The Royal Forests

House Chamber, Washington, D.C.  January 7, 2011.  M. Speaker:
 
Much of my district comprises forests managed by the U.S. Forest Service.  Over the last two years, I have received a growing volume of complaints protesting the increasingly exclusionary and elitist policies of this agency.

These complaints charge the Forest Service, among other things, with:
 
• Imposing inflated fees that are forcing the abandonment of family cabins held for generations;

• Charging exorbitant new fees that are closing down long-established community events upon which many small and struggling mountain towns depend for tourism;

• Expelling long-standing grazing operations on specious grounds – causing damage both to the local economy and the federal government’s revenues; and

• Obstructing the sound management of our forests through a policy that can only be described as benign neglect, creating both severe fire dangers and massive unemployment.

Practiced in the marketplace, we would renounce these tactics as predatory and abusive.  In the public service sector, they are intolerable. 

Combined, these actions evince an ideologically driven hostility to the public’s enjoyment of the public’s land – and a clear intention to deny the public the responsible and sustainable use of that land.

Most recently, the Forest Service has placed severe restrictions on vehicle access to the Plumas National Forest, despite volumes of public protests.  Supervisor Bill Connelly, Chairman of the Butte County Board of Supervisors writes that “The restriction applies to such activities as: collecting firewood, retrieving game, loading or unloading horses or other livestock, and camping.”  He writes, “The National Forests are part of the local fabric.  The roads within the National Forests are used by thousands of residents and visitors for transportation and recreation.  These activities generate revenue for our rural communities, which are critical for their survival.”

This is not a small matter.  The Forest Service now controls 193 million acres within our nation – a land area equivalent to the size of Texas.

 During the despotic eras of Norman and Plantagenet England, the Crown declared one third of the land area of Southern England to be the royal forest, the exclusive preserve of the monarch, his forestry officials and his favored aristocrats.  The people of Britain were forbidden access to and enjoyment of these forests under harsh penalties.  This exclusionary system became so despised by the people that in 1215, five clauses of the Magna Carta were devoted to redress of grievances that are hauntingly similar to those that are now flooding my office.

 Mr. Speaker, the attitude that now permeates the U.S. Forest Service from top to bottom is becoming far more reminiscent of the management of the royal forests during the autocracy of King John than of an agency that is supposed to encourage, welcome, facilitate and maximize the public’s use of the public’s land in a nation of free men and women.

 After all, that was the vision for the Forest Service set forth by its legendary founder, Gifford Pinchot in 1905: "to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run." 

In May of 2009 and April of 2010, some of my California colleagues and I sent letters to the Forest Service expressing these concerns. I have also personally met with senior officials of that agency on several occasions in which I have referenced more than 500 specific complaints of Forest Service abuses received by my office. 

All that I have received to date from these officials are smarmy assurances that they will address these concerns – assurances that their own actions have belied at every turn.

It is time for Congress to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the abuses by this increasingly unaccountable and elitist agency, to demand accountability for the damage it has done – and is doing – to our forests’ health, to the public’s trust, to the government’s revenues and to the nation’s economy – and to take whatever actions are necessary to restore an attitude of consumer-friendly public service which was Gifford Pinchot’s original vision and for which the U.S. Forest Service was once renowned and respected.
 

Tele-townhall banner 

Latest News

California Energy

Oversight Hearing: Energy Independence - Domestic Opportunities to Reverse California's Growing Dependence on Foreign Oil

2015 Budget

In August of 2010, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs warned that the greatest threat to our national security was our national debt. That was $4 trillion of debt ago. In fact, since Inauguration day, 2009, we have accumulated more total government debt than we had run up from the first day of the Washington Administration through the third year of the George W. Bush administration.

Baseline Budgeting H.R. 1871

Our Constitution assigns the principle responsibility over the public purse to the House of Representatives. Under that Constitutional doctrine, a dollar can't be spent by this government unless the House says it gets spent. Yet today, spending increasingly seems to be out of our hands - driven automatically by a variety of provisions and practices that thwart the very design of the Constitution.

View more »

Search

Connect with Tom

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • News Feed

Upcoming Events

 
Oakhurst Town Hall Meeting

Congressman McClintock will hold a town hall meeting in Oakhurst on Wednesday, April 23rd at 6:00 pm. The meeting will be held at Oakhurst Elementary School, 49495 High School Road, in Oakhurst. Hope to see you there!

Veterans Forum

An advocacy forum for Veterans will be held on April 17th in Truckee.  The forum, assembled by Congressman McClintock's office, will provide Veterans with the information they need to access the benefits they have earned.
 
Representatives from Nevada County and Placer County Veterans' service offices will join the Congressman’s staff to provide information on filing claims with the Veterans Benefits Administration.  Service providers and community program sponsors that help active duty military, wounded warriors and military families will also be present.
 
The forum will be held April 17th from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at Truckee Airport in the Experimental Aircraft Association Building, 10356 Truckee Airport Road in Truckee.  
 
Satellite Office Hours

Office staff members are available to assist constituents with problems or concerns at satellite office locations held throughout the district.  Anyone wishing to discuss an issue of federal concern is invited to attend one of these satellite office sessions and speak with a member of staff.  For more information, or to reach staff, please call the district office at 916-786-5560.
  
Upcoming Satellite Office Hours Scheduled for April 2014:
 

Amador County

Jackson
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Conference Room D
County Administration Center
810 Court Street
 
Calaveras County

San Andreas
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Calaveras County Water Agency Conference Room
120 Toma Court
 
El Dorado County

Placerville
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
El Dorado County Government Center
330 Fair Lane
 
El Dorado Hills
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce
2085 Vine Street, #105
 
South Lake Tahoe 
Monday, April 21, 2014
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
South Tahoe Public Utility District
1275 Meadow Crest Drive
 
Fresno County

Auberry 
Thursday, April 17, 2014
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Auberry Library
33049 Auberry Road
 
Madera County

Oakhurst 
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Yosemite Visitors Bureau Conference Room 40637 Highway 41
 
Coarsegold 
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Yosemite Lakes Park/Clubhouse Library
30250 Yosemite Springs Way
 
Mariposa County

Mariposa
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Library Conference Room
4978 10th Street
 
Placer County

Auburn
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 
9:00 am - 11:00 am
Placer County Government Center 
CEO 3 Meeting Room
175 Fulweiler Avenue
 
Lincoln 
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Lincoln City Hall
600 6th Street
 
Loomis 
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
9:00 am - 11:00 am 
Loomis City Hall
3365 Taylor Road
 
Rocklin 
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Rocklin City Hall
3980 Rocklin Rd
 
Tuolumne County

Sonora 
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Small Business Center Conference Room
99 N Washington St, Sonora
 
For further information on satellite office hours, please call 916-786-5560.