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Topic: Politics & Policy     Department: Letters

Roadless retaliations

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Ray Ring's article "Roadless-less" devotes considerable attention to a March, 2000, Forest Service employees' union letter opposing the Clinton roadless rule (HCN, 11/9/09). According to Ring and the union, Forest Service employees who opposed the roadless rule faced "threats of reprisal from the (Clinton) administration ..."

To the contrary, the only such threats of which I am aware were made against the 500 Forest Service workers who signed a January 1999 petition to President Clinton supporting roadless area protection. Forest Service managers threatened prosecution of petition signers, sanctions for using government e-mail to sign the petition, and prosecution for violating anti-lobbying restrictions in appropriations bills. 

Ultimately, it took Forest Service Chief Dombeck's personal intervention to quell his retaliatory Forest Service managers. The notion, as Ring suggests, that the Forest Service ever threatened retaliation against pro-timber, pro-development employees is laughable to anyone who knows this agency.

Andy Stahl, Executive Director
Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics
Eugene, Oregon

Ray Ring responds
Andy Stahl implies that the Forest Service Council union leaders lied about the intimidation they observed. I think it's more likely that both forms of intimidation occurred within the agency — forces for and against the Clinton rule pressured staffers lower in the hierarchy. It's another indication that the Forest Service resembles the military, discouraging any form of dissent.

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