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USFS – Not a Fire Problem but a Land Management Problem

Former Chief of the US Forest Service, Dale Bosworth at Subcommittee on Federal Lands Hearing
Former Chief of the US Forest Service, Dale Bosworth on forest fire at Subcommittee on Federal Lands Hearing: "We need to act".

Former Chief of the US Forest Service, Dale Bosworth on forest fire at Subcommittee on Federal Lands Hearing: “We need to act”.

Sierra Sun Times – Sunday, 17 May 2015

Attending an Oversight Hearing Former USFS Chief Dave Bosworth Said, “We Do Not Have A Fire Problem On Our Nation’s Forests; We Have A Land Management Problem”

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held an oversight hearing on the impact of litigation on forest management, the U.S. Forest Service’s response to the growing challenge of litigation, and related impacts upon forest health.

“There is no doubt that litigation has had a profound impact on the Forest Service and subsequently the management and mismanagement of our national forests. Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on shuffling paper, over-analysis and ensuring process is followed. We currently estimate planning and environmental analyses are roughly 60% of the costs of forest management projects,” stated Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (CA-04). “The increased cost of paperwork does not translate into greater benefits to the environment. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The greatest threat to many endangered species and their habitat is catastrophic wildfire. Yet rather than thinning the forest to protect this habitat, we’re spending millions upon millions on extraordinarily long, complicated, voluminous documents that impede our ability to properly manage the forests for the benefit of all species.”

Former U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth stated in written testimony,“While many environmental laws were originally passed for good reason at a time when more checks and balances were needed, the situation has dramatically changed. Now communities are coming together at unprecedented levels to find common ground and to address the increasing threats of insects, disease, invasive species and wildfire. Unfortunately, the sheer multitude of laws, and their expansion by the courts have led to processes almost unintelligible to reasonable people. All of us understand that significantly more restoration needs to occur through aggressive active management.”

“We do not have a fire problem on our nation’s forests, we have a land management problem, and it needs to be addressed quickly,”Bosworth reiterated during the hearing.

“Given the high threat of litigation and the limited resources to make and review the necessary management planning decisions, the result is truly ‘Analysis Paralysis’! The cost of litigation, as well as time and effort required of USFS staff to address litigation, is a significant burden,” stated Dave Schulz, Commissioner, Madison County, Montana, in his testimony. “The consequences are a domino effect that results in forest management coming to a standstill.”

“I think there are environmental consequences to any action we take, and if we’re not cautious and careful and cooperative too—that can cause harm,” Schulz reiterated during the hearing.“At the same time, there’s an environmental consequence to doing nothing, and that’s what I’m concerned about.”

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