim Fire, there would still plenty of room for more. The stickler is after 6 years, all of those birds will have to move on to find more freshly-killed trees, or retreat to the green forests and survive off of scattered snags. After those 6 years, with no “snag thinning”, those forests that burned at medium to high intensities will have to wait for many decades (or even an entire century!) before it can grow large trees again. Indeed, some parts within the Rim Fire haven’t seen big trees in more than 40 years! Yes, those eco-groups have gone on record saying they want more wildfires, with more high-intensity destruction of old growth forests that owls and goshawks require for essential nesting habitats.

      It’s a good article Bill but, the reality is unchanged. Until we get legal reforms, preservationist groups will continue to block projects that thin snags in burned areas. I predict that these groups will provide pictures of how SPI lands are salvaged, using them to block Forest Service projects. I’m actually looking forward to seeing the infighting between eco-groups, and how it will affect the public’s view of the Sierra Club, Chad Hanson and the CBD. Also, harvesting less than 30,000 acres of a 257,000 acre wildfire isn’t a “victory” for the Forest Service and the timber industry. What good are protected owl and goshawk PACs when all the trees are dead?

      Reply
      • It is certainly true that the Rim Fire is going to be a test case for public forestry. There are forces rallying to save the old “zero cut” religion, but I’m not sure that they will succeed this time around. Some seem so fixated upon how awful salvage logging is that they fail to recognize that adding to the USFS tally of “deforested conditions” is unlikely to add to their moral authority. This season will tell the tale.

        Reply
  8. I have often wondered how salvaged logging got such a bad reputation. We have harvested such small amounts of our burned federal forests lands I don’t see how they could prove any damage was done to our forests by salvage logging. I could show you new trees growing right out of skid trails left after salvage logging. They could also take a look at how fast private forest land turns green with new trees after post fire harvest. I find it amazing we have to convince people that green forests are better than a burnt, dead ones.

    Reply
    • Again, it comes from the “Do No Harm” and “Whatever Happens” mindset. At the Rim Fire, a critical choice must be made. If you want it replanted, then salvage logging is a must, for the most part. It is wasteful and ineffective to replant an area that will re-burn (at high intensity, if fuels are “preserved”) in the next 20-40 years. We’ve seen excellent examples of that, already, within the Rim Fire. WHY must we do that failed “experiment” again?!?! The serial litigators want you to think that incinerated forests are healthy and “a good thing” for biodiversity. Well, we have 257,000 acres of that, and 80,000 acres of it will be perfectly preserved (and not replanted) in Yosemite National Park. Actually, that land is MUCH better for what the preservationists want but, apparently, it isn’t enough for them.

      They will trot out pictures of 80’s era salvage logging, or even SPI’s salvaged lands, to show how we shouldn’t salvage public lands. They will point to “greed” as the reason for all salvage logging, ignoring the benefits of fuels reduction and soils protection.

      Be sure to look at the pictures from this post ( https://forestpolicypub.com/2013/10/09/why-we-need-to-salvage-and-replant-the-rim-fire/ ) to see what modern salvage projects on Forest Service lands look like. The second picture shows what post-salvage looks like just 6 months after it was completed.

      Reply
    • Ironically, I saw “Rim Fire National Monument” proposed in a rafting blog (with nary a mention of replanting, re-burns or herbicide use). Even the hazard tree statistics were lumped into the rest of the project, as if it were possible to not make safe the roads to key infrastructure. Roads were mentioned but, it was apparent that the blogger didn’t know that “road reconstruction” is ALWAYS a good thing, restoring anti-erosion function when the projects are completed.

      YAY! Save the dead trees in plantations!! Snags are people, too!! Hug a snag today! *smirk*

      What it really boils down to is a few thousand acres of incinerated larger trees, in steeper terrain. Most of that is in an around former nesting habitat for owls and goshawks. IMHO, it should no longer be protected, but….

      Reply
  9. Knowing the current state of litigation within the forestry realm I intend to post this comment on the public comment portion of the USFWS website for the Northern Long Eared Bat ESA Listing. For those of you whom do not know what is going on… The USWLS has extended its comment period for the listing of the Northern Long Eared Bat. Due to 4 states Governors: WI, MN, IL, MI; and the support of SAF state chapters within these states we have gotten a lengthened comment period due to end on 8-29-14. If you have an opinion please post before then! If you want to learn more please look here: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/mammals/nlba/ or read what follows. If your ready to comment post here:http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R5-ES-2011-0024-0338 or going to http://www.regulations.gov and searching for FWS-R5-ES-2011-0024. My comment will contain some but not all of the following. First lets think of this logically and draw some correlations between two different species and see where it leads us. Would you support the listing of all Ash Trees (bats) as Endangered Species? The Emerald Ash Borer (white nose syndrome) is an invasive insect(fungus) species that has been introduced to a native population with little to no resistance to said invader. I admit that it will have a massive effect on said species and think that trying to create more habitat for the species, which was doing very well before said invasive was introduced, is truly in vein. If more habitat would save the species then, with the amount of habitat available, we would not be having to question whether or not to list said species on the ESA. Both the Ash trees and Northern Long Eared Bat had been doing well due to current forestry practices. Limiting good Silvicultural, science based, practices which have been proven to promote healthy forests would only be detrimental to the forest ecology of effected stands. The current recommendations will lead to further lawsuits and stagnation, unhealthy forests, within the forest environment. Please post a comment and give your response as the decision is somewhat based on the comments obtained by the public. I support the listing of all Ash Trees (The Northern Long Eared Bat) as long as my hands remain untied when it comes to practicing good forestry which has been proven to provide good habitat and long term productivity for said species.

    Reply
  10. I would just really like to know, if anyone capable can honestly say, why the USDA Forest Service settles in some natural resources-oriented litigation when they have a chance to really prevail. Perhaps it is to save taxpayer money, which is a good, sound reason. Or perhaps, plaintiff’s know that more losses will be damaging to their cause…so they try to settle, and generally succeed due to the USFS wanting to save time and costs. The savings to the Public is the only valid reason I can think of to settle. But perhaps those who participate more regularly in this blog- those with a smidge more legal expertise- can enlighten me and other readers. No case or cause in particular, just an observation of late. Thanks!

    Reply
    • I’m sure that one of our legal experts can verify this but, it seems like the Forest Service reaches a settlement only when they have already lost in court. I also think that a winning litigant could decide not to enter into settlement proceedings, preferring the court to decide what the Agency can, and cannot do, under the decision. I’ve seen the Forest Service have to pay undocumented legal fees for the Plaintiff, too, in those settlements. I’d like to see FULL transparency in such matters, myself.

      Reply
    • “They” is the Department of Justice. They settle when they become convinced they are likely to lose. That may be obvious at the outset from the complaint, and they tell the FS to withdraw the decision. It may happen after a preliminary injunction goes against them, which often tips a judge’s hand. Sometimes it is after a court decision to agree on the relief, rather than risk what a court would decide. Or anywhere in between. Cost (and resources) is a consideration in how much risk they are willing to take and how long they stay in the game. And you can’t rule out politics and changing administrations as being a factor in some cases.

      Reply
  11. I’d like to see folks weigh in on the directions that USFS R&D is taking. The Northern Research Station for example is rapidly expanding and building capacity in nebulous quasi-social science directions with “urban field stations” in NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and apparent soon, East Lansing, MI. All the while, labs doing oak regeneration, ecological restoration, forest pathogens, and wildlife and fisheries work continue to be depleted and deemphasized. Mill towns from Marlinton to Millinocket to Menominee struggle with the changing face of the wood products industry and yet we use precious resources to ask if city dwellers appreciate green space (wasn’t that settled years ago by Olmstead?). I’d rather do work supporting a robust forest products industry and provide science that gets national forests back in the management game. What is driving this and can the W.O. really justify moving into work outside the agency mission when so many things are left undone?

    Reply
  12. Thanks Larry and John – I should have been clearer. I was mostly referring to instances where the Forest Service (or other Government agency) had already prevailed in a lower District court (e.g., not had any injunctions issued/already been granted summary judgment) but was still waiting for an appellate court to hear Plaintiff’s appeal of the lower Court’s ruling and issue an opinion. I’m guessing that Plaintiff and the Government choose/chose to settle in those instances to save time/taxpayer funds…or perhaps the issues the Government is being ‘sued’ over are no longer viewed as worthwhile arguments by the Plaintiff(s), and they don’t want to waste their own time or contributor funds. Or perhaps they don’t want the potential case law that could result. Regardless, it seems like the agency(ies)/DOJ would be better served to not settle and to allow the follow-through to occur at the appellate court level. Again, thank you for the feedback. It is always interesting to check in and review all the differing points of view on current environmental matters on this blog.

    Reply
  13. THE CHETCO BAR MEGAFIRE Old scars New Wounds

    THE FOREST SERVICE IS GOING TO PACK THEIR BAGS AND LEAVE US WITH THIS MESS 5 MILES FROM TOWN. Fire season starts the June! Safety IS NOT a concern of the Forest Service.

    Jim Petersen’s Evergreen Magazine, Editor’s Note: Retired California businessman, Guy McMahan, sent us a copy of his response to the Forest Service’s Chetco Bar Fire Salvage Proposal. We were so pleasantly surprised by its thoughtful content that we asked him if he could clarify a couple of points he made in his original letter. We reprint it below.

    Mr. McMahan owned two businesses – a wholesale nursery and a title company in Vacaville – for many years. He and his wife bought what he called “a fishing shack” at Brookings, Oregon in 1997, then retired there in 2014.The content and tone of his letter to the Forest Service leaves no doubt that he did his homework before responding to the agency’s request for comment on its draft fire salvage proposal.

    Jan 29, 2018

    Jessie Berner, Chetco Bar Fire Salvage Coordinator

    Gold Beach Ranger Station

    29279 Ellensburg Ave.

    Gold Beach, OR 97444

    Dear Ms. Berner:

    I am disappointed with the Forest Service. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

    Your request for citizen comment regarding your Chetco Bar Fire Salvage Proposal is written in “Forest Service speak,” an inappropriate language much too technical to be understood by most citizens living in our southern Oregon coastal communities. A well-illustrated plain-English document is what the public needs and should have at its fingertips when considering a proposal of this magnitude.

    The Forest Service has not put its best foot forward in this proposal. It has failed to address the myriad issues confronting our communities in the aftermath of the Chetco Bar Fire. Deeply disappointing is the agency’s plainly visible adherence to its “let burn policy,” a risky and unjustifiable “management” choice that makes no environmental or economic sense in modern times.

    With these two observations as my backdrop, I offer the following comments on your draft proposal to harvest fire-killed trees, as requested in the “Dear Interested Citizens” scoping letter of January 5, 2018.

    Your proposal is woefully deficient and inadequate. It fails to address essential “safety from fire” requirements of the citizens and communities that lay within the boundaries of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

    In fact, “public safety” is mentioned only once in the proposal. Far more attention is devoted to the needs of the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, Coho salmon and other flora and fauna whose habitats were destroyed by the fire.

    Where is the parity in this proposal? Wherein does the Forest Service address its concerns for public health and safety, or the recovery of losses – economic and intrinsic – that we citizens continue to suffer?

    References to past fire salvage experiences under LMRP and the Northwest Forest Plan are preposterous. Fire salvage within the boundaries of the 2002 Biscuit Fire and the 1987 Silver Fire was minimal at best. To little salvage or mitigation work followed the Biscuit Fire. Its untreated scars provided the fuel for the Chetco Bar Fire.

    Now we have the badly infected Chetco Bar scar. With one exception, this new wound is not much different from the Biscuit or the Silver wounds – the exception being that most of the citizens of Curry County now live within the Chetco Bar Fire scar.

    The Forest Service’s abysmal won-loss record at Silver, Biscuit and now Chetco Bar [0-3] is a detriment to every living creature struggling to right itself within our fire-scarred landscape. Is this the best you can do?

    Your proposal overlooks the fact that the 2018 fire season is only five months away. Protecting our citizens and communities by harvesting dead trees and reducing fuel loading levels should be the first order of business in your proposal. But it isn’t. Not even close.

    Accumulations of dead and dying trees, surface fuels and understory vegetation will increase the intensity of our next fire. It will be uncontrollable by the time the Forest Service gets around to trying to suppress it. Where salvage and cleanup work do not occur, reburns are common. The only way to reduce the risk is to clean up the mess. Your proposal falls miles short of this objective.

    The Forest Service must move quickly to establish a Fuel Load Reduction Safety Zone and get serious about reducing the fuel load that currently stands within five miles of our community and citizens. The entire Matrix AND the 85% of the land the fire burned has been withdrawn from consideration in this proposal – thanks to congressional set asides described in the scoping letter – now forms the Chetco Bar SCAR we see daily..

    Common sense tells us that public health and safety will be improved by melding an appropriate Fuel Load Reduction Plan with salvage and harvest plans that sufficiently reduce the risk of reburns within our SCAR. This blending of goals and objectives must begin immediately, but there is nothing in your proposal that suggests it will.

    The context for establishing a Fuel Load Reduction Safety Zone in which fuel loads will be significantly reduced is as follows:

    The Forest Service is responsible, operationally and legislatively [under joint power-sharing agreements], for pre-fire and post-fire activities.
    Public safety considerations should include federal forest proximity to at risk communities and other forest ownerships, the increasing presence of insects and diseases that speed mortality, fuel loads and moisture levels, weather conditions, air quality, health-related smoke management, and a firm understanding of the convergence of local, state and national environmental issues that impact forest management, and local public health and safety. Under no circumstance should public health and safety be compromised
    In hopes of slowing advancing Chetco Bar flames, or perhaps to change its course and impede its progress, the Forest Service exercised its ability and authority to torch lands by starting back burns and controlled burns within the 85% lands reserved from this proposal without regard for the consequences.

    Given that the Forest Service has the authority and ability to ignite backburns within these designated reserves, it follows that the agency also has the authority and ability to extend the salvage harvest and cleanup to these lands. Indeed, the Forest Service has a lawful obligation to clean up the massive fuel load scar created by the backburns and controlled burn activities.

    The Forest Service also has a lawful public safety obligation to extend the salvage harvest and cleanup to the 85% reserved set aside, plus the full 25,000 acres of burned matrix lands, to create a Fuel Load Reduction Safety Zone in which the fuel load level will be substantially reduced.

    How else might the Forest Service protect the health and safety of Curry County citizens whose home and property are near or adjacent to our Chetco Bar Fire scar? I can’t think of any other material actions that will achieve this goal. Can you?

    The Forest Service is required to implement immediate fuel reduction activities and incorporate same in the current proposal. I propose that immediate action be taken to establish a Fuel Load Reduction Safety Zone. If your agency has the authority to burn these lands, you also have the authority to harvest them. You cannot hide from this public responsibility.

    In addition, I wish to support the following necessities:

    The proposal does not include the larger-sized dead trees designated as “LSR” [Late Succession Reserve]; nor does it include the dead “matrix” trees in areas where some harvesting is permitted. As such, it is a complete waste of valuable timber resources that belong to the citizens of our country.

    Historically, matrix trees with less than 50 per cent needle cover eventually die from the wounds flames have inflicted. These trees need to be salvaged, and the surrounding area needs to be re-planted immediately. Private landowners and Indian tribes do this all the time, and for many good reasons. Forest soils benefit. Water quality benefits. People benefit. Wildlife benefits. We all benefit.

    Replanting only harvested areas, while untreated areas are left to decay, allowing only scrub brush to grow unchecked for decades, promotes an ideal setting for future fires vis-à-vis the Biscuit Fire. Has the Forest Service learned nothing since 2002?

    Forest Service inaction will only add to the build-up of post-fire problems, further endangering citizen health and safety. Better that the public’s losses be salvaged and replanted immediately. Better for everything and everyone.

    I also encourage you to conduct road maintenance activities to facilitate salvage operations and improve the existing road network. If a new road needs to be built or an old abandoned road needs to be revived, so be it. The safety of the citizens and our communities should be the Forest Service’s primary concern.

    Speedy implementation of dead timber salvage and subsequent tree planting will insure that the public recovers as much of its economic loss as is possible. It will help support jobs and small businesses in our communities. To this end, the Forest Service should seek an Emergency Situation Determination to begin all work as quickly as possible.

    It is not a given that the Forest Service shares our community’s grave concern for the environmental and economic damage done by the Chetco Bar Fire, or that it has fully embraced its responsibility to protect the health and safety of our citizens or coastal communities.

    The fact that this proposal inexplicably ignores thousands of dead and dying “matchsticks” six to 10 miles from Brookings demonstrates a disappointing lack of regard and concern for the safety and health of our citizens. our economy and the environment. Remember, the Chetco Bar Fire travelled six miles in one day. Lightning will strike again.

    Respectfully,

    Guy McMahan

    Brookings Oregon 97415

    https://www.evergreenmagazine.com/scars-wounds/

    Reply
    • To date the FS has stated in meetings only 15,000 acres of the 191,000+ acres are available for harvest. Period. After all is said and done closer to 10,000 acres of the 15,000 will most likely be harvested. Now, what is your opinion of that? Further, “There will be no replanting where havesting is not done”. Your comments on that please. And last but not least, they are broke and have not even begun to round up seeds for new starts, “estimate 3 years out”. your comment please.

      175000 + acres left to rot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Just so you know I AM NOT a fan of THIS Forest Service. It is unconscionable to NOT make provisions for the health and safety on the communities they almost burned out. The burn out lines are 5 – 8- 10 miles from various parts of Brookings. Acting RRSNF supervisor Scott Russell has no plan for dealing with this next MegaFire being left behind.

      The FS has already spoken.

      Reply
  14. Hi Sharon–

    I’d be interested to hear thoughts on what specifically makes a good forest plan. It seems like they’re overly complicated and some of the direction is marginally relevant. Conversely, I’d be interested to hear what people think forest plans should avoid doing.

    Any thoughts on whether there’s a mental filter to sift through the universe of topics a plan could address to those that meaningful?

    Reply
    • Josh, this is a great question! We had some discussions on this maybe 7 or 8 years ago. I will try to find some of them to get the discussion agains. It will be interesting to see what people think or whether anyone has changed their minds, and what new people might bring to the discussion.

      Reply
    • Forest and forest fire management plans most certainly should not include morphing forests into tree farms, for the sake of making it possible for timber companies to harvest at low cost ,only the most valuable of trees !
      As for the people who have chosen to live near and even within forested areas that are known to be prone to large fires; those people should not expect our remaining wild and semi wild forests to be managed as if those forests were tree plantations or suburban woodlots, so that they will not have to deal with the the threat of forest fires, but continue living near and in the forest !
      Unfortunately it seems as if most of the comments on this page have been made by people who mistakenly believe forests and tree farms are one and the same thing. Several of the people who have commented here seem to wrongly believe our remaining forests should be managed like open, or semi open woodlots, with few if any shrubs, what one individual has called ”excess” trees, herbs or dead fall. One thing that nearly every person who has commented here seems to believe,is that the natural process of decay does not occur in forests ! Hopefully, a few people in this country do understand that dead fall within a forest, as it decays, it becomes the nutrients the forest fauna needs to thrive, even as the decayed and decaying dead fall provides food, and shelter for small forest mammals, reptiles, snails, fungi, salamanders, frogs and countless other life forms, including many species of worms, which assist in the decay process.
      Being that less than 3 percent of the wood that is used in this nation comes from our national forest lands, and that private land owners are more than capable and willing to provide the market with 100 percent of the wood that said market could utilize, there is no need whatsoever for our national forest lands to be managed for timber production. We need our forests to not so much be ”managed,” but simply allowed to continue to be actual forests.

      Reply
  15. Interestingly, this is the only thread that I still get continuing notifications for (despite regularly checking the “notify me of new posts by email box”).

    Reply
  16. I would have added this as a comment on an old post from January maligning this conservation org but wasn’t sure if that’s the way to go.

    https://www.blm.gov/press-release/blm-and-forest-service-announce-2019-national-conservation-awards

    I noticed the FS awarded the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) their “Forest Service-BLM 2019 Conservation Partner of the Year Award” for “sustained outstanding contributions to wildlife conservation and public access across the West”. In other words it’s not for just one thing, but for a years long dedication to conservation. Speaking here of the RMEF’s work with both the BLM and USFS the public statement reads, “RMEF has directly contributed more than $36.6 million to both agencies to help fund wildlife and conservation projects. The combined total conservation value of the two agencies’ partnership with RMEF is estimated at more than $411 million.”

    It’s not just money. RMEF members donate thousands of volunteer hours yearly.

    Though I’m a member, I don’t speak for the RMEF, my thoughts are my own, some observations though. . . .

    It seems as if the RMEF is apolitical. I’ve never heard them seem to endorse one party over another, they also seem to work with whatever administration is in power at the time, and to seemingly get along well with them. I’ve never heard of the RMEF being in disagreement with policies of any federal agency, perhaps if there are disagreements they are voiced quietly and not in public. I think their methods are to get along with federal officials at agencies, and to work with them, not against them.

    I realize that wildlife management is outside the purview of this web page. Looking at wildlife from a ecosystem perspective, which is how RMEF seems to view things, forests, grasslands, and the scientific management of those public lands, influence the health of elk and many other forms of wildlife.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Som, I’ll just add the link as a separate post. Wildlife management is part of the Forest Service mission and when we talk about it, we realize that wildlife don’t respect federal boundaries so… Anyway, The Smokey Wire considers itself a big tent.

      Reply
  17. Does anyone know of any anonymous blogs where I can post a female wildland firefighter’s sexual harassment blog? The USFS investigation is still ongoing, but as a way for her to cope she has composed her blog story and would like it to be shared anonymously so that others can learn from it.

    Reply
    • Hi Savannah,

      I worked with some folks at PBS Newshour to help expose some aspects of sexual harassment within the U.S. Forest Service, including the allegations against previous Chief Tony Tooke….who was later forced to resign. I’d be happy to pass along anything you have to the investigative people at PBS that I worked with. You can email me at mattykoehler at gmail dot com.

      Reply
  18. The Sacramento Bee recently published a five-part series on Northeastern California that challenges the concept of “wild” places in the state. I found all of the articles fascinating and well-balanced. The one on wild horses garnered a lot of negative feedback from advocates, and wild horse management isn’t something that I see mentioned here often. I thought it would be interesting to have a discussion about the articles, their shortcomings, and a path forward in this “post-wild” world: https://www.sacbee.com/article247380116.html

    Reply
    • A 2017 “Outdoor Idaho” episode from Idaho Public Broadcasting, “Wild Horses,” offers a look at the problem and some of the folks who are working on it.

      https://video.idahoptv.org/video/wild-horses-2gkrzn/

      “Mustangs are a symbol of our western tradition; yet they are often reviled, as they compete for resources with livestock and wildlife in an ever changing environment impacted by range fire and drought. Thousands end up in holding corrals far from home, never to return. Outdoor Idaho takes a look at what is happening to the mustang herds in Idaho and beyond. “

      Reply
  19. Fast-41 Rule; revised to include mining industry
    The origin of Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was to “improve the timeliness, predictability, and transparency of the Federal environmental review and authorization process for covered infrastructure projects.” Eligible projects under the statute are those subject to NEPA, over a $200M investment and are not included under other abbreviated authorization or environmental review processes. The Jan 8 2021 rule includes the mining industry projects as defined by the permitting council and consistent with E.O. 13807, “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects,” and E.O. 13817, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.”

    Guidance for the Coordinated Project Plan from the permitting council (May 26, 2020 https://www.permits.performance.gov/fpisc-content/fast-41-process#whatiscpp) include the following:
    The Coordinated Project Plan (CPP) is a tailored roadmap to the permitting process, developed by Federal agencies in partnership with the project sponsor. In developing the CPP, agencies collaborate to establish:
    • Roles and responsibilities for all entities with permitting responsibilities
    • A permitting schedule with interim and final milestones, with potential focus areas for additional interagency coordination noted
    • Potential avoidance, minimization, and mitigation strategies
    • Plans and a schedule for public and tribal outreach and coordination

    Would mining project proposed for inclusion under the Fast 41 program develop a CCP to submit to the lead federal agency for the project along with a Plan of Operations?

    Reply
      • Sharon,
        I would like to have a discussion on this topic with others. In reviewing Fast 41 requirements, it in not quite clear to me on how the Jan 8 2021 revised rule will be implemented and if a mining project (such as Stibnite Gold Project) are included under Fast 41, what changes for agency staff and applicants.

        Reply
  20. Would like to read more on the USFS and Community Collaboratives. Great article on the NPS et al in the April 2021 issue of Harper’s Magazine, page 45 on some of the aspects of the USFS partnering with business and other groups. The National Forest Foundation has its fingers in a lot of things here in the Angeles National Forest and I don’t see that as a healthy trend in management of the forest. Thanks,I’ve been an Angeles National Forest Volunteer in trail work for 32 years.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Ben, you will be seeing more as I’ve been collecting some information. What don’t you like about the NFF getting its fingers into the Angeles?

      Reply
  21. Thanks Sharon. The NFF has set up a community collaborative of some forty or so groups. They have arranged funding for projects mainly done by the CCC and local conversation groups and apparently they are funded by Coca Cola and probably other corporations Instead of either lobbying for more permanent employees to do the work and who have a real stake in our forest and are genuine stewards of the land funding goes to temporary workers who the Angeles National Forest has now become somewhat dependent on. I have been a volunteer here in the ANF for 32 years and there are really only two volunteer groups that are members of the collaborative. The ANF really could use full time,non-corporate funded positions if possible and rely more on experienced volunteer help which is readily available to help which in turn could to help fund more permanent positions. Hope this helps,thanks.

    Reply
  22. FWIW, NAFSR the FS retiree organization, sent a letter today to the Secretary, here’s a paragraph:

    “3. It is imperative that the Chief work closely with your administration and be provided the resources to address the serious lack of field-going personnel. As you are probably aware, over the past 15 years there has been a significant reduction, both in numbers and experience of natural resource professionals on the National Forests and Grasslands. As a result, the agency is below critical mass in its ability to actively manage and effectively address the many demands associated with climate change, landscape restoration, and escalating public recreation. The Chief must have the budget and means to deal with this serious staffing shortage if substantial progress is to be made on the Administration’s goals, including the predicament of large catastrophic fires.”

    So the problem is known, but don’t know if there are the political resources to beat out other competitors for federal funding.

    Reply
  23. I’d be curious to see how many people have called the Anti-Harassment Reporting Center after being harassed or bullied. How many of those people were disciplined because their harassers were allowed to say whatever they wanted so that they could get back at their target? How come the Forest Service does not see that as retaliation? Forest Service mentions that they take retaliation seriously but yet they do nothing about it. How come the Forest Service is so heavy in the process to not look at things as a whole?

    I’ve had this happen to me and my concerns go on deaf ears.

    Reply
  24. Here’s an excellent 1-hour video on YouTube from 2014 on Megafires. It is terrifying. Even when models predict fire spread rates in completely fuel-cleared forests, the fire still burns at unbelievable rates. They also have a discussion on the unexpected burning of wet rain forests surrounded by water features, like lakes, and the burning of long Historical Return Interval (HRV) high-altitude alpine forests as well as arctic tundra. Climate change and a warming planet may cause the loss of forests worldwide, no matter what we do. We certainly have some serious issues to address and we need to have a sense of urgency about it. I highly recommended this video.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to F. Scott Wagner Cancel reply