Today's Forests Lack Color
mhagen at mail.olympus.net
Mon Dec 8 12:32:35 EST 1997
Thank you for posting, sir. The denizens of this newsgroup have been
waiting for an official USDA-FS person to take a chance and respond.
dennis g garcia wrote:
> TODAY'S FORESTS LACK COLOR
> For years I had been puzzled by how few people of color use the
> national forests. I initially believed this was due to the low number
> of people of color employed by the USDA Forest Service. However,
> after more than 20 years' work with schools, universities, churches,
> and civic organizations in communities of color, I have some strong
> contrary opinions. I have concluded that people in communities of
> color, particularly the African-American community, know little about
> national forest system lands, and virtually none of them realize that
> these are public lands--their public lands.
> Each year for the past five years, I have begun my presentations
> for urban youth groups by asking, "Who owns the national forests?"
> Each year I receive the same answers: "the government," "Smokey Bear,"
> etc. These answers are deeply disappointing. Generally, to this
> audience, the forest is just that, "the forest." They know little
> about the differences between federal, state, private, and industry
> I am convinced, first of all, that lack of knowledge is the primary
> factor contributing to the lack of national forest use by communities
> of color. Furthermore, I believe that such lack of knowledge is, in
> part, due to the failure of the Forest Service and other forestry and
> environmental entities to engage communities of color, the majority of
> whom reside in urban settings.
> My second opinion: the prevailing myth, which maintains that lack
> of transportation, equipment, leisure time, and money are the primary
> factors for the lack of national forest use by communities of color,
> is just that--a myth, one grounded in ignorance and racial bias.
> The July issue of the NAACP's "Crisis" magazine reported that
> dozens of African-American organizations spend, in total nearly S210
> million in the cities hosting their national conventions. The article
> also estimated that the African-American community spends more that S4
> billion annually on travel and lodging. Nike, Adidas, and other
> industrial giants compete for dollars in communities of color by
> advertising in minority media and supporting minority organizations.
> This leads to my third opinion: we at the Forest Service should
> increase the marketing of our product, services, and economic
> resources in communities of color. Our leaders and employees
> regularly meet and form economic partnerships with leaders of the
> timber industry, environmental groups, and professional organizations,
> such as the Society of American Foresters. We even reward such
> activities as examples of leadership and good stewardship. Yes, these
> meetings and partnerships are important. But as we carry out the
> service part of our mission, we must share our time and economic
> resources with communities of color.
> In 1992 two Wind River Ranger District employees, Tom Linde and
> Carmen Saunders, approached me with a plan aimed at marketing national
> forests to urban
> minority youth. They wanted to involve minority
> young people in National Fishing Week activities.
> Urban service organizations were searching for opportunities to
> introduce urban youth to outdoor experiences. Linde and Saunders
> believed public lands should be a focal point for these activities and
> that Forest Service employees should assume a leadership role in
> introducing communities of color to the use of their national forest.
> Thus began Urban Youth Camp-Outs in Washington State. We have
> since found them to be instrumental in achieving our agency mission of
> "Caring for the Land and Service People."
> Programs such as Urban Youth Camp-Outs present tremendous
> opportunities for creating environmentally conscientious forest users
> and for building working relationships with communities of color.
> This year alone, our Camp-Out program will serve more than 200 young
> Which leads to my final opinion: as a result of the camp-outs,
> several cooperating organizations have become involved in Forest
> Service Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) grants. One local
> cooperator, the Bagley Teen Center, received a S10,000 U&CF grant to
> develop a Teen Tree Steward Program. Gifford Pinchot National Forest
> employees will teach classes in soils and silviculture for the tree
> stewards. However, the forest is not funded to provide this support.
> I am told that since U&CF funding is pass-through money (S612,000 this
> year in Washington and Oregon) to the state, there is nothing left for
> funding national forest participation in the local community. Even
> though many programs are staffed entirely by volunteers, most such
> community request go unanswered because we lack funding.
> Funding these efforts in local communities should be part of the
> Forest Service's State and Private Forestry (S&PF) Urban and Community
> Forestry program. This year the S&PF Urban Forestry program was
> funded at S26 million nationally. So it's obvious--to me,
> anyway--that there are sufficient funds for state and national forest
> efforts in urban forestry.
> Our philosophies and even our regulations on the use of urban
> forestry funding cry out for change! Communities of color contribute
> tax dollars, allowing the forest Service to carry out its mission.
> All such communities ask is to be included in the people we serve.
> Earl Ford is the ecosystem staff officer,
> USDA Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot National Forest
> 10600 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver, WA 98682
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