We’ve probably all wondered whether our carefully developed peace-seeking skills could be better used to benefit the world outside of natural resource-related discussions. I think it’s great that Andy is pursuing this.
Here’s the link.
Stahl said that’s given him experience where it counts, which is in working with people with sharply divergent views and getting them to agree to compromise solutions.
Stahl said that’s a skill that appears to be lacking on the current county board, where conservatives hold a 3-2 majority. It’s a split that at times seems to produce enough sparks to melt iron.
Reducing that discord is where Stahl is hanging his political hat.
Getting elected wouldn’t change that split, but Stahl said his experience trying to broker solutions among environmental enemies would help him end what is sometimes seen as the acrimonious standoff between the board’s conservative and liberal members.
“What you learn by being a representative for people of different interests is that there’s actually a lot of commonality of interest,” he said. “We all care about this place we call Lane County. We all care about jobs.
“I don’t think that the polarization that has infected Washington, D.C., needs to infect us.”
Stahl said that proof that he can broker workable compromises comes in a draft proposal being pushed in Congress by Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, who wants to introduce a bill based on Stahl’s idea to open up logging on second-growth forests on what are known as Western Oregon’s O&C timber lands, forests owned and managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Under the plan, land with old growth trees and in key watersheds would be protected.
The idea is to open up land that’s suited for timber harvest, with counties receiving a portion of the logging sales, thereby boosting a key revenue source for counties while permanently protecting remaining old growth and other environmentally sensitive terrain.
The idea has opponents on both sides — and even Stahl said DeFazio’s version needs important changes.
But Stahl said it shows he can bring adversaries to the table, noting that it has brought together the liberal DeFazio and conservative Republican Rep. Greg Walden.
“Before my idea, it was all polarized,” Stahl said. “All of a sudden you have Peter DeFazio talking to Greg Walden for maybe the first time in history on a forest issue.”
Here’s a story in the Salt Lake Tribune. A quote below.
20th-century crash » Scientists estimate humans have slashed the sage grouse range by about half since Europeans settled on this continent. And Sommers’ memories of a late 20th-century plunge are backed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that grouse numbers have fallen 30 percent since the 1980s, likely to fewer than a half-million birds.
story continues below
In Utah, the Division of Wildlife Resources’ annual counts (22,000 this year) have dropped 1 percent to 2 percent a year since the ’80s — an improvement over steeper 1960s and ’70s losses.
Biologists don’t see hunting as a significant factor, and the practice continues in most states that are home to the birds. But it likely would end after an endangered-species listing. Utah already has stopped the hunting of the much rarer Gunnison sage grouse, which live around Monticello and in western Colorado.
Utah and other states are hustling to produce conservation plans this spring to convince federal officials that they can save the greater sage grouse without wide-ranging federal restrictions. They’re racing to complete prescriptions for the bird’s survival before the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management start revising their grouse protections in the next year.
For guidance, they look to Wyoming, sage-grouse central. With perhaps 40 percent of the species, the Cowboy State already has produced a plan and has a working group stocked with industry and wildlife groups trying to apply what they call common sense to save most of the birds.
Fish and Wildlife Service officials, who will rule on the bird’s legal status by 2015, say they like the model but it needs to apply to a larger swath of the range that covers most of the interior West.
What’s killing birds? » As the name implies, sage grouse need sagebrush. They eat its pungent greens in winter, when bugs and other plants are under snow, and hide under it to avoid eagles and other predators. In decades past, pioneering plows converted brush to wheat and other crops, shrinking the bird’s home.
Today, the biggest threat is what biologists call “fragmentation,” a catch-all term that includes residential subdivisions, roads, wildfires, windmills, power lines, pipelines and gas wells.
“The future of the economy of the West is probably tied to the future of the sage grouse,” said Tom Christiansen, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s sage-grouse point man and adviser to his state’s working group.
Note from Sharon:
Interesting statement by Terry Donahue in the comments. I wonder what others know about this. I also think that the “canary in the coal mine” analogy is easy to assert, harder to prove.
This photo intrigued me when I first saw it. Here’s the story. You might want to watch the video with the students’ reactions.
A couple of months ago, a world atlas from the 40′s. was circulating around our office. One of the categories about each country was “natural resources”. In the past, I remember it used to be a good thing for a country to have natural resources, but it seems like now they are to be protected and if a country needs to use them, they should be imported from other countries. Since it seems like people not using resources at all (at least in this astral plane ) is fairly impossible.
Bruce Ward, in an op-ed in today’s Denver Post, asks the same question, but just about trees and wood.
Here’s the link.
Guest Commentary: Harvesting, replanting best way to a healthy forest
Posted: 04/28/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
By Bruce Ward
The smoke is gone, but the fear remains.
We have lived in Denver’s “wildland urban interface” for decades because of our love of Colorado’s beauty, but now the yearly “fire watch” causes us pause as we hold our breath, hoping the forest around us doesn’t burn.
The most recent fire — the Lower North Fork — claimed three lives, destroyed or damaged 23 homes and charred more than 1,400 acres.
The obvious question is: “Who is to blame?” Yet we should also ask: “Why are we suffering such fire catastrophes?”
The good news: We reduce or prevent future fires by promoting forest health. The bad news: We may have to give up the easy answers of either blaming one person for “setting” each fire; and there is nothing we can do to prevent these fires. Understanding the cause and addressing it give us the ability to stop tragic fires.
We need to stop thinking trees live forever. Like all living things, they have finite life spans. This radical idea of recognizing the cycle of life means forest health is contingent on new trees. This requires us to challenge our belief that cutting trees is not “environmental” or “green.” The old ethos of “let nature take its course” and “in 500 years, the Earth will have healed itself” must be seen as flawed.
The problem has roots from when the West was being settled and clear- cutting was considered expedient and necessary. We were more focused on creating a civilized West. The unintended consequence of endless fire suppression is now manifesting itself.
Native Americans commonly set fires every spring, knowing it kept the trees and animals within the areas stronger. They saw fire as a tool used extensively before the white man’s encroachment and restrictions.
The documented excesses of tree harvesting without environmental limits in the 19th and 20th centuries created a culture that reacted by believing that cutting any tree was sacrilege, using products made from trees wasteful and uneducated.
People then believed that tree-killers should feel guilty about their role in hastening the destruction of our planet.
We know many trees in nature would have life spans not much longer than the longest living human, yet we protect geriatric trees whose very nature is turning them toward fire and replacement. We can see the effects all around us as nature pushes to return to a balance allowing new trees to replace the old.
The time has come to dispel that well-intentioned but wrong environmentalist mantra that forbids killing trees and realize that interfering with nature is what creates the problem.
Now is the time to embrace a new environmentalist culture that embraces planting new trees; that enjoys wood products from local sources because they come from renewable resources; provide jobs to rural economies; and most important brings our environment back into balance.
Undersecretary of Agriculture Harris Sherman asked me to help increase awareness of the mountain pine beetle epidemic and engage the private sector in finding solutions to deal with millions of acres of pine trees dying and turning brown — our own potential “Katrina of the West.”
I reached out to stakeholders who shared views on the complexity and unprecedented magnitude of the epidemic. I found caring citizens who were using Rocky Mountain Blue Stain wood, a community of environmentalists, lumbermen, builders, lumber yards, pellet mills, and furniture-makers, all working together to take our blue wood and turn it into products that would help the forest heal.
But even these efforts struggle against the mistaken belief that using wood is somehow bad.
The time is now to change decades of outmoded public perception that the only good forestry goal is to let our forests age, and realize how sustainable forestry is married to utilizing wood products in order to plant and grow new trees.
Bruce Ward is the founder of Choose Outdoors and a White House Champion of Change for Rural America. He lives in Pine.
Meanwhile, a colleague ran across this highly green (and expensive) car which advertises that it uses “, and rescued wood trim retrieved from the 2007 firestorm in Orange County, California.” I guess one person’s “rescue” is another person’s “salvage.” The whole question of “when it’s OK to use wood” seems to be worthy of further exploration; it has a variety of social, philosophical and environmental implications that we could potentially parse out.
… bring Maple flowers!
I went to Yosemite Valley on Monday and saw the waterfalls, maybe at their spring peaks. Luckily, here in California, our wet spring has helped us avoid a terrible water year. This week had free admission to our National Parks, and I had no excuse to not get up there and collect a bunch of pictures. I took 547 pictures, in all!
I also was asked about my availability to work on the marking crew on the adjacent Ranger District. They saw my name and acted quickly to get the wheels turning. Hopefully, I can do that job, given my elderly condition. (smirks)
May be of interest:
EPA Releases Innovative Mapping Tool to Improve Environmental Reviews and Planning / NEPAssist part of CEQ initiative to increase efficiency and effectiveness of environmental reviews
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the public release of a web-based mapping tool developed for Federal agencies to facilitate more efficient and effective environmental reviews and project planning. The tool, NEPAssist, is part of an initiative developed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to modernize and reinvigorate federal agency implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through innovation, public participation and transparency. NEPAssist draws information from publicly available federal, state, and local datasets, allowing NEPA practitioners, stakeholders and the public to view information about environmental conditions within the area of a proposed project quickly and easily at early stages of project development.
“NEPA helps ensure that Federal agencies protect the health of our communities and the natural resources that support our economy,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “Making this tool available to the public will help make information more accessible, a key part of our effort to increase transparency for projects that impact American communities.”
“NEPAssist helps users identify the possible impacts of federal projects on local environments and communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By making tools like NEPAssist available to the public, EPA is helping citizens to be involved in environmental decisions that affect their community.”
NEPA requires all federal agencies to incorporate environmental considerations in their planning and decision-making through a systematic interdisciplinary process. NEPAssist is designed to help promote collaboration and early involvement in the NEPA process by raising important environmental issues at the earliest stages of project development. The mapping tool can be used by Federal agencies to identify alternative project locations, to avoid and minimize impacts, as well as identify potential mitigation areas.
In October 2011, NEPAssist was selected as a White House Council on Environmental Quality National Environmental Policy Act Pilot Project to improve the efficiency of Federal environmental reviews. CEQ has selected five NEPA Pilot Projects that will employ innovative approaches to completing environmental reviews that can be replicated across the Federal Government. For more information on the NEPA Pilots Program, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/nepa/nepa-pilot-project.
More information on NEPA: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/index.html
More information on CEQ NEPA Pilot Projects: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/nepa/nepa-pilot-project
Here’s the link.
Praises Locally-Driven and Collaborative Public Process
Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Last week, Mark Udall sent a letter to President Obama urging him to quickly approve a Colorado Roadless Rule that has been under development since 2005 in order to alleviate uncertainty for communities and businesses. A thorough, locally-driven public process took into consideration hundreds of thousands of public comments to produce a rule that protects 4.2 million acres of Colorado backcountry. These National Forest lands are storehouses for clean water and protecting them also ensures that skiers and hikers have beautiful vistas, anglers have clean streams in which to fish, and hunters have healthy big-game herds. These resources attract visitors from all over the nation and world and are a critical component of our quality of life.
“Coloradans can and should be proud of this process; hard work, compromise and dedication to transparency produced a compromise in which almost no party got everything it wanted, but nearly all have agreed is fair. I believe this collaborative work deserves recognition,” Udall wrote in the letter. ”Delays in the adoption of a Colorado Roadless Rule have led to confusion and uncertainty and I urge its approval as soon as possible.”
The Colorado Roadless Rule was developed in an open and transparent process by Coloradans from a wide range of backgrounds including state and local elected officials, representatives from the ski industry, and the ranching, water law, forest management and environmental communities. The Rule protects 4.2 million acres while allowing some limited flexibility based on legitimate needs, such as to address forest-fire threats and insect infestations near certain communities, to accommodate ski area management, to continue underground coal production in the North Fork coal mining area, and to access and maintain water and utility corridors. However, because of a recent 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, some have urged the president to set aside this extensive public process and instead impose a federal rule. A swift approval of the Colorado Roadless Rule will acknowledge the collaborative work that has been underway since 2005, and provide certainty for our land managers, small businesses and the public.
Here’s a link to the letter.
Ken Cole over at The Wildlife News has a new(ish) post up titled, “Basin Creek, Little Lost River Drainage. Lost because of livestock. Below are some snips from the article.
Basin Creek is a headwater tributary of the Little Lost River drainage in Idaho. It was home to bull trout and had a series of wet meadows which are in the process of eroding away and becoming biological wastelands.
Western Watersheds Project staff and supporters visited this stream in late 2008 along with the Salmon Challis National Forest District Ranger, Diane Weaver. It was in the process of severe erosion at that time and she was embarrassed enough to authorize an exclosure to keep cattle out of the stream….
Over the weekend I, Brian Ertz, and his kids visited the same spot and found that cattle had been in the exclosure last year, as evidenced by the utilization of the grass and the numerous cow pies that littered the area. The stream had also cut an additional 5 feet down into the soft, riparian sediments that were deposited over centuries, and the head cut had moved higher up the meadow.
The stream and the meadow are dying. Sediments are eroding into the stream below and the head cut is moving upstream slowly but surely. The lower stretches of the stream are drying out because the water table is lower….
So often people and agencies advocate for these types of exclosures around sensitive stream areas but once they are built they fail to take another look. Exclosures usually end up turning into enclosures for cattle, and, rather than keep cattle out of an area, they keep them in because, frankly, it is exactly the type of area that cattle like to be.
It is not an uncommon experience for us to find exclosures that have had trespassing cattle or contain the offending animals themselves. It also not uncommon to see accelerated degradation occurring to these areas when they are not properly maintained or monitored. The fences keep other, native wildlife out and, in some circumstances end up killing sage grouse that collide into them. They don’t work, and agencies are foolish to depend on them.
Visit The Wildlife News’ site for the full story, as well as a nice slideshow from the area.
I’ve always loved Jonathon Winters but, who knew he was so savvy about trees and forests? Here is a classic old Public Service Announcement, for your amusement and enlightenment.