Dave Iverson, in responding to Sharon’s post The Ranchers and the Feds Should Be Friends said that:
“. . . the Forest Service has no business courting friendship.
The folks involved with the many “friends of” groups associated with a number of national forests might disagree.
A few years ago, I was fortunate to spend a week learning from the late Brian O’Neil, long-time superintendent of the Golden Gate NRA. Brian’s philosophy was never to do a job with government employees if a volunteer would do it instead. According to the NRA’s webpage,” Park staffing is augmented by a high level of volunteerism, generally exceeding 350,000 hours of volunteer service per year.”
The friends group that Brian cultivated, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy says its mission is “to preserve the Golden Gate National Parks, enhance the park visitor experience, and build a community dedicated to conserving the parks for the future.” Sounds pretty consistent with the best interests of the park and the people it serves.
Brian’s called his version of fund-raising “friend-raising.” He never called it fund-raising, even though the Conservancy has contributed over $165 million dollars in support of the park. He thought of it a long-term process where people first become aware of the NRA, then come to know it, come to care about it, and finally to support it through time, money, and advocacy.
[Interesting digression: the GGNRA is currently using a negotiated rule-making process with an appointed committee to to decide how best to manage dog walking in the park.]
The national forest in California that best exemplifies the friend-raising philosophy is the San Bernardino. Their main partner group, The San Bernardino National Forest Association describes its mission as follows: “Since 1992, we’ve worked to complement the mission of the US Forest Service. We develop new resources and partnerships that create new opportunities, particularly through the efforts of volunteers, for conservation, education, and recreation that have added value to the forest’s role as public land.”
In light of all of the many “enemies of the national forests” who see public lands only as a source of profit that they would like a piece of, shouldn’t all national forests be actively trying to make more friends? Have we already forgotten the Sagebrush Rebellion attempts to privatize national forests?
And what is the deep inner meaning of the title of this post? Just ask Bete Midler:
“Cause you got to have friends
La la la la la la la la la“