This is a guest post from Bob Zybach (photo above). It carries forward from Matthew’s and my discussion about local people, and is the national government of the US treating its’ own local folks views differently than, say, international conservation organizations recommend. This previous discussion can be found here.
The question is whether each taxpayer should equally get to decide what happens on national forests, or to what extent local people, and local and state governments should have “more” of a voice.
Here is Bob’s piece.
When Pinchot and Roosevelt first put the Forest Service together under the auspices of the USDA, Pinchot authored the Congressionally-approved 1905 “Use Book,” intended to provide for management of the federal forest reserves. The very first sentences in this manual were:
“TO THE PUBLIC. The timber, water, pasture, mineral, and other resources of the forest reserves are for the use of the people. They may be obtained under reasonable conditions, without delay. Legitimate improvements and business enterprises will be encouraged.
Forest reserves are open to all persons for all lawful purposes.”
And it becomes more explicit thereafter:
“We know that the welfare of every community is dependent upon a cheap and plentiful supply of timber; that a forest cover is the most effective means of maintaining a regular stream flow for irrigation and other useful purposes; and that the permanence of the livestock industry [Note: this is before automobiles and McDonalds] depends upon the conservative use of the range.” (p. 7)
“The administration of forest reserves is not for the benefit of the Government, but of the people.” (p. 12)
And in a letter from the Secretary of Agriculture to Pinchot, in conjunction with the Act authorizing the transfer of the forest reserves from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture:
“‘You will see to it that the water, wood, and forage of the reserves are conserved and wisely used for the benefit of the home builder first of all, upon whom depends the best permanent use of lands and resources alike . . . In the management of each reserve local questions will be decided upon local grounds . . . and where conflicting interests must be reconciled the question will always be decided from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.” (p. 11)
The part that keeps getting left out by modern-day “conservationists” is that it is “the greatest number” of LOCAL people that Pinchot is talking about: i.e., “the local demand is always considered first.”
This is what people are talking about,when they speak of indigenous people; local homebuilders and their businesses — only now it is other people in other countries in competition with our own that seems to draw this kind of attention — not US taxpayer “local” people. Somehow, their needs and interests don’t seem to count for much anymore when it comes to the use and management of their local lands.
We are the only country in history to encourage our forests to burn up in wildfires and then let the remnants rot in place until the next wildfire — and to spend billions of dollars making sure this happens! We must obviously be very wealthy to even allow such a condition to evolve.
What a stupid waste, is my opinion. I’m in favor of real conservation instead, and of local resource management — as described by Pinchot and promised by Congress.