Logging on our National Forests

Michael Hagen mhagen at mail.olympus.net
Tue Nov 11 17:44:52 EST 1997

> >> How can a government agency do a good job when it routinely breaks the law,
> >> as the USFS has done?

Give me a break!
I've drafted half a dozen responses to this thread and deleted em all. 
Without looking into the past of the USFS and being willing to devote
several hundred pages to this old topic, you can't put out more than
soundbites.  In every case I know of, especially on the Olympic NF,
forest service people are honest, diligent and almost obsessively
concerned with following the letter of the law.

The rub comes when you look at the laws: the NFMA, the ESA, NEPA,
ammendments to the above, and the yearly budgets with radically
differing provisions. These laws are NOT easy to figure out even for
those who deal with them regularly. Court decisions for better or worse,
reinterpret the original meaning of Congress, and over the time since
the NFMA was passed,just for one law, there's been a great shift between
the intent of Congress, the laws as written, their practical application
in the field and judicial opinion. 

Given that, how do you figure the Forest Service has stayed in existance
for the last hundred or so years? This isn't the first time that it
might have been legislated out of existance. It truly is a "political"
life form. If any outfit would know the fickleness of both Congress and
Public Opinion, they would and they react accordingly. The institution
bends slightly with each outside force that acts upon it. Like an old
chinese dynasty, it is built to weather barbarian attacks and upstart
innovators from within. Neither cause basic disturbance. Individuals
come and go as do forest plans, Senators and NGO's. Trees grow back and
in twenty years, all the personnel are different.  There are whole
National Forests existing where there were barren logged off and tax
delinquent lands less than century ago. Some of these, amazingly, have
spots in them people want to call wilderness. Cutting no more "old
growth" is not new. That's pretty much how it was done through the first
half of the century. 

Stopping all logging on USFS administered land is a reaction to the
enthusiastic overcutting of the Reagan years, which was legal at the
time; as well as a contradiction between the ESA and the budget rider,
Section 318. The USFS wrote neither of the laws but has been getting the
cheap shots ever since. Its the Congressional members who deserve the
attention and the questions of competancy.

For what its worth, I stopped working for them in the mid '80s and went
over to private industry. The pay was better but being on the *cutting
edge of forestry* was not altogether satisfactory but I have seen the
view from both sides.

Saw a Bircher billboard recently:  Be thankful that we do not get all
the government we pay for!    !)

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