ESA: an excuse to stop mining in San Bernardino National Forest
A Forest Service Wildlands Conservation Botanist, a deep-ecology, rain-forest individual, refused our use of our existing RS 2477 access roads; but the Powers That Be in Washington D.C. told him that he must allow us access for drilling in Lone Valley. So, he let us use the existing RS 2477 roads, right?
Wrong! He had us build NEW roads, destroying more of the forest, for our access.
The existing RS 2477 roads had been planted with native vegetation (sometimes huge boulders are considered native vegetation). When I found a Forest Service crew replanting another RS 2477 access road on my property with native vegetation, I struck up a conversation with the botanist in charge. I introduced myself and my associate, Buster LaMoure. I asked him if it would be o.k. to videotape his "restoration work" on the road. He said it would be fine.
I asked him where he went to college. This young botanist who had been on the job for just a few months told us he graduated from a small university in eastern Indiana. I said, "Gee, I went to the University of Dayton. We used to play you guys all the time." His response was, "Yeah, the Flyers just kicked our rear ends last week."
Since he was now thoroughly disarmed, I asked him about these "endangered weeds" that the Forest Service had listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). How could they be endangered, every time you clear a firebreak or there is a wildland fire, they thrive in the newly cleared land? The response was, "Everybody knows these aren't really endangered. We just need them to stop mining."
Standing next to me was my associate, Buster LaMoure, former Director of Minerals and Geology (Chief Geologist) for the U.S. Forest Service, Washington D.C. office, now retired and working with me as a consultant. His mouth dropped open when he heard the botanist say this! Two weeks later we were in Spokane, WA telling this story to the Deputy Chief to the Forest Service.
A former Forest Service employee signed an affidavit that the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF) staff had volunteers collect the seeds from these ESA-listed plants and spread them in the forest to stop mining and recreation on up to 44,575 acres of the mineral-rich forest.
On January 24, 2002 Representative Richard Pombo (R-CA) brought this abuse of the ESA to the attention of hundreds of members of Congress on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The SBNF is now under closer scrutiny by headquarters in Washington D.C. In fact, Under Secretary of Agriculture Mark Rey, and Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth would like to hear from others who have been victims of arbitrary and capricious acts by Forest Service officials.
Don Fife is an environmental and economic geologist with more than 20 years experience in government, private practice and academia. He was the advisor to four Secretaries of the Interior over a period of 8 years for Geology, Energy and Minerals on the 25,000,000-acre California Desert Conservation Area. Don co-authored the comprehensive 699-page book, The Geology and Mineral Wealth of the California Transverse Ranges, with John Minch in 1982, and has authored several scientific and position papers on related topics.
Don may be reached at 714-544-8406 or email@example.com.
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