Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Horns of a Dilemma

Congressman Tom McClintock, CA-04, has long been a critic of the U.S. Forest Service. Now that he is Chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee, he has the perfect forum to act on his concerns.

In the Water and Power Subcommittee Hearing last week, Chairman McClintock had this to say in connection with H. R. 489, authored by Congressman Paul Gosar: “This bill arises from the bureaucratic intransigence, megalomania and abuse that has become the new hallmark of this rogue agency.” He went on to say, “Having watched the Forest Service’s abusive behavior in my own district, I have no doubt that it is deliberately attempting to create conditions that would ultimately expel these long-established communities from the national forests. This is a pattern of abuse we are watching across the western United States.”

In a letter to USDA Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell dated December 22, 2010, McClintock wrote: “In May of 2009 and April of 2010, some of my California colleagues and I sent letters expressing concern with needlessly stringent travel management restrictions across Region 5. I have also had several conversations in my office with you personally in which I expressed the growing perception of my constituents that an attitude now permeates your agency that its principal purpose is to discourage the public’s use of the public’s land.” The Congressman concluded with, “During our discussions, I avowed my intention to seek redress by Congress if the Forest Service continued to drift back to the exclusionary policies of pre-Charter England. I write today to affirm that intention.” The Pacific Southwest Region, commonly referred to as Region 5, consists of 20 million acres and 18 national forests.

In January 2010, Congressman Wally Herger (CA-02) put out a statement regarding the Forest Service proposal to ban off-highway vehicles (OHVs) from its Maintenance Level (ML) 3 roads. “It is difficult to fathom how it continues to maintain its position on ML-3 roads despite the guidance of the CHP and the input of local government and stakeholders.”

Mr. Les Joslin teaches wilderness management for Oregon State University and edits the Pacific Northwest Forest Service Association’s quarterly newsletter. On March 6, 2011, Mr. Joslin posted, The Future of America’s National Forests Depends on Revised Laws and a Restored U.S. Forest Service. In this post he wrote, “Few would dispute the notion that the National Forest System and the U.S. Forest Service are impaled on the horns of a dilemma of dysfunction. On one horn is the lack of a clear-cut role for the national forests. On the other is the lack of an agency staffed by professional forest officers at all levels able to efficiently and effectively manage those lands.”

At a Regional Forest Service Roundtable on August 25, 2010, Congressman McClintock remarked: “For generations, the U.S. Forest Service maintained a balanced approach to the management of our forests …Now, it seems to be following a very different policy of exclusion, expulsion and benign neglect…”

Glen A. Amos

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