A fatal flaw in plans for Western states to grab the public lands — paying for wildfires

Politicians claim states will make money managing federal lands. They conveniently avoid the “elephant in the room”

The renewed effort to move the national forests, BLM lands, and maybe national parks and monuments into state management or ownership likes to talk about economics. However, these people don’t use hard economic figures in their quips to the media.

They say the federal government has “locked up” the resources and smothered logging, mining and grazing with onerous and expensive regulations. These are code words for reducing costs by not protecting the environment and making bystanders pay for the increased external costs of production. Like other code words, they hope and assume that most of the public won’t see or understand the code.

There is one big cost the states will have to assume, however, unless the federal government somehow allows itself to be fleeced. That is the cost of fighting wildfires in the West.  Picking up this cost could eat up the all money the politicians say the states could save by cutting environmental protection.  The Center for Western Priorities just issued a report that shows in three smaller (pop.) Western states recent fire fighting costs total far more than the states spent on law enforcement. For example, in 2012 Forest Service fire suppression costs in Idaho was 169-million dollars while state spending on law enforcement was 50-million.  The 169-million does not include suppression costs by the BLM or Forest Service spending on preparing for wildfire, post-fire  rehabilitation and hazardous fuels reduction.

Those who want to take the lands say not to worry because they will make more money by logging and grazing harder so to reduce the danger of wildfires, ignoring the fact that the federal government loses money now on hazardous fuels reduction. The land takers must be assuming that commercial logging of healthy mature timber makes so much money and reduces fire danger so much they they will at least break even.

Unfortunately for this argument that logging will cover the wildfire fighting costs, healthy tall timber — what they want to cut — is not so likely to burn. More likely to burn are the red (dying) conifers and brush and other non-commercial vegetation.  Timber companies rarely make a profit thinning to reduce wildfire, or cutting and removing brush, broken and bent trees, and/or trees on difficult to operate terrain. More likely, as they recently did in British Columbia, they will harvest (cut) the good timber and leave the rest (high grading).

The main cause of the fires that cover by far the most acreage is weather — drought, especially drought with wind and lightning. Fires may ignite in forests with what seems like a lot of fuel, but these burn slowly and usually go out on their own if the weather is not conducive. State ownership of land does not change the weather.

Hard grazing so to prevent fires is not an effective strategy either. Cattle and sheep don’t graze down everything near the ground that can carry fire. Most importantly, they don’t eat the highly flammable cheatgrass except for a brief period before the sharp seeds start to harden. Cheatgrass ripens and fuels a fire to a greater degree and over a longer time than native grasses. Overgrazing promotes cheatgrass and weakens native grasses. Native grasses have a much shorter period in the summer when they will support fire because they stay green longer.

The policies that states Western states seem likely to pursue on any acquired federal lands are thus likely to not reduce wildfire, and as the climate most likely warms, the severity and tax and spending costs of wildfire will increase.

Perhaps, as critics warn, the states will sell off any acquired federal lands for resorts, vast private estates for billionaires, and remote subdivisions to recoup their management losses. However, doing this will increase wildfire costs because owners of remote homes and other facilities put political pressure to save their structures in the event of fire. Some fires are so much more costly than others of similar size because such an effort is made to save structures.

The report suggests that wildfire costs could all but bankrupt some of the states with smaller economies. Perhaps then they would want the federal government to take them back. The Eastern National Forests were largely created out of private land that had been abused and abandoned.



  1. Jon Way Avatar

    Thanks for once again showing the hypocritical of these politicians, Ralph. You do it in a very succinct and understandable fashion.

    Similarly, here is yet another article that exposes this type of hypocrisy:

    While we all know that politics can never escape wildlife management (especially re: carnivores), here is a deeply conservative politician in Idaho (Mike Crapo) whom already lives in a welfare state, meaning that they get back more than they put in. Now he wants extra money for his state to reimburse private livestock owners, many whom are grazing at greatly reduced cost on our federal public lands, against losses to native predators that he claims the federal government set upon his constituents. Now I am counting 3 forms of welfare being given to his constituents despite most people in Idaho wanting the federal government left out of their lives. Yet he finishes his piece claiming “The federal government has a responsibility to assist with the impacts of damages triggered by federal lands policy and predator reintroduction.” I guess he wants his cake and eat it too…

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Jon Way,

      Indeed. He’s a classic — resentful politician with his hand out to Washington for the “rugged individualist” old west oligarchy he represents.

      I am glad you outlined how many ways he was demanding some welfare.

      1. Jon Way Avatar

        Thanks Ralph… I believe that there is a classic 4th form of western welfare…but I’ll have to look that up soon.

        PS – my first post should say hypocritical “nature” of these politicians.

      2. alf Avatar

        Ralph, as someone we both know told me once, “when you bury a dead rancher, you can’t bury him very deep so he can keep his hand out”.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      In the days since, I have been following ‘search Crapo’ in the Magic Valley News. It is amazing. It is news releases from Senator Crapo.

      More than just one is about condemning Washington on one hand, and demanding money for his constituents (all of them agricultural) on the other hand.

      The latest Idaho Delegation Asks for Speedy Disaster Declarations

  2. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Where do the states think they are going to get all those logs that will pay for the management of the acquired federal lands? There is very little “robust” forest on lower elevation USFS lands.

    The state tree of Idaho is the western white pine. Where are there merchantable stands of this once valuable tree anywhere in the west? Mostly logged (mined) and the young regrowth killed by introduced white pine blister rust (WPBR). Additionally the white bark pine, another 5 needle pine that is susceptible to WPBR, is dying at higher elevation because the winter temperatures are no longer cold enough to kill the beetles that disseminate the disease. This large seeded tree is important in the life of grizzly bears and numerous high elevation birds, mammals, . . . (and others of which we are probably not aware).

    Now about cattle on the range . . .

  3. Yvette Avatar

    Does anyone remember the wacky debate between the Idaho primary candidates for Governor? I don’t remember his name, but one of those candidates was in favor of turning all the federal land over to state ownership and management. This guy seemed to be serious about it, but he was also one of the primary candidates that was way off in left field. Actually, I think he was lost somewhere out of the ballpark. The old geezer was more than a little loco. However, I do wonder if the mentally stable politicians are serious about this proposal or simply pounding their political chest. Surely they don’t have a snowball chance in hell (that would be Oklahoma right now) of accomplishing this proposal.


  4. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    His name is Walt Bayes and the debate can be viewed here: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=idaho+gubernatorial+gop+primary+debate

    I hope it doesn’t stand a chance of happening.

  5. Real Nice Guy Avatar
    Real Nice Guy

    Of course, the Forest Service is often fleeced under the current arrangement. So often they license logging operations while having to pay for the roads and infrastructure to support the operation while receiving next to nothing for the resource extraction except a scarred landscape.

    1. WM Avatar


      “Forest Service is fleeced”

      I’m not so sure about that under multiple use management over the long term. My recollection from forestry classes long ago is that the initial cost of main and arterial/feeder logging roads is often (though no always) borne by the FS in some timber sales is that it provides long term access to new areas, for future silvicultural practices (replanting, fertilization and herbicide control), fire control, mining, and importantly recreation. And, it greatly reduces the cost of future harvest access in partial cut areas in a few years, or maybe 80-100 years for clear cut logging. The road base and underlying ballast mostly stays intact, and can easily be improved without substantial additional disturbance. Abandoned roadbeds, often seeded to grasses and forbes, also offer habitat improvement for ungulates, as they revegetate and follow ecological succession differently from the tree harvested ground, and even provide livestock grazing. They also serve as trailways for all wildlife – wolves especially like abandoned logging roads to make long distances quickly or spot prey which use them.

      And, let’s not forget the Forest Service is in the Department of Agriculture – part of their job is sustainable forests and tree farming on federal land (we don’t have to like it but that is their statutory mission under multiple use wood/water/forage/wildlife/recreation).

      Do agree with you about the scars, though.

      1. Barb Rupers Avatar
        Barb Rupers

        “part of their job is sustainable forests and tree farming on federal land”

        Where is it said that “tree farming” is equivalent to sustainable forests. Most tree farming is limited in the number of species planted. Forests are much more diverse in their structure.

        1. WM Avatar

          Not sure I said that they were equivalent. Actually I was being a bit facetious. From my memory, most logged over areas, especially clearcuts in Western WA OR and CA, where douglas fir, white fir, hemlock and the occasional cedar have been removed, typically are replanted with douglas fir because it is the higher commercially valuable species and loves to grow in even age stands. Volunteer trees of different species around the permimeter offer seeds, which sometimes are lucky to add some diversity. Then things likely get thinned at some point, to encourage more rapid growth of the remaining favorable commercially valuable trees due to less competition. Yes, your federal forests can be tree farms, with less diversity. But on the other hand there is a lot of ground that is not logged and never will be, or may be logged using other methods which can maintain/ increase diversity – more often in the drier areas of the interior West, though it seems to me there still is a lot of clear cutting in Northern ID, but mostly on private land owned by Potlatch.

          And, of course, there are quite a few even age forests of predominantly one species, often revegetating after fires (DF, lodgepole, hemlock), that ARE NOT diverse, and there is no understory because these tree canopies completely block out the sun. They are natural and they are NOT diverse, and they don’t support much wildlife either in diversity or in total biomass.

          1. WM Avatar

            By the way, Barb, there is a good diagram on “sustainable forestry” = “working forest” = “tree farms” on the website I linked to in a post below. Here is the sub link:

            “sustainable forestry,” also in the menu bar

            1. Barb Rupers Avatar
              Barb Rupers

              As usual, I got bogged down yesterday checking out the link you gave. Saw a map showing a plan for timber harvest on a township of land; then I tried to determine where that might be as it looked like the checkerboard property of BLM and private holdings That took me to the Kalmiopsis, a publication of the Native Plant Society of Oregon. The caption under one picture was “A typical Pokegama Plateau prairie in the spring. Several species of yampa (Perideridia) flower there in early summer, but by late summer the prairies have dried into cattle-trampled, sun-dried brick.”

              It looked like the planned harvests on the township would result in a very short rotation period – like 25 years. Perhaps fiber can be produced in that short a time span but I don’t consider it a forest. It certainly won’t produce the wood that made the former forests so valuable. For example, western red cedar requires much longer than that to form the heartwood that is resistant to decay.

  6. alf Avatar

    The rationale for the givermint paying for logging roads (“hard money” vs “”road credits”, in their jargon) is that those roads allegedly facilitate other “multiple uses”, such as fire suppression (??!?) and access for recreation, hunters and firewood gatherers, etc., etc. In reality, as much or more than that, they do little more than facilitate illegal ORV use, poaching, grazing trespass, and the spread of noxious weeds.

    Yet another example (as if we need any more !) of givermint subsidies to private industry and privatizing the profits and socializing the costs.

    1. Yvette Avatar

      Those roads also are notorious for increasing sediment loads in streams, but what can one do? BMPs is about it, I suppose.

      People probably don’t think about it, but sediment is one of the most prevalent pollutants to our streams.

      1. Barb Rupers Avatar
        Barb Rupers

        The sediment is detrimental to salmon and trout spawning gravels.

        1. WM Avatar

          I don’t know whether this is mostly propaganda or a true effort to try to be good land stewards, but in WA we have made a substantial effort under state law to reduce these kinds of impacts from logging and road building. WA DNR, private lands and even federal forest lands are logged with these obligations in mind.


          1. Yvette Avatar

            WM, you offer some great links on this blog. I think WA is quite progressive when it comes to environmental and conservation. Western WA is my favorite region in all of the U.S. I’m glad I got to live there for a short while and have never stopped missing it.

            As we all learn new and improved practices to mitigate or decrease impacts from various industries we can usually count on WA and OR to be at the forefront of implementation.

            1. Gary Humbard Avatar
              Gary Humbard

              I don’t mean to be negative but I read that temperate old growth rain forests (mainly Oregon, Washington and BC) have been the most impacted type of forests in the world. There is only ~10% left with 90% of it located on US federal and BC provincial land. I also read the average tree on private land in Oregon is 40 years old (~10″ in diameter) and don’t doubt its similar in Washington. Google Earth speaks for itself.

              The private forest owners are making up for a dramatic reduction of timber harvest on federal land by meeting a demand of a renewable resource. My main issue is their mindset for short term profits and thus maximizing clearcutting instead of longer term thinning.

              1. Barb Rupers Avatar
                Barb Rupers

                Gary may be familiar with this area in the Coast Range of Oregon. It shows well what is happening to a lot of the private industrial forests in Washington and Oregon. Living down stream I can attest to the increased riparian damage I think is caused by this accelerated logging in a small drainage area.

                The video is a bit dreary but that is the only time there is access – during the hunting season when it frequently rains.

                “Produced by Rex Swartzendruber, a gourmet mushroom collector with no more forests in which to collect.”

              2. WM Avatar

                Watched the video, Barb. It looks to me if the video had been take 15 years earlier, or maybe 25 years into the future, those transitions from BLM to Weyerhauser logged over acreages would have been just the reverse. Many of those BLM lands on either side of the road had ALREADY been logged.

                So, as long as there is a demand for wood, domestically or internationally (Japan has used a lot of US wood after the Tsunami to rebuild), these areas will be cut, replanted and cut again on anywhere from a 50-80 year rotation age, whether they are privately owned or federally owned (and have timber sales). The roads are in place, the ground is too steep for most types of recreation and they don’t have the visual features MOST recreationists would use – scenic vistas, lakes, waterfalls, etc.

                This is the working forest. We need to make sure, however, riparian areas and streams don’t receive high sediment loads by holding logging to best management practices.

              3. Barb Rupers Avatar
                Barb Rupers

                WM, the cut areas you saw in this video had previously been owned by local Willamette Industries which had an 80-90 year rotation on their property. These lands are in the checkerboard ownership with alternate sections managed by the BLM (there have been some land swaps to consolidate). All the BLM forests in the area have been harvested at least once except for the 50 acre Valley of the Giants old growth stand. Most of the trees in the video are probably less than 50 years old. In 2002 during a hostile takeover Weyerhaeuser became the owner of the Willamette Industries property. They decided on a shorter rotation of 30 years, liquidated the trees, closed the mill in Dallas, Oregon in 2009, sold the equipment to Asian interests, and put the mill property up for sale in 2012. To see an example of what is left after this type of logging look at the picture: http://www.cascwild.org/campaigns/take-action/

                I realize the need for forest products but it should not be done at the cost to the public which frequently occurs. Think here of the floods on the Chehalis River in December 2007. Again the same company was implicated in a lot of the damage because of logging on steep slopes. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2008048848_logging13m.html

  7. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    I worked for the Forest Service and BLM and I’m fairly confident in saying that the public is fleeced when selling timber sales in the inter-mountain region (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming). The costs (ie. road building, timber harvesting, fuels treatment, trucking) typically exceed the value of timber sold. The sale of the forest products is validated by supplying jobs to the local communities.

    If these lands were ever turned over to the states, we would see a dramatic increase in logging and road building and all of the impacts associated with them. One of the most influential aspects of federal ownership that most people don’t realize is the overall in-effectivness of federal agencies, thus resulting in minimal timber harvesting. Federal agencies are extemely bureaucratic (due to laws, politics etc.) where state agencies tend to be more efficient.

    1. WM Avatar

      ++Federal agencies are extemely bureaucratic (due to laws, politics etc.) where state agencies tend to be more efficient.++

      Just had a conversation about this very topic with someone very high up in WA DNR. He at one time early in his career worked for USFS, and had the same comment as yours. Some of his timely comments were directed at fire-fighting efforts and costs this summer in the Northwest. Having worked for both agencies he was opining on how much better job the state did than the FS – everything from the quality of overhead teams directing the fire fighting efforts, and the necessary support logistics/transportation/food/safety, to crews on the ground digging line.

    2. JB Avatar

      One thing people don’t seem to grasp about the FS is that the bureaucracy exists both to (a) give people some say in how their resources are managed (balance competing interests), and (b) to ensure that harvests remain sustainable. Turning things over to the state would certainly increase efficiency, but state agencies (as so many who post here are fond of pointing out) are generally less inclusive (in terms of decision-making) and more subject to political whims. Which means eventually the ‘right’ administration comes along and its ‘drill baby, drill’ (or ‘cut baby, cut’). Focus on short-term interests (i.e., heavy harvest to create jobs) will result in the same types of boom-bust cycles we saw in the past.

  8. Yvette Avatar

    This article and thread reminded me of a good article on TWN by George Wuerthner from last August. http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2013/08/12/managing-forest-through-a-rear-view-mirror/

    It’s worth rereading as I think it contributes to the conversation of whether states will adequately manage forests without destruction of the forest ecosystem. One of the things that I’ve thought should be considered in any type of conservation and management are our man made borders. If we manage forests (or any ecological system whether it be forests, wolves, or wetlands) based on state boundaries what problems are created? Factor in our changing climate and how that effects the current management strategies. Man made boundaries may be a convenient way to work within our political system, but I think it falls short in what we need to accomplish on an ecosystem wide basis.

  9. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    I just don’t like the idea of ‘the working forest’ either, it’s not sustainable in the future. Unless we want areas set aside as nothing but tree farms to harvest, and leave the wilderness alone.

    It’s time we use our famous technological and scientific expertise to devise man-made materials for homebuilding, especially in these times of climate change, wildfires, and tornedo-prone areas, so that we are not so totally dependent upon, and wasteful, of our vanishing trees. We seem to mow them down at the drop of a hat – continuing to build homes not only with would but destroying habitat. I see it all around my once rural area.

    And maintaining the forests on the edge like this, with the shortening of growth periods for quicker harvest, can’t be a good idea, or feasible long-term in times ahead. The wilderness and its inhabitants really cannot support and provide for the world’s numbers anymore, I don’t think.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      sorry, that should read: ‘continuing to build homes not only with wood but destroying habitat where they grow.’

    2. JB Avatar

      The term “sustainability” actually comes from forestry–it (originally) meant never harvesting more than the years new growth–thus allowing for continued harvest without overexploitation. Generally speaking, this is what happens in a “working” forest (which I suspect was WM’s point).

      You might not like the idea of a working forest, but the fact that we have such places allows us to more fully protect other places (wilderness), while still providing timber and other wood products.

    3. Yvette Avatar

      There is an environmental cost to anything produced.

      Composite wood, for instance, is produced as a mixture of plastic and wood particles. Plastic is a product of petroleum. What happens long term when we use these products? How does it degrade and how long does it take to degrade?

      I’ve seen homes build from concrete cinder blocks. The production of concrete is not environmentally ‘green’.

      Roofing shingles? Petroleum product since asphalt is used.

      Vinyl windows vs. wood?

      There are trade offs in the production, use, and disposal of any product. We must think broadly and long term.

      We’re never going to stop using wood or wood products, and we probably shouldn’t. We can reconsider whether 60% of the yuppies need a 3-5,000sq/ft house for 2 or 3 people. Already we’re seeing a trend to downsize the square footage of houses, but we still have these humongous, generic looking, McMansion row houses spread across many regions.

      There are no simple solutions to the issues we and future generations face, but we can’t simply stop using wood, or even, stop building houses with wood.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        What I was thinking was something newer, a material that doesn’t require petroleum and doesn’t have an environmental cost (or a very low one). Something nontoxic.

        I really do think that using wood to build homes will become a thing of the past one day. Just my personal opinion.

        To me, it isn’t the most durable material (prone to mold and mildew decay from moisture, fire, deterioration and shrinkage from exposure to the elements, termites and other insects, wood is also treated with harmful chemicals) and was only used because it was readily available in ages past. Now it isn’t so readily available and isn’t going to be in the future, and as in the ‘rear view mirror’ approach, because it’s always been done that way or used isn’t good enough anymore and perhaps it is time to consider something else. Or maybe recycled/reclaimed wood. I don’t know if we’ll ever have to worry about ‘overgrowth and culling’ of trees.

        1. Ida Lupines Avatar
          Ida Lupines

          Also I think trends to downsizing homes, families, fuel usage, etc. are only due to the economy. Once that improves enough, people will go back to doing what they do best.

          With all the talk of the benefits of hemp, here’s a use that just might be on to something:

            1. Ida Lupines Avatar
              Ida Lupines

              It seems so silly and Prohibition-minded to ban industrial hemp production in the US when it has so many beneficial uses. Maybe there’s a similar plant that can be used as well.

              1. Ida Lupines Avatar
                Ida Lupines

                This plant is our planet’s salvation,” said Christoforou. It takes 60 years for a tree to grow in order to be cut and used, but hemp can be grown in eight months, and can be used for the same purposes.

                house built using hempcrete“You can make furniture, paper, plastic, ethanol, even build houses with it,” Christoforou said, referring to hempcrete, a happier version of concrete.

                “Hempcrete is a very healthy alternative to the brick, it is breathable, absorbs moisture; prevents development of fungi, it lasts longer than concrete, and if you throw it in the garden becomes fertiliser for your plants,” he said.

                I’m intrigued by this, even more intrigued by its use as a fabric – I love natural cottons and linens. We really need to think outside the box for the future (or the wooden frame).


              2. Nancy Avatar

                Another building material to think about also, Ida. Think of all the vacant lots in sunshine states 🙂

                The pros and cons of working with bamboo:


                “Bamboos are some of the fastest-growing plants in the world,[2] due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. In fact, within a 24 hour period, some species of bamboo can grow 35 inches, at a rate of 0.00003 km/h – 0.00002 mph”


              3. W. Hong Avatar
                W. Hong

                In China some people built houses out of hay bails and covered with mud that dried to a hard cover.

              4. Ida Lupines Avatar
                Ida Lupines

                LOL, if they could find a use for Knotweed, I could get rich.

            2. Yvette Avatar

              ….”some are calling it the gateway product.” That one gave me a hearty laugh. Love it.

              Hempcrete sounds fascinating. I’ll have to read more about it. Yes, our backward country needs should be throwing our capitalism on steroids attitude all over hemp. It can be used for so many things.

              Not to rain on your parade, but you did notice that house was framed with wood; wood framed windows; and wooden furniture. They could use bamboo on the floors, but houses will continue to be framed with wood. I suppose metal could be used, but I think it might not always work and may be cost prohibitive? Not sure. I’ll have to ask my brother.

              The hempcrete sounds awesome, though.

              1. Elk375 Avatar

                One of the problems with bamboo floors in the this part of the country is low humidity. Bamboo floor start splitting because of low humidity.

              2. Ida Lupines Avatar
                Ida Lupines

                Ha! No, I didn’t. But still, if we can decrease our wood usage it might help. I love adobe and stucco…now you’ve all got me thinking about it. 🙂

              3. Nancy Avatar

                The possibilities are endless if we truly want to get away from cutting down forests:


              4. Elk375 Avatar

                Before one tries to build a non traditional home either have cash or make sure that it can be financed. Freddy and Fanny are very strict on what type of houses they will buy the loans on. Pay attention to the above.


                I am headed over your way to see what is left at The Labor Day Patagonia Sale in Dillon.

              5. Nancy Avatar

                Elk – In case you didn’t know – the Patagonia store moved and is now a block south of its original location and FYI, Dillon is a real mess right now with the fair/ Labor Day rodeo/ tourists etc. Might find better parking a street down in the King’s parking lot to access the P store.

                Got a job in my valley tomorrow Elk, but it would of been fun to rub elbows at one of the local watering holes in Dillon while you were there 🙂

        2. Niki Tischhauser Avatar
          Niki Tischhauser

          Chiming in very late here: Strawbale, cob, earthships. They still use some wood but not nearly as much as a stick built home and they are far more beautiful and energy efficient for the most part.

          1. Niki Tischhauser Avatar
            Niki Tischhauser

            Also, my home was financed by USAA knowing full well it is straw bale and they just sold the loan to either Freddy or Fannie (can’t remember which off the top of my head).

  10. Yvette Avatar

    I was reading something else and came across this link to a FS page. http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/partners/cfaf/

    It’s interesting.

    “The Menominee Indian Tribe is a world leader in indigenous and sustainable forest management. The tribe was one of the first communities in the United States to articulate a vision for the practice of sustainable forest management. The tribe has actively managed the same forests for thousands of years, and has harvested timber from their forests on a sustainable basis for the past 150 years. Today, the Menominee Forest has more volume and contains higher quality trees than it did in 1854 when the reservation was established.”

  11. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    Great ideas – and industrial hemp isn’t even the ‘getting high’ type. So why is production banned?

    I have not and never have been an recreational drug user (gave it a try or to and never had much if any effect on me! I’m also kind of ‘meh’ on its medicinal use. However, if it could be used as an alternative to wood, paper products and synthetic textiles for a greener future, I’d be ecstatic! Even if it only cuts down on the amount of wood, it would be a good thing. I think the era of better life through chemicals and the novelty of that will be a thing of the past also.

    Weyer’high’ser, here we come!

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      ^^or recreational pot user, I should say.

  12. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    Bamboo is a beautiful accent material – and has been used as a building material in Asia for centuries. Think of those beautiful mats. Depending upon the weather of the area someone lives, it would be a wonderful material. And a mud and hay mixture was the precursor to brick, and gorgeous adobe and stucco. And we can update them with our modern know-how.

    We should use the materials native to our areas of the world – not be influenced by Western culture because of companies that want greedy monopolies on materials.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete and a tensile strength that rivals steel.

      Adobe walls are load bearing, i.e. they carry their own weight into the foundation rather than by another structure, hence the adobe must have sufficient compressive strength. In the United States, most building codes call for a minimum compressive strength of 300 lbf/in.2 Adobe construction should be designed so as to avoid lateral structural loads that would cause bending loads. The building codes require the building sustain a 1 g lateral acceleration earthquake load. Such an acceleration will cause lateral loads on the walls, resulting in shear and bending and inducing tensile stresses. To withstand such loads, the codes typically call for a tensile modulus of rupture strength of at least 50 lbf/in.2

      In addition to being an inexpensive material with a small resource cost, adobe can serve as a significant heat reservoir due to the thermal properties inherent in the massive walls typical in adobe construction. In climates typified by hot days and cool nights, the high thermal mass of adobe averages out the high and low temperatures of the day, moderating the living space temperature. The massive walls require a large and relatively long input of heat from the sun (radiation) and from the surrounding air (convection) before they warm through to the interior. After the sun sets and the temperature drops, the warm wall will then continue to transfer heat to the interior for several hours due to the time lag effect. Thus, a well-planned adobe wall of the appropriate thickness is very effective at controlling inside temperature through the wide daily fluctuations typical of desert climates, a factor which has contributed to its longevity as a building material.

      Thermodynamic material properties are sparsely quoted. The thermal conductivity of adobe is quoted as having an R value of R0 = 0.41 hr*ft2*°F/(Btu*in).[18] To determine the total R value, multiply R0, by the thickness of the adobe wall. From that, the conductivity is found to be k = 0.20 Btu/(hr*ft*°F) or 0.35 W/(m*K). The heat capacity is commonly quoted as cp = 0.20 Btu/(lbm*F) or 840 joules/(kg*K).[19] The density is 95 lbm/ft3 or 1520 kg/m3. The thermal diffusivity is calculated to 0.0105 ft2/hr or 2.72×10−7 m2/s.

      – source: Wikipedia

      Adobe also would use less energy to heat/cool and – yay – is fireproof too! And don’t even get me started on those gorgeous clay tile roofs and floors. Obviously, it wouldn’t work in New England or Minnesota, but it is something to think about.

      Have a good holiday weekend, everybody!

  13. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    Due to numerous federal laws (ie. ESA, Clean Water and Air Acts), and resource/forest management plans, the vast majority of timber sales on federal land today result in extremely minimal impacts. Here in Oregon, approximately one percent of the total federal land base was harvested each year resulting in lawsuits by the timber industry as the agencies are not meeting required allowable cuts.

    The best scenario IMO would be to turn over the management of the federal lands to the states with the mandate that federal laws would still need to be met. The federal bureaucracy is so obtrusive that its a wonder that anything is accomplished. An attitude of “that’s the way we have always done it”, little motivation to work extremely hard as affirmative action decided who was promoted, it takes an act of Congress to fire a federal employee and simple timber sale environmental documents are over 100 double sided pages.

    State agencies tend to be significntly less bureaucratic and thus more efficient and due to federal laws, state boundaries would not create artificial management scenarios.

    1. Barb Rupers Avatar
      Barb Rupers

      I am opposed to turning the federal lands over to the states because of situations such as the Elliot State Forest in Oregon – part of which has been sold to a private company to get around an ESA marbled murrelet nesting issue; more is under consideration. One of the 2 sold properties is now posted with no trespassing signs. Also in private ownership the companies can start charging for the use of these lands by recreationists as has been done recently by Weyerhaeuser in Washington state. This directly affects hunting – the state “owns” the game to which the company controls access.

      A recent article I read regarding this issue:

      1. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        This is terrible! You can see why certain special interests would love to drive and keep a wedge between hunters and environmentalists. 🙁

  14. JB Avatar

    “The best scenario IMO would be to turn over the management of the federal lands to the states with the mandate that federal laws would still need to be met. The federal bureaucracy is so obtrusive that its a wonder that anything is accomplished.”

    I don’t think that would result in any sort of improvement, Gary. For the most part, the bureaucracy is set up by federal law; require state agencies to follow federal law and you’ve saddled them with the very inefficiencies you object to. Moreover, state agencies have their own bureaucracy, which, in my experience, is often a near match for the federal system (often states have their own versions of NEPA, for example). So you would have (say Minnesota for example) follow federal law (MUSY, NEPA, NFMA, etc.) and then tack on state laws and regulations (e.g., MEPA)? I don’t see how that improved efficiency at all? I think the more likely result would be you would be that forest management would become more responsive to local interests.

  15. Nancy Avatar

    Oh my……


    “However, the Montana Republican Party has endorsed just such a move and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is studying it”


Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan