Forest Service strategy offers candid look at system in disarray

Article from The Montana Standard:

U.S. Forest Service strategy offers candid look at system in disarray

A new strategy for managing public lands for recreation, heritage and wilderness paints a bleak picture of the U.S. Forest Service’s own ability to tackle the job.

“You could say this looks like a D-minus report card,” said George Bain, Forest Service Region 1 director of recreation, lands, minerals, heritage and wilderness. “To us, this is how it is. We wanted to take a good, hard look and develop a strategy for how to work in that world. We don’t have all the money we’d want. We don’t have all the workforce we’d want. We don’t have the ability to take care of everything the way we’d like. This is the landscape we’re working in. Let’s see how to address this.”

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4 Comments

  1. I don’t think anything remotely resembling business as usual will remedy the core issue: Congress has never funded recreation-related programs at levels acceptable for such outstanding resources. I am convinced that recreation users of public lands will need to directly finance these programs if we are to see meaningful changes. Yup, user fees. Drives my environmental friends crazy. But if the FS could capture even 20-30% of the market value associated with demand, the transformation of public recreation facilities and services would be phenomenal.

  2. After 34 years with the U. S. Forest Service and 22 years of observation during retirement, I am deeply disturbed with the excuses being offered as to why we cannot get anything done. The reputation of the Agency has dropped significantly over the past 20 or so years and I admit this has resulted in reduced financial recognition by the Congress but, the solutions are not just dollars and personal. I no longer observe the leadership and management skill required to re-establish the Agency as a world leader in forest land management. Instead, I see an Agency that has become the epitome of Government Bureaucracy. Centralized specialization has build large organizations at the National and Regional levels, leaving limited resources for on-the-ground accomplishments. Required paper work keeps most professional scientists at their desks 75% to 80% of their available time. Our forests are far to valuable to allow this to continue. Our world population is now 7 1/2 BILLION people and expanding by 75 MILLION per year. We have lost slightly more than 50% of our original forested lands and the demands will continue to expand. Our only salvation is management that focuses on forest community health and diversity. Recreation visitor days, board feet of timber, animal unit months, numbers of wildlife and so on, must become the by-product of proper management not the driving focus of management! Getting the scientist of their back side and into the forest is far more important then a report, impact statement or even a balanced budget! We simply can not afford the current lack of proper management!

  3. Ok, I’m probably living in dream land with this comment, but please humor me. One of the biggest hinderances in funding the Forest Service in the last few decades has been the steep decline in revenues that were generated from timber sales. Basically, the Federal Government was taking the profit it was making from this revenue and reinvesting it for the public good (in recreation for example). My question is, why can’t this same idea hold true if the revenue is instead generated through carbon sequestration programs? So, let’s say in an ideal world, cap and trade or some similar carbon reduction program gets implemented. Basically, the feds hold the largest resource in the U.S. for sequestering that carbon. Private entities would have to pay to take advantage of that resource in order to remain in compliance with carbon sequestration laws. Essentially then, the USFS would act as trustee of the res (the capital in the form of the trees) and the profits could then be reinvested for the beneficiary( the public) in the form of recreation, stand improvement, etc. I know … pipe dream right? But what are the arguments against creating value from our forests in this manner should something like a carbon sequestration regime ever be enacted?

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