Ghost of the Forest Service yet to come

I happened to read these two articles today that seemed to fit together in an interesting way. The first was about proposed legislation that would create a national recreation area from a big chunk of a national forest to get it funded through the Park Service. This quote was kind of telling: “Remember, the main function of the Forest Service is to fight fires. Recreation is last on its priority list. That is why nothing gets done …” The second was about the inability of the Forest Service to manage motorized recreation. Hmmm …

15 Comments

  1. Jon, here are a couple of links to previous discussions on the Angeles/Park Service= More Bucks discussion..
    http://forestpolicypub.com/2012/10/10/char-miller-on-the-park-service-more-bucks-question/
    http://forestpolicypub.com/2012/09/30/21st-century-problems-recreation-bucks-and-different-solutions-the-san-gabriels-otra-vezr/
    And, of course, that leads into the Parks Service charging and the Forest Service not..
    a la this post one http://forestpolicypub.com/2012/09/28/lawsuit-day-use-fees-and-campgrounds/

    It’s interesting that it hasn’t come up for a couple of years but the discussion was very active in 2012..
    As to the rec funding, here’s one way it could play out.

    Areas with powerful congressional delegations get land transferred to the Park Service where they can charge for services. Places without powerful congressionals get their recreation decreased to “sustainable levels” or simply have roads and campgrounds closed, (or concessionaires). Urban goes to well-managed and charging for it, rural goes to “keep people out because we can’t afford recreation.” Even my example of Long’s Peak vs. Brainerd Lake in the link above gives you an idea of the quality difference.

    As a taxpayer, I wish there were were rec funding across federal agencies so there would be less effort expended by outsiders in poaching and more in promoting the whole budget (!). In fact, this would be another argument for moving the FS to Interior. Then similar rec facilities would all get similar funding (FWS, BLM, NPS, FS) and (be forced to) coordinate.

    The forest policy DC networks don’t seem to be interested in FS recreation, and the recreationists don’t seem interested in working together, so maybe we could think of a policy mechanism that would force the recreationists to work together. Like one interagency BLI. Other ideas and brainstorming welcome!

  2. I have to call BS on that motorized recreation article. Rich Landers was part of a gaggle of OWAA people that were completely into the roadless initiative back in 2000 when Pew/Audubon realized there wasn’t an organized “green” sportsman movement, that was NRA’s pretty much by default. So when NRA heard from its members they opposed the roadless initiative, a faction of OWAA tried attacking NRA (in Spokane, at the OWAA convention — Rich writes for the Spokane paper).
    After that, Pew sent money to Trout Unlimited (which Rich quotes here) to establish TRCA, then a bunch of other groups, then the “hunter and angler” thing.
    But look at the language Rich uses, with only a passing sniff at the closures (for ESA issues) and no mention of the percentage of total closures on the old pre 1994 (Mace and Waller) road networks. So you have incredibly-concentrated and limited use —
    Which the Forest Service never made an honest try to actually MANAGE, except through elimination.
    Did I mention I don’t think Rich Landers is an honest broker? Oh, I did?

      • Sharon, TRCA was the first iteration. Pew Trust laundered the money through Trout Unlimited, in fact TRCA was a “project” of TU for a time before it got 501c3 “charitable” status. Other participants were Izaak Walton League, and two others. But they got like four million dollars aggregate the first year. 2001-2-3.
        The reason was, the roadless initiative got almost no sportsman support.
        TRCA then segued into TRCP. One thing you will find is TU people in TRCP. NWF also crosses over somewhat.
        I’ve got quite a pile of paper on TRCA/TRCP in my reference drive.
        The entire “hunter and angler” thing is fabricated by the usual environmental groups. While the majority of sportspeople are not Green, there is a cadre of about 20 percent according to that grizzlies guy in the San Juans, Dave/Doug Peacock or something? The other factor is, most sporting groups are specialized to a species or a region, there is no umbrella, so by default the big dog is NRA — almost by definition we gunnies are hunters or hunting supporters. The regionals and species specific don’t really get the big-picture. So TRCP goes after those, the visiting sportsmen who moon about hunting in the West without the year-long exposure to the politics. Pretty clever stuff, but also very transparent and astroturfy. TRCP pays their people to be available to sit on various commissions and citizen boards, while Joe Hukenbullet is working to save up for his hunt.

        • Dave, I certainly don’t mind you bring up some of this TRCA stuff.

          As a backcountry hunter and angler, I disagree with you that “sportsmen” don’t support roadless area protection. But, even if you are correct that “green” sportspeople only make up 20% of all hunters and anglers that’s still a pretty large amount, isn’t it?

          I mean, according to the latest USFWS survey I could find, there were (in 2011) 13.7 million hunters in the U.S. and 33.1 million anglers. 20% of those are 2.74 million “Green” hunters and 6.62 million “Green” anglers. Heck, even if only 5% of people who hunt and fish are “Green” and like things like Wilderness and Roadless Areas, we’re talking millions of people.

        • Me too (having a file on TRCP). Mine is how their requirements for what they needed in the Colorado Rule changed each time they wrote a letter. 2008 they want x. We put x in. 2009, they want y. and so on to 2011 (or was it 12)? I even had a table that showed the requests and our changes through time, hoping that this would be of interest to someone besides those of us in the weeds, that they were not “negotiating in good faith.” (As we say in labor relations).

          But what was interesting to me, was that TU Colorado (we worked with the state folks) was more or less sensible to deal with (you could bring up things and they would talk about their evidence and ideas), while TRCP had more of an ideological slant (Colorado should do the same as Idaho in percentage “more protected” even if everything else were different including what is “more protected”), We would try to get into a substantive discussion about the differences between Idaho and Colorado and run into a brick wall.

          When we were doing this project in an R national administration (Colorado Roadless had mixes of both admins at both levels, interesting from an experimental point of view to experience all the combinations.. I could write a sleep-inducing book!), I could understand why we would defer to TRCP because they were one of the few that would work with us on Roadless.

          When we worked with the D’s at the national level, though, we still had to listen to them. I never quite got that, I guess because the “real” environmental groups supported the Admin but not CO Roadless. But no answer I’ve received yet has ever balanced out with their level of influence behind the scenes.

          That’s odd that Pew was funding them, I think they were also funding Heritage Forests. Both of these groups showed up at the public meetings. It would be interesting to see how much they spent.

          There’s an elk guy in the San Juan’s Dave Petersen, who used to work for TU, is that of whom you’re thinking? He served on the State Roadless Taskforce and he also knew Edward Abbey and edited a book of his essays. We spent an evening after the FACA committee meeting in Salt Lake over some beers finding out, among other things, that we shared the view that Abbey was not a misogynist (though I knew him only from his writings).

          The interior west is sometimes a small world.

    • Exactly what are you calling BS in this article? I think the article focuses on the difficulty of implementing the new Travel Management Regulations, however, you argue that the regulations have caused concentrated and limited use. I don’t think these two things are mutually exclusive. I personally have found that (1) yes, the travel management regs have and will result in concentration of motor vehicle use, and (2) yes, they are incredibly difficult for the FS to implement. However, the main tenets of the article are that OHV use has exploded in recent years while FS resources have decreased and this has been one of the main issues making it difficult to manage motorized use on the Forest. To me, these two elements cause both (1) and (2) above, I don’t see this as BS, I see this as a difficult problem the FS is wrestling with, and I laud the article for illustrating the day-to-day toils at a ground-level perspective in this nationwide effort.

  3. OWAA = Outdoor Writers Association of America (I had to look it up)
    TRCA = Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Alliance (ditto)
    NRA = you probably know that one
    BS = you probably know that one too, as eloquently used here.

    Rich Landers is an excellent writer, level headed, and he’s one outdoors writer that has some influence and credibility. Conservation Writer of the Year (Idaho Conservation League, also Washington Enviornmental Council). It’s probably easier to throw rocks at an informative article than to actually write one.

    • No resources? Yep, because they aren’t cutting trees and stuff to create revenue. Never mind recreation fees are a nonstarter, which is a shame because in the bad old days of multiple use, recreation was cross-subsidized by the timber management side.
      As for BS, it still stands. I read Rich regularly (not for pleasure) and know his slant. He’s definitely in the Joel Connelly class of environmental reporting.

      • Darn the comment button. Guy, I know where YOU come from. And anyone endorsed by ICL — well, that stands again.
        Rich has never, ever defended the concept of multiple use and managed, improved habitat. And I found his OWAA attack on the NRA for not toeing the Sierra Club line way back when rather disingenuous.
        Never mind the factional goings on in the “outdoor writer” genre. There’s a faction of writers who do the hiking stuff and hate the hookandbullets — blah blah.

  4. Is that equivalent to it being easier to litigate a project than help design one collaboratively? Or it’s easier to write an op-ed criticizing energy development than to develop new energy sources? Seems to me as if there is a role for doing stuff and a role for critiquing what others do.

    I was talking about TRCP http://www.trcp.org/

    Is there also a TRCA? In that case, Teddy gets around a lot, given his residence on the Other Side 😉

    • Sharon, Do you not view fully participating within the established NEPA process as “helping to design a project collaboratively?”

      Or, are you saying that in order to “help design a project collaboratively” a person actually has to attend these extra, non-NEPA required “collaborative” meetings, most of all of which take place during the week sometime between 9am and 5pm? And based on previous experience with dozens and dozens of “collaborative” meetings may have limited value anyway, depending on a number of circumstances specific to any one “collaborative” group.

      • OK, how this started was that Guy said

        “It’s probably easier to throw rocks at an informative article than to actually write one.”

        My point was that it’s easier to audit sustainable forestry than to do sustainable forestry. It’s easier to critique papers than to write papers. It’s easier to be an art, music or drama critic than to produce art, music or drama.

        It’s also easier to develop a policy than to “throw rocks” at one. But I hope you’re not implying that’s a reason not to critique different kinds of works?

        It’s easier to write an appeal (I remember some appellants who were with a group that didn’t like grazing. A couple of times they forgot to do a global change on the last project’s name.), than it is to write an EIS, or do any collaborative work.

        If you were in a room with others who disagree (as opposed to writing an appeal with others who share your views), you might have to tell us why you think Grizzlies would be hurt by a hazard tree project, for example. People would disagree with your assertions and you would have to go on to substantiate them. I have seen all kinds of silly things asserted in appeal documents.. and yes, they will be addressed in the appeal response, but it’s not like having a free flowing discussion like we have here.

        There are two things that are different 1) explaining your views and jointly gathering more information 2) achieving consensus. I think 2) may be difficult or impossible in some cases, but 1) is still valuable. Otherwise, I would not be writing on this blog (on my personal time). Now, I would argue that that kind of joint info gathering could also be done online; in perhaps a way that would be more time and cost effective. Does anyone out there have any examples?

    • “Is that equivalent to it being easier to litigate a project than help design one collaboratively?”
      -I don’t think so, though admittedly not quite sure what you’re talking about… Is this relevant? I don’t think this is necessarily a true statement, and I do think the last sentence in my previous comment is true, so no, I guess they’re not equivalent.

      “I was talking about TRCP” -fair enough, but I wasn’t referencing your comment, rather Dave Skinner’s. But AFAIK, which is only from what I’ve read, the organizations are/were basically the same, one the precursor to the other.

      • Guy, you bring up an interesting point. I’m in a collaboration right now, hoping I’m not utterly wasting my time, hoping something other than passive mismanagement comes out of the other end. My biggest frustration is the utter aversion to substantial experimentation, guided by experience, in the face of trends that are negative in a social context. Call me an anthro, I guess, but I figure as long as these forests are in a public trust, the public should be witness to beneficial outcomes for not just four legs, but two legs. Never mind that nobody has explained to me how a nuked forest is beneficial to four leggers when there’s none to be seen because there’s no forage or cover.

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