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Instead of Saving Homes from Wildfire, Colorado’s Congressional Delegation Spends Billions to Log National Forests

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Senator John Hickenlooper, and Representative Joe Neguse helped spend over $3.3 billion in taxpayer dollars to log national forests, funds that could’ve protected homes from wildfire, according to Eco-Integrity Alliance, a national coalition uniting the environmental movement, with a base in Colorado.

Eco-Integrity Alliance has erected a billboard on E. Colfax Ave. & Quebec St. in Denver, demanding that these elected officials “Stop Wasting $3 Billion to Log Our National Forests – Save Lives With Firewise Homes Instead,” displaying images of logging next to a home protected from wildfire.

The large wildfires threatening homes and communities in Colorado and across the West are the result of high temperatures and drought exacerbated by climate change, coinciding with high winds. [1]

The U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Sciences Laboratory found that making homes “Firewise”—tending an area up to 100 feet around structures, installing metal roofs, etc.—protect up to 95 percent of homes from even the biggest fires. [2]

Meanwhile, preserving carbon-storing forests on public lands would do more to address the climate crisis than any other proposal considered by Congress or the Environmental Protection Agency, with a recent study showing that logging emits more carbon than wildfire and insects combined. [3]

Yet instead of taking the two most effective actions in response to climate-driven wildfire, the federal government—at the behest of Bennet, Hickenlooper, Neguse, and others in Congress—has allotted over $3.3 billion under the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to more logging under the guise of “wildfire risk reduction,” money that instead could go to protecting homes. [4]

Not only doesn’t logging prevent the big fires that menace our communities—the Marshall Fire outside Boulder burned almost entirely through grasslands and residential neighborhoods—but can actually dry out forests by opening stands to sunlight and wind, spreading flames faster. [5]

Yet this “log to save the forest” scheme is exactly what’s planned for 3.5 million acres of public lands in Colorado’s Front Range, and tens of millions of acres across the West, according to the Forest Service’s “Confronting the Wildfire Crisis.” [6] Meanwhile, the lion’s share of the work and costs to actually protect homes from wildfire fall on communities and homeowners.

“At best, logging backcountry forests under the guise of ‘wildfire risk reduction’ is pointless, expensive busywork,” says Josh Schlossberg, Evergreen, Colorado-based steering committee member of Eco-Integrity Alliance. “At worst, it’s degrading natural ecosystems, exacerbating climate change, and providing a false sense of security that endangers the homes and lives of Coloradans.”

Eco-Integrity Alliance’s mission is to unite the environmental movement through common campaigns of mutual support. Eco-Integrity Alliance’s six-person steering committee members are based in Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. Guiding Principles and other info can be found at eco-integrityalliance.org.

“ACTION” HIKE: Flying J Ranch Park on Sept. 25 @ 9 a.m. in Conifer, Colorado


Join Eco-Integrity Alliance on a short and easy guided hike (3 miles, no hills) at Flying J Ranch Park (40 minutes from downtown Denver, 9661 County Hwy 73, Conifer, CO 80433-4008) to enjoy the splendor of ponderosa pine forest, tallgrass meadow, and 150 acres of clearcut devastation courtesy of Jefferson County Open Space, Denver Mountain Parks, and your tax dollars.

Why hike through clearcuts when there are so many beautiful intact forests left in Colorado? Because the U.S. Forest Service is spending billions of our taxes to LOG UP TO 3.5 MILLION ACRES of our Front Range public forests—on top of Jefferson County’s misguided plan to log up to 25,000 acres or 40 SQUARE MILES of parks—under the phony guise of “wildfire fuel reduction.”

While wildfire is a natural and essential part of western forest ecosystems, the large wildfires we’ve been experiencing lately threaten our communities while risking—and all too often, taking—the lives of residents and firefighters.

Scientists studying the phenomenon, including those at CU Boulder, know these big fires are the result of HOT TEMPERATURES, LOW HUMIDITY, AND DROUGHT exacerbated by climate change and coinciding with HIGH WINDS.

The good news is that making homes “Firewise”—tending an area up to 100 feet around a structure, installing metal roofs, and other simple measures—can PROTECT 95% OF HOMES FROM BURNING, according to studies from USDA’s Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Sciences Laboratory.

Not only won’t this logging (and no matter what they try to tell you, it is LOGGING, as you’ll see with your own eyes) prevent the fires that menace our communities, studies show cutting trees can actually DRY OUT FORESTS by opening stands to sunlight and wind, SPREADING FLAMES FASTER.

For instance, the Marshall Fire outside Boulder—the most destructive in Colorado history—burned almost entirely through grasslands and residential neighborhoods, with hardly a forest to be found.

The truth is, logging forests for “wildfire risk” does more harm than good while distracting us from the actions that would actually save homes and lives, plus cutting carbon-storing trees is one of the worst things we can do for climate change, the main driver behind these large fires.

Come see what the Forest Service has planned for your National Forests and Jefferson County is proposing for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE COUNTY’S 32 PARKS, and find out how to stop this before it’s too late.

After the one-and-a-half hour guided hike, we’ll gather together under the picnic shelters to write public comments for the upcoming public hearing on the unscientific Jefferson County Open Space Forest Health Plan, which has yet to be approved by County Commissioners.

Attendees can also write letters to our Congressional district—Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper, and Rep. Neguse—the biggest cheerleaders in the country for this misguided logging—or write a letter to the editor to your local media outlet (none of which have chosen to write a single article alerting the public to this impending logging).

Afterwards, folks can continue hiking on their own or as a group.

The hike will be led by Josh Schlossberg, Colorado Steering Committee member of Eco-Integrity Alliance, an all-volunteer organization with the mission of uniting national environmental movement through common campaigns of mutual support (Eco-IntegrityAlliance.org).

(DISCLAIMER: Citizens who want to log our parks have a right to their opinion. However, this hike is for those who wish to preserve our public forests from destructive logging. Any attendees seeking to disrupt the hike will be asked to leave the group.)

Wildfire/Forests Letter to the Editor + Commentary in 7 Colorado Newspapers

Eco-Integrity Alliance recently had a letter to the editor advocating for protecting forests from phony “wildfire fuel reduction” logging published in 7 Colorado newspapers: Boulder Weekly, Canyon Courier, Colorado Springs Gazette, Grand Junction Sentinel, Colorado Sun Colorado Sentinel, and The Flume.

We also had a longer commentary on the topic published in the Colorado Sun.

See the full text of the letter to the editor and commentary below:

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: More Logging Won’t Protect Homes from Wildfire

The large wildfires we’ve been experiencing in Colorado and across the West— threatening our homes and risking the lives of residents and firefighters—are the result of high temperatures and drought made worse by climate change, coinciding with high winds. And the two most important actions we can take in response are to: 1. Make homes “Firewise.” 2. Preserve our carbon-storing forests.

Appallingly, Sen. Bennet, Sen. Hickenlooper, and Rep. Joe Neguse are spending $3.3 billion in taxpayer dollars (under the 2021 infrastructure bill) that could fund Firewise programs to instead cut down our National Forests under the guise of “wildfire risk reduction.”

A quick glance at any number of studies shows that logging forests cannot prevent the large fires that menace our communities—again, the byproduct of hot temperatures, dry conditions, and high winds. To the contrary, logging can actually dry out forests by opening stands to sunlight and wind, and even spread flames faster.

Yet right now, 3.5 million acres of your Front Range public lands are on the chopping block under this fraudulent scheme that degrades natural ecosystems, worsens climate change, and provides a false sense of security that endangers the homes and lives of Coloradans.

If you value human life and the natural world, please contact your Congressional delegation and demand that they stop wasting your taxes on logging our living climate buffers and instead put every dollar into making our communities Firewise.


COMMENTARY: More Logging Won’t Protect Homes from Wildfire

The large wildfires we’ve been experiencing in Colorado and across the West threaten our homes while risking—and all too often, taking—the lives of residents and firefighters. Scientists studying the phenomenon know these big fires are the result of high temperatures and drought exacerbated by climate change and coinciding with high winds.

Luckily, there are two simple and extremely effective actions we can take in response. The first is to make our homes “Firewise,” tending an area up to 100 feet around a structure, installing metal roofs, etc. These efforts alone can protect 95% of homes, according to studies from the USDA’s Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Sciences Laboratory.

The second is to preserve our carbon-storing forests, living climate buffers that also give us clean air and water, flood and erosion control, and fish and wildlife habitat.

Instead, Sen. Bennet, Sen. Hickenlooper, and Rep. Neguse have been spending taxpayer dollars that could fund Firewise programs to cut down our National Forests to the tune of over $3.3 billion (under the 2021 infrastructure bill) in the name of “wildfire risk reduction.”

Why in the world are they doing this? Because the conventional wisdom of the forest products industry, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management is that our forests are “overgrown” and these “fuels” (aka trees) are to blame for the fires burning down our communities.

Now it’s definitely true that the practice of logging plus fire suppression over the last century has prevented the ecologically essential process of wildfire from doing its thing. And who do you think was—and still is—pushing to suppress those backcountry fires? Yep, the forest products industry, Forest Service, and BLM.

But if “fuels” alone were behind the big fires, then the Coast Range forests of the Pacific Northwest—containing the most biomass of anywhere on Earth—would be constantly ablaze. Instead, wildfires there are few and far between. Why? Because the coast keeps temperatures low and moisture high.

Whereas here in Colorado and the rest of the arid West, large fires are the byproduct of high temperatures, low moisture, and high winds. When those factors are in play, you can clearcut an entire forest and flames will still spread.

For instance, the Marshall Fire outside Boulder—the most destructive in Colorado history—burned almost entirely through grasslands and residential neighborhoods, with hardly a forest to be found. The culprit? High temperatures, low moisture, high winds. And when did the fire stop? When the weather cooled, it snowed, and winds died.

Not only doesn’t logging prevent the fires that menace our communities, but it can actually dry out forests by opening stands to sunlight and wind, spreading flames faster.

Indeed, the largest wildfire in New Mexico history—April’s Calf Canyon fire that ranged over 500 square miles—was the direct result of the Forest Service program of logging followed by prescribed burns to “reduce fuels,” that spread out of control during a high wind event. The same thing happened in May in southwest Colorado near Montrose, where the Forest Service let another of its “fuel treatments” run loose, with this one escaping across 300 acres, burning down three structures including a resident’s home. 

Yet this “log to save the forest” scheme is exactly what’s planned for 3.5 million acres of Colorado’s popular Front Range public lands, and tens of millions of acres across the West, according to the Forest Service’s “Confronting the Wildfire Crisis.” Meanwhile, nearly all the real work and costs to protect homes fall on communities and homeowners.

At best, this logging is expensive busywork that might limit the spread of a few smaller backcountry fires, which we already know we should let burn. At worst, it’s degrading natural ecosystems, worsening climate change, and providing a false sense of security that endangers the homes, economies, and lives of Coloradans.

TAKE ACTION: Money Wasted Logging Public Lands Should Make Homes Firewise

The large wildfires we’ve been experiencing across the West—which risk the lives of residents and firefighters and threaten homes—are the result of high temperatures and drought made worse by climate change (coinciding with high winds). And the two most important actions we can take in response are to:

  1. Make homes “Firewise.”
  2. Preserve our carbon-storing forests.

Appallingly, Congress continues to siphon our taxpayer dollars that could fund “Firewise” programs to instead CUT DOWN our public forests under the phony guise of “wildfire risk reduction” to the tune of over $3.3 billion.

A number of studies show that logging forests cannot prevent the large fires that threaten our communities (again, primarily the byproduct of hot temperatures, dry conditions, and high winds). To the contrary, logging can actually dry out forests by opening stands to sunlight and wind, and even spread flames faster.

Yet right now, tens of millions of acres of your public lands are on the chopping block under this fraudulent scheme that endangers our homes and lives.

Please CLICK HERE to contact your Congressional delegation with our letter demanding that they stop wasting your taxes on logging our living climate buffers–our National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands–and instead put every dollar into making our communities Firewise. 

Help Us Keep “Firewise NOT Logging” Billboard Up All Summer

On July 4, Eco-Integrity Alliance is kicking off its “Firewise NOT Logging” campaign with a billboard in Denver, Colorado to pressure Congress to stop wasting taxpayer dollars cutting down our National Forests under the phony guise of “wildfire risk reduction” ($3.3 billion under the 2021 infrastructure bill ) and instead fund Firewise programs to actually save homes from burning.

Colorado’s congressional delegation of Senator John Hickenlooper, Senator Michael Bennet, and Representative Joe Neguse are leading the charge (backed by several other politicians) to put tens of millions of acres of your public lands on the chopping block under this fraudulent scheme that endangers our homes, lives, and carbon-storing forests.

A number of studies show that logging forests cannot prevent the large fires that threaten our communities, which are the byproduct of hot temperatures, dry conditions, and high winds. To the contrary, logging can actually dry out forests by opening stands to sunlight and wind, and even spread flames faster. Meanwhile, making homes Firewise can protect 95% of structures from even the largest wildfires.

Close to a million people saw Eco-Integrity Alliance’s first billboard in Oregon last year. We’ve already paid for a month of exposure for our Denver one, but we’ll need your help if we’re going to keep it up—along with that pressure on our elected officials to do the right thing.

Will you protect homes, lives, and our living climate buffers—our public forests—by making a contribution towards our goal of $1,300 to keep the billboard up for another month? (If we don’t meet our goal, all funds will go for seed money for a billboard in another state).

https://gofund.me/1f79671b

Thank you,
Eco-Integrity Alliance Steering Committee

Eco-Integrity Alliance + 20 Conservation Groups Ask Rep. Neguse to Reschedule Canceled Hearing on Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA)

Eco-Integrity Alliance, a new coalition of U.S. environmentalists uniting the environmental movement, along with 20 leading conservation organizations, sent a letter today to Rep. Joe Neguse, chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, asking him to schedule a new Congressional hearing for the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA).

NREPA—already introduced into the House with 58 co-sponsors and in the Senate with 11 co-sponsors—would create biological zones connecting new and existing wilderness and roadless areas over 23 million acres across Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Wyoming.

Rep. Neguse recently canceled a planned hearing on this historic and timely bill without any explanation or transparency.

“If Rep. Neguse is serious about tackling climate change and addressing the eco-crisis, he must allow public testimony for NREPA, which is not only of crucial importance for protecting the unique and threatened Northern Rockies bioregion but can act as a model for every region of the U.S.,” says Josh Schlossberg, Colorado-based steering committee member of Eco-Integrity Alliance.

Containing some of the most ecologically rich lands left in the U.S., National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas filter clean water, prevent flooding and erosion, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and are some of our best buffers against climate change. These federally owned lands are still open to extraction from private corporations in the form of logging, mining, drilling, and grazing, with a recent study showing that logging emits more carbon than wildfire and insects combined.

Eco-Integrity Alliance’s mission is to unite the “alternative” environmental movement under a big tent of ecological integrity through common campaigns of mutual support. Eco-Integrity Alliance’s six-person steering committee members are based in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Colorado. Guiding Principles and other info can be found at eco-integrityalliance.org.


SIGN ON LETTER: Congress Must Reschedule Hearing on Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA)

March 21, 2022

The Honorable Joe Neguse

1419 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC, 20515-0602

The Honorable Raúl M. Grijalva

1511 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC, 20515-0303

Dear Representative Neguse,

cc: Representative Grijalva

We, the undersigned, ask you, Rep. Joe Neguse, as chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, to schedule a new Congressional hearing for the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA).

NREPA—already introduced into the House with 58 co-sponsors and in the Senate with 11 co-sponsors—would create biological zones connecting new and existing wilderness and roadless areas over 23 million acres across Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Wyoming.

As it is our understanding that a planned hearing was recently canceled (without any explanation or transparency), we therefore ask you to please reschedule it to allow expert testimony on this historic and timely bill.

With climate change looming as one of the worst crises facing our nation and world today, protecting our carbon-storing public forests is among the most effective—and easiest—actions Congress can take to significantly reduce emissions. For example, a recent study shows that logging emits more carbon than wildfire and insects combined.[1]

Encompassing some of the most ecologically rich lands left in the U.S., our National Forests and public lands managed by BLM (Bureau of Land Management) also filter clean water, prevent flooding and erosion, and provide essential fish habitat and intact wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, these federally owned lands are still open to extraction from private corporations in the form of destructive logging, mining, drilling, and grazing, all subsidized by the American taxpayer. 

Not only is NREPA of crucial importance for protecting this unique and threatened Northern Rockies bioregion across five western states, we believe the bill can act as a model for safeguarding ecosystems across every region of the U.S.

Signed,

Samantha Chirillo, Eco-Integrity Alliance (Oregon)

Michele Dieterich, Eco-Integrity Alliance, Friends of the Bitterroot (Montana)

Gary Macfarlane, Eco-Integrity Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater (Idaho)

Josh Schlossberg, Eco-Integrity Alliance (Colorado)

Janet Torline, Eco-Integrity Alliance (Idaho)

Shannon Wilson, Eco-Integrity Alliance, Eco Advocates NW (Oregon)

Mike Garrity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies (Montana)

Paul Sieracki, Geospatial Analyst/Wildlife Biologist, retired (Idaho)

Denise Boggs, Conservation Congress (Montana)

Keith Hammer, Swan View Coalition (Montana)

Patty Ames, Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen Task Force (Montana)

Paula Hood, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project (Oregon)

Andy Mahler, Shagbark (Indiana)

Steven Krichbaum, PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology (Virginia)

Dr. Joseph Scalia III, Gallatin Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance (Montana)

Jason Christensen, Yellowstone to Uintas Connection (Idaho)

George Wuerthner, Public Lands Media (Oregon)

George Nickas, Wilderness Watch (Montana)

Matt Peters, Heartwood (Pennsylvania)

Rachel Fazio, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute (California)

Sam Stearns, Friends of Bell Smith Springs (Illinois)

Phil Knight, Montanans for Gallatin Wilderness (Montana)

Ara Marderosian, Sequoia ForestKeeper (California)


[1] Harris, N.L. et al. 2016. “Attribution of net carbon change by disturbance type across forest lands of the conterminous United States.” Carbon Balance and Management, 11:24.

Eco-Integrity Alliance Supports Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA)

Eco-Integrity Alliance, a new coalition of U.S. environmentalists uniting the alternative environmental movement, endorses Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), a bill encompassing nearly 20 million acres across Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Wyoming, creating biological zones to connect new and existing wilderness and roadless areas.

Containing some of the most ecologically-rich lands left in the U.S., our National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands filter clean water, prevent flooding and erosion, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and are some of our best buffers against climate change. Unfortunately, these federally-owned public lands are still open to extraction from private corporations in the form of destructive logging, mining, drilling, and grazing, all subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. Only Wilderness designation can protect these lands from this otherwise inevitable degradation and destruction.

Not only is NREPA of crucial importance for protecting this unique and threatened Northern Rockies bioregion for the sake of biodiversity, climate, and endangered grizzly bears,” says Michele Dieterich, Montana-based steering committee member of Eco-Integrity Alliance, “it provides a model for protecting ecosystems across every region of the U.S.”

Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) has been introduced in both the House and Senate, with a hearing soon to be taking place before the House Natural Resource Committee, subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

Eco-Integrity Alliance’s mission is to unite the alternative environmental movement under a big tent of ecological integrity through common campaigns of mutual support. Its vision is to proliferate a paradigm of genuine ecological sustainability across the United States.

Eco-Integrity Alliance’s six-person steering committee members are based in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Colorado, and will soon be opening to national membership. Its Guiding Principles and other info can be found at eco-integrityalliance.org.