FAIRMONT HOT SPRINGS, Mont. - Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus used his time at the podium during a rare meeting of Forest Service district rangers Feb. 16 to complain that timber-sale goals in national forest management plans were boosted by politicians eager to please big timber companies.
(allowable sale quantities) are not accurate. They are not right,"
Andrus told more than 100 district rangers and forest supervisors
from Montana and northern Idaho.
submitted honest evaluations of what the ASQ should be and that was
changed by politicians in some cases," the governor said. The ASQ
is the timber-cutting ceiling set for each national
In a sometimes boisterous luncheon
speech, Andrus said he knows the timber ceiling was set too high on
northern Idaho's Clearwater National Forest. Andrus was born in
Orofino and spent his early working life as a logger in the
Clearwater. He said the forest's average timber cut, in the years
before adoption of its management plan, was 135 million
The first draft of the plan in 1985
put the goal at 150 million board-feet. But, Andrus said, "that was
not good enough for Potlatch and some of those other greedy suckers
who believe they have a God-given right to cut every tree that ever
Industry wanted a 200-million-board-foot
ASQ, the governor said. The Forest Service eventually set the
number at 173 million board-feet in 1987.
guess is that an honest ASQ for the Clearwater is not nearly what
the plan said," Andrus said. "Let's get it right. If it's 110
million board-feet, then let's say so. Or if it's 95 million
board-feet. But whatever it really should be, let's tell the
industry so they can plan on it."
attributed his own outspokenness to his decision to retire at the
end of his fourth term as Idaho governor. "I am nearing the end of
a long and mediocre political career. I can say anything that I am
big enough to say."
The governor said foresters
need to look over their shoulder at "where we have been so we know
where we want to go in the future."
poke sticks at each other about past mistakes," Andrus said. "You
have to make your judgments and your decisions. If you are
comfortable with it, then tell the public what you are going to do
and why. Put a light on it."
The Forest Service
must change, he said. "You've got way too many roads, and some are
still bleeding and leaching." Clearcuts - -even-age management," in
Andrus' words - were a mistake. Some streams and watersheds were
ruined, including one of the governor's favorite creeks in the
Clearwater that "runs brown every time it rains."
Sherry Devlin writes
for the Missoulian in Missoula,