Thursday, June 10, 2010

BBQ Diplomacy Needed in County v. Forest Service Fight

A lot of riders, OHV media, federal agents, and others are watching the ongoing struggle or battle of wills between the Shasta County Board of Supervisors and the Shasta Trinity National Forest.

As you know, the BOS held a hearing on June 4 regarding the County’s appeal of the ROD and to have the informal disposition in a public forum as required by law.

June 6 Blog with info, archived news articles, etc.

Based on direction by the BOS, the county counsel prepared and sent a letter on June 8 about the Forest‘s failure to appear. This letter was sent to Region 5, the Department of Agriculture, and Congress. The letter asked for a response by the Forest before the close of business on June 9. No response as of today.

June 8 BOS/Counsel Letter to Congress and USDA

The letter while respectful does rightfully convey the board’s frustration with the Forest’s lack of communication and cooperation. The General does not believe the Forest has any excuse for not showing up. Some of you remember the OHV Commission meetings (circa 2000-2007) where the environmentalists who were running the commission often excoriated and made every effort to humiliate FS and BLM representatives in public. I think a lot of credit should go to those federal representatives who showed up and took the verbal abuse. I don’t know why the Shasta T decided to basically ignore the county’s request for a public forum. I don’t think it would have been near as hostile as the old OHV commission meetings.

Federal line officers should be able to take the heat. Their job today is really more political than resource oriented. Historically, District Rangers and Forest Supervisors integrated themselves into the community. They attended BBQs, fishing derbies, and turkey shoots. It seems that sort of camaraderie is sadly missing on the Shasta T.

Is there a growing rural county movement to challenge arbitrary land closures? We have seen the San Bento County BOS reopen county roads at Clear Creek. Del Norte County has joined recreation groups to challenge illegal road ripping. Shasta County seems to have joined in.

See WND Article on Counties Fighting Back

In the absence of the Forest Service using “BBQ diplomacy” in rural areas such as Shasta County, the local government has only two options when faced with arbitrary federal actions and those are lawsuits or asking for the line officer to be replaced.

I know recreation groups such as BRC, ROC, et al are committed to working with the agency, but that relationship has to be a two-way street.

Stay tuned as the Shasta saga continues.


  1. Hi Don,

    I'm not sure a BBQ meeting would fix anything: do we believe that a BBQ with Rick Cooper would alleviate any of the issues around the CCMA closure (certainly not, I presume)?

    I would almost think that we should find a way to increase the current tide of local government frustration with the federal agencies and the more local agencies to take exception to federal agency actions, the more this would embolden more local governements to do the same. At some point the pendulum must begin to swing the other way and when it does I believe that we should try and swing our legs to really get that pendulum swinging.

    Is it possible for groups like BRC, etc. to provide resources and/or funds to local governments to take action, considering their very impacted budgets of the last couple of years? I think that I've read somewhere that we are helping out Shasta County in this way (or am I mistaken).


  2. Randy,

    With rural counties in a fiscal bind, recreation groups will have to pay for the lion's share of any joint lawsuit to protect access. It will be up to pvt. citizen's to help pay for these lawsuits just as we are doing in Del Norte County and our lawsuit to challenge illegal road ripping.


  3. It really seems like each forest has a different attitude with respect to the public who live around the forest. Some care what people think, but the majority here in California seem to not care in the slightest. Sadly Shasta Trinity is of the later category.

    A far as I can tell this is largely due to the Forest Supervisor. They are the ones who control the relationship with the public. The employees under them follow the lead. It becomes all about moving up in the FS bureaucracy and CYA.

    Keep fighting the good fight,

  4. Carl,

    I think the Regional Office should do more reviews to see if line officers in rural areas are a good fit for the community.