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U.S.A. Privatizes National Forests

By RYAN ABBOTT | Courthouse News Service | September 14, 2012

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Forest Service lets private companies charge people for using undeveloped public lands, in violation of federal law, an Oregon nonprofit claims in Federal Court.

Lead plaintiff BARK clams the Forest Service’s grants to concessionaires violates the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. BARK has 7,000 members, many of them who live near the Mt. Hood National Forest.

“Bark has been extensively involved in the administrative process concerning the challenged decision on the Mt. Hood National Forest covering the transfer of 28 sites (including the Big Eddy day use site and Bagby Hot Springs) to private management, and uses these areas on a regular basis,” the complaint states. “Barks’ members have been adversely affected by either having to pay new fees at these areas, or by being dissuaded from using them due to the new fees.”

Five citizens from Arizona and Colorado joined as plaintiffs, objecting to Uncle Sam’s handing out special permits that allow private companies to charge fees for the use of such land.

Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA), the federal government is authorized to collect fees at a limited number of recreational sites, so long as the sites have facilities that justify a fee.

The government may charge fees for public lands containing national conservation areas, national volcanic monuments or a visitor center, the complaint states. It also may charge fees if it has substantially invested in the land in the form of parking facilities, restrooms and trash receptacles.

But BARK says the government may not charge for recreational use of undeveloped land. That includes parking, picnicking, boating, horseback riding, using scenic overlooks and driving or walking through undeveloped, undesignated public land.

“The Forest Service issues special use permits to concessionaires that allow them to charge visitors to Forest Service areas managed by the companies even when visitors do not use any facilities or services of the area, but simply wish to enter Forest Service lands to engage in undeveloped recreation,” the complaint states.

BARK claims that private companies charge an $8 parking fee at Rose Canyon Lake in the Coronado National Forest in Arizona, and walk-ups must pay $1 apiece if they park at within 3 miles, regardless of whether they use any facilities or services.

BARK claims that in Oregon, the Forest Service granted a special-use permit to a private company to charge for use of the Mount Hood National Forest, “including the ‘Big Eddy’ day-use area, where visitors have traditionally parked to swim in the Clackamas River free of charge.”

And, “Under the new special use permit, the concessionaire now charges $5 per person to soak in Bagby Hot Springs, regardless of how they arrive.”
BARK says the Forest Service issued the special use permits without public notice or allowing for comment.

It wants the fees enjoined at Rose Canyon Lake, Second Crossing, Rampart Reservoir, Walton Lake and Big Eddy as violations under the REA.

It also wants the court to declare that imposing new fees for recreation areas through special permits handed out without public notice violates the Administrative Procedures Act.

And it wants all of the special-use permits that allow private companies to charge such fees to be set aside, and the Forest Service ordered to pay back the money it illegally collected.

BARK is represented by Matt Kenna, with Public Interest Environmental Law, of Durango, Colo.  

September 16, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics | , , , , , , | Comments Off on U.S.A. Privatizes National Forests

Carbonphobia, the real environmental threat

Written by Atheo – Aletho News – December 19, 2009
(photo credit – Bloomberg)

The proposed construction of a new generation of nuclear plants is just one aspect of the environmental threat posed by cap and trade or carbon taxes. This report addresses yet another threat, biomass energy generation. Wood chips and wood pellets are exempt from European Union permit rules for carbon emissions, ostensibly because the chipped trees recently absorbed carbon from the atmosphere. The fact that the trees would have sequestered the carbon for centuries if left as living natural habitat and soil regenerative decomposing matter is conveniently overlooked.

Energy legislation in the U.S. has yet to be passed, but current bills similarly promote the wholesale clearing of forests for combustion. Bloomberg describes it as energy sprawl:

More forests, deserts and grasslands in the U.S. will be used to produce energy under a proposal to cap greenhouse gases, an unintended consequence of efforts to fight global warming, according to a Nature Conservancy report.

A bill that boosts energy from wind turbines and biofuels will increase the amount of land needed for energy development as much as 48 percent, or almost 100,000 square kilometers (38,600 square miles) during the next 20 years, said Robert McDonald, a scientist with the Arlington, Virginia-based Nature Conservancy environmental group.

America’s publicly owned national forests will be made available for this new private industry if Obama appointee Tom Tidwell, Director of the U.S. Forest Service, gets his way. Biomass electric power generating plants can consume as much as one semi-trailer truck load of chipped forest every ten minutes. While harvesters may be required to re-plant the stripped landscapes they leave behind, it should be remembered that mono-crop plantation forests are not ecosystems and also that massive quantities of herbicides are needed to prevent weeds from overtaking the seedlings.

The health of surrounding communities is put in jeopardy as well. In a position paper called Biomass Position Statement, the American Lung Association of New England outlines the concerns: “Biomass emissions contain fine particulate matter, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. Like cigarettes, biomass emissions also contain chemicals that are known or suspected to be carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxin.”

Extraordinary conjecture is utilized to rationalize the removal of our forests:

“… many of our Western forests are at risk of turning from a carbon sink to a carbon source,” Tom Tidwell, the head of the Forest Service, told a Senate subcommittee on Nov. 18 in a hearing on forest management and climate change.

“Projections indicate that while these forests continue to sequester more carbon in the short-term, in 30 to 50 years, disturbances such as fire and insects and disease could dramatically change the role of forests, thereby emitting more carbon than currently sequestering.”

So on the one hand, the scientific community considers forests to be carbon sinks, and, when convenient, forests are presented as a  carbon threat by government officials.

Professors at Oregon State University are unconvinced, and suggest that clearing forests for biofuel could potentially release more carbon through transport and processing than if the material simply burned in the woods.

Portland’s Oregonian presents further ‘carbon sequestration’ rationalizations for logging our forests:

Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, said to maximize carbon capture, forests should be logged and turned into lumber, which would store the carbon in the form of two-by-fours and other long-lived wood products.

The Wyoming senator’s view is supported by analysis done by Elaine Oneil at the University of Washington’s forestry school.

Oneil said more carbon is released into the atmosphere by producing wood alternatives like concrete and steel, outweighing the carbon benefit of leaving forests standing. “The best thing to do, in terms of a carbon benefit, is to manage these forests on fairly rapid rotations,” Oneil said of Oregon’s wet, west-side forests… cut more often and plant fast-growing young forests.

All of this was anticipated by Jeffrey St. Clair last summer upon Tidwell’s appointment by President Obama. As Regional Forester for the Northern Rockies Tidwell had a 32 year track record as a “facilitator of forest destruction“. In the excerpt below St. Clair describes Tidwell’s priorities:

During his tenure in Montana, Tidwell specialized in the art of coercive collaboration, a social manipulation technique that involves getting environmental groups to endorse destructive projects they would normally litigate to stop. Yet, when copiously lubricated with the magic words “collaboration” or “climate change” most environmentalists can be enticed to swallow even the most ghastly of clearcuts in the most ecologically sensitive sites, such as the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana to the fast-dwindling ponderosa pine forests of Oregon’s Blue Mountains.

One of Tidwell’s highest priorities will, it seems, be to turn the national forests into industrial biomass farms, all in the name of green energy. Under this destructive scheme, forests, young and old alike, will be clearcut, not for lumber, but as fuel to be burned in biomass power generators. Already officials in the big timber states of Oregon and Washington are crowing that they will soon be able to become the “Saudi Arabia” of biomass production. Did they run this past Smokey the Bear?

Of course, Smokey, that global icon of wildfire suppression, and Tidwell will, no doubt, find common ground on another ecologically dubious project: thinning and post-fire salvage logging. We’ve reached the point where old-fashioned timber sales are a thing of the past. Now every logging operation will an ecological justification — specious though they all certainly turn out to be.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, one of the few green outfits to consistently stand up against Democratic Party-sponsored depredations on the environment, sued Tidwell at least 20 times during his time as regional forester in Missoula. There’s no record of Tidwell being sued even once by Boise-Cascade, Plum Creek Timber or the Noranda Gold Mining Company.

Yet by and large, the mainstream environmental movement has muzzled itself while the Obama administration stocks the Interior Department with corporate lawyers, extraction-minded bureaucrats and Clinton-era retreads.

Update – Copenhagen framework:

Corporate lobbyists can pressure or bribe governments to rig the system in their favour

Johann Hari – The Independent – December 11, 2009

The first week of this summit is being dominated by the representatives of the rich countries trying to lace the deal with Enron-style accounting tricks that will give the impression of cuts, without the reality. It’s essential to understand these shenanigans this week, so we can understand the reality of the deal that will be announced with great razzmatazz next week …

A study by Stanford University found that most of the projects that are being funded as “cuts” either don’t exist, don’t work, or would have happened anyway. Yet this isn’t a small side-dish to the deal: it’s the main course …

Canadian, Swedish and Finnish logging companies have successfully pressured their governments into inserting an absurd clause into the rules. The new rules say you can, in the name of “sustainable forest management”, cut down almost all the trees – without losing credits. It’s Kafkaesque: a felled forest doesn’t increase your official emissions… even though it increases your actual emissions.

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Also by Atheo:

January 9, 2012

Three Mile Island, Global Warming and the CIA

November 13, 2011

US forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria

September 19, 2011

Bush regime retread, Philip Zelikow, appointed to Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board

March 8, 2011

Investment bankers salivate over North Africa

January 2, 2011

Top Israel Lobby Senator Proposes Permanent US Air Bases For Afghanistan

October 10, 2010

A huge setback for, if not the end of, the American nuclear renaissance

July 5, 2010

Progressive ‘Green’ Counterinsurgency

February 25, 2010

Look out for the nuclear bomb coming with your electric bill

February 7, 2010

The saturated fat scam: What’s the real story?

January 5, 2010 – Updated February 16, 2010:

Biodiesel flickers out leaving investors burned

December 26, 2009

Mining the soil: Biomass, the unsustainable energy source

December 4, 2009

There’s more to climate fraud than just tax hikes

May 9, 2009

Obama, Starving Africans and the Israel Lobby

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Author: Atheo, Deception, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , , | 10 Comments