It’s time to reclaim our rights

Published January 1, 2002

Once again, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has proven itself to be subservient to radical environmental groups, stopping the salvage of dead and dying trees in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Bark beetle and tussock moth infestations, in epidemic proportions, have invaded prime timber. It would be logical to salvage those valuable trees, but radicals have sued the U.S. Forest Service preventing that from happening–preferring, apparently, to allow a valuable resource to rot in the forest.

By the time the Forest Service can get the court stay lifted, the trees will likely be useless.

Time after time, the anti-logging environmentalists act in ways that guarantee a valuable resource–one that would provide jobs and stability to a local economy–goes unused, eventually contributing to the long-term fire hazard in our forests. They have one goal in mind: to stop all human use of the Earth’s natural resources.

For the most part, the media swallow the environmentalists’ line without checking the facts. More often than not, there are few to be found. Scare tactics, half-truths, biased computer models, and “feel good” statements for the public are the tools of the environmentalists’ trade.

Managing resources makes sense

The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and state forestry and range personnel try to make some sense of managing our valuable forest and range resources. But they have little hope of success until the Endangered Species Act and EPA regulations can be rewritten to permit sensible, professional management of forests, rangelands, and waterways.

The radical environmentalists use the spotted owl to stop timber harvests, and bull trout and salmon to close down entire forest regions. Salmon and suckers are now being used to take away long-established water rights. Wolves and grizzly bears can shut down ranching and close remote areas to use by man. When challenged, the radical environmentalists appeal to the federal appellate court most likely to respond in their favor.

In southern Oregon, the radical environmentalists are about to succeed in their goal of removing farmers and ranchers from the Klamath Basin. In the name of suckers and salmon, the environmentalists succeeded in diverting much-needed irrigation water away from the Klamath Basin humans. If the environmentalists hold true to past patterns of behavior, their next step will be to ask the government to buy out hundreds of farmers and ranchers: the beginning of the end of farming and ranching in the Klamath Basin.

Private property under siege

Ownership of private property–and the right to use that property–has been essential to the American way of life since the country’s founding. Now socialists, under the guise of environmentalism, are using ESA and EPA regulations to drive private property owners from their land.

The Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) is a key part of the socialist-environmentalist agenda in the U.S. CARA would give the radical environmentalists hundreds of millions of dollars with which to drive private landholders from their property. Passage of CARA in its present form, granting condemnation powers to the environmentalists and to out-of-control federal agencies, would be a disaster to landholders in the West.

The large dams on the Snake and Boise rivers are next on their hit list. The environmentalists have the ability, through the federal courts, to shut down Snake River transportation, irrigation, and electrical projects, just as they have shut down most of the area’s logging and mining.

These dams all come up for re-licensing in the next 10 years. The radical environmentalists have already begun their attack, by demanding major changes in the dams’ operation and, in some cases, demanding their total removal from the rivers. Even the mighty Columbia River power dams are not safe from environmentalist lawsuits and the Ninth Circuit appellate court.

It’s high time elected officials revise and make some sense of the ESA and EPA rules and regulations. Science, not rhetoric, should guide our management of rivers, forests, and rangeland. Man should have equal status with fish, birds, animals, and plants. Time is running out.

Dean Finch is a retired professional forester.