Report: 46% of Forest Service budget to fight fires

Coloradoan 8/20/2014
Excerpt:      “
ASHINGTON – The rising cost of fighting wildfires is forcing the U.S. Forest Service to transfer money from other critical programs year after year, hampering efforts to protect people, property and endangered species, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday.

The Forest Service also lacks the funding to cut down enough dead trees and do other preventive work to minimize fire risk and restore scorched watersheds and forests after the flames die out, Vilsack said.  ….
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Nation’s conservation fund at risk

Asheville Citizen Times 8/14/2014
Excerpt:       “W hen Jay Leutze hikes in the pristine Highlands of Roan, he sees the stunning landscape as “grassy islands in the sky.”  But he doesn’t have to go far for a view of what can happen to wild places when they’re not protected from development.

“If you drive the Blue Ridge Parkway at night in the winter, off to the south you can see the sprawling foothills communities,” Leutze said. “And you gain an appreciation for how vulnerable our landscape is.  ….”
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Biodiversity: Feds take new look at bison restoration

Summit County Voice 7/6/2014
Excerpt:        “
FRISCO — Bison may not be getting much love in Montana, where livestock producers have repeatedly blocked efforts to restore herds outside Yellowstone National Park, but the federal government has identified ways to address concerns about brucellosis, according to a comprehensive new report on bison conservation released last week.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Interior, the report “reaffirms the commitment to work with states, tribes and other partners to promote the restoration of bison to appropriate and well-managed levels on public and tribal lands.”….”
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Forest health crisis ends with a whimper

Colorado Independent 7/7/2014
Excerpt:     “
FRISCO — Even here, in a cool forest hollow near Tenmile Creek, you can feel the tom-toms.

It’s a distant beat, born in the marbled halls of Congress, where political forces blow an ill wind across Colorado’s forests. Nearly every Western elected official with a clump of shrubby cottonwoods in his or her jurisdiction claims to be a forest expert. And when senators and congress members make forest policy, rhetoric usually trumps science — as is the case with laws requiring new logging projects that may wipe out some of the very trees needed to replenish forests in the global warming era.  ….”
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Court decision puts U.S. Forest Service’s Adventure Pass program in jeopardy

Contra Costa Times 7/4/2014
Excerpt:      “
A federal court judge has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to refund entrance fees to four Southern California hikers, leaving the 17-year-old Adventure Pass program in tatters.

U.S. District Court Judge Terry Hatter entered final judgment in the landmark case on June 23, ordering the Forest Service to stop charging forest visitors to hike, fish, bicycle, walk and even park in the forest, according to the judgment. Hatter ruled that charging a recreation fee to a visitor who does not use “developed facilities and services” violates the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA)…..”
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Scientists call on Obama to order national policy to conserve old growth forest

US News and World Report 6/25/2014
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — More than 75 U.S. and Canadian scientists have sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for a policy to preserve what remains of America’s old-growth forest.

The scientists include two former chiefs of the U.S. Forest Service, Jack Ward Thomas and Mike Dombeck. They say less than 10 percent of the old-growth forest before European settlement is still intact.  >>>”
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Outdoors: Public lands access advocates win another round in the battle over federal recreation fees

Summit County Voice  4/30/2014
Excerpt:      “FRISCO — The see-saw legal battles over public land recreation fees took another twist last week, as a judge in California decided that the U.S. Forest Service can’t continue selling its Adventure Pass for heavily visited recreation areas in Southern California national forests.

According to the judge, the pass violates federal law — specifically the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act — because it makes visitors pay to use public lands even, if they’re not using any developed facilities. …”
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Peer News Release 4/22/2014
Excerpt:         “
Washington, DC — Facing a tidal wave of discontent inside its law enforcement program, the Chief of the Forest Service has backed away from any pledge of change, instead proposing yet another work “climate assessment” and a “content analysis” of hundreds of angry messages from a “virtual” all-hands meeting, according to a letter posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Participants confirmed that torrents of email messages “queued” by Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations (LE&I) line staff paralleled the results of a recently released all-employee survey by PEER.  …”
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Public lands access advocates lose latest skirmish with Forest Service over recreation fees

Summit County Voice 3/31/2014
Excerpt:    “
FRISCO — One of the legal efforts to try and check the recent proliferation of public land access fees was rebuffed by a federal court in Washington, D.C. last week. U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that private companies running recreation facilities on federal lands don’t have to follow the same regulations as agency managed facilities.

In a worst-case scenario, the ruling could open the door to more widespread fees for trailhead parking and other types of access that have traditionally been free, said Kitty Benzar, president of the West Slope No-Fee Coalition, a group dedicated to eliminating fees charged for access and recreation on undeveloped public lands.  ….”
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