Forest Service fights red tape

  When Philip Dechain-Saw, the supervisor of Colorado’s Big Fir National Forest, tried to approve a 30,000-acre clear-cut in 1997, his efforts to "bulletproof" the final decision against environmentalists’ appeals and lawsuits took a horrific personal toll. First, he experienced dizziness and ringing in the ears; now, he’s suffering full-blown "analysis paralysis." Unable to cook meals for himself or tie his own shoes, the forester is in intensive care in a Denver hospital.

"Philip was strangled by the paperwork," says Forest Service Chief Dale Bozzworth, who vows it will never happen again. On April 1, the agency will announce a sweeping new wilderness medicine program to treat analysis paralysis.

"We need to provide compassionate care for our folks who work among the whispering pines," says Bozzworth. "Or at least among the stumps."

Wilderness medicine specialist Pat Chemup says the new program is more than a Band-Aid solution. "A lot of these guys have gone through some pretty serious trauma," she says. "It’s going to take a lot to get their minds off the laws and back to the board-feet."

But the program won’t hit the ground until 2006. "It takes a long time to proofread a 4,672-page medical protocol," says Bozzworth. "We want to make sure this thing is bomb-proof."

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