Forest Service Lost describes the federal agency charged with managing America’s national forests as it operated in the fifties and sixties compared to operation and funding in the early twenty-first century. The book traces the early history of our national forests and the agency charged to manage those forests. The flaw designed into the original management of the forests and that developed early in its history are described. The subversion of the agency by political forces that transformed it into a virtually one resource (timber) management agency and the public revolt for more balanced management by forest users is described. The fiscal abandonment of the agency by Congress as timber cut volumes declined and the failure of environmental groups of all sizes to advocate for properly funded national forest management is exposed. The low funding levels hobble management of our national forests, in an era where management is now more balanced, yet other forces and impacts threaten these forests. The result is a Forest Service in disarray. Examples illustrating points are drawn from the author’s observations as a seasonal agency worker, activist involved in the forest planning efforts, a frequent commenter and critic of land management issues and manager of a cross-country ski area under an agency special permit. Some remedies suggested to strengthen our forests and the agency charged with their management are suggested.
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The author is a long time resident of the west with experience with the Forest Service in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Oregon. Trained as a biological scientist and chemist the author worked both as a seasonal employee in both the management and research divisions of the Forest Service and later taught college courses to many students seeking a degree in Forestry. During the initial and subsequent rounds of National Forest management planning, the author worked as an environmental activist. He followed up with comment on the management actions developed under those plans as an activist and a state water quality regulator. Currently, the author manages a cross-country ski area located on national forest lands and operated under a special use permit with the Forest Service. The authors experience as an employee in the sixties and a watchdog of the agency for the last forty-five years provides a basis to compare the Forest Service inherited from the early rangers to the agency managing our forests today.
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