I attended the meeting Wednesday, July 11, promoted by John Koleszar in his Guest Comment "A call for roadless areas."
I did not stay for the full discussion, but left at the break, after the well done introduction by Arizona Game and Fish Department. It was obvious that, through no fault of the local organizers, the most concerned group in the whole program were not going to be recognized -- the people who pay for it all.
Somewhere, over the past 50 years, the U.S. Forest Service, the BLM, the Park Service, and other federal managers of publicly-owned land, have lost their way.
I have talked to retired Forest Service personnel who say that as recently as 30 years ago, the Forest Service paid all its operating expenses with revenue from timber sales, grazing rights, mineral claims and outfitter fees.
If anyone has any statistics on the economic figures of the U.S. Forest Service in the days when it was doing what it was set up to do, be "a land of many uses," I would appreciate seeing such figures. Anyhow, as the "leave-it-alone" gang has taken over the management of all federally-managed land, the bureaucracies have grown, and the income has dwindled away. Thus, nearly all the burden of federal land management is falling on general funds somewhere in the federal budget.
My point is that there are millions of taxpayers in the U.S. who won't visit five National Forests in their lifetime, yet they are paying for increasingly expensive upkeep for millions of acres for a relatively few hunters, hikers, ATV riders, and a cadre of "professional" environmentalists who devote themselves to obstructing any commercial use of public land.
Sooner or later, these unknowing donors are going to wake up and demand that their Washington representatives do something about this "taxation without representation."
To minimize the severity of the shock, someone in the federal bureaucracies should embark on a plan to make the federally-managed lands self-supporting. This is not a new idea. At one point, the U.S. must have been close to this.
As to Mr. Koleszar, I found his article particularly self-serving. He seems to feel that "as a hunter, hiker and conservationist" that the taxpayers of America are obligated to furnish him acres to roam in, maintained to his specifications.
Only in this area, where the taxpayer unknowingly subsidizes millions of acres of underutilized federally managed land, do the minority (hunters, hikers, and environmentalists) feel they have the right to specify what land they will use, and how they will use it.
Dan Adams, Payson
Editor's note: This letter was cut to fit within the Payson Roundup's 400-word policy for Letters to the Editor.