Thursday, August 31, 2006

Old Faithful Oil Spill

How about it, huh? Too bad it wasn't as important as that polygamist dude from somewhere who was finally caught so they had to, THEY HAD TO put it on the front freakish page of the Daily Interlake yesterday because it affects us waay more than some stinking oil spill near Old Faithful. Thank-You for recognizing that, Editor Meile!

Hey , let's talk about them closing our public parks down, about Feorge Bush unilaterally deciding that every toilet that doesn't cleaned regurlarly will be bulldozed or turned over to private mamagement for more of our own money, maybe even sold off...

According to the coalition, no public or congressional review of the RSFMP policy has yet occurred. Although 22 Forests have completed five-year RSFMP site closure plans and implementation has begun, none of the plans have been publicly released. The coalition actually obtained two complete plans Deschutes and Tongass National Forests) and partial information about three more forests. From the data available so far the coalitions projects that between 3,000 and 5,000 recreation sites will be closed or decommissionedt , and as many as 4,000 more will be converted to fee sites or turned over to private for-profit concessionaires to manage.

I called the Northern Region offices of the FS in Missoula and talked to Terry Knupp, regional coordinator for this program. Clearly, the Northern Region is not the focal point of the coalition's criticism because the process is moving more slowly and cautiously. Also, Knupp assures that there are some plans to involve the public at least on site-specific decisions. "We have a responsibility to keep the public safe and to keep these sites healthy," Knupp points out. (how freaking cute is that???)

According to Knupp, national policy coming from the Bush Administration, not any Act of Congress or official administrative rule, is requiring the preparation of the RSFMP plans. The Northern Region (Montana and northern Idaho) plans to have the plans done be the end of next year. Standards have been set, Knupp explains, and each site must be operated to those standards. If there is a toilet at a trailhead, for example, it needs to be cleaned regularly.

If there isn't enough money in the budget to operate to standards,
Knupp says some action must be taken, such as closing the recreation site, removing facilities, turning it over to a concessionaire, or getting volunteers to operate or clean the site. Another option is charging a fee, but unlike other FS regions, the Northern Region has been cool on this idea.

Also, apparently, the Northern Region is better off, budget-wise, than other regions. "It's early in the process, but right now it doesn't look like we will have to remove many facilities in order to operate to standards," Knupp predicts. "It doesn't look like we have to take drastic actions."

But the coalition report contains damning details from other regions. In Oregon's Deschutes National Forest, for example, only 14 out of 212 existing developed recreation sites will remain open and free to public use. The rest will be closed and obliterated, converted to fee sites or turned over to private concessionaires.

Ditto for three Colorado national forests where the same fate awaits 72 percent of the developed recreation sites.

The basic objective of the secret plans, according to the coalition, is to make all recreation sites "sustainable," which means they must generate enough income to pay for themselves. If not, they must be closed, obliterated or turned over to the private sector for management.

In the report's conclusion, coalition calls on national forest users to demand that the RSFMP plans be subjected to public comment and review as specified in the National Environmental Policy Act, just like forest management and travel plans. The group also called for Congress to scrutinize the program to ask for an audit of FS recreation spending compared to appropriated funds.

"It is imperative that this secret policy see the light of day," concluded Funkhouser. "This is a drastic change to National Forest recreation management that should not be allowed to proceed behind closed doors

some action must be taken

The ultimate convenience in a situation like that would be to have some big hearted millionaire come in and change all the rules for you.
For your own good, of course.

Government. bad. sneaky. rich. people. good.

Now get nekkid and do that chicken dance again

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