Thursday, July 1, 2010

Disparity Between Federal Land Agency Leadership

The Recreation HQ is often asked why there is there such disparity between various National Forests or Ranger Districts. Some units are shining examples of cooperation between federal land management agencies and the local community. For example, The General was at Mammoth Lakes last week as a member of the Forest Service’s Region 5 Recreation Resource Advisory Council to review and make recommendations to approve or deny various fee proposals from the FS and BLM in California.
PHOTO: Inyo NF Leadership Giving Presentation to RecRAC Members and Public on
Recreation Program and Collaboration

Our host was the leadership team of the Inyo National Forest. They have an excellent working partnership with the County Board of Supervisors, the National Park Service, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, and local businesses. The Inyo NF and partners have developed a holistic approach to all forms of recreation management in the area including fishing, mountain biking, snow sports, boating, hunting, OSV, OHV, 4x4 touring, hiking, wilderness, and the list goes on and on.

In The General’s considered opinion the Inyo NF has set a high bar for how a Forest should work with local interests in a collaborative manner.

See blog about Shasta County Fight with the FS and need for BBQ Diplomacy

At the other end of the spectrum, you have the Shasta Trinity NF. As many of you know, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors was snubbed by the Forest leadership team at a recent public meeting regarding the informal disposition of the county’s appeal of the Travel Management Decision that closed basically 100 percent (about 800 miles) of single track trails and trails less than 50 inches in width.

The BRC and BRC legal had also filed appeals in the hope that the Forest and Regional Office would realize they needed a redo or to modify the Record of Decision. Unfortunately, HQ got the Appeal Decision yesterday where the agency denied our prayer for relief.

See Appeal Decision from Region 5

HQ believes the Shasta Trinity NF should have worked harder in a collaborative manner with users and county officials rather than producing a travel management plan that is nothing more than an unenforceable landscape level closure of all single track and ATV trails used by local riders and clubs such as the Redding Dirt Riders.

Can the relationship be salvaged between the Shasta Trinity NF and local interests? Only the agency has the answer to that question and the appeal denial may give us a clue. Not a pretty picture.

Why is there disparity between Forests? The answer is obvious… leadership or lack thereof. Rather then supporting the landscape level closure of trails in the Shasta T NF travel plan, the agency should do a statewide review/analysis of their leadership team and use the Inyo NF as an example of how a federal unit should work with local interests.

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