It's taken decades but the U.S. Forest Service is finally being allowed to use science in managing America's natural resources.

Instead of environmental activists tying up science and the government by using other government regulations and red tape to block meaningful improvements, we can actually reduce wildfires, manage water responsibly and protect endangered species, instead of pitting those outcomes against each other, as environmental lawyers had successfully done in the past.

With the new rules, the forest service will be allowed to manage each national forest by ecological outcomes - like making sure at-risk forests can have brush cleared so that endangered species do not die in fires - rather than being forced to manage commodity outputs, like banning logging and making sure even brush can't be cleared or firebreaks built under those arcane rules.  

What changed?  The president.  No, I don't mean President Obama is somehow more awesome for the environment, he has shown himself to be as anti-science as every other president when it suits his agenda, I mean literally activists were having a hard time claiming Obama was not on their side, since they all voted for him, and so the exact same plan the Bush administration put forth in 2008 and had blocked by environmental lawsuits passed now, apparently because a Democrat is in charge.  We've had decades of taxpayer-funded forests basically being managed by environmental corporations and lobbyists rather than government scientists and now that will change. Thank you, Mr. President.

Deputy undersecretary for National Resources at the USDA Arthur "Butch" Blazer even got to use that evil word which has been banned since the 1980s - logging.   He told Matt Weiser at the Sacramento Bee, "I view logging as a method of restoration treatment. It's just another tool in our tool kit. One example is stewardship contracting. It's an integrated contracting tool to sell timber and buy services, using timber to offset the cost of road maintenance, habitat improvement, and thinning flammable lower-value materials (small trees). The lower-value material will come out, as does the merchantable timber."

He's right, of course.  The reason wildfires have spiked so much since these byzantine restrictions were enacted - and led to the increased emissions that come with the fires - is because people are sitting in live trees to prevent clearing out dead ones and dry brush.

This is a big win, even if it is just on a small scale - 8 forests so far.  Science can make the ecosystem healthier if each forest is able to have the best policies customized for it and not be stuck by a one-size-fits-all mentality across vastly different regions.

President Obama is likely to be re-elected but, just in case, Mr. President, please hurry and fast track(1) changes to the federal Wilderness Act law so it doesn't block the federal Endangered Species Act and California can restore the Paiute cutthroat trout, which we are required to do by law, but can't because environmentalists file lawsuits claiming the gas-generated auger needed is illegal on federal lands.

Yeah, that is a real thing. If you care about the actual environment, you should stop giving money to environmental lobbyists.


(1) Come on, you can do it.  After you turned down the main Keystone XL extension you promised to fast track the add-on to it, including the environmental impact statements, even though the company behind Keystone hasn't bothered to apply for the final part because you turned down the part in the middle.