Third party mediation and local research that could influence policy. Too bad that approach is not taken on all Forest Service allotments.
I've long felt the original approach to grazing on the grasslands (where the Forest Service signed agreements with local grazing associations who then managed the allotments) was a superior method to that employed by the Forest Service and the BLM on their regular allotments.
Given the huge budget deficits we face for the foreseeable future, this is a model which should be revisited.
The article, Forest Chief asks for communication, not court has a less rosey take on the meeting. For instance, on the issue of third party mediation the article says:
Not only is it outside of existing procedure, Tidwell said, but he didn’t see how mediated agreements could work, since the agency can’t make decisions that omit the public. “It just doesn’t fit very well,” he said. He suggested frontloading the process with communication so problems are ironed out before the environmental review begins and to save everyone the expense of time of going to court.
Surely that could be solved by having a draft mediated decision that is released for public comment. If the comments raised legitimate issues you would enter into mediation again. In other words if the Forest Service truly wanted this process to work they could make it happen.
Finally, my hats off to Tidwell in this instance. When is the last time you saw a Chief of the Forest Service sit down and openly visit with a group of local ranchers?