Sunday, June 08, 2003

Well, Catherine, Garry, and Amanda are watching an incredibly violent film, and I finally had to give it up. I tried to sit there and read, but kept flinching, so I'm taking refuge in my office.

My first week of work is over. I'm not sure I could spend my life working for an organization that operates according to the whims of whoever is in the White House. For instance, how do foresters really deal with Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative, when they know it might drop off the list of FS priorities if Bush get voted out of office (please, please, please)?

I sincerely believe that Bush made the Healthy Forests statement w/the intention of opening up the forests to large scale logging; that doesn't seem to be how the FS is interpreting it, but I do think that was the main goal of the initiative. The FS seems to be taking it more literally--managing forests in a manner that reduces the threat of forest fire. To do this, they've created "categorical exclusions," exemptions to the regular rules by which the FS has to abide in order to ensure "hazardous fuel reduction." The two categorical exclusions basically say: in order to promote hazardous fuel reduction, the FS can either thin trees or burn off so many acres (I can't remember how many acres) w/out doing an environmental impact statement before hand. In other words, they can't be sued by private citizens as long as they stay w/in the number of acres covered in the categorical exclusion.

Well, I'm not a forester, and I can't say w/any sort of authority whether thinning and burning will reduce the impact of fire on humans. Probably they do. But, if I wasn't working for the FS, I'd have to say I was nervous about the whole concept of a categorical exclusion. Foresters aren't necessarily preservationists, the FS does sell timber. Hopefully, they do it in an environmentally responsible manner, but then again, if it falls under a categorical exclusion, they don't really have to. And again, I'm still holding the position that I don't like to see forests managed at all. Why should humans be privileged? I don't particularly like to think about little animals being burned up, but I also don't like humans mucking about with nature. On the other hand, if someone doesn't step in and manage the forests and abide by at least a few rules, Bush would clear cut the entire country.

Anyway, the point is, I've spent all week thinking about the Healthy Forests Initiative, and in two years or so, it might not even matter. If Bush is booted out of office (please, please, please), the Democrats might just drop the whole thing, then a whole new set of rules will govern the FS. How can you really manage a forest if the major framework is handed down from a political party instead of distinterested group? I think it would suck to really want to do the best you could by the forests, and have the gov't tell you, "Well, we need you to raise this much money w/timber sales this year, so go cut down all those trees."

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