Lost impartiality


As a longtime supporter of High Country News, I was very disappointed that you chose to publish the biased and unsubstantiated “Lost in the Woods” by Claudine LoMonaco (HCN, 9/1/14).

LoMonaco uses clever buzzwords — “slick slide show and earnest manner,” “bright blue eyes,” “dysfunctional and ineffective,” “historical vendettas, personal grudges and political connections,” just to quote a few — to make her case, even though she fails numerous times to follow up with examples that support her statements.

She then uses numerous unfounded allegations about the Forest Service land managers in the Southwestern region, again without any solid documentation to support her allegations: “an agency backwater … resisting court-mandated conservation measures … groping for solutions,” ad nauseam.

LoMonaco, however, has no problem giving full voice and credibility to anyone who is willing to blast the Forest Service folks, taking their statements at face value and oftentimes hiding their identities by attributing the quotes and allegations to “an ex-Forest Service employee.”

I can understand that an author will push his or her personal agenda but am disappointed that the editor who reviewed this piece lost his journalistic impartiality and allowed this to go to publication as written. It does a real disservice to objective environmental journalism.

Dick Mangan
Missoula, Montana

Ray Ring replies: The writer drew her information from an unusually wide range of sources, including former Forest Service employees, independent academics who are not associated with any interest group, conservative rural county politicians, successful businessmen, officials on other countries, and environmentalists — all forming a unified criticism of how the Forest Service handled this huge restoration project.

The fact is, more than five years after the stakeholders and the Forest Service came up with the idea for the 2.4 million-acre restoration project, and after more than two years of active Forest Service management, less than 3,000 acres have been treated, despite the crisis in the woods. Falling that short would be considered a failure if it occurred in a Fortune 500 company, or at the convenience store on the corner.

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