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How environmentalist litigation is sending our national forests up in smoke

Endangered Species Act, FIRES, Forestry & USFS, Lawsuits

PNP comment: Unfortunately, this has been happening for 30 years! — Editor Liz Bowen

Free Range Report

June 10, 2017

“Our national forests are dying from neglect. Rather than channeling dollars to active forest management to reduce the risk of wildfire, the Federal government must spend its funds defending sound management practices from this perpetual environmental litigation machine.” ~Rep. Tom McClintock

House Committee on Natural Resources Press Release

Policy Overview

♦The U.S. Forest Service is entrusted with managing 193 million acres1 of mostly forested areas in 43 states and Puerto Rico.

♦Currently, Fifty-eight million acres of national forest are at high or very high risk of severe wildfire3 due in large part to a lack of active management of the landscape.

♦When District Rangers, Forest Supervisors and their staffs attempt to advance forest thinning and other active management projects, their efforts can be significantly delayed or derailed due in large part to ever increasing environmental analysis requirements resulting in longer, more costly planning timelines and significantly increased regulatory complexity.

♦Ever-increasing analyses are a direct result of attempts by the Forest Service to make environmental analysis documents “bullet-proof” in an increasingly litigious landscape.

♦As reported in the Helena Independent Record, “the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) are most often cited as the basis for litigation.”

♦Vegetative management activities account for more than 40 percent of all lawsuits brought against the Forest Service.

♦According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis of data provided by the National Association of Environmental Professionals, the Forest Service produced 572 Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) between 2008 and 2012, nearly 25 percent of all draft and final EIS produced during that time period.

Panel Examines Negative Impacts of Excessive Litigation on Forest Health 

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 8, 2017 –

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing to examine how litigation and increasingly excessive environmental analysis facing the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has exacerbated the ongoing forest health crisis.

♦“We are bankrupting the future,” witness Lyle Laverty, Certified Forester and President of the Laverty Group, said. “America’s green infrastructure is on life support, perhaps even on the brink of ecological collapse.”

58 million acres of national forests are at high or very high risk of severe wildfire. Despite deteriorating forest health and the increasing potential for catastrophic wildfire, USFS employees spend more than 40 percent of their time conducting planning and analysis instead of managing our federal forests and rangelands.

♦“[O]ur national forests are dying from neglect,” Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said. “[R]ather than channeling dollars to active forest management to reduce the risk of wildfire, the Federal government must spend its funds defending sound management practices from this perpetual environmental litigation machine.”

Environmental laws originally intended to protect the environment, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, are now working against the USFS, significantly hindering active management.

♦”This has contributed to the decline of the very resources the laws are intended to protect,” Laverty stated. “Unnatural fuel accumulations lead to the uncharacteristic wildfires that can and will ultimately harm listed species and water quality.”

The panel outlined how excessive lawsuits and vague statutory authorities force the USFS to make environmental analysis documents “bullet-proof,” in fear of litigation.

In this litigation-prone climate, Laverty argued the federal focus “has been mostly prevention of harm from action. The potential for harm from inaction has largely been ignored.”

Another witness, Lawson Fite, General Counsel for the American Forest Resource Council, argued that a large percentage of lawsuits aren’t targeted as specific legal violations, but are instead used by self-proclaimed environmental groups to halt or prevent restoration activities.

♦“They force the agencies into years-long paperwork exercises that result in no project changes or conservation benefit,” Fite said.

♦“They have succeeded...  It might be making environmental attorneys rich, but it is  killing our forests,” McClintock added.

♦Fite, however, offered hope, describing forestry as “an area of bipartisan progress” noting: “There are a number of measures with support from Republicans and Democrats, environmentalists and industry, which can streamline environmental compliance while preserving a right of review and protecting resources such as watersheds and wildlife. The time for action is now.”

♦”Healthy forests are a win-win-win situation,” Rep. Westerman (R-AR) stated“We should all be able to work together to manage our forests in a healthy, sustainable manner for everyone’s benefit.”

http://freerangereport.com/index.php/2017/06/10/how-environmentalist-litigation-is-sending-our-national-forests-up-in-smoke/

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Klamath National Forest lifts fire restrictions

FIRES, Forestry & USFS

Yreka, CA – Recent wet weather has lessened the fire danger on the Klamath National Forest and fire restrictions will be lifted effective October 5, 2016 across the Forest.

Klamath National Forest officials stress that the Northern California fire season is not over and care and common sense must still be used when in the Forest.  Larger fuels, such as logs, remain relatively dry despite recent rains.  The potential for wildland fires still exists and hunters and other visitors are asked to be extremely cautious with fire and to never leave a campfire unattended. Remember that fire prevention starts with YOU.

Campfire permits are still required for open campfires, stoves, and barbeques.  The permit lists requirements for clearing the ground around campfires, how to completely extinguish a fire, and which tools must be kept at the campfire site at all times. Permits may be obtained free of charge from any Forest Service or CAL FIRE office.

For other nearby public lands please check with the appropriate Forest Service office or local fire protection agencies for specific information on whether or not restrictions have been lifted for those areas.

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Gap Fire Update Burned Area Emergency Response

FIRES, Forestry & USFS

Sept. 29, 2016

Yreka, CA —Before the last embers of the 33,867 acre Gap Fire cooled, teams of natural resource specialists began assessing the damage in order to recommend actions to minimize post fire risks in a burned landscape. The specialists, organized into a Burned Area Emergency Response Team (BAER), include hydrologists, soil scientists, wildlife and fishery biologists, geologists, foresters and archeologists.

The BAER Team’s first task was to complete a soils burn severity map. To do this, information was collected using satellite, aircraft and on-the-ground review. The final Gap map shows that 67% of the soil in the fire area was not burned at all or burned at low intensity, 26% burned at moderate intensity and 7% burned at high intensity.

“Some areas of the Gap Fire burned very hot”, stated Dave Young, Soil Scientist and Team Leader for the Gap Fire BAER. “The majority of the area appears to have had very low to moderate soil burn severity—with areas adjoining Horse Creek and other small, isolated areas where fire burned extra hot.”

Soil burn severity mapping provides important information for determining what kind of rehabilitation actions are needed. The resulting BAER Action Plan addresses concerns for community water supplies, water quality, fisheries and wildlife habitat, erosion potential, and threats to life and property. The plan recommends actions to stabilize soil and control water, sediment and debris movement, and prevent damage to downstream resources. Proposed actions are prioritized to provide protection to the soil and water before winter rains begin.

The BAER plan is developed in close coordination with representatives of local, state, and Federal agencies and organizations responsible for dealing with potential affects outside of the Klamath National Forest.  The next steps in the BAER process will be to request funding and to prepare contracts for implementation of treatments.

“The BAER Plan for the Gap Fire is vitally important for the current and future management of watersheds within the Klamath National Forest,” stated Acting Forest Supervisor Chris Frisbee. “We are fortunate to have a highly capable group of specialists on the Gap Fire BAER Team.  We welcome and appreciate the involvement of a wide cross section of representatives from local, state, and Federal agencies and organizations to help insure the final BAER Plan addresses as many key issues as possible.”

###

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Siskiyou Co.: Gap Fire update 9-16-16

FIRES, Forestry & USFS

Seiad Valley, CA—The Gap Fire, on the Klamath National Forest, is 33,867 acres and 98 percent contained. The acreage figure includes all acres—burned and unburned—within the fire perimeter.

Crews will continue mop up and repair operations in order to secure firelines. Minimal fire behavior is expected today but firefighters will continue to monitor isolated pockets of heat on the northern portion of the fire area. These pockets of heat—within containment lines—may ignite unburned vegetation creating columns of smoke visible from the surrounding area.  As always, please use caution while driving in and around the Klamath National Forest as firefighters and other vehicles are still working in the area. Fire officials are also asking visitors to avoid the fire area because of dangers associated with the fire and to check for updated closure information as it becomes available.

A new Forest Closure Order has been implemented for the Gap Fire on the Klamath National Forest—reducing the area affected by the previous closure order. Significant areas of land have been re-opened on the east and west sides of the fire. The Pacific Crest Trail is now open for hikers. Details are available on the Klamath National Forest web site at www.fs.usda.gov/klamath.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. If you have information, please contact the US Forest Service tipline for the Klamath National Forest at 530 841 4474.

For additional information on air quality, please visit http://californiasmokeinfo.blogspot.com/ and http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/

For additional information and pictures, please visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4997/

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Intermittent Delays on PCT and Roads 9-15-16

FIRES, Forestry & USFS

Yreka, CA Hikers and motorists can expect intermittent delays of about 20 minutes, starting September 16, 2016, on the Pacific Crest Trail, County Road 8D001 and Forest Road 46N66 for the next 45 days. The area affected is approximately one mile south of Highway 96 in Seiad Valley, California. Delays are due to helicopter salvage logging of fire-killed trees in the Westside Fire Recovery Project area.

Helicopters carrying logs will periodically be crossing the PCT and the two roads to deliver the logs to a landing near Forest Road 46N85Y. One of the key reasons for the salvage logging operation is to reduce fuels to minimize the risk of future wildfires.  The project area is a part of the 2014 Happy Camp Complex.

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Siskiyou Co: Closure area reduced on Gap Fire

FIRES, Forestry & USFS

YREKA, CA. – The temporary area, trail and road closure for the Gap Fire on the Klamath National Forest has been reduced. The Gap Fire is currently 95% contained and fire spread is limited to the interior islands of unburned fuel. Therefore eastern and western closure boundaries have been relocated closer to the fire perimeter. The road, trail and area closure is needed because of public safety hazards associated with the wildfire and wildfire suppression activities. Forest visitors traveling near the closure area should take extra care.  Some travel delays may be encountered.

From the intersection with Highway 96, the new closure boundary follows the east side of Seiad Valley Road, Forest Road 46N50 and 47N70 north to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The closure boundary continues east along the southern edge of the PCT to the intersection with Forest Road 40S01.  From that intersection the closure boundary continues south along the west side of Forest Road 40S01 and then follows Kohl Creek further south to Highway 96. From the intersection with Highway 96 the closure boundary continues west along the north side of Highway 96 to the intersection with Seiad Valley Road. A full description and maps of the closure area is available on the Klamath National Forest website (www.fs.usda.gov/klamath).

This change reopens the PCT to hikers. It also reopens popular recreating and hunting areas on the east and west sides of the Gap Fire perimeter.

Exemptions to the closure order may be permitted, including access for owners or leases on nearby private land.  Anyone needing access to the specified roads should contact the Klamath National Forest Headquarters in Yreka (1711 South Main Street, phone 530-842-6131).

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Siskiyou Co: Gap Fire update 9-13-16

FIRES, Forestry & USFS

Happy Camp, CA—The Gap Fire, on the Klamath National Forest, is 33,867 acres and 85 percent contained. The acreage increase is due to a change in mapping methods. The acreage figure includes all acres—burned and unburned—within the fire perimeter.

  • Two community meetings are scheduled: one today, September 13, at 6 pm at Seiad Valley fire station and one tomorrow, September 14, at 6 pm at Horse Creek Community Church.

  • Motorists might experience temporary closures on Highway 96 due to fire-suppression activity or crews moving equipment.

  • Residents and visitors in the area are likely to see smoke and occasional fire as unburned vegetation continues to ignite inside the fire perimeter.

During yesterday’s operational period a red-flag warning for gusty winds and low relative humidity began at 2 pm. Although the northwest firelines were tested, crews successfully kept the fire within containment lines. Elsewhere around the fire perimeter, firefighters mopped up containment lines, repaired contingency lines, and backhauled excess equipment and trash.

The red-flag warning has been lifted. Today, firefighters will concentrate on locating and extinguishing isolated heat sources along the western perimeter to keep the fire from spotting over the last remaining section of uncontained line. These heat sources range from smoldering tree stumps to burning interior islands of vegetation.

Helicopters will be available for water drops. Additional firefighters and heavy equipment are on standby and will respond to new fire starts as needed. Crews will continue to backhaul, mop up, and patrol the firelines. South of the fire area, firefighters are repairing contingency lines—dozer and hand lines—constructed during the fire-suppression phase.

A Forest Closure remains in effect for areas affected by the Gap Fire on the Klamath National Forest. The Beaver Creek Road is closed at the intersection with West Beaver Creek Road (47N01). Beaver Creek Road remains open to the east 2118(48N01).

The cause of the Gap Fire is still under investigation. If you have information pertaining to the fire investigation, please contact the US Forest Service Tipline for the Klamath National Forest at 530-841-4474

For additional information on air quality, please visit http://californiasmokeinfo.blogspot.com/ and http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/

For additional information and pictures, please visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4997/

Firefighting Resources on the Gap Fire

Crews

19

Engines

43

Heavy Equipment

11 dozers, 30 water tenders, 1 masticator, 5 chippers, 5 excavators

Helicopters

3

Fixed Wing Aircraft

Ordered as needed

Total resources     1,082

 

A printer friendly version of this release is available here

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Siskiyou Co: Gap Fire update 9-12-16

FIRES, Forestry & USFS

Happy Camp, CA—The Gap Fire, on the Klamath National Forest, is 32,792 acres and 85 percent contained. The 468-acre increase from yesterday is due to pockets of vegetation burning in the fire’s interior and not perimeter expansion.

  • Two community meetings are scheduled: one tomorrow, September 13, at 6 pm at Seiad Valley fire station and one Wednesday, September 14, at 6 pm at Horse Creek Community Church.

  • Motorists might experience temporary closures on Highway 96 due to fire-suppression activity or crews moving equipment.

  • Residents and visitors in the area are likely to see smoke and occasional fire as unburned vegetation continues to ignite inside the fire perimeter.

Yesterday, the fire was most active on the northeast side, and firelines were tested by northwest winds. But helicopters and crews successfully held the perimeter. On other areas of the fire, firefighters mopped up and patrolled the lines, including the south end along Highway 96. They also continued to wrapped power poles along the highway as the potential for re-burn in that area is very unlikely. Firefighters finished chipping along contingency lines northeast of the fire.

A red flag warning is in effect from 2 pm today to 11 am tomorrow for gusty winds and low relative humidity. The biggest area of concern is the northwest corner of the fire because northeast winds are predicted to gust up to 30 mph on ridgetops. Holding that northwest line is a priority for crews, and helicopters will be available for water drops. Additional firefighters are on standby to respond to new fire starts and for structure protection if needed. Crews will continue to mop up and repair areas affected by fire-suppression activities on the north and south.

A Forest Closure remains in effect for areas affected by the Gap Fire on the Klamath National Forest. The Beaver Creek Road is closed at the intersection with West Beaver Creek Road (47N01). Beaver Creek Road remains open to the east 2118(48N01).

The cause of the Gap Fire is still under investigation. If you have information pertaining to the fire investigation, please contact the US Forest Service Tipline for the Klamath National Forest at 530-841-4474.

For additional information on air quality, please visit http://californiasmokeinfo.blogspot.com/ and http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/

For additional information and pictures, please visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4997/

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Siskiyou Co: Update on Gap Fire 9-10-16

FIRES, Forestry & USFS

Happy Camp, CA – The Gap Fire is burning on the Klamath National Forest. As of 6:00 a.m. it is 32,224 acres and 85% contained. Increased acreage is due to islands of vegetation burning inside the perimeter of the containment line.

  • Motorists may experience temporary closures on Highway 96 due to fire, suppression activity, or crews moving equipment.

  • Residents and visitors in the area are likely to see smoke and occasional fire as unburned vegetation continues to ignite inside the fire perimeter.

Crews patrolled the fire overnight, checking lines and monitoring fire activity. Today they will continue mop up–which can include cold-trailing firelines, felling hazard trees, and extinguishing any remaining hot spots which are in close proximity to the line. Crews will also backhaul trash and excess equipment. They will pull hose from areas where it is no longer needed, carefully cleaning and rolling it before future use.

Firefighters have begun suppression repair, including carefully assessing opened dozer lines and road systems for erosion control needs. They will build berms and water bars, as needed, and repair any roads and culverts damaged during suppression activities. They will chip or pile any cut vegetation for burning later in the season.

A Forest Closure remains in effect for areas affected by the Gap Fire on the Klamath National Forest. The Beaver Creek Road is closed at the intersection with West Beaver Creek Road (47N01). Beaver Creek Road remains open to the east 2118(48N01).

The cause of the Gap Fire is still under investigation. If you have information pertaining to the fire investigation, please contact the US Forest Service Tipline for the Klamath National Forest at 530-841-4474.

For additional information on air quality, please visit http://californiasmokeinfo.blogspot.com/ and http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/

For additional information and pictures, please visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4997/

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Siskiyou Co: Gap Fire update 9-9-16

FIRES, Forestry & USFS, Siskiyou County

Happy Camp, CA – The Gap Fire is burning on the Klamath National Forest. As of 6:00 a.m. it is 31,664 acres and 85% contained. Containment lines continue to hold. Increased acreage is due to islands of vegetation burning inside the perimeter of the containment line.

  • Motorists may experience temporary closures on Highway 96 due to fire, suppression activity, or crews moving equipment.

Firefighters patrolled the fire’s perimeter overnight while continuing to mop-up additional areas. Fire was visible from Highway 96 but remained far inside containment lines. With all the progress being made, night shift will be suspended at midnight tonight unless fire conditions change.

Crews will continue today with mop-up and backhaul of equipment and trash. Additionally, they will begin suppression repair work by covering containment lines to prevent erosion and unauthorized use, building water bars and berms to minimize erosion, and repairing roads that were damaged during suppression efforts. The fire will continue to back down with low-intensity through remaining interior islands of vegetation. Smoke from the interior fire will continue to be visible. Predicted winds from the northeast will likely move smoke from the Gap Fire to the southwest for the next few days.

A Forest Closure is in effect for areas affected by the Gap Fire on the Klamath National Forest. The Beaver Creek Road is closed at the intersection with West Beaver Creek Road (47N01). Beaver Creek Road remains open to the east 2118(48N01).

The cause of the Gap Fire is still under investigation. If you have information pertaining to the fire investigation, please contact the US Forest Service Tipline for the Klamath National Forest at 530-841-4474.

For additional information on air quality, please visit http://californiasmokeinfo.blogspot.com/ and http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/

For additional information and pictures, please visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4997/

Firefighting Resources on the Gap Fire  
Crews 33
Engines 58
Dozers 12
Helicopters 5
Fixed Wing Aircraft Ordered as needed
Total resources        1324
 

A printer friendly version of this release is available here

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