Tomorrow is the deadline for commenting on the Forest Service’s draft fire retardant EIS.
FSEEE’s comments can be read here. The associated spreadsheet collects together national forest-level data over an 11-year period on initial attack success rates, numbers of fires by size class, and retardant use. These data are the basis for FSEEE’s statistical analysis of retardant effectiveness.
Here is our take-home message:
“The fact of the matter is that each and every year the Forest Service drops millions of gallons of a toxic chemical slurry, predictably killing about a half-dozen air personnel while jeopardizing dozens of protected plant and animal species, all for a program that could best be characterized as faith-based firefighting. The Forest Service can and should do better.”
Check this essay out- here’s a quote:
The concentrated effort to stop this despoliation has led the local, state, and federal agents engaged in this oft-dangerous work to refer to themselves as the Thin Green Line. They do not see their actions simply as a piece of the controversial War on Drugs, but as a battle to protect and preserve imperiled landscapes. Yet there is not enough money or labor to do this critical rehab work. In 2010, volunteer restoration teams managed to reclaim 70 sites across the state, but more than 800 had been identified. Still, they and law enforcement do what they can.
Or, better, do what they feel they must. Lt. John Nores, Jr., of California’s Department of Fish and Game makes this case in War in the Woods: Combating the Marijuana Cartels on America’s Public Lands, a hyped-up if compelling account of the anguish he and his comrades feel at the end of each operation. Notwithstanding the book’s evocation of Vietnam–camouflaged strike forces slipping though a dense tangle wary of booby traps and stalking a well-armed enemy–it also advocates full restoration of the abused land.
Just before taking down an illegal dam that fed a major cultivation site along Bonjetti Creek in eastern face of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Nores muses:
“The creek water above the dam is clean, clear, and cold, just like a high-mountain trout stream in California’s Sierra Nevada. The surrounding ferns, grasses, and thick tree canopies above the creek are similarly pristine and beautiful….Standing here I have a hard time imagining that more than a million people are hustling around the San José area only a short distance from us, and yet these amazing natural areas are so close and provide so much to our environment and its wildlife species.”
The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) announced June 17 that the U.S. Forest Service, the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners, CCA, and most importantly – 13 livestock producing families – prevailed against a lawsuit filed by Western Watershed’s Project (WWP). In 2009, CCA and Chaffee County joined ranchers in protecting their right to multiple-use grazing of public lands by intervening in a lawsuit filed by the anti-livestock grazing WWP, which sought to deny renewal of grazing in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests.
“This is a huge win for our family and cattlemen in this part of the state,” stated Ken McMurry, grazing permittee. “Through the support of ChaffeeCounty, other local cattlemen’s associations and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, we’ve come to realize how significant this ruling is statewide to all cattlemen, whether grazing on private or public lands.”
The appeal by WWP objected to the renewal of the grazing permits, which had been approved after a thorough environmental review. The Forest Service grazing decision also incorporated adaptive management principles to improve environmental conditions in the forests. The ranchers and the Forest Service worked together to develop management steps that would address resource issues and still be cost-effective. Upon reviewing the briefs and the administrative record, the court affirmed the decision of the Forest Service and allows continued livestock grazing under the adaptive management that everyone committed to do.
As CCA counsel Connie Brooks explained, “This decision is especially significant because Western Watersheds had objected to the fact that the Forest Service had worked closely with the grazing permittees to develop management plans that made sense and would achieve the Forest Service’s objectives. While federal law calls for these grazing plans to be written in coordination with ranchers, this litigation would have undone the cooperation and consultation that has characterized the grazing program on the Salida Leadville Ranger District of the Pike San Isabel National Forest.”
Tim Canterbury and his family are also thrilled with the courts decision. “We are happy to see that the court ruled this way. It shows that the courts recognize all of the hard work the permittees and agencies put into the Environmental Assessment.”
The WWP argued that the decision made by the Forest Service was inconsistent with the Forest Plan; more specifically, it violated the Forest Plan in various ways including wildlife protection, protecting soil productivity, protecting water quality, and protecting archaeological resources. The court found that the Forest Service properly addressed each of these issues. Some of the measures included in the Proposed Plan were changing the stocking rate, limiting grazing to certain seasons, rest rotation, and active herding – all of which permittees will conduct to protect the public’s natural resources. After further review, the court strongly disagreed with WWP, stating the court may not assume that the Forest Service will fail to implement these actions in their Proposed Plan.
“The good guys won!,” exclaimed Chaffee County Commissioner Frank Holman. “The Western Watersheds Project is ignorant of the positive impact ranchers have on the land, and that these same ranchers leave the forest in an improved state. This verdict by the government keeps WWP from running over the little guy. This finally proves that cattlemen do not have to put up with invasions to our Western way of life.”
It’s also interesting that this story from the local newspaper, the Pueblo Chieftain mentions that WWP is from Idaho in the headline..
Grazing can continue in forests
Federal judge ruled against Idaho environmental group.