Archive for the ‘US Forest service’ Category

Just One More Reason The Lorax Was Right

Between a healthy logging industry and the rise of extremely unhealthy tree-killing insects, it can be hard out there for an American tree. We know generally as a society that we have to keep around at least some of those majestic pillars because, you know, we need to breathe, but it often seems that we as American entrepreneurs don’t always have their best interests at heart.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, however, has just published a study that may convince some dendrophobes to reconsider their position: according to U.S. Forest Service researcher Geoffrey Donovan, fewer trees has a direct correlation (meaning non-oxygen related) with more human death.

The research time investigated 1,296 counties where a particularly nasty tree-killing beetle called the ash borer have been found. Comparing data from 1990 (before the ash borer invasion) to 2007, its clear than a higher number of tree fatalities leads to “cardiovacular and lower respiratory-tract illness” in humans, citing 6,113 deaths in those 27 years related to the latter illness and 15,080 related to the former.

The direct correlation here is difficult to parse, but the data is clear, and speaks loudly (if also in cliches): Save our trees!

Donovan did an hour long interview with PBS News Hour on the issue if you’d like to find out more.

Photo by Nickpdx. Some rights reserved.

Photo by Nickpdx. Some rights reserved.

 

USFS Fights Fire with Fire

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some rights reserved.

Forest fires are often natural, and small fires can benefit forest ecosystems by burning off dead timber. Since 1995, U.S. agencies have allowed wildfires to burn freely within the boundaries of wilderness areas, where most fires stay. Those fires that do escape wilderness areas often do not threaten many structures, so they are inexpensive to manage. Fire suppression – the policy from the early 20th century until experiments re-introducing fire began in the 1970s – makes management more costly because forests grow over the patchwork of burnt-out areas that check the spread of wildfires.

So why did the U.S. Forest Service decide to reverse its policy and attack every fire regardless of size? Two changes – one environmental and another political – contributed to forestry chief James Hubbard’s decision. First, the Forest Service’s firefighting budget, at $948 million, is $500 million less than it was last year, when it overspent by $114 million. Second, the hot, dry conditions that have prevailed recently are likely to continue, leaving more and more forest susceptible to fires. So the Forest Service is worried that if a small and normally harmless fire burns out of control, fighting it will blow the agency’s whole budget.

Hubbard told OnEarth, whose article can be found here, that financial pressure is the main rationale for the change. Fires are more common than they were in the past, and cost more to suppress, which Hubbard attributes to climate change and unchecked sprawl driven by population growth. From 2002-2011, fires burned almost double the annual acreage than the previous decade.

The OnEarth article expresses skepticism on even the short-term prospects of the policy change on saving the budget. Even Hubbard agrees that allowing wildfire in wilderness makes long-term financial sense. But Niel Lawrence of the Natural Resources Defense Council has another theory: fire suppression today guarantees more fire in the future, and when images of brave firefighters and slurry bombers protecting homes and forests headline cable news, Congress will open its purse for the Forest Service. Whether it is a political story or an ecological story, or both, wildfires are poised to remain in the headlines in the near future.

Last Week In Environmental Impact Statements: Fluorine Extraction, Jackson

Photo by lordsutch. Some rights reserved.

While Federal agencies are required to prepare Environmental Impact Statements in accordance with 40 CFR Part 1502, and to file the EISs with the EPA as specified in 40 CFR 1506.9, the EPA doesn’t yet provide a central repository for filing and viewing EISs electronically. Instead, each week they prepare a digest of the preceding week’s filed EISs, which is published every Friday in the Federal Register under the title, “Notice of Availability” (NOA).

We’ve done the dirty work for you. Below, we’ve located and linked to the EISs referenced in last week’s NOA. Please note that some of these documents can be very large, and may take a while to load.

You can read any available EPA comments on these EISs here.

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EIS No. 20120000, Draft EIS, USFS, OR, Jackson Vegetation Management Project, Implementation, Pauline Ranger District, Ochoco National Forest, Crook County, OR, Comment Period Ends: 02/27/2012, Contact: Jeff Marszal (541) 416–6500.

EIS No. 20120001, Draft EIS (Vol. 1, Vol. 2), NRC, NM, Fluorine Extraction Process and Depleted Uranium Deconversion Plant, License Application to Construct, Operate, and Decommission Phase 1, Lea County, NM, Comment Period Ends: 02/27/2012, Contact: Asimios Malliakos (301) 415–6458.

EIS No. 20120002, Draft EIS, USFS, NM, Taos Ski Valley 2010 Master Development Plan, Phase 1 Project, Implementation, Carson National Forest, Taos County, NM, Comment Period Ends: 02/27/2012, Contact: Audrey Nes Kuykendall (575) 758–6212.

EIS No. 20120003, Final EIS, NPS, DC, White-Tailed Deer Management Plan, To Develop a White-Trailed Deer Management That Supports Long-Term Protection, Preservation and Restoration of Native Vegetation and Other Natural and Cultural Resources in Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, Review Period Ends: 02/13/2012, Contact: Tara Morrison (202) 895–6000.

 

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20110386, Draft Supplement (halfway down in the Analysis section), USFS, ID, Upper Lochsa Land Exchange Project, Updated Information on New Alternative F, Proposes to Exchange National Forest System Land for approximately 39,371 Acres of Western Pacific Timber Land, Federal Land Exchange, Clearwater, Nez Perce and Idaho Panhandle National Forests, Clearwater, Latah, Idaho, Benewah, Kootenai, and Bonner Counties, ID, Comment Period Ends: 02/15/2012, Contact: Teresa Trulock (208) 935–4256. Revision to FR Notice Published 11/18/2011: Comment Period Extended from 01/17/2012 to 02/15/2012

EIS No. 20110394, Draft EIS, NPS, 00, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, Proposal Susquehanna to Roseland 500kV Transmission Line Right-of-Way and Special-Use-Permit, NJ and PA, Comment Period Ends: 01/31/2012, Contact: Morgan Elmer (303) 969–2317 Revision to FR Notice Published 11/25/2011: Extending Comment Period from 01/23/12 to 01/31/2012.

EIS No. 20110429, Draft EIS, FTA, NJ, Northern Branch Corridor Project, Restoration of Passenger Rail Service in Northeastern Hudson and Southern Bergen Counties, NJ, Comment Period Ends: 02/21/2012, Contact: Anthony Lee (212) 668–2170 Revision to FR Notice Published 12/23/2011: Extending Comment Period from 02/06/2012 to 2/21/2012.

EIS No. 20110440, Revised Draft EIS, USFS, ID, Idaho Panhandle National Forests, Land Management Plan, Revises the 1987 Forest Plan, Implementation, Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Benewah, and Shoshone Counties, ID and Pend Oreille County, WA, Comment Period Ends: 04/04/2012, Contact: Mary Farnsworth (208) 765–7223 Revision to FR Notice Published 01/06/2012. Extending Comment Period from 02/21/2012 to 04/04/2012

EIS No. 20110441, Revised Draft EIS, USFS, MT, Kootenai National Forest Land Management Plan, Revises the 1987 Forest Plan, Implementation, Lincoln, Sanders, Flathead Counties, MT and Bonner and Boundary Counties, ID, Comment Period Ends: 04/04/2012, Contact: Paul Bradford (406) 293–6211 Revision to FR Notice Published 01/06/2012: Extending Comment Period from 02/21/2012 to 04/04/2012.

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