Forest Land Plans Could Change
By Orlando Montoya
ATLANTA, Ga. —
Controlled burns are just one of many issues addressed in a proposed rule change in the National Forest Service. (photo Chattahoochee-Oconoee National Forest)
National Forest Service officials are considering changing how they manage public land.
The details go by a long name — the Forest System Land Management Planning Rule.
It’s long and complex.
But, it basically tells officials how to plan everything in the national forests — from controlled burns and use of roads and trails — to how to manage wildlife and what factors go into declaring areas off-limits to human activities.
Call it a plan for plans. Or a rule for rules.
And for the first time, the proposal takes into account how forest officials should plan for the effects of climate change.
It’s the first major overhaul of the Forest System Land Management Planning Rule in almost 30 years.
Sarah Francisco of Southern Environmental Law Center says, with more than 800,000 acres in 25 Georgia counties under the rule’s juridiction, it’s critical to get right.
“Each national forest has to have a forest management plan,” Francisco says. “This is the rule that tells the agency what the plans need to consider.”
Fransisco says, her organization applauds most of the proposal, but also has some concerns about it, including a lack of “concrete steps” and “clear standards” that will ensure healthy forests.
But National Forest Service planner Paul Arndt in the Atlanta Regional Office says, specificity isn’t exactly the rule’s aim and actually would tie local hands.
“This is a national rule, so it’s hard to get too specific on things,” Arndt says. “There’s a lot of discretion give to the forest supervisor to look at what is the current situation and what are those local needs and adjust accordingly.”
You can find more details and offer your comments on the proposal by going to this National Forest Service website.
Officials are taking public comments through May 16th.
Over 7,000 people have signed an Earthjustice petition at change.org. The Forest Service has always insisted that commenting on NEPA documents is not a numbers game. Should it be? The agency insists that substantive comments carry more weight that mass mailings. Should they? What do these 7,000 signatures really mean?
PETITIONINGU.S. Forest Service
For nearly 30 years, some of the most prized and important waters and wildlife habitats have been protected by a federal rule that directs the management of our National Forests. But all of that could change with a proposed rule change that would leave wildlife and waters in peril.
Tell the Obama Administration and the Forest Service to strengthen – not weaken — this rule so that it guarantees protections for our National Forests.
In the United States, there are 155 National Forests, covering more than 190 million acres. National forest lands are the single largest source of drinking water in the nation, providing fresh water to some 124 million people. In addition to giving many of us the water we drink, our forests also are cherished grounds of our nation’s outdoor legacy.
Millions of Americans visit our National Forests each year to enjoy world-class hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and recreation activities, and many millions more rely on them for safe drinking water. Don’t let the Administration give up these precious resources by weakening the federal regulations.
Let the Administration and Forest Service know that we won’t stand by as federal rules damage our National Forests.
From TreeHugger.com. I know the Sierra Club clearly knows the difference, but note that the “Read more” links at the end of the piece all reference national parks. I wonder how many Americans are actually well-informed enough to comment critically on the draft planning rule?
by Sarah Hodgdon, Sierra Club on 04.29.11
The Ozark-St. Francis National Forest in Arkansas. Photo credit: Rhea S. Rylee, U.S. Forest Service.
Don Parks has been involved in protecting national forests since the 1970s. For him, they’re a place to take a nice hike to enjoy nature and relax. His favorite national forest is the Okanogan-Wenatchee because of its variety of forest-types.
Beyond relaxation and exercise, national forests provide a valuable lifeline for all Americans. “National Forest Service lands produce large quantities of domestic water, clean our air, and contain very important wildlife habitat,” said Parks, a lead volunteer for the Sierra Club in Seattle, Washington.
To protect our forests in a rapidly changing world we need to change how we think about forest use and conservation. Forest management policies put in place more than 20 years ago are no longer effective. My favorite national forest is the Pisgah in North Carolina—I can’t imagine not having it around.
Parks has joined many other forest activists in making sure the latest round of national forest management planning is done correctly. Right now the U.S. Forest Service has stepped forward with a landmark opportunity to prepare our national forests for climate change by proposing new protections to manage the water, wildlife, and other natural treasures American families enjoy and depend on.
Parks and many others spoke out for commonsense protections at one of the National Forest Service’s public hearing in Seattle last month. “We want to see the Forest Service manage for climate disruption,” explained Parks.
“We want them to be lighter in their touch – so we’re looking at the importance of wilderness designations and the retention of unroaded lands. These values help build resiliency in the climate changing world.”
Beyond the resiliency for animals and plants, the wildlife, clean water and scenery provided by our forests are crucial to supporting the nation’s $700 billion outdoor recreation economy and the people it employs.
Parks and the Sierra Club know that through working with the public, the forest service can develop a forest policy that safeguards the health, jobs and outdoor heritage of the American people.
Graham Taylor, a Sierra Club Conservation Organizer in the Northwest, said every American should care about how our national forests are managed. “Many Americans live by national forests, or recreate in them – that’s all impacted by how (the Forest Service) manages,” said Taylor.
“The management of our lands in any one aspect can affect all other aspects. Even the littlest decision we can make can have a huge impact.”
Parks sees that, which is why he’s been so active for national forests for several decades. “What happens on public land is a personal matter to me. I have seen to many poor decisions made on our public lands, development such a road building, timber sales, and off-road vehicle abuse. I want the Forest Service to act as true stewards and retain the natural values that make these lands special.”
You can help make sure the Forest Service creates a smart management plan. Take action today to tell the agency that helping natural and human communities adapt to the impacts of climate change should be the Forest Service’s top priority, with forest managers being given clear tasks, standards and guidelines to meet this tremendous challenge.
This op-ed, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, reminds me of suggestion I would like to make to all science students (or natural resources, or environment)- and to designers of curricula. I was blessed to have had an excellent course in history of science at UCLA before I started my science degree programs. At the time (70′s) there was also a body of literature on peer review and other aspects of the sociology of science related to the question of why women were not as successful in their careers. If you looked at these papers, the sociological aspects of the scientific enterprise were pretty much “in your face” (as well as living through the experience). My point is that the history of science course made me aware of the social context within the science biz before I was exposed to the biz itself. I think formal coursework in the history of science, and science-policy studies, both should be required to anyone who becomes a scientist. It continues to amaze me that some folks think deference should be given to some fields, say, conservation biology, but others (like science policy studies) not so much. I call this a “selective disciplinary filter .”
What brought this to mind was this quote:
“This would ensure that all of the most recent and important research is considered, as well as to provide some measure of critique if management seems intent on ignoring the science in favor of some special interest.” (my italics).
I think first year requirements for courses in science policy studies and history of science for any policy-relevant science master’s would really help students understand the real world that they will be exposed to on graduation, as well as the complex interplay of scientists, representative government and society. Otherwise, the fish can’t sense that they are swimming in a fishbowl.
The more than 850,000 acres of national forest across our state — and the millions of Georgians who depend on these lands — will benefit greatly from recent revisions to the Forest System Land Management Planning Rule, under the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.
The planning rule, up for public comment through May 16, is the guiding document that supervisors of individual national forests use to develop strategies to manage their land for wildlife, timber, recreation and other uses. Until a new rule is put in place, the Forest Service is essentially stuck using a version first published in 1982.
With every week that passes without the implementation of a new rule, the Forest Service becomes more out of touch with developments in the realm of conservation science.
Jewels such as Georgia’s Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests are threatened with obsolescence and decline if planning for their management does not take new knowledge into account. These forests are beloved by many Atlanta residents as a way to escape and reconnect with nature.
The Chattahoochee River — which fills the Lake Lanier reservoir, providing us with most of our water — has its headwaters in the Chattahoochee National Forest. If the forest is degraded, we can expect the quality and quantity of water in the reservoir to decline. Our city’s struggles with water supply during the most recent drought vividly illustrated that no such reduction can be tolerated.
Atlantans must consider it imperative, then, that the planning process for the national forest system incorporate the most up-to-date scientific thinking so that this valuable ecosystem service may be preserved or even enhanced.
One theme that has gained traction since 1982 is the idea of sustainability — making sure that pursuing our livelihoods does not impinge upon the ability of future generations to pursue theirs.
Another is the idea that climate change and other large-scale stressors could bring major changes to our managed lands, in areas including ecosystem health and timber productivity.
Finally, it has been broadly accepted that, even in the absence of resource extraction, the preservation of healthy, functional ecosystems provides our society with a number of services at scales ranging from the surrounding landscape — such as the dependence of Atlanta’s water supply on the Chattahoochee National Forest — to the entire globe. The proposed rule addresses such concepts and processes, which makes it a vast improvement over the 1982 rule.
All that said, there is room for further improvements. First, no protected area should sit isolated in a sea of habitat that has been degraded or destroyed. It is critical for ecosystem and species health that high-quality, well-connected habitat be distributed throughout the surrounding landscape; the new rule should do more to encourage managers to work with other agencies and private landowners in this regard.
Second, the rule should require more consultation of managers with independent scientists. This would ensure that all of the most recent and important research is considered, as well as to provide some measure of critique if management seems intent on ignoring the science in favor of some special interest.
Finally, the Rule should provide more guidance about resolving conflicts between preservation of species diversity and other uses of the forest.
These improvements will help preserve the health of our national forests for many generations of Americans — and Atlantans — to come.
Sam Rabin is a native Atlantan obtaining a graduate degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University in New Jersey.
Here’s a link to their website.
What do you think?
Position Statement on Forest Health and Fire, April 27, 2011
To achieve forest health, protection of adjacent communities from catastrophic fire, other forest management goals and to maintain National Forest lands in an ecologically sustainable condition, the NAFSR advocates use of proven silvicultural practices and prescribed fire to achieve these goals.
The National Forests are capable of providing the many values and benefits that people expect from their forests, but they need proper management in order to provide these values. NAFSR supports prescribed fire, commercial timber harvest, and noncommercial treatments on National Forest lands allocated for such uses through appropriate land and resource management planning processes. Further, we believe the commercial utilization payments can be a big part of financing the total treatment needs of the forests.
NAFSR believes that current treatment levels on National Forest lands are insufficient to maintain forest health, meet the goals for hazardous fuel reduction to reduce wildfire risk, provide resilient forests capable of withstanding future shifts in climate conditions, or provide protection from wildfire as well as economic and other community benefits.
Fire control should be aggressive while prescribed fire use should also be increased and appropriately managed. Natural fires should only be allowed to burn when approved plans are clearly indicated under weather, time of year, and fuel conditions encountered, and under the direct supervision of fully qualified fire supervisors.
Planning and treatment must be at an annual scale of millions of acres over the next half century. We must recognize that the environmental costs to wildlife habitat, domestic and industrial water supplies, soils, and viewsheds of inaction, or inadequate levels of action, will be with us for decades to centuries. There will also be serious financial and economic costs to local communities and businesses as well as the taxpayers if action is not taken.
The National Forests have a Congressionally mandated mission, and management goals are determined through comprehensive land management planning processes with extensive public participation, and include not only healthy forest ecosystems but also protection and well being of adjacent communities and other values. Forest managers are then responsible for selecting appropriate, site-specific practices, which may include commercial thinning and harvest, pre-commercial thinning, and use of prescribed fire to accomplish desired forest health, watershed, wildlife and fishery habitat objectives. Consideration must be given to maintenance of a diversity of tree species and age classes, diverse structure and function, and thus treatments should not be limited to any particular size of trees or other vegetation. Focus should always be on the remaining conditions following thinning instead of what is removed. Skillful use of silvicultural practices can achieve desired resource conditions including appropriate forest densities, reduced fuel loads, and mimic natural levels of forest openings and understory vegetation. Healthy forest ecosystems are the key to how disturbance events such as fire or pest outbreaks perform. Removal of excess biomass is critical for allowing fire use to return without detrimental effects.
Forest Service leaders should take advantage of collaborative planning processes with interest groups and communities, while providing focused leadership in order to minimize problems with gridlock resulting from public disagreements with choices made to restore the forests. Building coalitions at national, regional and local levels to support science informed decisions can greatly reduce conflicts that have led to delays in the past.
Appropriately scaled forest industries should be encouraged to utilize and sequester carbon from thinning and harvest products as well as helping the economy of communities.
Furthermore, NAFSR believes that current laws and regulations offer ample protection to sustain the full range of forest values on public lands. We believe that timber harvesting is a legitimate use of the national forests as the multiple-use Sustained Yield Act of 1960 calls for, and that it will promote wildlife and fishery habitat as well as recreation opportunities.
For almost a century, through forest fire protection efforts, wildfire on National Forest lands has been purposely suppressed in many areas that are naturally adapted to periodic low intensity wildfires. We now know from science and experience this policy has had some unintended and undesirable consequences, including altered tree species composition and increased density of trees per acre. This increased stand density, or overstocking, increases fire hazard in most forest types. Because of lack of vigor, dense forests are highly susceptible to insects and diseases and, consequently, increased tree mortality. Excess tree density as well as mortality increases fuel loading, resulting in hazardous forest fire conditions that can put watersheds, wildlife habitat, and other forest values at risk. These conditions also increase fire suppression costs and make wildfire control more dangerous and difficult. Unnatural fires resulting from extremely dense stands create artificial and unnatural conditions for soil erosion, flooding, plant invasion, type conversion and altered viewsheds. The dominant factor affecting forest fires, health, and vigor is stand density.
For nearly four decades, National Forest Managers have recognized the fact that overcrowded forests are not sustainable without some form of treatment. The public as well has seen vast areas succumb to insects, disease and wildfire.
Fires in Western ecosystems are problematic with uncharacteristic fire becoming more destructive and costly. Forests on National Forests of the West are most often far too dense. There is a huge increase in woody biomass, mostly in the overstory, above natural levels in almost every forest ecosystem. This excess forest density has contributed to a serious decline in herbaceous vegetation in the forest understory.
Certain circumstances can exert uncommon stress on forests and predispose them to extraordinary insect outbreaks and damage. In stands that are unmanaged by either silviculture, natural or prescribed fire, trees often grow too close together and develop small crowns and root systems. These stands have low vigor, leading to susceptibility to drought, insects, diseases, and catastrophic wildfire. Under these stressful conditions, tree mortality can be extremely high. Large areas of aging forests are also susceptible to insects and diseases. During the past decade, several of these forest health problems have arisen simultaneously, causing extensive tree mortality.
Because of widespread forest health problems, many of our forests would benefit from thinning or other measures to control stand density, reduce vulnerability to insect-caused mortality, increase diversity of tree sizes, and accomplish regeneration of desired tree species. However, National Forest managers often find themselves engaged in debate about the relative benefits and perceived detrimental effects of using active intervention to affect the future condition of national forest lands.
Some environmental concerns are misguided and lead to inaction or wrong action.
Unnatural and destructive wildfires are increasing in size faster than management is addressing the problems. Human developments on forest in-holdings of private land create both fire suppression and forest management problems.
Costs of forest management can be partially, if not completely, recovered from scientifically designed treatments based on soundly developed plans
Here’s the link.
Note that 4 of the 7 scientists are located on the eastern seaboard with one each in Oregon, Alaska and Colorado (the Interior West). Who’s missing? The Lake States and the mid-South.
In comments on a recent post I noted that “corruption and bias are always in play” when dealing with high-level politics. Over at the Kaufmann Governance Post, Daniel Kaufmann has taken up a crusade to daylight and castigate what he calls “corruption,” moving it beyond more traditionally narrow framing as bribes, kickbacks, direct money payoffs, etc. In a post titled Capture and the Financial Crisis: An Elephant forcing a rethink of Corruption, Kaufmann says,
it makes sense to have a neutral and broader definition of corruption, akin to: “the privatization of public policy”. In addition of being a legally neutral definition, it moves beyond coarse manifestations of bureaucratic bribery, and it would encompass undue influence or capture of regulations and policies by narrow interests.
Kaufmann is particularly critical of undue influence of lobbyists and other “influence peddlers,” and notes:
the focus on corruption needs to move away from exclusive focus on the ‘abuse of public office’ and squarely acknowledge that corruption often involves collusion between the public and private (and at times outright capture by the private potentates).
What do you think? Does Kaufmann’s framing make sense? If so, Who ought we to have as Under Secretaries, as Agency Heads, etc? Or does might it be that some be dis-allowed from serving. If so, who? Or does it make any difference? Maybe an answer is that “we the people” ought to watch particularly closely those who have been “influence peddlers,” rather than banning them outright.
I have been particularly outraged that lobbyists have so much power in our country. And I believe far too much discourse and policy-making in the US revolves around industry and commerce, and too little around matters of “public interest.” Hence I was happy to see President Obama disallow “lobbyists” from filling the seats known as “political appointees.” Still, I wonder: Did it help?
I find it difficult to make a case that it is worse to have an industry lobbyist, i.e. Mark Rey as an Under Secretary who oversees the US Forest Service than to have a key corporate lawyer like John Crowell, from the same industry that by many accounts had already captured the Forest Service. In either case I find such appointments at least questionable. That is not to say that an individual from such backgrounds might not rise above said background, just that it seems unlikely that they would.
How might we do better in our politics? Unfortunately, we seem to be in one of those moments that Richard Hofstadter called “paranoid” in his book The Paranoid Style in American Politics (Wikipedia link). In such moments neither side in the US two-party system will listen to the other side, and power-over rules the day—power-with is seldom seen or used.
[Note: The idea that the Forest Products Industry captured the Forest Service at a point in time, is somewhat appealing given how dominate Timber used to be as one of the "multiple uses." But the idea was never totally true, and less true today than yesterday. Still there is/was enough "capture" to be wary of lobbyists from, and other advocates for a dominant industry to be key policy-makers for that agency. Even if "big timber" is in its twilight as per the Forest Service, "big recreation" is still very much and increasingly at center stage.]
Dave and Foto weighed in on the success of the experiment of “liking” comments. I was about to remove it . By “liking” or “not liking” this post, you can weigh in on whether you would like to see it continue.
Here’s Dave’s perspective:
I suspect that it is time to get rid of the “rating” feature here. I have not but “toyed” with it, but I cannot support a feature that allows one to rate one’s own comment/post, and I know this feature allows that. Neither can I support a rating feature that allows one to rate a post/comment each time one logs on to a blog, and I suspect that this one allows that. [Nope. Just tested it.]
Just my partisan perspective, early in the morning before coffee. I attach this comment to this post because I perceive more use of the feature to drive wedges between people here than on any other post so far.
Actually, I have been surprised at how little the feature has been “gamed”. I applaud everyone who hasn’t had a kneejerk response to an individual’s every posting, like I have seen on other less progressive sites. If I don’t like the actual message, I’ll vote to dislike. If I do like it, I vote for it. Also, I have refrained from voting for my own postings, on principle, and I expect that others have followed that practice, as well. As Sharon quipped when this feature was enabled, one may not like the votes for one’s postings. It makes you maybe corral your comments to be civil and reduces partisan blather, from either side. I tend to think it is working, and could encourage more people to eventually post comments.
Again, I thank everyone for being adult and respectable (to most extents).
Ray Vaughn, sometime contributor to this blog, has announced (in the letter which follows) that his organization Wildlaw, will soon cease to exist. After many successful suits against the Forest Service, Ray decided a few years ago that, as much fun as suing and winning might be, it might be more satisfying to work cooperatively on ecological restoration projects. Ray was able to put aside past name-calling and even death threats (not from the Forest Service!) to collaborate with those who he had often opposed in the past. His work with the National Forests in Alabama and elsewhere in the South stands as a model for collaboration in the management of public lands.
Good luck, Ray. You would have made a great Undersecretary!
Many of you may have heard rumors about the future of WildLaw and what is happening with our organization. Due to tough economic times drying up all our major funding sources and due to some other factors, WildLaw, quite simply, has no future; the organization is done and wrapping up operations. WildLaw will cease operations on May 31, 2011, and after 25 years of public interest legal work, I am retiring. This memo contains my thoughts and reflections on what an incredible journey WildLaw and I have had.
First, some details: WildLaw will close its Alabama and North Carolina offices on May 31. Our Southern Forests Network program, headed by Alyx Perry, will continue on as a separate organization. Our Florida Office, headed by Brett Paben for more than a decade, has secured some independent, Florida-specific funding and will also continue as a separate organization. As a legal entity, WildLaw will technically continue to exist for some time due to tax filing timing reasons, laws and regulations about retention of legal case documents, trademark and copyright reasons, and the like. But, barring some miraculous change in its financial fortunes, it will not be an operational organization after May 31 and will be only a shell until such time as those various laws allow me to unincorporate it finally. And due to health reasons and a need for me to focus on finding a way to still be here for my family as my children enter their college years, I am retiring from the practice of public interest law.
WildLaw may now be done, but it has not failed. Just because something ends does not mean it has failed, even if it ends sooner than you had thought it should or would. After all, everything ends; every life ends. Every human endeavor must end also. WildLaw has been a success beyond my greatest hopes when I founded it. That success remains, even if WildLaw will not. I am sad to see the end of WildLaw and my work as a public interest attorney, but I do not regret what has happened. The journey I have been on for the past 25 years has been incredible, a wonderful dream. But even the best dreams end when one awakens to a new day.
Even a brief listing of some of WildLaw’s accomplishments is astounding and humbling for me.
- More than 24,000,000 acres of public lands have been given increased protections due to our work.
- Working on species as diverse as white-tailed deer to the rarest fish, birds and animals in the world, WildLaw has increased protections and led to better management for more than 135 species directly, and countless hundreds indirectly.
- More than 2,000 miles of rivers, streams and coastal areas are cleaner.
- More than 1,500,000 acres of public lands were protected from unwise oil and gas development.
- Projects planning more than 500,000 acres of illegal and unsound logging on our public forests were stopped, and more importantly, more than 2,000,000 acres of scientifically-sound ecosystem restoration work was started on those public lands that need it.
- We played a critical role in helping small loggers in the South who do good, ecologically-sound logging find work in the forests and markets for their timber, with WildLaw becoming the first nonprofit of our type in the South to become FSC certified.
- Over the years, WildLaw played a critical role in helping to move the U.S. Forest Service from a management scheme of prioritizing commercial extraction to a paradigm of ecological restoration and conservation. While still ongoing, this historic and sweeping shift in agency policy and attitude started in Alabama, of all places, and I am very proud of the many great people in the agency with whom we have worked to help make this change happen.
- More than 35,000 people of low-income, mostly-rural, under-represented communities throughout the South have been given a voice and a chance at a cleaner environment because of our environmental justice work.
WildLaw’s great success has been due to many, many people. I cannot thank all of them here, but I will single out a few in particular. I want to give my thanks to:
- All our incredible staff. Over the years, some 45 people have worked for WildLaw, and all of our success has been due to their passion, commitment and skill. Special thanks to Steve, Brett, Jeanne, and Alyx, who led our various offices and programs for so many years.
- All of our supporters. Nonprofit work may not make a profit but it still must pay the bills to do the work. All the people, groups and foundations who funded our work over the years share in all our success and accomplishments. Special thanks to our most steadfast and understanding of funders, including Fred Stanback, Patagonia, Stuart Clarke and the Town Creek Foundation, the National Forest Foundation, The Moriah Fund, and the Mennen Environmental Foundation.
- All our clients. WildLaw has worked with more than 250 environmental and community groups of all sizes and thousands of individuals who fight for a better world instead of a quick buck. All of you are inspirations, and it has been a high honor to represent you and make your cause our cause.
- All our partners. Fighting to make the world a better place can be a lonely trail at times, but to find other people and groups who will fight alongside you makes a big difference. There is strength in numbers, and many can do more than just one or a few. Because with environmental protection work being so much more than just litigation, often many of our clients were also partners in our conservation work outside the courtroom. Many fellow attorneys and legal organizations worked with us over the years. Thanks to all of you, and I am sorry that we will not be there with you in the future.
- All our honorable opponents. Too many times in this day and age, it is customary to demonize those with whom you disagree or who have different interests and goals. Fighting for reasonable environmental protections is hard enough, but to have those who disagree with you also demean, insult or literally try to hurt you makes it so much worse. I lost count of the death threats I have received over the years, and our offices were broken into five times. In light of the evil thrown at us by some, I truly appreciate all the opposing counsel, corporate staff and government officials who were professional and kind, even in midst of strong disagreement on how to address an issue. We are all human beings, not demons and angels, and I am grateful for the opponents who remembered that, and especially those who helped me to remember that. Some whom I opposed in court became friends in person, and I am very thankful for those friendships and all that I have learned from these exceptional people.
- All the special people inside and outside of WildLaw who made this work possible. This includes: our longtime Board President and inspiration Lamar Marshall. Sara O’Neal, for invaluable help in getting WildLaw set up and then funded during tough times. Rick Middleton and all the folks at the Southern Environmental Law Center for blazing the eco-legal trail in the South, the mentoring, the co-counsel work in important cases and even for the friendly rivalry we had at times. Ned Mudd for the friendship, guidance and grounding. Dave Foreman, who believed in me when almost no one else did. Mark Rey, who epitomizes the best in professionalism, intelligence, wisdom and friendship.
- Most especially, thanks go to my wife, Louise. Without her, I would have had no reason to fight for a better world, and without her support, understanding and quiet counsel, WildLaw would have never happened and succeeded like it did. Thanks also to my children, Ned, Trey and Beth, who always told me how cool a dad I am because of the work I do and who always gave me encouragement instead of the typical reaction a father gets when talking to his kids about his work. Also, many thanks to my Mom, Betty Vaughan, who supported me and WildLaw, despite all her worrying.
- Finally, and at the risk of sounding corny, but so what, thanks be to God. Everything in life is a gift, and WildLaw and this work have been gifts beyond measure. I know too many attorneys and people in other professions whose work is a chore, nothing more than a means to make money to do the things they would rather be doing. Working to protect the environment and help people live better lives are all I have ever wanted to do. Unlike so many people, I got to do what I wanted; it was not easy and ultimately I had to create the job I wanted. But, as Thoreau said, I got to live the life I dreamed by doing work that had real meaning. My work this past quarter century has been a true gift, a blessing, a mission, a passion, and a meaningful life for which I am very grateful. If I have made a difference in this world, it is because God has made a difference in me, and with me.
So, once again, many thanks to all of you whom I have worked with and for these many years. I am sure we will see each other from time to time, especially if I ever get that experimental brain surgery I need (but my insurance will not pay for). See, for all those who ever wondered whether I was “not right in the head” for doing this work, you were right.
Feel free to share this with anyone you like.
God bless you all,
Founder and Executive Director
“Your bridges are burning now.
“They’re all coming down;
“It’s all coming ‘round.”
- Foo Fighters
The first piece I’ll look at is this one in HCN- not for any particular reason, other than I was reading HCN and ran across it. Here’s the link.
Been wondering what’s new with the Clinton-era Roadless Area Conservation Rule? Well, being the inveterate wonks we are, we’ve got an update for you on the latest with this 2001 rule that banned most logging and road building (but not off-roading or mining) on 58.5 million acres of national forest.
But first, a bit of history: In 2004, Bush repealed the rule, but allowed states to develop their own forest-protection plans. Which meant that states had to petition the federal government to protect roadless areas within their boundaries, that residents of other states had no say in those petitions, and that each state could thus have a different set of rules. Idaho and Colorado quickly drafted proposals. Idaho’s regulations, approved in 2008, protect about 9 million acres and open 400,000 to road-building, logging and mining.
This February, a federal judge upheld Idaho’s rule after environmentalists charged that it would harm endangered caribou and grizzly bears. And last week, Colorado released a new draft of its proposal, which would protect most of its 4 million roadless acres but allow new transmission lines, logging to control pine beetles, temporary drilling and coal-mining roads, and energy development on roughly 100,000 acres. The plan is open for public comment until July 14.
As for Clinton’s original roadless rule, it was reinstated in 2006, but its legal status won’t be resolved until appeals of a 2008 injunction are decided, probably early this year.
that residents of other states had no say in those petitions
This is not entirely true, as public comment was open in Colorado and Idaho to everyone across the country, and national interest groups played a role. In addition, there was a national advisory committee (RACNAC) that the designer of this process, Mark Rey, intended to provide a balance, and national perspective to the state petitions. I know the RACNAC folks and I don’t know any who are shrinking violets when it comes to stating his or her opinion.
” Idaho and Colorado quickly drafted proposals.”
“Quick” is not an adjective that I would use about anything that involves federal rulemaking, and particularly not Colorado….having spent time with the Task Force that developed the petition, I would argue that a better adverb might be “laboriously.”
Idaho’s regulations, approved in 2008, protect about 9 million acres and open 400,000 to road-building, logging and mining.
I am only slowly learning about the Idaho rule, but what is interesting to me is that it appears that temporary roads can be built for fuels treatments in the Backcountry Restoration Theme (more than 400K acres), but it looks like roads are allowed for everything else but mining on the 400K. If this is not the case, I would appreciate some enlightening by those more familiar with Idaho.
which would protect most of its 4 million roadless acres but allow new transmission lines, logging to control pine beetles, temporary drilling and coal-mining roads, and energy development on roughly 100,000 acres.
New power transmission lines are also allowed in the 2001 Rule as long as you don’t build roads. The 2001 Rule is therefore the same as the proposed Colorado Rule with regard to powerlines.
The tree cutting allowed is for fuels treatment around communities and to protect municipal water supply systems from fire, Controlling pine beetles is not really possible in this part of the country.
Temporary drilling and coal-mining roads on roughly 100 K acres.
There are 20K acres in the North Fork Coal area, and there is no other energy development. Unless the author is thinking of the so-called gap leases, (this requires another post) which are not 80K so I don’t know where 100K comes from.
Next edition: the wonderful world of “gap” leases.