The Mountain Biking Community.. (paraphrase of Niemoller)
First they came for the loggers,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a logger (and timber industry is “corporate.)
Then they came for the people who wanted fuel treatments,
and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t live in a WUI (and they shouldn’t really be living there)
Then they came for the OHV users,
and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t have an OHV (and those things are noisy and smelly)
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Here’s the link.
I don’t get the thing about wheelchairs based on the story.
Thanks to Mike for this..
Here’s a link and below is an excerpt.
The Idaho Chapter of the Wilderness Society shares the group’s concern over the lack of trail maintenance and funding.
“It’s no secret the agency hasn’t been able to keep up with deadfall on trails and bridges washing out. Nobody is disputing that,” said Craig Gehrke of The Wilderness Society.
But harsh language in the resolution that describes fire as a destructive force instead of a natural process and hints that chain saw use might be needed to erase the trail maintenance backlog is alienating him and other environmentalists.
“The Frank Church Wilderness has some of the best wildlife habitat, water quality and fish habitat in the Lower 48 states. Spreading wild misinformation about wilderness and designating one of Idaho’s icons a ‘disaster area’ is not the right way fix the trails,” Gehrke said. “By spreading myths about wilderness, this resolution could actually hurt important efforts to increase trails funding and broaden much-needed partnerships.”
Ryan said he is aware that the resolution is ruffling feathers.
“I know Craig Gehrke thinks this is an anti-wilderness bill but I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as getting the Forest Service to do their job. Maybe we can stir the pot enough to get it done,” he said
Note from Sharon: At the risk of being heretical, maybe you could have “Chainsaw Week” where everyone goes in and does trails and the rest of the year they’re not allowed?
I find that what people think, or don’t think, goes in wilderness, and why to be fascinating. If it’s trammeled you can act to untrammel, because that would be trammeling.. Oh, well.
Here’s a link and below is an excerpt.
These prescribed fires in wilderness areas wouldn’t have this
preparation. There are no plans to thin before the fires, Larkin said.
And firefighters would be using trails and natural features, such as
rock outcroppings, as fire breaks rather than scratching in fire lines.
While the Forest Service has used prescribed fire in wilderness
elsewhere around the country, this would be the first time it would be
done in Central Oregon.
The Cascade Lakes and Scott Mountain burns are planned for fall days
when temperatures are cooler than the prime fire season of summer but
forests are still dry enough to burn hot.
Along with helicopters, the plan says firefighters on the ground may use
flame-dripping torches to start the fires. The goal is to have high
severity fires, burning through the tops of the trees and killing many
of them. Firefighters would wait to start to the fires when the weather
forecast calls for impending snow or rain.
The fires would create a patchwork of burned and unburned woods, where
lightning-sparked blazes would not grow as large as they do now, said
Geoff Babb, a fire ecologist with the Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of
Land Management in Central Oregon.
Such a patchwork would mimic the forest seen in century-old,
black-and-white photos of the forests near Bend and Sisters. For much of
the 100 years since, the Forest Service and other agencies were quick to
snuff wildfires even in the wilderness, creating an overgrown forest
prone to big fires.
“I think if many of those were allowed to burn, they would have created
those patches that we are talking about,” Babb said.
The Forest Service plans go against the intent of the Wilderness Act of
1964, which set aside lands to be left in their natural condition, said
Karen Coulter, director of the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project in
“We are strongly opposed,” she said.
She offered threes reasons for her opposition to prescribed fire in
* Prescribed burning is the type of human management not intended for
* Protecting communities and other assets outside of wilderness is best
done by treating the forests close to them, not the backcountry.
* The fires wouldn’t burn the same as natural, lightning-started fires.
“Prescribed burning in wilderness is de facto management of wilderness
and contradicts the intention of the Wilderness Act to set aside
untrammeled wild places for spiritual solace, recreation and wildlife,”
While he considers lightning fires to be a natural part of wilderness
forests, Kevin Proescholdt, conservation director of Wilderness Watch,
said he is skeptical about the idea of prescribed fires burning in
wilderness. Proescholdt lives in Minnesota but works for the
Montana-based nonprofit focused on wilderness conservation. His
criticisms of the idea were in line with Coulter’s.
“It basically is a form of manipulation of the wilderness ecosystem by
humans that we are not supposed to do under the Wilderness Act,”
Forest Service’s reasons
The Forest Service plans are legal, said Larkin, the Bend-Fort Rock
ranger, and he contends they are in the spirit of the Wilderness Act.
Larkin offers three reasons for doing the prescribed fires in the
* Returning the forest to a state where fire can plan a natural role and
lightning fires may be allowed to burn.
* Keeping wildfires that start in the wilderness in the wilderness.
* Increasing the safety for firefighters who respond to wildfires.
Babb and Larkin both emphasized that the burning would be done in a
relatively small piece of wilderness at a time, at most a couple hundred
acres, and the intention is not to burn the entire section outlined in
“This is really the start of a process that we envision taking 20 to 30
years to finish,” Larkin said.
Also, I wonder why some people would think it is OK in some places but not in others.. or maybe it’s just a function of who is watching what forests.
Here’s an interesting paper I found on the topic on wilderness.net:
Interpreting the Wilderness Act
Varying interpretations of the specific language of the Wilderness Act contributes to the philosophical
split over manager-ignited fire. The Forest Service often equates historic conditions with naturalness.
However, Ryan wonders what point in history was natural – the point in time when white people arrived
or the point in time when the area was designated as wilderness or some other point? Whether or not
human actions are natural or can be natural is also a major question, in light of the Act’s focus on
humans as visitors. This question is further complicated by the history of Native American burning in
While restoration of naturalness or natural conditions is often the stated goal of manger-ignited fires,
the Wilderness Act also re quires that wilderness be untrammeled. According to Worf untrammeled
means that “you don’t control it, you don’t net it. You let nature’s processes go wherever you can.”
There is clear agreement that past fire suppression represents trammeling of wilderness. According to
Arno a mixed-severity fire region is “absolutely incredible for biodiversity,” and taking it away is
trammeling, “a much greater trammeling than most other things you can do in wilderness.” Morton also
agrees that suppression of fire has been a form of trammeling.
Nickas and Morton agree that manager-ignited fire also constitutes a trammeling. Morton claims that
they are trammeling to restore naturalness. Eckert calls this the “double trammel” and considers it the
crux of the issue. Do we trammel wilderness again to reduce the effects of previous trammeling? For
Morton “natural and untrammeled are 180 degrees apart,” meaning that they are in conflict with one
another regarding the issue of fire.Another trammel is required, in Morton’s view, to make wilderness
Perhaps we need to hire more Forest Service philosophers to figure this out? We could get the “best available philosophy” ?
The 2009 Bridge Fire was started by lightning, and burned in both the Dixie National Forest and Bryce Canyon National Park. Since the fire didn’t closely approach structures, the fire was allowed to burn to the road, and in some places, to the rim.
Mortality was pretty severe but, there were still some green trees scattered about. It is hard to say if there has been a good cone year, since the fire. I didn’t see a single live new tree in this particular area.
I did see this dwarf Oregon grape but, it really wasn’t a surprise, since I had seen them growing among the hoodoos.
I also saw some manzanita and ceanothus becoming re-established, along with other desert brush species.
As the years go on, the odds for having a pine forest soon are worsening. At 9000 feet in elevation, this is a pretty harsh environment for any tree. I posted most of these pictures in high resolution, so you can see the vegetation easily, if you click on them. You cannot judge pine regeneration after only a few years but, in this case, pine regeneration looks very poor.
To see the pictures from my Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park adventures, go see my Facebook page, please. These include the Peekaboo trail in Bryce Canyon, and “The Narrows” in Zion National Park.
Here’s a snippet of Char Miller’s piece on the
Read all of it here.
“One of the purposes of the Sierra Club,” David Brower, its one-time Executive Director wrote in 1964, is to “gather together people who know how important it is that there should always be some land wild and free.”
These activists’ central mission was clear: to “counter the rationalizations of the highway builders, and dam and logging road builders, who would slice through and dismember the Sierra Wilderness, all for a variety of reasons that may apply someplace else but that ought not be allied here.”
After all, Brower concluded, neither “California nor the rest of America is rich enough to lose any more of the Gentle Wilderness, nor poor enough to need to.”
His maxim still holds true, and I can only imagine how riled up Brower, who died in November 2000, would be by the latest attacks on wilderness — as place and idea — emanating out of Congress.
In mid-April, the GOP-dominated House of Representatives passed, largely along party lines, the cynically titled Sportsmen’s Heritage Act (HR 4089). It has kicked up a storm of protest with the broad environmental movement, who see it as an ill-disguised assault on the wildlands and the Wilderness Act that Brower and early generations fought so hard to protect and secure.
What has led them to conclude with Wilderness Watch that the “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act Will Essentially Repeal the 1964 Wilderness Act”?
The legislation’s language initially seems banal; one of its provisions, the Congressional Research Service summarizes in this way:
Requires that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands, excluding lands on the Outer Continental Shelf, be open to recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting unless the managing agency acts to close lands to such activity for specified purposes, including resource conservation, public safety, energy production, water supply facilities, or national security.
Note the word “require”: it appears that its compulsory meaning is offset by subsequent terminology indicating that these federal land-management agencies can “close lands to such activity for specified purposes….” Yet the list of the acceptable purposes is striking for what it says and does not say.
It makes sense that the BLM should be empowered to limit hunting if rifle fire would interfere with oil-and-gas production or wind farms or solar facilities. It cannot stop hunting, however, if it chose to do so because it judged that this form of recreation to be inconsistent with (and inimical to the purposes of) wilderness, as defined in the 1964 Act that banned hunting within designated wildlands.
Moreover, HR 4089 tightly constrains the capacity of these federal agencies to act on behalf of wilderness. As the Congressional Research Service notes, the bill “sets forth requirements for a withdrawal, change of classification, or change of management status that effectively closes or significantly restricts 640 or more contiguous acres of federal public lands or waters for fishing or hunting or related activities.
This story from CNN is fairly long and involves many colorful western characters.
This will be the first of many postings to share my photography associated with our National Forests. I have worked on 23 National Forests across the country, in 11 states. The photos I took while working for the Feds will be available for free limited usage, if someone thinks it might help their cause. Others can be available matted and/or framed *smirks*
(Edit: Sharon wanted bigger!)
Several of these peaks in the Lost River Range of Idaho are over 12,000 feet. I met this other detailer, who was doing wildlife surveys, and was shocked to learn that he was climbing part of the way up these mountains, looking for rare species. Yes, he was over 50 years old! I was doing aspen surveys, mapping, photographing and analysis, in support of a new grazing plan. It was in my power to recommend protective measures for the impacted aspen stands. Of course, everything that eats grass, eats aspen. I felt it was meaningful work.
I thought this piece and the comments were both interesting. Here’s the link.
The mirage of pristine wilderness
by Emma Marris
One summer day, I went with my father and daughter to Schmitz Park in West Seattle, famous for being among the only chunks of old-growth forest within city limits. A few urban noises penetrated the 50-acre park, mostly airplanes and boat horns. But it was markedly quiet — and beautiful. The turf was springy with a thousand layers of needles. Creeks wended their way under fallen logs. Ferns and firs and hemlock quietly photosynthesized, cradled by the debris of dead trees. And all around us, right along the trail, were bushes heavily laden with red huckleberries. I ate a couple and gave several to my toddler — something I probably wouldn’t have done five years ago, when I took more seriously the solemn duty not to besmirch natural areas, especially old-growth forests, with my human presence.
As a kid growing up in Seattle, I was proud of the Northwest’s old-growth forests. We still had pristine wilderness, while the people of the Midwest and East Coast had used theirs all up. It made me feel smug.
But, of course, it isn’t that simple. For the last several years, I’ve been writing about ecologists and conservationists coming to terms with the fact that “pristine wilderness” is a mirage. Climate change, pollution, species movements, land-use changes — we’ve transformed the whole globe for good, every inch of it. And even if we could undo all that we’ve done, what would we go back to? Prehistoric humans changed landscapes much more than we once believed. And paleoecologists are teaching us to see familiar ecosystems not as eternal, unchanging, harmonious wholes so much as accidental, ephemeral aggregations — ships passing in the night in geological time. There never was a one right time, the ecologists say — no Garden of Eden.
A year or so ago, I interviewed Feng Sheng Hu, a paleoecologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana. He explained that the Northwest’s old-growth forests present a puzzle. Not because they are so old — because they’re so young. The very oldest gray, grand, massive Douglas firs in the region are about 700 years old. But their normal lifespan extends to 1,200 years, making those wise grandfathers just a titch over middle-aged. The reason, said Hu, was that the climate has only been cool enough for them for 700 years. Go further back, and you find yourself in a hotter time called the Medieval Warm Period, when frequent fires would have kept any Doug-fir forests from reaching a ripe old age. A mere 700 years ago, there were already people living in the Northwest. As Hu spoke, my pride was instantly shattered. The vaunted old-growth forest ecosystem wasn’t even one tree-generation old. It didn’t predate human settlement. It wasn’t unchanging. It was … what? Just a forest?
So as I walked through this little scrap of urban old growth, my daughter on my back, I was thinking hard about my emotional reaction. I wanted to see if it felt any different now that I know that old-growth forest isn’t the timeless, unchanging, right ecosystem I once believed it to be.
Among the skunk cabbage and black mud and moss and lichen, the big trees still seemed impressive, solid, silent — detached but somehow tender. I realized that even after we learn that old-growth ecosystems aren’t necessarily that old, the trees are still really, really big.
Then my father spoke. “We came here when you were tiny,” he said cheerfully. “You were still mastering walking longer distances, and I think you walked all the way up the trail.” This, then, was presumably back in the early 1980s, when my parents were still together. I felt a stab of nostalgia for my childhood, and my train of thought switched tracks. You can’t go home again, I thought. That’s the message of all this new research. First you learn that you can’t go back, and then you learn that there never was a home to go back to. Everything is always in flux; any date you pick is arbitrary, whether it is before or after Columbus, before or after we killed off the mammoths and giant ground sloths, before or after the logging industry began in the Pacific Northwest around 1850. And it is sad. I’ve written a whole book arguing that ditching the “pristine wilderness” idea is empowering and liberating because it allows us to look to the future and create more nature instead of clinging to disappearing scraps of seemingly untouched land. That’s still true. But it is also reasonable to grieve for the loss of a beautiful, simple ideal.
Dad and I made a list of the reasons Schmitz Park is valuable. “It is a rare ecosystem type in the city,” I said. “And it is beautiful. And there are really big trees.” “And,” he said, “no one has ever changed it.” My first impulse was to pooh-pooh this as yet another manifestation of the counterproductive obsession with pristine wilderness. And certainly it isn’t strictly true. Some trees were taken out before it was protected, and volunteers are fiddling with it all the time, removing exotic species and planting native seedlings. But he’s right that it stands out from a sea of bungalows and coffee shops and sidewalks and docks, a green swath with big old trees. Maybe not old enough to impress Hu and maybe not pristine. But big and old, goddamn it. Big and old. A good place to let yourself mourn a little for the Eden that never was, for the early childhood you remember only hazily through photographs. A good place to feed the kid some berries. Other people may be too scared to eat them, or too respectful to touch them, but I have given up worshiping wilderness in favor of tasting it.
Emma Marris is a freelance environmental journalist based in Columbia, Missouri. Her first book, Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, comes out this month.
© High Country News
Nowhere is the controversy so polarized over Wilderness fires. Both Bob Zybach and I were motivated to post in the comments, seemingly squelching the folks who subscribe to the idea that wildfires are always “natural and beneficial”, despite the threats to their water supply. Also interesting is the comments from an apparent smokejumper, somewhat critical of mistakes made by fire managers. The article’s content is a bit slanted, even to my enlightened knowledge. To me, one of the conundrums is trying to find a balance between Wilderness, water quality and wildfires and firefighter safety. It seems that no matter what the Feds do in this situation, they get ample criticism. It’s unfortunate that, sometimes, firefighter safety is used as an excuse to not aggressively fight the wildfires. It’s a very fine line there.
from High Country News here.
A fire lookout in a wilderness speaks of our past
Essay – July 07, 2011 by Ana Maria Spagna
If monster mansions in Jackson, Wyo., or Sun Valley, Idaho, can boast million-dollar views, what’s a historic cabin in Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness worth? From this cabin that used to be a wildfire lookout, you can see a sea of summits, glaciers, a volcano and hidden lakes mostly surrounded by uncut forests.
Green Mountain Lookout, a historic 14-by-14-foot structure built in 1933, has gone through several stages of rehabilitation, and then, after a few missteps, a reconstruction. Now, suddenly, a group called Wilderness Watch wants to tear it down.
If you want to be contrary about this issue, there are plenty of arguments against fire lookouts. There’s the premise critics start with — the mistaken idea decades ago that putting out all fires was noble and necessary. Then there’s the fact that wilderness is supposed to be untrammeled, and what’s a flammable wooden and glass house on a mountaintop if not hardcore trammeling? And to be honest — as someone who worked in the woods — I don’t feel called upon to revere the various writers and poets who were paid to sit and scribble in some of these historic lookouts.
Still, Green Mountain Lookout takes my breath away. I don’t idolize the (mostly) men who spent their summers sitting inside, but I am awed by the people who built the lookouts. Often they were Civilian Conservation Corps members or local packers or trail workers, poorly paid and outfitted. Always they were hardy and courageous, skilled and earnest, and wowed — I’m guessing now — by the luck that landed them in these unspeakably lovely places.
I make this guess, in part, because I have friends who helped rebuild Green Mountain Lookout: not just the hewing and sawing and the careful salvage of shiplap siding, but the paper-pushing, the negotiating, the hoop-hopping required to make it happen. I cannot bear to toss their good labors aside.
This is not to say that everything built must stay built. The Elwha Dam is a case in point. I’ll be there cheering when it comes down. The Green Mountain Lookout may, arguably, be doing little good, but it’s also doing no harm. It’s not, for example, dooming an entire salmon run to extinction. The lookout’s only crimes are crimes against human sensibilities.
The basis for the Wilderness Watch lawsuit lies in helicopters. Helicopters are, of course, officially forbidden in wilderness, though they are used to fight fires, for rescues and occasionally for trail construction — or in this case, lookout reconstruction — once the proper hoops have been hopped. The gray area is troublesome, sure. But is the offense of hearing a helicopter so heinous it merits a lawsuit? Is it worse than the treatment of prisoners of war (or non-war)? Or the poisoning of rivers? Or the denial of climate change? Part of what galls me in this case is the sheer waste of activist energy.
But there’s more. If every human instinct has a rusty underbelly, the downside of wilderness protection is the desire to pretend we are the first humans to arrive in a pristine land. As if Lewis and Clark did not depend on the kindness of Indians. As if modern hikers do not depend on constructed roads, cleared trails, sturdy bridges. Fooling ourselves into believing we’re first seems like a kind of re-conquering, a dangerous game that allows our egos to grow big and unwieldy, the same egos that wreaked havoc in the first place.
I don’t want to play pretend. I’d rather honor the people who came before me. I’d rather share their passion for grandeur. If I’m lucky enough to spend the night in a lookout that’s meticulously maintained by volunteers or seasonal laborers, I’d rather appreciate the roof over my head as I look out at the roofless miles, and be grateful.
Wilderness is about humility. Walk a dozen miles off a road and you’re instantly at the mercy of predators and of the elements. You can be humbled by nature, and also, I’d argue, by our own humanity.
Stand at Green Mountain Lookout and look to the southwest. You can see the scars of clear-cuts and the stretch of highway that leads to shopping malls and parking lots and paved-over wetlands. Humanity is responsible for both clear-cuts and the Wilderness Act, and even for a few lines of poetry that have transcended geography and generation.
Among the best things wilderness can do is make us realize that what we do counts. Some of it is marvelous, some of it catastrophic. Fire lookouts sit smack on the divide. Tearing down Green Mountain Lookout won’t erase that.
Ana Maria Spagna is a contributor to Writers on the Range, an op ed syndicate of High Country News (hcn.org). She is a writer in Stehekin, Washington.
A commenter provided a link to the National Trust for Historic Preservation blog here.
The National Trust views the draconian remedy of removing the Green Mountain Lookout as one that would directly contradict the Forest Service’s obligations for the stewardship of historic resources under the National Historic Preservation Act. The Department of Justice, representing the Forest Service, authored an eloquent brief highlighting the stewardship responsibilities of the Forest Service for historic sites and structures in wilderness throughout the country, spanning more than 10,000 years of human history. The Forest Service made a compelling argument that the Wilderness Act and the National Historic Preservation Act are not mutually exclusive, and can indeed coexist as a set of principles that govern the agency’s management and stewardship of its historic properties.
The National Trust recently weighed in to support the Forest Service with an amicus curiae brief, together with a coalition including the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the Darrington Historical Society, and the Forest Fire Lookout Association. In a motion requesting the court’s permission to file the amicus brief, the coalition expressed the concern that Wilderness Watch’s extreme position threatens protections for a range of other historic resources that predate wilderness designation, including Native American shrines and rock shelters, graveyards, lighthouses, pioneer cabins, as well as other fire lookouts.
On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation announced that the Green Mountain Lookout was named to the state’s “Most Endangered Historic Properties” list. Stay tuned, as the battle to protect this unusual historic structure continues.