FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why No One Trusts the US Forest Service

by FELICE PACE

It’s a pity really! For generations employees of the United States Forest Service – clad in their crisp green uniforms and with Smokey the Bear always nearby – were among the most trusted government officials in the world. But over the past 25 years that image has changed dramatically. Now, if Americans think about US Forest Service rangers at all, they are likely to liken them to snake oil salesmen.

The reason for the public’s distrust was demonstrated once again recently when the Forest Service decided to open half a million acres of Southern California backcountry to road building and oil drilling. The decision flew in the face of Forest Service and Bush Administration assurances that state governments would have a voice in deciding the fate of national forest roadless lands. California officials had stated quite clearly that they wanted the remaining roadless lands in the Golden State to stay that way–roadless.

The governator (aka Governor Schwarzenegger) was not pleased with the Forest Service; on February 28th the state filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the decision.

In reacting to the lawsuit’s filing, Forest Service spokesperson Allison Stewart would not comment on the oil drilling. But she did comment on the roads. According to Stewart the roads are needed to fight fires which, she asserted, have been a perennial problem in the wilderness.

Really?

Since 2001 the US Governments Interagency Fire Center (the forest Service is one of the participating agencies) has collected and displayed on its web site wildland fire statistics for regions and the nation as a whole. Between January 1 2001 and January 1 2007 Southern California averaged 621 lightning fires per year; during the same period there were an average of 3,819 human-caused fires per year. The lightning fires burned an average of 23,167 acres per year; the human-caused fires burned an average of 273,333 acres each year during the same period. You can view the data at www.nifc.gov/fire_info/lightning_human_fires.html.

Clearly in Southern California human caused fires are a much bigger problem than lightning fires. According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research which has studied fires across the western US. increasing road density is correlated with increasing wildfires. More roads in Southern California’s roadless lands will undoubtedly result in more human-caused fires and more risk to human life and property. And the Forest Service knows this.

Once again the Forest Service has demonstrated that it is willing to say anything to justify its decisions. 1984 is alive and well inside those brown buildings! Black is white; ignorance is strength and cultivating public fears is the mothers milk.

But the American People are not buying it.

How many millions of dollars has the Forest Service expended trying to figure out how to regain the public’s trust? Meanwhile the solution is obvious. Forest Service officials should stop the shuck and jive and start telling the truth!

FELICE PACE has lived amid Northern California forests and been a forest activist since the late 1970s. Since 1987 he has walked through and studied all large wildfires that have burned in the Klamath Mountains of Northwest California and Southwest Oregon. He can be reached at: unofelice@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Felice Pace is a longtime environmental activist in northern California. You can find his writings online at Bearitude in Black.

November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohamed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail