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New rhetoric needed

| July 8, 2005 12:00 AM

The U.S. Forest Service, in managing the national forest, must stay within the parameters of national laws such as Endangered Species, Clean air, Clean Water and more. It must manage for big game species such as elk, moose, deer, black bear and, yes, grizzly bear.

There's more. I can't begin to remember them all.

But I do remember forest supervisor Bob Castenada telling a crowd of people discussing the roadless issue a few years back that the government agency does listen to people but must stay within the law, or laws. Castenada repeated that mantra to the Healthy Communities Initiative trying to identify more timber to harvest to save the Libby Mill.

Last year in Libby, regional forester Gail Kimbell said it's not a voting process because it is a national forest but the agency gives strong consideration to local comments.

Those comments — the wishes and desires of the local populace — must fall within the legal, biological and financial considerations of the U.S. Forest Service.

It's not that they aren't listening, it's more like their hands have been tied by the past avalanche of laws telling them to do this and that to protect whatever. Those laws were pushed by conservatives and liberals in the ongoing battle to legislate a management solution for our national forests.

Bob Castenada has said that what people say is important to him and the agency. But there are nearly a dozen other considerations the agency has to apply to decisions and our requests.

Why bother?

Because they are listening and they are trying to make it work. Only by participating can the public working with the Forest Service find workable solutions.

If we don't participate, then we lose our right to complain and we let outside forces, and interests, dictate management of this forest.

Persistence wins the day not quitting the fight.

If it's important to us, truly important to us — we'll be sitting there until we're the only ones left in the room. We can't just give up. There's no winning in that for anyone.

And finally there's that axiom about the world being run by those who show up.

Refusing to participate by saying they're not listening is whining. We need some new rhetoric, that one never had legs to stand on no matter how often we repeat it. — Roger Morris