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Senator Craig Letter To Chief Dombeck

Discussion in 'Land Use' started by mudfanatic, Aug 23, 2000.

  1. mudfanatic

    mudfanatic 1/2 ton status

    Feb 18, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Aloha, Oregon
    Senator Larry Craig's Response to the Chief Mike Dombeck's letter to all USFS

    July 17, 2000

    Mr. Mike Dombeck, Chief
    U.S. Forest Service
    Department of Agriculture
    14th & Independence Ave, SW
    Washington, DC 20090-6090

    Dear Mike:

    Given the number of Forest Service employees who were kind enough to send me a
    copy, I could not help reading your June 30th letter to all employees. I
    suppose that it is appropriate for you to send such a letter immediately
    before the Independence Day holiday, because you seem to be declaring the
    Forest Service's independence from the balance of the federal government, the
    laws governing federal agency activities, and the utilization of simple common

    Under the Provisions of the Administration Procedures Act, The National
    Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act, we have
    allowed you to propose regulations, but required you to accept public comments
    thereon, and to use those comments to evaluate how and whether to best
    proceed. The public comment period is supposed to provide agencies with
    necessary information to modify the direction and substance of rule-making.

    To be sure, over the years some elements of the public have become jaded about
    the sincerity of one or another agencies' effort to hear their reviews. But
    agency heads have, at a minimum, at least tried to give the pretense that the
    public's views are important. You do not.

    Your statement in the letter that "collaboration, however, does not alleviate
    our responsibility to make decisions that we believe in the best long-term
    interest of the land or the people who depend on and enjoy it, "represents the
    height of arrogance. Such a clearly decisional pronouncement during the middle
    of the comment period on the roadless area rule emphatically demonstrates that
    your mind is closed. Combined with previous pre-decisional statements by the
    President, the Vice President, the Secretary, and yourself, your actions are
    fatally tainting both this rule-making, and the Forest Service's reputation
    for integrity for years to come.

    Worse yet, this statement strongly indicates that you are either unwilling, or
    perhaps unable, to appreciate what is required to successfully practice
    collaborative stewardship. That is especially distressing, because it calls
    into direct question your sincerity on a number of other matters that we have
    previously discussed. The - we're willing to chat, but we know best - tone of
    your June 30 letter is both unhelpful and a throw-back to pre-NEPA agency
    behavior. I also fear that the hubris evident in phrases such as "we have
    changed the tenor of the debate" has left you at least slightly delusional. I
    can find no other explanation for the statement immediately following that "no
    longer is our agenda dictated by litigation, lawsuits, and controversial
    appropriations' [sic] riders."

    In case you have not been following closely, your proposed roadless area rule
    is the subject of three pending lawsuits already. Your Northwest Forest Plan
    is mired in litigation and dead in the water. As a consequence of recent
    litigation, you have lost the ability to conduct de-minimis timber sales using
    a Finding of No Significant Impact under NEPA. Last month, you lost a lawsuit
    over your cancellation of the Alaska Pulp Corporation's timber sale contract
    that exposes you to $1.4 billion in liability - an amount that represents 50%
    of the total budget appropriated to the Forest Service last year. Last week,
    environmental litigants filed suit to try to stop timber harvesting completely
    in the Forest Service's southern region. I suggest you spend some quality time
    with your Office of General Counsel in the very near future.

    As to appropriations riders, I will be going to the Senate floor later today
    to defend your forest management budget once again from the annual raid
    attempted by national environmental groups and their allies. Nothing has
    changed on this front. With respect to my interest in an amendment to assure
    that you comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), you should
    understand that I have decided to forebear from acting for the time being. I
    have not foresworn from congressional action indefinitely. For now, I am
    content to await court proceedings scheduled in August. Depending upon the
    outcome of those proceedings, Congress may not be required to act to correct
    these FACA violations, or I may take this matter up again when the Interior
    Appropriations bill reaches Conference later this year. It may well be that
    you are, as your letter boastfully suggests, "at the forefront of the public
    lands debate." Only time will tell whether the political front lines are the
    best place to secure scientifically sound, balanced and stable, long-term
    resource management goals.

    Mike, I found your letter both arrogant and offensive. I look forward to
    discussing this with you at our oversight hearing later this week.


    Larry E. Craig

    Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management

    <font color=red>get involved with land issues or lose the land</font color=red>

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