Public Distrust and Land Management


In response to this article from “Wildfire Today”:

In my previous blog post “Perceptions and Public Trust in Public Land and Fire Management” I wrote about the extent news media goes to build perception, focusing primarily on Teepee Fire reporting in Riggins, Idaho. With regard to news media and mainstream reporting, it is disturbing to see how far reporters have gone to use their writing to build perceptions. I focused, in that article, primarily on Rocky Barker, who somehow continues to be a well-respected journalist even though his lack of investigation and lack of integrity in his biased reporting is extremely concerning; particularly for the fact that his articles seem to be among the most trusted within the resource management agencies. (Unfortunately, in mainstream media, this is “par for the course”. In Barkers case, as a government ‘embedded’ reporter, his is a strong pro-government bias). This situation in the news media is something to behold and worthy of a far greater conversation than what I provided in that blog post.

An equally as interesting and concerning conversation could be had about the lengths public trust agencies have gone to influence internal perceptions and public opinions. These organizations have invested public funds in internal and external marketing and implementation companies or provided public funds to manipulative Non-Government Organizations, like the National Forest Foundation, in order to build perceptions rather than build honest relationships with their constituencies. To me this seems highly inappropriate. This is a situation I’ve gone to great lengths to explain to those in the public trust organizations… spelling out how wrong it is for them to invest public funds in companies like IPMP, Spych Marketing, Enviroissues and other such companies. These are the companies that use ‘group think’ mechanisms, ambiguous and inaccurate supporting information and exploitive marketing strategies to build perceptions and advance agendas, (perhaps this is appropriate for building ‘buy-in’ for a company amongst their employees when marketing a product, but absolutely NOT for institutions of public trust!) In my investigations into these marketing companies, I discovered that Enviroissues, the company being tasked with building the collaboration and perception about sage grouse, was actually exposed in Washington State for overcharging by millions of dollars for their services Why would public trust agencies invest public funds in the services of a company that commits fraud? Why should the public put their trust in an agency that overlooks such a fraud?

Corporate America, The Antithesis:
Add in Corporate America’s ability to influence public institutions and amass wealth and resources to then influence rural communities and we have effectively created a ‘catch 22’. Behind the veil of ambiguity, these corporate entities are perceived to be the “antithesis” to the government bureaucracy (Hegelian dialectic and In this capacity they are able to capitalize on this perception to distract from their true intentions, which is to exploit the resources for market share at all cost. This common perception affords them the ability to draw people’s attention away from their close relationships with government institutions (which precludes any notion of a ‘free-market’) and marginalize the environmental impacts of their actions. (Marginalizing environmental impacts is made possible because these corporate entities and banking tycoons have already established the capacity to obstruct the scientific process by way of having used their affluence to create useful institutions, like the National Science Foundation and the Royal Society, to limit true scientific inquiry (SCIENCE HISTORY). In modern times this process is provided by way of investment in research at universities and grants to public institutions and private companies. (NORMAN DODD REPORT It is also noteworthy to recognize that these same entities have a great deal of influence over the main international NGO’s, like Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club International and all the professional societies like AFS, AWS, etc…, who all have effectively become the ‘gatekeepers’ of this ‘construct’ by selling their integrity and unbiased investigative research capacity for contributions and support. I call this the “Research Industrial Complex” woking together with the “Education Industrial Complex” to become the neo-liberal contribution to the better understood neo-conservative “Military Industrial Complex”. All of which are helping to manifest in this country an international bureaucracy that is not representative of the individual nor interested in personal sovereignty).

Technology and the Tools of Persuasion:
Add in the technologic advancements that are exacerbating the issues; such as weather modification in the form of cloud seeding, (which companies like Idaho Power are engaged in on the Payette National Forest (ID POWER, PG&E CLOUD SEEDING), and the more sinister geo-engineering technologies that are injecting aerosols into the atmosphere at high altitudes (Northern CALIFORNIA EVENT ON GEOENGINEERING; and we have mechanisms that can influence precipitation (or lack of) and force climate conditions like droughts and wildfires. Having the technology to direct weather patterns and, in the process, add toxic and flammable nanoparticles to the forests will ultimately exacerbate the issues on the ground (larger fires, reduced forest health and vitality, limit water resources, and endanger more species). What this ultimately contributes to is a much larger “strategy of tension” (GLADIO-B which, I would argue, is one of the ideas behind the technologies.

Taking the High Ground:
By taking a step back and gathering pieces of information and opening our minds to a bigger picture it is possible to get another perspective that is, perhaps, more informative and useful. Instead of taking the middle ground (like is done in the ‘follow-on’ article linked at the top), from a greater level of awareness we can take the higher ground. I think this is what is necessary if we want to get over this perceived impasse. Rather than going into our default egos that continue to drive a wedge between the modern indigenous inhabitants and the government employees, having this perspective can help us to better understand each other and the REAL social programming mechanisms and technologies that have built and exacerbated these opposing viewpoints. From here we can find ways to cooperate “outside the box”; in ways that aren’t sanctioned by this enslaving system.

As it stands now it seems like everyone is operating in a state of fear, which is no place to be when you’re trying to build a just and peaceful society. In this current state of affairs public trust managers are afraid to speak up about the increasingly obvious conflicts of interests (concerning those which are influencing policy decisions and limiting the science) for fear of reprisal from their organizations and peers. At the same time, the public is afraid to speak up for fear of direct consequences and reprisal from the institutions they have become dependent upon to survive. Such is the concern for those local businesses who’ve built relationships with the public trust agencies that supply their contracts and sign their operating permits or those who depend on government sponsored programs (like the farmers who’ve become dependent upon the USDA’s “dueling subsidies” (commodities vs. conservation) provided in the Farm Bill ).

As it pertains to managing wildfires and the public lands it seems an independent local contingent that is entrusted and empowered to make sight specific decisions, free of toxic outside influenced, would be more effective. The “toxic influences” I speak of are the mandates that come down from any of the alphabet agencies (USDA, EPA, and Homeland Security) and the state agencies. Not to suggest that everything that comes from “on high” is misguided and that it is the intent of your average state and federal employee to operate in opposition to the local community, but there is significant potential for corruption at the top (as has been demonstrated time and again to be the case) and trickle down through the ranks as a condition inherent in the operant conditioning they receive. All of these organizations, as I described above, use tax dollars to manage internal and public perceptions and allow international agendas to influence their resource management decisions. The ultimate decision makers are too far removed from the actions and consequences of their decisions. If this contingent was directly supported by, and beholden to the local community it would be far more effective and responsive to the needs of the communities they served rather than to the national and international agendas and their politically compromised dictates. Cooperation through ‘proximity principles’ as described by Julian Rose in his book “Changing Course for Life” could be applied on a local scale to support firefighting efforts (much like rural departments do with mutual aid agreements) and regionally owned fire equipment and apparatus could be collectively acquired and shared amongst local attack units.

Public lands that were entrusted to the local communities (not the State) for protection might be better managed if the paradigm were void of national and international special interests that are being instigated through government and corporate collaborators. (Consider the North American Free Trade Agreements and Trans-Pacific Partnerships and the mass amount of regulations that guide rural economies. Consider the idea of “corporate personhood” and how that emboldens and empowers the various corporate control structures. These are all examples of how Corporations and Public Trust Agencies reach across the aisle to rig the system against the individuals and communities). Empowered rural citizens, absent these influences, might make more enlightened resource use and fire management decisions. (I suspect this was how it was in various indigenous cultures around the globe, where it was the role of the shaman figure to provide the deeper perspectives so that the essential anthropogenic contribution to the ecosystem could be realized (which is why on every continent, the Shamans were the first to be persecuted)… in contrast to the materialistically guided and economically compromised scientific perspectives that we now rely on to provide this role. The point that all mainstream science and resource management agencies miss is that ultimately nature doesn’t care about how many jobs it can create or how good her resources are to the economy; and it is anathema to use these manmade constructs to justify our resource policy decisions. All nature cares about is balance, at ALL levels of the system!… and she provides this balance through universal natural laws; laws which are circumvented when we assess everything through an economic or other socially engineered filter).

In the interim, before we find better ways to empower the local communities to be completely self-sufficient, perhaps it would be appropriate for the Forest Service and IDL’s regionally ‘embedded’ fire crews to foster a closer working relationship with the landowners in the areas they operate in. They could take it upon themselves to provide training and build their own regional fire response teams made up of land owners and locals; perhaps even utilize the equipment that is already identified and made available by the local land owners (dozers, backhoes, water tanks, etc.…). Having operated as a rural volunteer firefighter for many years, I was always amazed at how effective the local landowners were in fighting fires on their own property and the means they had to do so. If fire crews were to invite these landowners and local citizens into the process, give them some knowledge on how to fight fires safely and effectively and, in the process, learn about these people’s situations and attachment to the land it might change everyone’s perceptions for the better. (It might help reduce the glee expressed by the on-scene fire crews, who depend on a good fire season to help pay for college. If they had an understanding of the consequences for the locals they might be more empathetic). Seems this would be a great endeavor during the slow times of May and June before the fire season erupts.

Ultimately, to progress past the current paradigm, I think we are all going to have to step out of our egos and start engaging in some very deep and enlightened conversations and research; and not just about fire management. Somehow, someway we have to get past this current manufactured dialectic or we will fall victim to the manufactured chaos and barbarity that is increasingly defining this nation; and that which has defined so many other tragedies of historic and modern societies. Or, worse yet, we’ll end up in a very well-manicured, sterilized society void of inspiration and human creativity; such as is described in “Brave New World”, “1984” and so many other dystopic novels and films. (Let the hunger games begin!)


7 thoughts on “Public Distrust and Land Management

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