I have been observing our great country’s progress and changes for over 70 years now, with particular attention to the impact humans have had on the natural world and its surroundings. Most of you are aware that my education and experience was in forest science and that forests are a critical part of our natural surroundings. My career, although influenced by the goals of the U.S. Forest Service, focused on doing my best to understand the complexity of the forest environment and to manage the lands I was responsible for to meet the needs of the American public. National Forest System Lands are held in trust for the citizens of the United States of America. I was always prepared to listen to the public in order to find new and different management strategies to better accomplish their goals and objectives. I have been retired now for 25 years but, unable to ignore the concerns about the natural world which I retired with. The first 15 years of retirement involved frequent visits to the forest I last worked on and engaged in numerous discussions with employees and forest visitors about their future desires for our valuable remaining forested lands. In fact, as a member of the Yellowstone Coordinating Committee, I visited numerous interests throughout the State of Wyoming, to identify their views on the future of the Greater Yellowstone Area and then draft my findings, along with other members findings, into a “Vision for the Future of the Greater Yellowstone Area”. Retirement offered time to observe more closely the nations forest conditions and discussions with the people revealed serious concerns with existing management goals, strategies and management actions.
Even though I had limited experience as a writer, I felt a need to help people understand what was happening to our natural surroundings and why. For many years, I have been convinced the Native American culture possessed a deeper appreciation for the relationships we share with our natural surroundings and the complexity of the natural world. I reached out to find information from the few scholars in science, religion and academia that had published their findings and concerns. There are in fact, a few insightful scholars that have been warning us of unacceptable changes in our environment for the past 40 to 50 years. The more I observed and studied, the more heightened my concerns became, and the more convinced I was that advanced science and technology will not provide for our desired future. I have seen considerable change in our tree covered lands, since I became old enough to start squirrel hunting in my grandparent’s woodlot. My interest continued to expand as my observations, experiences and education grew. Thirty-four years practicing my profession, left me with more questions than answers. I had to learn more!
I am concerned about the current state of America and my concerns intensify with each passing day. I see a greater division among our people than I have previously observed and an inability or unwillingness of the people to work together for the good of all citizens. Individual greed has overtaken the desire to provide for future generations by protecting our natural environment. We are involved in a Constitutional Crisis with an Administration attempting to achieve autocratic power by destroying our egalitarian democratic principles. Our wealthy investors seem willing to cast aside their allegiance to the American middle class, for higher profits using cheap foreign labor sources. Our expanding world population is demanding more from Mother Earth than she can provide, resulting in an accelerated destruction of the vital resources and relationships only our natural surroundings can provide. I am troubled that we have become so urbanized, greedy and technocratic, that we have alienated ourselves from the vital elements that sustain life on our planet. I don’t understand what has happened that we allow a small group of corrupt people to destroy the free democratic principles we have spent 150 years establishing. It is difficult to understand how we have allowed greed to eliminate regulations designed to try to protect the viability of our home, planet Earth. The United States is withdrawing from a worldwide effort to focus on the changes which are occurring in our natural world and climate. Talking to people, has confirmed our individual concern for the future yet, our actions do not support the concerns! Where is the leadership America needs for the future? Are politicians no longer public servants? Since when have they been given liberty to follow their own greedy desires rather than work to achieve the needs of the people they represent? The Constitution of the United States and the definition of Democratic government certainly has not changed! Our current path is not taking us in the direction which will provide the future we seek! It is up to us, you and me, to insist upon the goals and values that will provide our desired future!