White House moves to expedite thinning of forests

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White House moves to expedite thinning of forests
Mon Sep 9, 7:07 AM ET

Tom Kenworthy USA TODAY

The Bush administration is asking Congress to ease environmental laws so 10 million acres of overgrown federal forests can be thinned more rapidly to reduce wildfires.

At the same time, the administration is quietly mapping a far more ambitious plan that would bypass Congress: changing agency procedures so such projects can proceed on 190 million acres with far less environmental scrutiny than is now required.

''If you balance the short-term impacts of doing this work against the long-term effects of catastrophic fire, the net environmental impact is favorable,'' says Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, a former lobbyist for the timber industry.

The administration strategy, still being fine-tuned, would involve an array of administrative changes to skirt some requirements of federal environmental laws. The result: Thinning projects wouldn't be subject to reviews gauging their environmental impact; citizens would have less opportunity to comment; and there would be fewer studies of the potential harm to endangered species.

The goal of the legislative and administrative plans is what President Bush ( news - web sites) last month called a more ''common sense'' approach to protecting vast stretches of forest. Many of those woodlands have become choked with brush and small trees that act as kindling.

Fires have burned about 6.4 million acres this year, about double the 10-year average for this point in the season.

Legislators in the House and Senate are separately pushing proposals that would accomplish many of the administration's goals.

Many conservationists say that short-circuiting fundamental environmental laws would cater to the timber industry and result in widespread abuses: commercial logging of large, valuable trees instead of brush and smaller trees that feed fires; thinning projects deep in the woods rather than near communities at risk; and excessive road building in sensitive wildlife habitats.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Interior Secretary Gale Norton proposed legislation that would effectively exempt thinning projects from the National Environmental Policy Act. That 1969 law requires the government to study the environmental impact of its actions and involve the public in decision-making.

The proposed legislation also would prohibit judges from temporarily blocking thinning projects that are being challenged in court. That could allow the Forest Service and other agencies to complete tree-cutting projects before legal challenges are fully heard.

The legislation envisions such policies on only 10 million acres of forests. The administrative changes being developed would apply to all 190 million acres the government classifies as at risk of fire. Most of that land, a combination of federal, state and private acreage, is in the West.

''It's breathtaking,'' says Chris Wood, public lands director for the conservation group Trout Unlimited. ''It's essentially a wholesale revision of . . . the most comprehensive network of environmental laws in the world.''
 

BobM

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
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White House moves to expedite thinning

The candy store is now open.

I read a pretty good report that said the problem is not the fuel in the forest, but the way homeowners allow the forest to completely surround their homes (of which I too am guilty of). It went on to say that thinning only within 500 yards or so of all structures would do a lot more, and be more sensible and feasible, than trying to thin forests on a wholesale scale.

Sensible use of our resources should be part of our Constitution so this cannot happen when the republicans get in office.
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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White House moves to expedite thinning

The candy store's been open, 24/7 when Slick Willy was in office. Now it's closing.

The catastrophic, or monster wildfires, as Texas A & M Forestry Professor Thomas Bonnicken calls them, have come to roost as a result of the policies driven by environmentalist whackos, put into law by sycophantic politicians.

Dr. Bonnicken, as you would see in the his testimony to congress I posted, says the monster fires spread because of the excess fuels. Bonnicken has studied the American forest for more than 30 years.

The proposal to have loggers help maintain the public forest is nothing new. Since the early part of the 20th century, loggers have been working with the forest service and practiced responsible, ecologically sound tree harvesting, to restore healthy forests after the lumber barons ransacked them. All the environmentalist whackos have is fear mongering. They certainly don't have science to back up their claims. Like Rachael Carson's book SILENT SPRING, they are just lyrically spinning environmental histeria.

It's about time we stop listening to the doom and gloom environmentalists. No one who can impliment policy listened to them at the Earth Summit. The extremist environmentalists went away with nothing, except for a maybe a towel they stole from the posh hotels they stayed in and the only thing they gained was a few pounds from the gourmet foods they pigged out on, as they partyed in their fanacy island surrounded by poverty, hunger, and disease, which they did nothing about.
 

BobM

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
67
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White House moves to expedite thinning

Gee Jeff, you gotta get a grip on yourself. I can almost see the veins standing out on your neck on that last post.

Environmentalist whackos eh?

For a guy that doesn't want a debate about DDT you sure bring it up often. Did you own stock in it when the bottom fell out?
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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White House moves to expedite thinning

Thank you for proving my point, Bob. Ditto to Ben's comment about being more afraid of environmentalist extremists than snakes. You can't effectively engage in a debate unless there is substance. There is a problem when environmentalists make abstract thoughts about caring for the environment but not basing their statements on scientific or other concrete information. The extremist, whacko environmentalists are really not environmentalists at all, but are folks who use the environment as a facade to cloak their leftist and other agendas. They live in a fantacy world and advocate "preserving" the earth, as though it is a museum which is hands off to people (except for them).

I just have used DDT as an example for a particular context. This board is about the Pine Barrens, and I don't want to sidetrack the subject of this by engaging in a drawn out debate about this useful, safe, cost efficient chemical.

As for the Pine Barrens. President Bush and congress are teaming up to scientifically manage our national forests to keep them healthy and prevent what Texas A & M Professor Thomas Bonnicken calls monster wildfires, similar to the way the forests in the Pine Barrens have been managed recently. You know what I'm talking about, Bob, as you posted an article about a timber company logging in the Pine Barrens. There was another article, I believe I read here, about volunteers thinning the forest in a preservation area in the Pines Barrens. This is basically the restoration foresty practice that Bonnicken advocates. The feds, as well as the Pine Barrens Commission, is wise to follow this line of wise management.

I am concerned that environmental extremists, such as the Sierra Club, will try to reverse the recent wise management practices and attempt to impose their agenda of no tree cutting, roadless areas--in other words, virtually fencing off the Pine Barrens and keeping the public from enjoying it. As the song SIGNS went (I'm sure you're old enough to remember that song): YOU PUT UP A FENCE TO KEEP ME OUT AND TO KEEP MOTHER NATURE IN. IF GOD WERE HERE HE'D TELL IT TO YOUR FACE "MAN, YOU'RE SOME KIND OF SINNER!"

Back to W's initiative (THE HEALTHY FORESTS INITIATIVE), contrary to what the tree huggers and their synophants in the media are saying, the initiative will not allow loggers to have carte blanche. Nor will public comment be nixed, etc.

Using loggers to help manage forest, as I've said before, is nothing new. The U.S. Forest Service did this starting early in the 20th century to restore our forests after the lumber barons degraded them. As Ben pointed out about the irresponsible driver of the off road vehicle not representing the majority of people who drive off road vehicles in the Pine Barrens, the loggers in the late 19th and early 20th century don't represent the majority of today's loggers. One shouldn't judge the group from an individual.

Starting early in the 60's, around the time Rachel Carson's histerically lyrical book came out, an agenda to impliment the "leave it alone" policy of Henry David Thoreau, the grandfather of today's tree huggers, incrementally influenced the management of our national forests. Land designated as wilderness, where activities such as logging, were forbidden. This management by neglect policy mushroomed, which created the millions and millions of acres of forests which are overstocked with trees, many of them diseased and dying, which has created unhealthy forests that present a great fire risk. I need not mention the massive destruction, not only to property and livelihoods, etc. that has been occuring the past decade or so as a result of management by neglect. No, it's not caused by global warming but by a great fuel buildup.

The leave it alone, or management by neglect policies has precipated the same destruction of our forests as has the "cut and get out" practice of the lumber barons. I just hope that the tree huggers of this state don't find a sympathetic ear with New Jersey Governor King James McGreedy as they did with Slick Willy, where the concerns and opinions of us regular folks were trumped by the tree huggers.

The Pine Barrens and our other public forests need to be managed wisely. Using loggers to keep them healthy is an effective, cost efficient tool to accomplish that goal.
 

BobM

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
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White House moves to expedite thinning

Jeff, did you co-author the following? It sounds like you:

National Center for Policy Analysis, Daily Policy Digest
July 11, 2002

It's official: the U.S. Forest Service has added environmental
activists to the list of culprits responsible for this year's surge of
western wildfires.

The agency says environmental appeals delayed 48 percent of its
fire-suppression projects in fiscal 2001 and 2002 - thereby stalling
efforts to clear the brush and small trees that fuel the catastrophic
wildfires, according to an internal Forest Service report to be
released today.

The report found that 155 of the agency's 326 plans to log overgrown,
high-risk national forests were stymied by environmental appeals.

In Arizona and New Mexico, site of some of the summer's worst fires,
that figure rose to 73 percent - and hit 100 percent in the Pacific
Northwest.

Environmentalists - who favor prescribed burns to remove brush and
who oppose logging - attacked the report as a thinly disguised attempt
to blame them for the fires while bolstering the struggling timber
industry.

Commercial timber companies typically bid on forest-thinning projects
and sell the felled trees as lumber.

"These numbers are a scathing indictment of the process that governs
management of the nation's forests," charged Rep. Scott McInnis
(R-Colo.), chairman of the House Resources subcommittee on forest and
forest health. He also called the report "a harsh reminder of just how
relentlessly ideological some environmental litigants have become."

Source: Valeria Richardson, "Forest Service Says Activists Played Role
in Fires," Washington Times, July 11, 2002.
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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White House moves to expedite thinning

There you go again, Bob!

You're in denile.

Do you think that these environmentalists, these elitists, should have a free pass and not be subject to scruitiny and held accountable for their actions like the rest of us, because they know better than we do and they'll do what's best for us? Should we turn the management of the pine barrens over to the radical environmentalists? I certainly don't think so. Does this answer your question?

Just in case it doesn't here's some parodies for all of you to enjoy:


GREAT BALLS OF WILDFIRE
[parody of Jerry Lee Lewis' GREAT BALLS OF FIRE]

I shake my head as they rattle my brain!
Neglecting the forest is really insane
They forced their will
Oh what a pill!
Goodness gracious great balls of wildfire!

They came along with their influence and money
Using their propaganda they spoke of milk and honey
They forced their will
Oh what a pill!
Goodness gracious great balls of wildfire!

Leave it alone baby!
Whew! There goes the neighborhood!
Don't cut any trees baby!
This is what happens when tree huggers manage the woods
One little spark and their goes the neighborhood!
I'm not lyin'
They're lyin'
When they say "the trees out there are MINE MINE MINE MINE..."

I shake my head as they rattle my brain!
Neglecting the forest is really insane
Bring loggers baby
Drives them crazy!
Goodness gracious great balls of wildfire!

Leave it alone baby!
Whew! There goes the neighborhood!
Don't cut any trees baby!
This is what happens when tree huggers manage the woods
One little spark and their goes the neighborhood!
I'm not lyin'
They're lyin'
When they say "the trees out there are MINE MINE MINE MINE..."

They came along with their influence and money
Using their propaganda they spoke of milk and honey
Bring loggers baby
Drives them crazy!
Goodness gracious great balls of wildfire!
Goodness gracious great balls of wildfire!

TOM DASCHEL
[parody of the old folk song TOM DOOLEY]

Hang down your head Tom Daschel
Hang down your head in shame
Hang down your head Tom Daschel
You're arguements against W's plan are lame

Out there in your district
What is this we see?
No burdensome environmental regulations
You let loggers cut freely the trees

Hang down your head Tom Daschel
Hang down your head in shame
Hang down your head Tom Daschel
You're arguements against W's plan are lame

If it weren't for those right wing liasons
You would not be under such scruitiny
But as it is they will hang you
with your gross hypocracy

Hang down your head Tom... Daschel
Hang down your head in shame
Hang down your head Tom Daschel
You're arguements against W's plan are lame

Early on we were mourning
We saw right through your disguise
Hang down your Tom Daschel
Boy you're just another pol who lies

Hang down your head Tom Daschel
Hang down your head in shame
Hang down your head Tom Daschel
You're arguements against W's plan are lame

Outside of your district
You won't let them cut one white oak tree
Here there is no mystery
What's good for you is not for me

SO hang down your head Tom... Daschel
Hang down your head in shame
Hang down your head Tom Daschel
You're arguements against W's plan are lame
You're arguements against W's plan are lame
 

BobM

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
67
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White House moves to expedite thinning

By the way Jeff, I got a complaint with you.

I was lucky enough to visit Mount Ranier National Park in Washington this summer. The loggers have clear cut both sides of the road leading right up to the park gates.

It looked like a bed haircut to me. You promised it would look like a meadow.
 
Z

ZippySLC

Guest
White House moves to expedite thinning

You two are funny. :)

Seriously, I don't see anything wrong with selective logging/clearing of underbrush/etc. throughout the Pine Barrens. I don't like the idea of bypassing *every* single law & guideline, but I would prefer the Forest Service to administer the execution of the plan instead of having EVERY plan nit-picked and brought to court.

The problem with a lot of environmentalists is that they like to demonize the Forest Service, loggers, off-roaders, etc. The problem with a lot of other groups is that they like to demonize the environmentalists. Unfortunately, bad apples from *both* sides give their groups bad names.

It would be nice if there was a way for everyone to come together and come to an agreement that didn't involve putting a house and Wal-Mart on every square mile of forest, or blocking access to motorized vehicles throughout the forest.
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
180
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White House moves to expedite thinning

Ditto. We do need to maintain a consensus for the best way to allow people to enjoy the Pine Barrens while protecting it. Foresters and loggers should be able to do their job within reasonable guidelines. As Thomas Bonnicken said, the primary purpose of logging is not to attain the maximum timber yield but to help maintain/restore our forests. It has to be worth the loggers effort, however, Bonnicken added. This, as I've said before, has been done for decades successfully. Plantations, or tree farms, are the best way to achieve maximum timber yield, not natural forests. On the sidelines of the recent Earth Summit, an international timber organization had a display that said that 70 percent of the timber from the tropical rainforest come from plantations, which means less reliance on natural forests. The organization also pointed out that today's tree harvesting technology is more friendly to the environment than it was in the past.

By the way, Bob, I never promised you a meadow (or a rose garden). I think I get your drift, though. Patrick Moore explained his misunderstood analogy -and that's what it was- where he compaired a clear cut to a meadow. After a clearcut, the forest is in the same stage of ecological succession as a meadow. It isn't always as nice as a meadow, especially a natural one which forms in a particular ecological nitch. But after a clearcut, this land can be improved. The lumber barons didn't clearcut the way loggers do today. They scalped the land so it wouldn't grow back and left slash. Forest fires, mud slides, ect, occurred as a result. The NJ Forest Service guy in the Apple Pie Hill Firetower explained that a controlled burn after a clearcut removes the slash, which helps prevent forest fires. It also makes it look nicer. The area I talked about on this board if you follow the sand road on the other side of route 539 from Webbs Mill Bog for a short distance has what looks like a large meadow. Someone on this board implied that this area was managed. Maybe it just takes a few years after a clearcut and a controlled burn for the land to look meadow like.

I agree that environmentalists, loggers, sportsmen and other folks who use the Pine Barrens should work together to find the best way to manage the Pine Barrens. In general, multiple-use is the best way, which is the way it's been managed. It's just the details that need to be filled in. We should avoid the US AGAINST THEM mentaility. I just have a problem when one group tries to monopolize and dominate the process. As Moore pointed out, most loggers today agree with the more reasonable ideas from the environmental movement.

The biggest thing the members of this board have in common is the desire to limit development. We should continue to keep as the mainstay industry consistent with a rural area. And this needs to be done in an environmentally friendly way. I recently read the Mullica River Watershed study. There is a note in it about effect of farming on water quality. I trust that this information is scientifically based and also that it's not used as an excuse to eliminate farming and other activities and turn the Pine Barrens into a wilderness, blocking access and leaving it completely untouched. Instead, I'd like to see the rural industries managed wisely to keep the water clean, etc. Plants by the edge of waterways and other management tools should be in place to maintain the integrity of the Pine Barrens.