On Dec, 3, 2014 there was a meeting in Chelan about forest health and some of the concerns over this growing problem. Dec. 3 is also the day that Charles Dickens came to America 147 years ago to read his short story: A Christmas Coral to people who were willing to pay two dollars to hear his dramatic reading about the glorious transformation of a once stingy, cold-hearted man named Ebenezer Scrooge.
As I look back at the early years of my going to the woods and dealing with the Forest Service it is obvious that there has been a transformation in the Forest Service’s demeanor and policy, and it is the reverse of what took place in Ebenezer’s life. Today there is a need in the Forest Service for more money, more regulations, more limiting of public access to the forest and a variety of other things that trend toward stinginess of an asset that is the people’s property.
An example of this is the subject of: Unauthorized Roads. What is an Unauthorized Road to the U.S. Forest Service? From what I gather, it borders on an act of Environmental Terrorism… almost. This is where a vehicle leaves the” main road” to go someplace it shouldn’t, to get or do something it shouldn’t. To them it is like stepping out of bounds in a game. The reason for so many Unauthorized Roads is because the existing roads are blocked with gates or other obstacles. Unauthorized Roads provide the owner of the public lands, (We the People) access to his property. Unauthorized Roads also provide a crisis focal point designed to divert public attention away from timber lands that should have been harvested 20 years ago, and then after a fire are not salvaged because of environmental concerns, or paperwork that wasn’t processed in time, or a number of other reasons all designed to provide cover for any accountability to the fact that the Forest Service has perfected the art of being able to throw away the same tree twice.
The Forest Service as individuals are amiable, nice to speak with, and seem to listen, their policies on the other hand have the same attitude as that of Ebenezer before his change. A mental picture given to me over the Thanksgiving holiday of a 450 pound woman leaving the restaurant dragging toilet paper fits in many ways. First, the Forest Service is “slightly” overweight, but has no plans to go on a diet, and is looking to grow to better manage the problems they have created. Second, focusing on the paperwork that follows them is what attracts our attention. Third, the writing on the paperwork is difficult to interrupt. Fourth there is no end to the paper work. And finally, it is better not to call attention to what follows them because this is part of their fashion statement and they are proud of it.