Mike Dombeck - as seen from the ground

  Dear HCN,

I just read your April 27 story about Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck. As a member of a Forest Service family that has been stuck in Idaho for almost seven years, I'd like to add a field perspective to opinions about Mr. Dombeck. The direction that keeps coming down from Washington, D.C., is distinctly political. Forest Service employees have been told to lobby county commissioners and elected officials for support of the proposed changes in payments to states (in lieu of taxes) for national forest land. They've been told to make Vice President Al Gore look good so he can be elected president. They've been bashed by people in the communities in which they have to live, by their "leadership" in Washington, D.C., by their congressional delegations, by environmentalists, by commodity users.

Is it any wonder morale is low?

Sure, there are still dinosaurs in the Forest Service, but there are also people who respect the national forests and are quietly going about making changes for the better. These people get lost in the noise created by those who criticize.

I especially despise those who lump everyone together on the assumption that if you work for the Forest Service you have a "stump "em" mentality. You ought to try living in Idaho as an educated liberal with a strong respect for Mother Nature and listen to locals tell you that national forests should be tree farms.

If Mr. Dombeck wants to make a difference, he ought to start by thinking about Forest Service employees as human beings and develop an appreciation for the complexities of their jobs and the communities in which they live.

You can get lost in a large city, but you can't hide in a small one. And when someone's yelling at you on the telephone, or in your office, or at a public meeting, Mr. Dombeck's vision remains ethereal.

Roseanne Narlock

Sandpoint, Idaho