May 2015

Pondering NEPA

By Dexter Gill

A lot of talk is going on about forest insects and disease and wildfires and the effects upon the forest health and environment. Not too much is said about the impact on local economies and futures.

Few people visiting a city plan to take walks down alleys where the walls of buildings are covered with filthy graffiti and trash is strewn around. So will they want to take hikes, mountain bike and Jeep rides through a trashy-looking forest of dead trees killed by bugs, charred from fire and falling down blocking the roads and trails? Hey, let’s take a vacation and stay a week at a motel in Dolores, Colo., and take day trips out to see some hillsides of dying trees. Can’t get in to them since the roads are blocked, but it should be worth the trip anyway, right?

If we know the forest health is deteriorating, and it is, and will, further deteriorate our local economy, why aren’t we doing anything about it? Several reasons, with the lead one being federal laws, regulations and policies. These come out through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). If you want to do anything beneficial you have to follow the NEPA process to evaluate everything on paper and make big reports.

This works very well to drag things out and give opportunity for some groups to sue to stop the beneficial work. One of the top problems in the process is with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For example, a review would need to be done to see if there could be any New Mexico jumping mice or spotted owls in the project area, just to name a couple. So a paper study is looked at to see if there is any potential habitat in the area. Uhoh, there is a pond with some sedges around it, and oh, my, there is an old tree, can’t do a project there as that might disturb something that probably is not there, but could be, so can’t do it.

All this endangered-species talk got me to wondering. The environmental groups claim about 10,000 species go extinct every year. They also claim about 10,000 new species are found every year. Is the 10M that went extinct the same as the 10M they didn’t know was here? But then if the 10M didn’t go extinct, where would we be as we accumulate 10M more every year for the past several thousand years?

Truth is, they don’t have a clue about any of it. Could it be that the extinction process is actually part of the Creator’s plan? A bunch of us all die off every day to make room for the new ones, right? So why are we ruining our resources and economy to attempt to keep some bird or mouse from making room for a different and maybe better one, for the current changing conditions? Sure glad someone didn’t save the dinosaurs when their time and purpose was up.

Then I wonder who decides which mouse or bird gets our blessing to be saved over the others? And what is in it for them? Makes me wonder if our Creator doesn’t get a little frustrated with those that try, for their own gain, to usurp His role in this game of life? It is interesting to note that there is no documentation that the ESA’s “do nothing” rule has ever saved anything from extinction. Active direct management has promoted population growth, though.

The favorite one that is quoted is the hoax of DDT causing bald eagles’ population to decline. In support of the rising pseudo-environmental demands, DDT was banned to “save” the Eagle. Not really! Later found to not be true at all, but the ban was successful in revitalizing and saving malaria, which had been brought under dramatic control by its use. The result has been death (extinction) of 96 million people since 1973. Had the true objective of the ESA actually been met? It makes you wonder, when the U.N. executive secretary for the Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figureres, recently stated, “We should make every effort to depopulate the planet.” I don’t see her leading by example, though. Our federal laws, policies and regulations are formulated from the U.N. policies, resulting in reduced resource management and use, businesses, jobs and economy.

Can we restore the health of our forests, which will improve our economy and make for a better life for all in our area? You bet we can! We are blessed with very good agricultural lands, forests, range lands, wildlife, water, minerals and recreation potential! Just need to shake off the shackles of slavery placed on us by the Eastern-controlled federal government. We have been acting like the old hermit that lived in a shack, wearing rags and eating hardtack. He died and they found he had a million dollars stashed in the shack. Why didn’t he use it to live more healthy and happy?

Dexter Gill is a retired forest manager who worked for private industry, three Western state forestry agencies, and the Navajo Nation forestry department. He writes from Lewis, Colo.