From the January 2001 Idaho Observer:
Who is the land? We are, but no less the meanest flower that blows. Land ecology at the outset discards the fallacious notion that the wild community is one thing, the human community another. ~A. Leopold, 1942, as quoted by the U.S. Forest Service on page 2 of publication FS-681, September, 2000.
USDA unveils land use policy endgame strategy
Rural communities must accept occupational federal authority or be denied access to benefits
By The Idaho Observer
The U.S. Department of Agriculture published, Working Together for Rural America: 2000 and Beyond, in September, 2000. The beautifully produced program outline's Part A -- Integrating Natural Resource Management and Rural Community Assistance, (A strategic Plan for the USDA Forest Service Economic Action Plan) is a 40-page overview of how the federal government intends to heal rural and resource-dependent communities throughout the nation. The plan calls for people and nature living together in a federally administrated harmony. The harmony will be created by the U.S. Forest Service's unparalleled forest and rangeland management accumen and $billions of assistance dollars.
Rural communities that accept the framework of federal mandates may qualify for Forest Service-administrated welfare. Communities that have a good relationship with the Forest Service and are involved in national and grassland management and planning may learn about available support and lessen feelings of intimidation, reasons the Forest Service.
The Forest Service welfare program was developed by the National Association of State Foresters and is called the Forest-Based Economic Assistance Initiative. The Forest Service would like Americans to believe that a Forest Service-managed welfare system is the benevolent gesture of a concerned government. However, to believe that is to ignore two decades of non-scientific, discompassionate and often fraudulent and tyrannically absurd federal land use policies that have caused hundreds of resource-dependent communities to become impoverished.
The federal government recognizes that, The Forest Service needs to do more to demonstrate its success as a federal agency that is able to help rural communities meet their economic and social objectives within the framework of federal mandates.
The preceeding statement indicates that rural Americans are under the authority of an occupational military force -- the federal government.
The Hegelian dialectic:
Create the problem then offer the solution
Federal land use policies of the last 20 years have devastated traditionally natural resource and agriculture-based economies. The federal government now intends to cure the problems it created by throwing billions of tax dollars into administrating a new form of welfare called Rural Community Assistance.
In Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 movie masterpiece Apocalypse Now, the absurdity of a government policy that cuts people in half with a machine gun so it may offer them a bandaid was clearly illustrated.
The language contained in Part A of the Strategic plan for the USDA Forest Service Economic Action Programs is perhaps the biggest slap in the face of property rights ever published by the federal government. Property rights activists are encouraged to order a copy of this document. It fully illustrates the arrogance with which the Forest Service misinterprets history, ignores facts and abuses science to facilitate federal management of all U.S. forests and rangelands.
You can write to any of the 10 regional Forest Service offices for a free copy of Working Together for Rural America: 2000 and Beyond, Part A -- Integrating Natural Resource Management and Rural Community Assistance, (FS-681), September, 2000, or obtain a copy by contacting:
(The key facts below have been excerpted from FS-681)
The nation has about 1.6 billion acres of forests and rangelands, under all ownerships.
The Forest Service manages 139.9 million acres of Federal forest lands.
Non-Federal land owners and managers deal with 487.5 million acres of forest lands.
County and municipal owners and managers deal with 10.5 million acres of forest lands.
As of the 1990 census, there are more than 13,400 'places' that are outside metro areas in the U.S.
More than 10,700 metro places have populations of fewer than 2,500 people. This adds up to 12,200,000 people living in places with populations less than 2,500.
Forested watersheds are primary sources of drinking water for rural and urban communities.
Seventy-two percent of all U.S. counties are rural counties.
About 54 million people in the United States are 'non-metropolitan' (as measured in 1996).
During the 1990s more than 75 percent of rural counties experienced substantial population growth and related changes. However, declining population was still characteristic of areas dependant on farming.
Large portions of western watersheds, communities and rural homes are at risk of being destroyed by wildfire because they are surrounded by overgrown forests.
Two of every three rural counties are highly dependent on natural-resource-based earnings.
Many forest dependent rural communities have lost natural resource-based economic activity.
Some of the most serious economic distress and much of the deepest poverty in the United States occur in rural communties surrounded by forests and grasslands.
Of about 2,200 rural counties, 500 are classified as being in persistent poverty; 1,500 are under severe growth stress; 1,300 are within 100 miles of a national forest boundary, are dependent on natural resources and have the potential to be adversely affected by land management decisions.
Finding profitable uses for small trees or currently unmerchantable woody material provides jobs and builds locally owned business in rural communities.
The natural-resource-based industrial infrastructure has declined or disappeared in many areas of the west.
Timber is the highest valued crop in 8 Southern States and ranks among the top 3 agricultural crops in all of the 13 Southern States.
During the 1990s, southern forests have become more strategically important for the nation's supply of forest products. Projections indicate this will continue well into the new century.
The promise of markets for southern forest products in the future presents a significant economic opportunity, which is counterbalanced by the high concentration of persistent poverty and low community capacity in many rural places surrounded by forests.
Forest industries rank among the top three manufacturing industries in each of the Southern States.
The South has the highest percentage of 'working poor' in the United States, at least partially because the lower wages that characterize southern employment.
All nonmetro minority counties show a disproportionate degree of economic disadvantage compared to other nonmetro counties. The economic disadvantage tends to be more pronounced in counties where a minority group constitutes the largest proportion of the population.
Blacks, American Indians, or Hispanics make up one-third of more of the population in 333 nonmetro counties, which tend to be clustered geographically by racial and ethnic groups.
Poverty rates among rural minorities in the mid-to-late-1990s were nearly three times higher than those of rural whites and substantially higher than those of urban minorities; poverty rates were the highest in the rural South and West.
Employment growth in nonmetro counties has slowed since 1995. For example, for those counties associated with Federal lands, annual employment growth has fallen from 3.1 percent (1991-1998) annually. Employment growth in metro areas has been increasing over the same time period.
As the Nation's largest forest and rangeland manager -- with extensive and diverse employment base that resides in and contributes to rural communities -- the Forest Service has a unique and different role compared to other entities that provide rural community assistance.
The health of rural communities and the health of forests and rangelands are inextricably interconnected.
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