Forest Service ‘collaboratives’ don’t benefit the public

Forest Service “Collaboratives” do not want to grant Eastern Oregon residents a vote at the table.

They want people to “participate” but not to ask for a vote in the process, that’s why now, finally, when residents of Grant County ask for voting status, the Blue Mountains Forest Partners come out with defamatory statements of residents being “untrustworthy,” hoping to marginalize those trying to participate in a meaningful manner.

My mom had to sit through a shaming by the Blue Mountains Forest Partners because she was “untrustworthy,” because I question the collaboratives, and how they use economic hardship to justify restricting motorized access to the mountains of Eastern Oregon. Using “vegetative treatments” to “restore” the forest, while restricting motorized access when they help the Forest Service “develop projects.”

The collaboratives are supposed to be civil and open to diverse public input, but, if that input does not align with the collaboratives stated goals, they become personal, nasty, and petty.

The question is, can we get logs to the mills without “rewilding” Eastern Oregon? We did it for decades, and grew some of the healthiest wildlife populations around. Unfortunately, the environmental community turned that on its head with their litigation strategy, and they now get to drive their message through these collaboratives, while excluding public input through voting membership.

To paraphrase a collaborative board member “my grandmother always told me, you are the company you keep.” The other lesson most of us learned from our grandparents was “the only thing you have is your word,” unfortunately, collaboratives members never learned that lesson, because every time they give you “their word,” they back track from it.

Eastern Oregonians should not be shamed upon requesting voting member status to “diverse and inclusive” groups, but unfortunately, that’s how Eastern Oregon Collaboratives operate.

John D. George