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Summer 2008

What Happened to My Forests?

By Rich Bottini, Former FWA President

Being born and raised in Susanville, California, I grew up watching the U.S. Forest Service and how it interacted with local rural communities.

In the 1960’s, the U.S. Forest Service was highly regarded and partnered with the timber industry to keep our forests clean and healthy. As I grew older, the environmental movement grew into an omnipotent force. Eventually, the environmental movement destroyed the timber industry and our forests were turned over to nature.

Forest Service signs.As a result, over the years our forests have gone over grown with
heavy brush and fuels loads, which have lead to catastrophic forest fires. To add insult to injury, unemployed loggers have been prevented from harvesting scorched trees which are allowed to stand and die.

If current forestry practices continue we are headed for the perfect storm. Has anyone noticed the increase in forest fires throughout America? Why are the current forest fires so large? Why does it take so long to control the forest fires of today? What has changed since the 1960’s?

The environmental agenda has taken over our forest practices. Their “damn-the-consequences” attitude shows utter ignorance of the results of catastrophic forest fires. They have casually consumed values that conscientious government and local people have worked for generations to create. They ignore the black floods that rush through meadows and canyons as fire crusted slopes shed winter Closed to vehicles sign.rain. They ignore water holes and streams that are filled with ash and caustic by-products of forest fires.

Recently, the U.S. Forest Service has informed me that I will no longer be able to use the forests that I grew up in. I will be forced to use very limited “designated roads”. Some of my favorite fishing holes will no longer be accessible. The reason for such changes… “to preserve the forests for future generations”. Why are we saving the forests if present and future generations can’t enter and enjoy them?
I hope and pray that someday I will wake up and it was all a bad dream. ■

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