New USFS Appeals info

Donald L Ferrt wolfbat359 at
Thu Oct 3 06:49:48 EST 2002

dwheeler at (Daniel B. Wheeler) wrote in message news:<6dafee1b.0210022155.1fb2a9fa at>...
> lhfotoware at (Larry Harrell) wrote in message news:<7a90c754.0210021705.1c0e4f4a at>...
> > October 2, 2002  
> > 
> >  
> > Environmentalists, Forest Service agree that fire report was rushed,
> > figures were off
> > 
>  [snip]
> > President Bush is seeking to identify 10 million acres of forest land
> > at high risk of forest fire and exempt plans to cut trees on the
> > designated areas from environmental appeals. Parties still could file
> > an appeal in federal court, but a judge could not block a project
> > while the appeal is pending.
> > 
> > Comment from poster: Interesting but a little embarrassing for the
> > Bush Administration and the USDA. It's a good thing the rest of the
> > Bush Cabinet is better <G>. It seems the USFS has a very long road
> > ahead in restoring the public's faith before it can proceed with
> > restoring our forests. Force-feeding the public something they deem to
> > be unpalatable will only cause them to choke on it.
> > 
> Keeping that thought in mind, Larry, beware of projectile vomiting.<G>
> You never know what Bushes it will get on (or is that the other way
> around?).
> Daniel B. Wheeler

You can expect the Usual for this Dues Ex Machina!

For Bush, dollars and cents drive land-use policies

Controversial moves include a plan to make logging for fire prevention
profitable by clearing some big trees.

By Brad Knickerbocker | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor 

ASHLAND, ORE. – Seasonal rains and blessedly cooler weather have
pretty much brought an end to this year's scorching fire season across
the West.
But the heat and smoke of the political battle over how to deal with
millions of acres of fire-prone national forest lingers like a
smoldering stump. And the way it's being argued reflects the Bush
administration's general approach to environmental protection. From
global warming to endangered species to clean air and water, there's a
tendency to favor economic solutions to problems that aren't easily
measured in dollars and cents.
The president and his supporters in Congress want to reduce the
wildfire danger by making it easier for loggers to thin trees and
brush. To do this, they argue, regulations need to be streamlined,
lengthy lawsuits shortened, and the ability of citizens to appeal tree
cutting ought to be limited.

Those who stand to benefit directly from Mr. Bush's Healthy Forests
Initiative favor this approach. W. Henson Moore, head of the American
Forest & Paper Association, an industry trade group, calls the plan "a
balanced, scientific, common-sense approach to protecting our federal

Others are not so sure.

"One person's streamlining is another person's gutting," says Robert
Vandermark of the National Environmental Trust in Washington.

It's not just the usual suspects – tree-huggers versus the timber
industry – involved in the debate.

Before this summer's blazes, Western governors (Republicans as well as
Democrats) had put together a 10-year plan to reduce fire danger by
thinning out forests. The administration had signed on to that plan,
but now wants to go further – insisting that fire-reduction logging
has to be economically profitable, which means cutting some big trees
as well as the fire-prone thicket of smaller trees and undergrowth.
And it wants exemptions to some of the nation's premier environmental
laws to do so.

This has left some Western governors grumbling.

"Capitalizing on the legitimate concern over wildfires to justify
stripping away federal environmental laws is not, in the end, going to
improve overall forest health," Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D)
said last week. "Why? Because it will repolarize the debate and it
will increase the likelihood that absolutely nothing is going to
happen on this issue this year in Congress."

Other critics remain skeptical that a pay-for-itself forest thinning
program is possible. Even when clea-cutting larger, more valuable
trees in national forests was routine, Uncle Sam consistently lost
money on timber sales to private companies.

To reduce fire danger on the 10 million acres of federal land most at
risk, experts say, will take a tidier approach – one that more closely
mimics the natural fires that periodically thin out vegetation between
larger, fire-resistant trees. Until now, that typically has not been
the case.

In a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Interior
Secretary Gale Norton, a group of wildland firefighters pointed out
that the flammable "slash" left after logging – small trees, brush,
and invasive weeds – is rarely cleaned up in timely fashion. "This
greatly increases the fire risks and fuel hazards," the firefighters
wrote. "Also, logging large shade-producing trees tends to make the
ground surface hotter, drier, and windier."

One option may be to use thinned-out "biomass" (shrubs, small trees,
and the waste from logging) as fuel to run nearby power plants.

"It should be apparent that utilizing excess forest fuels to burn in
state-of-the-art power facilities is a far better alternative than
allowing wildfires or prescribed fires to consume this fuel and
pollute the air," asserts the American Forest Resource Council, which
represents wood products companies in 12 Western states.

At the same time, advocates of using forest biomass to produce energy
acknowledge that it's virtually impossible to quantify the benefits in
economic terms. "It is very difficult to assign market values to
forest fuel reduction when the benefits are clean air, watersheds,
wildlife habitat, and other environmental benefits," the AFRC reports
– exactly the same point environmentalists often make about such
"green" energy sources as wind and solar.

For now, the question of how to change federal forest policy remains
stalled in the US Senate.

Meanwhile, the administration's tendency to emphasize economic issues
when dealing with the environment has also been called into question
by the death of tens of thousands of salmon in the Klamath River since
Sept. 24.

Biologists say a major cause is the decision to favor farmers over
endangered wildlife in the Klamath Basin of northern California and
southern Oregon. While other parts of the local economy rely on water
here (most notably fishermen), farmers protested the loudest during
last year's drought. When they illegally opened irrigation head gates,
politicians in this heavily Republican area rushed to the scene and
the Bush administration allocated more water for crops.

Diverting that water for irrigation, biologists say, resulted in the
river water being shallower and warmer, and therefore more likely to
induce diseases that are fatal to the Chinook salmon.

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