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The following letter was written by Chuck Samuelson, retired Forest Service Fire Management Officer, board member of Montanans for Multiple Use and Editor of their newsletter. He has for years authored numerous letters to the editor alerting the public to current Forest Service mismanagement policies and pioneered the early exposure of the intended FS road closures by publicizing the ruthless, destructive removal of culverts on Forest Service roads. This resulted in extensive erosion and silt drainage into streams and fish habitat. . . a practice in direct conflict with their professed claim to protection of the environment and endangered species. Clarice Ryan

I thought this letter presented an interesting perspective on forest mis-management...

From: Chuck Samuelson [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2001 7:37 PM
Subject: Letter to Sec. Of Agr. Ann Veneman


President, Clarence Taber P.O. Box 3050
Vice Pres., Steve Funke Columbia Falls, MT 59912
Secretary, Clarice Ryan
Treasurer , Roleen Anderson 406-755-6368
Editor, Chuck Samuelson http://www.mtmultipleuse.org

April 6, 2001

Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
14th Street & Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250

Secretary Veneman:

SUBJECT: The U.S. Forest Service is dead. The remains have not been buried. A sad commentary to a once proud organization. The agency is a pathetic remnant of what it once was. Politicized to the core and to the Ranger District.

1. The current USFS no longer has the manpower with expertise to manage our National Forests for the practice of forestry or fire fuels reduction and management. Fire fuels reduction in Montana and the northwest cannot be accomplished without removing some merchantable timber.

2. The USFS lacks the competent leadership with direction to manage the National Forests according to original laws.

3 The USFS has been directed down the road to convert all the public lands to wilderness. Non-management.

4. The recently enacted forest planning regulations, roadless rules, and transportation planning precludes and stymies active forest management. It virtually closes down the National Forests. Those rules need to be rescinded in entirety.

5. The Endangered Species Act will need to be revised as it is used to supersede orginal acts, laws, and regulations. It has been used to close down the National Forests and to eliminate private property rights. It is not user friendly.

6. The Forest Service appeals process will have to be amended, and should require a non-refundable bond by appellants.

7. Lawsuits filed by 501 C3 foundation funded environmental organizations should require bonds to be posted. Through court actions such organizations have more power than the U.S. Congress.

8. The USFS does not control the public lands of the National Forests. The Dept. of Interior, USF&WS controls the USFS under the Endangered Species Act, consequently the USFS has lost control of active forest management.

9. At this moment, the USFS is planning to continue to destroy more forest system roads. Billions of dollars of forest system roads have been destroyed and/or abandoned. An absolute detriment to fire and timber management.

10. The few remaining wood processing plants (sawmills) associated with this National Forest will not survive, even with an immediate turnaround of forest management.

The official motto on USFS stationary is ³Caring For The Land And Serving People². It can definately be changed to ³Locking Up The Land And Ingoring People² , if drastic action is not taken. This has been the method of operation on our local forest, the Flathead National Forest for the last 10+ years. Our local National Forest lacks leadership and direction that is conducive to good forest stewardship. The main leadership directs specialists to study, prepare environmental analysis and is then followed by no action.

Active management ceased many years ago as timber sales contracts were completed. During that time as sale contracts were finished, the destruction of valuable forest system roads commenced in earnest. Stream culverts were excavated in a manner that would put a private land owner in jail and on the front pages of newspapers. Many roads were physically blocked and abandoned. Now those abandoned roaded areas, under recent rule changes, qualify large previously managed blocks of forested land as ³Roadless² or defacto-wilderness. Resources for the communities and the nation are no longer provided.

The community¹s contiguous to the surrounding Flathead National Forest have had their custom and culture vanish. The County¹s have suffered serious loss of the 25% fund for roads and schools only to be made up by the resident taxpayers. The wood products manufacturing facilities have virtually disappeared. Only private timber supplies the remaining wood processing plants which will not survive for long. The private forested timber lands are being professionally managed. Hundreds of workers forced to find new employment and relocate. The vacuum created by the loss of timber resources has been filled by Canadian imports of softwood.

Portions of national forests in eastern Washington State, north Idaho, and northwest Montana have been suffering epidemic stages of insects and disease for years. Meanwhile the U.S. Forest Service is stymied by paralysis, much by design and planning from within of the previous Administration and the foundation funded socialist green environmental organization who have block every proposed action by appeal. If that fails, by filing lawsuits. As a result, there is absolutely no management of the forests. Only regression to wildlands and defacto wilderness designed by foundation funded C-3 organizations and the previous adiministration.

The lack of rapid response by the Forest Service to the devastating insect infestations has created the untenable conditions of an excessive accumulation and buildup of fire fuels in the forest that has set the stage for the possibility of catastrophic wildfires as experienced in southwest Montana during the fire season of year 2000. This winter's snowpacks of less that 50% throughout much of the northwest is setting the stage for a possible repeat of the fire season 2000.

With the passage and implementation of the Fire and Fuels Reduction Funds the Forest Service will be hard pressed to accomplish the desired results. They do not have the manpower or the expertise. Within the last ten years the ranks of the professional foresters and firefighters has been annihilated due to retirements. Replacements working up through the ranks have been nonexistant. Consequently, the organization has been placed in an untenable position. That fact compromises safety of employees and the public. The Fire and Fuels program will take decades to accomplish and will only be accomplished by private industry being offered products (timber) in return for accomplishing the desired work. If usable wood fiber (timber) is not sold to finance the desired fuels management, the task and goals will not be accomplished. The U.S. Treasury will not be able to afford or finance the goals in any other manner. That fact is plain and simple. It has been done before up until about the late 1980¹s.

If the remnants of the woods products industry can hang on without collapsing and going broke, they are willing and able to help accomplish the fuels reduction program. But time is short as the woods workers and sawmill workers are a fast vanishing breed. They cannot wait a year and maybe even six months for Forest Service specialists to complete the NEPA requirements. The work has to begin this coming summer season on an emergency basis if necessary.

From our observations, there have been many positions within the Forest Service filled by personnel who are not qualified. Even if they are qualified, they are hamstrung by excessive regulation that results in undue time delays and waste of funds to attempt to accomplish any objective. There are virtually no professional foresters left within the Forest Service. Ologists of varied professions have filled or replaced forestry positions. Ologists accomplish nothing by research and planning, they are not doers.


Clarence Taber, Pres. (USFS - retired)
Montanans For Multiple Use*
P.O. Box 3050
Columbia Falls, MT 59912
/s/ Chuck Samuelson (USFS - retired)
Public Access Director
*Montanans For Multiple Use represents
approx. 300 members in NW Montana

cc: Senator Max Baucus
Senator Conrad Burns
Representative Dennis Rehberg

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