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Old 10-20-2005, 09:36 AM
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Default Categorical Exclusion update, BRC

If this isn't a case of an environmental group losing the war to win a battle, I don't know what is. Green groups benefit as much from CEs as anyone else, including us. It allows local land managers to take urgent action that is within a certain scope, to manage environmental impacts and trail maintenance issues rapidly and effectively. Sheesh.

[editorial mode ON] Dennis Prager has suggested that ALL of the atrocities of the 20th century are the result of idealism run amok. That is, in trying to implement an ideal condition regardless of unintended consequences (or INTENDED, in the case of Stalin or Hitler), the greatest evils and most stupid consequences abound. It is the allure of being a moral purist, of being one of the truly committed, truly faithful, that drives it.

Moral arrogance, in other words.

I would dare say this is (an infinitely smaller scale, or course) example of the same sort of thing... [editorial mode OFF]

There, I feel better at least.
**************************
BRC Earth Island v. Ruthenbeck update: FS appeals, asks for Stay

Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

According to an internal memo sent to Forest Service employees, the agency has formally appealed a court order resulting from the lawsuit; Earth Island Institute v. Ruthenbeck. As you all know by now, that ruling requires any forest project using a Categorical Exclusion (CE) to include a formal public notice, be available for public comment and give the public the option of appealing the decision.

According to the memo, the Forest Service (FS) filed a "Motion for Stay Pending Appeal" and related documents on October 12, 2005. The FS requested a stay arguing the District Court's order is impermissibly broad and has resulted in disruptive, nationwide impacts far beyond the specific issues originally before the court.

The FS also argued that the order is already having tremendous impacts to the agency's operations requiring significant resources to comply. The FS included information regarding projects affected by the Courts order. According to the document, the kinds of activities which have been affected by the implementation of the Court's order include the following:

* Approximately 74 fuels treatment projects to protect local communities and forests from the dangers of wildfire

* Approximately 169 recreation projects for developed and dispersed recreation areas, including projects at campgrounds and on trails. Reconstruction on the Captain Cook Trail in Oregon will be delayed, possibly into next year, which may require closure of the trail during the season of its heaviest use. Many recreation projects to clear hazard trees from roads, trails, trallheads, and campgrounds are affected. The inability to clear such hazards in a timely fashion may result in the closure of those areas during notice, comment and appeal.

* Approximately 98 projects to maintain and improve watersheds and wildlife habitat, such as projects to protect bats on the Shawnee National Forest or to stabilize streams banks on the Mark Twain National Forest.

* Nearly 115 outfitter and guide permits for activities including guided hunting, fishing, river trips, and horseback rides.

* 98 permits for public utilities and communications sites. In California, suspension will delay installation of a communication tower for the California Highway Patrol. In Arizona, suspension may result in a private landowner not having power this winter.

* Approximately 14 projects on ski areas, including maintenance of cross-country ski areas and maintenance or improvements on downhill ski areas.

* National Guard training scheduled for the Hoosier National Forest because the activities require clearing five acres, which cannot be done in advance of notice, comment, and appeal.

* Numerous recreation events requiring permits, such as Boy and Girl Scout activities, family reunions, fun runs, bicycle races, Enduros and other OHV events.

Stay tuned for further updates,

Brian Hawthorne

BlueRibbon Coalition

BACKGROUND INFO:

On July 2, 2005 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an Order banning the use of Categorical Exclusions (CEs). The ruling requires any forest project using a CE to include a formal public notice, be available for public comment and give the public the option of appealing the decision. The order applies to all decisions made with a CE after July 7, 2005. It also applies nationwide.

The court order is a result of a lawsuit filed by the following anti-recreation groups; the Earth Island Institute, Sequoia ForestKeeper, Heartwood, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club against a timber project on the Sequoia National Forest.

A CE is a category of actions that do not have a significant effect on the environment and therefore do not require an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). CEs are allowed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They simplify documentation -- not eliminate it -- for those actions that clearly do not have a significant effect on the environment. Such permitted activities include certain off-road vehicle events, mountain bike tours and group outings for organizations such as the Boy or Girl Scouts.

The ruling potentially affects hundreds of projects throughout the country. CE's are used to approve all sorts of projects ranging from trail maintenance activities to timber operations. Many group activities, such as Boy Scout campouts and jamboree's are approved with CE's along with 4x4 club runs or charity events. Most Operating Plans for backcountry ski Yurt's and even major Ski areas are processed via CE's. In some areas, snowmobile grooming operations are approved via CE's. OHV events ranging from Enduro's to Dual Purpose Motorcycle (street legal) tours are approved via CE's.

Sadly, the court ruling has resulted in the cancellation of many such projects, including the popular "49er Enduro," sponsored by AMA's District 36 and the Capital City Enduro sponsored by the Tallahassee Trail Riders. The ruling even resulted in the cancellation of an adopt-a-trail project on the Gila National Forest in New Mexico.
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Old 10-20-2005, 08:38 PM
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i had the fax machine at work smoking last night sending letters to various congressman, senators, reps.
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Old 10-21-2005, 12:32 AM
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Default Be careful of what you ask for...

............ you just might get it

This, the post re X-mas tree cutting, and quite frankly the bashing the Sierra Club has been taking on this forum has gotten my dander up.

Using resources available to me, as a member, (in brief) this is what I've found out so far.

The area of the Sequoia National Forest in question was set a side as a preserve by the Clinton administration.

In 2002 the Sierra Club et al proposed a management plan for the rehabilitation and restoration of the preserve.

And here folks is the is the kicker, the plan INCLUDED provisions for restoration and reconnection of motorized routes that have a historic or recreational value !!!!!!!

The plan is (was) very in depth but I think this snip sums it up best:

Motorized Vehicles including motorcycles and snowmobiles shall be encouraged but limited to forest roads and routes designated for their use. Roads to be considered for conversion to Motorized Vehicle Routes must have been previously designated as “Roads” on the Trail Plan Trail and Road Inventory done in the 1990’s.

Hummm. sounds like the tree huggn' bunny lovn' Birkenstock shod hippies were fighting for US.

Anyway, recently the USFS exercised Categoric Exclusion to stop recreational access so that logging could continue in the preserve !!!!!!!!!!

This is when the SC et al filed suit .

I do think its unfortunate that higher court decision is a broad sword and not a scalpel, BUT what pisses me off more is the USFS abused its powers to make a backdoor deal with a special interest group

Last edited by Seldom Seen; 10-21-2005 at 05:40 AM.
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Old 10-21-2005, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
do think its unfortunate that higher court decision is a broad sword and not a scalpel, BUT what pisses me off more is the USFS abused its powers to make a backdoor deal with a special interest group
Exactly... the broad sword took away a legitimate tool that is usually used to great advantage for ENVIRONMENTAL reasons... but in this case was used AGAINST them. And making life difficult for ALL of us!
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Old 10-21-2005, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red_Chili
Exactly...

Agreed from a different angle


Allow me this analogy:

WE all would be whistling a different tune, perhaps a resounding rendition of the "Not In My Backyard Anthem" if the BRD issued a CE closing Jenny Creek, so that an expansion of Eldora could take place.

Discuss.........
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Old 10-22-2005, 08:07 PM
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Default Update

Oct 19, U.S. District Court Judge, James K. Singleton issued a decision re Earth Island Institute v. Ruthenbeck stating that, once again, the U.S. Forest Service has over stepped it's bounds and abused it's authority.

In light of this decision it appear now that is was NEVER an Ultra Green tactic to loose the war to win the battle BUT another example of the USFS's incompetency.

A letter co-authored by United States Senator Ken Salazar and Congressmen Mark Udall and John Salazar to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, asking Mr Joanns to kindly instruct Forest chief Dale Bosworth to pull his head out of his ass, really brings this one home.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

U.S. Senator Ken Salazar

Congressman Mark Udall

Congressman John Salazar




For Immediate Release

Thursday, October 20, 2005
CONTACTS: Cody Wertz – Sen. Salazar Press Secretary

202-228-3630

Lawrence Pacheco – Cong. Udall Press Secretary

202-225-2161

Nayyera Haq – Cong. Salazar Press Secretary

202 225-4761



Senator & Congressmen Urge USDA to Immediately Reinstate Permitted Uses of Forests In-Light of Court Ruling



Washington, D.C. – United States Senator Ken Salazar and Congressmen Mark Udall and John Salazar sent the following letter to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns requesting again that he immediately cancel a directive that prevented permitted uses of our Nation’s National Forests. Senator Salazar sent his second letter seeking cancellation of Forest chief Dale Bosworth’s directive after Judge Singleton clarified his earlier rulings in Earth Island Institute v. Ruthenbeck. Judge Singleton ruled that the Forest Service did not need to suspend all permitted short term (one year or less) actions or special uses of National Forest System lands, such as those for state-licensed outfitters or guides, or approving gathering forest products for personal use.



“I applaud Judge Singleton’s order clarifying that the Forest Service does not need to suspend all special uses of National Forest System lands such as Christmas tree and fire wood cutting,” said Senator Salazar. “I think the Forest Service should immediately cancel its directive disallowing permitted uses of our National forests and stop causing unnecessary harm to Coloradans.”



The court's new order makes it clear that the Forest Service went overboard. Now they need to move quickly to correct an error that has caused problems for the ski areas and so many Coloradans,” said Rep. Mark Udall (D-Eldorado Springs).



Said Congressman Salazar: “The judge made it very clear that the Forest Service misinterpreted the Court’s decision. There is no legitimate reason why families should be prevented from going about the activities they enjoy. Public lands are supposed to be a resource for everyone and I certainly hope the Forest Service seizes this opportunity to work more directly with communities.”



The letter is included below:



Dear Mr. Secretary:



I expect you have received by now a copy of Judge Singleton’s October 19, 2005 order clarifying his earlier rulings in Earth Island Institute v. Ruthenbeck. The court unequivocally states that, “the Forest Service need not suspend actions not contemplated in the old rules, such as ‘[a]pproval, modification, or continuation of minor, short term (one year or less) special uses of National Forest System lands, such as for state-licensed outfitters or guides, or approving gathering forest products for personal use.’”



Judge Singleton’s latest ruling removes any doubt about the intended scope of his July 2, 2005 decision. It makes clear that Forest Chief Dale Bosworth was mistaken when he wrote in a September 23 directive that “all categorically excluded projects must be immediately suspended and subjected to notice, comment and appeal.” Mr. Bosworth’s interpretation of the judge’s July 2 decision was plainly overbroad.



In light of the court’s October 19 order, I once again request that you rescind immediately Chief Bosworth’s September 23 directive before it causes additional unnecessary harm to the constituents of my state, who hold already-approved permits that are not subject to appeal under the court’s rulings. I urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that permitted uses of the National Forests are allowed to go forward without unnecessary delay.



Please advise me in writing of your plans to align your agency’s activities with the district court’s opinion and to allow minor activities to continue in the Nation’s forests.



Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.



Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Ken Salazar

Congressman Mark Udall

Congressman John Salazar

Last edited by Seldom Seen; 10-22-2005 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 10-23-2005, 07:13 PM
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Default BRC Action Alert

Action Alert: Not the last update on categorical exclusion issue
Date: October 21, 2005

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Dear BRC Action Alert Subscribers,

We titled this update the "Not the Last Categorical Exclusion Update" because at the rate we are going, there will be additional news on this any day!

Here is the latest news:

As you know, on July 2, 2005 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an Order banning the use of Categorical Exclusions (CEs). The ruling required any forest project using a CE to include a formal public notice, be available for public comment and give the public the option of appealing the decision. The order applies to all decisions made with a CE after July 7, 2005. It also applies nationwide.

The Court has since clarified its ruling in an Order addressing a request for clarification and a request for a Stay from the Forest Service (FS). The Court said that when it struck the regulations exempting certain decisions from notice and appeal periods, it intended that the regulations previously in force would apply.

Under the previous regulations, categorically excluded timber sales are subject to notice, comment, and appeal. The other categorically excluded activities subject to notice, comment, and appeal under the previous regulations are:

(1) Projects involving the use of prescribed burning;

(2) Projects involving the creation or maintenance of wildlife openings;

(3) The designation of travel routes for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use which is not conducted through the travel management planning process as part of the forest planning process;

(4) The construction of new OHV routes and facilities intended to support OHV use;

(5) The upgrading, widening, or modification of OHV routes to increase either the levels or types of use by OHVs (but not projects performed for the maintenance of existing routes);

(6) The issuance or reissuance of special use permits for OHV activities conducted on areas, trails, or roads that are not designated for such activities;

(7) Projects in which the cutting of trees for thinning or wildlife purposes occurs over an area greater than 5 contiguous acres;

(8) Gathering geophysical data using shorthole, vibroseis, or surface charge;

(9) Trenching to obtain evidence of mineralization;

(10) Clearing vegetation for sight paths from areas used for mineral, energy, or geophysical investigation or support facilities for such activities.

The Court said the Forest Service need not suspend actions not contemplated in the old rules, such as outfitter and guide permits or gathering forest products for personal use.

The Court deferred ruling on the Forest Service's motion for stay until all parties in the lawsuit have an opportunity to file further briefing regarding the relative hardships involved in light of the Court's clarification.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Funny isn't how the BRC was quick to apply labels on and point the finger of blame at Environmental groups in it's first Action Alert. In this Action Alert, BRC does not mention that it was lawyers form the Western Environmental Law Center (the firm representing Earth Island Institute, The Sierra Club, Heartwood etc) who argued before Judge Singleton that the USFS went overboard in its interpretation of the ruling. Hummm... Quick to blame but not give credit where credit is due.

Last edited by Seldom Seen; 10-23-2005 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 10-24-2005, 08:30 AM
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Comes from being burned too many times... see it a *lot* from the green side too. Pretty incendiary rhetoric. IMHO it's one of the greatest problems in the whole 'dialogue'.


So lessee... the USFS makes an abusive backroom deal that just happens to negatively impact our interests (not to mention the environment, a real lose/lose), the green groups file suit for these abuses, the judge makes a ruling, the USFS overreacts which negatively impacts our interests not to mention the environment (out of ineptitude? Out of revenge? Out of paranoia of being sued by <fill in the blank>, ironically leading to being sued again? Pick one...), BRC follows the time honored "ready, fire, aim" approach that comes from being paranoid, the USFS gets slapped for overreacting, ... I see at least two recurring themes here. Maybe three.

It reminds me a little of Ranger Kevin being so nervous about closing the obviously user created routes on Jenny Creek, south end. That came down from his management, from paranoia of being slammed by COHVCO; it did not originate from Kevin.
How about *this* scenario of CE misuse: Jenny Creek gets closed because the route going straight up the creekbed cannot be rerouted because of USFS paranoia about using CEs and getting slammed yet again? Boulder RD is just about the most scared ranger district I know of. Not blaming anyone in particular, it's just our starting point............
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