PEOPLE FOR COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING
PO Box 27217 / Washington, DC 20038 --- [202-462-0757]
PO Box 6625 / Chicago, IL 60680 --- [Hotline: 312-409-0018]
S.C. Addison -- Amphibian Design
508 E. Kirkwall Lane
Schaumburg, IL 60193
12 August 1994
USDA Forest Service
RE: "Architecture for Change..." -- Response to the 6/15 Draft
Reinvention Team - Rm.910-RPE
P.O. box 96090
Washington, DC 20090-6090
As a participant in the April 30 Town Hall in St. Paul, I received a
copy of the "...Interim Report of the Forest Service Reinvention Team"
several weeks ago. As a formal draft report on public inputs, it has
to be taken seriously: Its completeness, accuracy, and comprehension
are critical, for on the basis of what it acknowledges or ignores, the
shape of future policy will be determined.
In response I call to attention to glaring omissions in the Report,
affecting hard issues presented in Town Hall 'discussion groups' --
and carried personally to Chief Thomas:
The Draft gives much discussion to the "organizational culture" of
the Agency, yet says nothing of its law enforcement functions and
interagency actions. The "Incident Command" hierarchy and mentality
is a thing apart from the benign, landcaring posture that the Forest
Service would now assume. By appearances, it is the ruling force in
USFS policy toward First Amendment exercises in the National
Forests: We have seen it "move in" on peaceful situations and
militarize them, taking control on bureaucratic whim and preempting
all other interactions between Citizens and Rangers.
This is antithetical to the Town Hall agenda, and it is unacceptable
that this issue has been ignored. And if there is some notion that
matters of 'National [Forest] Security & Police' are above public
scrutiny, let that bad idea die right now.
* General objections toward Forest Service policies on public access
and assembly in the National Forests, the historic abuses of police
power infringing on Constitutional protections, and the specter of
military priority on Public Land.
The document takes the overall posture of a 'management study', still
assuming the Government's sole authority over public land. It pays
lipservice to ideas on public involvement in National Forest
affairs, and spends much of its focus on delivering benefits and
amenities to taxpaying Consumers. Somehow it avoids the
implications of the founding mandates -- i.e., that Citizen's hold
proprietary rights on public land and primary responsibilities for
its wellbeing. Ironically there is precedent in current law: The
Boy Scouts hold special dispensation to act in this capacity.
In its proper trustee role, the job of the Forest Service is not to
keep the Public off its own land -- it is to serve and facilitate
Public Stewardship. This is not just a vague nice idea... it is a
reality demonstrated at the Rainbow Gathering in Wyoming on July 3,
when thousands rallied with bucket brigades, shovels and bare hands
to put out a serious fire of suspicious origin, and saved Bridger
National Forest from major devastation. Citizen capacities are
evolving for other such protective and restorative efforts on the
Land; USFS policies must open to these potentials, not impede them.
* Positive ideas on Public Stewardship in the National Forests, with
prospects for direct Citizen action on the land, to work large-scale
remedies in damaged forest and range ecosystems, and reaffirm the
bond of the Public and the Land.
Technically both rules are under review... Since the close of the
comment period, the revised 'Group Use' rules have been held off for
over a year in the face of public and Congressional scrutiny.
Perhaps the rulemakers have bumped into the real legal quandary of
their own making, which no fanciful language can cure -- that Public
Assembly cannot be arbitrarily defined as a 'special use' to justify
regulation, and that Citizens do not need permission from the
Government to exercise Constitutional rights. Yet the Forest
Service has not disclaimed the proposal of May 1993 (Fed.Reg, 58:86,
26940-46); presumably the same policies remain to be faced, if the
revised rules come out in Fall '94 as expected.
The 'Law Enforcement' proposal of February 1994 (Fed.Reg, 59:32,
7880-92) did not make past the overwhelming opposition in the
comment record. As it closed on May 18, Chief Thomas "...decided
not to proceed to a final rule. Instead a new proposal will be
developed...", with publication also expected in the Fall. Yet the
Chief's apology to the American People did not address the most
serious issues -- arbitrary and extreme discretions in enforcement,
altered criminal codes to undermine jury trial rights, fast-track
prosecution/revenue scams, official bribery for incriminating
information, draconian drug control authorities, and a vast new
National Police apparatus, empowered to lock down public lands by
Again, the policy challenge remains on the table. In both cases
Forest Service lawyers have blithely stated a "need" for new
regulations, but no compelling interest has been shown; they merely
assert their administrative authority to make rules. This posture
in itself is unconstitutional, and I've said it before: "If such
rules ever take effect, the "Reinvention of the Forest Service"
would be a pointless exercise."
With such severe impacts on the Bill of Rights at stake, both
rulemakings should be stopped and public hearings convened on
responsible, cooperative policy alternatives.
These concerns are addressed in detail in a package I submitted in
followup on the Town Hall in St. Paul. In addition to the standard
"Comments" and "Summary Request", two documents were appended: A
brochure summarizing the issues, and the "...Legal & Land Use Review"
on the Group Use rules, a serious policy study that went to Congress,
Agency officials, and the White House. That package should be
considered as part of this Response, by reference; a copy of the 5/24
cover letter and the updated brochure are enclosed for your
Further, I am sending a copy of my 5/10 comment letter on the Law
Enforcement amendments as presented in the Federal Register. With the
Chief's action to abandon that proposal, USFS staff indicated that
this entire formal record may be scrapped. In this light it is
fitting and necessary that these comments be included here as well.
The focus here is deliberately narrow; I have much broader interests
in issues of multi-use management and carrying capacity, which the
Interim Report touches only in broad principle. Understand that I
strongly support the "Reinvention" initiative, and hope that these
observations help to foster deeper inquiry, and more thorough change.
Thanks for your attention...
* Specific opposition to proposed rulemakings on 'Group Use' [36 CFR *
251/261] and 'Law Enforcement' [36 CFR * 261/262], which would
legitimize such abuses and pose an explicit threat to 1st & 4th
Amendment rights -- in effect, nazifying the Federal Code.
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