Why our Federal Forests are so Poorly Managed


I believe that each of our elected federal Senators and Representatives in Washington D.C. needs to have at least one qualified natural resource staffer to help them understand the problems we face in our counties and state. Idaho is a very wealthy state when it comes to natural resources but a very poor state when it comes to using those natural resources because 62% of our land is controlled by the federal government. Our senators and congressmen need to be aware of things like the fact that ranchers own split estate rights and what those rights entail on federal land. They also need to have a good working knowledge of our water laws and the laws that govern our forests.

The importance of this lies in the fact that most of these rules and laws are not followed as they have been written. We need help in getting back control of our natural resources and the only way that is going to happen is if our representatives in Washington have a clear understanding of how oppressive the federal government’s regulations have been in killing jobs and misusing our resources. Most people don’t understand that if the Forest Service followed the law we would be in great shape. The forest reserves were meant to help our counties prosper but what they have done by their misinterpretation of rules and regulations is to eliminate prosperity and lock it up in Wilderness or WSA.

The only answer to fix these policy misinterpretations, which pollute our air with out-of-control forest fires and too many “controlled burns” that cause respiratory problems, is to require the Forest Service to use best management practices as we do with the rest of agriculture. Trees are a crop, which is why the forest service is in the Department of Agriculture. The grass that grows in the fields and forests is an important crop as well, perfect for cattle and sheep. Allotment owners own the grass, water, and roads on their allotments.

The question is why do we allow the federal land managers to keep beetle-infested or the Tussock moth infected trees in our forests? Why aren’t they removed? These infestations on private and state land kill off many more trees in our forests because they are not removed or treated.

If you were a private landowner and had an infected potato crop, or pigs that had the swine flu, or a cattle herd with mad cow disease, they would be quarantined and slaughtered before they infected other farms or ranches. Why is it that the Forest Service can get away without using best management practices when it comes to keeping our forests healthy? If a Dairyman polluted the water by not following his nutrient management plan, they would be fined and lord only knows what the EPA would do to them in terms of penalties. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Forest Service they can get away with doing all of these things and more without any penalty or retribution.

They fill our forests with wolves (that never belonged there in the first place) that carry hydatid disease in their feces, knowing that just disturbing the feces can cause extreme illness and even death in humans. When we confront the Forest Service and the BLM with these facts, all they do is tell us that this is naturally occurring.

Well, the Canadian Wolf was not naturally occurring in our Idaho forests! They were transplanted here with seemingly no thought of just how much trouble they would cause. It is just like the Forest Service believing that prescribed burns are a natural right—regardless of the havoc they reek with the pollution and respiratory problems they cause along, with burns that turn into full-blown forest fires. Apparently, it’s ok when the Forest Service does it, but heaven forbid a private landowner should burn anything without a permit. Most people don’t realize that emissions testing is no longer necessary but they are continued because of the forest fires.

We need to talk about solutions to all of the problems that are facing us as Idahoans and, for that matter, the Western States in general. Best management practices are the answer, but the Forest Service does not understand the meaning of these words. They believe that they are in control of our land and can do pretty much whatever they want. We need to enlist the help of our senators and congressmen to help us resolve these problems that are critical to the future economic viability of our state.

Every Idahoan should take the time to read the Organic Act of 1916 and the Federal Land Policy Management act of 1976. The latter is predictably full of bureaucratic confusion but section 7 protects all pre-existing rights on federal land, mines, grazing, easements and much more. It states in part, “Nothing in this Act, or in any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed as terminating any valid lease, permit, patent, right-of-way, or other land use right or authorization existing on the date of approval of this Act.”