Forest Service not about serving public

Brent Gaskey

Two weeks ago, The New Era reported that the U.S. Forest Service is planning to close the entire Willamette National Forest to vehicles except for those ares that are heavily used by the public and do not conflict with forest resources or have safety issues. This is local resident Brent Gaskey’s response.

I, for one, am tired of taking the beating over the head with the organic eco-friendly club from the Forest Service and other agencies just because I ride an off-road vehicle.

The way I’ve seen it portrayed is that every candy wrapper, every errant fire, and every rut on the ground were caused by dastardly OHV riders on flame-spitting, oil-belching carts of destruction and mayhem that bring biblical plagues just short of fire and brimstone to the forest when a rubber wheel touches the ground.

Our federal government has taken aim at the large majority of forest users and told them to GO AWAY.

We live in a natural wonderland here in rural Oregon. Too bad by 2009 we won’t be able to get to much of it.

If the Forest Service has its way (and it will), much of the forest surrounding our town will be closed. The Forest Service, through its Travel Management Rule, will close the Willamette National Forest and other natural resources across the state by 2009.

“Why?” you might ask.

Forest Service past chief Dale Bosworth in 2004 said, “There has been a dramatic increase and technological advances in off-highway vehicles (OHV’s) over the last 30 years, and to maintain a quality experience for all users, the Forest Service must carefully manage this use.” (http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/willamette/manage/travel-mgmt/index.html)

So if I’m reading this correctly, rather than finding ways to accommodate the increased use, it’s easier to put their highly educated heads in the sand and just shut down the forest. Thus, making their job that much easier.

Anyone want to venture a guess at how many people are employed by the Forest Service to protect the rights of us to use the land? I would say about 100 percent less that the ecologists/biologists/seismologists/soil scientists that now make up our federal Forest Service and its current way of thinking.

The Forest Service, as it exists today, is a very different organization than when it was brought into existence. At one time it was an agency whose job it was to help its citizens make use of their natural resources and, secondarily, to protect those resources.

The first part of that call has been summarily forgotten. Somewhere in the mix the Forest Service has become an increasingly bureaucratic enviro-fascist monster that restricts all but the lightest uses of the lands they were entrusted with by us, the citizens whom they serve. My question is that if Dale Bosworth or the current regime see such an increase in OHV use, why was there not something done about making the forests more user-friendly for those vehicles instead of restricting them at every turn?

If the goal is to make a perfect forest with no human contact, they are doing a good job.

But in their defense, why wouldn’t they just limit all access to their private playground? It has a great deal of advantages for them. They wouldn’t have to deal with the pesky public that causes all the problems in their private nature preserve, or deal with any of the issues that arise when someone wants to actually use the land that has been set aside for public use.

There will always be those who are destructive and cause problems for the agencies that are there to protect a resource. But to arbitrarily punish the entire citizenry because it makes their job easier and takes less effort on their part is a slap in the face to our great country and what they were called to do.

The current climate around Forest Service is nothing less than discriminatory to the majority of the people they have been placed there to serve, and reeks of abuse by those with unchecked power. There is a general disdain by those in power at the Forest Service for those of us who are not in some way connected with the inner workings of their bureaucracy or who don’t toe the unofficial party line.

But with little public oversight and virtually no recourse, I guess we should be happy they let us use their private lands at all.

I’m starting to believe that we are just commoners who have been caught in the King’s forest.

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