Forest Service to justify its existence at summit

The US Forest Service is struggling: earth haters in Congress keep trying to cut its budget, morale is abysmal, and exhaustion is overtaking its ranks.

Now, the FS is issuing propaganda in an effort to bolster its image after failing its mission year after year. From a press release announcing a joint summit with Canadian forest managers:
“The borders that separate the United States and Canada don’t segregate threats to our natural resources,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The countries share common environmental concerns. It is critical that we continue to collaborate and address current and future land management challenges as partners.” The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.
Poor things.

Until stakeholders realize that the battle is against pine and not the beetle we're fucked.

President Obama: salvage what is left of the FS and divide it among agencies within BIA, Park Service and BLM.

Rewild the West.


SE Montana wildfire grows to 150,000 acres

A fast-moving fire has burned bridges on US212 near Ashland and Lame Deer, Montana and isolated at least one partially-evacuated town. At post time Inciweb has yet to update the Ash Creek Fire. Missoula teevee outlet KPAX sez that another fire nearby on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, the Coal Seam Fire, has spread to at least 700 acres.

Many homeless are expected. More from Lorna Thackeray at the Billings Gazette:
"This thing's huge," said Chris Pileski, district administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. "Yesterday was an extremely dangerous fire, and it still has the potential to be that." The fire, thought to have been ignited by lightning, was reported about 4 p.m. on Monday in the Ash Creek area about five miles east of Lame Deer, then spread east and south toward Ashland.
At 09:54 MDT winds are calm with 18% relative humidity in Ashland.

Thousands of lightning strikes in the last 24 hours have sparked more fires than managers can currently assess. Smoke from western wildfires is affecting air quality from Mexico into Canada.

From the New York Times Green Blog:
According to Craig Allen, a research ecologist with the United States Geological Survey in Los Alamos, N.M., forests in the region have not been regenerating after the vast wildfires that have been raging for the last decade and a half. Dr. Allen, who runs the Jemez Mountains Field Station at Bandelier National Monument, says those forests are burning into oblivion and grasslands and shrub lands are taking their place. “Rising temperature is going to drive our forests off the mountains,” he said. Seeking to preserve existing systems is futile, he said.
The area burning in SE Montana was historically sage steppe with scattered Ponderosa pine, aspen and oak, with cottonwoods in more moist areas feeding the Tongue and Powder Rivers. Now it is inundated with dense pine stands after a century of fire suppression.

Update, 29 June, 06:32 MDT: Inciweb catches up, calls it 110,000+ acres and growing.


Thousands of lightning strikes per hour lashing parched Rockies

This is a real time map; more threat assessments here

DemocracyNow! talks Montana SCOTUS ruling, hosts McKibben

Today's intersection: entitlement and disaster.

Humans have built homes into volatile forests and along flood-prone rivers then blame government when there isn't enough money to respond to emergencies while billions of dollars determine the outcome of elections.


Crow Peak Fire: let it burn


Red flag warnings are posted for the Crow Peak fire zone today and an advancing weather system could escalate the intensity of the fire in the short term. From Inciweb:
The Crow Peak Fire, reported on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 6:00pm approximately 3 miles southwest of Spearfish, has grown to 70 acres. It is burning in steep and rugged terrain with limited access. The Crow Peak Hiking Trail is closed to the public. Erratic behavior for given conditions. The Crow Peak road adn [sic] several forest service access roads are now closed except for fire officals and local residents. About 1/2 inch of rain fell on the fire last night and more crews arrived which will help with the containment of the fire.
Winds are out of the southeast as is typical for the season, moving the fire into oak and aspen breaks where it slows. There are no structures threatened anywhere near the burn zone where decades of slash and overgrowth burden aspen restoration in there.

Dozers reopened an old road and the scar will be visible on the north face for years to come: gawd.

Cooler temperatures and some rain are forecast for the next few days: let 'er burn.

Update, 17:15 MDT: No fire in the belly? This one had no chance. Too bad: conditions are perfect for a prescribed burn in there.


Randazzo/Verchio: what am I missing?

Has anyone ever seen these two earth haters in the same space? I've known Mike Verchio for 25 years but haven't spoken to him in 20, and have never met Ed. Are they the same person now? Mike is catholic: did Ed leave the Church to join some other cult?

Verchio suffers from intense oral fixation:
Theoretically, oral-stage fixations are manifested as garrulousness, smoking, continual oral stimulus (eating, chewing objects), and alcoholism. Psychologically, the symptoms include a sarcastic, oral sadistic personality, nail biting, oral sexual practices (fellatio, cunnilingus, analingus, irrumatio), et cetera.
Ed's writing certainly presents the same symptoms.

I don't bite my nails.


Dems hoping for Rubio; Mitt, Thune eloping

Let's face it: Marco is a dweeb. Bill Maher would even call him a dick.

The chemical toilet's KSFY:
This weekend, Senator Thune will be headed out west to Utah. Romney and Thune have shared a close political relationship for months.
Lifted from a John Nichols piece at The Nation:
Prospective Republican vice presidential nominees who have been invited to participate in the talent competition include Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, South Dakota Senator John Thune, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Not on the list is Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is so not going to be on the GOP ticket this fall. Several other Republicans who are on Romney’s long “shortlist” of vice presidential prospects will miss the Utah event, including Ohio Senator Rob Portman and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte. But Rubio’s absence is particularly notable, as there is mounting evidence that past ethical problems have knocked his out of contention.
Two governors on the same ticket? Insanely ludicrous.


Gary Johnson already a factor in presidential debate; Indians lost War of 1812

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is generating a good media buzz.

He needs to poll at a minimum of 15 percent nationally to participate in debates with President Obama and that white Mormon earth hater from Massachusetts. Johnson's blog quotes a recent story from Erin McPike at RealClearPolitcs:
It’s all tied to getting matching funds from the Federal Election Commission to compete in future elections, because the Johnson team is certain once more voters are informed of Libertarian positions, large swaths of the electorate will swing their way.
From Politifact:
PPP polls have shown Johnson at 15 percent in his home state of New Mexico, 9 percent in Arizona, 8 percent in Montana and 7 percent in New Hampshire. A poll conducted by ORC International for the libertarian magazine Reason found Johnson taking 6 percent in Wisconsin.
The President's recent decision to only selectively prosecute violators of immigration law leaves some progressives hoping he will use an executive order to remove cannabis from Schedule 1.

After Ron Paul supporters are jettisoned from the earth hater convention in Tampa expect Gov. Johnson to gain momentum.


Arizona logging contract features Montana biodiesel initiative

The Arizona Daily Sun is a Lee newspaper: her editors are coming under fire from some environmental organizations for their reluctant support of a logging contract that includes the pyrolysis of biomass to liquid fuel. The Forest Service is taking heat for the timber sale because too many old growth trees have been targeted for removal.

Here's a snip from the editorial:
But key players in the 4FRI process wound up sticking up for the Forest Service, among them NAU forestry expert Wally Covington, and Steve Gatewood and Paul Summerfelt of the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership. Even though the winning bidder, Pioneer Associates of Montana, might not be perfect, the difference between it and the local favorite, Arizona Forest Restoration Products, was not sufficient to hold up the process any longer, they said. The Forest Service helped its cause by finally releasing its rationale for picking the Montana company for the initial 300,000-acre contract. 
-- Pioneer would hire about 500 people,-- It could get started just seven to eight months after contracts were signed 
-- It would make a variety of products (furniture parts, molding, flooring mimicking hardwoods) that would be diversified enough to sell consistently during recessions. 
-- It would have the advantage of stable fuel costs in turning branches and fine matter into biofuel as proposed.
A recent Black Hills mycology survey revealed scores of slash mountains (though no mushrooms) as result of current and concluded logging operations. Why the FS doesn't insist on tub grinders for those piles is beyond the comprehension of this interested party.

#highparkfire has cleared nearly 55,000 acres and is still working despite the efforts of human civilization to stop her.


NatGeo to tell Lakota stories

Evelyn Red Lodge is a correspondent for Native Sun News. Indian Country aggregator, Indianz.com posted her piece. RT @NativeNetroots:
The online version of National Geographic magazine will publish the unedited stories of any Oglala Lakota living on the Pine Ridge Reservation who is at least 13 years old. The date of publication is July 15. International photojournalist Aaron Huey has been working for the last seven years to give the Oglala people a voice.


Chemical toilet home to 8th best test takers

Deseret News is an unabashed mouthpiece for the LDS Church in Utah. It's in the twitter feed mostly for its weird news value. A trivioid popped up this morning that made me go look:

#8 South Dakota
Average SAT score: 1737
Average ACT score: 21.8

At the top of the list are Minnesota and Iowa. Montana, Wyoming, and the other Mountain West states score very well, too; yet, New Mexico and Nevada are in the lower half of states. DC is 51st.

Intersecting with these results comes a piece in the New York Times Education section describing the spiking use of pharmaceuticals among students:
The number of prescriptions for A.D.H.D. medications dispensed for young people ages 10 to 19 has risen 26 percent since 2007, to almost 21 million yearly, according to IMS Health, a health care information company — a number that experts estimate corresponds to more than two million individuals. [P]rescription stimulants became a point of contention when a girl with otherwise middling grades suddenly improved her SAT score.
Data on which states dispense the most ADHD 'scripts are ancient: anyone find anything recent?


Boycott Deadwood

Deadwood has become home for white, male, meth-infused biker trash: no wonder visitation is down.

This little message appeared over night on a decal attached to one of my rigs:

Boycott Deadwood.


Today's intersection: SAD and the High Park Fire

@Kirk Siegler covers the environment for KUNC, Community Radio for Northern Colorado. They're headquartered in Greeley; their main transmitter is on Buckhorn Mountain where it is still being threatened by the #HighParkFire

Aspen stands are good firebreaks, often dropping crown fires in conifer stands to the ground when they reach aspens and even sometimes extinguishing the fire because of the small amount of flammable accumulation. They allow more ground water recharge than do conifer forests and they also play a significant role in protecting against soil erosion. They have been used in restoration of riparian habitats.
From a piece in the Durango Herald:
The findings of William Anderegg, who is pursuing a doctorate in biology, were published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Sudden aspen decline, or SAD, as the die-off was labeled, began with the severe drought of 2002-04 and continued until recently when he did his research, Anderegg said. “The die-off was documented across the West – Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado,” Anderegg said. “But Colorado had the highest percentage of aspen affected. Severe drought coupled wih high temperatures, as would be expected with climate change, is the tip of an iceberg,” he said.
Colorado's 2011-12 ski season was the deadliest in that state's history; it was also the crappiest in recent memory, a result of decoupling weather systems caused by anthropogenic climate change.

Officials stated yesterday that the fuels for the High Park Fire are three weeks drier than those that sustained the Hayman Fire occurring at this time ten years ago; even green grass is burning.

The Greeley Gazette:
Many farmers in the area are facing the real possibility they could lose their crops this year due to a lack of available water from the South Platte following a lower than average snowpack last year. Some fields remain dry and farmers are having difficulty getting their crops to sprout to due to the water shortage. While the farmers have been trying to get relief for years, their efforts have often been stymied by the large cities such as Boulder and Denver who often have high paid lawyers at taxpayer expense who have vigorously fought any attempt to even study the issue.
About two million people live along the Front Range; 5,116,796 people live in Colorado. Livestock numbers are in the tens of millions.

Connect the fucking dots.

The Forest Service was effectively crippled under the Bush-era Healthy Forests Initiative according to Jesse B. Davis writing from the Lewis and Clark School of Law:
The Comment concludes that the Healthy Forests Initiative is an irresponsible and ill-considered exercise in land management, arising from political and economic considerations and unsupported by sound scientific and legal principles.
This morning's news brings the fire to near 40,000 acres.

Update, 1751 MDT. Colorado's Senator Mark Udall rushes to shut the smoldering barn door:
The 2012 Farm Bill currently sets aside $100 million for beetle-mitigation efforts. The bipartisan amendment Udall offered today with Senators Bennet, John Thune (R-SD) and Max Baucus (D-Mont) would double this to $200 million in order to meet the U.S. Forest Service goal to treat more than double the acres for bark beetle than in previous years.
Gaia, be merciful.


Today's intersection: oil and bison

Bison/Oil Well

It started yesterday while looking for the rest of this year's story about wild Yellowstone bison being moved by a state livestock agency from Montana into a national park mostly in Wyoming.

Heralded hitherto hie the Helena Independent Record, a court order and a pending lawsuit halted the having of helicopters to harass, haze, and herd the horde:
Overall, state livestock workers spent a combined 1,146 hours working bison on the west side of Yellowstone this season, compared with 942 hours during the 2011 bison drive.
This morning, while reading a piece from the editors of the Great Falls Tribune as they said:
Before white people came, bison roamed the plains along the Missouri River along with many other animals, but human newcomers in the 19th century nearly wiped out the powerful animal that fed Indian tribes. Much of the uproar lately is over whether to allow bison to roam on public lands in Montana. However, some conservation groups have already bought property from retiring ranchers and other landowners in rural Montana to allow them to place bison herds on their own private property. These pro-bison groups also have obtained some federal grazing leases once held by cattle ranchers. And Native American tribes are beginning to run bison herds as well.

Some conservationists were feeling pretty good about protection for the beautiful area along the east side of the Rockies until the recent oil and gas boom in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Now oil and gas fever has spread across the state, right up to the dramatic Rocky Mountain Front.
intrepid Montana Cowgirl commenter, Lynn, emailed this story to ip from the Globe and Mail:

Gord Johnston’s tranquil life along the Red Deer River in central Alberta was shattered Thursday night as the nauseating scent of crude oil hung in the air and a coffee-coloured liquid lapped the banks near his home. While the company is still investigating the cause and precise location of the spill, it estimated that 1,000 to 3,000 barrels of crude, or 160,000 to 480,000 litres, has leaked. But cleanup and containment won’t be easy and could take all summer, officials said. But unlike previous incidents, this spill isn’t in a remote location and it comes as the continent is in the midst of heated debates over construction of the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines. In 2010, there were 687 failures, the majority of them leaks, which resulted in 3,416 cubic metres of spilled hydrocarbons. Loretta Leonhardt, who owns property where the latest spill occurred, said she is concerned. “We all love the oil industry in Alberta, but I think they’ve been really lax on what they’ve been doing for the environment,” she said.
President Obama: rewild the Upper Missouri River Basin.


Click and Clack to sign off

Coming across the twitterverse and Car Talk.com:
RAY: …and my brother turning over the birthday odometer to 75, we’ve decided that it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.
TOM: So as of October, we’re not going to be recording any more new shows. That’s right, we’re retiring.
So, in the spirit of shameless commerce this blog will sell anything.


Rapid City wising up about wildfire buffers

Even I have to admit Rapid City looks pretty good: repeated dope slaps will do that for a town, I guess.

This popped up RT @fireinfogirl. From a release of Fire-adapted communities and NFPA West:
U.S. Forest Service, National Fire Protection Association and Ad Council launch national PSA campaign encouraging Americans to adapt and prepare for wildland fires. Nearly 70,000 communities in the United States are at risk of damaging wildfires this season.
The article calls Rapid City a success story and cites a piece from the aging, sometimes beloved RCJ reporter, Kevin Woster.

One out of 130 or so ain't bad, Rapid.

Rochford, Hill City, Keystone, and Rockerville are in deep shit, so is Edelweiss above Pactola.


Dakota Midday live in Deadwood; kurtz gloating over District 31 results

Bill Janklow's idea of public radio has been broadcasting Dakota Midday this week from the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC) in Deadwood.

It seemed only neighborly to stroll three blocks then get live listen of today's political junkies, Kevin Woster and David Montgomery, as they divined some of the results of yesterday's primary.

During a break from left, seated: Karl Gehrke-host of Dakota Midday, standing left: Steve Munsen-broadcast engineer (thx, Joel Rische), standing right: Rose Speirs-Communications Director at Deadwood History, Inc., seated right partially hidden by pillar is Joe Tlustos-Director of Radio at South Dakota Public Broadcasting, seated right with headphones is Mary Kopco-Deadwood History Inc. Foundation Executive Director

Singer-songwriter Jami Lynn

Apparently, this interested party's reputation proceeded the visit but was welcomed mostly warmly anyway.

RFK's murder is remembered today as long as some of us are feeling sorry for ourselves:

But, wait! A blistering blog attack on Tom Nelson saw results according to Aaron Orlowski of the newly Buffett-bolstered Rapid City Journal:
In a landslide victory Tuesday, challenger Bob Ewing defeated Sen. Tom Nelson in the District 31 Senate primary despite the endorsement of Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
An ip-targeted place-holder in Montana went down as well sez the Helena Independent Record:
In area legislative races, incumbent Alan Hale lost a primary challenge to Kirk Wagoner in House District 77. Wagoner garnered 863 votes to Hale’s 819, with all the precincts in the district counted. The district includes much of Jefferson County and a piece of Lewis and ClarkCounty.
Wagoner will face Clancy resident, Democrat Adam R. Lythgoe, in November.

No, I didn't buy LEE when it was a buck two weeks ago.

There were loads of people in town for the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon.

Bucy narrowly beats Laslovich in Montana's Dem AG race. There's a winter weather advisory for the northern Rocky Mountain Front.

New Mexico Gov. Martinez issued a drought declaration.

Variable interval reinforcement: it's the strongest kind.


You are the change: vote

Thank you for voting to wrench the courts from the hands of earth haters, religionists, misogynists, racists, plutocrats, and xenophobes.

South Dakota Democrats: you have few choices except to flee the state. Same for Wyoming readers. Vote for Ron Paul.

Montana Dems: the power to preserve the Last Best Place by turning her blue is in your hands. Ron Paul deserves your support today, too.

New Mexicans: vote for rain.


Barth Courts West River Dems

Yes, there is a soccer tournament at Sioux Park in Rapid City where The Machine (a Kurtz woman tends goal) is winning again after beating a Spearfish team.

Two hours before the game was the first time this blogger had been in the Alex Johnson since an Easter brunch in what was the Landmark Restaurant: a space that is now occupied by Seattle's Best Coffee. Very nice, very spacious. The iced tea is great.

@jeff_barth stuck his hand out after greeting the couple before me and after introducing myself he said, "you're a little bigger than I am." My 6'2" 173 pound frame and his 6'1" likely-more-than-that laughed simultaneously. It would seem he has seen some of my pile.

"Last month I supported your opponent in the primary: good to know I can still evolve," I blurted. He responded with a kind thank you.

I didn't hesitate: "where you at on the so-called War on Drugs?" It fell right out of my mouth.

"It's crazy," he replied. He described a future where, as long as law enforcement can easily test drivers stopped for some other infraction, cannabis law should look just like alcohol law.

The real press gathered behind us, we wrapped up, and he seamlessly moved on to other interviews:

Barth greeted the warm, enthusiastic gaggle, gave a thumbnail sketch of his campaign, and described the proposed Ryan budget that enjoys the support of incumbent Kristi Noem as "the final solution."

That banks are too big to fail suggests that banks are too big, he said. Corporations look like people to some; yet, British Petroleum killed 13 people in the Gulf of Mexico and nobody has gone to jail.

In response to a question from a self-described federal employee Barth said that public service should be celebrated rather than denigrated; and, "I have no problem that public employees have collective bargaining rights."

The biggest applause from the gathering came after he repeated his support for marriage equality: he revisited the topic several times in follow-up questions.

Barth cited Minnehaha County's responsibility to prosecute a capital offense in the death of a prison guard at the State Penitentiary as a necessary function of government.

Oh yeah: @ArgusMontgomery was there, too.


Rosen Questions Catholic Roberts Court

The Roberts Court is under fire for its judicial activism from frequent NPR guest, Jeffrey Rosen:
Essentially Roberts came into office telling me and other journalists that he would make it his goal as chief justice to promote consensus and avoid five-to-four decisions. He said it was bad for the court and bad for the country in a polarized time, for the court to divide along ideological lines.
From Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog:
Without creating any new constitutional right for gays and lesbians to get married, the First Circuit Court on Thursday ruled that Congress did not have the power to intrude on the choice of states — like Massachusetts — to create such a right under state law. The Circuit Court stressed, near the end of its opinion, that it was not relying on the challenge by gay rights advocates that DOMA had a “hidden but dominant purpose” of “hostility to homosexuality.” It conceded that some lawmakers had that in mind, but others may have had different reasons.
Having six Roman Catholics where five rule on the same side each time a Vatican-lobbied case comes before an entrenched 5-4 Court should frighten everyone.