Saturday, December 19, 2009

Embarrassing Day for the Forest Service

Karuk members block project   It was another embarrassing day for the US Forest Service.  The supervisor of Six Rivers National Forest, Tyrone Kelley,  has admitted that commitments made to the Karuk tribe during the planning process for a fuel reduction project were not completely followed on the ground.  Unfortunately, I saw that happen a few other times during my Forest Service career.  Sometimes it is a genuine oversight.  Other times, somebody at a low or middle level just thinks that the added restrictions are totally impractical and disregards the mitigations in the plan when drawing up the contract.  But, I did have one boss who never let that happen.  His name was Mike Hupp, the former District Ranger at McCloud and Mount Shasta.  He was an excellent hands-on manager who always brought the planning and implementation people together early in the process to make sure the plan was doable.  Then he would make sure that the contract people followed the plan and all of the mitigation measures.  Mike should have been a Forest Supervisor by now.  But he was a white male, and at a promotional disadvantage in the diversity driven staffing practices of the Forest Service, especially in California.  A couple of years ago, he was hounded into early retirement by an endless string of grievances from a paranoid and disgruntled employee.
Maybe it is unfair to print Kelley's picture.    Maybe not.  He has been the boss there for three and one half years.  If the contract was big enough, he signed it.  If not, it was signed by the District Ranger.  The ranger at Orleans now is Nathan Colegrove, a member of the Hupa tribe, whose previous experience was largely in tribal forestry and teaching.  Nathan Colegrove, Sr.  Some other members of the Colegrove family, including Agnes (Jeeps) Colegrove and Daniel (Johnsons) Colegrove, have spent much of their lives in prison.  It is encouraging to learn that part of the family has become educated, and gained a good career.  
If you read the stories in the media about this incident, you would assume that this is a case of the white management of the Forest Service ignoring the needs of Native Americans.  Well, in this case, that just isn't so. 

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