7 Feb 2008, 12:43am
Federal forest policy
by admin

Damn the Torpedoes

I must make a confession. The last two posts were little bit tongue-in-cheek. The actual facts are:

1. I am not to blame

2. I do not have any power

The real Powers That Be vis a vis the USFS are the folks who write the budgets and allocate the funds. Money is power, and the people who control the purse strings control the bureaucratic elephant.

The Congress, the President, and the top-level bureaucrats steer the boat. Those folks and no one else. The BINGO’s, the environmental sue-happy obstructionists, and to very much diminished degree SOS Forests, are only bumps in the road (icebergs would be a better allusion and keep the metaphor intact). We (including me) can only obstruct and negate. We can get in the way and sometimes stop this or that. We cannot create, cannot initiate, cannot make the USFS do anything they don’t want to do.

We have the power to tear down, not to build up.

When the Powers That Be are engaging in tearing down, as they have been during the last 15 years or so, then no one is creating or initiating. The boat is sinking as a result.

Deep in the backwaters of the USFS, however, there are little pockets here and there of people who are doing their darnedest to keep the boat afloat. At the field level (not everywhere, but some places) a handful of folks are doing the right thing, or trying to.

I am not to blame, nor do I have the power, but I do know the difference between good stewardship and howling at the moon. I know enough to judge the work, and in a few places some very good work is being done. The scale is far too small and the occurrences too rare, but good work is out there.

One purpose behind the new, improved SOS Forests is to highlight and praise the good stewardship when and if I can find any. That’s a tricky thing, though, because the good work flies under the radar. Shining a light on the obscure but laudable project runs the risk of attracting the Tear Down Crowd, and they can be trusted to crush and destroy but little else.

Be that as it may, we will be examining some good projects, despite the risks. Damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead.



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