Another hatchet job

  Dear HCN,


Your title "Fallen Forester" in the December 21 issue is unfortunate. It leads one to conclude that Jim Nelson is in some way tainted goods. To the contrary, he is a model of the passion, intellect and gumption the Forest Service needs to cultivate to accomplish its difficult mission.


More fitting titles would have been "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" or "Another Hatchet Job in the USFS." A question mark after Fallen Forester would have set the stage better.


History is full of predatory behavior within bureaucracies. The superannuated dilettantes and professional automatons of most large organizations serve as the champions of mediocrity. What Nelson and others in the Forest Service have learned is that change-agents pay a personal price for the fire in their bellies.


The outfit is adept at self-destructive behavior. In the mid "70s, Ted Schlapfer, then regional forester for the Pacific Northwest Region, was openly discussing the need to modify timber-management practices. He favored the concepts articulated by Aldo Leopold and others that considered systemic implications of our actions.


His ideas resonated and started to catch on. To quiet him down, he was instructed to move to Washington, D.C. He chose retirement instead. A quintessential "Timber Beast" replaced Ted and the message was clear. "Let's not trouble ourselves with new-age thinking while we get out the cut." A different response in the "70s may have helped us avoid the spotted owl issue.


Few human systems reward visionaries and leaders that are ahead of their time. While corporate rhetoric urges folks to strive for a vibrant tomorrow, a gelatinous mass within does its very best to stifle extraordinary efforts to do so.


Yes Jim Nelson made a mistake. It was believing in what he was doing enough to expedite it in every LEGAL way possible. He's always been a barrier buster and his past behavior has alienated some folks. It was only a matter of time before someone, with more allegiance to process than product, got their feelings hurt and mobilized the whistleblowing act to whip him into submission.


If in fact there were only "some procedural mistakes that are really pretty technical" and "a lot of this is internal, bureaucratic, procedural rigmarole," then Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics and the Forest Service owe Jim Nelson a very public apology.





Jim Webb


Monte Vista, Colorado





High Country News Classifieds
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field Seminars for adults: cultural and natural history of the Colorado Plateau. With guest experts, local insights, small groups, and lodge or base camp formats....
  • PLANNED GIVING OFFICER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks a Planned Giving Officer. Do you find energy in...
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    The Methow Valley Citizens Council has a distinguished history of advocating for progressive land use and environmental values in the Methow Valley and Okanogan County...
  • ACTING INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS DESK EDITOR
    High Country News is seeking an Acting Indigenous Affairs Editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk while our editor is on...
  • GRANTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented and knowledgeable Grants Program Director to work from their home in Montana. Established in 1983, the Cinnabar Foundation...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Artemis Program Manager will work with National Wildlife Federation sporting and public lands staff to change this dynamic, continue to build upon our successful...
  • ALASKA SEA KAYAK BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Well-known and successful sea kayak, raft, hike, camp guiding & water taxi service. Sale includes everything needed to run the business, including office & gear...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND EVENTS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a detail-oriented and enthusiastic Membership and Events Coordinator to join our small, but mighty-fun team to oversee our membership...
  • PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FACILITATOR
    ABOUT THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM Since opening in 1982, HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art and natural resources to promote an understanding...
  • LAND STEWARD, ARAVAIPA
    Steward will live on-site in housing provided by TNC and maintains preserve areas frequented by the visiting public and performs land management activities. The Land...
  • DEVELOPMENT WRITER
    Who We Are: The Nature Conservancy's mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create...
  • CONNECTIVITY SCIENCE COORDINATOR
    Position type: Full time, exempt Location: Bozeman preferred; remote negotiable Compensation: $48,000 - $52,000 Benefits: Major medical insurance, up to 5% match on a 401k,...
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
    ArenaLife is looking for an Executive Assistant who wants to work in a fast-paced, exciting, and growing organization. We are looking for someone to support...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Driggs, ID based non-profit. Full time. Full job description available at tvtap.org. Submit cover letter and resume to [email protected]
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • SPRING MOUNTAINS SOLAR OFF GRID MOUNTAIN HOME
    Located 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada in the pine forest of Lee Canyon at 8000 feet elevation. One of a kind property surrounded...
  • MAJOR GIFTS MANAGER - MOUNTAIN WEST, THE CONSERVATION FUND
    Cultivate, solicit and steward a portfolio of 75-125 donors.
  • NATURE'S BEST IN ARAVAIPA CANYON
    10 acre private oasis in one of Arizona's beautiful canyons. Fully furnished, 2123 sq ft architectural custom-built contemporary home with spectacular views and many extras....
  • HEALTH FOOD STORE IN NW MONTANA
    Turn-key business includes 2500 sq ft commercial building in main business district of Libby, Montana. 406.293.6771 /or [email protected]
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.