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View Full Version : U.S. Rejected Davis on Aid to Clear Trees


zimv20
Oct 31, 2003, 12:35 PM
link (http://www.latimes.com/la-me-fema31oct31,1,443306.story)


FEMA spent six months studying the governor's request, then turned it down hours before fires began, saying state was already getting funds.

By Gregg Jones and Dan Morain, Times Staff Writers


SACRAMENTO The Bush administration took six months to evaluate Gov. Gray Davis' emergency request last spring for $430 million to clear dead trees from fire-prone areas of Southern California.

The request was finally denied Oct. 24, only hours before wildfires roared out of control in what has become the largest fire disaster in California history.

Rep. Mary Bono (R-Palm Springs), a leader in the effort to get federal assistance for fire prevention, questioned Thursday why the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not rule sooner.

"FEMA's decision was wrong," Bono said. "The timing couldn't have been worse.... We knew this disaster was going to happen with certainty. It was only a matter of when, and we were trying to beat the clock with removing the dead trees."

If Davis had received the denial earlier, Bono said, he would have had time to wage an appeal.

FEMA spokesman Chad Kolton said the agency denied Davis' request for an emergency declaration because California was already receiving more than $40 million from the departments of Agriculture and Interior to deal with a bark beetle infestation that has damaged thousands of acres of forest in the San Bernardino Mountains.

(more)

Desertrat
Oct 31, 2003, 12:53 PM
If they were already working with $40 million, how much more work would actually have been going on had the additional money been made available at some point during this last summer? I'm coming from the standpoint that $40 million seems like a lot of money when you're talking about a logging operation.

Allied to my curiosity is how many crews and trucks would have been readily available? Are the present efforts using folks from Oregon and Washington, where timber harvest have been notably reduced?

I don't know enough about the "might have been" to really know if this could have made any difference...

'Rat

Rower_CPU
Oct 31, 2003, 01:44 PM
I'll be interested to see the comments of people like Hedgecock, who, while standing in for Rush, has attacked Davis on the premise that he kept some firefighting planes/helicopters on the ground to wait for federal funding, despite the fact that the weather/smoke conditions made them useless.

Ugg
Oct 31, 2003, 02:29 PM
The additional funding would probably have made an impact but not enough to prevent this year's conflagration. Davis has been accused of dragging his feet on the request but the length of time that FEMA took to process it is absolutely unconscionable.

BTW, didn't Arnie make a high profile trip to DC, in part to request these very same funds? It will be very interesting to see how his request is handled.

'Rat, it would be interesting to find out just how much had been cleared for that $40 million. It sounds like a lot of money for pulling down dead trees but if they have no lumber value then again maybe not.

There has been a massive dieoff of oaks and other trees these past few years throughout CA due to disease, so I'm sure the cost for removing them is going to be huge. Hikers are advised to thouroughly clean shoes tents and vehicle tires after they come out of an infested area so the disease is spread quite readily.

Even here in the extreme north there have been a few fires, in part to dieoff and bad forest management practices.

mactastic
Oct 31, 2003, 03:39 PM
$40,000,000 doesn't seem like a lot when you consider California is spending $9,000,000 a day to fight the fires. Even if the average is $6 million a day over the week this has been going on, that's $42 million right there.

And $40 mil seems like a small amount compared to the $2 billion estimates of damage I've heard.

zimv20
Oct 31, 2003, 03:49 PM
Originally posted by mactastic
$40,000,000 doesn't seem like a lot when you consider California is spending $9,000,000 a day to fight the fires. Even if the average is $6 million a day over the week this has been going on, that's $42 million right there.

And $40 mil seems like a small amount compared to the $2 billion estimates of damage I've heard.

as my grandma would say: "some people will spend $10 to save a nickel"

Desertrat
Nov 1, 2003, 06:16 PM
Even with unlimited money, there is only some number of companies and men in the business of tree-cutting, for whatever purpose; only so much equipment. "Infrastructure", more than money, is what controls the amount of accomplishment. That's why I wondered about people coming in from states to the north.

To give an idea of the sort of problem a large effort can create: When they built the California Aqueduct from the Delta down toward Bakersfield, plus the dams and such, it tied up the cement business in California for around two or more years. The associated pipe for the irrigation projects tied up California's concrete pipe manufacturing companies for some four-plus years.

"More money" only helps when you can quickly increase the numbers of men and amount of equipment. Usually, a quick buildup is to be avoided because of the higher costs this sort of effort creates...

'Rat

mactastic
Nov 2, 2003, 11:38 AM
Ok, but if California burns next summer can we blame Bush then?:p

Seriously though, the resources were there, they were just unused for lack of funding. California exports firefighters all the time to other, less able states. Even now we have excess capacity sitting around in case other areas catch fire. Perhaps we wouldn't have prevented this particular series of fires, or maybe only one or two of them, but we would be making progress.

Can you imagine what your response would have been if Clinton had turned down a (real) oppurtunity to get bin Laden, then after 9/11 had said "Oh it wouldn't have helped in time anyway."

Ugg
Nov 2, 2003, 11:50 AM
Originally posted by Desertrat
Even with unlimited money, there is only some number of companies and men in the business of tree-cutting, for whatever purpose; only so much equipment. "Infrastructure", more than money, is what controls the amount of accomplishment. That's why I wondered about people coming in from states to the north.

'Rat

Here in Redwood country where there is a surplus of tree fellers, they jump at the chance to work government contracts. The pay far exceeds private work. The equipment mostly consists of logging trucks and a few log pickers. The oaks and pines in that area of SoCal aren't large enough to need the massive pickers one sees up here.

On another note, a serious lack of firefighting management personnel is hampering efforts to fight fires and was linked to the deaths of a number of young firefighters in WA state a couple of years ago. Firefighters sometimes are brought in from Australia, it's their off season, when the need arises.

Not long ago I read where 40% of all government employees will be retiring by 2015. Which means there will be a serious transfer of knowledge problem. The management that will be needed won't have had the training due to seniority based promotion policies. I believe the private sector is facing the same problem albeit at a lesser rate.

Desertrat
Nov 2, 2003, 11:54 AM
The URL is in that other thread I started, but this will fit here. I'll do some editing, later...

Complete text at

http://www.sierratimes.com/03/10/30/article_ca.htm

From the "Sierra Times":

"GAO Study: 66% of California Forest Fuels Reduction Projects Stalled
By Environmental Groups
By Nicol Andrews

Washington, DC - House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) today issued a background memo and executive summary on a newly-released GAO report entitled "Information on Forest Service Decisions Involving Fuels Reduction Activities." The study provides a quantitative assessment of the impact of Forest Service appeals on forest management activities.

Among the GAO's findings:


* 59% of eligible forest thinning projects in the U.S. were appealed in FY2001 and FY2002.

* 52% of eligible forest thinning projects proposed near communities in the Wildland-Urban Interface were appealed in FY2001 and FY2002.

* Environmental appeals were found to be overwhelmingly without merit, as 161 of 180 challenges were thrown out during FY2001 and FY2002.

* 66% of all eligible forest fuels reduction activities were appealed in the state of California during FY2001 and FY2002.

* Appeals delayed thinning projects by at least 120 days in FY2001 and FY2002.


"With nearly one million acres worth of hazardous fuels reduction projects tied up in appeals during this two-year period, the GAO analysis crystallizes the fact that administrative appeals constitute a significant impediment to getting a handle on America's forest health and wildfire crisis," Chairman Pombo said. "This paralysis by analysis continues to threaten our national forests and those who live in and around them. The Healthy Forests legislation will remove these administrative hand cuffs from the Forest Service and allow them to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires."

Seems to me that this makes for another case of "as usual": There's more to the deal than hollering at an extant administration.

Desertrat
Nov 2, 2003, 12:08 PM
To add an ironic note, I ran across an article, yesterday, about the early stages of the hunter-started fire east of San Diego. A sheriff's helicopter, searching for the guy, saw the smoke from the fire and reported it.

The report reached the "water-bomb" folks. The response was that their guidelines suggested not taking off when it was getting on toward sunset. To prep and get airborne would take them beyond their takeoff-window closure of 5:36PM, and they'd deal with it the next morning. The rest is history.

Now, I can understand not flying low and slow at night, in mountainous country. It does seem to me that a pilot's judgement at sundown and dusk is to be respected as to his safety, however, and I'd think that's a better way than an arbitrary "guideline" that had become an absolute.

(I'm no Chuck Yeager, with only 300 hours in a 172. But I've been judicious and cautious and have had no problems in some marginal conditions...)

'Rat

Ugg
Nov 2, 2003, 12:18 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat
The report reached the "water-bomb" folks. The response was that their guidelines suggested not taking off when it was getting on toward sunset. To prep and get airborne would take them beyond their takeoff-window closure of 5:36PM, and they'd deal with it the next morning. The rest is history.


I wonder how much that is due to the dismal state of the US' tanker fleet. Many of the planes are well over 40 years old and the US' policy of relying on private industry to maintain and operate them has led to planes that shouldn't be in the air. A number of tanker crashes has raised the stakes in this game and I'm sure insurance rates have gone through the roof. If the insurance company set those guidelines, you can be darned sure that those planes aren't going to leave the ground. Of course if the fleet was in better shape maybe this wouldn't have happened. Something to think about.

pseudobrit
Nov 3, 2003, 04:33 PM
Bush is making sure California becomes a (smoldering) red state.

Desertrat
Nov 3, 2003, 07:05 PM
Ugg, aircraft mechanics have more responsibility for folks' lives than most doctors, and they darned well know it. This comment, "...the US' policy of relying on private industry to maintain and operate them has led to planes that shouldn't be in the air." still has me POed from the insult.

Now, if you want to talk about things like metal fatigue, that's another matter, and it's as serious in the military as it is in the civilian airfleet.

And, given the number of hours flown by commercial airliners, I'd suggest you not fly at all.

Actually, if cars got the quality of care and maintenance as do planes, there would not be new-car sales much over a couple of million a year. No need...

'Rat

Ugg
Nov 3, 2003, 07:15 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat
Ugg, aircraft mechanics have more responsibility for folks' lives than most doctors, and they darned well know it. This comment, "...the US' policy of relying on private industry to maintain and operate them has led to planes that shouldn't be in the air." still has me POed from the insult.

Now, if you want to talk about things like metal fatigue, that's another matter, and it's as serious in the military as it is in the civilian airfleet.


You got me there, it is not as much about maintenance as it as about using planes for purposes they were never designed for. Link (http://www.nfpa.org/NFPAJournal/Columns/InsidetheBeltway/IBja03/ibja03.asp)

The shaky status of the federal firefighting aerial fleet was underlined in a December 2002 Blue Ribbon Panel report, which the Forest Service and the BLM requested. Written by a panel co-chaired by Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, and Texas State Forester Jim Hull, the report paints a dismal picture of the two agencies' aerial safety, saying "the federal government is asking employees involved in aerial firefighting to take unnecessary risks."

IOW, the whole fleet is in danger of being grounded and the only real replacements that are readily available are cropdusters and Hueys. The rest of the article is interesting and paints a rather dismal picture.

mactastic
Nov 3, 2003, 07:23 PM
I seem to recall running across an article similar to that one last year. Maybe it was the same one. The gist of it seemed to me to be that the planes were going to be less effective overall what with reduced angles of attack and lighter payloads to reduce the airframe stress. So we need more planes anyway. Seems like a specialty plane is necessary, kinda like firefighting tugboats. Wonder who wants to foot the bill for that...

Code101
Nov 4, 2003, 12:45 AM
Originally posted by Ugg
Many of the planes are well over 40 years old and the US' policy of relying on private industry to maintain and operate them has led to planes that shouldn't be in the air.


Again we see an attack on private industry. Liberals love to attack anything that points to the word "Private."

mactastic
Nov 4, 2003, 08:12 AM
And Code101 likes to attack anything without the word private in it. Or should I say that conservatives like to attack anything with the word "state" or "government" in it? Or anything without "God" in it? Is that an accurate portrayal of your views?

Or should I say that conservatives like to attack the constitution, as well as whatever foreign countries they fancy?

How stupid do generalizations get?

Desertrat
Nov 4, 2003, 08:44 AM
:) mac, these generalizations about liberals and conservatives have led me to prefer the word "statist", applied to those for whom a governmental solution is preferable to a private-sector solution...

I haven't tried a followup, but I saw some news-squib that the Russians have designed a tanker plane that's allegedly the cat's meow for firefighting.

I guess the shallow-angle thing stems from that wing failure of a C-130 during a fire in California a year or two back. I never heard if it was a metal-fatigue problem or pilot error. If you get up around the "never exceed" speed in a Cessna 172, you can pull the wings off if you try hard enough.

'Rat

mactastic
Nov 4, 2003, 10:05 AM
Originally posted by Desertrat
:) mac, these generalizations about liberals and conservatives have led me to prefer the word "statist", applied to those for whom a governmental solution is preferable to a private-sector solution...

'Rat, if statist is just another term for liberal, what's the point?

I haven't tried a followup, but I saw some news-squib that the Russians have designed a tanker plane that's allegedly the cat's meow for firefighting.

Sounds nifty. A sturdy tanker that can handle pulling out of a steep dive at max payload would fit the bill perfectly. I bet those pilots would like some good modern avionics too. Now what part of private industry is going to step up and purchase a fleet of these wonder birds?

I guess the shallow-angle thing stems from that wing failure of a C-130 during a fire in California a year or two back. I never heard if it was a metal-fatigue problem or pilot error. If you get up around the "never exceed" speed in a Cessna 172, you can pull the wings off if you try hard enough.

'Rat

Bingo. Its simple airframe mechanics. A distributed force along the wing will create higher and higher moment forces around the wing/fuselage joint as you increase the force due to a tight maneuver. At some point the metal fails. There's probably some pilot error involved if they are exceeding allowables but I think the repeated stress on those parts is a contributing factor. And AFAIK the pilots in last summers accidents were flying within tolerances. That was the disturbing part. These planes need to be designed to do repeated (as in several a day) high speed dives. Even military planes (of the tanker/cargo variety) don't see this kind of abuse.

Desertrat
Nov 4, 2003, 07:13 PM
mac, I think that "statist" might be a bit more accurate, as it doesn't specifically mean "Liberal". After all, aren't there a lot of so-called conservatives calling for governmental solutions? The Patriot Act might well be included, here. :)

All hail the state, and a bas le Constitution!

Jay Leno, the other night, commented that we should just give the Iraqis our Constitution. Some pretty bright guys wrote it, and we're sure not using it anymore...

As far as the C-130, you ever watch one of those hogs rotate at liftoff? At full load? I think the pullout from a water-bomb run is supposed to be after it's emptied its tank(s). Either the pilots pulled up too soon, or there was extreme fatigue from many cycles of takeoffs and other pullups. I'd have to see the video again before really claiming the former; I just don't remember.

'Rat

zimv20
Nov 4, 2003, 07:49 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat

Jay Leno, the other night, commented that we should just give the Iraqis our Constitution. Some pretty bright guys wrote it, and we're sure not using it anymore...


heh heh

normally i don't find much on that show funny, but whoever wrote that snuck in a good one

mactastic
Nov 4, 2003, 07:55 PM
Still haven't heard any suggestions about who from private industry whould step up and revamp the airborne firefighting squadron....

Desertrat
Nov 4, 2003, 08:13 PM
mac, I don't know enough about how that industry "works" to even begin to comment. From an operating overhead standpoint, how do they make money in a wet year?

A friend of mine who is a multi-engine instructor, used to fly big-plane fire-bombing in Alaska. She quit because of the lack of work when the USFS went to the "let it burn" philosophy; not enough work. I guess the pilots work on a "per hour of flight time" contract basis.

And that's all I know about it...

:), 'Rat

mactastic
Nov 4, 2003, 08:16 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat
mac, I don't know enough about how that industry "works" to even begin to comment. From an operating overhead standpoint, how do they make money in a wet year?

A friend of mine who is a multi-engine instructor, used to fly big-plane fire-bombing in Alaska. She quit because of the lack of work when the USFS went to the "let it burn" philosophy; not enough work. I guess the pilots work on a "per hour of flight time" contract basis.

And that's all I know about it...

:), 'Rat

But you're still pretty sure a private solution is the way to go?

Guess that makes you a privatist...;)

pseudobrit
Nov 4, 2003, 08:19 PM
Originally posted by Code101
Again we see an attack on private industry. Liberals love to attack anything that points to the word "Private."

Okay. Who pays for your "private" fire coverage?

You love to attack anything that you can blame on "liberals."