In the view of this forest supervisor, the solution is more landscape-scale decisions (which we have discussed a few times, like here), and more categorical exclusions (which we have discussed a few times, like here.) But his deliberate effort to cut corners with the public is getting pushback from all sides.
All sides agreed that more details were needed to assess the impacts and justifications for the proposals. They wanted to know where projects would occur, and how and when they would be carried out. In short, they felt like Mark was going about this the wrong way.
After receiving that community feedback — and seeing other national forests get sued for similar landscape-level categorical exclusions — Mark put a pause on the proposals. “Some people are uncomfortable, and I knew that coming in,” he said. “But I guarantee you get another (fire) that’s threatening this ridge with a smoke cloud that’s 30,000 feet in the air, I know you’re going to be uncomfortable.”
(To me, that feels a little bit like extortion.)
And then there is this – what I think of as the “bake sale” approach to forest management:
As part of the process, the Forest Service often offers large, fire-resistant trees — which are more valuable because of their size and tight grain — as an incentive for companies to bid on the thinning that, in many cases, is a sale’s true objective. “Something’s got to carry the load,” Mark said. “Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to sell the sale and you won’t get anything done.”
I suppose there is authority somewhere for the Forest Service to cut down trees because they are the most valuable, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a forest plan say this (and it’s sure contrary to pursuing ecological integrity).
Some interesting commentary on competing collaboration efforts in the article, too.