Green-Eyed Wolf Gets An Itch

by Bob Zybach

Note: this essay is in reply to a recent mass-media propaganda release about “timber-itch” written by Jim Furnish [here, for instance].

I think Jim Furnish’s analogy of a green-eyed wolf is a good one. His 1990 benchmark was 21 years ago and the forests he helped “protect” from logging have since become overrun with green-eyed wolves, bugs, dead trees, and wildfires. Recreational opportunities on USFS lands have become further limited, rather than expanded, during this time due to road and trail closures, reduced numbers of game animals, elimination of campgrounds and toilet facilities, fees, and other means of discouraging visitors to these increasingly degraded and decimated landscapes.

If Furnish’s mythical “timber itch” actually ever existed, maybe the blame should be placed on Gifford Pinchot, Theodor Roosevelt, and other founders of the Forest Service in the early 1900s — THEIR obligation (and promise) was: “National Forests are made for and owned by the people. They should also be managed by the people. The are made, not to give the officers in charge of them a chance to work out theories, but to give the people who use them, and those affected by their use, a chance to work out their own best profit” (Pinchot 1905: 25).

Did Pinchot secretly suffer from Furnish’s mysterious “timber itch?” If so, wasn’t that problem addressed in 1960 with the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act (MU-SY) There it was stated:

No national forest shall be established, except to improve and protect the forest within the boundaries, or for the purpose of securing favorable conditions of water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States; but it is not the purpose or intent of these provisions, or of said section, to authorize the inclusion therein of lands more valuable for the mineral therein, or for agricultural purposes, than for forest.


It is the policy of the Congress that the national forests are established and shall be administered for outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish purposes. The purposes of sections 528 to 531 of this title are declared to be supplemental to, but not in derogation of, the purposes for which the national forests were established as set forth in section 475 of this title. Nothing herein shall be construed as affecting the jurisdiction or responsibilities of the several States with respect to wildlife and fish on the national forests.

The current sad states of our federal lands were both predictable and preventable. The related degradation and decimation of many of our rural counties, communities, and industries as a direct consequence of the adoption of multiple passive management actions of our federal government since 1960, were also predicted and should have been prevented.

It is the “vision” and management actions of former USFS employees such as Jim Furnish that have directly led us to the current sorry state of affairs. Personally, I would much rather listen to — and follow –the common sense conservation ideas of Pinchot, as refined by MU-SY in 1960, than the misguided nonsense of destructive “visions” and “itches” that the Furnishes of our world seem privy to.

31 May 2011, 8:37am
by bear bait

And what has been Furnish’s lasting input into furthering forestry and forest management and science? You can’t think of one? Neither can I. Lackey comes to mind. Deconstruction comes to mind. Sociologist without meaningful ideas comes to mind. But Forester? That he was NOT. And a poor manager to boot. The problem, not the solution.

12 Jun 2011, 4:10pm
by Forrest Grump

Might be relevant to Furnish’s irrelevance that he’s a consulting forester to Wildlands Center for Preventing Roads.
EF spinoff.
That this guy had responsible positions in USFS merely indicates how beyond redemption the agency might be.



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