TOPIC: Forest Service

Forest Service says local is better for flora & fauna

Environmentalists are concerned that a new U.S. Forest Service proposal that moves decision-making about forest and wetlands maintenance to local officials of the service would mean a rollback of conservation standards, according to reporting by Darryl Fears in the Washington Post.  Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the reforms would acknowledge the differences between forests in America’s diverse climates and landscapes, but some experts say it leaves too much discretion to local officials.

But in cases where a Washington agency wants to give up some control — and offer responsibility to its local representatives — isn’t it good for democracy, and not necessarily a threat to forests?  It might cause some problems, but it might also empower local activists and concerned citizens.  And the debate would not have to go through the Washington bottleneck.

Saving salmon apparently can’t be rushed

A scant 19 years after the plan was first proposed by California regulators, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced it has approved a comprehensive approach to restoring water quality and fish habitat in the storied, but now officially “impaired,” Klamath River. (more…)

Doctors smoke it, nurses smoke it, judges smoke it, even the lawyer too

Legalizing it may be only a pipe dream for the advocates of California’s latest statewide ballot proposition.

Federal officials may sue to invalidate California’s Proposition 19 — a statewide ballot initiative that would more or less legalize recreational use of marijuana by the state’s adults, should voters approve it Nov. 2.  AP reports that Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, the so-called drug czar, is weighing all options, including a recommendation from nine former DEA chiefs urging President Obama to order Attorney General Eric Holder to file a preemptive lawsuit against Prop. 19. (more…)

Where there’s fire, there may be a smokescreen

In attempting to contain costs and gain efficiency, the U.S. Forest Service badly bungled the response to what grew into last year’s deadly Station Fire that torched 250 square miles of Southern California and incinerated 200 structures, according to a review by the Department of Agriculture described in a Los Angeles Times piece by Paul Pringle.

The report contradicts more than a year’s worth of statements by Forest Service officials that cost concerns never weighed in on decision making, while confirming reporting by the LA Times that a cost containment directive may have discouraged officials from aggressively mobilizing against the blaze. (more…)

Calls for GAO to investigate US Forest Service

Crews may be battling wildfires from San Diego to Siskiyou counties as California’s fire season gets underway in earnest, but officials here are focusing on one of last year’s most publicized blazes—a deadly conflagration perhaps made worse by a delayed response.

Smokey the Bear himself is now in the firing line.

According to Paul Pringle of the Los Angeles Times, both of California’s U.S. Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, along with a number of Southland congressmen are demanding (more…)


Chuck Neubauer and Julie Pendray of the Washington Times bring news of an Inspector General’s report at the Forest Service criticizing that agency’s slow pace in implementing a plan to clear brush that can fuel forest fires, including areas in the federally-owned lands near Los Angeles where the Station Fire is presently raging.

The Forest Service is a subagency of the Department of Agriculture.