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November 17, 2005

Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act: Common Sense or Disaster?

Environment News Service reports (Nov. 3) on The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act (HR 4200). The Act is billed by its co-sponsorss as a responsible, commonsense approach to working in forests soon after natural events like fire, hurricanes, and windstorms.

HR 4200 sponsor, Greg Waldon of Oregon, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health says, "Today in America's forests, it can take three years for the federal government to cut a burned, dead tree after a fire. And by the time the decision is finally made, the trees have often rotted, become bug infested and lost much of their value."

But Lisa Dix, National Forest Program Director for American Lands Alliance, says that the bill "sweeps aside public forest protections [and] eliminates meaningful environmental review and cuts the public out of decisions that would harm America's public forests."

Ashland News adds this (Nov. 11) :

Chief Dale Bosworth and Assistant Secretary Lynn Scarlett told Walden that their agencies support H.R. 4200, which would give federal land managers the ability to more quickly address recovery of national forestlands damaged by a catastrophic event - such as fire, ice storms, windstorms or hurricanes - if expedited action is necessary for the health and restoration of the forest.

"We believe H.R. 4200 would provide some innovative authorities to improve the ability of the Secretary to promptly implement recovery treatments in response to catastrophic events affecting federal lands...The Department strongly supports the goals of the legislation and its intent to get recovery actions accomplished promptly while focusing on maintaining sound environmental decision-making and public involvement," Chief Bosworth told members of the Subcommittee.

Yet-another Bill to keep track of. So many Bills, so little time! True, no matter which side of the issue you stand on. There are just SO many Bills working there way through the Congress….

Posted by Dave on November 17, 2005 at 08:03 PM Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Are Pombo's 'Mining Provisions' a Giveaway?

The Oregonion's Michael Milstein reports (Nov. 17)

Miners could buy up national forest and other public lands in Oregon and Washington under a provision buried in a hulking budget bill expected to go before Congress this week.

Prices for the federal land would start at $1,000 an acre or fair market value, whichever is more. But the price would not include the value of gold, silver or whatever other prized minerals lie below the surface.

Though the land would be sold for mining, buyers could do whatever they want with it once it's theirs. That includes the building of houses, resorts or other businesses, and represents a potentially significant privatization of lands under control of the U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. The measure's backers said the sales would affect no more than 360,000 acres of the West's public lands, which have become a recreational playground for the masses. But experts dispute that tally, saying it is much higher, possibly shifting millions of acres into private ownership.

"It's clearly a kind of giant real estate transfer," said John Leshy, the top lawyer in the Interior Department under the Clinton administration and now a professor at the University of California's Hastings College of Law. …

Even if the provision passes the House, it might not survive. That's because the Senate version of the budget bill does not include the provision, and senators would have to agree to accept it.

Republican lawmakers who drafted the provision said it updates the laws by increasing the sale price of land and fees miners must pay. But it also alters the laws by offering miners new and easier ways to lay claim to land and buy it, others said.

"It doesn't really meet the laugh test," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who has long argued that taxpayers should be better compensated by miners who make use of public land. "It's a pretty bad deal for the taxpayers." …

The Environmental Working Group calls the bill "the largest land sell-off in modern American history."

The US House of Representatives Committee on Resources justifies its provision and blasts back at critics here

{Update, Nov 18}

This Bill Passed the Full House today. Now it gets a chance to compete with or compromise with whatever Senate side Bill passes.

Mike Dombeck, retired Forest Service Chief adds this in today's LA Times, titled Your Birthright, Up for Grabs

... greed-driven special interest supporters ... want to expand the sale of public lands to allow any individual or corporation to stake a mining claim and purchase it without having to prove that it contains minerals. This is so broadly defined as to enable developers, for example, to buy federal land at bargain-basement prices and "flip" it quickly for projects such as ski chalets or housing units.

The public would never stand for this if it were done in the open, so the provision was tucked inside the huge budget-cutting bill being considered by Congress this week. There, it was obscured by bigger issues, such as offshore drilling.

Posted by Dave on November 17, 2005 at 09:22 AM Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Grizzlies Set to be Removed from U.S. Endangered List

The Washington Times reports (Nov. 15)

Grizzly bear populations have recovered to the extent that the species will be taken off the list of endangered and threatened species, Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton is expected to announce today. …

The Bush administration has been under mounting pressure from Western lawmakers, who say that when a species is recovered, it should be delisted to relieve property and, in some cases, hunting restrictions imposed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee set criteria for recovery in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Those targets have been met, but the bear remains on the list.

Sen. Craig Thomas, Wyoming Republican and a champion of ESA reform, met with Mrs. Norton last month to discuss the delisting.

"I told her that Interior's credibility hangs on this action -- this is what's wrong with ESA. This plan is a good one, has a scientific basis and needs action," Mr. Thomas said after the meeting. …

Cameron Hardy, a spokesman for Mr. Thomas, said the move is a "positive step," but he voiced skepticism about the time it might take to complete the delisting process. "It took 10 years for the bear to recover, it should not take 10 years to get the delisting in place," Mr. Hardy said....

PR Newswire reports (Nov 14.)

Defenders of Wildlife today hailed the grizzly bear's dramatic comeback in the Yellowstone region, but noted that rollbacks in national forest protection by the Bush administration pose a threat to sustaining the bear's recovery. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will announce tomorrow that it will move to declare the grizzly bear recovered in and around Yellowstone.

"The Endangered Species Act has been a roaring success for the grizzly bear in Yellowstone. We can celebrate the fact that the bear has met and exceeded recovery goals," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders of Wildlife and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The Endangered Species Act has done its job, and the wildlife professionals have done their jobs. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has not done its job of ensuring the long-term protection of the bears. By weakening national forest management and eliminating roadless area protections, the White House has created doubt about the lasting recovery of Yellowstone's grizzlies."

In the Yellowstone ecosystem, numbers of grizzly bears have grown steadily since they were first listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. At a low of around 200 animals when listed, the grizzly may now number more than 600 in and around Yellowstone National Park, and the population is increasing between four and seven percent each year. With proper management of habitat and key food sources, scientists estimate a 96 percent likelihood of having a healthy grizzly bear population in the Yellowstone ecosystem for the next 500 years.

"While the grizzly bear has clearly met the recovery goals, by law delisting can only happen when there are legally binding protections in place for grizzly bear habitat on national forest lands," said Clark. "Due to the Bush administration's wrecking ball approach to national forest management, the necessary regulatory safeguards are not in place at this time to support delisting."

The Bush Administration has orchestrated dramatic rollbacks of forest protections that could result in extensive road building and drilling in forests that are now protected. Forest planning rules that once ensured healthy wildlife populations in forests owned by the American people have been changed to eliminate mandatory protections for wildlife and its habitat. …
Sierra Club voices opposition.

Posted by Dave on November 17, 2005 at 08:59 AM Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 02, 2005

Forest Service Announces New Travel Management Rule

WASHINGTON , Nov. 2, 2005 – U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today announced a new regulation for recreational motor vehicle use in national forests and grasslands…. Here are a few excepts from the USFS press release:

The new travel management policy requires each national forest and grassland to identify and designate those roads, trails and areas that are open to motor vehicle use. Local units will seek public input and coordinate with federal, state, county and other local governmental entities as well as tribal governments before any decision is made on a particular road, trail or area. Unplanned, user-created routes will be considered at the local level during the designation process.

The agency expects that it will take up to four years to complete the designation process for all 155 national forests and 20 grasslands. Each unit will also publish a motor vehicle use map. The final rule addresses the more than 80,000 comments received on last year’s proposed rule. Most comments strongly supported the concept of designating routes and areas for motor vehicle use.

Once the designation process is complete, motor vehicle use off these routes and outside those areas (cross-country travel) will be prohibited. This prohibition will not affect over-snow vehicles, such as snowmobiles.

The rule will impact motor vehicle use on roads, trails and areas under Forest Service management. State, county or other public roads within national forest and grassland boundaries will not be included in the designation process.

Some national forests and grasslands already have established systems of roads, trails and areas designed and managed for motorized use. This rule does not require those units to change existing plans.

The new rule can be found at [pdf]. See especially pp. 101-121

Posted by Dave on November 2, 2005 at 11:43 AM Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 01, 2005

How to Use This Blog

Hints for commenting and posting:


If you are leaving short comments in this or any other blog, you can just type them in the provided window, remembering to leave a name and email address (whether real or fictitious). It’s that simple. If you don't see a window at the bottom of a "post" click on "permalink" or "comments."

Our focus is on sharing ideas and comparing philosophies, methods, and so on. All we ask is that comments be respectful of the ideas and philosophies of others. No "flaming" or "baiting" will be tolerated.

Note: URLs will automatically be converted to hyperlinks. But we do NOT recognize HTML tags in comments.


"Posts" are commentary from those allowed to post-up initial information that comment threads tier from. Here are some hints for those allowed to "post"

  • Once you get through the TypePad entry portal, available from sidebar, simply cut and paste material from a word document, add a title and you are good to go. If you need more help you can go to the TypePad’s "Posting to your weblog."
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Advanced Posting:

If you want to develop long, complex posts you should develop them with a word processor. I use MS Word, but don't like the extra stuff that Microsoft has embedded in their documents. So I like to "reconfigure" my TypePad input to dis-empower MS Word. Here's how: Go to the TypePad post entry area. Look to the bottom of the page and click on "Customize the display for this post." Select the "plain text" mode.

Note that when dealing with longer documents, if you don't reconfigure the input, TypePad may flip you from WYSIWYG ("What you See is What you Get," TypePad's default input) into HTML edit mode. Unless you understand HTML codes you’ll be lost. Worse, if you try things to get back to WYSIWYG mode, you may lose your input.

While you are in "Customize the display for this post," scroll down and select "Extended Post" under "Post Screen Configuration"—which will allow you to break longer posts into a "post introduction" that people will see automatically and "post continuation" which is a click away for casual readers.

Posted by Dave on November 1, 2005 at 05:39 PM Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack