The forest service’s reasoning is simple: sell trees to loggers, use the money to clear areas of potential fire fuel. What the loggers cut can be potential fuel. With one sale, a fire hazard can be removed and the agency paid so it can remove more fuel.The federal Ninth District Court didn’t think that was so clever, or at least not so legal, and also not the only way:
— US judges order stop to California logging projects, McClatchy newspapers, guardian.co.uk, Thursday May 15 2008
Two for one always has an attractive ring. But are there no alternative ways of getting money to do the clearing that is imperative? Obviously, there may be. First of all, there is the USFS’s own budget. Does that budget contain any funds that could be devoted to fuel removal? Is every one of its activities so necessary and so tightly allocated that no money could be shifted? We do not know the answer because this alternative has not been explored.Coming soon: eating seed corn to prevent hunger, credit card debt to get rich, and other clever risk management strategies.
Suppose that the USFS and its parent, the Department of Agriculture, cannot spare a dime. What then? Appropriate appropriations come from Congress. The work of fire prevention is work of the first importance. If the USFS does not have enough, why should not Congress be asked to give it more? Surely the avoidance of catastrophic fire in the national forests must rate a high priority among the needs of the nation.
— No. 07-16892 D.C. No. CV-05-00205-MCE, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 14 May 2008