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  • #16
    Endangered Retardant?

    GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - The Bush administration decided not to
    consult with government agencies on the potential harm to
    threatened and endangered fish from fire retardant dropped on
    wildfires, despite advice to do so from the agencies, according to
    documents emerging in a lawsuit.
    The documents were released Thursday by the Forest Service
    Employees for Environmental Ethics after obtaining them from the
    government as part of their lawsuit over fire retardant use filed
    last October in U.S. District Court in Missoula, Mont.
    "The public needs to know that if the judge orders retardant
    use to be stopped, it's because the government chose to break the
    law, and it knew better," said Andy Stahl, director of the Eugene,
    Ore.-based environmental group made up of Forest Service employees.
    "We could avoid that outcome. The way to do that is for the
    government to agree it has to write an environmental impact
    statement and involve the public in deciding how we manage fire on
    public lands, something the government has never done in 100
    years."
    Fire retardant dropped from air tankers contracted by the Forest
    Service contains sodium ferrocyanide, which breaks down to form
    hydrogen cyanide, which kills fish when it is mixed with water and
    exposed to sunlight, the lawsuit contends. At least three fish
    kills from fire retardant falling in streams have been acknowledged
    by the government.
    In allowing timber interests to intervene in the lawsuit, Judge
    Donald W. Molloy wrote that if the environmental group wins its
    lawsuit, the Forest Service will have to stop using fire retardant
    until it complies with the law.
    The lawsuit claims the Forest Service has violated the National
    Environmental Policy Act by failing to go through a public review
    of the environmental effects of dropping retardant.
    It also argues the Forest Service violated the Endangered
    Species Act by failing to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
    Service and NOAA Fisheries, which have jurisdiction over threatened
    and endangered fish, on the lethal effects of fire retardant on
    bull trout and salmon.
    Spokesmen for the Forest Service and for Mark Rey, agriculture
    undersecretary for natural resources and the environment, said they
    could not comment on pending litigation.
    Stahl said a motion for discovery in the case produced hundreds
    of documents loaded onto a CD marked with the case number.
    Among them were:
    - A June 23, 2003 briefing paper prepared by Rick Sayers, the
    Fish and Wildlife branch chief for Endangered Species Act
    consultation.
    It said Fish and Wildlife and NOAA Fisheries had told the Forest
    Service that the Endangered Species Act required them to consult
    with the agencies before contracting for and using fire retardant
    on wildfires.
    It added that an environmental review of fire retardants should
    be done before buying new supplies.
    Application guidelines, which include 200-foot buffers along
    streams, are not sufficient to protect fish, and do not include
    permission to inadvertently kill threatened and endangered fish,
    the briefing paper said.
    - A June 30, 2003 memo from Tom Harbour, Forest Service deputy
    director of fire and aviation. Harbour wrote that he was told by
    Dave Tenny, deputy undersecretary of agriculture for natural
    resources, that he, Rey and an unnamed undersecretary of interior
    had met. They decided "there would NOT be formal consultation on
    retardant use." Instead, they would cooperate with Fish and
    Wildlife and NOAA Fisheries on appropriate guidelines.
    - A June 26, 2003 Forest Service and Interior Department
    briefing paper on fire and aviation management. It noted that Fish
    and Wildlife and NOAA Fisheries advised the Forest Service must
    consult with them over the use of fire retardant as called for by
    the Endangered Species Act. The agencies said they should also do
    an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy
    Act. A list of options noted that "legal vulnerability is high"
    if they decided against consultation.
    The briefing paper noted that more than 11,000 loads of fire
    retardant are dropped annually on 6,500 acres in the course of
    fighting wildfires. In the previous two years, retardant went into
    streams eight times, resulting in three fish kills.
    "The Forest Service maintains that this level of overflight,
    spills and fish kill would not jeopardize the continued existence
    of any listed species," the briefing paper said. "Additional
    guidance will not increase protection of fish where life or
    property are threatened, or reduce the risk of an accidental
    spill."

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

    Comment


    • #17
      March 7th, 2005

      SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Western lawmakers are furious over
      proposed cuts to wildland firefighting funds, including grants to
      help rural communities fight fires and prevent fuel build-up.
      There's also bipartisan sentiment to get rid of the Bush
      administration's traditional method of determining wildfire
      suppression budgets. At recent Interior Department and Forest
      Service budget hearings for 2006, senators warned that the Bush
      administration's proposed 283 (M)million dollars cuts - intended to
      shore up the nation's deficit - could end up costing taxpayers more
      in the long run.
      The federal agencies base funding requests to Congress on the
      average annual firefighting costs from the last ten years, then
      later ask lawmakers for hundreds of (M)millions of dollars worth of
      "emergency" supplemental funds if the account is drained by a
      busy fire season.
      The federal fire budget's woes stem from a difficulty in
      accurately forecasting the severity of the fire season before
      knowing how quickly mountain snowpacks will melt in spring and
      summer. In 2002 - the worst fire season in 50 years -
      three-point-six (M)million acres had burned by late July. But by
      the end of the year, seven-point-two (M)million had gone up in
      smoke, driving federal costs to one-point-six (B)billion dollars.


      (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
      Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
      Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

      *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
      On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

      Comment


      • #18
        By DON THOMPSON
        Associated Press Writer
        TAHOE CITY, Calif. (AP) - Scenic, wooded Lake Tahoe, one of
        America's natural gems, could easily go up in smoke, speakers at an
        annual lakeside summit warned Sunday.
        Much of the attention - and millions of dollars - have gone in
        recent years to protecting the high alpine lake's fabled clear blue
        waters, where visibility once penetrated to more than 100 feet and
        has recently been improving.
        But it is the forested Sierra Nevada mountains reflected in the
        lake that could destroy the basin that is home to multimillion
        dollar homes, casinos, ski resorts, lodges, restaurants and parks
        that draw thousands of tourists.
        Moreover, a fast-moving wildfire on a crowded summer weekend
        could pose deadly danger to panicked people fleeing over the Tahoe
        basin's few winding roads.
        Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, a Democrat, and John
        Ensign of Nevada, a Republican, announced Sunday that they will
        jointly push for legislation promoting a 10 year U.S. Forest
        Service program to thin crowded forests around the lake. About 80
        percent of the basin is federal land.
        "We live up here in a big tinder box. We are very lucky we
        haven't had the type of catastrophic fire that would really do
        damage to this lake," Ensign said Sunday. "We figured out we're
        going to need $200 million to restore forest health around Lake
        Tahoe."
        The legislation is designed to "cut through the red tape and
        remove hazardous fuels" that threaten the Tahoe basin, Feinstein
        said.
        Part of the money could come from the federal Healthy Forests
        Act and the Southern Nevada Public Lands Act, which included
        federal land sales around Las Vegas.
        The emphasis would be on areas within 1 1/2 miles of
        communities, though areas including watersheds and steeply sloping
        mountainsides would be included.
        Getting approval could be challenging, Feinstein acknowledged,
        noting that logging brings environmental damage. Similar efforts
        throughout the Sierra Nevada and across the nation have brought
        myriad challenges and lawsuits.
        A similar thinning plan significantly cut fire danger after a
        lengthy drought 15 years ago, said Forest Service spokesman Matt
        Mathes.
        "If you stood on the lake and looked around you, one of every
        three trees you saw was dead," Mathes said. "The folks in the
        Lake Tahoe basin got behind a very serious thinning campaign that
        was very effective."
        Trees around the lake have grown too crowded, thanks to a
        century of fire prevention efforts, making them more susceptible to
        fire and disease.
        All five California and two Nevada Tahoe-area fire protection
        districts have completed Community Wildfire Protection Plans in the
        last year, identifying 26,000 acres of federal and private land
        that is most at risk of wildfire. They are now working on a
        comprehensive fire protection plan, to be completed by next March.
        The Forest Service estimates 42,000 acres of its land need
        thinning, yet a lack of money enabled it to thin only about 15,000
        acres the last five years, Feinstein said. She and the other
        senators have several funding ideas that could be incorporated into
        their proposed legislation.
        Officials who said there needs to be a new effort on wildfire
        prevention noted that erosion after a fire would have a severe
        impact on water quality that has been a prime focus of lake
        restoration projects for years.
        "If there was a fire to happen here, it wouldn't matter how
        much we spent to keep Tahoe blue - because it wouldn't be blue,"
        said Bruce Kranz, a member of the Placer County, Calif. Board of
        Supervisors. Scientists say such a wildfire could set back lake
        restoration efforts by one hundred years.
        More than $500 million in federal, state and local government
        and private funds have been spent on over 200 environmental
        projects around the lake since 1997, with another $150 million
        pending. A 10-year, $900 million partnership created by the federal
        Lake Tahoe Restoration Act still has another five years to go,
        Feinstein noted.
        Water quality continues to be the major research activity at the
        lake, and on Saturday a dozen research institutions and management
        agencies signed onto a new Tahoe Science Consortium they said will
        improve sharing of scientific research, monitoring and computer
        modeling. That effort will provide land and lake managers and
        policy-makers with timely information to help in their decisions,
        officials said.
        The consortium's creation comes as the University of California,
        Davis, and Sierra Nevada College laid the cornerstone Saturday for
        a new $24 million Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences research
        laboratory at the college's Incline Village campus.
        The annual Tahoe events have been held since 1997, when
        President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and other state and
        federal officials convened at the lake to bring awareness to
        environmental problems that threaten it's delicate ecosystem.
        Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Minority Leader, had been
        expected at this year's meeting but is at home recovering from a
        mild stroke.

        (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
        Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
        Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

        *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
        On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

        Comment


        • #19
          Let them burn!??

          GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - A federal audit says the U.S. Forest
          Service should let more wildfires burn and demand that state and
          local governments pick up a bigger share of firefighting costs that
          regularly top $1 billion a year.
          The audit released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of
          Agriculture's inspector general said Forest Service personnel feel
          that protecting private property where cities meet forests, known
          as the wildland-urban interface, accounts for more than half of
          Forest Service firefighting costs, which have exceeded $1 billion
          in three of the past six years.
          Produced at the request of the Forest Service, the audit said
          that by picking up so much of the cost of fighting wildfires, the
          Forest Service was taking away incentives homeowners would have to
          take responsibility for protecting their homes in the woods.
          And because state and local governments control development in
          the wildland-urban interface, they should bear a greater share of
          the costs, the audit added.
          "We are pleased with the results and hope to have all the
          recommendations in place for the 2007 fire season," Forest Service
          spokeswoman Jennifer Plyler said from Washington, D.C. "It's
          something we looked at and felt we needed some outside help to
          decide how to approach it."
          Many western forests evolved with fire, but the Forest Service
          has long put out all the fires it could, despite recognizing for
          many years that this led to an unnatural buildup of fuels that has
          increased the size and severity of wildfires.
          The audit said current Forest Service policy calls for giving
          equal consideration to putting out fires and letting them burn to
          reduce buildups of brush and small trees, but outside pressure and
          a lack of trained personnel make it difficult to choose to let
          fires burn. It noted that only 2 percent of wildfires from 1998
          through 2005 were allowed to burn for ecological benefit.
          The audit urged the Forest Service to train more personnel to
          assess and monitor wildfires for the practice known as wildland
          fire use, and hold wildfire incident commanders and line officers
          accountable for controlling costs.
          The Forest Service should also ask Congress to decide who has
          primary responsibility for protecting homes in the woods, and if
          that turns out to be the states, renegotiate its firefighting
          agreements with them.
          Bill Lafferty, fire program manager for the Oregon Department of
          Forestry, noted in an email that one reason the Forest Service was
          created in 1910 was to fight wildfires that were destroying whole
          towns.
          Mike Carrier, natural resources adviser to Gov. Ted Kulongoski,
          objected to the idea of states paying a greater share when they
          already spend millions on protecting private property from
          wildfire. He said Oregon has been a leader in helping communities
          reduce local wildfire danger, and that the underlying problem
          remains the huge buildup of forest fuels.
          Andy Stahl of the Forest Service Employees for Environmental
          Ethics agreed that more wildfires should be allowed to burn, but
          disagreed that protecting homes was driving up costs.
          "Ninety percent of the homes lost to wildland fire are located
          in one tiny part of the country, Southern California," said Stahl.
          "So home loss is simply not a particularly significant issue where
          we fight most wildfires. To Southern California's credit, they are
          doing a lot, certainly more than anywhere else, to make their
          communities fire resistant."
          The Wilderness Society has been urging the Forest Service for
          years to let more fires burn and supports many of the
          recommendations, but how much they can reduce firefighting costs is
          anybody's guess, said wildfire policy analyst Jaelith Hall-Rivera.
          "Apparently the main reason the Forest Service has not been
          doing this is it feels the states object to it - concerns about
          fires escaping and smoke," she said. "You have to have a balance
          of what is ecologically appropriate with what will help you reduce
          suppression costs.
          "Unfortunately the moniker 'Let It Burn' has caught on, but
          that's not what wildland fire use is," she said. "It's a very
          highly managed process, with teams of people on the ground."
          This year, 357 fires have been allowed to burn under supervision
          across 164,775 acres, amounting to 1.7 percent of the 9.5 million
          acres that burned on federal, state and private lands across the
          country, according to the National Fire Information Center Web
          site.
          Forest Service figures show 819 residences, 60 commercial
          buildings and 1,265 outbuildings and other structures burned this
          year around the nation.
          The California Department of Forestry reports that 102
          structures burned in areas under its jurisdiction last year, 1,016
          in 2004, and 5,394 in 2003.
          ---
          On the Net:
          Inspector General's report:
          http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/08601-44-SF.pdf
          Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
          Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

          *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
          On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

          Comment

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