By Lynn Carey
Vice President and Race Director Seeley Lake Nordic Seeley Lake, Mont. 

Forest Service Complexity Requires Us to Work Together


SEELEY LAKE - I would like to comment on the resent articles in the Missoulian concerning the problems within the Forest Service (“Recreation, Heritage & Wilderness” by Rob Chaney in the Feb. 7 issue and “Marten Sees Challenges Ahead for Region 1” by Rob Chaney in the Feb. 9 issue

The first article highlighted the problems with managing public lands. The Forest Service even admits it gets a D- grade.

Thirty to 40 years ago the Forest Service was heavy into logging. They put in large road systems that were paid for with what was called road credits. These roads were looked at as investments in the future.

Now they have an aggressive program decommissioning those roads. I know all about the culverts, etc., etc., but can’t figure out why they can’t just remove the culverts and let the road go back to nature.

Now that they are not logging as much Congress won’t give them funding. SO, they don’t have money to manage the recreational end of things.

The article used Lolo pass as an example of perhaps an answer to help the problem. The five million dollar road building was mostly paid for by the Department of Transportation. The staffing and grooming was paid for by money from a parking pass. The grooming was poor and a couple years ago the Forest Service quit grooming the ski trails.

The snowmobile trails were always groomed by the snowmobile club. Now the ski trails are groomed by an agreement between the snowmobile club and the ski club.

There were two statements in the article that struck a cord with me. The first was, “Workforce skills are on the decline.” The second was, “The Forest Service has offered new career-leadership tracks admitting workers with college degrees outside the traditional biological science field.”

What the hell does that mean?

Does that mean they have promoted people without the proper workforce skills and now they are looking for people with these skills? Just asking!

Another thing that jumped out at me was “the 1820 recreation special use permits of increasing complexity while our workforce capacity, skills and funding continue to decrease.”

Why make the permitting so complex if you don’t have the capacity or skills to handle it? Sounds like someone with too many letters behind their name making it harder for the people under them.

Now that I have offended half the people in the Forest Service, we can get to the real reason for my letter.

We, in the Seeley Lake Nordic Club and the ROCKS organization, have noticed the complexity of the special use permits. One of the things that was brought out in the article was how the Forest Service was going to have to lean harder on their volunteers.

In Seeley Lake, we (the volunteers) all work together and get along pretty well. I just hope that the present administration at the Seeley Lake Ranger District realizes what they have here.

We are on your side!


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