Forum Index > Trail Talk > The summer to adopt a abandoned trail?
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Marc-Aurèle Fortin
Member
Member


Joined: 19 Jan 2014
Posts: 66 | TRs

Marc-Aurèle Fortin
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 3:20 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
The ban on chainsaw use in Wilderness is a self-inflicted Forest Service wound, along with its ban on wheelbarrows.

These bans are not followed by the BLM or the NPS in their Wilderness areas.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 contains no ban on chainsaws (or wheelbarrows) for trail maintenance. They merely have to be designated a minimum tool—in the language of the Act, "necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area."

But the Forest Service refuses to do that, even as thousands of miles of Wilderness trails grow over and disappear because maintenance with cross-cut saws is inefficient and costly.

Nor is there anything in the Code of Federal Regulations that stops the Forest Service from using chainsaws. The bans on chainsaws and wheelbarrows are merely eccentric practices that the Forest Service has imposed on its staff.

Naturally, certain Wilderness purist groups like the chainsaw ban, and when one National Forest recently tried to put chainsaws to good use, they sued the agency. This makes sense from their perspective: The fewer humans infesting sacred Wilderness areas, the better. Here's a link to that story:

https://durangoherald.com/articles/278111
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Kim Brown
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2009
Posts: 5734 | TRs

Kim Brown
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 5:12 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Marc-Aurèle Fortin wrote:
one National Forest [Colorado] recently tried to put chainsaws to good use, they sued the agency.

A quick glance at Wilderness Watch's legal brief shed a bit more light on the issue in Colorado. I read the newspaper articles posted, but they don't  say much.

The Wilderness Watch suit goes into a bit of history of the issue. Of course it's a biased brief, but a quick look shows that perhaps the USFS did not seek public input on what would be considered a pretty big project involving a big area. And what unsolicited public input they did get was against the project, and for a variety of solid reasons (and some not solid reasons) such as not even informal studies, no funding, etc.  But the USFS can't just go against it's own regulations on a large scale like that without public input, and without analyses. The USFS themselves admitted the project would diminish wilderness values.

They might have done better to obtain a chainsaw waiver on a trail-by-trail basis. Making a decision that spans multiple wilderness areas without public input was their biggest mistake. And without more in-depth information, I sorta agree on the issue of precedent that Wilderness Watch brings up.

I assume they collaborate with esquestrian groups to log out trails. To log out a large area in 6 weeks may not be reasonable project and perhaps they shouldn't have tried it.  But it has been done; Boundary Waters in 2000 after a super cell storm the year before got cross cut crew from all over the US to help log out those trails in one summer. They may have also used chainsaws; I don't recall. Est a million trees down.

Anyway; I don't feel the USFS' regulations are a "self-inflicted wound," as you do. I like the more strict USFS regulations, though I turn my head here and there. I'm not a zealot.

--------------
" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Ski
><((((°>



Joined: 28 May 2005
Posts: 10929 | TRs
Location: tacoma
Ski
  Top

><((((°>
PostThu May 21, 2020 5:37 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Marc-Aurèle Fortin wrote:
"...they sued the agency..."

When the very survival of your "environmental" organization depends entirely on private contributions from suckers who get all teary-eyed when they see photographs of dolphins or turtles or wolves, and monies for inflated "legal fees" collected from Big Daddy Government through the Equal Access to Justice Act, you send out lots of hysterical direct-mail with color photographs and file lots of lawsuits against federal lands management agencies.

Are you surprised?

This is what people do who can't find jobs in the real world.

But yes, you are correct: the USFS holding onto an inefficient and inadequate policy of using handsaws is simply dumb-ass stuff.
NPS uses power equipment all the time. No problem. Noise doesn't travel that far through dense forest. Not rocket science.

--------------
"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
treeswarper
Alleged Sockpuppet!



Joined: 25 Dec 2006
Posts: 9655 | TRs
Location: Don't move here
treeswarper
  Top

Alleged Sockpuppet!
PostThu May 21, 2020 5:57 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I cannae find it, but a few years ago there was a catastrophic event that dumped trees all over a wilderness trail in California and they got the OK to use power saws on some of the trails.  I am also thinking a paper or two was written on the project, but I googled it and came up empty handed.  Or would it be empty screened?

I'm thinking it was in the Sierras.

--------------
What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Marc-Aurèle Fortin
Member
Member


Joined: 19 Jan 2014
Posts: 66 | TRs

Marc-Aurèle Fortin
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 6:15 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
@Ski — No, not surprised at all. I know that this is the game.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Marc-Aurèle Fortin
Member
Member


Joined: 19 Jan 2014
Posts: 66 | TRs

Marc-Aurèle Fortin
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 6:21 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
@treeswarper — That could be true, because there's a laborious procedure under which some high-ranking Forest Service official can authorize chainsaw use. I understand it's quite a hassle, though. I have heard of rangers being told by their boss to go out and use chainsaws to clear deadfalls, but bring along an axe or handsaw to put fake marks on the ends of the logs so it looks like they were hand-cleared.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Marc-Aurèle Fortin
Member
Member


Joined: 19 Jan 2014
Posts: 66 | TRs

Marc-Aurèle Fortin
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 6:30 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
@Kim Brown — Thanks for replying. I read the plaintiffs' complaint as well, a year or two ago.

A couple of points. First, there is no law or regulation that stops the Forest Service from using chainsaws. It is only a policy that it has, and with which it has shot itself in the proverbial foot.

Second, a standard tactic of the organizations that Ski refers to is to invoke the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA) on any land management action they want to block, whether NEPA should apply or not. Clearing deadfalls from trails, even over a large area (and I don't recall that it was particularly large) cannot possibly have the kind of environmental impact that should implicate NEPA review, with all of the time and money such review entails.

As for the "Wilderness values" that you mention, that is a gauzy concept that is in the mind of the bearer of those values and shouldn't be given any deference beyond the language of the Wilderness Act of 1964, which is what sets out the values Congress had in mind. My Wilderness values might call for no horses, or no jogging, or no bright clothing, or no camping, or for the required wearing of moccasins. If the Forest Service conceded that chainsaws would impair "Wilderness values," that concession was a blunder, since the only relevant values are set for in the Wilderness Act, which does not forbid maintenance with chainsaws, even implicitly.

NEPA review would require months if not years, and would cost the Forest Service enough money that I imagine it would prefer to just abandon the trails. I suspect that that is the environmental organizations' real though unstated goal, since having no accessible trails keeps people from (in these people's view) spoiling the Weminuche Wilderness simply by their mere presence.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Kim Brown
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2009
Posts: 5734 | TRs

Kim Brown
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 6:45 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Ah. I just looked up the 1999 supercell storm. They did get a chainsaw waiver for much of the work, but I do know they used x-cut saws as well, because a x-cut crew from MBSNF-Darrington District spent about 2 weeks there helping  out.

--------------
" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Kim Brown
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2009
Posts: 5734 | TRs

Kim Brown
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 7:35 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I haven't read this 2015 updated version of "Keeping It Wild," but it's likely the same as the 2012 version;it defines what wilderness character is, and gives guidance on how to monitor and manage for wilderness.

The USFS is bound by their regulations to manage to reach these goals. For instance, a volunteer group might go into a wilderness area and map and count fire rings. A big issue in the Dan Evans Wilderness (Olympic Wilderness) is military use of air space and how it infringes on the value of quiet. King County has a Weed Watchers program that collaborates with the USFS in invasive inventories that might encroach on wilderness.

I realize the Wilderness Act does not prohibit chainsaws, but USFS regulations prohibit it without approved exceptions. A lot of people like that regulation; a lot like the exceptions. And there are extremes on each end. They can't just flip a switch to change how to manage wilderness. It would require a nationwide-NEPA process.

At any rate, it's quite interesting, and there are as many opinions as there are wilderness areas. More, actually.

Another thing about wilderness - there's no legislation on how it is managed. It's done by the courts. One lawsuit outcome changes one aspect, another lawsuit might turn it over within a few years, or perhaps many years. Then another lawsuit outcome changes something else. And so on.

--------------
" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Logbear
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Sep 2006
Posts: 284 | TRs
Location: Getchell. Wash
Logbear
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 7:42 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Clearing the devils windstorm.

Crosscut saws:  222 miles of trail cleared
Chainsaw:  67 miles of trail cleared.

There were no lawsuits or threat of lawsuits related to this work.
Friends of the Inyo is a local group that is very active in protecting the wilderness area.  They contributed about $50,000 to the work effort.

The USFS did this the right way.


http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5370647.pdf
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Kim Brown
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2009
Posts: 5734 | TRs

Kim Brown
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 8:44 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks Logbear; it does look like they did it the right way on that project. Crazy storm!  Wow.

--------------
" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
jinx'sboy
Member
Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2008
Posts: 558 | TRs
Location: on a great circle route
jinx'sboy
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 9:32 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Marc-Aurèle Fortin wrote:
A couple of points. First, there is no law or regulation that stops the Forest Service from using chainsaws. It is only a policy that it has, and with which it has shot itself in the proverbial foot.

Second, a standard tactic of the organizations that Ski refers to is to invoke the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA) on any land management action they want to block, whether NEPA should apply or not.

This is incorrect.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 is Law.  It isn’t ‘policy’ or in the ‘code of Federal Regulations’.  The 1964 Act very clearly bans mechanized and motorized use.  Period. Sec 4(c).

Then, the Act does create some classes of ‘exemptions’.  One of which - Sec 4(a)3 allows the NPS  some ‘wiggle room’ (my words) with regards to motorized/mechanized use and put the Wilderness Act behind the original Act(s) establishing a particular NPS Park:  “Nothing in this Act shall modify the statutory authority under which units of the national park system are created...”.  The USFS enjoys no such exemption.

NEPA is also law.  Nobody ‘invokes it”.  It applies, always, and as modified by 50 years of Court decisions and appeal history. Yes...Agencies have to follow it, even when we/they dont like it.

We can discuss whether or not the Wilderness Act is adequate or needed.  Or what tools/activities should or not be allowed in Wilderness.  But the wording in the Act is clear - glib protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
RodF
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Sep 2007
Posts: 2520 | TRs
Location: Sequim WA
RodF
  Top

Member
PostThu May 21, 2020 11:15 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
jinx'sboy wrote:
The 1964 Act very clearly bans mechanized and motorized use.  Period. Sec 4(c).

This is incorrect.

You neglect to quote it in full "except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act... there shall be... no use of... motorized equipment".

What are the "minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purposes of this Act"?  In Section 2(a), wilderness "shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness".  In Section 4(b) " wilderness areas shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use."

Clearing trails is necessary to fulfill a founding public purpose of wilderness: recreational use.


You also neglect to quote section 4(a)(1) "Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to be in interference with the purpose for which national forests are established as set forth in.. the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of June 12, 1960" which itself begins by stating "it is the policy of the Congress that the national forests are established and shall be administered for outdoor recreation..."

Nothing in the Wilderness Act interferes with a purpose of national forests: outdoor recreation, for which it is necessary to have cleared trails.


jinx'sboy wrote:
But the wording in the Act is clear - glib protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

Damn right.

If plaintiffs believe the all these trails can be cleared with hand tools alone, they should simply volunteer and do it, rather than sue the forest service because it can't do it.  (And that's the law.  By precedent, courts must defer to the agency determination that these trails cannot all be cleared without chainsaws (and has proven it, by not being able to do so).  The burden of proof lies entirely on the plaintiffs to prove it can be done without chainsaws.  I'd love to see WilderWatch do something productive for a change: get out there and clear all those trails!)

--------------
"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
jinx'sboy
Member
Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2008
Posts: 558 | TRs
Location: on a great circle route
jinx'sboy
  Top

Member
PostFri May 22, 2020 6:56 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
RodF wrote:
You neglect to quote it in full "except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act... there shall be... no use of... motorized equipment".

What are the "minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purposes of this Act"?  In Section 2(a), wilderness "shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness".  In Section 4(b) " wilderness areas shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use."

Clearing trails is necessary to fulfill a founding public purpose of wilderness: recreational use.

The notion that Wilderness = Recreation = Trails = Trails that must be maintained with chainsaws is absurd and a warped reading of the Act.  The Wilderness Act is a land designation, not an aspirational goal for some unknown quantity of a ‘public good’. Nowhere does ‘providing recreation’ trump the very exact prohibitions In the Wilderness Act.

Go back to the definition of the Act - sec 2c. The goals are stated  “... Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation...”

“Minimum requirements” are just that.  They dont rely on being easier, cheaper, faster or better at meeting some broad goal of providing recreation, or anything else.

Arguing that the 1960 MUSY Act requires use of chainsaws for trail maintenance in Wilderness is  equally off base.  Using that logic, logging and road building could or even MUST continue in Wilderness also, since they are listed as ‘desirable’ in that Act.  But, the Wilderness Act clearly prohibits those actions - along with motorized/mechanized use - in designated Wilderness.  Otherwise the difference between land management activities in - and outside of - Wilderness would be nil.  And that isn’t what the Wilderness Act is about.

Your final comment that “...these trails cannot be cleared without chainsaws (and has proven it, by not being able to do so)..”   merely shows that the Agency has neither the money or the interest (and possibly the skills) to do so in the spirit of the Wilderness Act.  It’s more a matter of ‘dont want to’ or ‘can’t be bothered to’ rather than ‘can not’.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Ski
><((((°>



Joined: 28 May 2005
Posts: 10929 | TRs
Location: tacoma
Ski
  Top

><((((°>
PostFri May 22, 2020 8:10 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
^ You're making the same mistake that WildernessWatch (and many others) make: thinking that the Wilderness Act of 1964 somehow has precedence over other federal laws, which in fact it does not.

The wording in the act is very clear on that point. But as with so many other parts of the bill, that one somehow gets overlooked by some.

--------------
"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trail Talk > The summer to adopt a abandoned trail?
  Happy Birthday CT, hikerdan3369!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy