© a Quinn Martin production
Lots of you have been asking what you can do to help. This year's resolution is to affect change on The Angeles and take back OUR forest. I will have an online petition circulating soon. Thanks everybody.

I originally wanted to blog about my adventures in the San Gabriel Mountains. I have some good stories, like the time I took a donkey to Ralph's Supermarket. But then the Station Fire started. I realized that there is much that needs to be brought to the attention of the mountain going public. Most folks are kept in the dark about how the Angeles National Forest operates. I will raise issues that are important to me, which are hopefully important to all citizens, but if you have any suggestions for discussion here, I am willing.

Here's the big agenda: Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron. I've made a few smart remarks and cryptic comments about her. But now, with the backing of some knowledgeable and trusted friends, it is time for a concerted effort to have her removed from her post. Stay tuned for details. And if you have any information you would like to contribute, anonymously or not, email me at gregsweet4@yahoo.com

I will get to some of the stories, sooner or later. Also, I want to make it clear that I no longer work at Adams' Pack Station, that these words are my own, and that the pack station is not the source of my information - they don't want trouble.

The First Principle of Conservation is Development

Keep this in mind for future posts...

The Fight for Conservation
Chapter IV - The principles of Conservation
by Gifford Pinchot (founder of the Forest Service)

The principles which the word Conservation has come to embody are not
many, and they are exceedingly simple. I have had occasion to say a good
many times that no other great movement, has ever achieved such progress
in so short a time, or made itself felt in so many directions with such
vigor and effectiveness, as the movement for the conservation of natural

Forestry made good its position in the United States before the
conservation movement was born. As a forester I am glad to believe that
conservation began with forestry, and that the principles which govern
the Forest Service in particular and forestry in general are also the
ideas that control conservation.

The first idea of real foresight in connection with natural resources
arose in connection with the forest. From it sprang the movement which
gathered impetus until it culminated in the great Convention of
Governors at Washington in May, 1908. Then came the second official
meeting of the National Conservation movement, December, 1908, in
Washington. Afterward came the various gatherings of citizens in
convention, come together to express their judgment on what ought to be
done, and to contribute, as only such meetings can, to the formation of
effective public opinion.

The movement so begun and so prosecuted has gathered immense swing and
impetus. In 1907 few knew what Conservation meant. Now it has become a
household word. While at first Conservation was supposed to apply only
to forests, we see now that its sweep extends even beyond the natural

The principles which govern the conservation movement, like all great
and effective things, are simple and easily understood. Yet it is often
hard to make the simple, easy, and direct facts about a movement of this
kind known to the people generally.

The first great fact about conservation is that it stands for
development. There has been a fundamental misconception that
conservation means nothing but the husbanding of resources for future
generations. There could be no more serious mistake. Conservation does
mean provision for the future, but it means also and first of all the
recognition of the right of the present generation to the fullest
necessary use of all the resources with which this country is so
abundantly blessed. Conservation demands the welfare of this generation
first, and afterward the welfare of the generations to follow.

The first principle of conservation is development, the use of the
natural resources now existing on this continent for the benefit of the
people who live here now. There may be just as much waste in neglecting
the development and use of certain natural resources as there is in
their destruction. We have a limited supply of coal, and only a limited
supply. Whether it is to last for a hundred or a hundred and fifty or a
thousand years, the coal is limited in amount, unless through geological
changes which we shall not live to see, there will never be any more of
it than there is now. But coal is in a sense the vital essence of our
civilization. If it can be preserved, if the life of the mines can be
extended, if by preventing waste there can be more coal left in this
country after we of this generation have made every needed use of this
source of power, then we shall have deserved well of our descendants.

Conservation stands emphatically for the development and use of
water-power now, without delay. It stands for the immediate construction
of navigable waterways under a broad and comprehensive plan as
assistants to the railroads. More coal and more iron are required to
move a ton of freight by rail than by water, three to one. In every case
and in every direction the conservation movement has development for its
first principle, and at the very beginning of its work. The development
of our natural resources and the fullest use of them for the present
generation is the first duty of this generation. So much for

In the second place conservation stands for the prevention of waste.
There has come gradually in this country an understanding that waste is
not a good thing and that the attack on waste is an industrial
necessity. I recall very well indeed how, in the early days of forest
fires, they were considered simply and solely as acts of God, against
which any opposition was hopeless and any attempt to control them not
merely hopeless but childish. It was assumed that they came in the
natural order of things, as inevitably as the seasons or the rising and
setting of the sun. To-day we understand that forest fires are wholly
within the control of men. So we are coming in like manner to understand
that the prevention of waste in all other directions is a simple matter
of good business. The first duty of the human race is to control the
earth it lives upon.

We are in a position more and more completely to say how far the waste
and destruction of natural resources are to be allowed to go on and
where they are to stop. It is curious that the effort to stop waste,
like the effort to stop forest fires, has often been considered as a
matter controlled wholly by economic law. I think there could be no
greater mistake. Forest fires were allowed to burn long after the people
had means to stop them. The idea that men were helpless in the face of
them held long after the time had passed when the means of control were
fully within our reach. It was the old story that "as a man thinketh, so
is he"; we came to see that we could stop forest fires, and we found
that the means had long been at hand. When at length we came to see that
the control of logging in certain directions was profitable, we found it
had long been possible. In all these matters of waste of natural
resources, the education of the people to understand that they can stop
the leakage comes before the actual stopping and after the means of
stopping it have long been ready at our hands.

In addition to the principles of development and preservation of our
resources there is a third principle. It is this: The natural resources
must be developed and preserved for the benefit of the many, and not
merely for the profit of a few. We are coming to understand in this
country that public action for public benefit has a very much wider
field to cover and a much larger part to play than was the case when
there were resources enough for every one, and before certain
constitutional provisions had given so tremendously strong a position to
vested rights and property in general.

A few years ago President Hadley, of Yale, wrote an article which has
not attracted the attention it should. The point of it was that by
reason of the XIVth amendment to the Constitution, property rights in
the United States occupy a stronger position than in any other country
in the civilized world. It becomes then a matter of multiplied
importance, since property rights once granted are so strongly
entrenched, to see that they shall be so granted that the people shall
get their fair share of the benefit which comes from the development of
the resources which belong to us all. The time to do that is now. By so
doing we shall avoid the difficulties and conflicts which will surely
arise if we allow vested rights to accrue outside the possibility of
governmental and popular control.

The conservation idea covers a wider range than the field of natural
resources alone. Conservation means the greatest good to the greatest
number for the longest time. One of its great contributions is just
this, that it has added to the worn and well-known phrase, "the greatest
good to the greatest number," the additional words "for the longest
time," thus recognizing that this nation of ours must be made to endure
as the best possible home for all its people.

Conservation advocates the use of foresight, prudence, thrift, and
intelligence in dealing with public matters, for the same reasons and in
the same way that we each use foresight, prudence, thrift, and
intelligence in dealing with our own private affairs. It proclaims the
right and duty of the people to act for the benefit of the people.
Conservation demands the application of common-sense to the common
problems for the common good.

The principles of conservation thus described--development,
preservation, the common good--have a general application which is
growing rapidly wider. The development of resources and the prevention
of waste and loss, the protection of the public interests, by foresight,
prudence, and the ordinary business and home-making virtues, all these
apply to other things as well as to the natural resources. There is, in
fact, no interest of the people to which the principles of conservation
do not apply.

The conservation point of view is valuable in the education of our
people as well as in forestry; it applies to the body politic as well as
to the earth and its minerals. A municipal franchise is as properly
within its sphere as a franchise for water-power. The same point of view
governs in both. It applies as much to the subject of good roads as to
waterways, and the training of our people in citizenship is as germane
to it as the productiveness of the earth. The application of
common-sense to any problem for the Nation's good will lead directly to
national efficiency wherever applied. In other words, and that is the
burden of the message, we are coming to see the logical and inevitable
outcome that these principles, which arose in forestry and have their
bloom in the conservation of natural resources, will have their fruit in
the increase and promotion of national efficiency along other lines of
national life.

The outgrowth of conservation, the inevitable result, is national
efficiency. In the great commercial struggle between nations which is
eventually to determine the welfare of all, national efficiency will be
the deciding factor. So from every point of view conservation is a good
thing for the American people.

The National Forest Service, one of the chief agencies of the
conservation movement, is trying to be useful to the people of this
nation. The Service recognizes, and recognizes it more and more strongly
all the time, that whatever it has done or is doing has just one object,
and that object is the welfare of the plain American citizen. Unless the
Forest Service has served the people, and is able to contribute to their
welfare it has failed in its work and should be abolished. But just so
far as by coöperation, by intelligence, by attention to the work laid
upon it, it contributes to the welfare of our citizens, it is a good
thing and should be allowed to go on with its work.

The Natural Forests are in the West. Headquarters of the Service have
been established throughout the Western country, because its work cannot
be done effectively and properly without the closest contact and the
most hearty coöperation with the Western people. It is the duty of the
Forest Service to see to it that the timber, water-powers, mines, and
every other resource of the forests is used for the benefit of the
people who live in the neighborhood or who may have a share in the
welfare of each locality. It is equally its duty to coöperate with all
our people in every section of our land to conserve a fundamental
resource, without which this Nation cannot prosper.

Something's Fishy In The Baldy Reservoir

Back in November I reported word that the ski resort at Mt. Baldy had built a reservoir for snow making operations without any environmental studies being done (Reservoir Dogs, 11/21/09: http://sgmountains.blogspot.com/2009/11/reservoir-dogs.html). I am not necessarily holding the resort responsible, because they did this with the permission of the Forest Service, or more fairly, with the permission of the management on the Angeles National Forest - aka Jody Noiron. I also told you about an employee that Jody suspended because she thought this person had spread the word of misconduct, but I will deal with that in my next post.

There is an organization within the Forest Service that makes sure the forest managers across the country uphold their responsibilities. This is the FSEEE - Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. They were made aware of my report by the Center for Biological Diversity with whom I originally filed a complaint. The FSEEE took the bull by the horns and filed for "FOIA's", that is, documents made public under the Freedom of Information Act. This is the update email that I received on December 18th, 2009 (and I have reasons for holding it back a little)...

"I just received my FOIA request from the Angeles NF regarding the Mt. Baldy reservoir. I'll be looking over it in the next couple of days to try and piece together what went on there. From skimming the documents, it looks like the ski area initially prepared some type of analysis for expansion in the early 80's but could not afford it in the end and so the second reservoir was not built though some land was cleared of brush. Then it looks like in the mid 2000's, they had the money, proceeded with the scoping for the beginning of a NEPA environmental assessment, did a biological assessment, and then something happened and the forest decided to issue a decision memo with the project as a categorical exclusion (specifically Category 3: approval, modification, or continuation of minor special uses of National Forest System lands that require less than five contiguous acres of land). This decision came with some mandates attached regarding reservoir size, the building season, and measures that had to be taken to mitigate or minimize effects to species like big horn sheep. All of that was approved under Marty Dumpis. Then, in fall of 2008, after Marty left his district ranger position, the new district ranger issued an order to the ski resort to cease project construction immediately citing them for violation of several of the decision memo protective measures. There are no documents after this, which is interesting since the reservoir has been constructed and filled, indicating that the forest service did not officially give the go ahead to complete the project. It also looks like the completed reservoir is 3 million gallons larger than was permitted by the decision memo (the completed reservoir has a capacity of 9 million gallons versus the 6 million approved). An interesting question would be whether or not the reservoir is filled to the 9 million capacity or the approved 6 million. The current district ranger (who seems quite concerned with the state of affairs) indicated to me that she visited the reservoir and drew a physical line representing the 6 million mark for which the resort is not allowed to pass. Another thing that I need to look into are issues of water rights. In the initial scoping documents, it looks like the ski resort had obtained water rights from the municipal water board to divert water from underneath the nearby falls and then pump it to the reservoirs. However, that action was dropped from the final decision memo because it was determined to require an environmental analysis. The ski resort also wanted to survey possible wells, and it is unclear whether or not that action got the go ahead or if they would have the water rights.

So this is an update of what I have gleaned from skimming through the documents. Something doesn't add up for me, particularly how they justified skipping from the NEPA process to the categorical exclusion. My colleagues are out for the holidays, but I will be interested in getting their opinions as well."

NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. This was enacted as a response to the growing environmentalist population that began to question the practices of entities like the Forest Service that were profitable but disregarded the health of ecosystems. Essentially, as stated in the Forest Service's own documentary, The Greatest Good, it "opened up the decision-making process to The People." When the management of the Angeles National Forest avoids NEPA by taking the easy way, signing a "categorical exclusion", they keep us Citizen Owners out of the loop, and they do not consult with all the scientists that would otherwise need to give the go-ahead. I sometimes get bored and frustrated with the preservationist minutia,  but to address a project by just saying "eh, don't worry about it" is irresponsible and dishonest, at least.

Forest Service Plan Cuts Discounts for Seniors, Disabled

"The Forest Service is not showing good faith by changing the terms of the passes after the fact." Article in the Modesto Bee...


New Podcasts From USFS Region 5 (That's Us)

I haven't listened yet...

"In this episode of Forest Focus, Ann Dunsky, Steve Dunsky and John Heil of Pacific Southwest Region Public Affairs interview various people involved in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Regional Forester Randy Moore, ARRA Program Manager Milt Wingert, Forest Service Civil Engineer Barrett McMurtry, Job Corps Carpentry Instructor Shaun Cushman, Civil Engineering Technician Herman Wendell and others offer a variety of perspectives."


You Made Your Bed, Now Get Out Of It!

This is the entry I have avoided, but it has to be published. It is the elephant in the living room. I promised to tell you why the Angeles National Forest Supervisor, Jody Noiron, is so obstinate. It is something that is known to all of her long-time employees, and it has created a toxic atmosphere that they have lived with for far to long.

You see, Jody was never cut-out for a career in management. This is her Forest Service time line according to the website of a group that had her as a guest

"Jody Noiron began her Forest Service career in 1983 as an Engineer on the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia. In addition to a number of special assignments to Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Milwaukee, she served as Technical Services Team Leader on the Ottawa National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from 1989 to 1994. Noiron arrived in California in 1994, where she assumed the position of Deputy Forest Supervisor for the Plumas National Forest. In 1998 she spent 9 months in San Francisco as the Region 5 (California) Deputy Regional Forester for Resources, a responsibility that encompassed oversight of the natural resource programs for all the national forests in California. She arrived on the Angeles National Forest in 2000, bringing with her a wealth of experience garnered from across the nation. Currently, she is the Supervisor for the ANF."

And then they add this amusing bit...

"Jody’s vision for the Angeles National Forest is:
  • To provide watershed protection, open space for learning, and enhanced quality of life for the Los Angeles Basin.
  • To serve as a model of excellence for resource management and customer service.
  • To promote a safe, healthy work environment for the Angeles workforce, and a safe, healthy recreation environment for Forest users."
Obviously, these promo's are written to sound more exciting than they are. What it really says is that she trudged along for 11 years in hourly positions and gaining a responsibility here and there. Nothing wrong with that. What I find curious is the promotion to Deputy Forest Supervisor, Plumas National Forest, without ever serving as a District Ranger, but maybe there is a reasonable explanation for that. What I really want to talk about is the mere 9-month term in Vallejo as Region 5 Deputy Regional Forester.

Keep in mind that Jody was already working in Northern California for for several years before the promotion to R5, and that many forest employees make trips to the regional office for meetings, training seminars etc - they get to know one another. Maybe somebody took a liking to her and moved her up to the regional office, which brings us to Jody's exponential growth to Forest Supervisor of one of the busiest forests in the nation and caretaker of a property the size of Rhode Island.

On September 9th, 2009, while the Station Fire was still smoldering, I sent a letter to CA Senator Diane Feinstien, Congressmen David Drier, Adam Schiff & Buck McKeon, and LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich. I'll let it speak for itself...

"After the largest fire in the history of the Angeles National Forest, I am asking you to take more of a leadership role in assessing the management of this forest. During the last 9 plus years, this forest has had a Forest Supervisor, if the facts be known, that should not have held this position. When the previous Supervisor retired, as is customary, he provided a list of qualified replacements to the Regional Forester to fill his vacancy. Jody Noiron's name was not on that list. What was not known at the time is that Jody and the Regional Forester were engaged in a romantic affair. This affair eventually cost the Regional Forester his marriage and later his job.

During Jody Noiron's reign, the Angeles National Forest has developed an extremely hostile work environment. The result is that several key seasoned employees have left or have been replaced. The rumors of mismanagement on the Station Fire are rampant. Currently there are two retired Angeles Supervisors in the area, along with several high level retired firefighters. I would recommend that you appoint some of these retirees to investigate any misconduct on the forest.

It is with heavy heart that I write this letter, however, the rich history of The Angeles and the public trust does not deserve the current management."

You see, Jody Noiron did not legitimately earn her position as Forest Supervisor. And the last ten years have proven that she is not qualified for the job.

The Forest Service is actually a relatively small organization, and when Jody came to work on The Angeles, the employees quickly found out how she got the job. She has been trying to prove herself ever since. But without the abilities, she was never able to garner respect. Also, she came into the office with a defensive and combative attitude, determined to steamroll anyone that got in her way. For ten years now the employees of The Angeles have been afraid to speak their mind, give an opinion, have a dialog, express a grievance, and they generally walk around on eggshells for fear of losing their job. Jody has not been up to the task and refuses to admit any incompetency to others or to herself.

As I've said before, her defensiveness, false pride, and stubbornness are why she initially refused help with the Station Fire, and why she has tried to cover up her mistakes. Now you know the root of the problem. I think it is important that we all know what is going on in The Angeles so that we can correct the problem. I don't publish the news of Jody's affair and suspect promotion for gratuitous effect. Jody Noiron, and how she handles her job, affects the lives of millions of people, and we should be aware of her employment circumstances; in the same way we are concerned about Congressional lobbyists having affairs with legislators.

What I want to know now is how, in the face of so many debacles that reverberate all the way to Washington D.C., she has managed to keep her position? We know what she is capable of, so somewhat jokingly, but with a serious skepticism, I wonder of whom she has compromising photos.

Please feel free to open a civilized discussion here in the "comments" section...

Crisis? What Crisis?

Here's a quick entry before "the big one"...

Tom Tidwell, the current Chief of the USDA Forest Service (the guy from Washington D.C.), was in the LA area over the holidays. He was heard to say that he didn't understand all the fuss over the Station Fire, and he is very upset by all the negative press.

After all, it's not like The Angeles has any valuable timber or grazing land, right? Apparently he is not aware of how important the recreation and open space is to the well-being of millions of nearby city dwellers, not to mention the consequential poor air-quality, flood hazards, loss of wildlife habitat etc.

Let him know what you think:

US Forest Service
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C.
(800) 832-1355

Turkey Vulture in Big Santa Anita Canyon

This bird was enjoying a hot air vent coming up canyon from the valley below. I think he/she also had a meal over the side of the road because it seemed a bit protective of the area. It was probably not protecting a nest - there was no suitable site and there were 5 or 6 birds circling before I parked the car. In the distance you can see Santiago and Modjeska Peaks in the Cleveland National Forest.

Santiago & Modjeska Peaks at the same time (easier to see than in video)...

Flood of Ash in Millard Canyon During Recent Rains

I didn't take this video, this is from long-time campground host Lonnie. His YouTube channel is here: http://www.youtube.com/user/lcalarea47