LaMalfa complains about the Forest Service because he doesn’t understand what they do.
Just about everyone thinks that improvements can be made in how we manage our National forests. Fuel loads need to be reduced to moderate the devastating wildfires that are threatening our communities. Ask LaMalfa and he will tell you who is to blame: The Forest Service.
- “A complete lack of forest management has left our forests more combustible than ever …” (from his Facebook page, November 1, 2017), or
- “As a result of decades of aggressive fire suppression and hands-off management practices, our forests have become overgrown and mismanaged to the point of becoming virtual tinderboxes. (From his web site, 3/14/2020).
However, a good case could be made that LaMalfa himself is responsible for the problems in our forest:
- The Forest Service is required to follow specific laws in developing their forest management plans, specifically the National Forest Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act. If there are problems with these plans, LaMalfa is in a position to legislate changes to the underlying laws.
- Once the plan has been drawn up, implementation is generally a matter of staff and budget. In this also, LaMalfa and the Republicans are at fault. The 2020 discretionary budget for the Forest Service is 18.4% less that in 2018 actual (22.1% less if disaster relief funding is included). Reference: https://www.fs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_wysiwyg/usfs-fy-2020-budget-justification.pdf
- If LaMalfa’s legislative votes were good for forests, you would think he would receive high marks from the League of Conservation Voters. It must be that his votes are detrimental to forests and he does not know how to compromise to get acts passed. He has a lifetime rating of 2% (2019). Reference: http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/doug-lamalfa
The question must be asked: Why does LaMalfa complain about forest management – which he says is a passion of his – and yet does not make corrections that are within his grasp? There at least two possible answers:
- He is an inept legislator that cannot persuade his colleagues to join him in the work of negotiation and bill drafting, or
- He is out of step with the work on the ground where forest professionals, environmental advocates, local governments and commercial enterprises are collaborating to get things done. (See the example of the French Meadows Forest Restoration Project. Link: https://www.sierrasun.com/news/local/placer-county-continues-work-on-french-meadows-restoration-project/ )