FSEEE: Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics

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Coming Soon: Ground Truth

A new feature is coming soon to the FSEEE website. In August, we’ll launch “Ground Truth,” which will offer a lively blend of original articles and commentaries about issues affecting our public lands.

Ground Truth was envisioned by Matt Rasmussen, who will serve as editor. Matt joined the FSEEE staff last month. Actually, he rejoined the staff—he worked at FSEEE in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, serving as the founding editor of Forest Magazine.

With a background in journalism, Matt will investigate issues that are too-often missed by the mainstream media.

Right now, he’s examining federal oversight of grazing on public lands in Nevada. At issue is a ruling by a federal judge that, if upheld by the court of appeals, could have widespread—and damaging—implications for lands managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Matt will travel to Nevada in a few days to get a first-hand look at current grazing issues. He’ll post updates about his trip here and on FSEEE’s Facebook page.

Ground Truth will also include shorter articles and thoughtful commentary. We want it to be your go-to source for news and information about our precious public lands!

 
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The Big Blowup


At a ceremony commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Big Blowup, a lightning-caused wildfire that burned 3 million acres in Idaho and Montana, U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick remarked that the event was “a catalyst to modern forestry, modern firefighting and recognizing that forest resources need to be managed, can be managed."

Well, yes. It’s safe to say that the Big Blowup provided the motivation for the U.S. Forest Service to go to war on wildfire. Post-burn, the agency instituted the ten o’clock rule, requiring forest managers to stamp out fires by ten in the morning or suffer the consequences. The wildly popular Smokey Bear, adopted as the official mascot in 1942, entreated the public to join him in a fire prevention campaign. And after World War II, surplus military and industrial equipment allowed the Forest Service to aim increasingly larger resources at any fire that got away.

On the anniversary of the fire, it’s appropriate to commemorate the 78 firefighters who died in the Big Blowup and to celebrate the acts of heroism that surrounded the event. (The famed Pulaski was named after one.) But “modern firefighting” has left a legacy of choked forests and disproportionately funded firefighting at the expense of other natural resources. In 2009, associate chief Hank Kashdan reported that the ten-year average cost (inflation adjusted) for wildland fire suppression was 1.5 billion, and that the Wildland Fire Management program consumed almost half of the Forest Service budget, compared to about 13 percent in 1990. Perhaps a better way to mark the occasion would be to take a new approach to wildfire and appreciate it as a natural phenomena, one that we all have to live with.

Read a Forest Magazine review of New York Times columnist Tim Egan's book about the burn.

 
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Tidwell Promotes Fuel Reduction

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell was in Reno last month talking at a conference of wildfire experts. With fire fighting now accounting for half of Forest Service spending, Chief Tidwell was talking to his most important constituents.

Tidwell's message should have been well-received by his audience. He warned of fierce fires stoked by a warming climate and fueled by overgrown forests. His solution? Spend more money on fuels reduction projects.

But is it possible to thin our way out of wildfires? Tidwell notes in the last ten years, since adoption of the National Fire Plan, the Forest Service had treated 30 million acres. At that rate, he predicted, it would take another 35 years to treat the remaining needful terrain.

In 35 years, the acres treated in 2001 would be 45 years since their last treatment, due for their next treatment.  At $1,000 per acre (which is the reported average cost of fuel treatments), the annual price tag for this perpetual gardening amounts to $3.75 billion - about 3 times the current budget for managing all national forest resources.

 

 


FSEEE Newsletter

Forest News - Spring 2014
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Andy's Blog

Commentary from FSEEE's executive director.

 

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Forest Magazine

FOREST MAGAZINE
Conserving Our National Heritage

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For readers who value our national forests for recreation, clean water, wildlife sanctuaries and spectacular wilderness.
Forest Magazine articles from FSEEE’s newsletter.
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HOW TO CONTACT US
Editor
Patricia Marshall
patricia@fseee.org
  • Publisher
Andy Stahl
andy@fseee.org

Forest Magazine
P.O. Box 11646
Eugene, OR 97440
Phone (541) 484-3170
Fax (541) 484-3004
fseee@fseee.org

THE FINE PRINT
Forest Magazine is published by Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, P.O. Box 11615, Eugene, OR 97440. The views expressed in Forest Magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect FSEEE’s position or that of the Forest Service. Copyright © 2008 Forest Service Employees For Environmental Ethics.

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