In reference to your article, “County schools to share $1.6 million forest fee money,” the detailed analysis of where the money went was interesting, but really didn’t get to the heart of the matter.
The heart of the matter was more directly addressed in my letter of March 16, to you, where I reported that in return for furnishing law and order, roads, communication systems, search and rescue, etc., for 60 percent of Gila County’s area (some 1.8 million acres), we receive $1.11 per acre, total for all services.
Meanwhile we are almost completely forbidden to engage in any commercial activity in “The Forest of Many Uses” by bureaucratic rules, developed by the U.S. Forest Service, pursuant to the demands of the attorneys for “The Leave it Alone Gang.” To quote Dan Daggett.
“The Leave it Alone Gang,” has unintentionally developed a forest management system, that took the Tonto land and other ponderosa national forests from 30-50 trees per acre to 200-2,000 trees per acre. Robbing the forest soil and the cities in Maricopa County of millions of acre feet of water, while furnishing those of us who live here with an entertaining, property-threatening, major forest fire every couple of years.
Some of the less fanatic members of the “Leave it Alone Gang” now realize that they have been engaged in a long-term, major mistake. They now want to start commercial trimming of the forest, pretty much on their terms. This could be done, in a half speed approach to the problem, except that they won’t make the one concession that makes such projects viable, in the regular commercial world. Ironclad, enforceable contracts.
The “Leave it Alone Gang” wants two sets of rules. One for the amenable environmentalists who sign the contract with the Forest Service and the commercial entity that is investing millions of dollars to process the thinned timber.
The second set of rules are for all the committed environmentalists who didn’t sign the first contract, but as soon as the money is invested, run to the Endangered Species Act with some toad, flower or butterfly affected by the thinning operation. Everything is then put on hold while everyone goes to court.
The last time this happened the State of Arizona went from 15 sawmills to two.
Also, as your article points out, even the $1.11 per acre is apt to go away. Then, as you point out, we are reduced to going, bat in hand, to the same bureaucrats, to get “grants” to work on the same forest that we can’t use commercially. The grants are given for projects to make the forest safer, more acceptable to non-commercial users, or less fire prone. Anything you want to do, as long as no one makes, on going, commercial money, also known as profit, from it, or to put it bluntly, the attorneys for the “Leave it Alone Gang” won’t interfere in most anything the Forest Service does, as long as the taxpayers pay for it.