I was concerned, when I first wrote, that this had slipped under the radar, even of PUMA news-readers, but I see that has changed.
I think Dave Hallock’s assessment is a very valid one for this area, in terms of the overall picture of the value of small parcels of national forest. One does have to look at the surrounding land ownership, animal migration patterns and other uses of the land to assess whether there is more value to a small portion of national forest than appears on the map. It was also quite obvious, from the original map Dan sent out, that some of the ‘small parcels’ are actually contiguous with larger parcels and those ‘small parcels’ are what provide access to the larger portion of national forest (note how many parcels cross or touch roads). The next round of land sales will probably put those larger parcels on the block, because they are inaccessible. When you consider management & maintenance expense, be aware that many of these parcels have just been ‘maintained’, at considerable expense to the taxpayers. Many of the parcels marked for sale are the same parcels, which were just thinned (over many objections- including the USFS track record of cutting & running), and which the USFS promised to monitor and use as models for further projects. Is it any wonder that many of us have little faith in the judgment of the USFS.
Terry is right that our National Forest is our land for the future. If there were truly a good reason for selling certain parcels to gain other parcels, which would add to the value of the forest, as a whole, then it may make sense to sell certain parcels. This issue is not a matter of forest management, no matter what whitewash the USFS uses; the National Forest does not even get the money.
The issue here is whether we should sell our land to fund our schools. What are we leaving for our children? Our schools should be funded by our taxes. If we weren’t spending so much in Iraq or on “congressional pork”, perhaps we could afford to fund our schools. Should we sell the Lincoln memorial to the Chinese to fund school lunches? Or, perhaps we could sell the White House to raise money for Social Security… The point is we shouldn’t be selling off our precious, finite forests to make up for budget shortfalls. This is what I meant by lambasting the proposal.
This has not yet been approved by Congress, so write your Senators and Congressmen. If enough voices speak out, we might actually be heard.