Joyce Whitney is typical of many young people who enter the Forest Service with a gleam in their eyes, believing they can make a contribution to the stewardship of America's public lands. She works on the Bozeman Ranger District of the Gallatin National Forest, which wraps around the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park in Montana.
demoralized by the lack of clear agency mission and by a chaotic
work environment, she is jumping ship for a post with the Bureau of
Land Management. That's a sign of the times. In even the recent
past, a Forest Service employee would have seen a job with the BLM
as a step down.
As a part of the president's
plan to downsize government, the agency has targeted "the worker
ants, the field personnel who are the lifeblood of this agency,"
she says. "We were shorthanded before the staffing cuts. But now
conditions in the office are like a very intense pressure
"We simply don't have
the time to be doing the job we should, and when we don't, we run
into appeals and litigation from environmentalists, which create an
even greater workload," she says. "We keep wondering if help is
ever going to arrive."
Not long ago, the
Gallatin National Forest commissioned an internal survey, and the
results echo the sentiments of employees throughout the national
* Sixty-five percent of those
questioned said they strongly disagree with the assertion that
high-performing employees are promoted;
Eighty-seven percent said they strongly disagree with the assertion
that pay raises depend on how well employees perform their
* Seventy-four percent strongly disagreed
with the statement that red tape and unnecessary rules and
regulations do not interfere with the completion of work in a
* Seventy-one percent said they
strongly disagree with the notion that an effort is made to
minimize the levels of bureaucratic management.
Whitney's boss, Gallatin Forest Supervisor Dave Garber, takes the
survey findings to heart. A veteran of the agency's massive
clear-cutting campaigns along the Cascades and coastal subranges of
Oregon, he says he's a Dombeck
need a national policy on timber coming off of federal lands,"
Garber says. "For instance, one acre of harvest out of the
Northwest rainforests can equate to 50 acres or more in the
Northern Rockies. We need to ask ourselves what is the most
efficient and ecological way to have a logging program, and where
should it take place?
face now is not a new dilemma but a higher level of severity,
because the land base has been used for over 20 years. If we want
trees, they are in places which are harder to get."