18 Oct 2009, 6:13pm
Federal forest policy Politics and politicians
by admin

Follow The Law, Tell the Truth

The following letter, written by Jim Trenholm, USFS retired, and currently Counselor/Mediator with The Stewardship Group [here], reminds the current Administration that our Nation’s laws must be obeyed as regards forest policy. That means Federal actions that significantly effect the environment, such as the Roadless Rule and wildfire “use”, must follow the due processes mandated by NEPA, ESA, NFMA, MU-SYA, etc. and by the court decisions that interpret those laws.


September 13, 2009

To: The Honorable Barack Obama, President;

The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary
United States Department of Agriculture; and

Chief Tom Tidwell, Forest Service

Dear Mr. President, Mr. Secretary and Chief Tidwell:

We just returned from an outstanding 2009 Forest Service Reunion held in Missoula, Montana, September 7 - 11. Our theme was “Where Do We Go From Here?” Six former chiefs, Max Peterson (1979-1987), F. Dale Robertson (1987-1993), Jack Ward Thomas (1993-1996), Mike Dombeck (1996-2001), Dale Bosworth (2001-2007), and Gail Kimbell (2007-2009) pondered the future.

Where are we now and how did we get here? Sixteen years ago, shortly after I retired, Jack Ward Thomas reaffirmed what I always thought we did. He said: “We follow the law, tell the truth, admit mistakes and not cover them up.” His successor, Mike Dombeck seemed to have abandoned those principles in favor of politics when he called for an 18-month moratorium on road construction and reconstruction in roadless areas. Does that make sense? In the final days of the Clinton Administration, this moratorium turned into the 2001 Roadless Rule.

“I really think the roadless battle is over. Some just haven’t realized it yet,” said Dombeck [last week], who oversaw roadless inventories that resulted in the far-reaching Roadless Rule of 2001. “If we look at the number of roads that have been built in the last couple of decades, it’s really very small.”

The rule is still being challenged in court, Dombeck said, “But I think we need to get on to more important issues.”

“I don’t agree with Mike,” countered Peterson. “I don’t think the battle has actually begun yet.”

Max Peterson is correct and the battle has basically been ignored for the past eight years. Federal Judge Clarence Brimmer ruled three times (2003, 2008, and 2009) that the 2001 Roadless violated the National Environmental Policy and Wilderness Acts. Where are you and your appointees on this issue?

The battle is heating up now as evidenced by a guest opinion, “Tester’s Wilderness Bill Should Be Defeated” by Fred Hodgeboom, president of Montanans For Mutiple Use, in the September 11, 2009, The Daily Inter Lake. Hodgeboom is former Forest Service, knows what is right, and knows Tester’s bill can’t work until inventoried roadless areas established in the 2001 Roadless Rule are eliminated. (Ed note: a Fred Hodgeboom guest editorial, “Sen. Tester’s Wilderness Bill Fails Reality Check,” that appeared in the Clark Fork Chronicle July 31 is [here])

We commend you for nominating Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, as undersecretary for natural resources and the environment in the USDA. Please see that he has complete understanding of the 2001 Roadless Rule and Federal Judge Clarence Brimmer’s three rulings. During his Senate confirmation, he should be prepared to explain his agreement or disagreement with Judge Brimmer and his rationale for doing so.

My best wishes are with you in “Caring for the Land and Serving People.”

Peace and Understanding,

Jim Trenholm
The Stewardship Group [here]
Roy, Utah 84067



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