Adjacent stories in yesterday's Arizona Republic cause me to revive a concept I have been trying to sell to various members of Arizona's Washington contingent.
One story is headlined, "Interior to test forest thinning on 14,000 acres near Yarnell," the other "Renzi fights obstacles to tree harvest."
The gist of both stories is that we don't know how to best manage our national forests, in the condition we have gotten them into, and what we do know we can't practice because of federal judicial rulings masterminded by "professional" environmentalists.
To break this judicial/regulatory log jam as quickly as possible, I have been suggesting that we turn over 100,000 acres of national forest for 20 years to every reputable organization in America that has a half-way plausible program to run the forest. Then, let each organization manage their forest according to their plan with the U.S.F.S. monitoring the results, but having no authority to interfere.
There can't be more than 15 different ways to manage a forest. So, we put 1.5 million acres at risk, out of a total of over 200 million acres (including national parks, reserves, etc.) This way, we would find out, empirically, what works and what doesn't work.
I would also suggest that on these trial plots, all ESA and EPA regulations be suspended. This would give us further information on what works and what doesn't work, as far as species (endangered or otherwise) are concerned.
As things stand now, we are managing our public forests by adversarial committee. We have the productive people on one side of the table, the environmentalists on the other, and a gaggle of turf-protective government agencies at either end. This group starts working from poorly written congressional laws, interpreted by judges, on the basis of the law rather than of any knowledge of what is good for the forest.
No wonder our forests are in such terrible shape.
We must remember that it took at least 70 years to mismanage our forest, by joint decisions, to get them to the current level of crisis. If we don't do something better than managing them through the court system, as we are currently doing, it will be a lot more than 70 years before we have decent forests again.
This proposal, of trying a number of plans to rejuvenate our public forests, in parallel is the quickest and surest way to find the best answers.
I can't think of a better way for Rep. Rick Renzi to start a successful Congressional career.
Dan Adams, Payson