As witness for prosecution, chief aids defense

  Although Jack Ward Thomas testified against him in his Great Falls, Mont., trial, former forest supervisor Ernie Nunn believes the Forest Service chief was also partially responsible for his acquittal. "I think he signaled the judge that those were not significant charges."


The signal came twice. First, as the top appeals officer within the Forest Service, Thomas dropped several of the charges initially brought against Nunn. "Jack Ward Thomas said some of the charges brought against me hadn't warranted the harsh actions that had been taken. But he did uphold the $1,500 fox-trotter charge," Nunn said. Nunn went to trial on that charge.


The second signal came during the trial in Great Falls. "Thomas did testify against me, but he made some statements that helped me out."


Why didn't Thomas simply drop all the charges against Nunn? In a telephone interview, Nunn said that Thomas has not yet bent the Forest Service bureaucracy to his will. "The new leadership can't make it happen. They can't push the changes through the system. I think Jack Ward Thomas can be a very good chief if some of his people would let him."


Nunn guessed that his acquittal may lead to some changes. "Now the chief has got to make some decisions." Nunn said he understands that a large number of cases - the result of internal investigations - are awaiting action by the chief.


And more are coming through the pipeline. Nunn said that since his acquittal, he has received numerous telephone calls from agency employees. People under pressure in the agency, he said, are searching for ways to fight disciplinary action being taken against them.


Typically, Nunn said, agency employees are threatened with "rinky-dink" violations because they've reduced timber cuts or tried to improve grazing practices.


Nunn said those who anger the commodity industries are informally offered transfers - -There's never anything in writing' - or threatened with loss of their jobs. "Some of these folks call me to find out how to figure out the appeals process and how to resist transfers. They're scared; they're afraid. I can share that with them because I went through it."


In every case, Nunn said, the Forest Service can find something to use. "You can dig up a violation on any ranger or supervisor. If you want to get rid of an employee, I can show you how to do it."


* Ed Marston





High Country News Classifieds
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Communications Associate Director Location: Flexible within the Western U.S., Durango, CO preferred Position reports to: Senior Communications Director The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF)...
  • HISTORIC HOTEL & CAFE
    For Sale, 600k, Centennial Wyoming, 6 suites plus 2 bed, 2 bath apartment. www.themountainviewhotel.com Make this your home or buy a turn key hotel [email protected]
  • MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Major Gifts Officer to join our...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    Basic Summary: The Vice President for Landscape Conservation is based in the Washington, D.C., headquarters and oversees Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing...
  • BRISTOL BAY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Seeking a program director responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the Alaska Chapter's priority strategy for conservation in the Bristol Bay region of...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The National Bighorn Sheep Center is looking for an Executive Director to take us forward into the new decade with continued strong leadership and vision:...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, based in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a new Executive Director with a passion for rural communities, water, and working lands....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.