Sustainable Recreation

Is discussed throughout the Proposed Rule. In case you missed it, here it is :

The USDA Forest Service Mission: “To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”
The agency mission, one of sustainability, provides the foundation for the Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer programs.
Our Vision … “Renewing Body and Spirit, Inspiring Passion for the Land”
We provide recreation on treasured lands that brings health and vitality to individuals and communities and showcases our country’s natural abundance. Recreation on the National Forests and Grasslands invokes feelings of connection to the natural world and inspires responsibility to care for it.
Guiding Principles for our mission and vision:
 Connecting people with their natural and cultural heritage is a vital thread in the fabric of society. It contributes to the American identity and reminds people of the resources that sustain life – water, soil, food, and fiber. Moreover, recreation is the portal for understanding and caring for natural resources and public lands. It provides opportunities and motivation to advance from fun and attraction, through awareness, education and understanding, to a role of citizen stewardship – one of “giving back” and supporting sustained management of natural resources.
June 25, 2010 Page 4
 Recreational activity in the great outdoors promotes healthy lifestyles. Combined with good nutrition, it contributes to improved physical, mental, and spiritual health, and a shift away from treating illness toward creating wellness.
 Sustainability underlies all program decisions. In order to sustain the benefits of outdoor recreation for present and future generations, the recreation program must address and work toward a sustainable balance among the three spheres of environmental, social, and economic conditions.
 Community engagement is essential for creating a sustainable recreation program. Our role is to serve as planners, facilitators, conveners, and collaborators, tapping the enormous energy and creativity of people in communities that care for and benefit from public lands, including both the private and public sectors.
 National Forests and Grasslands are part of a larger landscape that includes: other public lands; open spaces at the local, state, and federal level; tribal lands; working farms and ranches, and; towns and cities. Respecting and cultivating the relationships across all lands and communities is necessary to strengthen the health and vitality of each.
 The Recreation program is integrated into the larger agency mission. By working together with other program areas to integrate program goals and service delivery, we maximize our contribution by connecting programs, people, and landscapes. .
Our Goals
Building on the foundation of the Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles, we will strive to:
 Provide a diverse range of quality natural and cultural resource based recreation opportunities in partnership with people and communities.
 Protect the natural, cultural, and scenic environment for present and future generations to enjoy.
 Partner with public and private recreation benefit providers that together we meet public needs and expectations.
 Perform and plan by implementing systems and processes to ensure: effective decisions, sound investments, and accountability; collaborative approaches to integrated solutions across the landscape; and enhanced professionalism of our workforce.

8 thoughts on “Sustainable Recreation”

  1. “We provide recreation on treasured lands…”

    (In defense of the meaning of language)

    Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time, time being something an individual choice occurs within, in initiating the act of choosing to recreate.

    As wonderful as the agency thinks it may be, it cannot provide something that is a public’s personal choice — to recreate on the land that is in the public’s ownership.

    This concern, of course, is in the defense of the meaning of public lands which taxpayers own and have been funding the management of,

    unless of course, this is what the Proposed Rule shall REALLY mean:

    “We provide recreation on treasured lands…”

    Translation: Yes, these are publicly-owned landscapes, and yes, the Proposed Rule understands they are treasured by corporations, so,

    By the hand of the USDA, Therefore Be It Resolved:

    1)The Proposed Rule shall privatize the rights to corporations and the immense benefits from public land, and transfer such wealth to shareholders, the immense legacy of taxpayer investments and rights of ownership; and,

    2)The Proposed Rule shall grant exclusive rights to corporations to hawk their rights to the commodification of public “recreation” in the name of “providing” opportunities through “collaboration” with shareholder profit taking and through collection of user fees.

    Such is the Proposed Rule offering the grand solution of the perennial problems of corporate addiction and how to feed its insufferable greed, at any cost, including the founding principles of America and the meaning of language itself.

    “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” (Syme,1984)

    May all the honorific invocations of the legacy of Leopold,et al. come into sharp focus now.

  2. “We provide recreation on treasured lands…”

    (In defense of the meaning of well-intentioned bureaucratic language.”

    I am an optimistic cynic who finds himself getting more cynical all the time, particularly regarding the role of Corporate America in manipulating the public and subverting government.

    I choose, however, to remain optimistic about the bureaucratic words used to lay out the mission, vision, and guiding principles of the Forest Service related to recreation on National Forest lands. Would you feel better if the language had read “We provide opportunities to recreate on treasured lands?” Rather than aasuming that the Forest Service leadership is totally in the sway of the recreation industry, I choose to take the agency’s words at face value and then I will insist that they do as they say regarding such principles as sustainability,engagement,and integration.

    As far as bureaucratic destruction of words, I’ve seen many more “beautiful” examples!

    The one choice of words in the proposed rule that does concern me is when I see sustainability defined as a” . . . balance among the three spheres of environmental, social, and economic conditions.” When Jack Ward Thomas was Chief, he insisted that ecological sustainability was the foundation for economic and social sustainability, not a co-equal sphere. That language changed under subsequent chiefs to the current usage.. Since there can be no society or economics without ecosystems, I would argue that this choice of words is important. I might go far as to argue that the failure to recognize ecological sustainability as a foundation has a lot to do with why the Forest Service has had such a hard time in recent decades figuring out what it is all about. I could also argue that it might be a distraction to get bogged down haggling over these particular words. Better, perhaps to assume that the bureaucrats who spent many long days attempting to write some words that might actually someday make a difference in how public lands are managed actually meant what they said. Then we can devote ourselves to helping better define what all of those words in the new rule will mean for us and future generations.

    Which Leopold quote did you have in mind? How about “Recreational development is a job not of building roads into the lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind. “

  3. Jim, I completely agree, there are truly too many examples of the USDA’s destruction of the meaning of language to raise here.

    I too, “choose to take the agency’s words at face value”, but one need not be a cynic to understand where this agency’s use of marketing language selling the Planning Rule is taking America.

    One need only be an objective, sentient being willing to read and realize the USDA’s own admissions of complicity are demonstrated for all to see in their policy statements and recent decisions. For me, the USDA’s adoption of familiar, wholly unsupported, corporate greenwash terms goes over the top though when “sustainability” gets attached to “recreation.”

    (Really now, were Americans actually worried about their inability to sustain their choices to recreate on public lands?)

    Historical perspective:
    A massive national interagency conference was held back in 2003 regarding “partnerships” with hundreds of corporations and their access to profiteering on public lands.

    The seamless transition from the Bush administrative agenda to Obama’s launch of the Planning Rule should give us all serious pause if we think an opposition political party actually exists. The reign of Mark Rey needs to be celebrated far more on this site, than the fond memories of Leopold.

    The USDA’s recent approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered alfalfa, and sugar beets (despite a court prohibition) is only one disastrous facet of this in-your-face state of regulatory capture. Such actions expose and place up front this brave (not-so-new) world of corporatization of agency direction.

    “To prostitute” is derived from a composition of two Latin words: (preposition) pro and (verb) statuere. A literal translation therefore would be: “to expose”, “to place up front”. (wikipedia)

    The proposed Planning Rule exposes and places upfront its quintessential coup d’etat of public land management facilitating a predatory era in the corporatization of public lands profiteering.

    There are several sage insights of Leopold’s to invoke, but one quote I had in mind was:

    “The tourist who buys access to his scenery misses it all together; so also the sportsman who hires the state, or some underling, to be his gamekeeper.”

  4. I find the USDA’s recent decision on GM sugar beets to be despicable, but I can’t find a way to connect it with the Forest Service use of the term “sustainable” in connection with recreation. What happens in the “real USDA” historically hasn’t had a lot of connection to what happens in the Forest Service. Most Ag. secretaries leave that to the Deputy Secretary so that they can focus on Ag issues and fly around in corporate jets with Tysons food execs. I guess it’s Monsanto jets now, and I guess the current Secretary knows better. The current secretary does seem to be more directly involved in the Forest Service than his predecessors and I choose to view that as a good thing.

    Just ask the Blue Ribbon Coalition if their members are concerned about “their inability to sustain their choices to recreate on public lands.” Travel management planning is finally day-lighting many of the unsustainable uses of national forests by OHVs and squeezing them out of some of the places they were used to using unsustainably.

    In my view, the transition from Mark Rey’s agenda to the current one had a huge seam in it., in ways too numerous to list here. That’s not the case for some aspects of the Obama Administration, his stance that there is such a thing a “Clean Coal”, for instance.

    I’m not sure what Aldo would say about all this. As a hunter, I don’t hire anyone to be my gamekeeper, but I do pay to lease land to hunt on. As a tourist, I recognize that sometimes I may have to pay to access my scenery if it is to be maintained in a state that makes me want to access it.

  5. Given Vilsack’s extensive background in agribiz, his capitulation to Monsanto’s GMOs was not only predictable” but demonstrative of but “one facet” of an undeniable state of regulatory capture, as is the use of the corporate greenwashing term “sustainable” in connection with recreation on public lands.

    I take exception to your claim, “What happens in the “real USDA” historically hasn’t had a lot of connection to what happens in the Forest Service.”

    I would point to the June 2010 “Recreation Exchange”, hosted by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) with special guest Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, presenting ARC’s “Legends Awards” to “six exemplary employees of federal agencies, recognized for their actions to significantly enhance recreation opportunities”. “Recipients ranged from senior national officials to creative and dedicated field-level staffers.”

    Among the recipients was Floyd Allen Thompson III, U.S. Forest Service’s National Program Manager for “Sustainable Recreation” and Tourism, who is also the principal author of the Framework for “Sustainable Recreation.”

    Vilsack’s role distributing ARC’s AWARD to his National Program Manager of the Framework for “Sustainable Recreation” was both shameless and sordidly “upfront” and calls into serious question your own objectivity around what has been happening in and outside of the Forest Service on the Planning Rule.

    It also happens that the USFS is obligated by law to manage OHV abuses on public lands — this is not an option — the Blue Ribbon Coalition’s complaints notwithstanding.

    I am a hunter too, in Southeast Alaska — with no option to lease private hunting opportunities as you enjoy. The combination of massively extensive clearcutting by the USFS of previously highly productive but essential deer winter habitat combined with two severe winters — 40 YEARS AGO — has ever since condemned our island to having the most restricted deer hunting season in the ENTIRE state of Alaska.

    So forgive me if I seem sensitive about vacuous claims of “sustainability” within an agency that routinely pitches the term to convince the public of its good intentions only to later freely violate such promises in the grip of regulatory capture.

    As far as your tourist rationale for payment of “scenery” services…
    no comment, but thanks for the insights.

  6. I am fascinated that you two brought up the sugar beets. As you may or may not know, I was the science lead (Dan Magraw was the legal lead) of a CEQ/OSTP effort to examine our biotech regulation during the Clinton administration., so I have many thoughts on that – particularly since when I was on that detail at OSTP, I was asked to review the 2000 planning rule for clearance. So I think it is interesting to compare and contrast how each were handled during that administration.

    More on that later. I do think the “sustainable recreation” idea is about doing recreation in an environmentally friendly way, not sustaining recreation opportunities.

    I’m not clear on this “corporate” recreation stuff; we have ski areas, we have campground concessionaires, we have private folks with special use permits for lodges, etc. Do you not agree with some of these, or are you concerned about something happening in the future?

  7. David–

    I suppose if my main experience with the Forest Service came from living in Alaska and witnessing some of the horrible abuses of the past perpetrated by the agency on temperate rain forests, I would be even more cynical than I am. (If my main experience with politicians was with the Alaska Congressional delegation I might tend to paint all politicians with a pretty dark brush as well.)

    You seem to be more informed about the current Ag. Secretary than I so perhaps my observations about his motivations are overly generous. I’m not willing to let the green washers take the term sustainability away from me just yet, though. I first started hearing the term discussed in Forest Service circles in the early ’90s in terms of ecological sustainability and then in terms of economic and social sustainability. It remains a legitimate concept that I believe the Forest Service has struggled with and is now finally coming to embrace in a meaningful way. (Not just the “sustained-yield” harvest calculations of the past.)

    I have always dreamed of having a chance to experience some of the incredible hunting opportunities that are available in Alaska. It’s really unfortunate that the opportunities in your part of the state have been limited by past management actions. There have been lots of past abuses in my part of the world, but systems recover quicker down here. Maybe someday I will get to hunt in Alaska, but then I would probably need a guide, wouldn’t I??

  8. (In response to Sharon, who is fascinated with USDA recent approval of GMO sugar beets and GMO alfalfa) that fascination stands to be replicated 1000 fold with today’s announcement of the USDA deregulating (thus eliminating NEPA review of) Syngenta’s GE Corn for Ethanol production in the name of fulfilling a Bush era mandate (sorry Jim, this is seamless) for a source of “renewable” fuel known to result in spiking global food prices and world hunger — and a decision which risks the highly likely contamination of our nations food supply (and in a similar case, has already resulted in $110 million settlement to our farmers due to the loss of foreign markets because of StarLink contamination); and now seriously threatens the environment according to the EPA, which “recently released a report detailing the harmful impacts that this law continues to have on water, soil and air quality”(FOE).

    This demonstration of regulatory capture of the USDA goes far beyond prostitution and into the darkest impulses of power to abandon basic ethical principles of protecting the nation’s food supply and public health to say nothing of the wanton disregard for accelerating starvation elsewhere on the planet.

    That this regulatory capture deserves no mention and doesn’t elicit moral outrage here speaks volumes.

    and in response to Sharon, who is “not clear on this “corporate” recreation stuff”.)
    If the significance of ‘Vilsack’s role distributing ARC’s AWARD to his National Program Manager of the Framework for “Sustainable Recreation” ‘ doesn’t register with you as inappropriate, or indicative of a demonstrated trend of “ascending radicalism” (as Jim Beckwith famously admitted- in the last 30 years to corporatize and ultimately privatize all aspects of public land management and use, it is unlikely you will be remotely open to the following but I’ll give it a try.

    As I’ve alluded to in previous comments, I am deeply concerned about the historic mismanagement of and by federal agencies of federal lands. I believe I’ve outlined a highly defensible argument as to the role of internal monkeywrenching going on within the agencies and have solid confirmation from many respected friends who were agency careerists and now safely retired. Given the severe unraveling of ecosystem integrity of the past, I shudder to think what would have happened, had you and Martin had your way dismantling the only functional method (courtroom defense) for stemming the tide of that destruction on public lands.

    Fortunately, there continues to be a determined citizen defense of environmental laws to hold governmental agencies accountable to those laws, which you and Mr. Nie are on record (at a minimum) gladly rewriting. You both raise valid criticisms about imperfections but clearly miss the far more urgent points of the reason those laws exist, and the undeniable element of regulatory and agency capture, corporatization and devolution of our democracy.

    Such demonstrated incapacities of reasoning around basic problem solving (that is, differentiating effects of problems from causes of problems and for the sake of efficacious effort and efficiencies, the application of triage theory to problem solving) by personages of your academic and scientific stature, calls into question your agendas. I appeal to your sense of humanity here.

    And to Jim, yes I was invoking MUSY Act’s “sustainability”clauses in place 40 years ago. I too have heard over 27 years worth of agencyspeak about promised changes. As far as the USFS “finally coming to embrace (sustainability) in a meaningful way”, take a glance at Region 10’s SOPA. Mark Rey’s directive is still being adhered to and the Tongass Supervisor is doggedly pursuing FOUR concurrent ten year contracts, the nearest being the next island over (Wrangell) which targets 91 million board feet, the next nearest, (Prince of Wales Is.) 100 million board feet, and the remaining two have yet to be released. There’s a 64 million board feet timber sale DEIS coming out next month in my back yard and many others across the Tongass. Add to that the Sealaska Native Corporation bill (S.881) being pushed by Senator Murkowski to privatize 85,000 acres of the Tongass and then tell me the Forest Service is embracing sustainability on those landscapes. For an example of Sealaska timber harvest practices:

    I like many others here, do not hunt for “sport” recreation or trophys. We live on island landscapes in small, remote, rural, isolated communities by choice and have a HIGH dependence upon huntable/fishable populations of fish and wildlife of the Tongass to sustain our existence here. ANILCA’s subsistence priorities are supposed to be protected but there always seems to be a reason why impacts to subsistence get explained away by the agency. The nearest Walmart, Costco, etc. is over a hundred miles away (by boat or plane only) and that’s fine with us.

    There is no current requirement for a deer hunting guide (other big game does) on the Tongass National Forest. The state manages hunting. Have at it. I recommend you know what you’re getting yourself into here however.


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