Forest Plan Update – What’s at Stake Part I – Fire

To all advocates of sound forest management:

In the next three Forest Plan updates we will be discussing the forest plan proposals being advocated by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sierra Club in their Conservation Alternative 6. These proposals relate to fire management, recreation / mountain biking and roads. This week we discuss the fire management aspects of their proposals.

In late July we will compile all the information you will need to comment on the Forest Plans by email or by the web. Please take advantage when we provide these comments to do your part to protect your access and insure sound management of your forests.

There are many details I will be discussing, but remember, the devil is always in the details.

In this update:

1. Fire Management – The Sierra Club’s and Center for Biological Diversity’s Fire Management/Suppression Proposals in Alternative 6

2. Forest plan meetings for the Los Padres National Forest (Monday, May 17th to Monday May 24th)

3. Meeting instructions and protocols for sound management advocates

1. FIRE MANAGEMENT:

Although Alternative 2 for the Cleveland National Forest and Alternative 4 for the Angeles, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests are the preferred alternative plans, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Sierra Club supporters have been attending the current forest plan meetings pushing for the adoption of Alternative 6.

The Forest Service’s reasoned decision not to adopt the extreme proposals being advocated by Alternative 6 has put the CBD and the Sierra Club into a panic. They have resorted to criticize this decision with slogans and a religious like fever.

At the Forest Plan meeting held in San Juan Capistrano on May 15th it was interesting to see the Sierra Club representatives passing out stickers to attendees stating “Protect and Restore our Forests!” and asking their supporters and other participants to not endorse alternatives 2 and 4 (drafts chosen by the Forest Service), but to instead advocate the adoption of Alternative 6.

The Sierra Club did not reveal the ramifications of that support, but instead relied on the religious like faith of their supporters and the simple call to Jihad expressed on that sticker to “Protect and Restore our Forests!”

Many I spoke to at the meeting who, on the advice of the Sierra Club, were supporting alternative 6 – had not even read what it was proposing – including a Sierra Club leader. Like lemmings they support something based on on faith and a misplaced trust in the CBD and the Sierra Club.

You can view the CBD’s and the Sierra Clubs Conservation Alternative 6 on our web site at:

http://www.warriorssociety.org/ConservationAlternative2002.pdf

This Jihad to “Protect and Restore our Forests!” has far reaching consequences. The Sierra Club made no effort to educate these people on the details behind the chant “Protect and Restore our Forests!” and what it would bring to bear on our fire fighters and Rural/Foothill residents and the very forests they claim to protect. Since 2000 we have lost 19 million acres of habitat to devastating fires – and many species, human lives and homes as well.

“Reason obeys itself, and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”
– Thomas Paine

We will not treat you with disrespect like the Sierra Club and CBD, nor rely on a Jihad or Crusade like “faith” and slogans to advocate our position – but instead reveal the details so you can make up your own mind. Unlike the CBD and the Sierra Club – we trust you to use reason to decide.

There is a need to conserve and manage our public lands but a more balanced approach, which does not see man as evil, must be implemented. I fear the environmental movement has changed from one that loves nature, to fanatical faith that hates mankind. I feel we must love both nature and mankind.

Conservation Alternative #6 would place restrictions on fire agencies in fighting fires and subject them (or governments) to possible lawsuits by environmental groups for not protecting TES (threatened and endangered
species) and violating the ESA (Endangered Species Act) requirements (page
23):

“Fire planners and fire bosses are responsible for knowing locations and the types of TES species, habitats, the requirements of the ESA, and the penalties associated with violating the ESA, and relate necessary restrictions and strategies to ground personnel.”

“The Forest Service shall minimize backfiring as a fire suppression tool in TES species habitats if negative impacts will result.”

“Suppression activities such as retardant drops, bulldozed firelines, extensive backfires resulting in large burnouts, and extensive foam application shall be avoided to the maximum extent practicable. Firelines created by mechanical equipment shall be constructed outside riparian areas, sensitive soils, unstable or steep slopes upslope of ecologically sensitive areas, and other sensitive locations.”

“The Forest Service shall prohibit the use of fire retardant and Class A foam (NOI-125). Fire retardants poison the soil and water and do little to slow the spread of a fire, especially under severe weather conditions.” (Page 25)

At the Forest Plan meeting held in San Juan Capistrano I asked the Cleveland National Forest Biologist about this claim. She stated that amphibians (frogs and toads), are sensitive to these chemicals (the fertilizers to assist new growth) and can be killed by high concentrations. The effects are not long-term, but can kill off the remaining endangered species in the area. But also stated that the effect of devastating fires and the resulting erosion can also have the same effect on watersheds, as news stories have recently reported.

The Forest Service Fire Agency spokesperson at the same meeting stated that it is primarily in riparian habitats where this is a concern and efforts are always made to avoid using them in close proximity. But dropping retardant under demanding and dangerous conditions is not an exact science – and combined with an aging fleet of air tankers – deadly.

He shared the concerns I have expressed and stated that’s why the fire suppression and management proposals in Alternative 6 were not considered. He stated the road management proposals advocating road removal were also not supported due to the effect it would have on fire management. The impact of their road management proposals on recreational access would be severe – as I will explain in my alert next week.

When I mentioned the paragraph in Alternative 6 regarding banning fire retardants to a representative of the Orange County Fire Authority, he stated fire retardants do not stop fires, but slow down fires and give them time to either form a defensive position or allow the evacuation of trapped fire fighters. He requested I provide a copy of Alternative 6 so he could review the proposals.

One fire fighter told me that fire retardants (they call it pink elephant snot) were used in the recent fires in Corona and were dropped directly on them. As I previously mentioned, he stated fire retardants contain fertilizers to help reseed areas after the fire.

Much of the land in the Cleveland National Forest, and much of the area in the other National Forests, is designated as roadless, including the forest surrounding the canyon and foothill communities, and is characterized by steep slopes and sensitive soils with many of the canyons being riparian habitats.

“The Forest Service shall ensure that fire suppression activities minimize ecological harm and are generally discouraged in inappropriate areas, including wilderness, roadless areas, old-growth and riparian habitats, steep slopes, sensitive soils, and habitat for TES.” (page 25)

This requirement discourages fire suppression anywhere near the canyon communities, which as I mentioned, are surrounded by roadless areas with steep slopes, sensitive soils, habitat for TES and are located in riparian habitats.

A canyon resident emailed me to say it suggests that communities such as ours should not even exist. He went on to say there are numerous conflicting statements, such as existing roads should be minimized or obliterated, and yet prescribed burns should only be conducted using existing roads. No new roads shall be built to conduct undergrowth fuel reduction or prescribed burns (“no new road construction or reconstruction”) and yet somehow these very programs of manual fuel reduction and prescribed burns are to be increased in number.

He stated that apparently firefighters will need to be trained biologists to decide whether “negative impacts would result” from their activities before they suppress fires. Now that’s what I call tying the hands of the USFS and other firefighters. How many deaths of fire suppression personnel and property owners will result from the implementation of these onerous restrictions? And how many additional homes/communities will burn if this alternative is chosen?

It is important that you alert your local fire marshal, fire agency union representatives and friends with homes adjacent to or in proximity to the national forests and ask them to attend a meeting and review and comment on the fire management proposals being advocated in Conservation Alternative 6 and in Alternative 2 (for the Cleveland) and 4 (for the Angeles, San Bernardino and Los Padres National Forests).

Firefighter’s lives and the lives and property of rural and foothill residents are being put at risk by the proposals in Conservation Alternative 6. It’s not just their lives and property at risk but their health as well (from the smoke and ash). They should have a say in whether they will risk their lives, health and property to further the radical agenda of the CBD, the Sierra Club and their allies in the environmental movement that place animal lives above human lives. Can we look forward to another 19 million acres of forest being burned?

Why has the Sierra Club made no effort at the Forest Plan meetings to explain the details of Alternative 6?

Why have they not encouraged their supporters to ask Forest Service representatives at these Forest Plan meetings why this alternative was not considered? They should be asking the same questions I have been asking.

As I said; the devil is always in the details…

How can you sum up the fire suppression proposals of Conservation Alternative 6 being advocated by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sierra Club?

The long version is:

“Protect and Restore our Forests!” means we must not permit any fire suppression/management or fighting methods that will affect endangered species. It is much better that they and their habitat be destroyed by fire (and the rural and foothill communities also), with the resulting erosion caused by loss of ground cover when winter rains return, than to have any evidence that man has touched this “holy” ground. It is Jihad – a Crusade.

The short version is:

“Protect and Restore our Forests!” means Burn baby, burn.

2. FOREST PLAN MEETINGS FOR THE LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST (MONDAY MAY 17TH TO MONDAY MAY 24TH)

LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST

May 17 (Monday)
Salinas Community Center
Santa Lucia Room
940 N. Main Street, Salinas, CA
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

May 18 (Tuesday)
Big Sur Lodge Conference Room
Highway 1, Big Sur, CA
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

May 19 (Wednesday)
South County Regional Center
800 West Branch Street,
Arroyo Grande, CA
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

May 20 (Thursday)
Goleta School District
Admin. Center Chamber Room
401 North Fairview Ave., Goleta, CA
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

May 24 (Monday)
Frazier Park Community Hall
300 Park Drive, Frazier Park, CA
6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

3. MEETING INSTRUCTIONS AND PROTOCOLS FOR SOUND MANAGEMENT ADVOCATES

The following information is needed:

We need to know what trails are contained within the specially designated areas: Wilderness, Wild and Scenic Rivers, Natural Research Areas and Special Interest Areas.

Questions to ask related to these areas:

1. How could the Preferred (or other) Alternative management affect trail xyz in the future?

2. What is the real “need” for a particular direction or designation?

3. Are the proposed wilderness areas, or areas with the Primitive ROS (Recreation Opportunity Spectrum) designation at high risk for fire, which could affect local communities, and what strategies are being implemented to address fire suppression and management of these areas? Alert your local fire marshal and Fire agency union representatives and ask them to review and comment on the fire management proposals being advocated in Conservation Alternative 6, which is advocated by the Center for Biodiversity and the Sierra Club (copies can obtained from the Warrior’s Society) and in Alternative 2 (for the Cleveland) and 4 (for the Angeles, San Bernardino and Los Padres National Forests). Also ask what threats are being posed to these areas that they warrant wilderness protection? Are the threats real or overblown, etc.

These questions will help guide what information needs to be collected for DEIS Draft Plan comments, and future actions (appeal) if needed, to show a particular direction or designation is simply not needed.

Remember when evaluating these areas:

Your feedback will be most helpful if you:

* are as specific as possible with your comments

* describe the location(s) where your comment applies; note the National Forest, Planning Place(s), or name of proposed wilderness area, Wild and Scenic River, Natural Resource Area, Special Interest Area you are commenting on) and provide pictures if possible.

* indicate where clarification is needed on what trails will be affected

* suggest alternative management approaches or solutions to the specific problem(s) that warrant specific designations.

What ever information you can provide would be most helpful, so don’t feel overwhelmed. We are going to compile all the information received after the meetings are over and formulate our appeal. Your help will be a big part of influencing these plans.

PROPOSED DRESS AND BEHAVIOR CODE FOR FOREST PLAN OPEN HOUSES

1. THE TASK: inform our motorized, equestrian and mountain bike recreation representatives (whom are planning on) attending the Forest Plan Open Houses to wear “business casual” attire, preferably kaki, and or, green unmarked garments.

2. DEFINITION: These are public business meetings, not club social events. Hence the concern and suggestion is, “Please, resist the temptation to wear your favorite ‘motorized, equestrian or mountain bike recreation interest’ apparel.”

3. RESULT: Adhering to this simple “plan of action” will help minimize the initial “stereotyping” from opposing non-recreational representatives. This will enhance our effectiveness in discussing opposing opinions and give us the freedom to roam the room with less likely-hood of confrontation.

4. PROPOSED GUIDELINES:

DO’S: DON’TS:
FS appreciation pins Club, org., assoc., or council, attire.
Smokey Bear nick-knacks
Green hued shirts or polo’s
Conservative shorts, slacks or denim.
Conservation sponsored clean-up T’s,

PROPOSED CONDUCT CODE FOR RECREATION ATTENDEE’S

1. Don’t argue! Remain calm. On either end of the spectrum we will encounter folks that can be quite vocal and militant.

2. Assign a knowledgeable group representative for each meeting, to address your initial questions and concerns and plan for action. If you have no knowledge of the Forest Plan Alternatives don’t get caught airing your lack of understanding outside the privacy of your group.

3. Identify those in your group that have experience speaking at public meetings and ask them to act as your liaison and address those in attendance. They must also try to neutralize the emotions of those fed up with the religious fanaticism of the environmental movement. Ask these individuals to share their prime concerns within the control of your group. Use a “reflective listening” technique such as, “So, what you are saying is, you are adamant about this boundary being here, as opposed to there?” Or, escort that person to a FS person you trust, to privately address their fear.

Please follow these instructions so you can be an effective representative of the recreation community.

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