In recent years, we’ve seen a sea-change in national forest management. After decades of conflict, top-down forest policies have gradually been replaced by local collaboration and consensus-driven management.
This change wasn’t easy. Much of the pressure for local collaboration was initially motivated by local economic concerns. Frankly, many members of the conservation community were wary of what could be lost under this approach. People worried that short-term economic demands for timber and grazing would overwhelm the protection of important forest lands and watersheds.
Fortunately, conservationists learned to sit down with other interests and work out deals to protect important places. Unfortunately, a group of 29 Members of Congress decided last week that their Washington political agenda is more important than local consensus and smart forest management. They are demanding a top-down one-size-fits-all bill (H.R. 1526) that would mandate radically increased logging by converting national forests to “forest reserve revenue areas.”