Sunday, November 9, 2008 (SF Chronicle)
Time for Forest Service to return to roots
Development: Can the Forest Service tackle climate change?
What it means: It's been a dismal eight years for the U.S. Forest Service.
When President Bush took office, the agency gave up on protecting roadless
consumed by firefighting - which now takes up nearly 50
percent of its budget.
But the West's fires are a symptom of a warming climate and an already
stressed environment. The Forest Service needs to tackle the problem at
its roots. How?
First: Protect the highest-quality lands and reconnect landscapes.
Fragmented habitats won't survive future floods, fire and drought.
Second: Engage communities in restoration.
This will create high-wage jobs in the rural areas that most need them.
Reducing hazardous fuels will reduce the cost of firefighting, and the cut
trees and brush could be used for biomass energy, offsetting demand for
oil and gas. Our national forests are a natural showcase for the
responsible development of renewable wind and solar energy.
The Forest Service was created 100 years ago to provide the greatest good
for the greatest number for the longest time. With climate change
threatening our planet, it's time for the agency to reclaim its
- Chris Wood From an eagle's-eye view