The worst part of "Healthy Forests"

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at
Tue Feb 24 23:21:22 EST 2004

Since "Healthy Forests" is solidly in place and court battles are
imminent, can the Forest Service implement all these projects with its
"bare bones" workforce? No one has brought up our lack of expertise at
the ground level since downsizing and retirements have decimated our
timber departments. If ever there was a stumbling block to "serving
the land", this is it. "Healthy Forests" will be quite labor-intensive
and will require armies of timbermarkers to selectively designated
trees for removal. Unfortunately, the Forest Service doesn't have
experienced people to shape the future of our National Forests. In the
past 15 years, the Forest Service has relied on training new people
every year to wield paint guns. IMHO, it takes at least 2 years of
training and experience to be at least a competant timbermarker.
Permanent jobs were nearly impossible to come by and the good
government benefits were not offered to temporary employees. (I was a
"temporary employee" for 15 seasons.)

Has Congress or the White House even considered this problem? If they
did, they immediately wrote it off as political suicide because "big
government" is still not desirable. Have they considered what might
happen when millions are spent on elaborate plans, only to fail when
implemented by unmotivated and under-trained temporary employees? I'd
consider this problem to be the "Achilles Heel" of Healthy Forests.
With increased public scrutiny and an expected flurry of court cases,
isn't it important enough for the Forest Service to use the best
trained timbermarkers that money can buy? Currently, the lowest paid
and least respected employees will be doing, arguably, the most
important job in the Forest Service.

I talk about this because I truly care about our forest ecosystems and
fear that monetary issues will overrule environmental issues. I'm sure
that this information could be included in court cases and should be
considered in judging a project on its merits and flaws. Timbermarkers
need to be certified in sound ecosystem management before they're
allowed to mark even one tree.

Larry,    still in the middle of the road on forestry issues

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