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Dead wood.

When the Clinton Administration made Jack Ward Thomas chief of the Forest Service in late 1993, environmentalists couldn't have been happier. Thomas was the agency's senior wildlife biologist who earlier that year had developed Clinton's plan to protect the northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest, where furious logging of old-growth forests had, until 1991, been driving the owl towards extinction. The federal judge who stopped the logging with an injunction that year fingered the Forest Service, accusing it of "a deliberate and systematic refusal ... to comply with the laws protecting wildlife."

By that time, the Forest Service had a long and well-documented history of running roughshod over the nation's forests - and the environmental laws protecting them - in its efforts to "get out the cut" for the timber industry. The appointment of Thomas, the first scientist ever to lead the agency, was hailed as a bold new direction. The Sierra Club said his appointment "signals that forest management will now be conducted in a science-based manner"; the Oregon Natural Resources Council called it "the most sweeping change of the Forest Service since its creation in 1905"; the Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics said, "Jack Ward Thomas sends a clear signal that it is not going to be business as usual in the Forest Service."

As chief, Thomas dedicated the agency to a new ethic: "Tell the truth, obey the law," and use "the best scientific knowledge in making decisions." Though he believed providing timber was an important function, his Forest Service would avoid the kind of forestry that had in the past devastated ecosystems. Thomas knew that protecting threatened and endangered species isn't just about owls or fish, but about the larger webs of life of which they are integral parts. In May 1994, Thomas quoted the Endangered Species Act to describe one of his prime missions as chief: "Preserve the ecosystems upon which the species depend."

So the irony couldn't have been thicker when a federal judge in Pheonix threatened to hold Chief Thomas in contempt in May 1996 for his agency's failure to protect the Mexican spotted owl, the rare southwestern cousin of the northern spotted owl he had worked so hard to preserve. "This court is at a loss to understand why the [Forest Service] would not carry out its duties set forth in the [Endangered Species Act]," the judge wrote. For two years, the Forest Service had been considering only the impact of individual timber sales on the owl, rather than the cumulative effect. Of course, individual bites don't make a cookie disappear, either.

Then in August of this year, White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman rejected a Forest Service proposal to step up old-growth logging in California's Sierra Nevada, citing concerns that it was "not supported by the best forest science." Only 15 percent of the Sierra's original old-growth forest had never been cut, and a three-year, congressionally sponsored study had concluded that logging was contributing to the eventual extinction of a number of plant and animal species, including the California spotted owl (the third of the spotted owl cousins). Despite reports from its own biologists that the owl population had been dropping at least 5 percent per year since 1990, the Forest Service, backed by the timber industry, insisted its proposal to increase logging by 80 percent from 1995 levels was sound.

But it is the Forest Service's implementation of the timber salvage rider that Congress passed, and Clinton signed, in July 1995 that has really raised environmentalists' ire. An attachment to a recisions bill, the rider instructed the Forest Service to sell 4.5 billion board feet (a "board foot" is an inch-thick square foot of wood) of salvage timber - trees that are dead, dying, or "imminently susceptible" to fire, disease, or insect attack - to logging companies by the end of 1996. The law was controversial from the start because it freed the Service from its normal environmental assessments and made it immune to administrative appeals. It was, critics said, "logging without laws," giving the Forest Service license to cut, as salvage, "all trees made of wood," as Senator Bill Bradley put it.

Soon after the laws passage, stories from the national forests indicated that the concerns weren't unfounded: Foresters were using the rider to offer timber sales that had been stopped years earlier for environmental reasons; they were re-labeling sales that had been previously classified as "green" - healthy and alive - as salvage sales to avoid appeals; they were moving into roadless areas - undeveloped wilderness - without the environmental assessments that were usually required; they were clear-cutting steep slopes and polluting streams, they were destroying the habitat of threatened species like the grizzly bear and chinook salmon.

Though the rider allowed the Forest Service to do these things, it didn't require them to. The agency's poor use of its discretion was a vivid reminder that old habits die hard.

The Song Remains the Same

To close observers of the Forest Service, it has all been, if disappointing, not terribly surprising. The Service has a long history of ignoring its "ologists" (agency parlance for biologists and other scientists) and anyone else who says what its "timber beasts" - the old-style foresters who have traditionally ruled the agency, putting budgets and body counts (of felled trees) ahead of sound forest management - don't want to hear. Their motto: Get out the cut," laws and facts be damned, if necessary.

It often surprises people to learn that this is the same Forest Service of Smokey the Bear and Ranger Rick, the benevolent protectors of the 192 million acres of national forest. But when you understand the history, of the agency, it makes more sense. When the Forest Service was created as part of the Department of Agriculture in 1905, timber was considered a crop. For decades, forestry policy focused on optimizing the yield, and following World War II, when housing construction took off, the national forests became an important wood source. Though most of the nation's timberlands are privately owned - national forests currently provide less than 5 percent of the nation's timber - the national forests have roughly 45 percent of the country's "softwood" timber (pines, firs, etc.) that is prized for construction, and almost all of the nation's remaining old-growth forests.

The pressure to get at this wood is intense, especially since the Forest Service generally sells its timber for well below market value, and usually at a loss (a 1971 Washington Monthly story found that timber companies regularly colluded to keep bid prices low). In the Pacific Northwest, old-growth Douglas fir is like gold with roots, a single tree can net a timber company thousands of dollars. Though plum old-growth trees are often exported whole, many domestic mills are still geared for big logs. Without trees from national forests, these mills and the communities that depend on them may have trouble - a hardship magnified by the fact that 25 percent of the Forest Service's gross timber-sale revenues goes to local counties, which can become dependent on national forest logging to pay for essential services.

In Oregon, where until recently the timber industry was the top source of jobs, the pressure to keep national forest timber coming has turned otherwise moderate legislators like Bob Packwood and Mark Hatfield into surrogate loggers. It has been the political kiss of death not to be. This may change@ the disaster so many predicted after the spotted owl injunction stopped old-growth logging never materialized. Many mills made the switch to smaller trees from private lands, economies diversified, people retrained, and unemployment in Oregon dropped to 5 percent. Logging cutbacks are certainly unnerving, but they may be more easily survivable than once thought.

But the system won't change without a fight. The $200 billion a year timber industry still has a tight grip on western legislators, who often hold key committee positions in Congress. The industry's goal is to get as many trees out of the national forests as possible, and Congress is the key to getting them. Meanwhile, Congress sets the Forest Services budget, and the more trees the Service agrees to cut, the more money it gets. It all adds up to a classic iron triangle: three parties, all pursuing the same goal (lots of logging) for the same reason (their own well-being). Members of Congress want PAC money and political support; the timber industry wants its trees, as cheap as it can get them; the agency wants its budget, as large as possible. This triumvirate explains most of the overcutting of the 1980s.

Win Green, a former Forest Service supervisor in Idaho, says Jack Ward Thomas's predecessor, Chief F. Dale Robertson, made the agency's priority clear. "I heard him say it many times in meetings 'My mission is to maximize the budget of the Forest Service and work with the Hill to do that.'" And there was one way to do that: promise to cut a lot of trees, and then cut them. "A lot of people were so married to the budget-they knew that if we couldn't get the cut out, the budget would drop, and that would have a serious impact to the organization, workforce-wise." It is, he says, "the linchpin that holds everything together." (The Forest Service is not entirely unique. Because jobs are secure and promotions are plentiful when budgets rise, and the opposite when they fall, all bureaucrats revere their budgets.)

As the General Accounting Office (GAO) stated in 1994, "In most national forests - even in some where timber harvesting is uneconomic and other activities and uses are more valuable - forest managers depend on timber sales for funds" That's because the Forest Service gets paid twice for timber sales: once when Congress appropriates the money to cut the trees, and again when they collect from the loggers. Thanks to an antiquated trust fund system, the agency repays the treasury at a 1930 rate for the timber it sells; if the rate had kept up with the times, it would be 100 times higher. The more trees cut, the more money the Service has to fund positions, projects and overhead.

If the Forest Service meets its timber targets, its likely to please its appropriators, who are then likely to treat it kindly the next go around. Historically, foresters who meet their targets get promotions. Those who don't, don't get very far. The pressure to keep the timber flowing can mean a lot of shortcuts, bad decisions, and broken laws. Numerous employees and ologists have complained that the Service has stifled their findings, doctored data, and even pulled numbers out of thin air to justify logging programs.

In the late 80's, the pressure to get out the cut was so bad a number of Forest Service employees broke ranks. In 1989, Regional Forester John Mumma, the head of the Services northern Rockies region, drafted a letter to the chief with all 13 of his region's forest supervisors, complaining that they could not meet their cut quotas without violating forest plans and environmental laws. "All you had to do was get in an airplane and look around to validate it," Mumma says. But the letter "got into the hands of the timber industry, and they used that [to tell] Dale Robertson that he'd lost control of his troops ... and all he needed to do was straighten out his people, cut the trees, and everything'd go back to normal." Idaho Senator Larry Craig quickly jumped in, writing the chief: "You have serious management problems that must be addressed. It is my hope that you will move to assure targets are met and line officers are held accountable." He asked for monthly summaries of what the agency was doing to get the cut out.

Mumma says, "I was told I had to improve the performance. I said that's legally, biologically and morally impossible. And I was told, 'that's unacceptable. If you can't get it done, we'll get somebody that will.'" Mumma's superiors gave him one choice: accept a reassignment to Washington. He quit, and most of the forest supervisors under him were quickly pushed aside. Mumma had been the first biologist to become a regional forester.

In 1990 the Forest Service conducted a survey asking its employees to rank the attributes most rewarded by the agency. The top three responses? Loyalty to the service, meeting cut targets, and promoting the good image of the service. Among the least rewarded: preservation of healthy ecosystems.

Savage Rider

Unfortunately, the saga of the salvage rider vividly illustrates how many of these forces are still at work. By the early 1990s, thanks largely to the decline in green sales, salvage sales had become integral to the workings - and the budget - of the agency; by 1993, roughly 40 percent of the agency's timber sales were salvage. Even before the 1995 rider, salvage sales had big bonuses: Because, in theory, dead and dying trees need to be harvested quickly, the sales had an expedited review process; they were exempt from a number of environmental restrictions, like prohibitions against logging in environmentally sensitive areas; salvage clear-cuts had no size limits, whereas clear-cuts of green trees were limited to 40 acres; and the agency got to keep all proceeds from salvage sales.

It all added up to a strong Incentive to liberally label sales as salvage. In an infamous 1992 memo from Oregon's Malheur National Forest, a Forest Service manager wrote that her supervisors insisted that "virtually every sale should include 'salvage' in the name ... even if a sale is totally green, as long as one board comes off that would qualify as salvage on the Salvage Sale Fund Plan, it should be called salvage. It's a political thing." The result in the Malheur? According to The Washington Post, loggers "stripped whole hillsides of many of the old growth ponderosa pines that scientists say must be preserved to heal the severely stressed inland forests."

Ironically, salvage logging is often justified as a way to preserve forest health, even though many biologists and forest ecologists claim that the type of salvage logging done in national forests - either taking the largest, most valuable trees or clear-cutting - often does more harm than good. Take the Targhee National Forest, which abuts Yellowstone National Park's western border. In the 1980s the Forest Service conducted a salvage clear-cutting program so massive that, when the logging stopped and the Service surveyed what was left, it had to reduce its proposed annual sale level by 96 percent. The clear-cuts went straight to the Yellowstone border, fragmenting the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

When Jack Ward Thomas became chief, he knew salvage had become key to the agency's timber sales. Well before the rider passed Congress, Thomas dedicated the Service to an "aggressive" salvage program. In March 1995 he said, "Let me be clear: In order to meet peoples need for wood fiber and employment, the Forest Service will pursue an active and aggressive salvage program." By the Forest Service@s estimates, there were l8.3 billion board feet (bbf) of dead and dying timber in the national forests, and the agency told Congress that 4 to 5 bbf of it could be "economically recovered in an environmentally sound manner." Though Thomas was opposed to the rider as a whole - mainly because it included a separate set of old-growth sales in the Pacific Northwest that had been withdrawn years earlier for environmental reasons - the salvage part was pretty much OK with him. He had lamented that the Forest Service was "increasingly mired in a swamp of laws, regulations, and case law," and the salvage rider provided a way out. As Thomas told the Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune in May 1996, "The purpose of the bill was to take legitimate salvage operations and accelerate them."

Accelerate them it did. According to the Congressional Research Service, the cut mandated by the salvage rider was more than double the amount of salvage timber the Forest Service had originally intended to sell in the same 17-month period. Though the Service said they could sell the 4.5 bbf, once Congress put it Into law, it meant one thing: pressure to get out the cut. Just two weeks after the rider passed, the chair of the Senate subcommittee overseeing forestry, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig - yes, the same Larry Craig who put the squeeze on John Mumma -began complaining about how slow the Forest Service was getting sales out. "We are spending one hell of a lot of money and we are getting nothing," he said. The Clinton administration was trying to implement a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Service and the other federal agencies that manage wildlife and public lands, to ensure that there was consensus on whether individual salvage sales were environmentally sound. Congressional Republicans screamed that that was just the sort of thing the rider was designed to avoid. The Forest Service seemed to agree.

One of the first salvage sales to go on the block, the "Thunderbolt" sale in Idaho, showed why the MOA was needed. The Service offered the sale before the MOA was completed, and it immediately alarmed environmentalists and the other federal agencies. Poised on the south fork of the Salmon River, the 3,200 acre fire-stricken stand was in crucial habitat for the endangered chinook salmon (a key and fastdisappearing component of the Columbia River Basin ecosystem). Past logging had rendered the river inhospitable to the fish because clear-cutting of the area's steep slopes led to erosion and river-choking sediment, but a habitat restoration plan was in the works and the Forest Services forest management plans had pledged not to worsen the problem in the meantime.

But the salvage rider freed the Forest Service from having to follow its own plans, and it forbade the public from appealing the sale. It also allowed the Service to disregard the input of other federal agencies - which it did. The National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Environmental Protection Agency all said logging the area would jeopardize the salmon and run counter to federal protection efforts. The interior Department also condemned the sale, saying it "likely will increase the risk of the extinction of chinook salmon," according to an undisclosed letter the Associated Press obtained. (According to AP, Interior "quietly withdrew the critique after an angry objection from Larry Craig.") Despite the other agencies' concerns, the Forest Service said, in essence, we're doing it anyway. Defending the decision in April, Chief Thomas said, "In our opinion, we had the science on our side."

But science may have been taking a back seat to other concerns. Soon after passage of the rider, in September 1995, the Forest Services director of timber management, David Hessel, wrote a memo to regional foresters saying that, because of workforce reductions, they should rely on timber industry representatives to help implement salvage sales. "They have indicated they are more than willing to make suggestions, go in the field with your people, and provide input which will help achieve our objectives." Translation: do what it takes to get the cut out.

When the rider was under consideration in April 1995, a district ranger in the Boise National Forest told The Washington Post the cut target was too high. "Physically, there's no way to get it done," he said. This pressure may be the reason the Forest Service offered more than two dozen "salvage sales" that had originally been green sales - some of which had previously been withdrawn because of successful appeals. Under the rider, appeals were a thing of the past, and, absent close scrutiny, the Forest Service tried to pull a few fast ones.

For example, in Idaho's Payette National Forest, people had noticed logging trucks full of green trees, so the Forest Service issued a press release saying, "these trees are actually dead, the result of bark beetle attacks." Arthur Partridge, a forest health expert at the University of Idaho, said the Service had made "five conspicuously false statements" in its press release. When he inspected another salvage sale, he found that "all marked trees [for cutting] were green, not salvage-type dead and dying."

But what has concerned the most people has been the Forest Service's eagerness to sell salvage timber in roadless areas, especially in Montana, which has large expanses of forest without roads, but very little Congressionally set-aside wilderness. The stakes are high, and highly contended. Once Congress designates land as wilderness, it is off limits to road-building and logging (currently 18 percent of national forestland is designated wilderness). And once the Forest Service builds roads into an area and starts logging, it's out of the running as wilderness. Before the salvage rider was even a gleam in Congress's eye, a Forest Service employee told the Center for Public Integrity that the agency's timber teams purposely sought out salvage timer in areas away from roads so they could build roads and open the areas to further logging.

It was no secret the Forest Service wanted to move into the roadless areas, even before the rider. The agency's 1994 Western Forest Health Initiative, which, identified salvage logging as one of the key ways to thin forests of dead, unhealthy, and "at-risk", trees, targeted about half the salvage cut to come from roadless areas, and early in his tenure, Chief Thomas made it clear that "that's where the timber is - we're going in." But because the rider leaves the Forest Service immune to almost all public appeal and environmental challenge, it has opened a wide door for abuse.

Montana's Kootenai National Forest, where the threatened grizzly bear is trying to hang on to some of its last U.S. habitat, has 18 of the 266 worst salvage sales identified by the Western Ancient Forest Campaign, far more than any other national forest. A number of them penetrate roadless grizzly habitat and two, in the Yaak River valley, are in especially sensitive habitat. According to a joint Wilderness Society - National Audobon Society report, the sales violate the grizzly bear management guidelines for the region, as well as the Kootenai National Forest management plan. But that's moot. The appeals court that upheld the Yaak sales ruled that, because of the rider, "The Forest Service had discretion to disregard entirely the effect [of the sales] on the grizzly."

And, as with other areas, the trees coming out of the Kootenai's Yaak valley may not even have been real salvage. An area resident and former timber industry worker, Rick Bass, wrote in The New York Times that he'd seen a lot of logging trucks rolling out of the forest" "I'm sure some of those trucks must have been carrying logs from burned or dead trees, but I haven't seen any. All I've seen are big green trees, some centuries old, and lots of them."

On July 3, 1996, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, who has authority over the Forest Service, issued a directive to the Service telling it to stop. Stop the roadless area sales, stop putting up ales that had been halted for environmental reasons, stop it with the "salvage" sales that were more live than dead. "Most people," he said, "including myself, do not believe that an emergency salvage sale should include a great number of healthy trees."

Patriot Games

In March 1995, as the salvage rider was being planned, Jack Ward Thomas said in a speech, "In the process of obedience, the Forest Service will not violate the principles embodied in the standards and guidelines in the forest plans put into place to protect basic resource values." If there is a conflict, he said, "we must stand on first principles." Forest Service line officers "will be held accountable for their decisions and for the performance of their units."

"Vision is nothing without actions," he said.

Virtually everyone I spoke to who has followed Jack Ward Thomas's tenure as Chief of the Forest Service sings high praises for his principles and ideals. All but his most virulent critics say they like and respect him. But, almost across the board - including past and current Forest Service employees, and a former chief - the say he has been unable to translate his ideals into action.

Some say his key fault is his loyalty to the Service. Andy Stahl of the Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (AFSEEE) says he's a "Forest Service patriot. He believes in the Forest Service, right or wrong." Former congressman Jim Jontz, now head of the Western Ancient Forests Campaign, concurs: He sees his job as defending the agency whatever its doing."

This may indeed be the case. In a September 1994 speech, Thomas decried a newspaper ad calling the Boise National Forest supervisor "the butcher of Boise," and salvage logging, "voodoo forestry." "I will not leave any of my people hanging out to dry when they are taking personal hits," he said. His people have been taking a lot of hits in the last year, and he has sided with them consistently. Not once has he said, 'we were wrong - we shouldn't salvage log Thunderbolt,' or we shouldn't have proposed to dramatically increase logging in the Sierras,' or 'we shouldn't have reclassified green sales as salvage.' From all appearances, he has not stood on first principles, and he has not held his people accountable.

"He believes in the agency," says Jeff Debonis of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, "and when it comes to taking on the agency to make reform-minded changes, or keeping the integrity of the agency intact and not airing the dirty laundry, then he's old guard. As far as resource management views, I don't think hes old guard at all, but I think he will sacrifice that for the good of the agency."

Thomas had noble goals for the Forest Service, but he took the helm with a huge strike against him: He was a political appointee. He wasn't from the SES (Senior Executive Service), from which chiefs are as a rule promoted. The Clinton administration wanted to make a splash with a new chief, and splash they did. Immediately, 70 forest supervisors (out of 122) and four regional foresters (out of nine) wrote a letter to protest the assignment; it went contrary to Forest Service tradition, they said, and set a dangerous precedent for politicizing the agency.

Thomas had two choices: rage into the chief's office with his own team, announce his agenda, and try to impose his will on the agency, or play it low-profile, move slow, make no enemies, and work with what he inherited. It should be no surprise he chose the latter. There is always a powerful temptation for an administrator to accede to an organization's culture, to court the loyalty of subordinates. Thomas knew right off the bat he had dissension within the ranks, and he was plopped Into the chiefs seat without much of a mandate from either the Agriculture Department or the White House.

"As far as I can tell, Thomas was appointed without any marching orders from the administration. says Stahl of AFSEEE. "And he didn't clean house at all. That cadre of SES folks were selected by the Reagan/Bush administrations for their political ideology. Now you have a chief who is supposedly representing a Clinton administration ideology, but all of whose lieutenants represent the old days. That's virtually guaranteeing that you won't be effective."

The upshot of this is that Thomas's goals don't get very far. A planning forester for the Service in Oregon says, "I think from the ground people like him, but they also realize that there's a lot of middle management in the way. We haven't seen a lot of the concepts that are always talked about put into action."

Wild Dog of the Executive Branch

The Forest Service has a long-standing reputation as the most fiercely independent agency in the executive branch - proud and insular, resistant to change, and devoted to internal loyalty. When asked about it, Secretary Glickman laughs and says, "When I came on board, one of my predecessors told me, 'you'll never get a handle on the Forest Service!'"

Glickman says he and his staff have the blood pressure to prove it. The White House, as well, has not been pleased that the heat Clinton brought upon himself by signing the salvage rider has been compounded by the way the Forest Service has carried it out. Soon after the rider became law, the administration instructed the Service to move forward ... in accordance with... existing forest and land management policies and plans, and existing laws." It did not.

There are rumors that Thomas is a short-timer at the Service, and perhaps he should be. But Clinton needs to realize that his first mistake was trying to win on the cheap. You can't change the culture of the agency with one man. If Clinton wants to replace Thomas with a team that has a clear agenda for reform, that's one thing. If he simply wants a new chief, it's probably not going to make a big difference. In 1992, candidate Clinton promised to "rededicate the agencies that manage our national parks and wilderness lands to a true conservation ethic." Hes going to have to try harder.

Clinton knows what the problems are. The New York Times reported in April 1994 that the administration led a focus session in Seattle to discuss "whether the 36,000 person agency has become so tied to the mission of harvesting wood that it is, in effect, a Federal subsidiary of the timber industry." The White House made a half-hearted attempt to eliminate below-cost timber sales (which are profitable for timber companies and the Forest Service, but losers for the public and the treasury) early in the term, but abandoned the effort when it hit resistance. Reforming the agency's budgetary incentives would take a big fight in Congress, and Clinton has simply not been interested in spending much political capital on natural resource issues. (Remember, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt also had to abandon modest attempts to Increase grazing and mining fees when resistance trumped Clinton's resolve.) Clinton has been quick to wrap himself in green when the polls tell him he's got a winner, but he has to demonstrate that it's not just a campaign issue for him, but a real priority.

"We've known for years that the economics send all the wrong signals and it needs to be changed," says Jim Jontz of the Western Ancient Forest Campaign. "The sad thing is the Clinton administration really could have changed that. There are Republicans in Congress, like [Ohio Rep. John] Kasich, who get it. It would have taken some time, but I think there's a constituency for real reform."

The Forest Service claims it wants to be the world's foremost conservation leader for the 21st century." Globally, all eyes are on the Amazon rainforests, which scientists say are not on key ecosystems, but central to the ecosystem called Earth. The developed Western nations want to help South American nations, especially Brazil, conserve their rainforests. But they're providing a terrible example. While NASA satellite photos show 9O percent of Brazil's Amazon forests remain intact, most of Europe's original forests are long gone, and only 5 percent of the continental United States, forests have never been logged. In the Northwest, where the timber industry and the legislators they've got in their pockets have been screaming bloody murder over the slow-down in old-growth logging, only 10 percent of the original forests remain.

The Forest Service is a long way from being the "world's foremost conservation leader." But Clinton - who also promised in 1992 to "provide real international leadership to protect the worlds delicate environmental balance" - can help it along. The Forest Service may be the wild dog of the executive branch, but he, as chief executive, can make it heel.

The first thing the President can do is make an effort to move the Forest Service from the Agriculture Department to the Interior Department, where the other resource agencies (like Fish and Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management) reside. These agencies have overlapping domains, and having one of the biggest in a separate department makes it hard to coordinate policy. Next, change the budget incentives that reward the Forest Service for cutting trees, especially when it makes no sense to do so. As it is, the agency often sells its trees for little more than the cost of building the roads it takes to log them (and it pays for the roads too, since it considers them capital improvements). Then change the way local communities are compensated so they don't depend on heavy logging to pay for their schools.

Responsible, forestry will mean, in some instances, that loggers and mill-workers lose their livelihood, and its not fair to have them bear the entire brunt of the rest of the nation's benefit. President Clinton set a good precedent by including $1.2 billion to retrain and employ displaced timber industry workers in his Pacific Northwest logging plan.

But ignoring the warnings of scientists for shortterm gains is no way to manage natural resources. If Jack Ward Thomas remains chief in a second Clinton term, lets hope he learns from his experience and moves more aggressively to conform the Forest Service to his vision of responsible, science-based forest management. If President Clinton decides to replace him, he needs to put a leader, and a team, in charge who can not only say "no more business as usual," but make it happen.
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Title Annotation:reform of the U.S. Forest Service
Author:Hodges, Glenn
Publication:Washington Monthly
Date:Oct 1, 1996
Previous Article:Flirting with disaster.
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