Members of the Western Governors’ Association, including Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, said forests are in such bad shape the federal government should turn to industry — like logging — for help.
“We have been concerned for some time that federal forest lands throughout the West are experiencing serious environmental stresses that affect the health and vitality of these ecosystems. They are overgrown; they exhibit all the symptoms of an unhealthy ecosystem; and they demand urgent attention.”
That plea was penned in a letter the association sent this week to Tom Vilsack, the U.S. secretary of agriculture and the Cabinet-level appointee tasked with oversight of U.S. Forest Service management.
The association, which is chaired by Herbert, said the past 25 years have seen a shift in how federal dollars are directed to actual management of forests, with that share consistently dwindling.
“It is our understanding that in 2010 only about 30 percent of the total U.S. Forest Service budget was allocated to manage our national forests,” the letter said. “In the mid-1980s, that number was closer to 70 percent. Most of the agency’s budget is spent on fire suppression, administrative support, research and other programs.”