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December 31, 2005


Cimarron-Comanche NG releases draft plan under the 2005 planning rule
Tony Erba

The first land management plan constructed under the 2005 planning rule - for the Cimarron & Comanche National Grasslands - was released for comment on 30 December 2005. You can read the public notice in the Federal Register at:

http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-24645.htm

The final plan will be approved following a 90 day comment period and a 30 day objection period.

The plan is available for review at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/projects/forest_revision

Comments may be sent to ccgrassplan@caet.esassoc.com

It's time to see whether the hand-wringing that has occurred over the Forest Service changing its land management planning regulations is warranted.

Posted by Tony Erba on December 31, 2005 at 05:51 AM Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 22, 2005


ANWR Drilling Proposal Killed by Threatened Filibuster
Dave

Arctic Drilling Rejected: Cheers Heard on Both Sides of Border, Tom Harper, Toronto Star, 12/22/05

WASHINGTON—Environmentalists on both sides of the border are hailing a dramatic vote that turned back the latest bid by George W. Bush and Republican senators to open a pristine Arctic refuge to oil drilling.

Yesterday's pre-Christmas showdown in the U.S. Senate marked a victory by Democrats who have over more than two decades repeatedly killed access to the oil reserves in Alaska, consistently the most emotionally charged environmental battle in this country. …

Prime Minister Paul Martin had told Bush there was not enough oil in the reserve to justify the potential environmental and cultural damage to the region.

Ottawa also argued the president would have been breaching an 18-year-old bilateral agreement in which the two governments pledged to protect the environmentally fragile area of the continent. The section of the refuge that is in Canada is a national park. …

"Although we won (yesterday), we shouldn't have even been put into the position of yet another cliff-hanger," said Monte Hummel, president emeritus of the [World Wildlife Fund]. "Conservationists have had to fend off drilling in the refuge many times over the last 25 years, despite the fact that the majority of both Canadians and Americans do not want this to happen. Now we need to move beyond these defensive actions, to provide permanent protection to a North American natural treasure."

Deb Callahan, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said the vote was a triumph of "democracy over greed."

"Cynical attempts to hold hostage funds to support our troops, offer relief to hurricane-ravaged states and warm the cold, old and poor in order to benefit a select few failed before our eyes," she said in a statement.

Posted by Dave on December 22, 2005 at 12:10 PM Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2005


Print Your Own Money
Dave

No, we aren't talking here about printing presses. Instead the call is out for Forest Service Managers to create revenue in various ways that cluster loosely under "revenue enhancement."

This week Intermountain Region Forest Service Leaders are gathering to get their marching orders from a new Regional Business Plan that includes:

  • Program Goals –


    • Getting work done on the ground
    • Minimizing current and future threats to National Forests and Grasslands
    • Building and maintaining Agency credibility in business operations

  • Operational Goals –

    • Invest in people
      • Employee and public health, safety and security
      • Working environment and workforce diversity
      • Workforce skills and training
    • Print our own money (emphasis added)
      • Partnerships and revenues generated from stewardship contracts and other sources
      • Accomplishing performance outcomes via Integrated Resource Stewardship Contracts and Integrated Resource Timber Sale Contracts.
      • Increase program accomplishments and reduce costs through program integration, application of process improvements, and new authorities.
    • Manage Costs and Create Effective Operations
      • Competitively-based Forest allocations
      • Progress toward workforce management goals
      • Progress toward fixed and indirect cost management goals

  • Forest Service Strategic Plan Goals (Tiered from FS National Strat. Plan) –
    • Reduce the risk from catastrophic wildland fire
    • Reduce the risks from invasive species
    • Provide outdoor recreation opportunities
    • Help meet energy resource needs(i.e. "Reduce backlog oil and gas leasing and APDs [Application for a Permit to Drill] and facilitate energy-related special use permit processing," … Coal, Geothermal, Biomass
    • Improve watershed condition
    • Conduct mission-related work in addition to that which supports agency goals (i.e., "Adjust land ownership and maintain boundaries to reduce threats and improve management efficiency. …Revise and update Forest land and resource management plans")

Much of the above is "business as usual" for the agency. "Print our own money," on the other hand is new. Well, sort of new. The Forest Service has long perceived itself as a quasi-business, what with administering the multiple uses, many of which include goods and services that are offered alongside commercial offerings from the private sector including grazing, mining, recreation, timber products, "special" forest products like mushrooms, and so on.

What is novel is that the Forest Service is doubling down efforts to "keep the money," rather than letting it accrue generally to the treasury. This allows for cheerleaders to praise the agency for proper alignment of incentives. This allows for detractors like me to criticize the agency for allowing itself to be corrupted by the influence of money from operations that tend to "enhance revenue" more easily and more bountifully than others.

Posted by Dave on December 12, 2005 at 11:47 AM Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 05, 2005


Welcome to the Grand Canyon, Brought to You by …
Dave

My local paper ran this FrontPage headline Friday, "And now here's the Grand Canyon, thanks to…" The article was subtitled "National parks seeking corporate sponsorship." No doubt supporters believe they are just looking to honor those they refer to affectionately as 'corporate partners.'

But many, including me, think this is yet-another nightmare brought to us by those who have no vision of or desire for 'public use.' This is the same bunch who have no idea of the good that comes from holding some public space apart from the constant drumbeat of corporatism—pounded incessantly into our heads by TV, radio, and newer forms of web advertising. Darker thoughts loom over possibilities that this is also linked to neoCon notions of 'Starve the Beast' (whittling down the federal government by whatever means—to the size if can be drowned in a bathtub) highlighted well in Paul Krugman's The Great Unraveling.

Imagine, if you will a future with Minnie and Mickey Mouse greeting you at Old Faithful Lodge. Imagine Budweiser or Coors or ??? being the 'official beer' of the Grand Canyon (or of all the national parks). Imagine … whatever you can imagine that reeks of corporatized, commodified Nature.

See also:

TidePool: Jeff Ruch's Nov 23, Panhandling in our National Parks
Dissident Voice: Bill Berkowitz's Nov 30, Villains Honoring Villains
Albuquerque Tribune: Lisa Hoffman's Nov 30, National Parks Seeking Corporate Partnerships
Environmental News Service: Sunny Lewis' Dec. 5, Private, Corporate Donations Sought to Fund U.S. National Parks

Posted by Dave on December 5, 2005 at 03:43 PM Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack