Here’s a piece by Jack Ward Thomas, former Chief of the Forest Service about Tester’s bill.
A couple of his criticisms are interesting to me..
The “deal” assumes status quo conditions – political, economic, ecological and legal. But, dramatic change is but one insect and/or disease outbreak, one fire season, one mill closure, one appeal, one successful legal challenge, one budget, one new research result or one shift in market conditions away.
But so are forest plans and (in particular) forest plan EIS’s. That was a criticism of the utility of the forest plan EIS that led to the 2005 to use CE’s instead. If you don’t meet your timber target from the plan, if you need to change your standards based on new scientific information, we have a tendency to just not change and just live with a growing deviation between the plan and reality. I don’t think the solution is to do another EIS. I think (perhaps agreeing with Iverson) that standards for wildlife don’t belong in individual forest plans- they belong somewhere they can be updated on a broader scale. JWT has put his finger right on the forest plan conundrum- we need to lay out some kind of future (or do we?) yet conditions change before we actually implement what we have planned. Too many moving parts.
The “deal” hinges upon trade-offs between interest groups.
The interest groups have negotiated their own “deal” as I understand it, rather than the agency responsible official weighing all their views and making a decision. But are the interests of “interest groups” seemingly longer lived than the opinions of one federal official? I don’t know. This reminds me of this piece in the Denver Post over the weekend on Secretary Salazar.
“I only half-heartedly joke with those in industry that, during the prior administration, their names were chiseled above the chairs outside the office of the Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals,” wrote Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, to Salazar this month, criticizing recent changes to oil and gas leasing policy.
“I fear that we are merely swapping the names above those same chairs to environmental interests, giving them a stranglehold on an already cumbersome process,” Freudenthal wrote.
I am being a bit of a devil’s advocate here, but is a deal between interests who have honestly met and hashed things out “worse” than pendulum swings between administrations?
Finally, JWT says..
Clearly, the governance of national forests is dysfunctional due to numerous, overlapping, contradictory laws continuously and variously interpreted by the courts. That is the problem. These bills are “sick canaries in the mine shaft” – indications that something is dangerously amiss.
Would it not be better to recognize and comprehensibly address that dysfunction?
One path would be a law review, as suggested by many.
Question: Could a planning rule help with this “dysfunction”? And if so, how, in advance of such a comprehensive review of laws?
see the whole article:
Tester’s forest bill not a feasible, long-term solution