Opinion: Stop supporting groups that block Forest Service management activities

Posted: September 12, 2012

Source: Missoulian

What would you think if you heard your local Forest Service was proposing to improve 600 miles of forest roads in need of maintenance? What would you think if the Forest Service was proposing to include an opportunity to provide jobs to small-scale loggers to perform the road maintenance work while they could also salvage dead trees from alongside the roads? The combined actions would make our roads safe to travel and reduce forest fuel buildups alongside roads while providing forest products and the financial means to pay for the road maintenance work. Sounds like a win-win situation for us taxpayers,right?

Not if you’re a member of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies or The Lands Council. These two environmental groups profess to care for our forests, including the road systems that allow all of us to access them for recreational and management purposes. Yet their actions speak louder than their words.

These two environmental groups have recently filed an appeal on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests’ North Zone Roadside Salvage project, which proposes to fix up to 600 miles of forest roads located within the Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint and Priest Lake Ranger districts that currently lack adequate funding to accomplish. The Forest Service is acting creatively to finance this work through the use of small timber sales and stewardship contracts that also provide jobs and forest products.

In spite of these groups’ claims that they are working collaboratively with other stakeholders of our national forests, frivolous appeals such as this just show the true colors of these preservationist groups and the lengths they will go in preventing the Forest Service from conducting any management activities. As a Forest Service employee for 33 years, including 23 years on the Bonners Ferry Ranger District as a small sales project leader, I have the experience of seeing how these preservationist groups work to stifle forest management and to cause extraordinary taxpayer costs in completing environmental studies prior to implementing even the most benign work, such as road maintenance.

If you are also fed up with this situation, you can help by doing two things: stop sending donations to these groups, and; support your Forest Service professional land managers – after all, you hired them to care for your forests. You can do this by contacting your congressional representatives and letting them know it’s time to let the Forest Service manage our forests, not idealistic groups that prefer to see our forests and forest roads fall apart.