More internal fire at the Forest Service



More internal fire at the Forest Service

The list of resignations in the Forest Service's Southwest region is growing (HCN, 3/30/98). Renee Galeano-Popp, a career agency biologist, stepped down from her position at Lincoln National Forest in late April, saying in a letter to the incoming regional forester that "the Forest Service has trouble doing what it knows is right and best."

"We're still defending every last cow out here," said Galeano-Popp in an interview. "There's no sense of urgency. There's no sense that we need to recover endangered species."

Galeano-Popp, who spent 20 years working for the Forest Service in the Southwest, also criticizes internal management at the agency. "It's truly earned the phrase "Forest Circus' to me," she says. "There's too much tolerance for incompetence."

"In some cases, the allegations might be true for the Forest Service as a whole," responds Forest Supervisor Jose Martinez, "but as for some of the allegations made about the Lincoln National Forest, I'd say they are not accurate."

Galeano-Popp will join Leon Fager and Jim Cooper, two Forest Service biologists who resigned earlier this year, in a visit to Washington, D.C., at the end of June. Their meetings with agency administrators and environmental groups will be sponsored by the nonprofit group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

"I'm not interested in headhunting, but I do think there need to be some shake-ups," says Galeano-Popp. "I want to see an active reform, something that would make a difference. I don't want to make enemies with this. I want to make serious change." "Michelle Nijhuis