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Mike Beagle of Backcountry Huntrs and Anglers with a nice elk taken in Idahos Rapid River Roadless Area. Photo by Scott Stouder.

Time to Codify the Roadless Rule

On January 5, 2001, with George W. Bush’s moving van parked at the back door of the White House, President Bill Clinton signed his now-infamous Roadless Rule. With a stroke of his pen and without the approval of Congress, Clinton protected almost one-third of our national forests, 58.5 million acres, from road building.

Speaking at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. Clinton said he did it “for our children,” and to keep bulldozers out of the last pristine forest lands. “This is about preserving the land which the American people own, for the American people who are not around yet,” Clinton announced. “Not everyone can travel to the great palaces of the world, but everyone can enjoy the majesty of our great forests.”

The incoming Bush administration immediately reversed the rule, but a judge rapidly reversed the reversal. Ever since, the Roadless Rule has been a tennis ball, back and forth, on and off, mired in a ridiculous succession of administrative rules and court cases, making it hard to decide who’s ahead in the game. As I write this, to emphasize the folly, two judges have made opposing rulings, one spiking the Roadless Rule, one re-affirming its validity.

So I say, let’s end the tennis match and make the Roadless Rule the law of the land.

On November 4, Americans swept Barrack Obama and a bluer-than-ever Congress into office. Although certainly not the highest-priority issue facing the Dems, finally and permanently protecting our roadless national forests should be a high priority–and certainly one of the easiest to accomplish.

What makes it so easy for our new political team? Simply put, a lot. For starters….

  • The Roadless Rule has been, in essence, the law of the land for national forest managers for most of the past eight years, so we’d merely be codifying the status quo.
  • The rule has been wildly popular. In the most extensive public involvement process ever–600 public hearings bringing in 1.5 million public comments–over 90 percent of the populace supported the rule.
  • Codifying the Roadless Rule is much easier political pill to swallow than congressionally mandated Wilderness. It won’t, for example, prevent ATV use or mountain biking, so these powerful lobbies won’t be on the front line brutalizing politicians who support the Roadless Rule. Likewise, the rule has numerous exemptions for public health and safety, firefighting, thinning and wildlife habitat manipulation. It won’t stop fossil fuel development, but it some cases will require directional drilling. All the Roadless Rule does is prohibit new permanent roads, but that would be a tectonic leap forward.
  • The constituency supporting the rule has suddenly become much stronger and a tad redder. Originally devised and pushed into reality by environmental groups like the Wilderness Society and Sierra Club, the Roadless Rule has now become the focus of hunting and fishing organizations, a more conservative and politically moderate constituency, with groups like the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership(TRCP) leading the charge.
  • And it’s already half-cooked. Ever since 2001, there has been legislation (S. 1479 and H.R. 2516) drafted, introduced, and waiting for a vote, but locked down by Republicans.


In late October, as a participant in the TRCP Media Summit, I spent a day fly fishing for way-too-savvy trout in the Missouri River with the group’s Roadless Rule specialist Joel Webster. We talked Roadless Rule all day, and I even took a few notes between casts.

“We (TRCP) believe the national Roadless Rule needs to be codified with legislation,” Webster said. “It’s time to resolve this issue.”

TRCP, he notes, has nicely positioned itself to take the leadership role. The group’s partnership approach to conservation has already built a huge coalition of nonprofit groups and corporate supporters and has become a potent political force. Perhaps the TRCP’s most notable success was the recently passed Farm Bill with its renewal of CRP farmland withdrawals and creation of the Open Fields program, the first-ever federal funding of hunting access to private land.

“We talk a different language than the environmental groups,” Webster explained. “We bring a lot to the table that hasn’t been there before.”

Webster credits his group’s approach with its success. He and his co-patriots work from the bottom up to “crush politicians from below.” By that, he means conservative politicians normally voting against any land withdrawal while favoring resource extraction on public lands have made a career of bragging about taking the opposite views of “extreme environmentalists,” but they haven’t be hit with a grassroots lobbying campaign from the same guys they often join on hunting and fishing trips.

Besides, Webster concluded, the Roadless Rule is a political lay-up. “It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t close anything. It just prevents new system roads from being built.”

And, we agreed, there are already way too many roads on public land, many more than we can maintain with steadily shrinking agency budgets.

“The motorized use issue needs to be addressed,” he admitted, “but the roadless rule is not the place to do it.”

Skepticism is running high. Democrats have controlled Congress for two years without passing any significant environmental legislation. They blame their woeful performance on the slim majority that can’t bust filibusters of a strong minority or override the vetoes of an anti-environmental president. Now, with a strong majority, albeit still not filibuster-proof, and a friend of the planet moving into the White House, the so-called Blue Tide needs to come through for us. There is no better, easier place to start than digging the Roadless Rule bill out of the congressional cellar and immediately passing it.

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  1. Well, here comes the Sawdust Rebellion.
    Of course, it probably won’t be much of a rebellion, given that most of the old rebels are either dead or starved out by Clinton and Carter’s assaults and Bush’s neglect.
    And what the heck, the interior West that’s going to get pounded the hardest voted for the other guy. Why not just punish them, put that last economic bullet in the carcass.

  2. Dave…so now the timber industry needs to log the remaining, and largely unproductive, roadless lands to stay afloat? Is that really what it’s come to?

    Never mind the fact that we’re in the worst economic crisis in our nation’s history since the Great Depression.

    Never mind the fact the lumber industry is threatened by glut of unsold homes. Or the fact that new housing starts have declined by 50% since 2005 and the volume of lumber used in new home construction has been cut in half in just two years.

    Or the fact that this plummet in demand for lumber means that today a lumber mill can expect to make about $175 for 1,000 board feet of dimensional lumber (back in 2005 a mill could expect to fetch nearly $500 for the same amount of lumber). But that’s only “if” the lumber mill manages to find anyone to purchase the lumber, a big “if” in today’s market.

    Never mind the fact that as Potlatch Corp laid off 600 workers in Idaho their spokesman said, “The wood products market is at a 25-year low now and the amount of orders from our customers is not improving, so we unfortunately have no choice but to balance our product (inventory) with demand.”

    Yep, let’s just give the timber industry more and more public resources – including what remains of the roadless areas that they haven’t already logged and roaded – to make products that they can’t sell. Log, Baby, Log…Feed the Beast…More, more, more…

    You’re making no sense Dave.

  3. Excellent piece, Bill.

    Let me remind readers that Roadless Rule administratively recognizes what has been recognized economically for a long time. These roadless lands, generally as a result of unproductive forest growth, steep terrain, and other bio-geographical factors, are among the least valuable for any resource extraction. If we are going to cut trees, they are not the Nation’s wood box. If we need more energy, we can find it in less sensitive and more accessible places. And for most part, these are lands that it is appropriate to manage wildfire rather than to suppress wildfires.

    On the other hand, these roadless lands are among the best remaining places for sensitive wildlife, outstanding fisheries, scenic values, and the kinds of recreational activities that are based upon these kinds of values. It’s time to give them legislative protection so we can focus on what is appropriate on other lands already developed and roaded.

  4. Dave – you and your ilk seem to think/feel and so forth; that the National “Anything” is there for you/someone to make $$$$$ – the rest of the people of the USA don’t/shouldn’t count or have a say: BULL!!
    You and yours complain of Social Welfare – demand a FREE Market/ Laza Fare economy – but look for Federal $$$$ for various factors. If youw ant a TREE Farm – buy the land, grow the trees and harvest the biomass! The “people” have a right to have their voices heard (90% have spoken FOR the Roadless Rule) and the LAW of the Land to fit – as well as possible – thier wishes. For NOW and FOREVER!!

  5. this will be a great litmus test for the new administration and congress. I hope they rise to the occasion. We need protection for our last great spaces. We also need an administration that remembers the EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency, and stop gutting our Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. We can certainly do this without tanking our energy/resource economy. We are smarter than most politicians give us credit for.

  6. Actually I’d like to see the entire Roadless Rule converted to full congressional wilderness protection in this congress. That takes care of the motorized issue and the roadless issue in one swift move.

    States can have sessions to name the new wilderness areas.

  7. That’s a great start for a man battling socialism charges. The description of a tennis ball back and forth, regarding the roadless area initiative is apt. It should have told us that the idea was bad.
    I live in the midst of the federally administered forest and it does my heart good to see people using their land. We run cattle and love our place we share it with hunters hikers and off-roaders we all seem to get along. I see handicapped people using 4 Wheelers to get out and be part of the landscape. The Roadless area initiative had no congressional oversight and was designed to harm not help public access to the land. Let’s hope it goes the way of the dinosaurs.

  8. Comments such as Mikes above send shivers down my spine.

  9. Laura, the Roadless Rule doesn’t have any affect on grazing allotments nor does it close any access. What it does is prevent new roads and timber harvest (with some reasonable exceptions) in backcountry areas that have never been developed. It has no impact on existing roads nor does it address travel management on trails.

    Given that the vast majority of westerners in states such as Montana and Colorado support roadless area conservation, it just makes sense to keep these areas the way they have always been – full of the best hunting and fishing and great places to recreate. Legislating the roadless rule is a good way to do that.

  10. I couldn’t agree more with Bill on this issue. The key phrase is “new permanent roads” and not a blanket conversion of all the affected areas into wilderness. Let local land managers work with what they have to insure access in areas that already have roads, and prevent new encroachment in the areas that are still wild.

  11. Greg – I’m much more afraid of handing our great great grandchildren a planet without any wild areas or majestic, rare species.

    In 100 years, do you think they will find the protection of wild, rare habitat important or a few extra miles of ATV trails?

    Think about the big picture.

  12. How does TRCP get off saying they work from the bottom up to crush politicians from below and then advocate for top-down federal legislation taking advantage of friendly political turf? Seems like they need to retool their mission statement.

  13. The USFS and BLM caannot seem to enforce roadless rules now, or even closed roads and trails. First they need to manaage and amintain what they have that is supposed to be closed, then lets see if they can handle anything else

  14. The Bush administration offered states an escape hatch from the Roadless Rule through a “petition” process, and only two governors went for it — Idaho and Colorado. It looks like the rest thought the Roadless Rule was fine. The Idaho plan has been resolved in a compromise that comes close to the original rule. Bill’s proposal is consistent with what almost all the states wanted.

  15. Most of the Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA’s) are not actually roadless. There was widespread support in response to the question, “Do you want to maintain these pristine roadless areas in their current condition?” but most of the IRA’s are neither pristine nor roadless. The individual IRA’s did not receive widespread public support. I am most familiar with the IRA’s in the Payette and Boise National Forests. In some cases no one recommended a particular IRA for consideration for Wilderness designation. In a number of cases only one individual recommended and area for Wilderness designation. Widespread public support was when 4 individuals or organizations recommended an IRA for Wilderness designation. In the Payette National Forest only parts of 2 ofthe 22 IRA’s were recommended for further consideration for Wilderness designation by the Forest Service.

    Did you ever wonder why there are so many individual IRA’s? That is becuase those areas are surrounded by sytem roads, highways and county roads. There are many miles of historic roads in the IRA’s that have been in constant use for over 100 years with no input from the Forest Service. Many are in very good condition. Most of the 800,000+ acres that burned in Central Idaho in 2007 were in the IRA’s. The preferred fire management practice in IRA’s is to allow natural fires to burn without control followed by passive restoration. That means no trees or grass will be planted. There is no grass growing in the areas that burned at high intensity in 2007. We are praying once again for gently spring runoff.

    Some of these area burned hot enough to melt glass, volitalizing organic matter, mercury, and the granitic soil matrix.

    http://article.pubs.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/ppv/RPViewDoc?_handler_=HandleInitialGet&journal=cjfr&volume=38&calyLang=eng&articleFile=x08-136.pdf This article discusses in detail some of that loss and comments that we will not see old growth forests as we think of them for a very long time in these areas because there are no nutrients left in the soil.

    I think we should allow the Forest Service to manage the IRA’s that are not recommended for Wilderness consideration as a part of the National Forest System. Yes, many of the areas are steep, have recently burned at very high intensity, and for these and many other reasons may not ever be suitable for timber harvest. It would be nice if the Forest Service could at least put out grass seed (active management) and stabilize stream banks. There are parts of IRA’s that the Forest Service has recommended for active management but have not been able to manage becuase being a part of the areas designated as IRA are in limbo until it is determined whether or not they will be designated as Wilderness so people who think they are protecting these areas keep the Forest Service from doing any management. The Forest Service was very conservative in their assessment of these areas. If they feel they are appropriate for active managment, they most likely are.

    It would be nice to have an opportunity to comment on the remaining areas that the Forest Service has recommended for futher consideration for Wilderness designation separate from the other IRA’s. It is hard to prepare substantive comemnts for 22+ IRA’s. It would be much easier to address specific portions of 2 areas.

    Have you seen detailed maps of the IRA’s? There are many roads “cherry stemed” into the edges of the areas. They are not easily defined by ridges or other geological featuers that will make it easier to manage and enforce activities in these areas.

    Having lived through forest fires on the ground in areas immediatly adjacent to IRA’s and watching them go literally downhill as soils in steep areas with no protection wash into the rivers, I do not think IRA’s offer more protection for our National Forests or that they will help preserve our forests for future generations.

  16. ++Most of the Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA’s) are not actually roadless. ++

    This is a great piece of misinformation here, Becky. By chance do you work for the Blue Ribbon Coalition?

    ++Did you ever wonder why there are so many individual IRA’s? That is becuase those areas are surrounded by sytem roads, highways and county roads. ++

    There are no highways and county roads through roadless areas. There are no legal roads thorugh roadless area (unofficial ATV routes do not count as legal roads).

    The R.I. classified roadless areas as those areas larger than 5000 acres. In this case, you can have numerous roadless areas splintered by highways, county roads and national forest roads. That does not make the areas any less roadless as long as the roadless acreage meets or exceeds 5000 acres.


  17. I can only speak for the IRA’s I’ve actually been in and, no they are not roadless. I am not involved with the Blue Ribbon Coalition.

    Looking at the IRA’s in the Payette National Forest, they are bordered by system roads, county roads and are only separated from State highways by private land. You can drive your car around the 8,500 acre Chimney Rock IRA, most of which burned in 2007.

    There are quite a few IRA’s that are less than 5000 acres. Poker Meadows IRA is only 700 acres. 300 acres of this area are recommended for limited timber cutting for ecosystem restorcation and/or reduction of wildland fire risk to communities. Parts of this area have burned 4 times in the last 100 years. There are seveal mining claims in the area.

  18. “…But if men can live in Moab
    that itself is proof nature
    is on the run and seeding very badly
    and that environmentalism, old word,
    is truly dead…”

    Ed Dorn
    “Idaho Out”

  19. Can anyone tell me where the enviros think donations are going to come from to fund their “me only” projects? The working man is hurting and bad, but enviros think their “shut it all down” ideas are the only things that matter right now.
    I hope and pray that the new pres figures out that if he carries thru on his plan to bankrupt the coal industry, that he better figure out where he is going to have follks plug in all of thsoe electirc cars he wants to madate.
    It would be so nice if the enviros would put their demands on the back burner and help our country get back on it’s feet again. Wanting a place to live and food to eat and heat is not greed.

  20. Gee, Bill, the Clinton Roadless Area administrative rule was guerilla action by a lame duck, whose minions purposefully sabotaged the Executive Office building equipment so as to render it un-useable by the incoming Bush staffers. It was an act of petulant immaturity, which was, we found out sooner than later, a trademark of the Clinton administration. Even this week, as an Obama transition team is being assembled, many references to the fiasco that was the Clinton assumption of the White House by a bunch of snot nosed child zealots is being discussed as how not to go about the transition and assuming of the Presidency. That Clintonesque immaturity and egocentric legal trespass was classic loser politics, and the Roadless Rule has been tainted by that end run around the legislative process. Pass it in Congress now that the Greens have bought a congressional majority.

    So, it would not surprise me if turnabout as fair play, the Bush folks who got the short end of the transition of government by the sore losers of the Clinton administration, issue some administrative rules of their own, for the courts to wrangle with for the next decade. That seems to be the rules under which politics should be played, from the Democrat and Green side of the political spectrum. History needs to repeat itself. If only to emphasize the gap between the parties and the loss of respect that we have for each other and each other’s ideas.

    My experience with this election was to go to the local art movie house to see a rerun of Dr. Strangelove which was being shown for a private university class, and the public was invited to pay to attend. So the wife and I did. It was the only time I have ever had a movie stopped, the lights go on, and the owner step up with a mike to announce the owner’s personal political views. Obama had won, and the evil empire was gone, and tomorrow was going to be a better day. I call that gloating. That person wrongfully believed all her paying customers shared her political stance and views. No matter, my inclination to go there again is non existent. And any Bush administrative rules to blunt the socialist agendas being forwarded in Congress I would consider fair play and deserved. The opposition of the minority, no matter how they play their hand, is what a democracy is all about. We are, after all, a nation now ruled by the tyranny of the urban majority, and even if the war has been lost, there are battles that can be won. This ain’t over until January, as Clinton proved just 8 short years ago.

  21. Bearbait there are differences in how the game is played and who benefits. I would suggest the roadless rule generally benefits most Americans–though we can debate that question. I suggest that most Americans benefit from the roadless rule-though I know you would disagree.

    On the other hand, I think there would be less debate about who benefits from Bush administration last minute rule changes. Most observers would agree the administrative rules now being promulgated by the Bush administration generally favor industry at the expense of the public. Dirty air by national parks is a plus for the public? Allowing coal companies to dump their debris into rivers with no consequence is a good thing for people in Appalachia? Allowing higher levels of mercury and lead to be emitted by industry into the air good for all of us? These are only a few of the last minute changes the Bush people are pushing through before they leave office. And the overwhelming benefits of these rule changes is to favor specific industries at the expense of the public as a whole.

  22. Millennia after millennia we humans make the same mistakes: Thirty years ago the combustion engine gave us 12 miles/gallon; it still does…what a progressive country! What has America been doing these past 15 years as the economy has soared? It has been (as we said in the oil patch) “pissing away money” on garbage like autos that get 12 miles/gallon, homes few can afford, etc. It’s always about “me” and the need for shelter, food, etc. But the “shelter, food, etc.” always morphs into a $450,000 home, eating out, a $50,000 pickup, expenditures beyond one’s means, etc., and all on $12-18/hour; the hourly wage is pathetic, the products are pathetic, the public mindset is pathetic. America has had countless chances to really “get back on its feet.” How many chances should it get? Oh, just one more chance and this time I won’t piss it all away…yeah, right…you had your chance…it’s time for another recession to get the populous off its butt..again…and again…and again…sorry, you missed the boom. You sold your birthright, Esau…the country has to move ahead so my grandchildren can hike the trace of remaining un-burned, un-bulldozed, un-built on (i.e., “un-pissed-on”) mountains as I did decades ago…the sins of the father are on the shoulders of the sons; this is how IT works. Why NOT save the small bit that is left? But wait, maybe you’re right! Maybe it’s better to just symbolically “cut down the last 1% of the Redwoods” to feed my grand kids, and let the rats and cockroaches take over…

  23. So most of you think the strategic removal of timber harvest and lumber production in the west was a good thing right? Most of you think that administrative actions that harm small rural communities and eventually lead to such natural atrocities as Rodeo Chedeski are a benefit for the American public in some way? Most of you thing this is somehow fair because it preserves something for the futures children. Have you seen what happened in Arizona after the Rodeo Chedeski fire? Have you seen what happened to wildlife habitat and timber stands after some of these other conflagrations that have occurred in the past ten years. Most of you seem to think the destruction of access for small industries is a benefit to the majority of the public and should be done from an administrative level and elitist perch. Sorry, I still think it is an abuse of power and destructive in the long run.

  24. Industry in Idaho emits less than 650 pounds of mercury per year. Forest fires emit an average of 4,000 pounds plus the organic matter and nutrients in our mostly decomposed granite soils are vaporized too. It’s not OK for industry to release mercury to help provide the food we eat and heat the homes we live in, but it is OK to burn off thousands of acres of forest each year and then do nothing to replant the areas to stabilize the slopes?

  25. Matt: If you really believe there is never going to be a demand for timber produced in the United States again, you are correct in your assumptions. However, the reason to declare Forest Reserves in the first place was to have a competing force to deter monopolies in the forest products industry, as envisioned by Roosevelt and Pinchot. That fear is now pretty apparent as there are few mills remaining, and fewer of them not owned by The Timber Barons, who evidently were part and parcel of the Environmental movement as their grants, trusts and foundations poured money into ridding themselves of the competition from public land timber users. The little family mills, the local and rural employment base gone, and the Bigs are still at it, getting tax relief from Senator re-Elect Baucus. He used their money well. Were there any “oinks” in his acceptance speech?

    So, I have to assume by your and stance, that we cannot expect recovery in our economy, and this recession in building, homes, will continue indefinitely. There will never be a need for timber from public land logging, and the now apparent management course of directed and allowed stand replacement fire, with all the green house gases produced, the soil loss, the watershed destruction, is the wave of the future. That has to be bad news for Obama supporters. Camelot in Smoke. The wine of summer fouled by smoke as is new feared in northern California. Our timber reserves as directed kindling to ensure air pollution, that air pollution to be blamed on autos and factories. How disheartening to the forces of “change.” The same old Bush forest policy in effect.

    I would think that with that kind of thought process at work, Montana should conserve money, and sell all their snow plows. After all, global warming is here. It hasn’t snowed since May. Why would you want to have snow plows, or for that matter, public timber available for harvest? The market is down, and the mortgage crisis will never end. The taxes to pay for our new social programs, our new national health care, have to come from someone, and that is going to all of us. There will be no money for new homes. Unless, of course, you have a fast track job in government, where your wages come from other’s pockets willing or not, or you are a community organizer with connected friends, or are a Senate committee chair with oversight of lenders and banks, and the chops to get low rate money like Senator Dodd. But there are not enough senators or congressmen to borrow enough money to restart the economy, and that is just a perk and a dead end.

    But, Weyerhaeuser has 28 milliion acres of timberland in Canada they need to log, make lumber from, and sell in the U.S. So the clear cutting problem, the roadless problem, can be exported to Canada, and who gives a hoot? Not the spotted owls losing 10% of their habitat per year to stand replacement fire and wholesale incineration of forests, all under USFS control and direction. Am I pissed they have just finished allowing fire to consume the whole of the Boulder Creek Wilderness in the Umpqua Natl Forest? Yep. And then they closed all the surrounding area, hundreds of thousands of acres, to entry for who knows how long. Snow now makes that a moot point. But my experience is that next year they will lose roads to neglect of drainage structures, and then never repair, but close them permanently because they have no money, having spent close to $20 million to not fight a WFU they had controlled at 900 acres. And then brought in another, less experienced overhead team, took two days to reorganize, and lost the fire thousands of acres a day for a week. And that is the second fire in 12 years in that Wilderness, now a bleak and soon to be bleached piece of burned ground. The only wilderness wholly in the Umpqua NF. Why, oh why, should we trust them with a new wilderness , another area to incinerate? Or more acres to place off limits to people? They can’t pay their way or even log the blowdown that blocks roads. Why give them another dime? Another acre, another level of protection they cannot provide.

  26. “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” Ed Abbey

  27. I really wish President Bush would remove a lot of the restrictions before he leaves office, but the man who has saved an ungrateful nation from further attacks has too much class. He warned his staff taht there had better not be any of the childish removing keys from keyboards, etc.
    The next time I can get up to the mountains I will take photos of roads that have had the openings plowed shut or trees cut down to cover them.
    Actually I would like to see him declare one wilderness area….the Gore compound, with total removal of all roads and buildings, including the house, no access. The government of course would pay wilderness prices for the real estate.

  28. By the way Surcingless, I think loans for thsoe big houses you mention were reserved, thanks to ACORN and the Dems for thsoe on public assistance from the sounds of things. I think I mentioned the article about the poor lady whose only income was 3300/ month social security for her and her 4 disabled grandkids, and they were trying to get her house payment reduced from 2700 to 1800/month. Hopefully she also gets food stamps and energy assistance too.
    I on the other hand, worked for over 50 years, made a nice salary, much of which I saved for my own retirement, drive a car that gets 33-38 mph. bought a house at approximately 10% of the cost you mentioned.
    Now if you want to see conspicuous consumption go to an environmental enclave like Jackson, Keystone, Vail, etc. It is not the working man. Instead the good greens want to let all of our forests burn down.

  29. 1-Marion, I truly applaud your sensible choices.
    2-To align with EITHER political party is folly.
    3-Forests are supposed to burn; it’s part of the course of nature. Fire supression has altered the natural course, so how do we get nature back on her course? I suppose, let the roadless areas burn on “her” schedule, as they have for thousands of years…but I don’t know what to do with the forests full of failing roads that humans have mis-managed for decades…
    4-I don’t see Jackson, (Keystone is upper-middle-class) Vail, etc. as “environmental enclaves”; heck, these towns are filled with the EXXON, Lehman Bros., Weyerhauser CEOs…

  30. Surcingless, of course they are full of those things, all the time talking about saving the planet, but like the guru himself, it is for other people to cut back. I will be much more impressed when I see those who tout all of the environmental cut backs do a little sacrificing themselves. They always seem to feel that the rest of us do not need the comforts, but they are entitled to whatever exravagence they wish.
    If you take a look at the voting patterns and the things those communities demand, they are very environmentally oriented, but they don’t live like that.
    Before I retired I used to attend the Nurse Practioner confrence in Keystone. They had all of these green signs and bumper stickers etc, but they all drove BIG SUVs, and the houses are big too. I never saw a sub compact like mine!

  31. I don’t know what to say, Marion, except that “Detroit” could have (can) EASILY engineered those giant SUVs you saw at Keystone to get 50 mpg…”Detroit” is symbolic of the mentality of every other industry…lie, cheat, steal, collude, pollute, exterminate for a buck…part of the big picture…nothing changes. Talk/writing is cheap…

  32. Bearbait you raise a good issue–namely the potential deportation of environmental degradation to other countries. You suggest that Canada will degrade its country to produce wood for America if we don’t allow timber companies to degrade our forests. That is a legitimate possibility and I know from personal observation that Canada is far more dominated by the timber industry and tolerates much worse timber practices than we are in America.

    However, we in the US can only have moderate influence over Canadian timber practices. If Canadian forestry practices are to change, than it will be up to Canadians to demand such changes. And one way we can support their efforts is by maintaining high standards for environmental protection here in the US.

    To suggest that we in the US shouldn’t demand environmental protection because some other countries have weaker regulations or laws, is like suggesting that American workers should get paid the same as workers as in China or India because people there work for less and with fewer worker protections and so on than Americans. Yes people in other countries work for less and under worse conditions, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon our labor laws and wages. All that is a recipe for the downward decline in everyone’s standard of living.

    Instead we should try to elevate American wages and working conditions to the greatest degree possible, while at the same time supporting policies that will improve worker conditions in other countries as well. A similar position is necessary for environmental issues as well.

  33. Surcingless, how in the world do you think anyone could move a large heavy vehicle with less power? Many of the cars are plastic now. I am 5’2″ and there is no way I have as much power to move as much as a 6’2 man. It jsut will not work, that is all there is to it. There are lot’s of small vehicles for sale, but the elitists want to demand big vehicles that run on a breath of fresh air only.

  34. George: Canada has 24 million acres of dead wood standing or dying. Their forest lands are so expansive and extensive that the new forests mature and they have yet to get to the end of the untouched land and probably never will. The US does not log anywhere near its annual growth for the whole nation, the best estimates being somewhere around a third more growth than loss each year. There is more standing timber in the U.S. right now than anytime since Europeans showed up in the 16th century. I saw part of the BLM Oregon State plan, and in round numbers, the BLM lands held 50 billion board feet in 1950. There was a substantial logging of those acres for 45 years. Today there is 70 Billion board feet standing. And little logging for the last 15 years. I have no idea as to how much wood is standing on USFS planted plantations established behind old growth logging in the last 50 years but it has to be 100s of Billions of board feet more that what was there originally. The fuel that is burning in these mega fires came from somewhere. It was not fire suppression that raised fuel levels as much as it has been successful tree planting and care until the Clinton Administration stopped that train between stations. Now we are burning our capital, the money spent on reforestation, site prep, slash burns, and pre-commercial thinning. I find that an egregious waste of public resources, and probably in lock step with the greed mentality and control issues that precipitated this current economic failure characterized by excess and flamboyance, even with public monies. Don’t log in the U.S. but certainly buy those cheap wooden items from China made from stolen trees from endangered ecosystems of the third world, blackmarket traded to buy guns, gold and power.

    That our environmental NGOs hide their heads and ignore the slaughter, the blood, because they need their money, too, as the purveyors of the salves of conscious, the slathering on of easy money “to save the environment”, which proves they are living their lie, as well. Saving the environment and saving souls must run in parallel universes. Donations, tithing, sending the grandkids legacy to the Reverend Ben Dover. Save the whales, the redwoods, the last of the best, and the last of the last. A kindly pat on the head from the NGO money wringers, and a kind word about your gift. The high fives at the office come later when the donor is gone. And it all has been done with tax forgiving clauses inserted to “save the last best place” by the liberal Greenies in Congress cutting the rich dudes’ taxes. Obama won’t get that job done, his raising taxes on the rich, if only because he in encroaching on Green Country, the land of Environmental Donors, the Trust Fund Milking Society. And Obama isn’t going to get the money that goes to religious coffers, either. Reverend Wright will set him straight on that constitutionally protected financial stream. His anti-Christian voters are going to be disappointed, and that Palin demographic is raising money right now to launch an attack in the 2010 elections, you can be sure.

    Reading the EPA numbers on those rat bastard American auto makers’ 2009 products, I found it quite disconcerting that the little V-8 in a F-150 Ford pickup gets 18 miles to the gallon in town using regular gasoline and 13 miles per gallon using blended ethanol fuels. Losing almost 40% of mpg efficiency to “save us from greenhouse gases” while another branch of environmental zeal demands we let forests burn “because it is natural” is in-frigging-sane!!!! Stupid. Stooooopid! California 2008 forest fires produced the amount of green house gases 30 Million autos and trucks would produce if they ran every hour of every day for all of 2008. So I am supposed to get less miles per gallon of fuel in order that wildland fire might go unfought? How thoughtful that!!! ???

    The real economic problem with US automakers is legacy costs. It is the 125,000 people getting paid but not producing a thing. It is General Motors being the largest provider of health care in the U.S., and when you buy a foreign made car or truck, those legacy costs are avoided by the PURCHASER!!! when you buy the Civic, you are NOT paying for GM worker health care because that makes the GM car more expensive!! You pay the retirement benefit as well. And you are paying them to not produce the quality of cars the Asians build. But, you know what? You will pay for it, sooner or later. Either by the Federal Pension Guarantee Fund, after a GM Chrysler bankruptcy, or in a short term bailout for the auto makers, because if you don’t give it to all of the U.S. automakers, the ones who don’t get it will also have to go bankrupt, into some sort of Chapt 11, to survive. And with them will go the health and welfare featherbedding the unions have foisted on the American public for half a century. The American public has voted for those programs, and by buying foreign made cars, that vote was a resounding NO!! And I don’t think they will want to pay those costs once again by subsidy or bankruptcy.

    So this whole Roadless Area deal, this no logging of public lands, has a cost. A societal economic cost. Wildland fire, by an agency that does not believe in putting out small fires now, will negate any air quality gains by more fuel efficient cars. The gains by fuel efficiency can only be sold on the promise that greater efficiency will lessen dependency on foreign fuels, and the positive impact on the pocket books of drivers. The air quality issue is made moot by Federal wildland fire policy across the broadest landscape. And, that policy is going to cost us our forests that have survived, by their existence, and cannot be replicated once they have burned. Once they burn, they will NOT be replaced by the type of forest that was there before fire. Long term global cooling is making it impossible for warmer species to regenerate minus the thermal blanket of the old forest, the forest that burned. Climates and geographies change, and heritage forests survive because they greatly contribute to their own survival by mitigating climate changes by their own being, their own physical occupation of soil surface and cubic feet of atmosphere. Take that away, by fire, by no longer having needles and leaves to mitigate sun and wind, to limit evaporation, and you can’t go home again.

    Some forests should never be touched. And fires extinguished post haste. And other forests need tending, and man keeping fuel levels low. That cannot happen without effort and treasure, boots on the ground, and sweat and toil. This easy way out, the “watched” fire, is bad policy and bad for the forests. The apologists are blowing their smoke across the country with all its dangers, and more than just a little right up our collectives asses as they smirk and giggle at the great rat f–k they are pulling on the public. We need people with a work ethic. Maybe throwing out the computers in the ranger stations would do the job. People would have to get into the field a lot more. Get close and comfortable with a forest and its workings. Digitized data does not put out a fire, find many, or clear a trail. Of course, boots on the ground does preclude all those differently abled from being employed as Strangelovian policy makers. Ask me if I care.

  35. If you think we are protecting our forests by giving them “protection” as Roadless or Wilderness, read this article:

    Following the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) of 1994 which allows logging would have preserved more older forests that the current policies. Fire levels in the Pacific NW outweigh harvest reductions inthe loss of older forests. “Fire is a more important factor of loss to old-growth than harvesting between 1993 and 2002,” according to Tom Spies, a research ecologist.

    With global climate change we have longer, drier summers and money that has been budgeted for fuel treatments has been used to fight fires. The article says federal managers should consider increasing fire prevention and supression treatments in dry regions as climate change may lead to more fire. This will not happen in Roadless and Wilderness areas which is where much of the old growth is concentrated.

    I hiked through the Boulder Creek Wilderness before it was Wilderness. Pine Bench was a spectacular area that the logging companies agreed should be preserved and not logged. I don’t know what it looks like now. Too many knee and ankle surgeries will keep me from being able to make that hike. I know there will be a lot of erosion come spring in that area. I’m sure Hwy 138 will be closed more days.

  36. Mike up above got to the heart of the matter. While the Wilderness Act was to be a “let’s settle this and move on,” when the inventories were done under the law, the enviros weren’t satisfied with their allocation.
    But they convinced the Clintons (actually, Babbitt and Dombeck didn’t need any convincing) that abusing the administrative process could put a de-facto policy in place that would, if upheld, do enough permanent damage to the industry and to other, non-PC recreation interests through attrition that SOMEDAY, Congress would have the votes.
    Seems like that time is now. Just ramrod it through, regardless of whether the environment would be better off with 1.) the ability to actively manage vegetation while recouping some of the management costs; and 2.) a larger user constituency, or multiple uses, on the recreation side.
    If all the public sees is Keep Out, or Walk Only, or Hazard Trees, or the Firefighting Bill, and sees no benefits they can enjoy, they are not going to support the agencies in the long run.

  37. A number of studies have shown that roadless lands have the highest water quality, resulting in greatest native cold water fish habitat, most secure habitat for hunted species like elk, best habitat for species sensitive to human intrusion like grizzly bear and wolverine, least amount of soil erosion, least amount of weed invasion,greatest amount of old growth timber, and a host of other parameters that signal greatest ecosystem health.

    And when you consider that most of these roadless lands are the least productive lands (because the more productive lands were privatized or if public lands, already developed, that suggest protecting these last vestiges of roadless lands has great value to the country as a whole that is not protected or preserved on the “managed” lands.

  38. You must be looking at some very old studies. With the fires we have seen in the Roadless areas, water quality has gone downhill dramatically. Eveytime it rains on the 800,000+ acres that burned in 2007 in our area the river runs black downstream.

  39. No actually these are very recent long term studies. They show that not only does water quality improve in a relative short time after a fire, but the number of aquatic insects increases,which results in larger and more trout, as well as higher and more species of birds, bats, etc. in the areas along streams in burned areas. Here’s a few references.

    2001. Response of the Cache Creek macroinvertebrates during the first 10 years following disturbance by the 1988 Yellowstone wildfires. Canadian Journal Fisheries Aquatic Sciences 58:1077-1088. (G. W. Minshall, T. V. Royer, and Christopher T. Robinson).

    2001. Water quality, substratum and biotic responses of five central Idaho (USA) streams during the first year following the Mortar Creek fire. International Journal Wildland Fire 10:185-199. (G. W. Minshall, J. T. Brock, D. A. Andrews, and C. T. Robinson).

    2001. Benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages in five central Idaho (USA) streams over a 10-year period following disturbance by wildfire. International Journal Wildland Fire 10:201-213. (G. W. Minshall, C. T. Robinson, D. E. Lawrence, D. A. Andrews, and J. T. Brock)

  40. Read this article and it will tell you that the nitrogen and phosphorus from the forest are deposited in the lakes in burned area causing a flush in fish and invertebrate populations along with 5X increases in mercury levels in Rainbow trout following fire.


    It also brings to mind the Hot Creek Fire in Idaho where mud slides temporarily caused the Creek to run upstream because of the volume of mud that came off the burned slopes following a thunderstorm.

  41. Becky –

    Most fires occur in roaded and logged areas of the national forest.

    A few things:

    1.It is proven scientifically that wilderness/roadless areas are better for air quality, water quality and big game habitat. This is not debatable.

    2.The Roadless Initiative is backed by the majority of the country

    3. Obama won in a landslide and has a mandate to protect public lands

    4. The Bush administration’s failed policies have ruiend our economy and set the stage for the decline of our public lands at various levels

    If you want to use a motor vehicle, there are over 300,000 roads in the national forest which you can use. However, some of us out there are more interested in preserving rare wildlands and rare wild species for our great grandchildren rather than trying to squeeze out an extra buck for ourselves.


  42. George: when you lose a forest of 300 to 700 year old trees, it really does take 700 or more years to replace them. It seems rather short sighted to manage to purposely lose that kind of resource, by plan and policy. Preserving special places, as was promised by Wilderness, now turns out to mean nothing down the road, as the USFS and other Federal agencies plan to incinerate more old growth forests as they did in California on half a million acres this summer. I interpret that as a badly broken promise, and an action that only a rogue agency would take.

    I suspect some of the burning is due to a paucity of money flowing to individual forests, and having project fires allows that forest to get roads repaired, blade work done, and equipment caches replenished by requests for additional supplies, and orders for equipment rentals. Hog tied by budgets for all too long, and no timber revenue, many Western forests are in dire straits in terms of roads, trails, and facilities needing repairs. The Congress that is oh so green, also is not spending any dough on public lands. Project fires become a forest resource in terms of what the fire can bring to the forest in material things. Backdoor budgeting. Keep them burning as long as you can, Incident Commander, for we need the off budget revenue.

    I have no doubt streams, over time, repair themselves, and vertebrate and invertebrate life increases. The loss of canopy allows more sunlight to reach the stream, grow plant life, and feed the food chain. That research was done on the Andrews Experimental Forest years ago. The water temperature issue is about tree loss allowing more snow to accumulate, and fewer or no trees using vast amounts of water each day. However, during high runoff times, soil does move, and water quality is degraded by all the measurements of potable water. That does mean it is polluted unless there are some minerals exposed by the loss of soil holding vegetation, or from sloughs and slides, especially in headwall areas. More snow staying because it is not lost to sublimation on the needles of live trees, will mean more snow melt to start creeks out at O degrees C as melt water, in a higher volume. However, in mid summer, even with few trees taking up water, the exposed streams will heat faster due to direct sunlight. As summer progresses, days shorten and the sun falls further to the south shading more stream each day, and late summer frosts return to the high country, stream temps will begin to drop, and return to acceptable levels. The issue of log jams and blockages due to dead trees falling over, slides and sloughs, and debris torrents from high rainfall or spring snow melt will still impact streams in ways that are considered unacceptable if due to logging, but praised when caused by fire.

    The real loss is that my grandkids won’t get to see the same things I got to see. My son and I have hunted in and around the Boulder Wilderness for years. My grandson and granddaughters will only get to see a burned skeleton of what was there, and not in their lifetimes, or any lifetime that we can conjure in the future, will there be the variety of old growth species and sizes of trees that the Boulder Creek Wilderness was formed to protect for all persons and all time. That pipe dream was short lived. Idiots allowed a contained fire to escape in the transition period between overhead teams, and from an experienced OT down to a lesser team because the fire had been stopped, contained, and only needed to be mopped up. Or, as some believe, the Umpqua NF Supervisor wanted a big WFU, and allowed benign neglect to produce one. The loss is huge, to State hiway infrstructure, to recreational access, to the prized North Umpqua river fisheries, to the anthropogenic ponderosa pine forest on the Pine Bench (nobody knows what lived and died there, because, of course, the public is being kept out). It is hoped that because the P pines were limbless for a distance, and had good spatial separation, and if that funnel of a Wilderness did not superheat the air, the Bench is more or less intact. The reburn of the Spring Fire in the same Wilderness about 12 years ago will mean some areas of the Wilderness are going to be a brush field, as the whole of the Wilderness is a south slope, and subject to solar heating in summer to temps that preclude regeneration of most conifers.

    There is every bit of possibility that spring fire, or late fall fire, can do wonders for a forest. Fires in the heat of summer, when temps are highest, rain the least expected, fuels their driest, should not be allowed to burn without suppression efforts. That is just common sense. Beneficial fire is not stand replacement fire. Beneficial fire is fuel reducing fire. Stand replacement fire actually increases the fuel load, almost guarantees another, hotter fire to follow all to soon, as witnessed by the 2002 Biscuit Fire, which burned the entirety of the 1988 Silver Fire, all in the special and diverse Kalmiopsis Wilderness of the Siskiyou NF. The Silver reburn was but 20% of the Biscuit fire’s acres.

    I will agree that roadless areas have something to offer in terms of wildlife and species value that is not there in planted tree areas. But allowing them to burn to a crisp is not the proper way to protect them. When the USFS was protecting huge areas that were roadless, they still stopped most fires. It was all accomplished with pack strings and human effort. I have a friend who was once a Region 1 smoke jumper. He talks about a two jumper fire that he was on that required he and his companion walk 35 miles to where they could catch a truck to take them back to Missoula. He, at the time, thought this was as good as it got. He was getting paid to walk home. Every hour of it. Even when they slept. I don’t know if that could be accepted today. And I know that allowing a fire to burn, in his time, was only acceptable if it was close to timberline, in the rocks, and there was rain in the forecast, and it was late in summer. If not, go put it out. See you when you get back.

    My point, and I would think it is shared by others, is that if you designate a chunk of land “roadless area”, that does not preclude putting out fires. A roadless area is to be preserved for the reserve of wildlife and flora that it is. To allow all that to burn because some budgeteer can claim fire is “natural” is patently insane in a civilized sense. House fires can be natural. Polio is natural. Small pox is natural. Territorial fights are natural. Natural does not mean, in any way, that something is “good” or valued by society. It can mean quite the opposite. Monogamy is not natural, but it is best for society, and has been the norm in many societies for the longest of time. We have elected a new government because they have promised to bring un-natural health care to all people. How is universal health care a natural deal? Death and dying is natural. Asking someone else to pay your bill so that you might not die or be unhealthy is not natural, either. Nor is forcing people to pay for your health care. But we will do it. The new Congress will require it, and the new President will sign the bill. So why can’t we be un-natural and preserve our roadless areas and suppress all fires possible? Doing things which are not natural is the very essence of being human. Why do we deny our humaness, our roots, our heritage?

  43. Mike: So where in the Obama mandate is it mentioned that allowing fires to burn is good for America, good for the Roadless Areas, and who fed you the BS about the road miles across 200 million acres? My woods visits show me that more roads are closed now than are open to use. Is an area with all the spur roads closed to motorized travel less a resource than if it were roadless? If so, why are the gates locked, or the tank traps built? Just why are those roads closed and decommissioned? It would appear that their closure is creating more de facto roadless area, and should be celebrated by you. But you numerate those roads, and then whine that someone can drive on them. Yeah. If you own a cat or a large front end loader and are willing to go to jail. When you can’t use the road, the area becomes roadless. Is it still a road when you can’t drive on it? If so, then trails are roads, because they encourage the same kind of use and access a closed road provides. And the closed roads, if properly equipped with drainage structures, are probably more environmentally sound than trails.

    I saw on public television tonight that Bush has opened an office at Treasury for the incoming Obama staff. Bush is being gracious and helpful in the transition. That is more than that ass Clinton and his staff did for Bush. The whole of the Democrat policy for 8 years has been to trip Bush at every juncture, and they got the job done. It started with sabotaged computer key boards in the Exec. Office Bldg and White House, and did not stop. Hell, in Oregon the Congressional Democrats put up the money to defeat one Democrat in the primary so their guy could run against the Republican incumbent, a moderate. And they put up the money to defeat the moderate. Don’t give me any bullpucky about a kinder and gentler America with the new administration and a mandate. Obama’s Chief of Staff makes Cheney look like a Boy Scout. I am waiting for SNL to run a skit of Sir Ram knifing the table as he illustrates how dead Democrats who do not toe his line will be. The new administration is going to be a hard line socialist attempt to ram legislation down the American throat, and then pretend to get someone else to pay for it. Your claim of environmental degradation on the public lands is just not true, unless you account for the wildland fire use policy which has destroyed more old growth than logging did on lands private and public in the same period. That the Feds spend little money to monitor and improve recreational access to public lands while they close hundreds of thousands of spur roads is a fact that does set well with the Obama supporters who just spent $600 million on their candidate, the source of those monies not yet fully reported.

    The government, by Congressional intent, is already the new owner of a great part of our banks. That was what the bailout was about. The Govt. buying into the banks. Even banks in good shape have been forced to sell shares to the US Govt. as witnessed by the strong Umpqua Bank in Oregon. $280 million dollars worth of themselves in a forced sale, as required by Congress, a Democrat controlled Congress.

    As Barry Goldwater said so long ago: “A government that can give you all you want is big enough to take away all you have.”

    That is what this election was about, and take it away they will.

  44. ++Mike: So where in the Obama mandate is it mentioned that allowing fires to burn is good for America, good for the Roadless Areas, and who fed you the BS about the road miles across 200 million acres? My woods visits show me that more roads are closed now than are open to use.++

    Bearbait, your personal observations in one small patch of national forest doesn’t really compare to getting the road mileage estimates of the entire national forest system from the USFS.

    Your comment reminds me of the people who post “global warming, huh? We just got a foot of snow. They are making it up”.

  45. I think an awful lot of folks projected their big wishes onto the blank slate that Obama provided. He has obligations to an awful lot of people, MoveOn has already reminded him publicly of the 88 million they provided, Kenya called to congratulate him and remind him they are expecting money form the home boy made good.
    The greens are anticipating all kind of expensive stuff, including instant alternative energies that no one can define nor knows where to get them. Those same enviros want all mining, drilling, timbering, fishing, etc shut down immediately and everyone except them stay out of the forests, so they can play with the animals in peace.
    If O starts trying to accommodate the left that radically, and goes thru with his statement he would bankrupt the coal fired plants, he may make 1929 look like a picnic. And we won’t even have electricity to run our computers to complain.
    What has happened to our forests in the name of “natural” is disgraceful….and it is happening to all nature being manipulated by the greens who have absolutely no clue about reality.

  46. Mike: I didn’t know I was talking about one small patch of National Forest. I have been across quite a bit of Oregon NF land in the last year. I hunt there, ‘shroom there, and just visit because I can and it is close. More roads are now closed than open. So if a road is off limits to motorized use, is that road now anything more than an extra wide trail? Is or does the USFS or BLM take a closed road off the road inventory? If not, then how does the DMV account for wrecked cars without licenses, smashed and sent to the grinder to supply the steel mill? It is a car. It was built. That is has no engine or wheels, cannot run, is it still a car or is it no more than a form of scrap metal?

    My position is that closed roads, the ones with tank traps, that have had the rippers run down them, that are now growing hardwood trees and grass, are not roads. They WERE roads, but are no longer, and the area they served is now roadless.

    The roads that are gated, off limits to anyone but those with the owning agency or doing business with that agency, are still closed roads. That they might be used for administrative purposes is a good deal. We really do need access to not have all of it burned sooner than later.

    That criteria tells me there are more roadless areas created each year. Millions of acres of roadless areas. If to be roadless, the area has to be 5000 contiguous acres, then I am not in agreement with another set of assumed criteria. How frigging artificial is the number 5000? That number is no more than some political compromise to advance one position in the discussion.

    But, the reality is that the USFS has spent hundreds of millions “decommissioning” tens of thousands of miles of roads. I have supervised some of that activity with seeding crews. You know, back pack belly grinders full of some special and very expensive grass and forb seed mix, to stabilize a road that has been ripped and water barred, and “tank trapped” to preclude 4×4, atv use.

    In other areas, in named recreation areas, there are reflectors high in trees along road systems and arrows, all pointing to a roads end at where motorized traffic is allowed. Those roads are closed this month until late spring, and snow machines are all that might use them during the winter season. Or cross country skiers. But the roads are used to provide recreation in winter, and hopefully let people absorb some vitamin D.

    The USFS is concerned about roads, but not for logging as you might fear. Their road concerns are to have fewer of them, and not to build anymore of a permanent nature. That is their stated intent, and that is what I see on the ground. In areas of mixed ownership, the Feds and private land owners cannot close their roads due to easements and accessibility issues. I consider those roads to be jointly owned or used, and it is not equitable to classify those as exclusive USFS roads, and use their miles in any argument over road miles. The same goes for local and state government roads that go across USFS lands. I say this because numbers are used to support single use goals, and are not always honest interpretations of ground truth and Courthouse documentation.

  47. Mike, In Idaho most of the acres burned are in Wilderness and IRA’s. Fires in the still actively managed forests are put out. It is not infrequent that there are more lightening strikes on State and private land but they are put out before they reach 10 acres.

    The House of Representatives sets the budgets and the Senate enacts laws. They have been controlled by the Democrats. With even more control are we expecting to see a big improvement over what they have been doing the last 8 years?

    While the idea of preserving pristine roadless areas is embraced by the people of our country, most do not have any idea of what the IRA’s look like on the ground. If they did, they would want them to be much better managed.

    Roadless and Wilderness designations do not constitue protecting the land in my book.

    RARE1, RARE2 and Clinton’s Roadless Act stopped all management on IRA’s. The condition on the ground in those areas has not improved in my neighborhood.

  48. Wayne Minshall, Geo?
    Co author of the discredited Beschta Report? Lead author of the three “science” things you quoted? Naw, advocacy posing as science.
    As in,
    “Don’t question ME, you undegreed riffraff. I have a PhD.”
    There’s another study out that shows that huge amounts of carbon and nitrogen were blown into the air by the Biscuit…this in country where soils are hard to come by. The authors had old pre-fire plots that they revisited, a clear before-and-after, controlled look at the real effects of megafire.
    The Franklinites riff on “biological legacy” but there’s been not a WORD published about the lost biological legacy of the pre-fire soils matrix when a fire sucks it up. At least not by THEM, oh, no.
    I hope Congress isn’t as stupid as we think they are.

  49. There has to be a much better discussion of issues when there are glaring inconsistencies in policy. If a 2009 Ford F-150 gets 18 EPA MPG on regular gas, and 13 using an ethanol-gas mix, an almost 40% loss of efficiency, that has to be noted due to the fewer miles traveled using the same amount of fuel. I cannot find the savings to society. It would seem we would have to produce almost 40% more fuel to obtain the same amount of work. I cannot identify “conservation” in that scenario.

    If by actual measure, now peer reviewed by PhDs, soils lose plus or minus 10 tons of nitrogen and plus or minus 30 tons of carbon per acre in wildland fire of the stand replacement nature, how can not fighting or suppressing those fires be called “good” for the environment? Makes no sense.

    If after hot fire, all the organics, the life in the soil, and an inch of mineral soil are lost to the fire plume, leaving behind disconnected dry ravel to ravages of raindrops, and no vegetation to absorb water or lessen the physical force of those individual raindrops, how is this “natural” and “good” in a world that wants to stop burning carbon for fuel? How does this repair a watershed?

    And why is CO2, carbon and oxygen, the very basis of life on earth, now a “bad” thing? Don’t plants thrive in that mix of oxygen and carbon? Isn’t that a key ingredient in photosynthesis?

    The greenhouse gas conversation and the climate change conversation need to be further examined. Having a failed politico pimping the concept of global warming does not mean that all he says is true. And I have yet to see the cast in stone science evidence of global warming, climate change. The history of this world has been, for the last couple of million years, one of Ice Ages and Interglacials. Have we broken that cycle? Is cold and starvation not our future? Or will expanded growing areas and seasons be a boon to mankind? It will be one or the other.

    Our emperor needs the best tailor, and I am not sure he has the one at this moment.

  50. ++Mike, In Idaho most of the acres burned are in Wilderness and IRA’s. Fires in the still actively managed forests are put out. It is not infrequent that there are more lightening strikes on State and private land but they are put out before they reach 10 acres.++

    If you look at recent fires in Idaho, most are in roaded and logged areas – especially the larger fires. One of Arizona’s largest fires ever was in a heavily roaded and logged forest. The recent Bitteroot fires in Montana were mostly in roaded and logged forest.

    The House of Representatives sets the budgets and the Senate enacts laws. They have been controlled by the Democrats. With even more control are we expecting to see a big improvement over what they have been doing the last 8 years? ++

    What are you talking about? The democrats won back the house and senate in late 2006.

    While the idea of preserving pristine roadless areas is embraced by the people of our country, most do not have any idea of what the IRA’s look like on the ground. If they did, they would want them to be much better managed. ++

    Mother nature does a pretty nice job of managing forests. We don’t need to slice, dice and road every square mile. Balance is good.

    ++RARE1, RARE2 and Clinton’s Roadless Act stopped all management on IRA’s. The condition on the ground in those areas has not improved in my neighborhood.++

    What conditions are those?

  51. ++Mike: I didn’t know I was talking about one small patch of National Forest. I have been across quite a bit of Oregon NF land in the last year. I hunt there, ‘shroom there, and just visit because I can and it is close. More roads are now closed than open. ++

    Several reasons for that. One includes maintenance budget. I you can’t maintain a road, it needs to be decomissioned. And with the Bush economy, the money just isn’t there (and probably wouldn’t be there in many other economies either due to the outrageous expense of maintaining 400,000 miles of roads.

    So if a road is off limits to motorized use, is that road now anything more than an extra wide trail? Is or does the USFS or BLM take a closed road off the road inventory? If not, then how does the DMV account for wrecked cars without licenses, smashed and sent to the grinder to supply the steel mill? It is a car. It was built. That is has no engine or wheels, cannot run, is it still a car or is it no more than a form of scrap metal? ++

    It’s often policy to close roads after a logging project to let the area heal. Unfortunately rampant ATV use keeps these roads in an open state.

    ++That criteria tells me there are more roadless areas created each year. Millions of acres of roadless areas. If to be roadless, the area has to be 5000 contiguous acres, then I am not in agreement with another set of assumed criteria. How frigging artificial is the number 5000? That number is no more than some political compromise to advance one position in the discussion. ++

    That’s simply not true. No one is “growing” roadless areas. If you look at the roadless website that has been up since 2000, not a single acre has been added. you can’t “grow” roadless areas like that. Check the acreage for your nearby national forest:

    These figures have been the same:


  52. Why would I believe an agency that cannot clear a trail due to no money to keep any statistics or gather data. If the road is closed, the area has no road access. If the sign says no atv access allowed, the road is closed, and the area behind the tank trap is and boulders is now a roadless area. There is no longer a road there. You can’t drive a car on it. And you can’t open a gate to use it. It is closed. Many are “obliterated”, which also means that no road is there. Read their budget. Look at their contracting. They are “de-commissioning” roads by the thousands of miles. The roads are gone, and the area they accessed is now roadless. If the USFS doesn’t keep track of “de-commisioned” or “obliterated” roads, does that mean they still exist on another ledger? An older ledger.

  53. Bearbait is correct, legally. The Clinton roadless rule has provisions, buried WAY deep in the Appendix, that roads can be decommissioned, the area becomes “unroaded” — a word never before used — and then the land becomes “roadless” and therefore qualified for potential wilderness designation. Even says how much land could be affected by this interpretation, 188 million of 192.
    So sure, let’s just codify this garbage. Shut it down, lock it up, burn it down.

  54. If you drag those bills into the daylight for that ozone cleansing, there is even more to know that our Green buddies don’t want to reveal at this time…

    Therefore, it would be only poetic political justice if Dubbya (is the new guy “Hoosey?”) re-arranged the administrative rule deck just because paybacks, and that was just what Clinton set out to do–paybacks, are a bitch…legal horseplay. Sour political grapes (smoke tainted) are from the Democrat playbook. The immature crap from the zealots who lost out in 2000 is their normal behavior. Byzantine administrative rules conjured in the basement by Cheney and his cohorts to bring Machiavellian and convoluted laws to any number of regulatory agencies would be a hoot. But, do nothing to mess with any chance of economic recovery. Nothing to eliminate jobs….and, maybe it would create some jobs by letting people do more with less strangulation by bureaucrats. Some rule adjustment might allow a new oil refinery to be built in the U.S…..or not…

  55. ++Bearbait is correct, legally. The Clinton roadless rule has provisions, buried WAY deep in the Appendix, that roads can be decommissioned, the area becomes “unroaded” — a word never before used — and then the land becomes “roadless” and therefore qualified for potential wilderness designation. Even says how much land could be affected by this interpretation, 188 million of 192.
    So sure, let’s just codify this garbage. Shut it down, lock it up, burn it down.++

    Do you have a link or a source for that claim?

  56. Marion, presidents do that because it is in their power. Just like George W. Bush overturned the roadless rule, Obama might overturn some Bush rules. Obviously, he can’t “undo everything that President Bush has done”. It seems that you like to portray executive orders by Democrats as something extraordinary and radical, whereas executive orders by Republicans are somehow OK. Isn’t that a little bit disingenuous?

    Stem cell research has wide support among scientists and passed Congress, so it would just be democratic and rational to overturn the Bush veto.

    Concerning global warming, Bush denied (the Republican governor of) California’s right to set emission standards. I thought the Republicans were big on state’s rights, but apparently that depends on the issue…

    I guess the reproductive rights issue you mention is the “Mexico City Policy” aka “Global Gag Rule”, originally instituted by Reagan, repealed by Clinton, and reinstated by Bush. It stipulates that NGOs who receive government funding “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations”. Counseling women about their legal rights has been interpreted as “promoting abortion”. A majority in the Senate voted to lift these extremely broad funding restrictions, but again Bush threatened to veto it. Overturning this rule would hardly be a radical act, and it would not have any effect on abortions in the US. (Whether and how it would affect the situation and rights of women abroad is of course a contentious issue, but it seems that the American public and politicians are nearly evenly split on this.)

  57. Abortions do not prevent pregnancy, they destroy pregnancy. Birth control prevents pregnancy, perhaps if it were called conception control, that woudl be more accurate in this day and age when many pregnancies, including viable pre born babies are destroyed. Actually the term we use medically…contraception is what prevents pregnacy from occuring. No matter how you dress it up, abortion destroys a living human life.
    I am aware how powerful adminsitrative directives are, we are still dealing with Clinton’s out the door directives remember? I jsut do not recall a president elect spending the months while he was trying to become his party’s nominee and then get elected, working on his directives to institute as he took the oath of office.
    By the way here is a link to the global warming information, and our country is not the only one cooling.


  58. Marion, nobody claimed that abortions prevent pregnancy, but I guess it is fun to argue against strawmen… (It is also completely off-topic here.)

    Regarding your link to the graphic of 2008 temperatures, what do you think it proves? I don’t expect you to be an expert in statistics, but everyone should know that long-term trends are exactly that, long-term. Fluctuations from year to year can be random and larger in magnitude than the long-term trend. This fact makes it challenging and difficult to analyze time series and find these long term patterns. And that is why we have scientists and universities. You can get a better general idea of the statistics if you look at the data since 1880: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

    I think if you are honest with yourself, you have to admit that you already “know” that global warming is a scam, and that you are cherry-picking evidence to “prove” it. Unfortunately, this kind of abuse of “science” has become more popular in recent years, and has made its way into the White House. My hope is that Obama has a less ideological approach to science, and I am cautiously optimistic after observing the statements he made during the campaign.

  59. I was pointing out that abortions are not a “reproductive right”, but are a right to take the life on one human for the “rights” of another.
    I am aware that short term temps are irrelevant. 30 years ago we were in global warming, then suddenly when the sun came out, it was global warming, now it is global change. But the big thing is to control other people’s behavior before it changes into something else again, and the agenda has to change.

  60. I happened to research this issue looking for a topic for my Master’s Thesis. What I found is:The inventoried roadless areas are not “designated” roadless areas. Many of them do have roads. Highway 191 runs through one. This happpened when Congress passed the Wilderness Act and demanded that regional foresters submit maps of roadless areas for individual evaluation of wilderness potential. They didn’t have computer mapping programs, GIS, or GPS back then, so they got out their Marks-a-Lots and inadequate paper maps and circled whatever didn’t have roads showing. Many roads were not on the maps, for various reasons. Some had just never been mapped. National Forest cartographers told me they were often ordered not to include certain roads when making maps.
    All this squabbling and misinformation really illustrates what a bad idea the roadless rule is. What we need is a thorough analysis and evaluation of public lands, which is what the IRAs were intended for.