Don't beat up Bush, get personal

  Dear HCN,

Jeff Golden's "Modest forest proposal for President Bush" (HCN, 9/16/02: A modest forest proposal), while sound in its reasoning, has one fatal flaw: People like George Bush could care less about common sense in regard to public-lands management, Forest Service fire suppression, and forest health policies and practices. The only thing people like George Bush care about is the bottom line, the profit margin. George Bush is just blowing smoke at the voters.

And so, once again, as is the case for so many Writers on the Range submissions that are printed in your newspaper, Mr. Golden is merely preaching to the choir. His ideas are good, his proposal laudable. Sad to say, the powers that be are not listening, or reading High Country News.

I have a proposal of my own. I implore folks like Mr. Golden, who are influential and pro-active in their regions and local communities, to take their messages to their local Forest Service managers, forest supervisors and district rangers. I implore these folks to get personal and develop friendships and alliances with their public-lands managers, supporting them in the almost-impossible job of trying to please everyone while at the same time protecting and nurturing ecosystems, all the while with the rules changing every time the political winds blow from a different direction.

The biggest obstacle in the way of sound forest practice and fire management is not people like George Bush; it is the lack of a vision and a mandate within the Forest Service. The senior managers look for this vision and mandate to come from their politically appointed supervisors. They are looking in the wrong direction. They should be looking toward their field personnel, who live and work in communities and forests all around the American West and West Coast, and are a part of a much larger community that does indeed have a bit of common sense, and a voice.

Jim Proctor

Maple Falls, Washington

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