From: alra@governance.net
Subject: **Urgent** Calls To Save Fire Terminated Cabins

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400 – Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 – Fax: 360-687-2973 – E-mail: alra@landrights.org or
alra@governance.net  Web Address: http://www.landrights.org 
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE – Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-210-2357 – Fax: 202-543-7126 – E-mail: landrightsnet@aol.com

**Urgent** Calls To Save Fire Terminated Cabins 

The Cabin Fire Elimination Plan is setting the stage for the Forest Service to carry out this kind of removal effort for all other users of the National Forests.

Ranchers, miners, forestry advocates, recreation advocates, rock hounders and many more will lose their roads, access, grazing permits, special use permits every time there is a fire unless we stop the Angeles National Forest Plan.   They want to see if they can get away with a wholesale special use removal plan.

The Forest Service on the Angeles National Forest is planning to cancel 110 permits in two cabin tracts because the cabins burned in 2002.  Not only that, they are canceling the permits of all the other cabin owners whose cabins survived the two fires.

These fires were on the North Fork San Gabriel Tract and San Dimas Canyon Tract in the Angeles National Forest where the Curve and William’s fires occurred in 2002.  A lot more areas are in danger from fire terminations caused by the fires in 2003. 

These terminations are a threat to all 15,000 cabinowners nationwide as well as all other Forest users.  They can be stopped.

It is vital that you call, fax and e-mail Congressman David Drier immediately to urge him to request that the comment period on the fire terminations in the Angeles National Forest be extended by 60 days.  Technically, the comment period closed Friday.  But it is common to re-open the comment period.  

Just tell him you want the comment period re-opened and extended.

All Drier has to do is ask the Agriculture Department to re-open the comment period.  It is very rare for the Administration to turn down this kind of request.

The Thanksgiving Holiday got in the way last week with many people gone and only a skeleton staff available.  Now it is back to business in Washington, DC.

Here is what you need to do:

-----1.  Call, fax and e-mail the local Congressman, David Drier, to ask him to request a 60 day extension to the comment period from the Forest Service.  This will extend it beyond the holidays.  *****A request for a comment period extension by the local congressman is almost always honored by the Forest Service.    Drier’s personal office number is (202) 225-2305.  His fax number is (202) 225-7018.  You can also call a temporary Free Number of (800) 648-3516.  Internet:  http://drier.house.gov/

Or send an e-mail to the Honorable David Drier % todd.gillenwater@mail.house.gov or
Alisa Do at alias.do@mail.house.gov

Call, fax or e-mail every day this week.  The comment period must be reopened.

Please send a copy of your fax or e-mail to American Land Rights at  ccushman@landrights.org.  This is especially important for cabin owners who live or vote in California.  Be sure to put your address on your e-mail to us.

-----2.  Call, fax and e-mail Senators Diane Feinstein (202) 224-3841—FAX (202) 228-3954 and Barbara Boxer (202) 224-3553 – FAX (202) 228-1338.  These calls must be made immediately.  Make the same request as above.  You can send e-mail to Feinstein by addressing it Honorable Diane Feinstein, U.S. Senate, % howard_gantman@feinstein.senate.gov   or Michael_schiffer@feinstein.senate.gov    You can e-mail Boxer at: Honorable Barbara Boxer, US Senate,  senator@boxer.senate.gov

-----3.  Call, fax and e-mail your local Congressman.  Ask him to call Mark Rey at the Department of Agriculture to request that the comment period be re-opened.

You can call any Congressman at (202) 225-3121 -- the Capitol Switchboard.  There is a temporary Free Number of (800) 648-3516.   The Capitol Switchboard will answer.  Ask for Congressman Drier’s office.  Then ask for the person who handles National Forests and cabin issues.  If you are asked whether you are a constituent, tell him the truth, but tell him that what the Forest Service is doing will affect all cabinowners nationwide.  When you call, ask for their fax and e-mail.

-----4.  Call or fax Mark Rey, Under Secretary for Natural Resources for the Department of Agriculture.  His number is (202) 720-7173.  Fax (202) 720-0632.  His e-mail address is mark.rey@usda.gov       He is where the buck stops on Forest Service issues.

-----5.  It is likely (not guaranteed) that if you send comments now, they will eventually be counted.  Just send a one-page letter to the Forest Service with a copy to Congressman Drier and the others.  But don’t slow down your letter to Drier.  That is urgent Now!  

Send your comments to:    Marty Dumpis, District Ranger, San Gabriel River Ranger District, 110 N. Wabash Ave, Glendora, CA  91741.  Be sure to send a copy to American Land Rights, PO Box 400, Battle Ground, WA 98604 or better still, ccushman@landrights.org                          
You may also send your comment by email to: mdumpis@fs.fed.us.
Finally, you can fax your comment to: (626) 914-3790.
To reach Mr. Dumpis, call (626) 335-1251              

If you wish to read the Environmental Assessment, go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles
This is the correct address.  Some people tried to use it with a period at the end and it did not work.

Please send a copy of your comments to American Land Rights at ccushman@landrights.org

Additional Background:  (You can write a short letter with the information above.  The material below is to help give you more background.  We apologize for the long e-mail but we thought Jenny Wenk’s comments were so outstanding, we should make a copy available.) 

Below are the comments of Jenny Wenk, a long time permittee, to the Environmental Assessment.  They may be food for thought.

Subject: Response to EA on Recreational Residence Rebuilding

November 28, 2003

Mr. Marty Dumpis
District Ranger
San Gabriel River Ranger District
110 N. Wabash Avenue
Glendora, CA 91741

District Ranger Dumpis:

Your "Environmental Assessment on Recreational Residence Rebuilding and Issuance of New 20-Year Permits" raised many questions in my mind.  And it provided me with very few answers.

1) The first, and foremost, question I have is: Where is the underlying scientific information?

I can find no information in this document about the water quality in the streams before the fire.  Is there any data at all?  Do you really know if outhouses and grey water were causing a problem before the fires?  All you state is "some may be draining into the river."  You also state that contaminants "could have been carried into streams by rain or flooding."  And that "other lots are within 100 ft of streams and therefore more likely to interact with the stream."

This same theme of "may be, could be, possibly and potentially" runs throughout all the sections on soils, hydrology and wildlife.

Inevitably you are leading me to believe you are making a decision based on guesses, hunches, and notions.  Over many years both Congress and our Courts have made it clear the government should have solid scientific data about the environment before it commits a "taking."

2) The next obvious question, is how can cabin tracts that have been "consistent" with the Forest Plan for 17 years now be "inconsistent"?  

You never state exactly what provisions of that Forest Plan these cabin tracts now violate.  I certainly understand that the Curve and Williams fires changed on the ground conditions in their Management Areas.  And those changes would have affected the associated Prescriptions, Goals, Objectives, Standards, and Guidelines for those Management Areas.  I assume these changes will be reflected in the new combined Southern California Forest Plan whose DEIS and Draft will be published this winter.  

But you give no information about how the fires have affected the Desired Conditions, Goals, Objectives, Standards and Guidelines in the 1987 Plan for the San Dimas and San Gabriel watersheds.  You need to supply that information in order to justify your choice of Alternative 4.

3) Does the 1987 Forest Plan say there shall be no roads in Riparian Zones?

The Environmental Assessment has a great deal of information about roads and cabins being in riparian zones.  Since those tracts were authorised in 1916, obviously roads and cabins have been in these particular riparian zones for many, many years.

They were certainly there at the time the 1987 Forest Plan was written.  And when the permits were renewed in 1988.  Consequently, it’s obvious that roads and cabins in riparian zones are consistent with the 1987 Forest Plan.

4)  Are you lumping Consistency Reviews together with Special Use Authorization Compliance Reviews?

Donna Grosz, Lynn Bidlack and Jim Salzer carefully explained to members of the National Forest Homeowners this past spring that these are two very different processes.  They said that the Consistency Review is to be conducted at a tract level and is to measure consistency with the Forest Plan.  Once that is determined then the Continuance Determination is based on Environmental Analysis.  Only then is Recreation Residence SUA Compliance measured, and they said that is the part that is done on a lot by lot level.

This Environmental Assessment gives the impression you are short circuiting the required process.

5) Are you attempting to limit response to this Environmental Assessment?

By ending the comment period on the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest and most popular times for family get-togethers and vacations, certainly gives me the impression you wish to minimize the number of comments you receive.  

I’ve also heard that you have said you will not extend the comment period, even if Congressman Drier requests you do so.  The Agency has a long history of granting such requests from members of Congress.  For you to choose a different course furthers the unfortunate impression that you do not want to hear from Congress, permittees, or interested members of the public such as myself.

This question is particularly important since your earlier letters to the permittees were very reassuring, and seemed to be designed to convince them not to respond.

6) Do you believe that omission does not constitute permission?

You state in your "Findings of Consistency/Inconsistency" that many permittees in the San Dimas tracts used their cabins as their primary residences.

Obviously this has been true for many years.  And just as obviously you, and your predecessors, have taken no action to enforce the terms of the Special Use Authorizations for those cabins.  

Thus you, and your predecessors, have given tacit permission to these permittees to live in their cabins year round.  Now you suggest you are going to "go by the book."

Government is supposed to enforce laws, rules and regulations in an even, fair handed and consistent manner.  If it does not do so, it is not allowed to say, "Oh, we goofed.  Now you have to follow our rules that we’ve been ignoring." 

7) Why are you asking for scanned signatures on electronic comments?

This exceeds the standards set in Washington for comments to the Forest Service. The field is not allowed to set higher standards than Headquarters.

Also, since many people do not own, or have easy access to scanners, you are furthering the impression that you wish to limit public response to your Decision.

8) Will all roads in the Angeles National Forest be brought into compliance with Los Angeles County Fire Codes?

Or is this yet another example of the Forest Service only complying with State and local laws and regulations when they choose to do so? 

If you are truly serious about protecting the lives of both members of the public and fire fighters then you will need to improve all roads into campgrounds to the County’s standards.  

If you succeed in removing the cabins in the North Fork San Gabriel Tract and reverting that area to "dispersed and developed recreation areas" will you have roads in those 45 acres that meet County Standards?  And won’t those roads be in riparian areas and flood plains?

9)  What is the significance of the 1938 Flood?  How soon will this area be susceptible to more devastating fires?

You seem to assume that what’s on the ground right now is what will be there forever.  Otherwise you would not have used checklists designed for normal conditions. (Example: #5 "Are there existing erosion problems or is [sic] there potential future erosion problems?" An irrelevant question after fires of this magnitude.)

Obviously the streams and landforms have changed since that 1938 flood.  Just as obviously the land and streams will recover over time from these fires.

But it is unlikely that the fuel build up will be as significant twenty years from now as it was last year.  This will be especially true if you follow the provisions of the Healthy Forest Act.

So your other apparent assumption that these tracts will go from 2003 conditions back to early 2002 conditions, and so susceptible to devastating fires again, doesn’t make sense.

10) Are you hiding behind Los Angeles County Codes for construction and water quality?

For instance, in the Code information you sent to permittees there is the requirement for "3 gallons/minute for 24 hours" of potable water flow.  This makes perfect sense for a suburban subdivison.  It does not make sense for a mountain cabin being used in compliance with its SUA.

If you do not want people using their cabins as a principal residence why do you want the cabins rebuilt to suburban standards?

Range Dimas, these are just my Top 10 questions after reading this Environmental Assessment.

But the very fact that these questions are not answered in this EA tells me this document is far too flawed to support a "taking" of private citizens property.

Consequently, you should withdraw this Environmental Assessment and do a proper and complete study.

You should also look at mitigations that will make it possible to rebuild the maximum number of cabins.


Jenny Wenk
2316 Eunice Street
Berkeley, CA  94708

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