Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shasta County Close to Vote of No Confidence in Forest Service

On June 4, 2010 the Shasta County Board of Supervisors and about 85 members of the public were snubbed by the Shasta Trinity National Forest when the agency failed to show up to hearing on the county’s appeal of the Forest’s TMR Record of Decision.

The day before the meeting, the local paper ran a story about how the Forest had decided NOT to attend the meeting. However, the story did not highlight the fact that the date of June 4 for a public meeting had been previously agreed to by the Forest.

Record Searchlight June 3 Article

The General, on behalf of BRC, attended that meeting and testified that - at the end-of-the-day – the county government is the public’s last recourse (outside of lawsuits) to challenge arbitrary federal land closures.

I think the Record Searchlight’s June 6, 2010 Editorial captured the extreme frustration unanimously articulated by the Board of Supervisors and the public while challenging all parties to find some common ground. As some of you know, BRC and BRC Legal also filed appeals and during our recent informal disposition meeting, The General also expressed his deep frustration with the Forest's abysmal history of ad hoc non-management of OHV recreation.

June 6 Record Searchlight Editorial on Forest Fight

As the editorial correctly notes, the BOS is dangerously close to taking the rather precedence setting step of casting a formal vote of no confidence in Forest leadership and request that leadership be replaced. The Recreation HQ believes the only way for the Forest to salvage any remnants of credibility is for the agency to meet with the public and agree to phase in the Record of Decision as new trail projects are completed or better yet, have the Appeal Reviewing Officer recommend the ROD be withdrawn and the Forest restart a legitimate TMR planning process that is not frontloaded to enact a landscape level closure.

Sylvia Milligan, chief honcho of the Recreation Outdoor Coalition, stated in her testimony that the Forest Supervisor said in a public forum that she wanted HER Forest to be a Quiet Forest. If that is in fact the current operational paradigm then Houston (or in this case the Forest Service) we have a problem. Groups like BRC, RDR, ROC, and the BOS have proven willing to work in partnership with land management agencies, but that is hard to do if all you get when you extend that hand of fellowship is a poke in the eye.

The ball is in the agency’s court. Does the Forest Service really desire to pick a fight and enter into an OHV version of the Cold War with people it is supposed to serve? Or, will it push the reset button? Having this battle of wills continue is not healthy for the community or the agency. *

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