olyecology (olyecology) wrote,

340 - Earth's Tree News

Today for you 35 new articles about earth’s trees! (340 USA edition)
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--Washington: 1) Unthinned forests and blowdown not a fire hazard, 2) Destroying every creek habitat they build on, 3) 2,200 acre Olympic logging plan blocked, 4) What happens when you cut nearly every tree down, 5) Latest in Weyco’s empire, 6) Save Blanchard Mtn., 7) 1,000 acres saved near Alrlington, 8) Her name was Karen Fant,
--Oregon: 9) Citizens get changes to LSR logging plan, 10) Latest in wilderness protections, 11) What’s wrong with AX men, 12) Appeal settlement in Malheur NF,
--California: 13) Sierra Nevada Alliance conference, 14) Santa Cruz Blue Gum Killer punished, 15) Oak woodlands in El Dorado County, 16) Photographing activists who protest logging, 17) Tejon ranch destruction, 18) Why is Tejon ranch a scam, 19) Shame on enviros for selling out Tejon ranch, 20) "open space" doesn't mean preservation,
--Idaho: 22) A million acres of Payette NF “incinerated” since 1993
--Montana: 23) Montanans for Multiple Use, 24) Big Sky Greenwash,
--Colorado: 25) Oil and gas leases withdrawn
--Arizona: 26) McCain’s Land exchange
--Missouri: 27) Save Smith Creek, 28) 8 acre of old forest to make way for senior center,
--Ohio: 29) 400 acres of forest protected in Muskingum County
--Virginia: 30) 5,000 acres protected as Channels State Forest
--Pennsylvania: 31) Stop oil and gas wells in the Allegheny
--Florida: 32) ¾ of million state dollars supports burgeoning wood pellet empire,
--USA: 33) Green lining to real-estate cloud, 34) Suit filed against NF planning rules, 35) Conservation easements fail the smell test,

Washington:

1) Ranger Lance Koch said that a fire assessment has determined there is only a “low risk” of fire and insect infestation in the wake of the massive quantity of blowdown from the savage December storm. They looked at historic patterns, noting there’s been 16 fires in the Lake Quinault area since 1970, and all but one was less than one-tenth of an acre in size. Forestwide, there’s only been 65 fires since 1930. Historically, weather in the Quinault area has only allowed one to four days where the potential exists for wildfire to spread if ignited. “What’s to our benefit here is that this is a wet area and is, in fact, the wettest area in the continental 48 with 140 inches of rain a year,” Koch said. About the only danger of fire is if a human caused it, Koch said, adding that lightning strikes in the area are rare. And, as a result, Koch said there are no plans to allow any more salvage operations or logging in the national forest than there would have been before the storm toppled nearly 500 acres worth of forest. That figure includes 120 acres in the Lake Quinault area alone, Koch said. The National Forest Service had allocated a 19 million board feet limit for the forest before the storm and the ranger said that figure has not changed as a result of what some in the forest industry say could be as much as 50 million board feet of timber lying on the ground. The quota of timber mainly is comprised of thinning parts of the forest, but Koch said a few million board feet will be in the form of salvage sales, including 15 acres of solid blowdown in the Cook Creek area of Quinault. He said in order to get an increase in the quota, it requires legislative effort. Koch said he can’t make the request himself. Koch and Olympic National Forest spokesman Brandan Schulze said they were unaware of anyone in Congress making that request. George Behan, a spokesman for Congressman Norm Dicks, said he didn’t think Dicks had made that request and thought even if the congressman did, it might be too late to do anything about it. http://www.thedailyworld.com/articles/2008/05/10/local_news/02news.txt


2) It happens one creek at a time as bulldozers and pavement disrupt the natural flow of water through the ecosystem, destroying habitat and sending billions of gallons of polluted runoff into the Sound. The loggers arrived in July, toppling 35 acres of Douglas firs and cedars. The bulldozers and excavators followed, scraping away the topsoil and leveling the land to golf-course smoothness. At McCormick Woods the next victim is Anderson Creek, once one of the most unspoiled streams flowing to Sinclair Inlet. Today, there are plans to build hundreds of homes around it. "Bye-bye, Anderson Creek," said Ed O'Brien, a stormwater engineer for the state Department of Ecology. By this summer, the first of 166 homeowners will move here, to a place called McCormick Woods, west of Port Orchard in Kitsap County and a mile upstream from Puget Sound. It's an unremarkable transformation that happens every day. And it's one of the biggest threats to Puget Sound. Bigger, more affordable homes are one reason why people are drawn to places that were recently forest land, such as McCormick Woods. The way we grow is undermining our promises to protect and restore Puget Sound, and could hobble a new rescue plan on which we may be asked to commit as much as $18 billion on top of the $9 billion we already expect to spend by 2020. Even as we continue to push to protect Puget Sound, the entire effort is up against the fact that we also need to make room for as many as 4 million more people who could move here this century. And as we do, we are gradually eating away at the Sound's finely tuned water-cleaning system by leveling as much as 10,000 acres of forest every year. -- 1) Efforts to regulate stormwater are politically toxic, and state officials have balked at tougher, more costly controls. 2) The developments we allow lag behind the latest stormwater designs, because many county and city goverments are still using 16-year-old rules. 3) Even the newest engineering standards, some of the strictest in the country and ones that could add thousands of dollars to the cost of a home, aren't enough to stop the damage. 4) Perversely, developers who try promising new approaches to addressing stormwater face red tape that creates costly delays or hurts effectiveness. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004405985_growth_stormwater20m0.html

3) A federal judge has blocked a plan to log 2,200 acres in Olympic National Forest. U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton says the National Forest Service approved the Bear Creek Saddle logging operation under changes the Bush administration made to the Northwest Forest Plan in 2004. Those changes, which weakened environmental protections, have been struck down as illegal. Leighton sent the matter back to the Forest Service to conduct a new environmental assessment of the logging's impact. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420ap_wa_olympics_logging.html

4) "All of our public institutions that were supported by this economic activity began to crumble," said John Calhoun, director of the Olympic National Resources Center, an entity created by the Washington State legislature that brings together industry, environmental, government and native groups to forge sustainable forest and marine policies. "It was devastating not only economically, but it was devastating philosophically," Calhoun said, "and it was a depression in people's attitude, about the world being turned upside down for reasons they couldn't understand or agree with." "Logging had a certain appeal, a romance if you will," said Ted Spoelstra, 89, who began working in the industry in the 1940s. "It was a sad day, there's no question about that, and it still is," he recalled about the ruling in 1990. "There was a lot of environmental pressure coming from the Department of Natural Resource people and they started that spotted owl stuff. They thought that old growth was sacred." Allowable harvests in the Olympic National Forest dwindled and the unemployment rate in Forks shot up to just under 20 percent in 1991. Now just 4.5 percent of the jobs in Clallam County, which houses Forks, are related to forest products, according to the Washington Forest Protection Association. "Logging had a certain appeal, a romance if you will," said Ted Spoelstra, 89, who began working in the industry in the 1940s. "It was a sad day, there's no question about that, and it still is," he recalled about the ruling in 1990. "There was a lot of environmental pressure coming from the Department of Natural Resource people and they started that spotted owl stuff. They thought that old growth was sacred." Allowable harvests in the Olympic National Forest dwindled and the unemployment rate in Forks shot up to just under 20 percent in 1991. Now just 4.5 percent of the jobs in Clallam County, which houses Forks, are related to forest products, according to the Washington Forest Protection Association. http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/1542183/

5) Weyerhaeuser Corp.'s $6 billion divestiture of its container board, packaging and recycling business to International Paper Co. received Department of Justice clearance on Monday. The deal is part of a radical reshaping of the forest product giant spawned by unprecedented declines in the housing market and driven by president Daniel S. Fulton, a 32-year veteran of Weyerhaeuser who took over in January. Like many companies whose fortunes are tied to the housing market, Weyerhaeuser has seen demand evaporate for many of its wood products. On May 2, the company reported that first-quarter sales dropped to $3.4 billion from $4.5 billion a year earlier. It was the fifth-consecutive quarterly drop in revenue. As a result, Fulton and his deal team, including vice president of acquisitions and divestments Theodore W. Cozine, have been in nearly nonstop deal mode. As Fulton told shareholders in April, the plan is to get 108-year-old Weyerhaeuser refocused on what it knows best, trees. "In the future, we'll operate on a world-class scale and profitability in Timberlands. We will have other businesses, but we will only manufacture products where we have the technology, a unique skill or opportunity, and the ability to do so in a capital-efficient manner. This is how we are positioning Weyerhaeuser to grow in areas that present the greatest opportunities for value creation."
The $6 billion divestiture to International Paper is by far the company's biggest strategic move, but since January 2007, Weyerhaeuser has: 1) Sold dozens of building materials distribution centers in Canada and the U.S. 2) Combined its fine paper business with similar assets of Domtar Inc. to form Domtar Corp., 3) Restructured its international joint venture holding, 4) Announced a strategic review of its commercial construction sales business, 5) Shuttered at least a dozen mills, and 6) sold or reduced production at a handful of others. http://www.thedeal.com/corporatedealmaker/2008/05/coverage_of_the_housing_crisis.php

6) Blanchard Mountain towers more than 2,200 feet above Samish Bay -- along with adjacent Chuckanut Mountain it's the only place where the Cascade Range touches the briny tidelands. Here on the dome of stone generations of hikers have paused to sit and snack on sandwiches or crackers and cheese while taking in with wide eyes panoramic views of Samish, Guemes, Lummi, Cypress, Orcas and the other San Juan Islands. On the clearest days, you can gaze from the Oyster Dome to the Olympic Mountains and even Mount Rainier. Trails climb Blanchard Mountain from Chuckanut Drive at its bottom and circle its slopes from trailheads on the south, to Lily and Lizard lakes, Raptor Ridge, North Butte and other points. Sandwiched between the fast-growing cities of Bellingham and Mount Vernon, hardly more than an hour's drive from Seattle and snow-free virtually year-round, Blanchard Mountain is heavily hiked, ridden by mountain bikers and equestrians, and serves as a premier launch site for hang gliders and parasailors. So if you want to see Blanchard Mountain as it is, you might want to do it soon. "It's an outrage," says Frank Eventoff, a resident of Bow just south of there. "Here we have this gem, this treasure that we live around. In 50 years it will all be old-growth. It will be priceless. It's used by so many for recreation. I'd like to see it protected for conservation and recreation, and managed responsibly." The Washington Department of Natural Resources, which is required to generate revenue from its lands for the state school trust, insists that it will be managed responsibly. In 2003 the DNR convened a panel of diverse interests to develop a strategic plan for the 4,827 acres it controls there. Some 1,600 acres would become a "core area" managed primarily for mature forests, recreation and habitat, where timber harvest would be allowed only to enhance the quality of same. "There's no question (Blanchard Mountain) is very important to the local recreational community," says Bill Wallace, the DNR's Northwest Region manager. "Part of what the Blanchard Strategies Group did was put in the core the areas most favored by the recreational community, in terms of the viewscape and the hiking experience." However, many area residents, hikers and conservationists consider the size of the core area and the overall plan's protection of recreation and habitat inadequate. Two groups have filed suit against the DNR in King County Superior Court. They are the Chuckanut Conservancy, a group dedicated to protecting the two mountains, and the North Cascades Conservation Council, the 51-year-old group that was instrumental in the creation of North Cascades National Park. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/getaways/361963_blanchard08.html

7) Almost 1,000 acres of forest land east of Arlington will be preserved from development under a purchase agreement approved Tuesday by the state Board of Natural Resources. The $4.15 million acquisition of a working tree farm is the largest in a program created by the 2007 Legislature to buy up to $70 million of forest land facing conversion to housing or other nonforest uses. The 985-acre property was also given high priority because it is adjacent to existing state trust land. Conservationists praised the purchase and said the state fund created to preserve at-risk forests is doing what it was intended to do. "The biggest threat to forest lands is its conversion to other uses, even in places once considered as remote as this," said Gene Duvernoy, president of the Cascade Land Conservancy. Since the Legislature approved spending the money last year, the Department of Natural Resources has focused on purchasing threatened forestland from willing sellers. The state targets land that, if lost to development, would threaten the viability of surrounding working forests."Washington is losing its working forests to housing developments and other uses at an alarming rate," said Doug Sutherland, commissioner of public lands, in announcing the purchase agreement. Once the purchase is finalized, the land will become part of the state's school-trust lands. The proceeds from timber sales on the land go toward school construction.The property, currently operated as the Bear Creek Tree Farm, is about five miles east of Arlington and 10 miles east of Interstate 5. It lies just east of Jim Creek and an area known as Arlington Heights that is quickly becoming a commuter suburb of Everett and even Seattle. Hardy Davidson, an Arlington Realtor who represented the owners in the purchase negotiations, said there are few small, private timber operations left in the area. "A lot of things could have happened to this land to move it toward development if the owners weren't conscientious about keeping it green," Davidson said. The owners, Lee Taylor and his sisters Mary Ellen Hogle and Nancy Taylor Mason, were caught by surprise by the state's announcement of the sale, which has not yet been finalized. Taylor said the land has been on the market for about five years. The family did not want to sell to a developer, but until the state approved the fund to preserve threatened forests it hadn't been able to buy the property. The sale price was determined by an independent appraisal. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004399976_bearcreek08m.html
8) Her name was Karen Fant. Cofounder of the Washington Wilderness Coalition in 1979, Fant was the embodiment of a conservation community mantra: endless pressure, endlessly applied. Not one to settle for waiting, she made great things happen as the most skilled and dedicated grassroots organizer I've ever met. A leader when the 1984 Washington Wilderness Act passed, Fant's intelligence and good humor shined out as brightly as her unforgettable smile more than two decades later. When asked to help, Fant always answered the call. In summer 2001, Fant and I drove to Index to help piece together the route and itinerary for the upcoming initial community visit of Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen to launch the Wild Sky dialogue. We found the perfect Cascade summer day -- warm but tempered by cool breezes swaying the trees, sunlight scattering across the river's surface like a thousand tiny brilliant lighthouses. How could Murray and Larsen not love this country? They couldn't. That's the magic behind Wild Sky Wilderness. Citizen activists such as Fant offered elected officials, opinion leaders and neighbors a chance to know and fall in love with Wild Sky. President Kennedy would have admired Fant and her disciples. She died far too soon in 2006. Perhaps they've met by now and are looking down -- smiling -- and admiring their shared vision of good people doing good work. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/362768_wildsky13.html

Oregon:


9) Thanks to folks like you and the eagle eye of KS Wild, the Klamath National Forest has amended their original proposal and developed a project that will have restorative benefits to forests on the southside of Mt. Ashland. The southside Mt. Ashland Late-Successional Reserve project was first proposed in 2005. While much of the project was thinning dense second-growth fir stands that were the result of previous logging and fire suppression, it also included nine (9) miles of new road construction along Beaver Creek. A tributary of the ailing Klamath River, Beaver Creek already has far too many logging roads that fragment wildlife habitat while bleeding sediment into the creeks and streams. In response to this proposal, KS Wild and many of our supporters wrote the Klamath National Forest to applaud the proposed understory thinning of trees in fire-suppressed forests as a good first step towards restoring old-growth conditions on these logged over lands. However, we also heavily discouraged any new road construction. Over the next year, KS Wild staff spent many hours in the field with the Forest Service and we are pleased to see that the public process contributed to a better proposal. The amended project was released last month and will thin nearly 4,000 acres of dense forests. The new temporary road construction was reduced from 9 miles to 1.7 miles (less than a 1/3 of their draft proposal), while they close 9.3 miles of road and decommission an additional 9 miles of existing road. The project also proposes to reintroduce fire to 3,747 acres in the planning area (more than a two-fold increase from their original proposal), which is an extremely valuable effort in restoring these forests to a more natural condition. Thanks to those of you who submitted comments on this project. Your voice made a difference! We are pleased with the process and look forward to future collaborative efforts that result in restorative activities on public lands in the Klamath-Siskiyou. http://www.kswild.org

10) Momentum continues to gather in Congress for Wilderness protections for several Oregon areas. This time, it's a hearing for Soda Mountain. Just a quick note on Wilderness happenings in Congress today. Sometime today, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will likely unanimously pass a bill that contains protections for 23,000-acres in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument known as Soda Mountain. That means this ecological wonder will join Copper Salmon and the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness bill as Wilderness areas ready to pass the Senate floor. You might know by now that they have to make it past the infamous Dr. No, but there is a light on the other side of the tunnel since Senate leaders finally figured out a way to move legislation around Senator Coburn (they just did it last month to get Washington's Wild Sky Wilderness through). So, if everything comes together, all of your hard work advocating for new Wilderness across the state could be coming to fruition soon. As always, we'll keep you updated. http://www.oregonwild.org/about/blog

11) I was watching a little television before bed last night and ran across a new series called Ax Men on the History Channel. It follows four logging crews through a season in the remote forests of northwest Oregon as they work in one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. As I watched, the little hippie inside of me silently shed a patchouli-scented tear as each tree was felled, then hauled up the mountain at breakneck speed (literally). The one-armed, prosthetically enhanced logger had defeated tree-after-old-growth-tree, and another house would soon begin construction. After getting out of my morning shower the visions of falling timber stick stuck to the back of my head, so I decided to see what the show was doing in terms of sustainable practices. At the end of a long day, it sure looked like the Ax Men were simply clear-cutting the side of the mountain at random, but what did I know? I'm a mid-Western bike commuter with clean fingernails. He had, well, only five fingernails. I googled and blogsearched, and while numerous interviews and reviews hint that the show is doing what it can to promote environmental stewardship, they don't, however, say how/why/who/when/what they're doing. There isn't any promotion of replanting, any exhibition of responsible forestry, or any environmental stewardship whatsoever. Actually, the majority of the interviews seem to reiterate this comment made by one of the loggers, "The media has beat us up pretty badly, and I don't think a lot of people are really educated on how the woods are regulated." We are doing something because we know environmental degradation is bad. But what? What exactly are you doing? Who's watching you do it? Who recommended you to do it? Who's following up on how you did it or what affect it had on the environment? http://insourceoutsource.blogspot.com/2008/05/back-in-minute-i-need-to-greenwash.html


12) The Sierra Club and its environmental partners reached a settlement with the Malhuer National Forest over the Thorn post-fire timber sale proposal. After a seven hour appeal resolution meeting in John Day on May 8th, a few more hours of meetings and calls before and after this meeting, and a full day of non-stop phone conferencing and meetings on May 9th - with our attorneys and representatives staying consistent and strong, we have an agreement that drops all of the Thorn unroaded, wilderness quality unroaded area from logging entirely. Agreement details will be forthcoming for all to review. There is a Wednesday May 14th meeting in John Day with all parties to finalize the agreement, followed by review by all of our respective boards and agency officials. Thanks for all your help and support! Thorn Post-fire timber sale: Located near Dayville spanning 7,456 acres from north facing Aldrich Ridge roadless area to Fields Creek. On March 7, 2008 the agency signed a decision for logging 21.9 million board feet from 2,529 acres of forest and another 870 acres of roadsides, including logging within the wilderness quality "unlogged" Aldrich roadless area. Fire burned through the area's forests in August 2006. This project is in appeal period, with appeals due April 26. The Sierra Club has approved appeal and litigation to stop this ecologically harmful timber sale, with a team of volunteers, allies, and attorneys involved in this ongoing effort (see the Positions and Resources page for the appeal document). If negotiations are unable to resolve conservation issues, a lawsuit will be filed to stop this sale later in April or early May. http://oregon.sierraclub.org/groups/juniper/index.asp - ecoglobalization@lists.riseup.net

California:

13) Clearcutting the Climate or Carbon Sequestration - What's our Future?"* Come find out how timber harvesting activities in the Sierra are affecting climate change. Learn whether the reassurances of the timber companies "hold water." Discover the best strategies for our forests in a climate-altered Sierra. (Comment from TH: I didn't see anything in the Sierra Nevada Alliance conference that suggests how their wonderful ideas could be widely implemented. Lots of intellectualizing, but not much practical proposals for making them happen. More preaching to the choir, although at least it looks free of greenwashing. The Aspo folks aren't grassroots, but they do have some elite players involved. Some "intel" types, too.)
http://www.sierranevadaalliance.org/conference/profile.shtml?index=1047408021_12424


14) The issue: 1) we and our neighbors live near a grove of blue gum eucalyptus, AKA "gasoline trees"; 2) summer is approaching and so, too, is the risk of urban wildfire; 3) after 20 years of debate, issues are still unresolved… So there was the headline, “The killer of killer trees is out on a limb in Santa Cruz... with a lead, “Robert Sward, 68, of Santa Cruz, doesn’t look, sound or act like a tree murderer.” The paper, The Sacramento Bee, after a few kind words about my poetry (“his verse, more lovely than any weed tree...”) went on, “One might suppose Robert would obey the city ordinance that protects ‘heritage trees.’ Instead, he flings it down and dances upon it.” Yes, much as I love the city, I’ve been at war with the Santa Cruz city fathers, the majority of whom defend all trees no matter where they came from or what idiot planted them in the wrong hemisphere because only God can make a tree. “These so-called progressives speak in a way that would delight Lewis Carroll,” I am quoted as saying. “A local version of the Duchess recently told me, ‘Diseased or not, two blue gum eucs constitute a grove... and the tree you removed was a member of a grove.’ All that was missing from our exchange was a queen to declare, ‘Off with his head!’” The blue gum eucalyptus—or ‘gasoline tree,’ as firefighters call it—is an invasive exotic from Australia that evolved with fire. Fire doesn’t kill blue gums. Instead, it clears out the competition and opens their seed pods. Soon after murdering a tree, I stood before Santa Cruz City Council, our lawyer present, facing a $9000.fine. For what? Removing one euc and lopping off a few branches from another. The grove in question, the four or five shallow-rooted, fire-prone monsters endangering our home, is situated on our property, property on which we pay taxes. Our property, our trees, our taxes. It all started in 1991 with the Oakland Hills/Berkeley fire which killed 20 people and caused more than $5 billion damage. Fire officials determined the blue gum euc was a key cause of that tragedy and also the fire storm that later struck Australia. http://drswardscureformelancholia.blogspot.com/2008/05/killer-of-killer-trees.html

15) A plan to protect oak woodlands in El Dorado County while allowing property owners to remove trees to develop their land has been approved by the Board of Supervisors. The oak woodland management plan, the subject of numerous workshops and hearings over the past two years, allows landowners to take advantage of a fee option available under the 2004 general plan, the county's blueprint for growth. Until now, property owners had the choice of compensating for tree removal by planting trees elsewhere on the property or at another site. With the oak woodland management plan in place, they have the alternative of paying a fee toward the purchase of conservation easements to preserve oak woodlands elsewhere in the county. The management plan identifies priority conservation areas where easements might be purchased from willing landowners. It also establishes a $4,700-per-acre fee to cover the costs of acquiring, monitoring and maintaining the conservation easements. The board voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve the plan, noting that it will be incorporated in a more comprehensive integrated natural resources management plan yet to be developed. Supervisor Ron Briggs dissented. "I think the plan is a good plan," he said, "but my fear is that we're taking it out of sequence with the (integrated natural resources management plan)." Planner Peter Maurer said the oak woodland plan addresses one aspect of natural resources that could be affected by development in the county. Developers also have to compensate for projects' effects on other resources such as rare plants and red-legged frog habitat, he said. http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1376941/plan_approved_to_protect_el_dorado_county_oak_woodl
ands/

16) A good idea for a photojournalism project must have relevance, immediacy, cause controversy, touch a topic outside of the mainstream media and should affect the emotions of the viewer. Pair that with beautiful photography, images that drive the narrative with beautiful aesthetics, and the result is work that causes a broad reaction, work with significance and impact. I am describing "Forest Defenders" by Christopher LaMarca, a great project that exemplifies all these qualities and has served to launch further Christopher's career, with numerous awards and publications. In this project, Christopher LaMarca has been photographing environmental activists who protest logging in the once protected areas of pristine national forests. These days I am particularly sensitive to logging and the destruction of trees. Few weeks ago I went to "my" canyon for a run in the afternoon to find it fenced, access totally restricted, the trees destroyed and cut in pieces, and all the signs of new multi-million dollar houses coming in. It happened in few days, just few days to destroy it. Anger is not enough to describe what I felt. A sense of loss that I will not forget. Remember the "qualities" when you search for ideas of your next project: relevance, immediacy, controversy, unconventional, emotional. This will be a good start for the project. I have been photographing these activists and loggers since the summer of 2003. My connection to this project revolves around the passion and endless work that consumes these people who live in the back-country for months at a time; and who are willing to sacrifice their comforts' to stand up for their beliefs. Although these activists are often seen as radicals or eco-terrorists, little has been documented about their activities outside of these stereotypes. These stunning landscapes will continue to be decimated due to political pressure and lack of education, these are some of last truly wild places left in America.- Christopher LaMarca http://exposurecompensation.com/

17) Almost 90 percent of one of Southern California's best-known ranches — long the property of one of the state's best-known newspaper families — will be kept permanently free of development under the terms of a deal announced on Thursday between the ranch corporation and five major conservation organizations. "This is the Holy Grail of conservation in California," said Joel Reynolds of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Bill Corcoran, the senior regional representative of the Sierra Club, added that the property, known as the Tejon Ranch, which reaches from the firs of the southern Sierra Nevada across the dry Tehachapi Mountains and west to the coastal range, "is the keystone for protecting Southern California's natural legacy." In return for the commitment to allow easements on roughly 240,000 acres, the groups, including the Sierra Club, Audubon California and the Natural Resources Defense Council, will give up their opposition to industrial, resort and residential development on another 30,000 acres near Interstate 5. The agreement brings to an end a standoff between Tejon Ranch, a publicly traded company formed after the Chandler family heirs, onetime owners of The Los Angeles Times, sold the land more than a decade ago, and conservation groups that wanted to prevent the ranchland, with its varied ecosystems, from becoming part of the sprawl of greater Los Angeles. "What this agreement does today is it clears the way for us to go ahead" and seek permits for development from local and state environmental and land-use authorities, said Bob Stine, the executive director of the ranch, 60 miles north of Los Angeles. "That process can now go ahead without the environmental groups opposing it." The lands to be put under conservation easement would be governed by a new nonprofit entity, the Tejon Ranch Conservancy. This group would ensure the permanent protection of about 178,000 acres "through a combination of dedicated conservation easements and designated project open spaces," according to a statement released by the ranch and the groups on Thursday. In addition, about 10,000 acres would be set aside for 37 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada and would be rerouted to the ranch's land. The conservation groups would have the right to buy — almost certainly with the aid of a state-sponsored bond issue — another 62,000 acres within three years. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/09/us/09tejon.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


18) There are so many inconsistencies on how much land is proposed to be preserved..their feel good video on the home page says 100,000 acres..the press release 240,000 acres, LA Times says 270,000. This is all such BS, but such a media hype and propaganda without any environmental docs, scientific studies made available for the public to review...and how much money to subsidize the development projects? No ITP application, No draft HCP, No state EIR and FWS is only now taking comments on a draft EIS for what?What project is there on paper? Why isn't the rest of the environmental community outraged? -- Leeona Klippstein leeona@earthlink.net


19) Shame on NRDC, Planning & Conservation League, Audubon and Endangered Habitats League. There is no peer reviewed science to support the loss of at least 92,000-habitat acres and no guarantees of having 178,000-acres conserved. All the organizations know that there are no available funds to pay off the Tejon Ranch developers. When a species is endangered it needs more habitat in order to recover, not less. Shame on you all! The fact that these environmental groups and state agencies have been "negotiating" outside of the law, with Tejon Ranch corporation, is completely unethical. Until the Tejon Ranch corporation submits all documents required under environmental laws, including adequate scientific information in a public forum, these environmental groups, state agencies and the Governor should not be making predecisional approvals. The groups say that they have two years of science, but that scientific information has not been scientifically peer reviewed or made available to the public. Tejon Ranch corporation and this handful of environmental groups, a minority, claim that 178,000 habitat acres will be conserved for future generations. If you step back and examine this "agreement" as reported by the media, it quickly and clearly becomes development propaganda. Do the math and the 90% conserved is not accurate. The Tejon lands are 270,000 acres and if 178,000 were acquired for conservation it still would not be 90%. Then from the 178,000 acres subtract 62,000. (116-acres), because the PUBLIC would have to actually purchase this amount and therefore subsidize the development of the 92,000-acres by the Tejon Ranch Corp. Then subtract again, 49,000-acres to be used as a State Park if the public gives additional money to the corporation. If the public and State and Federal Government come up with all the money -- an unknown amount -- then the endangered Condor and dozens of others will possibly get a preserve of 128,000-acres and 49,000-acre State Park, totaling 177,000. It looks like the Tejon Ranch corporation know how to work the media with a bunch of spin doctoring. Not a word on how much public money they intend to get to subsidize the destruction of at least 92,000-acres of habitat and killing of rare and endangered species. Leeona Klippstein, Executive Director
Spirit of the Sage Council www.sagecouncil.com leeona@earthlink.net


21) STAMPING land as "open space" doesn't mean it will stay untouched. In fact, even labeling land as a preserve, a park or as part of the federal national forest won't prevent strip mining, oil drilling, timber harvesting, the erecting of electrical towers or high-rise condos. That's because development pressures have spilled over from private to public lands, leaving public lands more vulnerable to environmental degradation than ever before. Today, a road is proposed through Chino Hills State Park. Oil drilling is being considered on preserved land within the Whittier/Puente Hills. Massive housing tracts are proposed for a Significant Ecological Area in Rowland Heights. That's why it makes sense to take some of our most precious park and open space - the Arroyo Seco, Eaton Canyon, the Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park above Sierra Madre, Deukmejian Wilderness Park near La Crescenta and Hahamongna Park near JPL - and give them National Park status. Rep. Adam Schiff's bill which is part of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act, won't make that a certainty. Even though it was signed by President Bush last week. However, it begins the process for these West San Gabriel Valley parks and preserves, along with 492,000 acres of foothills and other. parklands rimming the Santa Susanna, Verdugo and San Gabriel Mountains and San Rafael Hills, to become part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The latter was designated as a federal park by Congress 30 years ago and has acted as a bulwark against hillside development, while allowing for flatland development and commercial growth elsewhere in the region. It has also provided San Fernando Valley and Westside residents with a plethora of stunning views and glorious hillside hiking trails. Here in the San Gabriel Valley, our precious open space is scattered. Some is overused. Others have been neglected, tossed aside like discarded trash. Some open-space preserves are disconnected from the populace by poor roads, poor signage, multi-jurisdictional confusion or just poor resource planning. While some 655,387 acres have been set aside as our most notable land preservation - the Angeles National Forest - that's still not a park. http://www2.sgvtribune.com/opinions/ci_9219740

Idaho:

22) Since 1993 over a million acres of the Payette National Forest have been incinerated. In 1994 300,573 acres burned. In 2000 343,347 acres burned. In 2006 over 70,000 acres burned. And in 2007 a whopping 470,529 acres of the Payette NF went up in smoke. That’s 1.27 million acres in 4 of 14 years (I don’t have data for the other intervening years). The Payette NF is 2.3 million acres in size, so using the data available, 55 percent has burned in the last 14 fire seasons. I have been told but cannot confirm (because I don’t have all the data) that the actual burn percentage is 70 percent .The nearly half million acres of the Payette that burned in 2007 was more or less deliberate on the part of the US Forest Service. They planned it, and then carried it out.Following the 2006 fire season (70,000 acres) USA Today ran the following article [here]: Forest fire strategy: Just let it go, USA Today, November 2006 In the worst year for wildfires in nearly half a century, it may seem odd to celebrate how well some of them burned. But the Payette National Forest in central Idaho is doing just that. “It was a real long season, but we got some nice fire effects,” says Sam Hescock, a fire management officer on the 2.3-million-acre forest where more than 150 fires this summer and fall burned about 70,000 acres. “We’re pretty happy with what we got.” http://westinstenv.org/sosf/2008/05/09/the-incineration-of-the-payette/

Montana:

23) There’s no mincing words for Fred Hodgeboom. He believes in active forest management, and he says the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t do enough of it. The president of Montanans for Multiple Use has put his words into action, spearheading a lawsuit against the Flathead National Forest that recently was denied by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. Hodgeboom hasn’t given up; the court’s ruling is being appealed. “We gave it a try and we’re still trying,” said Hodgeboom, a former planner with the Flathead National Forest who firmly believes that the forest has run afoul of federal planning rules and the public’s trust. http://www.dailyinterlake.com/articles/2008/05/12/news/news01.txt

24) For a group billing themselves as "environmentalists with common sense" the Big Sky Coalition sure has a funny way of being green. In April, the BS Coalition's executive director - a former Forest Service Supervisor - gave testimony before the House Resources Committee in Washington, D.C. calling for "large, landscape scale" logging of our national forests to be accomplished by suspending the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the congressionally-mandated public appeals process. For those who don't know, NEPA is our nation's bedrock environmental law that basically requires the federal government to analyze the potential environmental impacts of their proposed actions. A few weeks later, according to the Missoula Independent , "State Sen. Rick Laible (R-Darby) used his position as chair of the state's Fire Suppression Interim Committee to pimp his personal agenda." You see, Senator Laible just happens to be a board member of the Big Sky Coalition, something he apparently didn't plan on disclosing to the public, despite the fact that Senator Laible's hand-picked agenda included two speakers from his very own Big Sky Coalition. Now, the Ravalli Republic has a story detailing that, "Ravalli County is alleging that one of the founders of the Big Sky Coalition built his house in the floodway of the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. County officials believe that Tom Robak’s house sits in the actual floodway, not just the floodplain, and that 'significant' amounts of fill have been placed." Maybe this latest revelation helps explain why the Big Sky Coalition was spending thousands of dollars last fall running large newspaper ads against Ravalli County's proposed streamside setback ordinance. Regardless, it seems as if Kermit the Frog had it right...it's not easy being green. http://www.newwest.net/citjo/article/big_sky_coalition_founder_built_home_in_floodway/C33/L33/


Colorado:

25) Federal officials are withdrawing most of the proposed oil and gas leases up for sale in a May 8th auction. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Friday that it will defer offering leases on 144,000 acres out of the original 175,430 acres. The parcels withdrawn are in the Rio National Grande Forest in southern Colorado. BLM officials say the parcels could be auctioned later. They'll go over the analysis of the sites with the Forest Service. The decision comes on the heels of a request by Rep. John Salazar and his brother, Sen. Ken Salazar, to defer consideration of the leases. Rio Grande and Saguache (suh-WAHCH') counties and the towns of Del Norte and Crestone had raised concerns about the areas eyed for energy development. http://news.aol.com/story/_a/blm-withdraws-proposed-energy-leases-in/n20080502184409990031

Arizona:

26) A land deal near, but not so dear, to our hearts came up on the front page of the Washington Post today in connection with candidate John McCain. From 1999 to 2005, Western Lands worked with environmental groups and citizen activists in Arizona to challenge a land trade between Yavapai Ranch and the Prescott National Forest. The swap proposal energized hundreds of residents in the Verde Valley, where national forest land would be converted into commercial and retail development near the towns of Camp Verde and Clarkdale. Citizens mounted a strong and intelligent campaign against the deal. McCain called "town hall" meetings to mollify them, but even after hundreds showed up, asking him to drop the trade, McCain barrelled on through. A generous contributor to McCain's campaign stands to benefit by the trade. Read the Washington Post article by Matthew Mosk here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/08/AR2008050803494.html?hpid=topne
ws - http://westernlands.org

Missouri:


27) The Cedar Creek District of the Mark Twain National Forest is much-used and much-beloved. And no portion of the Cedar Creek District is more special or better loved than the beautiful and still surprisingly remote Smith Creek proposed Wilderness Area above and below the old Rutherford Bridge connecting Boone and Callaway Counties. For more than 25 years, conservationists have worked with the Forest Service to respect and protect the authentic wilderness character of Smith Creek’s streams, bluffs, pinnacles, forests, wildlife, and solitude. In 2007, Smith Creek was included in a statewide proposal along with six other Missouri areas for designation as a federal Wilderness Area. But now Smith Creek is threatened as part of the proposed Southwest Project. Through this project, the Forest Service plans extensive management and development within the proposed Smith Creek Wilderness. Because of their significant impacts, such activities would effectively and permanently preclude future Wilderness designation of the recently acquired Epple Tract, a critical part of the proposed Smith Creek Wilderness with frontage on Cedar Creek. Activities proposed in the Epple Tract of Smith Creek include: 1) Even-aged logging (Shelterwood/Seed Tree) 2) Uneven-aged logging, clearing groups up to two acres, 3) Road development, 4) Construction of two parking areas and a boat access, 5) Cattle grazing, fence construction, and fertilizer applications, 6) Prescribed fire. -- While some management may be of benefit to the overall landscape, much of the Southwest Project, including Smith Creek, emphasizes even-aged management, such as clearcut and shelterwood (two-stage clearcut) logging. Even-aged logging does not mimic natural processes in this area, and serves only the interests of subsidized resource extraction from our public lands. The economy in Boone and Callaway Counties, unlike much of the Ozarks, does not rely on timber, making it even more inappropriate to promote this type of management here. Please fill out all blanks in the form and then press the "send comments" button at the bottom. https://www.heartwood.org/action.html?id=148

28) Standing before the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission last night, northeast Columbia resident R.L. Garnett didn’t have the words to express her opposition to a proposal to replace 8 acres of climax forest with a 275,300-square-foot senior living facility near her home. Instead, she let the forest speak for itself in a six-minute slideshow of pictures detailing the trees, flowers and leafy hills on the property now. The slideshow was set to Samuel Barber’s "Adagio for Strings." "Please consider this my statement on behalf of the trees that will be destroyed," Garnett said. Concerns from nature-loving neighbors aside, commissioners voted 6-0 to recommend that the Columbia City Council approve the project. "I understand your concerns," Chairman Jeff Barrow told the few residents who attended the meeting to get more information about the project. "If I lived with that forest, I would be really sad to see it go, too." Oklahoma-based developer SOCH LC asked to rezone about 11 acres off Berrywood Drive, between Columbia Regional Hospital and the Woodridge neighborhood, from single-family residential to planned office. The project, Silver Oak Senior Living, will include a 100-unit independent living facility, a 75-unit assisted living facility and two medical office buildings. Allen Hahn, chairman of the Woodridge Neighborhood Association, said he reluctantly supports the project but appreciates the developer working with the neighbors since July to try to answer their concerns. "We’re disappointed at seeing the forest occupied by anything but climax trees, but we don’t own it," Hahn said. "The feeling of the board and the neighborhood was this is probably the best thing we could expect." A "climax forest" is defined by the city as a woodland area of more than 25,000 square feet that primarily consists of hardwood trees such as oak, hickory, sugar maple and sycamore. http://www.columbiatribune.com/2008/May/20080509News008.asp

Ohio:

29) ZANESVILLE - More than 400 acres of forest in Muskingum County is now permanently protected by the federal Forest Legacy Program. The 436-acre, privately-owned forest is the first Ohio forest to be permanently protected by the program. The forest is owned by Superior Hardwoods of Ohio, Inc. The Wellston-based company manufactures and exports hardwood lumber and logs, buys standing timber, saw logs and veneer logs. Emmett Conway Jr., president of the company, said the land was acquired by Superior Hardwoods in 1988. "I think the program is excellent," he said. "That was the purpose of purchasing the land, to preserve it." The forest is located on Boy Scout Road, on the north end of the Tri-Valley Wildlife area along the Muskingum River. A one-time payment is made to the land owner in exchange for voluntarily agreeing to permanently maintain the forest as a managed forest. The program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and coordinated in Ohio by the ODNR Division of Forestry. Permanently protecting the land consists of prohibiting it from being developed, guaranteeing public access to it and preservation, according to David Lytle, chief of the Division of Forestry for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. "This has provided us with a lot of experience and the opportunity to raise the profile for the program. We know it works and we look forward to working with other land owners," he said. Gene Wells, a real estate administrator with ODNR, said it took two years to complete the program because there's so much federal paperwork. "The conservation easement is a layer of the ownership of the land we're purchasing to help maintain the property as a whole, so it's not broken up and sold in parts," he said. The total value of the easement is $349,000, of which the U.S. Forest Service paid $261,750 and the remaining $87,250 was donated by the landowner. http://zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080509/NEWS01/805090343/1002

Virginia:

30) Virginia is protecting nearly 5,000 acres of rugged woodland from development in far southwest Virginia. The state has dedicated 4,836 acres known as Brumley Mountain in Washington and Russell counties as Channels State Forest. Part of the Clinch Mountain Range, the forest contains the 400 million-year-old Great Channels, a narrow sandstone passageway through which hikers walk. "To truly appreciate the tremendous conservation success Virginia has achieved with the protection of Brumley Mountain, you need to stand among the ancient, weathered sandstone boulders and take in the long mountain views," said Brad Kreps, director of The Nature Conservancy's Clinch Valley Program. The Virginia Department of Forestry purchased the land from The Nature Conservancy for nearly $3.8 million. It consists mostly of hardwood forests and several steep slopes. The addition of the land to the 18 other state forests will ensure that future Virginians can enjoy the natural scenery, said Joe Maroon, director of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. Channels, the only state forest in the region, is already open for those with state forest hunting permits. Trails will be developed to better accommodate hiking and horseback riding, said John Campbell, spokesman for the Department of Forestry. He said 720 acres, including the Great Channels, have been designated the first Virginia Natural Area Preserve in the state forest system. The designation will help the state protect plant species such as the Carolina saxifrage, as well as the examples of Southern Appalachian northern hardwood forests and high-elevation cove forests, Campbell said. http://www.wtop.com/?nid=25&sid=1401759

Pennsylvania:

31) The Forest Service is proposing to lease 101 acres of federally-owned mineral rights to Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) for drilling at least six oil and gas wells in the Salmon Creek area of the Allegheny National Forest. The Forest Service dubbed Salmon Creek as one of the "most threatened landscapes" in the Allegheny just a couple years ago due to the high amount of oil and gas drilling that has already occurred in this area. Now, the Forest Service wants to increase those impacts by leasing the federal minerals it owns. The Forest Service originally proposed this lease last year but cancelled the project after the Allegheny Defense Project pointed out that the agency violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by relying on outdated environmental analyses to approve the lease. Unfortunately, instead of scrapping the lease altogether, the Forest Service found a loophole called the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Forest Service is now proposing to categorically exclude the leasing of these federal minerals pursuant to the Energy Policy Act. This means there will be no analysis of the environmental impacts of the drilling and no opportunity for public comment pursuant to NEPA. The Forest Service is bending over backwards to lease these minerals to PGE. Please contact the Forest Service and tell them to cancel this ill-conceived proposal once and for all. For more information: http://www.alleghenydefense.org


Florida:

32) Governor Charlie Crist and Tom Pelham, Secretary of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) granted $750,000 of state funds to benefit a foreign company who will manufacture wood pellets for the European power industry. Green Circle Bio Energy Inc., owned by the Swedish company JCE Group, will get water and sewer connections to their new industrial complex, thanks to Florida taxpayers. JCE Group, a wealthy Swedish offshore oil rig and shipping company, will set up an industrial wood pellet operation in Jackson County. The new facility is scheduled to go on stream at the end of 2007. Their planned production output is 550,000 tons of wood pellets a year for export. JCE Group will ship these vast quantities of wood pellets to several European power plants from the port at Panama City. Wood pellets are becoming an energy commodity traded worldwide. North Florida woodland is a prime target. The Swedish company will have access to Florida's 16 million acres of forest land. DCA and the governor approved the money for Jackson County to benefit JCE through a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant. JCE Group, headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, was founded in 1971 by J. Christer Ericsson, who is active in the shipping and offshore oil rig business. The JCE Group wood pellet plant will be the largest in the world. The company will use Swiss and Canadian high performance pelletizing equipment. Trees will be logged out of forests, cut, crushed in hammermills, pulverized, dried and made into combustible pellets. Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson hosted the Swedish company at the recent Florida Farm to Fuel Summit. Bronson would like to see Florida as the biggest producer and exporter of biomass in the U.S. Jimmy Cheek, senior vice president of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dept. at UF and IFAS` administrative head, said shipping pellets to Europe is great for Florida and the world, on a recent visit to Jackson County. http://alachuapost.com/

USA:

33) There's a green lining to the real-estate cloud: Developers are dropping plans to build on some choice pieces of land and instead are selling it for such uses as public parks and nature preserves. One of the big beneficiaries is Trust for Public Land, a San Francisco nonprofit group that specializes in buying land for conservation. The Trust often struggled during property-boom years to find sellers among land owners near urban centers. Now, U.S. property owners from Massachusetts to Hawaii are flocking to it. The Trust's financial muscle to make acquisitions is growing. Its planned budget for this year is $102 million, up from $90 million last year. With the real-estate slump, "We're trying to make lemonade out of lemons," says Will Rogers, president of the Trust. In addition to the Trust, the Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Va., is among the national groups working on similar deals. Their purchases tend to be larger -- involving thousands of acres. "Two to three years ago, local farmers and ranchers were eager to sell off their land and cash out," says the Nature Conservancy's Cristina Mestre. "Now, we're being approached en masse" to buy development rights. In rural Minnesota, thousands of former Camp Fire girls rallied to stop a 71-acre camp from being turned over for development. The property had operated as a Camp Fire camp for 77 years until being closed two years ago. But last August the developer failed to secure $5 million in financing, say officials of Camp Fire USA's Minnesota Council. They have since begun negotiations to sell the property for $3.8 million to the Trust, which proposes to convert it into a regional park, says Andrea Platt Dwyer, chief executive officer of the Minnesota Council. She expects a deal to close by December. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121028811193679127.html

34) A coalition of conservation groups represented by Earthjustice sued in federal court today to overturn the Bush administration's latest attempt to weaken rules governing management of America's 155 national forests and grasslands. The new rules, issued April 21, repeal key protections for national forests. The Bush administration rule being challenged mirrors one issued in 2005 which was thrown out by a federal court. Like the 2005 rule, the current one eliminates mandatory protections in place since the Reagan administration that require the national forests to be managed to guarantee viable wildlife populations, to preserve clean, healthy streams and lakes, and to protect diverse natural forests. The Bush rule also sharply reduces public participation in decisions about the management of our public forests. Prior forms of the rule from 1982 and 2000 contained enforceable standards for forest plans that protected wildlife, water, and the forests. The earlier rules also provided opportunities for public involvement and required analysis of environmental impacts of forest plans on the national forests, impacts that result from plan decisions regarding logging levels and other extractive uses of forest resources. Earthjustice attorney Trent Orr said, "This is the Bush administration's parting gift to the timber industry. These regulations remove vital checks and balances on logging while minimizing the role of science and the public's say in maintaining wildlife and other natural resources. We've returned to court to insure that the Forest Service protect these invaluable resources and allows full public review of and participation in its decisions about how our national forests will be managed." http://media-newswire.com/release_1066062.html

35) In short, what’s there not to like about conservation easements? Many things, it turns out. Land trusts and public agencies are often quick to trumpet the additional acres they add to their portfolios each year, but are less concerned with the quality of the lands they protect (not all open space is equally valuable) or the quality of the easements that are sold as a public benefit. For instance, there are opportunity costs that come with easements since there is usually only a limited pot of money. What parcels didn’t get bought by outright fee acquisition because funds were expended on an easement instead? Because conservation easements are nearly always celebrated as a public good, there is little scrutiny of the specific terms of easements, nor a public review of the costs/benefits of any particular land conservation easement. The lack of public transparency in easement creation and maintenance is a potential long term problem associated with them. Though the public has a financial stake in all conservation easements, it often has no one with direct responsibility to watch-dog for the public interest. Why should the public care? For one, it’s our money that is subsidizing easements. With few exceptions, nearly all conservation easements come with significant government funded subsidies. These include, but are not limited to, a tax deduction for the individual(s) land owner, as well as reduced real estate property taxes for the landowner and estate. These losses in tax revenue are all made up by other citizens who must pay higher taxes to maintain services. Increasingly with the larger conservation easements such as those involving big timber companies like Plum Creek and other large land owners, federal or state funds are being used to directly fund the easements. Yet because these funds are often funneled through second parties like land trusts, there is little public review of the agreements and/or cost benefit analysis. There is a further problem associated with conservation easements. In order to qualify for IRS tax deductions, a property must possess “significant conservation value.” Because groups often gain funding based at least partially on how successful they are in obtaining new easements, there is a tendency to go for acres whether or not the lands in question serve any or little real conservation value. Despite all the criticisms I’ve leveled about conservation easements, I still believe they are a useful tool for preserving and conserving ecological values. http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/conservation_easements_the_need_for_closer_scrutiny/C38/L3
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