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Weekly Forest News Digest from Greg Giusti

Here is a weekly digest of on-line news pertinent to forestry in California provided by University of California Cooperative Extension Natural Resources Advisor Greg Giusti (gagiusti@ucdavis.edu):

The Life and Times of Judi Bari, By Bob Doran, North Coast Journal, March 8, 2012,  

(MARCH 8, 2012)  As the film opens, the camera pans through a bucolic redwood forest, tilting up into the branches. Bird sounds and new age music on the soundtrack are interrupted by a Bay Area TV news report announcing, “A car bomb explosion sends two members of the activist group Earth First! to the hospital. And the question tonight is, will the injured environmentalists face criminal charges?” The answer comes quickly in another news flash, an “unconfirmed report” saying, “Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney will be charged with possession and transportation of explosives.”......

Forest Products Industry Workers Applaud Senator Hatfield for Protecting Rural Jobs & Renewable Energy, Sacramento Bee,  MAR. 08, 2012  

OLYMPIA, Wash., March 8, 2012 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Gregoire signed SB 5575, sponsored by Senator Hatfield, which helps preserve the good wage-paying jobs offered by the forest products industry.  Organic by-products of the pulping process now qualify as renewable energy.  In addition, the legislation changes the law to provide adequate recognition for biomass energy facilities as renewable, regardless of the date they were first constructed. This puts common sense back into the system by allowing facilities that can produce renewable energy and organic material to count......

Fire fee endangers California's fire-protection system, Commentary By James E. Little, Ag Alert, March 7, 2012 

At the end of the 2011 budget session, the California Legislature adopted legislation which, among other items, directed the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to adopt emergency regulations implementing a Fire Prevention Fee on structures within State Responsibility Areas. This bill was adopted in the final days of the budget session, without benefit of legislative hearings or public comment......

Free the American West, Get the federal government off public lands that are of no national importance. By Robert H. Nelson, Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, March 07, 2012|

Like much else in government, U.S. public land policy is a vestige of the past, established in 1910 when America's population was just 92.2 million and a Western state such as Nevada had only 81,000 residents. Today our needs are much different and much greater. The United States can no longer afford to keep tens of millions of acres of "public" land locked up and out of service. Some of these lands have great commercial value; others are environmental treasures. We need policies capable of distinguishing between the two.....

Environmental group targets SPI logging plans, By Amy Gittelsohn, The Trinity Journal | Posted: March 7, 2012  

An environmental organization has delivered a "notice of intent to sue" letter to Sierra Pacific Industries if the company continues with a list of timber harvest plans sited primarily in Trinity County. The Humboldt-based Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) says the plans will harm northern spotted owls which are listed as threatened, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The 24 timber harvest plans named by EPIC cover 5,594 acres, mostly in the area east of Trinity Lake. It also names plans in Humboldt, Shasta and Lassen counties......

  "There are opportunities to do some selection within that area," Orahoske said, "but what Sierra Pacific is doing is clear cutting within a half mile. That's very damaging."

Dry winter threatens to increase fire danger, PETER JENSEN, Napa Valley Register |  March 6, 2012 

Last month’s 200-acre blaze in Soda Canyon was a rarity — and possible record — for Napa County, but wildfire forecasters differ in predicting what that may mean for wildfires this year. CalFire said the blaze, which started Feb. 23 and burned for three days, was the largest in the state thus far this year. The agency also said it’s had reports of more fires this year burning a greater number of acres, compared to the same time last year......

Aerial firefighting fleet insufficient, chief says, BY BEN GOAD WASHINGTON BUREAU Press Enterprise, 06 March 2012 

WASHINGTON — With another potentially devastating wildfire season on the horizon, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell told Congress on Tuesday that his agency’s diminished and aging fleet of firefighting air tankers is insufficient to combat the nation’s increasingly severe blazes. Air tankers are a central component of the Forest Service’s firefighting operations, particularly in Inland Southern California, where communities like Lake Arrowhead, Idyllwild and Big Bear are surrounded by rugged terrain and are accessible by only a few roads. But the number of air tankers at the agency’s disposal has fallen from 43 to11 in the last 12 years as airworthiness issues grounded many of the decades-old aircraft......

LEED's Artificial Barriers Continue to Fail Responsible Forestry, Sacramento Bee, MAR. 06, 2012 

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2012 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) continues to put up artificial barriers in its latest draft of its LEED rating tool, shutting out 75 percent of North America's certified forests from the LEED credits that deal with "responsible extraction of raw materials." The third draft of LEED 2012, released on March 1, includes credits for certified wood that is "FSC or better." "This new language raises more issues than it resolves: Who will decide what is 'better than FSC' and on what basis?" said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Inc. (SFI®). "SFI clearly has requirements that are not matched by FSC varying standards around the world.  This fact continues to go unrecognized by the USGBC, despite the fact that governors, congressmen, and 6,000 individuals have urged the USGBC not to turn its back on North American forests and recognize all forest certification standards.".....

Richardson Grove tree measurements go smoothly, no protesters on site, Donna Tam, Eureka Times-Standard, The Willits News, 03/06/2012 

After about two hours of tree measuring at Richardson Grove State Park, it's still unclear which side the facts will benefit. U.S. Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas oversaw the measuring of six trees Monday morning as a part of an ongoing lawsuit filed against Caltrans over the Richardson Grove roadway realignment project. The measuring party, which caused Caltrans to restrict traffic temporarily on U.S. Highway 101 for the length of the grove, was expected to determine whether Caltrans omitted old-growth redwood trees from its maps and analysis......

Cap-and-trade is not a budget solution, By Shelly Sullivan, Capitol Weekly | 03/05/12 

 “Good news! We found billions of dollars to help the state budget and fund more government programs.” If this sounds too good to be true, you’re right. The Governor’s plan to spend billions extracted from California employers under AB 32’s cap-and-trade program is actually bad news that will hurt the environment and kill jobs. .....

North state fires bigger, but not more severe, study says, By Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight, March 5, 2012

Wildfires in the north state have been getting bigger during the past several decades, but they have not been getting more severe, according to a recent U.S. Forest Service study. Scientists studied fires in four national forests in Northern California from 1910 to 2008 and concluded that since 1987 when satellite imagery became available that most of the area burned was low to moderate in severity. "We were kind of surprised as to what the results turned out to be," said Carl Skinner, one of the study's authors......

Tahoe/Truckee biomass meeting next week to discuss potential health impacts, Sierra Sun, MARCH, 5 2012 

TRUCKEE, Calif. — A grant awarded to Placer County will be used to help residents learn about the health impact of the proposed biomass energy facility off Highway 89 on Cabin Creek Road, officials announced Monday. The proposed Tahoe/Truckee biomass facility is one of 14 national projects awarded the grant, used to conduct a “Health Impact Assessment,” according to a Monday morning press release from the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee. “The comprehensive HIA is giving communities a glimpse into the potential future if such facilities are introduced into their environments,” said Richard Burton, Placer County health officer and director of health and human services, in a statement. “As the first community in the western US to benefit from such a process, we will take the national stage by setting the precedent for this process.”......

AB 1506 would repeal controversial state fire fee, Natasha Lindstrom, Victorville Daily Press, 2012-03-05

SACRAMENTO • Two Assemblymen have introduced a bill that would repeal the new state fire fee on rural residents slammed by critics as an "illegal tax." Republican lawmakers and local government officials have been blasting AB x1 29, a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in July that will charge a $150 parcel fee to owners of inhabitable structures on wildlands in State Responsibility Areas. It’s set to affect an estimated 800,000 property owners statewide and 66,000 in San Bernardino County, including residents in Phelan, Pinon Hills, Wrightwood, Oak Hills, Lucerne Valley and parts of Apple Valley. It may charge 2,200 property owners in the Apple Valley area alone, according to local fire officials......

Self-inflicted wound for chief of wildlife board, Sacramento Bee Editorial, MAR. 03, 2012 

Good judgment should be a prerequisite for any president of California's Fish and Game Commission. Californians are so passionate about issues involving hunting, fishing, wildlife and conservation that this commission needs a steady hand at the helm. Sadly, Daniel Richards continues to flunk that test, day after day. First he sent a photo of himself with a mountain lion he had killed in Idaho to Western Outdoor News, a major publication for sportsmen. As the San Jose Mercury News has reported, Richards' hunting guide in Idaho said Richards was aware that publicity about his bagged lion could cause a stir in California......

Porcupines an increasingly rare sight in California forests, scientists say, Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee, MAR. 03, 2012 

The porcupine is not among the cuddly critters most forest visitors hope to stumble upon. The large rodent seems aloof as it waddles through California woods. Long quills twitching like the headdress on a drum major, it forages leisurely for herbs, seeds and tree bark. When threatened, the prickly species mostly just turns its back and hopes you'll get the point. While nobody was looking, however, it seems the humble porcupine has been quietly fading away......

California is on Cutting Edge for Green Building Regulations, Green Building Elements, MARCH 2, 2012

 

Compliance with the newest California Building Standards Code, also known as the California Green Code, or simply as CALGreen, became mandatory on Jan. 1, 2011. The need for green construction methods has grown so substantially in past years that it sparked the creation performance bonds, even though there is still a legislation battle holding up their passage. This just further indicates how progressive California is in its green building requirements. A dream of Governor Schwarzenegger’s since 2004, seven years later his vision has become a reality. To date, California is the first state in the country to enact such a comprehensive plan for a more environmentally responsible building code.....

Carbon market a doomed government fantasy, By MARK LANDSBAUM, Orange County Register, 2012-03-02,

California's political class yearns to be European. Here's some advice for Gov. Jerry Brown and associat
es: Beware of what you desire. You just may get it. Their latest self-destructive fascination is the lunacy of a carbon trading market. It's part of the still-loonier cap-and-trade scheme to save California from the looniest concept of all, make-believe devastation from manmade global warming. It doesn't get more European than that. After so many boondoggles, bankruptcies and frauds experienced trying to "save the Earth from global warming," you'd think invoking that claim would trigger a modicum of skepticism. Not in Sacramento, where carbon trading is enthusiastically embraced. Brown and his ilk hope to glean billions by taxing the new game. That probably tells us all we need about the scheme's true intent and ultimate value. Californians, grab your wallets. Sacramento and a horde of accomplices are about to make life much more expensive and far riskier......

Key lawmakers confident of renewed timber payments, By KEVIN FREKING and JEFF BARNARD Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News, March 2, 2012,  

WASHINGTON—Key federal lawmakers say they're confident that Congress will renew a program this year that has become a lifeline for rural communities suffering from a decline in timber harvests on federal lands, but they can't say when or how. The uncertainty over the Secure Rural Schools program is making some local officials nervous. They would have a hard time making up the financial loss and many would have to resort to layoffs. The program compensates counties for a decline in federal timber payments resulting from environmental protections for the spotted owl, salmon and other species......

CARB ‘Rogue Agency’ Snubs Legislators, By KATY GRIMES, Cal Watchdog, MAR. 1, 2012 

A Wednesday hearing in the Legislature to discuss pending state cap-and-trade auction revenues produced very few answers. But it did prove that no one in the state has a handle on the implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solution Act of 2006, or the potential repercussions from the vast law. Even the Legislative Anaylyst’s Office, always well versed on the detail of state policy, had more questions for the California Air Resources Board. But all that came back from CARB was bureaucratic doublespeak, and few answers......

Endangered Species Act: Like ‘Hotel California’, Obama makes sure listed species are never delisted, By William Perry Pendley, The Washington Times, Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Eagles' memorable hit "Hotel California" ends hauntingly: "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave." Don Henley, who with Don Felder and Glenn Frey, share the writing credits, says "it's basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America." But, given a new draft Obama administration regulation, it could be about plants and animals listed pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Once they're included, they never leave.....

Green Party misses the forest for the trees, Stuart Smith, Napa Valley Register | February 29, 2012

Wisdom, even the Green Party’s self-styled “ecological wisdom,” can only be achieved through experience and knowledge. Representing the Napa County Green Party, Lars Christianson’s Feb. 22 letter “Napa needs all the forest it has
left” makes it quite clear that their knowledge of forestry and ecology is both naive and wrong. Sorry, Green Party, don’t blame our supervisors for allowing timber conversions in Napa County, because it is the California Department of Forestry that issues those permits......

 

Increased timber sales sought to fund rural counties, schools, Joanna Lin - California Watch, North County Times, February 29, 2012 12:05 am

Proposed federal legislation would require increased timber sales in national forests to generate revenue for rural counties and schools - a plan that's at odds with other Congressional efforts to extend a decade-old program that compensates forest communities that have cut back logging. Supporters of the bill - namely Republicans in the House Natural Resources Committee and groups representing counties and the timber industry - have applauded the proposal as a roadmap for better forest management and sustainable local revenue. The Federal Forests County Revenue, Schools and Jobs Act of 2012 passed the House Natural Resources Committee 26-17 earlier this month; it has not yet been scheduled for a full House vote......

Interior unveils new spotted owl habitat plan, announces reforms to ESA  , Land Letter, February 28, 2012 

The Obama administration today announced it will consider designating up to 10 million acres of critical habitat for the federally threatened spotted owl, which could nearly double the George W. Bush-era plan. In addition, President Obama instructed the Interior Department to streamline its approach to designating critical habitats for all species by taking an earlier look at economic impacts. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the spotted owl plan comes as the bird faces serious threats from past old-growth logging and increased competition from the barred owl. The proposal would allow federal managers to kill or remove barred owls from certain areas. Interior will continue encouraging ecologically sustainable logging that will gird forests against pests and severe wildfires, which also threaten owls, it said. "The choice of clearcut versus no cut is a false choice," Salazar said. .....

Environmental groups want California wolves protected, By Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee,  Feb. 28, 2012 

Four environmental groups on Monday petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to protect the gray wolf under the state Endangered Species Act. Led by the Center for Biological Diversity, the groups say the migration of a wolf from Oregon on Dec. 28 means the species will eventually establish itself in California. Any wolves that migrate into California are automatically protected by the federal Endangered Species Act. But the groups want California to take charge of a recovery plan because the state endangered species law is stronger and federal officials remain focused on wolf recovery elsewhere......

Spotted owl recovery plan calls for killing barred owls and designating habitat, but allowing logging, By Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian, February 28, 2012

Wildlife officials propose killing barred owls, which are taking territory from spotted owls.
Northern spotted owls earned a place on the endangered species list due to habitat loss from logging and fire, but their biggest nemesis now is an East Coast cousin. Larger, more aggressive, more adaptable barred owls moved West in the 1960s, found food and shelter to their liking and have since displaced spotted owls throughout much of British Columbia to Northern California. Spotted owls declined 40 percent over the past 25 years, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says they may go extinct in some parts of their range if something isn't done about barred owls.....

Here is a weekly digest of on-line news pertinent to forestry in California provided by University of California Cooperative Extension Natural Resources Advisor Greg Giusti (gagiusti@ucdavis.edu):

Posted on Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 9:08 AM

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