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John Stewart

Mid-Season Fire Review on National Forests in California

Working with our partners, we have been prioritizing successfully and putting out a large number of fires. Our priority is always life, property and natural resources. Sometimes that means that fires in wilderness areas may grow. Despite all the challenges, we are still maintaining a better than 95 percent success rate stopping fire on initial attack.

The circumstances under which a fire occurs determine the appropriate agency firefighting response. The spectrum of firefighting response can vary from Wildland Fire Use (WFU) to aggressive suppression using every available firefighting asset. For most fires, the appropriate response falls somewhere between these two extremes. For any fire where the goal is suppression, suppression tactics are chosen based upon factors including safety, potential impacts to communities and natural resources, cost efficiency, and likelihood of success. Of course, every fire is different and conditions can change rapidly. Due to these variations, tactics will differ from fire to fire, and can change from day to day or even hour to hour on the same fire, depending on changes in weather, terrain, and vegetation.

Essentially, WFU is managing fire to let it play its natural role in the environment. Firefighters assigned to WFU fires monitor the fires to ensure that resource objectives are being met and actively manage the fire by using common suppression tactics to ensure that the fire does not spread outside of the predetermined geographic area. Some see WFU as a “Let it Burn” policy. WFU fires are not fires that the Forest Service simply “let burn.” WFU fires are actively managed for natural resource benefits by firefighters on the ground. These benefits include the restoration and maintenance of healthy forests, rangelands, and wetlands.

Statewide fire activity and air quality conditions have generally improved since July 9 when I decided to not continue WFU or Prescribed Fire in the Region. Rather than require local units to wait until the preparedness level (PL) has been reduced to PL-III, I have decided to again consider approval of WFU and Prescribed Fire on a case-by-case basis. In addition to incident specific information, firefighting resource availability, air quality conditions, and expected and projected fuel and weather conditions will be key in my consideration to approve WFU or Prescribed Fire and should be carefully addressed in any Forest proposal.

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John Stewart

Is geothermal on the move?

For clarity, "hydrothermal" and "geothermal" basically hot water that is being used to produce electricity.

Interestingly, there are numerous "geothermal projects" being proposed for development on public lands under the management control of the Bureau of Land Management. Test wells have been drilled. Test results have not been released.

Could it be this is now the valve being opened to fund questionable projects at tax-payer expense?

Note, this news release talks about "demonstration projects." Demonstration projects can consume a lot of funding without accomplishing a result.

Time will tell.....



DOE To Invest US $90 Million in Advanced Geothermal Energy

June 27, 2008 - Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to US $90 million over four years to advance the research, development and demonstration of next-generation geothermal energy technology.

DOE said that it plans to make up to 26 awards through this competitive funding opportunity, which is open to industry and academia.

Funding is available at US $10.5 million for fiscal year (FY) 2008. Subject to annual Congressional appropriations, up to an additional US $30 million is expected to be available for awards in FY 2009 and US $49.5 million in FY 2010.

A minimum of 20 percent private sector cost share is required for R&D projects and funding for the awards is subject to Congressional appropriations. Recipient cost share requirements for demonstration projects will be up to 50 percent and vary by both the phase of the award and the activities within a particular phase.

"Geothermal energy is a clean, reliable, scalable, renewable energy source and these geothermal projects will help the U.S. tap domestic heat sources that were previously out of reach," said Andy Karsner, DOE's Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. "Increasing the use of traditional hydrothermal and geothermal base load resources is an important component of the Administration's efforts to diversify our nation's energy sources in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security."

Applications for this funding opportunity are due on or before August 12, 2008.

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John Stewart

Happy New Year from 4x4Wire

Travel Management.  This is part of the administrative process where the Forest Service is determining a sustainable system of routes to support the needs of Forest visitors.  The Bureau of Land Management is also engaged in travel management planning.  As travel management plans are developed, the coming challenge is to implement the plans.  Your involvement with implementing travel management plans is critical to continued access for recreation.

Wilderness.
  The 110th Congress left a number of wilderness bills for the 111th Congress.  There is pressure on Congress to set aside large swaths of public lands as wilderness.   And, there is a growing move to re-define wilderness: from preservation to protection.  We need to support efforts to protect our public lands while allowing enjoyment of the recreation opportunity provided.

Image.  Motorized recreation continues to be marked as “destroyers of the environment”.  Image does affect land management decisions when protection of resources is considered.  Our image is projected to the public though advertising and our own web sites.  

Coalition Building.  Motorized recreation is characterized by many facets, each with its own set of advocates.  We need to build a coalition of the different facets to develop strategy and set priorities for addressing issues common to all.  While we may recreate in different manners, we are bound by two common elements.  We use a motorized vehicle and we need access to a place for recreation.

Membership and Involvement.  Increasing the membership and involvement of recreationists is important.  As we move into the future, we will be involved with change.  The sport is changing.  Opportunities are changing.  And, regulations are changing.  Membership and involvement are key ingredients to ensuring recreation remains a viable opportunity.

I encourage everyone to become active and involved.  Join a local club, state/regional association, and a national organization.  Your participation helps protect access to recreation opportunities.  Your involvement can help guide the change.

In this ever-changing environment, 4x4Wire.com is committed to promoting and protecting responsible recreation.  Beginning in January, 2009, 4x4Wire.com will donate 10% of net advertising revenue per month to the BlueRibbon Coalition Legal Defense Fund for the express purpose of keeping trails and recreation areas open for use.   4x4Wire.com is funded through advertising.  Please support our advertisers and help contribute to protecting access to recreation opportunities.
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John Stewart

Bi-Partisan Political Activity - A Primer

Bi-Partisan Political Activity - A Primer

John Stewart
Natural Resource Consultant
California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs

Whether your club focus is social interaction or working to save your favorite wheeling area, members are what make it possible. It starts with membership in a local club centering on a shared goal. Soon, you find that others share common concerns about their area of interest and you begin sharing information. You have started "networking", the basic building block of a creating a coalition. Soon, you will find yourself in position to engage in political activity; either by contacting you elected representative to talk about an issue of concern or to endorse a bill.

Wheelers are interested in recreation and have spent many hours learning how to drive and fix their rig. While the mechanical skills have been honed, the political skills have been ignored.

The reality is that the quality of your recreation experience is dependent upon how articulate, active, and successful you are in bi-partisan political activity. The following is a "no nonsense" guide to bi-partisan political activity.

1) ALWAYS TALK ABOUT YOUR RECREATION ISSUES AND CONCERNS. During conversations with political staffers, candidates, or elected officials, stick to the topic of your concerns; not party affiliation.

2) TALK ABOUT WHAT HE (or SHE) IS FOR AND WHAT HE (or SHE) IS AGAINST THAT AFFECT YOUR RECREATION OPPORTUNITY. You may be a mechanic, teacher, web designer, or business owner. Talk about your recreation opportunity and how the proposed bill will affect it.

3) DON'T TALK ABOUT OTHER POLITICAL ISSUES OF HIS POLITICAL PARTY. Your concern is a single issue, recreation. Talking about other issues will get you locked into being a party supporter of that candidate or issue.

4) BE SUPPORTIVE OF A CANDIDATE ON ISSUES THAT CONCERN US, EITHER PRO OR CON.

5) NEVER PUBLICLY ENDORSE A CANDIDATE, BUT PRAISE HIS OR HER SUPPORT FOR RECREATION ISSUES. If you endorse someone, you lock yourself in. You become a "Democrat" or "Republican", and the other side will tune you out.

6) NEVER PUBLICLY ENDORSE AN AMENDMENT OR REFERENDUM THAT DOES NOT DIRECTLY AFFECT RECREATION, BUT LEND SUPPORT THROUGH COALITIONS ON ISSUES THAT DO AFFECT RECREATION MEMBERS. Coalitions achieve their strength through diversity. That is where we can leverage recreation positions and ideas.

7) WE MUST HAVE ACCESS TO ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS (OR THEIR STAFF) WHO CAN OFFICIALLY AFFECT US - - - AND THAT MEANS WHO'S IN OFFICE IS WHO WE WANT TO BE INVOLVED WITH - - - WHO WE WANT TO LISTEN TO US.

8) PARTY AFFILIATION IS YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS, AND YOU SHOULD ACT ON IT ANY WAY YOU WANT. HOWEVER, YOU SHOULD COMMUNICATE WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS AND PROMOTE RECREATION ISSUES REGARDLESS OF PARTY AFFILIATION.

The above are elementary political techniques - - - things that recreationists need to learn more about --- think more about --- and do more about. Bi-partisan activity through coalitions will strengthen all of us.
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John Stewart

Get the Lead Out

To look at this issue objectively, one needs to wind the calendar back over 30 years when the use of lead as an additive in gasoline was banned.  That was a traumatic experience.  And, yet, the technology stepped up to begin producing engines that did not need lead additive.  Some may spend hours in pointless arguments about power loss; but, lead is out of gasoline and the environment is better.

Or, wait, is the environment better?  If you were to listen to the advocates for recent legislation aimed at "getting the lead out" of virtually every product in the market because it "might" come in contact with children, you hear a different story.

As with two (polar opposite) views, somewhere there is a nugget of truth.  However, a simplistic internet search does not reveal much factual information.

Thirty years ago, it was "children are suffering from lead in paint and exhaust fumes".  Today it is "children are suffering because they might come in contact with an unspecified product that may contain lead."  And, the Consumer Products Safety Commission is proposing a cure.

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