Charter forests not an answer

  Dear HCN,

Finding ways to make the Forest Service more accountable is an admirable task. Excluding the public from Forest Service decisions will make things worse. The Charter Forest idea will exclude the public from decision-making processes. Charter forest projects will likely cost the taxpayers more and provide environmentally harmful results.

The vast majority of the public landowners don't want the local managers to make decisions by themselves. It is a thinly disguised attempt to turn control of national forests over to local resource-extraction interests. This tack is nothing new. Reagan tried it in the 1980s. Sen. Larry Craig tried it again in the 1990s. "Analysis paralysis" and "gridlock" are words used by the timber industry to change how we view the laws. Although environmental laws are not perfect, they are working well, if you want to protect wildlands, wildlife and clean water.

The so-called "great experiment" of local control can be predicted accurately enough by looking at locally owned private lands in Idaho. Roads, clear-cuts and dirty water are the order of the day. Exempting us from any kind of administrative appeals process will likely lead to more lawsuits and wasted resources and the exclusion of the grass roots.

The National Environmental Policy Act process doesn't need another layer for decision making. Collaborative councils slow down the process and have not proven to be successful. Randal O'Toole wants to try out some new management ideas.ÊI suggest he try out local management of his private land without his being part of the decision-making process.ÊPerhaps in his next article he will share how well it worked out.

Larry McLaud
Moscow, Idaho

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