The Agriculture Secretary oversees a $146 billion annual budget. Most of it – 65 percent - is allocated to food and nutrition programs that target the needy. Five percent goes to “forestry,” mainly the U.S. Forest Service and mostly – about 55 percent – to battle forest fires.
Now that Tom Vilsack is back in the driver's seat at the Department of Agriculture, it’s time for him to stroll over to the White House and have a heart-to-heart chat with President Biden about the West’s wildfire pandemic. Here’s how it might go:
We believe all federal forest and rangelands should be consolidated within a single cabinet-level Department of Natural Resources.
Doug MacCleery, a friend and colleague of 30 years has written a thoughtful essay explaining how the western wildfire pandemic came to be and what Congress and the Forest Service must do to reduce the risks associated with killing wildfires.
Nature also doesn't give a damn about human need.Trees aren’t Republicans or Democrats. We think nature doesn’t give a damn.
More than half the nation's federal forest estate – some 100 million acres – is either dying, dead or has already burned. About 73 million acres have burned over the last 10 years – most of it in western national forests. 9.6 million acres this year.
The immediate need is to rebuild the forestry side of the Forest Service. This means that Republicans and Democrats in the next Congress need to find an extra $5 billion in Fiscal 2021. Funds must be specifically allocated for forestry staffing and forest management – not wildfire.
I have been writing about the wildfire crisis in our national forests for 30-plus years – long enough to have developed a solid understanding of it underlying causes.
We are featuring an interview with Brett L'Esperance, CEO and one of the owners of Dauntless Air, an aerial firefighting company that recently moved its maintenance facilities to Pappy Boyington Field, in Northern Idaho.
This report summarizes the research approach and results and should be of interest to Forest Service officials and others who are concerned with ensuring that the nation's wildfire-fighting capabilities are maintained in an efficient and cost-effective way.
Your conference seeks to encourage you to become better leaders. That's a good thing because leadership is sorely lacking in the forestry and forest products manufacturing worlds today. Everyone seems to be going their own way. There are no leaders and there is no script. We are all freelancers doing our own thing in a world in which most now get their news through their favorite social media algorithms.
When Mike Albrecht asked me if I'd be willing to spend some time with you this afternoon, he said he was looking for someone who could provide you with a vision for the future that is both optimistic and realistic. Then he added that he wasn’t sure that the words “optimistic” and “realistic” could exist in the same sentence.
Back in February 15, 2015, Evergreen published my proposal for Congress to pass a Single-Use-Sustained Yield Act (“SUSY” for short). My proposed law would essentially designate a small percentage of Federally managed forests for “focused forestry”
Toward Shared Stewardship across Landscapes: An Outcome-based Investment Strategy is the new U.S, Forest Service/Department of Agriculture attempt to put the brakes on the wildfire crisis that has engulfed the West's federal forest estate. Click on the underlined text above to read it in full.
RAINS: “...It is an honor to work for the Department of Agriculture and I work for the greatest organization in the world.” So, I am in no way being critical of the fire responders; never.
We have known of Mr. Rains and his exceptional work for many years, most recently through the National Wildfire Institute, founded by our colleague, Bruce Courtright. When we were preparing questions for Interim Forest Service Chief, Victoria Christiansen, Mr. Rains volunteered to answer the same questions...
Now that Congress has resolved the fire funding mess – at least temporarily - Interim Forest Service Chief, Vicki Christiansen, has had much to say about how she intends to more aggressively attack these fires and their primary underlying cause.
Most all of us have rolled the dice in Monopoly a time or two. Buying up properties on the Boardwalk can be tons of fun until you land in Jail. That's when its lovely to have a “Get-out-of-jail-free” card in your hand. It sure beats having to sell properties to bail yourself out of the clink.
So, for the past 12 years, representatives of the timber industry, conservation community, U.S. Forest Service, non-profit sector and the state of Montana have been working to get to “yes”.
In our interview Christiansen addresses some tough questions on harassment, fire borrowing, staffing, fire management, wildfire and safety, forest management, collaboration, the budget, sawmill infrastructure, pace and scale, performance standards and reviews, and more
Because it took us more than 30 years to bridge our chasm, some 90 million National Forest acres – an area nearly as large as Montana – are dying or are already dead. We have no more than 30 years left in which to rescue what can be rescued.
Mr. McBride was a tree farmer, horse lover, gun collector, hunter safety instructor, military historian, World War II veteran and 1952 graduate of the University of Maine School of Forestry. His long-time friend, Bruce Vincent, an Evergreen Foundation board member, delivered the eulogy.
The U.S. House of Representatives has belatedly fixed the fire borrowing mess that has for several years forced the Forest Service to borrow taxpayer money from its forest restoration budgets to pay its ever- increasing fire-fighting bills.
Federal Court has ordered the United States Congress, the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fishers Service to make this statement about the health effects of secondhand wildfire smoke...
The salvage operation was not without controversy. The smoke had not yet cleared when environmentalists announced that “not one black stick would be harvested because salvaging burnt timber was like mugging a burn victim.”
Our colleague, Bruce Courtright, who chairs the National Wildfire Institute [NWI] at Fort Jones, California, has shared his organization's Vision 2025 document with us in hopes we will share it with you, which we are delighted to do.
Rodney Smoldon is the Forest Supervisor on the 1.1 million-acre Colville National Forest in northeast Washington. From his office in Colville, he commands a staff of approximately 135 permanent employees and an additional 100 summer employees. His annual budget is about $12 million.
The Forest Service's abysmal won-loss record at Silver, Biscuit and now Chetco Bar [0-3] is a detriment to every living creature struggling to right itself within our fire-scarred landscape. Is this the best you can do?
The bottom line here is that the War on the West will continue in the halls of Congress for as long as we allow it - and for as long as we allow it to fester, the West's publicly treasured National Forests will continue to die and burn to the ground.
We who own this damned wildfire mess need to start asking Congress some tough questions. I can think of no better place to start than the Forest Service's draft plan for picking up the pieces at Rice Ridge. Of 160,000 acres burned, the agency proposes to salvage some standing dead timber from 5,947 acres.
Musk's “flamethrower,” which sells for $500 and looks a lot like an assault rifle [probably intentionally] has already attracted the unwanted attention of U.S. Customs officials, prompting Musk to Twitter that a “rebranding” effort may be needed. No kidding.
Kurt Pregitzer is an affable and unpretentious man, not what you'd expect from a PhD forest ecologist who ranks in the top one-half of one percent of the world’s most frequently cited authors.
The six living former Chiefs of the U.S. Forest Service have jointly signed a letter to the U.S. House and Senate majority and minority leaders urging them to fix the fire borrowing mess that annually sabotages the agency's ability to treat diseased and dying National Forests before catastrophic wildfires destroy them.
This must be a bitter pill for Seeley Lake residents who last summer endured weeks of smoke so thick that air quality meters could not accurately measure carcinogenic pollutants generated by the fire. The “new normal” we're told.
Just when I thought I'd said all that need be said for now about the cancerous risks of wildfire smoke, a friend sent me a copy of the “Montana/Idaho Wildfire Carbon Emissions Inventory for 2013-2017."
I've been trying for more than 20 years to interest the nation’s health care industry - including the American Lung Association - in this story. “Too controversial,” I was told, again and again. Such is the murderous influence of the “Don’t worry, it’s natural” crowd.
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We can learn much from our nation's forest priorities, policies and practices, which have always tracked with our country’s ever-shifting felt necessities. But the blame game is a useless and unhelpful exercise. What would be helpful is a more constructive rural-urban dialogue about the losses we are all suffering, and what we can do collectively [politically] to mitigate them.
When we leave forests to Nature, as so many people today seem to want to do, we get whatever Nature serves up, which can be pretty devastating at times. But with forestry we have options, and a degree of predictability not found in Nature.
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that 90 million acres of the nation's federal forest estate are in Condition Class 3 or 2 – a fire ecologists’ rating system that attempts to account for the ecological damage a wildfire might do to a forest. Class 3 forests are said to be “ready to burn,” while Class 2 forests soon will be.
Bruce Ward is the Founder and President of Choose Outdoors, a Colorado-based coalition of outdoor recreation enthusiasts who work to increase public support for all forms of outdoor recreation, especially activities that frequently occur in National Forests
If we choose wisely, relying on the mechanical thinning, prescribed fire and managed fire, we can still protect most of our remaining forest assets, including the soil and water. But over much of the Intermountain West, the forests in our future are not going to look much like the forests we've been enjoying for the last 60 or 70 years.
Change. In this exclusive and quite timely Evergreen interview, Governor Otter offers his thoughts on the significance of President-elect Trump's improbable victory and the millions of acres of federal forest and rangeland that is in environmental crisis. Somewhere between 80 and 90 million acres of federal forest land in the West are on the brink of ecological collapse. These lands are vital to our entire nation’s social, economic and environmental health. We have a lot of work to do and not much time left in which to get it done.
In forests that have traditionally supported timber economies, we can use ecological restoration strategies that rely on mechanical thinning and prescribed fire. Elsewhere, we advocate for managing wildfires at the right place and time – when conditions are right. Just as there is no simple answer to the good-fire bad-fire question, there is also no single approach to conserving the forested landscapes we all treasure.”
Commissioner Goldmark discusses his growing concerns for the rapidly deteriorating condition of national forests east of the Cascades, related economic and environmental impacts, and what might be done to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in Washington's forests.
Strong partnerships are forming between federal and state resource management agencies, county governments, community leaders, conservationists, recreation interests and lumbermen, all in pursuit of a common and cohesive vision that, at the implementation level where we work, is already producing new and very exciting economic, environmental and social benefits.
The Forest Service shares Governor Bullock's concern and his goal. Minus the presence of local, competitive and sustainable larger timber manufacturing infrastructure, the kind of collaborative forest restoration work we all envision is not possible. We are basing this forest’s five-year planning revision on the Governor’s Priority Landscape project on this forest.
We are at a crossroads with forest health, our mills and the future condition of our forests. The aftermath of a years-long mountain pine beetle epidemic, stalled projects on thousands of acres of national forests, and continued threats from wildfires provide a strong basis for increased focus on how we manage forests and how we ensure we have a vibrant wood products industry providing good-paying jobs for Montanans.
f we use insect and disease attacks as indicators of genetic simplicity, and resilience to these pests as indicators of genetic robustness, we can use harvesting to assist natural selection to build a more resilient forest ecosystem with a greater ability to survive climate fluctuations and associated perturbations. This may mean changing certain silvicultural paradigms and not selecting for the fastest growing or tallest trees - but intermediate sized trees that use their energy reserves for defense and water conservation as well as growth.
When cases are litigated misusing the intention of the Equal Access to Justice Act, the losses add up - whether the agency wins, loses, or the case is settled. Collateral damage includes lost local and regional business activity, decline in community health, lost timber sale revenue, foregone and delayed work, and analytical and administrative costs the Forest Service must pay from public funds.
Litigation is not a management strategy. Without injunctive relief, there can be no certainty in our active forestry management plans and the years of hard work our collaborative's have invested in forest restoration planning will also be lost.
Costs related to the suppression of wildfires are soaring to over one billion tax dollars per year, causing a fiscal crisis in the Forest Service.