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Columbia River Dissenters Series
Tape 1, Side 1
21 October 1999
TK = Tom Kovalicky
CH = Clark Hansen
OHS Inv. #2724
Tom Kovalicky received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Montana in 1961 and began his career in 1962 with the Forest Service as a Junior Forester on the Bridger Teton National Forest in Pinedale, Wyoming. Kovalicky worked in a variety of Forest Service jobs throughout the west, concluding his career as Forest Supervisor for the Nez Perce Forest from 1982 to 1991. Kovalicky worked to restrain logging, mining and road building on the Nez Perce Forest, but ran into conflicts with the Idaho Congressional Delegation. Kovalicky has pushed for Forest Service reform by decentralization of the Forest Service bureaucracy. He recommended eliminating 200 jobs in the regional offices, while keeping local ranger districs open.
CH: This is an interview with Tom Kovalicky at the Motel 8 in Grangeville, Idaho. The interviewer for the Oregon Historical Society is Clark Hansen. The date is 10/21/99, and this is tape 1, side 1. I thought we’d start first by getting some background on you and where you came from and how you got here.
TK: OK, I was born in Passaic, New Jersey, September 13, which was a Friday, 1935, and grew up in an immigrant neighborhood - where the subdivisions were right off the boat, you know? Italian, Poles, Russian Jews, Puerto Ricans, and so forth - so I had quite a multi -cultural background. Eventually, my family moved out of that type of neighborhood and found a little [laughs] social status and went to the next town over called Clifton, New Jersey. That’s where I graduated from high school.
CH: Were your parents immigrants?
TK: No, they were first generation Americans. I’m second generation.
TK: Poland, Czechoslovakia, parts of the Ukraine, and so forth, and we’re pretty much in that Slavic background. There is no other bloodline, so to speak. And so, I had the best of both worlds, learning more about my own background by becoming an American, you know, full-fledged American. Of course, that was during the war. I remember all about World War II. I remember when it started and remember when it ended and all the major battles and so forth and that shaped my philosophies quite a bit, believe it or not, because we in New Jersey had a lot of troop shipment and movement there and there were a lot of saboteurs and spies and a lot of raids on the unfaithful. German submarines would come up and shoot and at times they would get one round off at the oil refineries off the coast of New Jersey.
TK: Yes. And they had the big barrage balloons protecting the coastline and we were not allowed on the beaches after dark. They were patrolled by the Navy with dogs, and so forth. I remember all of that sort of thing, so that was quite an impact on my young life. Then, of course. when the war was over with I was then in high school and a funny thing happened on the way to the forum, so to speak. I came down with polio. I was one of those kids that had got infected with polio during that late 40s epidemic and it appeared that I was a goner and while I was in the hospital - I had the bulbar type which affects your respiratory system. It didn’t have the crippling leg type or so forth. - A dentist came to see me, our family dentist, and he gave me a book to read, and I believe the book was called The Young Forester by Zane Grey, and prior to that the priest had come to me the last rites which I thought, being raised a Roman Catholic, that I must be near death, and, of course, that made me angry, or angrier, and then the dentist followed up with that book and I read that book and I said, “You know, if I get out of this hospital, I want to be a forester.” It kind of pointed me towards choosing the sort of work that I eventually decided to do. And I did. I did get out. Some of the kids didn’t, I might add, It was a pretty sad thing, because we were all in an isolation ward and the kids were coming in and they were going out, and they were going out walking or going out dead, and were crippled, iron lungs and stuff like that. The big thing then was the Sister Kennedy Foundation, the early March of Dimes thing. People put dimes in a little holder and they turned those in for paying for the medical expenses because there was no such thing as medical insurance in those days, at least my family didn’t have any. I was able to leave that hospital and go back into the school system and I did have some, you know, post problems with my polio, but I eventually overcame that and got out of high school with the idea that I was going to be a forester, and that’s exactly what I did. I told my mother that I wanted to do that, but my grades were not too good - and we started applying to different colleges and the rejection slips were quite high, but the first school to indicate a preference in me was the University of Montana, and my mother said, “You’d better grab it,” so we [laughs] did, and I entered the school of forestry in Missoula, Montana in 1953, and I realized right off the bat that I had made a great choice. That was my calling, so to speak. But I was an unsettled youth, person at the time, and I was full of love and admiration for the West. I couldn’t get enough of the landscape - It overwhelmed me. - and also the lifestyle, plus I met my first bona fide American Indians, which really captured my imagination, and I probably spent too much time soaking up the landscape and my new friends rather than my studies so I was not doing too well in college. Back in those days if you were a male student, you were given a four years deferment before they drafted you, and I didn’t make it. I got finally drafted. In 1958 I had to go into the Army because I didn’t have my degree yet. I got back out of the Army and I went back to the forestry school and finally got my degree in forestry and that was 1961.
CH: What was the type of intellectual atmosphere within the forestry school and what kind of philosophy were they teaching you?
TK: The philosophy was primarily that the land was something to be used and consumed. There was not much talk about conservation or preservation. Aldo Leopold was briefly mentioned, if only in passing. The ecology courses were nonexistent. A few of the old professors that were left in the system, primarily from Europe - one professor we called Smokey Joe, a Professor Cramer, who was a Russian, himself, I think a German and Russian who was an early-day ecologist and he is the one who pounded the table saying that we had to understand ecology to get ready for our job as a forester, but it went over our heads. We had no idea what he was talking about. The professors themselves were just almost the logging type. The dress code was one of heavy logging boots, on the campus, along with the old black jeans which were stagged, or cut off on the bottom, Levies, plaid shirts, the little logging-style hat they wore in those days, with suspenders, and the culture revolved around being out of the woods, you know, not quite the hick category, but pretty close to it. There was the campus rivalry with the law school, if that tells you something about the mentality of the culture in those days. The idea was to moon, maim or injure a lawyer for the sake of forestry. The University of Montana was quite a wild place. When I started there, you could actually have parties on the campus and drink. Of course, they stopped that about ‘54 or ‘55, I think, but it was a wide open town. Missoula was a crossroad town, lots of transition going on there, lots of trailer houses, lots of people coming and going all the time. That flavored the college. There was a bar - There was a street in downtown Missoula called Woodie Street that had seven bars in a row, and that’s where the forestry students liked to hang out. Each bar had its own live cowboy band. A bottle of beer was 25 cents and a shot of whiskey was 50 cents [laughs] and that was the era of discovery on that particular era.
CH: How would you describe the kind of logging practices that they were teaching you? Was it in a different state that it was a little later than that? Did it change?
TK: Yes. Then, logging was logging. You didn’t worry too much about water quality. You didn’t worry about aesthetics. You didn’t worry about wildlife. You didn’t worry about a threatened or an endangered species, of course, that term wasn’t around then, but you didn’t worry about the - let’s say, the habitat of the elk herd. You didn’t worry about protecting anything. You just said, “Well we have a job to do and here’s the way you log the slopes,” and they talked about the steepness of the terrain and the changing equipment to accommodate it, but they never talked about being gentle or going slow on the land.
CH: What was the impression of the people, say, either in Montana or New Jersey where you came from as to what being a logger meant and how they viewed it? Or a forester?
TK: Yes. I would say in New Jersey they didn’t have the slightest concept what a forester was, even though Rutgers, one of the state universities there was known for its forestry school, but that was a pretty small segment of the population who understood that. When you came west, logging was a way of life. Towns were surrounded by logging communities, although logging was low-key, believe it or not, in Montana in the 50s. It was not what you would call a high intensity thing. It turned out that way later, but it was primarily a - the robbing the front, getting the easy trees, and that’s where the logging operations took place, both on federal land and private lands, state lands, and so forth.
CH: Was it mostly old growth, or was it second cut?
TK: No, it was all old growth. It was all your old trees. We were going - I remember working on a ranger district in 1955 in Wisdom, Montana, where the ranger actually had me go out and mark some trees for a local saw mill. The local saw mill being maybe at the most half a million board feet a year, and I had never marked trees before and of course, I was studying it in college, but I still hadn’t done it. And he told me what he wanted. He said, “Now, I want you to go out and I want you to find all these Doug Firs,” and he said, “Make sure that they’re all at least this big around, you know, diameter,” and we had the, what we called the d-tape that measured the trees, and he said, “Now go out there,” and he gave me a little book and he said, ”You record the height and the diameter of these trees, but only pick the big ones.” So that was, you know, the way we laid out the little local timber sales in those days. The big ones were laid out the same way, only more of it, but it was not clear-cut.
CH: I usually think of Douglas Fir as being mostly a western, northwest species, not so much in, say, the Montana area. Were you clear-cutting then?
TK: No, very little clear-cutting going on those days. It was taking only the big trees, and Douglas Fir comes in two brands. You’ve got the West Coast brand, which is probably a faster growing sub-species due to the wetness, you know? Then you have the Inland Doug Fir, which they’ve confirmed is its own little sub-species, but it’s a very valuable tree inland. At least it was in the early days. I’m sure it is today, price-wise anyhow, and it’s associated with usually a good animal habitat like elk and deer.
CH: When you were studying to be a forester what did you imagine yourself to be doing after you finished college then? What kind of work?
TK: I think I had the impression that it would be right out of Hollywood, riding horses, trapping, hunting, looking for timber thieves and poachers, and getting in shoot outs, and going from one little town to the next with a pack string, you know, living primarily by yourself in remote locations, and lots of danger. I really thought that that was what would happen. Of course, I worked for the Forest Service summers so I found that some of those ideas started to modify a little bit in terms of what to expect, but it was still centered around being a ranger, and the ranger concept, between books and movies was the Hollywood version, you know [laughs] not the professional version. What also shaped my attitudes and my learning experience was that I was adopted by a family in Wisdom, Montana, who took me into their family with open arms. They were people who came to Montana before the 1900s, became very successful ranchers and we crossed paths. I was invited to come into the family and since I was an only child there was two boys and a girl there and they become my brothers and sister, and the mom and the dad became my second mom and dad, and, of course, they were hard core ranchers, you know, people of the land and not of the government. They didn’t understand a lot of the things that we do today about land management but they were successful, and I got - A lot my values were shaped by living and working on a ranch for the next 14 years. To this day, Mildred is still alive, and she’s my other mom, so to speak, and so I learned the ranching business from the bottom up with the cattle and the land and the water and so forth, and that helped me understand my future role as a forester working for the Forest Service involving public lands.
CH: During your formative years as a young professional forester or even while you were at school were there other books or authors or people that you read about that had a big influence on the way you thought about things in sort of like that Zane Grey book that you mentioned did?
TK: There was only one other book that I can honestly say changed my behavior, gave me a philosophy, a land ethic and a land-use ethic was - I had already graduated and I had read the book that Rachel Carson called, Silent Spring, and that completely changed my entire formal education. What I read in her book was the opposite of what I was taught in the forestry school and it was then that I said, “I have a choice to make. I can either behave the way the agency wants me to behave, or I can behave the way that Rachel Carson sees the land,” and I made the choice then that I would no longer be part of the destruction process, but rather the healing and restoration process. One other book that I read while I was in the Army that probably propelled me to think deeper about ecology was The Voyage of the Beagle. That was probably the other book before Silent Spring that made me think ecology and the related sciences rather than the strict forestry regimen which was basically cut and get out and move over to the next hill and do the same thing.
CH: Rachel Carson’s book came out in the early ‘60s?
CH: Yes, somewhere right in there.
TK: It was part of the Wilderness Act. I started my professional career in Pinedale, Wyoming, in the spring of ‘62, and her book either came out that winter or the next spring.
CH: So you were already then working as a professional by the time they came out?
TK: Yes. In fact, what brought the book home to me was the fact that there was a chapter in that book about the ranger district I was working on, and this would be the destruction that the Forest Service was performing in the upper Green River reaches out of Pinedale, Wyoming, and I saw that. For the first time I saw Forest Service management actions in print with the criticism, not the glorification or the raving of good stewardship, but rather the ugliness of what we were doing.
CH: How did people respond to that at your ranger station?
TK: Well, you know I think it went over the head of a lot of the people at the ranger station, to tell the truth, but the local people went crazy. That was the start of the environmental movement and it sunk in locally that here was a national person criticizing the way people did business in the upper Green River Valley of Wyoming, and so - but there was a lot of confusion, you might say. The Forest Service still thought it was doing the right thing, paying America back for the sacrifices that it made during World War II, that is, “Let’s get everybody into a house, you know, the house and the car, and the garage, and so forth,” and the Forest Service, I think, was sincere in the fact that they had to make logs available so that sawmills could thrive and the communities could grow, and no one stopped to think about what they were doing with the long-term effect on the land in those days. No one worried about that. No one thought about water quality. I watched a whole hillside move after we had marked the trees and cut them. I saw whole drainages slide into the Green River. And I saw DDT used to displace sagebrush to bring the carrying capacity of cattle up around ten thousand animals in semi-Alpine situations where not only did the sagebrush go, but so did the big trout in the upper Green River, and so the Aspen stands, and so did all the related birds, and we thought that was normal. We thought that was OK. It was Rachel Carson who put that into perspective and said, “It’s not OK.”
CH: So when you refer to the people there as going crazy over the response, in a response to this book, crazy in what way? Were they going crazy over what was happening there or were they angry at her for saying this about their area? What kind of angry?
TK: I think they were angry at her for bringing this to the national forefront and making people reexamine themselves. The Forest Service wasn’t doing much examining, but there became a group of people in Wyoming who eventually became activists, environmentalists, who said that we have to stop this. We have to change the way we do business. Then you had your ranching community, your oil and gas community, your logging community, who said, “Bullshit! We can’t let people think we’re doing the wrong thing here. This is our life. We were here first. We’re the pioneers, we have a right to make a living,” and so forth, that’s what I saw happen, I saw the confusion, the organization of activists clashing for the first time with holy values, holy values as described by local people and the Forest Service right smack in the middle, not understanding its own role any more, or discovering its new role perhaps.
CH: What did you, what did you think when you saw the landslides at those watersheds, what was your reaction?
TK: My gut reaction was that something was bad wrong, something was out of synch. I was very uncomfortable when they asked me to do certain things in the Forest Service in those early years, I really didn’t know much because I didn’t have any experience, but I became quite upset when I saw some of my own work like road building and tree marking layout, that work, get affected by the weather and later on find it almost impossible to hold the slopes in place, or to reforest the trees, you know, put in new trees the following spring. Nothing would grow, but we had changed the micro climate from a total spruce canopy to a wide open hot site at 8,000 feet where nothing would grow once the soil baked and we tried every device in the world, ditching and mulching and older trees and blah, blah, blah but we never succeeded in re-establishing a ground cover of any type.
TK: I hope there is today, I would love to go back and check that out. I want to do that.
CH: So having had that experience did you or other people that you were working with suggest changes to keep that from happening again or did you keep on doing basically the same practice?
TK: Nothing happened, nothing changed until the first lawsuit was brought against the Forest Service in Wyoming, the Wyoming clear cutting controversy which was adjacent to where I was working. It wasn’t occurring right where I was even though we were doing the same thing but it was more visible, closer to the town of Dubois and Jackson Hole and it was around the same time that the Menongahela controversy erupted and somebody started looking at the mission of the Forest Service and then the Bitteroot controversy in Montana erupted at the same time, all that kind of came flooding in together and light bulbs were turning on all over the West professionally and again, you know, your environmental community was getting organized and going for the kill at that time.
CH: So you said that the first major event in terms of changes of practices was precipitated by that lawsuit in Wyoming, what year was that?
TK: That had to be in the, that had to be around ‘67,‘68, somewhere in that area, just prior to some of the legislation that was being formulated you know in the area. The Wild Scenic Rivers Act came around in ‘69 and the Endangered Species Act, things like that were starting to run through people’s heads. So just prior to that, it was before there was any real legislation out yet about how to look at the land.
CH: And you were talking about the landslide earlier so there’s really a gulf there of quite a few years between your first direct contact with the evidence of those kind of practices but there wasn’t really any discussion in the Forest Service....
CH: And when the law suit came in Wyoming did eh, how was the Forest Service responding to that, they were, I presume that they were a defendant in that case?
TK: Yes they were, well they took it personal of course you know, the first thing they did was blame no-one, that it was a normal activity and that nature was acting sort of funny out on the ground you know, they didn’t reason that they had a hand in that. Yes, they were very defensive, the Forest Service was defensive and they taught us how to be defensive about our actions and that the public was not really welcome to comment about those things, I mean why would the public even be interested in the health of the land, I mean it was that blatant a departure from stewardship.
CH: If the public didn’t have access to the Forest Service at that time or were encouraged not to have access then who did, was it the logging companies, did they have access to the Forest Service?
TK: Sure they did, yes, in fact I would say that the logging community and the ranching community and the mining community and the oil and gas community, the reservoir community, you know the storage irrigation people, they’re the ones who drilled the Forest Service through their political representatives, they didn’t walk in directly to the Forest Service office and say “Hey, I’m Joe Rancher here, I want more sheep on the land” what they did was they sold their rationale to their local representatives who in turn went to Washington with that notion that the Forest Service had better cooperate and put pressure on the chief of the Forest Service. Of course in those days the Forest Service was very professional in terms of politics, more so then than they are today and they resisted being told by politicians how to react on the ground so there were some mechanisms in place then that kept the politicians from totally running over the top of the Forest Service.
CH: How did that change?
TK: It changed from career appointed chiefs that came from within the ranks who had a strong sense of values, maybe even a stronger sense of land values than we give them credit for, you know the different - mentality existed quite a while in the Forest Service’s chief ranks, but then all of a sudden we started getting chiefs who were appointed that came out of research, that were engineers, that had feathered their own careers by cooperating with politicians outside the Forest Service for increased timber cuts or more lenient oil and gas leasing and so forth. You could see that happening and then all of a sudden we had a leadership that was responding to political knocks on the door saying that if we don’t do it they will pass legislation to make us do it, so lets find a safer path to walk on. And, of course, the more you thought about that the more drug like all the decisions became, you know we need to think about stopping people controlling us or what do we need to give up today in order to retain what we had yesterday.
CH: You have mentioned about the clear cuts that caused the landslide when you first saw that landslide and then later on. Now were these timber sales that actually had cooperation with the Forest Service, or have cooperation with the, timber companies on where the sales were going to be or..?
TK: No, it was strictly the Forest Service, they just simply would tell the foresters in those days, lookit we need to get out this year, we need to get out 30 million board feet or whatever that number was. It wasn’t that big where I was, but it was big. Twelve, eleven, twelve, fifteen million board feet sales were pretty common in the early ‘60's in Wyoming and they would just simply say get that many trees out and there were very few guidelines about how to do that. In other words, go do it, get it done and make it as easy as possible in terms of investment, lets not have a lot of fancy stuff out there on the ground in terms of roads and culverts and watershed protection and so forth like that.
CH: And how were those goals being set?
TK: How were the what?
CH: How were the goals being set for how much timber was supposed to come out?
TK: I don’t really know, I was so new at the profession, I suspect that they were set by agreement between the forest supervisor, the regional forester and the chief’s office. Somebody in Congress probably said, “Lookit, Chief, we’ll give you $30 million this year to run your timber sale program, we’ll give you another $10 million for roads and out of that we want to see 2 or 300 million or 6 or 700 million board feet come off the National Forest land and made available to the communities in the West, or the communities of America,” and the Chief probably set some par values and said, “Lookit, here’s the money, Congress wants this, go to it,” and it wasn’t until Rachel Carson wrote the book that people, that professionals realized they were doing it wrong.
CH: Who do you think was influencing Congress at the time to be able to put the pressure on the Chief and Forest Service to make those goals?
TK: The people who owned the companies, oh yes, the sawmill owners, the entrepreneurs who had the ability to make money, knew how to make money and they were good at it. They in their own right were professional risk takers and could easily see their government
[End of tape 1, side 1]
Tape 1, Side 2
21 October 1999
...using subsidies and you know you take a look at the mining industry and the oil and gas industry and the whole thing was based on losing money in order to make money but the land paid the price. I saw that happen all my career I’ve seen people make money by losing it, that’s just, that’s the way our system works.
CH: What is your understanding of how the whole sustained yield concept evolved and how was it practiced in the Forest Service?
TK: Well, sustained yield is an old term, its been around a long time, it precedes even multiple use, its one of the philosophies of forestry, we talked about it and we actually made an attempt in the early days of the Forest Service to segregate the land so that there were growing sites that would give you sustained yield and there were other sites that would not give you that sort of yield one was called commercial and one was called non-commercial. And we set our sights on being able to manipulate the commercial land for sustained yield through silvaculture. They were doing early day inventories to get it ready to plan this sort of thing and then something mysterious happened in the Forest Service and all that stuff went away. They then introduced the need to cut trees in clear cut manner because it was the most economical way to remove stuff and lets not get talking about silvaculture. I don’t remember silvaculture ever coming on the scene until the late ‘70s. And so all the cutting was done based on the economics of getting these trees on to the truck and sustained yield went into the toilet bowl rather rapidly and it stayed there up until the time that the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) was passed and it had a resurrection again. But it was, you could see that change occur in the Forest Service from one of, “yes lets get into sustained yield” and silvaculture corporal prescription and number two, “oh to hell with it, we don’t have time for it, we need to get these trees on the way to the saw mill, you know.”
CH: What was the nature of forecasting in the Forest Service, especially back in those early years in terms of what kind of yield they could see coming from those forest 10 - 20 years out, or longer? Was there much projection?
TK: Yes, there was, and again I wasn’t involved at that level because I was still at the district ranger level but the people in the supervisor’s offices and in the regional offices and the research station were always tinkering with that in terms of the yield, the incremental growth and then they started talking about basal area and stuff like that, that gave them some feel for how much wood fibre they were growing, but it was pretty much a mystery and a secret, not a deep dark secret but a secret that those of us who were on the ground didn’t understand what they were projecting at the time.
CH: So when you started out in Wyoming, you were in what position?
TK: Well, I was what was they called a junior forester. I started my career - In those days, because I didn’t get out of college with a high enough grade point average I was given a GS-5, and I started my career as a GS-5 on probation for six months, and after the sixth month, I was promoted to a 7, and then I was on probation for the next three years in order to get a permanent appointment, so on the District, I was a junior forester working in that 5/7 category, working for the Assistant Ranger who was a graduate forester himself, and my job was to do anything he told me to do, and it was primarily a timber-related stuff. I was doing the grunt work, the cruising, and the mapping and the sales layouts, and the sale administration, the brush control, the tree planting, the fire burning, all that sort of stuff, yes.
CH: And, then where did you go from there?
TK: Well, from there, on the same ranger district all of a sudden the Wilderness Act started looming on the horizon, and also they started talking about recreation for the first time in the Forest Service. There was a thing called “Operation ‘66" which was an early-day forerunner of recreation planning on the ground, and that part of Wyoming, you know, it’s blessed with beauty and water and animals and the Bridger wilderness is one of the instant wildernesses in the Wilderness Act of 1964. Nine million acres were made into wilderness when the Act was passed. The Bridger was part of that. But, all of a sudden here, I’m working in this beautiful part of Wyoming, the town of Pinedale, that’s 7,100 feet, and even though we were doing all this logging and destruction, the cattle and oil and gas and the mining and so forth, we still had a lot left over to be concerned about for recreation and wildlife and wilderness, so when a Wilderness Act passed I saw a little bit of a window open up to get out of the cut ‘n gut business I was in and I was approached by a person that they used to call the Assistant Regional Forester who worked in the regional forester’s office in Ogden, Utah, and his name was Johnny Herbert. And Johnny Herbert was the man in charge of everything that didn’t pertain to timber. He didn’t have to worry about timber and roads or oil and gas and mining and grazing, and he came out and he said, “you know,” and he was talking to the people in general, and he said, “You know, we need young men now to start working on this thing that’s going to pass, called Wilderness,” and he said, “I predict those of you who go into it will have a difficult career because in the Forest Service, if you’re not into timber and engineering, you’re not going to have much of a career.” So I got to looking at that and I volunteered to take wilderness assignments right there on that same ranger district, and it just so happens that the Forest Supervisor, whose name was Bill Worf - He’s alive and well, living in Missoula, Montana, and the head of a local group called Wilderness Watch, which is a stewardship group for the care and feeding of the wildernesses that exist today. He was the Forest Supervisor and he also got turned on by this new challenge: wilderness. In fact, he was one of the five men appointed by the chief to be invited to go back to Washington, DC and write the original Forest Service policy on interpreting the Wilderness Act of ‘64, as a result of that he probably destroyed his career. His career did not go according to schedule and he had a great potential to play the upward mobility game any way he wanted to but, he fell in love with wilderness and the concept of recreation so he diverted himself into that area and that became the stalemate. And I followed his lead, I did the same thing, I took off with every opportunity to stay in the wilderness and recreation business rather than the tree cutting business and it eventually paid big dividends for me. And in following up on the desire to get into the wilderness recreation business I accepted a transfer from where I was in Pinedale to a new ranger station office that had never been in existence before in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and I took that job at the request of the Regional Forester because the traditional employee did not want to go to Rock Springs because it was a rough, tough, ethnic minority-laden, mining town.
CH: What ethnic?
TK: I think if I remember right there were 16 different nationalities that lived in Rock Springs; Chinese, the white Europeans, the Mexicans, the Blacks, who had come there to work in the mines and it was a rough tough tumble town but it reminded me of where I was born and it was loaded with the colorful Basque people who came over you know in the early days to start the sheep industry. The purpose of opening that office was the Forest Service was scared, and I’ll get back to wilderness in a minute, the Forest Service was scared that the Park Service, who was making overtures to control Flaming Gorge NRA, which was National Forest Land at the time, were building this huge reservoir called Flaming Gorge and they were going to turn it into a National Recreation area and the Park Service was lobbying to become the controller or the agency in charge of that. The Forest Service wanted it so our job was to go to Rock Springs and create an image of Forest Service professionalism and to be the chosen ones to manage Flaming Gorge NRA so we had a goal of doing that, but we also had the goal of managing the brand new Bridger wilderness. And like I had mentioned earlier, I had really become knowledgeable and loved to work with cattle and sheep, I saw that as a real opportunity of using those animals properly on the land rather than improperly. The sheep abuse in the Bridger Wilderness in those days was horrendous, it was in the neighborhood of probably 100,000 head of sheep that were residual from the days prior to the National Forest control to the current day where it was kind of winding down a little bit.
CH: They were allowing, the sheep, in the wilderness areas?
TK: Yes, Yes, that high up to 10,000, 11,000 feet.
CH: I thought it was prohibited?
TK: No, No, grazing was part of the Wilderness Act, it said that if grazing existed prior to classification it may continue, but what they did say was that the sheep could no longer be grazed at the expense of the wilderness character, that it was the job of the professional to bring that into balance. And I saw that as a play for all, I can get my expertise going with cattle and sheep from my early days in Wisdom, Montana, to my need to recognize this new thing called wilderness resource management and so I volunteered again to go to Rock Springs and do that kind of work in that Bridger Wilderness, it was a Ranger District that only had 22 miles of road and probably about 1100 or 1200 miles of trails. Everything we did was on horseback, backpacking was not in vogue yet and you couldn’t walk that type of terrain carrying gear and food to last you very long so we were all horsemen and had probably 50 to 60 animals on the ranger district that we used for riding and packing. And we lived virtually two weeks at a time in this high country doing our work whether it be fighting fire or controlling the sheep and writing management plans, doing inventories, rescuing people and starting this brand new thing called “wilderness,”you know getting people geared up to accept that resource.
CH: And this was what years?
TK: This was from 1966 to 1970, and it was the glory days of my career because it was exactly what I had told you earlier envisioning the ranger leading the rough and tumble dangerous life aboard a horse, you know, and of course we were dealing with people who didn’t speak English, the Basques and the early day Mexican herders spoke only Spanish so we had touickly bring ourselves up to gear on that verbally, and also we wrote a lot of our plans in Spanish so that we could get those people on board and also work with the outfitting industry which was running amuck. In those days it was quite common to see the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society take pack trips into the glory of Wyoming wilderness because this area had 1,000 lakes and they were all stocked with fish except, I think, 10. And it was quite common to see the outfitted supported Sierra Club with 50 to 60 people on a trip. You know including the guests and the working wranglers and the outfitters and cooks and so forth and the damage that they did with the horses at that elevation was enormous. And at the same time the Sierra Club was attacking the Forest Service for allowing in this case 66,000 head of sheep to run free and clear at that time in that wilderness.
So it was quite exciting, there were a lot of great things going on discovery-wise with land use ethics and of course some of the newer laws were starting to pop into view like the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, that followed the Wilderness Act and it was at that juncture that I knew that this was really a great place to practice land management and so I stayed in that option professionally. CH: Could you explain for me a little bit of the forces that led to the Wilderness Act in 1964. Why was there even a movement towards that?
TK: Well, it was started 8 years prior to 1964 by some of the great minds in America who actually were looking down the road at the fact that America was losing its wild land character and it was the wild land character that made the American character. The white European coming across the prairies and you know they really destroyed more than they saved or created, but it was that destructive character of the white European that gave the Americans their own individuality because they were always being challenged by roaring rivers and steep mountains and cold long winters and bugs and enormous animals and of course the American Indian population you know was a barrier. So as a result of that, these men with this foresight actually sat down and started working on a wilderness proposal that would save these wild lands. The Wilderness Act really has only one objective and that is to keep all lands in America from being occupied and modified, that’s the basic reason you have the Wilderness Act and as a result of that it took 8 years and 66 introductions of the Wilderness Act before it was passed in 1964. Hubert Humphrey was one of the leaders, one of the cheerleaders for it. President Kennedy had died in office otherwise he would have been the man who signed it and Lyndon B. Johnson gladly signed that into law. That’s briefly what happened. There’s a lot of heroes involved in that Wilderness Act, believe me.
CH: Were there particular people that you know, or know of, that were the people who were actually behind the creation of the Wilderness Act?
TK: No, No, I was out of the loop in those days on that thing in fact I remember when I got out of the Army and went back to college the Wilderness Act was being discussed in 1960 as an introduced legislation. I remember one of my professors indicating that this was a communist plot to tie up America’s resources. Remember earlier you asked me what was the mentality of the times, well that was part of the mentality. I remember that clearly but I wasn’t old enough or in the professional circles to know those people who were shooting for that Wilderness Act.
CH: What was the main movement of this development coming from within the bureaucracy, within organizations like the Sierra Club, within political circles on Capitol Hill?
TK: Oh no, it was coming strictly from the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society, the Forest Service was against it.
CH: And they were, you were saying then, that they were able to convince people then in Congress, and perhaps part of the American public, that the American character of the pioneer needed to be preserved and that was the reason, that was the catalyst...
TK: Not the character of the pioneer but the cause of that character which was wild lands, higher forms of predation. In other words man was not the highest predator on the land, there was the grizzly bear and the wolf and so forth. And that is what gave the Americans their unique characteristics as a nation and as individuals. It was that cause that they wanted to preserve, they weren’t trying to preserve pioneer life, but rather the elements that caused the pioneers to become individuals and it was wild land that did that.
CH: When the Act was passed in 1964 and just before and after that what was the reaction in your area, in Wyoming or in the Forest Service to that passage?
TK: Oh, it was negative, there were very few people cheering for that. Oh you had your local, your few local intelligentsia who always wanted something like that besides total development, they were cheering. But for the most part the Forest Service didn’t understand it, the employees of the Forest Service were suspicious of it, your cattlemen, your ranchers and so forth were not crazy about it. But you know the reason the law passed finally was because the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society did a great job of convincing the mining industry, the grazing industry and the water irrigating industry and the oil and gas industry that if they played ball now, that compromises would be built into the legislation that keeps them fairly active in the Act and if it wasn’t for that probably the Act never would have passed. They actually sold those concepts, got them to co-sponsor the Wilderness Act. You know, the Wilderness Act was not, best I remember, the Wilderness Act not only went forward with the environmental push but it went forward with the Cattlemen’s Association of America saying, “yes ok, we got what we want out of it for now.” Same thing with mining and so forth. And that’s basically why the Act passed, it was a series of compromises that gave us the Wilderness Act of ‘64, it’s not what we wish we had today. We wish we had a much more cleaner, purer, now the word pure is tough, but a less complicated system of users inside the wilderness today. It should be more land set aside where nature rolls the dice and we’re not always manipulating it through recreation pressures, hunting pressures, fishing pressures, cattle grazing pressures, water storage pressures, you know, its just a little too complicated to make this thing work the way it was envisioned.
CH: When people were considering various wilderness areas and what should be included or not, how did they deal with the conflicting issues of say either grazing or other agricultural interests and particularly mining, because the Mining Law, what is it, 1878?
CH: 1897? Is such an open door for mining interests. How did they deal with those conflicts in wilderness areas?
TK: Well, they dealt with them rather harshly, they attacked them for one thing as being irresponsible people who would destroy the land for a dollar bill and they attacked the grazing industry something fierce after the Act was passed. They had promised that there would be concessions but they attacked the Forest Service for allowing the grazing industry to have too many privileges after the Act was passed and they did the same thing with mining and so forth. They were not the kind of people who used wildernesses for personal gain. You know, the outfitting industry came under attack and there was a lot of confusion, you know, how could you ask us to be part of it and then turn right around and attack us for being part of it.
CH: So you were there then at the, involved with the Wilderness Resource Management then for how long?
TK: Well, from basically the time when the Act passed in 1964 to 1970 till I transferred to Stanley, Idaho and then I became involved in it all over again because Stanley, Idaho had a lot, the Ranger District Area there was Stanley, Idaho, had part of the Idaho primitive area and the Sawtooth Wilderness and the potential for the White Cloud and the Boulder and the Pioneer, so I became very much involved in wild land management and river management because we had the Salmon Wild Scenic River, we had the middle fork of the Salmon Wild Scenic River and we had that, then the Idaho primitive area which today is the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. So I had very little timber, but the nice thing about the timber was I actually practiced a little bit of forestry there in that I was not under a lot of pressure like I was in Wyoming to come up with a lot of trees, because we were so far from the sawmills that we were able to tinker with the sales and put them up so they didn’t look like clearcuts, they were partial cuts and they were landscape management techniques that we used, rather than pure horror tactics like we had been taught to use. So I actually did a little bit of that plus my grazing background came in handy again because I had a lot of cattle and sheep on that particular ranger district that were in conflict with the wild lands and the salmon spawning beds. We were the home of the last 800-mile journey of steelhead and salmon, so it was a wonderland district of wild land interfaces and to make things more interesting, the area was so unique that politicians along with landowners in the state of Idaho, Cecil Andrus, being one of them, decided to set that part of Idaho aside in an experiment called the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, with built-in federal zoning, so that private lands could not be subdivided at will for a Coney Island atmosphere and the Act passed. Again, the Park Service wanted it but they didn’t get it. The Forest Service was given that privilege, and they moved - What the National Recreation Area (NRA) did was it encompassed portions of three national forests and five ranger districts, the Stanley Ranger district being the center of the NRA,and I was given a choice of either going to Utah or to Ketchum, Idaho, to start up the new office down there, and I chose to stay with the NRA, to move to Ketchum and we then started a great experiment of paying people off to not subdivide their lands. In essence, we wrote federal zoning for the state of Idaho for private and county lands and state lands and federal lands, all at the same time, and it became just a great experiment in keeping Idaho’s lifestyle the way it was at a certain point in time. The Act actually said to protect the historical values and the pastoral values of the Stanley Basin, which was ranching, so everything we did was based on what it would look like if we protected ranching communities and their families so that they didn’t have to go out of the ranching business. We designed everything around that.
CH: Going back for a minute, what precipitated your move from Wyoming to Stanley?
TK: My move there was - Probably two things happened in my life there. - I got divorced in 1970 and in those days the Forest Service - I think divorce was still a no-no in the Forest Service in terms of, you know, a social thing like, “Oh, God! This is a terrible thing that happened!” And the Forest Service always thought they were a family oriented industry, so I’m not sure that had anything to do with it directly, but indirectly it might have been, like, “Let’s get him out that terrible situation that he’s in so he doesn’t have to face his neighbors, being divorced.” I always felt like the Forest Service was embarrassed for you, when you handled your own private life and it turned out to be negative, but I think one of the other primary reasons I got moved there was that the challenges of bringing cattle and sheep under a sensible land management practice as I had done in Wyoming. I was quite successful in handling the cattle and sheep in the Bridger Wilderness, and I think the same man who was this Johnny Herbert who talked me into going into wilderness management as a career option was the man who said, “We could use his talents over at Idaho to do the same thing that he did in Wyoming,” and I seemed to thrive in small tough communities where there was a lot of animosity toward the Forest Service, and I think that’s primarily why I got sent there. In those days, you didn’t really apply for jobs. You were sent where the Service wanted you.
CH: That was my impression, too, in that if you actually, if they were suggesting that you go to such and such a place and you didn’t want to, or if they told you and you didn’t want to, your days were pretty much numbered.
TK: Yes, yes, there was a lot of reality to that. They recognized certain things like a death and maybe an ailing parent that you had to stay near. They recognized those sorts of things but if everything was kosher in your life and you didn’t go, that was probably a black mark, just as much as a black mark when I decided to go into Recreation and Wilderness, rather than stay in the “Timber Stream.”
CH: You were mentioning in a couple of points the disputes with the Interior Department, and it’s always been my understanding that the Interior Department has a whole different objective in dealing with land than the Forest Service, which is under the Department of Agriculture.
CH: How do you see those two different missions, over land that they both manage and how were the disputes between the two agencies over who was able to control something and how the land management practices were set in place for that particular area?
TK: Well, you’ve got to recognize that the Department of Interior is fraught with politics and scandal constantly. They’re manipulated all the time by outside forces, both industry and politicians.
CH: More so than the Department of Agriculture?
TK: More so than the Forest Service inside the Department of Agriculture, but if you take the Park Service as compared to the Forest Service, they’re totally controlled by politicians. They probably wouldn’t agree with me saying that, but I know they are. They know they are.
CH: Why? Why is this so much more so for them than the . . ?
TK: Well, because the Department of Interior has a history of placing people through political appointment, not career rises. The Forest Service, even to this day, have been chiefs who have come up from the ranks not people who came off the street as a favor to a political agenda. The Park Service people, the chief of the Park Service, probably the last four or five chiefs of the Park Service, probably know zip about anything other than that they’re political favorites.
CH: Does that have to do with the orientation in the Department of Agriculture of utilitarian uses of the land as opposed to something that’s more, perhaps the parks have more status for the historical . . .
TK: Yes, it’s preservation versus manipulation. The Forest Service has been always in the manipulation business, products and services and goods, and the Park Service has always had this notion that they were created to preserve.
CH: Were the wilderness areas coming in to be, or even the theory of wilderness then . . .
[End of tape 1, side 2.]
Tape 2, Side 1
21 October 1999
CH: This is an interview with Tom Kovalicky at the Motel 8 in Grangeville, Idaho. The interviewer for the Oregon Historical Society is Clark Hansen. The date is 10-21-99, and this is tape 2, side 1. So, we were talking a minute ago about your career and the - I think we were talking about in terms of managing the land under the . . .
TK: Yes, you were wondering what the difference was . . .
CH: between the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service.
TK: Right. OK. You know, the Forest Service today sees the wilderness as a resource now, not as much as they should however. They are having a little trouble understanding that wilderness does not mean recreation. The Park Service, on the other hand, is the one who is less pure about wilderness, even though they are a preservation oriented management agency, and the Forest Service is not. You would think that the opposite would be true, but it’s the Park Service who abuses the wilderness the most today. They offer themselves all sorts of administrative prerogatives and privileges and they totally control the public inside their wildernesses so that the freedom part of wilderness is restricted inside the park management theme, whereas in the Forest Service they pretty much allow the individual to set the experience level. The Park Service controls it. So, if we were going to compare the product quality, with, say, that going to a national forest wwilderness would be a higher level of wilderness experience than a park service wilderness. But that’s just the inefficiency of the Park Service to adapt to the Wilderness Act itself. They refuse to do that. They consider the Park charter to be the enabling legislation. Legislation that led to the creation of Yellowstone Park and Glacier Park as being the overriding theme. They have never recognized the Wilderness Act of ‘64 having status inside their own parks and it’s unfortunate.
CH: And does it have any status?
TK: Oh, yes, it certainly does. It over-rides their enabling legislation in terms of direction for the acres that are inside Glacier Park that have been classified as wilderness by Congress, just like you have wilderness classified by Congress inside the Nez Perce Forest, the Park has the same thing. As far as recognizing that, the Park doesn’t.
CH: So, also I wanted to ask you about the relationship you had with your peers in the Forest Service as you were going off on this tract, this wilderness-oriented track, how did you see your rapport with the other peer professionals who were probably more logging oriented? What kind of communication did you have with them, and what kind of rapport did you have with them?
TK: I had good rapport with my peer group, and they understood me as a person and respected my expertise as a land manager, whether I was in timber or not. A lot of them thought I was making a mistake, however, that I didn’t stay in the promotional line. You know, if you stay in the timber management line and do well, getting the cut out, so to speak, you would have a glorified career, and that’s pretty much true, so I didn’t have a lot of misunderstanding with my peer group. The people who were my supervisors probably thought I was suspect and I wasn’t, perhaps, given the respect by them at times for promotional leadership, but, of course, promotional opportunity never was my goal. I am a person who developed a land ethic in 1962 thanks to Rachel Carson and I was pursuing that and I didn’t worry about the politics of getting ahead in order to satisfy somebody else’s agenda. I just didn’t do that. A lot of my partners who I started my career with went on to be regional foresters and occupy senior executive service positions in the Washington office. They’re retiring at twice the salary I’m retiring, but I think I’ve had a better career.
CH: In terms of budget, wasn’t there always a conflict with other parts of the Forest Service in terms of people that were involved with wilderness activities where they were recreational budget as opposed to, say in a fire or timber budget. Did you ever feel discriminated against in not getting the funds that you might have wanted?
TK: Oh, yes, always. That was a real problem. The Forest Service refused to separate for a long time the difference between the recreation dollar and the wilderness dollar and they’re still having problems with that to this day although we have some great leaders in the Washington office, including the chief, Mike Dombeck who is a wilderness proponent, and he is providing some real great funding. But, yes, you always felt you were at the bottom of the funding pile when you majored in wilderness and you had to fight real hard to get money away from the recreation folks who thought it should be used to develop a campground or pave a road or whatever. Yes, it was a problem then and it’s still a problem now, although there has been a significant improvement by the Forest Service in giving money out. The trouble is, the Forest Service is operating with an organizational line that is no longer effective. The design is for 1910 to the 1940s and they have never modernized the way they handle themselves, so a lot of the money that wilderness has is sucked off by regional foresters. Regional foresters have obscene overhead charges and they buy a lot of toys for themselves. The next level is the forest supervisor who has less obscene overhead charges but still buying a lot of toys that defer the money away from the ground level. By the time the ranger gets it, he’s having trouble hiring one or two seasonal rangers to go back there and, if nothing else, continue the inventory or the monitoring progress, so it’s still not a well thought out organizational process in the Forest Service, and that’s the big problem why the money doesn’t get to the ground, too many people doing the wrong job for today’s world at these big overstuffed offices.
CH: Who then sets the priorities or the goals for the Forest Service?
TK: Well, it’s always set by the ranger first, then the forest supervisor, then the regional forester, and it’s given to the chief who then turns the recommendation over to the Congress who then fund it. That’s the way the process goes.
CH: And then, are there changes that are made once it gets to Congress, and then it gets back down through the . . .?
TK: Oh, absolutely. Congress is always changing the level of funding and then they give it back to the Forest Service and then they tinker with it at the chief’s level and then the regional forester tinkers with it, and the forest supervisor tinkers with it, and again, by the time the ranger gets it he doesn’t even know that that was his idea.
CH: [laughs] So, how long were you in Stanley then?
TK: I was in Stanley from ‘70 to ‘76. That includes the Stanley Ranger District and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. My office actually moved physically from Stanley to Ketchum.
CH: And during that time, in 1973 the Endangered Species act was passed. Were you aware of the events leading up to its passage?
CH: What was your view from Stanley about the ESA?
TK: Well, I remember my first impression was I was suspect about the need for that. I didn’t quite understand myself yet how quickly species were disappearing. I didn’t have that native intelligence or knowledge either academically, professionally, or on the ground, on the job. I had never been anywhere where there was something disappearing, so when the Act passed, I figured, well, what was this all about and where would it take us? And, of course, after the Act became a reality and we saw what was happening, you know, by then the eagle was already out and the peregrine falcon and the Telico Dam situation, the snails, and so forth, then my light bulb came on and I saw this need for this law, but at first I was just suspicious. I thought it was something that I could live without professionally, only to find how wrong I was and then I was glad that we had that tool to work with. Yes.
CH: So, what kind of changes did you experience in the way the Forest Service was managing its land during that period that you were in Stanley and Ketchum?
TK: Well, the land was being managed then primarily the way it always has been, for uses, you know, maximized cattle, maximized mining, maximized timber, maximized motorized recreation was big then, bigger than you would imagine. It is bigger today, but it was big then. The Forest Service was not doing anything different, and it had to be - Every experience I had with the Forest Service or change was driven by a new or a new direction from the top. Very few things that I found in my career happened internally, like saying, “Let’s stop this because it’s negative and let’s start doing this because it’s beneficial.” I didn’t see too much of this in my career.
CH: So there wasn’t much in the way of legal action other than the ESA?
TK: Yes, not much. Of course, that was the same time that the Forest Service got politicized. Nineteen seventy six was the year that I saw the Forest Service go belly up. That was the year that I thought about leaving the profession completely and finding other work. Well, Jimmy Carter created the Senior Executive Service, and it has not turned out as designed. The original intent was good, and that was this: Let’s create a higher level of government employees who are well-paid and well-trained and highly motivated that will go anywhere inside government and we could tell them to go. Let’s take the best talent we have and spread them around inside government agencies. In other words, if we’ve got a great leader in the Forest Service and if BLM is, you know, falling down around its ankles, let’s send him or her to that agency - that quick, none of this applying for stuff, and we say, “You go,” and, “We need you over here and you go.” Of course, you’re well paid because there’s no general service schedule, you’re paid pretty much the way industry pays its people. You negotiate a salary and you get huge bonuses, and you get a lot of privileges, but you don’t have any denial opportunities. You have sixty days to report to a new position once they assign you. Now, that’s the way it was designed, to be helpful to government, to spread talent around, but it soon turned into nothing but a good old boy and good old girl’s camp whereby they are no longer part of the agency that they’re assigned to. What they’re doing is they’re looking over their shoulder for the next opportunity to make more money.
CH: Who are they accountable to?
TK: They’re accountable to the agency chief they’re assigned to. In the case of the Forest Service, they would be assigned directly to Mike Dombeck for day-to-day management, but in reality they belong to this group called the Senior Executive Service which is this nebulous floating around management group that crosses all the agency boundaries inside the government.
CH: So this was, at this point in ‘76, was it Max Peterson that was the chief?
TK: Yes, Max Peterson was the chief. Yes, he was there then and he was an engineer which, his influence as an engineer the Forest Service felt. He, as an engineer, saw things in a straight line A to B. You give an engineer a challenge to wiggle a line and they have to really work hard at that.
CH: [laughs] Yes.
TK: That really confuses an engineer to wiggle a line, and Max, however, was a popular chief because he was politically astute and he was not a shrinking violet. Max knew how to charge a controversy. He was real good in working with difficult people, and he was a master at manipulating the politicians themselves.
CH: So, what would he manipulate them for? For funds?
TK: Well, for funds, yes. Or to forestall them from passing legislation that was designed to punish the Forest Service. The Forest Service is independent and the only way to control it is through legislation. You can’t call up even a Max Peterson and say, “Max, fire Tom Kovalicky.” That won’t work, so they may have to pass a law saying “Fire Tom Kovalicky,” so Max has to obey. The Forest Service is just a tough damn outfit to get your fingers into because it’s decentralized, and it’s sort of like a gorilla fighting operation. You don’t know where to attack because you don’t know where the gorillas are going to be from day to day.
CH: How much of an imprint would the Secretary of Agriculture have on the Forest Service during his years in control?
TK: Well, in my phase, hardly any that was visible. He might have had some stuff behind the scenes that we never got to see or hear, but for the most part, it was a hands-off operation. It wasn’t until John Crowell came in with Reagan where we started being tinkered with by the Department of Agricultural boss. You know, the Forest Service reports to the Undersecretary of Agriculture, and John Crowell came right out of timber industry and he didn’t hesitate putting his people inside the Forest Service in place like that - I always felt that Chief Robertson was one of his people.
CH: Dale Robertson?
TK: Dale Robertson, yes, and then Dale would do bidding for him as per direction, inside the Forest Service.
CH: How did Dale Robertson differ from Max Peterson then in the way he ran the Forest Service?
TK: Oh, well, it was a hundred percent different. Max had an element of leadership in him, not big. Max was not a dynamic leader, but he was effective in the position as chief. Robertson was not effective as a leader. He had very few leadership qualities. He did not react well to internal controversy. I always felt that Dale didn’t want to hear the bad news from his people. He was not a leader, he was appointed to that position through the political process. That was the year we started doing things like that. Max Peterson, if you interviewed him, you would find out that when Max announced his retirement, he was asked to put together a list of people who should be the next chief. Dale Robertson was probably not on that list.
CH: [laughs] And what was the main catalyst for that major shift in the way the Forest Service was operated from a more or less neutral bureaucratic agency to a politically responsive agency?
TK: Pure Reaganism.
CH: So it was Reagan that did that?
TK: Yes, pure - You’ve got to remember the Forest Service is a Republican outfit. It was founded by a Republican. The highest budget years have always been Republican Congresses, and the Reaganism, when he took over, he decided not to be in love with the Forest Service and decided to manipulate it politically, more so than ever before. You know, people - We all remember Nixon for Watergate, but yet Nixon gave us some of the greatest environmental legislation to date, and he did not stop it, even though he probably was a Republican who didn’t give a damn about the environment. So all of a sudden, Reagan comes along - And, you know, everybody likes Reagan. He’s got charisma and he’s an effective leader and so forth. - and he starts putting people like Crowell in there and that other character out of Wyoming [pause]
CH: Well, it was Don Hodell from . . .
TK: No, who was the Secretary of Interior?
CH: Paul [Ukle?]? Euckley
TK: Jim Watt. But anyhow, he first and then finally this John Crowell in the Department of Agriculture and this other guy in the Interior and the whole nature of the Forest Service started to change right then and there. Seventy six was the year that I said, ”It’s no longer the Forest Service.” It’s now become a political entity but not as bad as, let’s say the Park Service or the BLM or whatever in the Department of Interior.
CH: During the late 70s . . .
TK: Jim Watt.
CH: Jim Watt, right.
TK: James Watt. He was the horrible one. He was the Darth Vader of the environment.
CH: [laughs] Yes. He created a big wake, didn’t he, and everything that he did, there was a lot of controversy, didn’t he?
TK: It washed up on the shores of the Forest Service domain, you know? That’s kind of like what Babbitt said recently. Somebody asked Babbitt when he was appointed, “Do you see the need to bring the Forest Service under the BLM so that you can control all the land management agencies?” and he said, “I don’t need to do that. I have the Threatened and Endangered Species Act,” which was a good reply. He could control the Forest Service with that any day he wanted to.
CH: [laughs] During the latter part of the ‘70s there was the Rare I, Rare II, or the Endangered Species Act or the - on the wilderness areas - What was the impact on those studies? Did that have much of an effect from your point of view in managing wilderness?
TK: Yes it did. They opened up a little bit of an enlightenment period about what this new resource wilderness was called and how it could qualify. Rare I was especially good at that, but it was purposely mishandled by the chief’s office so that it would loose momentum. The Forest Service actually let things slide off the table. It was the public and the politicians who finally brought it back to Rare II, and they tried to let Rare II slide off the table, but it was brought back into focus by National Forest Management Act of 1986 and they had to re-examine Rare I and Rare II all over again. The Forest Service didn’t want Rare I and Rare II to survive. They didn’t want any part of it.
CH: Is that because they would loose control over these areas?
TK: Yes, they would loose these roadless areas that would be suited for timber harvest, and of course, by then, the public was no longer using the Wilderness Act for the purpose it was designed. It was then being used as a tool to stop the forest Service from harvesting and building roads. The Forest Service understood that, and as a result they played the game to keep those same lands from being adopted through their own recommendations for wilderness. The Forest Service was not about to recommend anything other than a few rocks and some ice to the Congress for the next go-around. They were going to hold back all those develop-able lands that were old growth, but not necessarily commercial land. They were non-commercial land that had three to four hundred year old trees on them. It took that long for those trees to get harvestable on these non-commercial type lands and the Forest Service was going to get those first. Then whoever wanted those left over lands could have them. In the mean time, of course, they were going to give Congress everything that looked like it couldn’t be used for anything else.
CH: Right, yes. Bringing that down today, we have President Carter and President Clinton, who’s just suggested that the - How many million? Forty-five million? - acres something like that of wilderness area be put off of touch by an action other than being [unintel. word] as a wilderness area.
TK: Yes, he said, “You’re not going to enter these lands.”
CH: And going way back before the Forest Service, there was a rather controversial land back in the 1800s, the Land Transfer. That occurred giving railroads land to be able to develop . . .
TK: Yes, develop their routes, yes.
CH: And I think that it was President Lincoln in 1864 that actually had initiated that and the three railroad barons who then became timber barons were meant then to promote the land so that people who did - Eventually the pioneers coming out west could live on that land. They would, as they develop their railroads, they would divest themselves of that land and instead, it basically became huge timber holdings.
TK: Corporate in-holdings.
CH: Right, right. So, in terms of the Forest Service in their role, how did they react to this checkerboard arrangement that existed all over the west that these lands that were: the Forest Service or the BLM would have a section of land, then these railroad companies back and forth and like that. That must have had an enormous impact on the ability of the Forest Service to be able to manage lands in the first place.
TK: It did. It was a barrier, really. It was never a healthy situation. Forest Service didn’t react at all until the railroad people who owned these lands went to Congress and got the Forest Service the authority to share road costs. In other words, they came up with this very complicated formula for the Forest Service to loose money while the timber industry got access across National Forest Land paid for by the government to develop roads on their own land which the Forest Service could use under the agreement, but the timber industry were getting a free ride on it. It was called a cost share, but it was very little sharing involved. It was - The formulas were so complex and so easily manipulated that I think even if you worked at it full time, you didn’t know where the hell you were coming from.
CH: When did that happen?
TK: Well, I can remember cost-share starting way back in the late sixties or early seventies, the early seventies, probably, because I know when I got to Missoula, Montana, when I was working in the regional office there, cost-sharing, the cost-share program was in the lands, the Recreation and Land Division where I was working, and that was already in place then, so . . .
CH: And what was the rationale? What was the justification?
TK: Oh, the justification was that government can’t stop people from accessing their private property, but yet, the private party didn’t want to develop all those roads out of their own pocket, coming across federal land to get to their private land, so they came up with this goofy, weird, cost-sharing arrangement, saying, “Well, the Forest Service could use these roads to develop their own lands for timber harvesting, and since we’re all in the timber harvesting business we’ll all come out even on this, you know,” and of course, the minute the Forest Service started allowing these companies to build roads across national forest land in order to reach their land, they were harvesting timber en route, on the way to the private land. It was a cozy arrangement. It was a failure as far as a management scheme goes, but it was cozy, a real [laughs] cozy arrangement.
CH: When you refer to it as a failure for land management what kind of effects did it have on the land?
TK: Oh, a poor decision, poor harvesting decisions. It only pertained to harvesting. It didn’t pertain to wildlife, water quality, recreation, or scenics, or anything. It did little bit when some the public found out what was happening and they insisted that the agency apply some of its own standards toward those roads because if the public didn’t watch it, the agency didn’t do it.
CH: What kind of effect did it have on the watersheds and the various habitats of those watersheds, just the roads themselves?
TK: Well, I’m sure it did in some cases and in some cases probably nothing. The same thing with wildlife. Probably those roads that impacted wildlife more than anything because it opened up roadless areas that elk, deer, moose, etc. were using as escape cover and all of a sudden now, when you start approaching X number of miles of road per section of land those animals become very vulnerable and over-harvesting is bound occur. That’s a known fact. So I’m sure that was one of the big trade-offs, because wildlife lost big on those cost-share roads and the watershed depends on what the physical nature of the land was, in some places, probably no damage, and in other places probably a lot of damage. I don’t know that.
CH: So, by 1976, then, you were just finishing up your work at the Ketchum - I would imagine you were at Ketchum at the time?
TK: Yes, I was at Ketchum at that time, and I was the Assistant Superintendent in charge of administration at the Sawtooth Recreation National Area.
CH: So what happened then?
TK: To me you mean?
TK: Well, I got - Oh, it’s kind of a crazy little scenario that happened. Here is the way it happened. I was the ranger at Stanley, Idaho, and I had the luck of being made a GS-12 Ranger, one of the first men at that time to get that rating as a ranger. Most rangers were GS-11s, and Stanley had a complicated enough workload that my boss, Wes Carlson, who was the Forest Supervisor said, “We’re going to make you a 12 because you’re right here in the center of this future NRA and we want to show people that we have the expertise in place.” So I took the 12 and, of course, soon thereafter the Congress passed the NRA legislation. Like I said earlier, five ranger districts and three national forests had chunks taken out of them to make this NRA, so I was out of a job, and the regional forester - His name was Vern Hamre, a very powerful up-front type guy, came to me and said, “Lookit, I know you’re in the running to be the NRA Superintendent, which would have been a GS-13, - I mention these numbers because that’s just the way this system works. And I said, “Yeah,” I said, “ I think I qualify to be the NRA Superintendent.” We weren’t using the word ranger, because we wanted to show the people that the superintendent which relates to parks, we had the same expertise that they have for recreation. This was the era of breaking out into recreation exposure for the Forest Service, so we were doing tricks like this. He came to me and he said, “Lookit, we have a guy coming out of charm school.” That’s what we called the schools that were set up all over the nation where they sent their . . .
[End of tape 2 side 1.]
Tape 2, Side 2
21 October 1999
TK: OK. I think it was at the point where he came to me and said, “I understand that you would like to have that GS-13 Superintendent job and you’re fully qualified but,” he said, “we have a fellow coming out of Harvard or Michigan with a master’s . . .
CH: So, as you were saying?
TK: So, Vern said, “Lookit, Tom,” he said. “Would you do me a favor?” he said, “We have a young man coming out of Michigan State with a master’s degree in public administration and we need to place him, and his name is Grey Reynolds.” And I knew Grey from the earlier days of my career. And he said, “We need to give him a GS-13 job because that’s what the contract calls for,” and he said, “and this job is open and available,” and he said, “Would you do me a favor, and I’ll take care of you later, but what I need to have is Grey at this job, and you to stay and be his assistant and help Grey put together the program.” And he said that also to another chap who was the ranger just down the street from me on the next ranger district who was very capable who also wanted a shot at that GS-13 job, and he told him the same thing. He said, “Lookit, if you stay, help Grey get started then I’ll give you a promotion where ever you want it.” And we both said yes. Grey was a nice individual to work for. He was affable. He was direct. He was talented. He got along with people good. He was just a good hombre all the way around. I really enjoyed working with Grey as a boss, and of course, I had the same strong characteristics that he probably had and I was using those talents to help put together a program and this other fellow, Lynn Sprague, the next ranger down, also stayed to do that and as a result we made quite a team and we had quite an effect on making things happen in a short period of time. This is all leading up to why I left. In 1976 I saw those earlier political winds blowing. I was becoming dissatisfied with the fact that here I was working on this NRA for four years and the reward I was going to get was to be the NRA Superintendent. Well, Grey moved on to be the Forest Supervisor somewhere, and in fact I told Grey. I said, “Lookit, Grey, I need to get out of here because I’m going to be here four years now, and if you leave tomorrow, I’ll have your job and I’ll be here another four years. I’ll be eight years in one place, and probably will consider that home where I won’t want to move, because I’ll have too big an investment in my own age pattern.” And he agreed with me. He said, “Yes, it’s kind of a dangerous situation you’re in.” So the guy who had made me the promise was getting to retire himself, Vern Hamre, Regional Forester, and in the Forest Service there are no contracts after a person leaves. If I promise you something and I leave then you’re on your own, pal. You know. And it’s an old trick, too, in the Forest Service to say those things in order to manipulate you and then you transfer and to hell with everybody else. So I saw the handwriting on the wall and I told Grey. I went to New Zealand, kind of like on a soul searching session to find out who I was and where I wanted to go professionally. I came back and in the meantime I had applied for several jobs, one of which I thought would renew me, and that was the wilderness leadership job for Region I out of Missoula, Montana, in the Regional Forester’s office, oddly enough, working for the same boss, Bill Worf, who hired me as a young forester in Pinedale, Wyoming. He had been over the years finally ended up as the Director of Recreation and Lands for Region I. I got the job, so I told Grey. I said, “I’m leaving the NRA, and going to move up to Missoula, Montana and start another phase of my career. Up to this time I had been a line officer. I never did staff work. I never did like staff work, but I was willing to take a shot at it, and I knew it was risky, because in the Forest Service, you can get stonewalled or shelved real easy if you step on wrong toes, and I was going into a job that I had the potential to do that. So that’s why I left the Sawtooth NRA. It was four and a half, almost five years of real success stories there on the ground with good everything, you know, good ratings and so forth, and good rapport with my own employees and great working relationship with Grey Reynolds and it was just time for me to take care of myself because the system wasn’t going to do it for me. I’ll guarantee that. And so, I did. I took that job and started another phase of my career which was working with all the people on eleven national forests in Region I, to understand their job as well as management. And then from that job, I was promoted to the Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Flathead National Forest in Kalispell, Montana, which had a great deal of both timber and wilderness. Half the forest was wilderness and the other half was commercial forest, so I had a real mix of work cut out for me there. And from that job I migrated to the - Again, I was promoted to come to the Nez Perce National Forest, came here in the spring of ‘82.
CH: So, the spring of ‘82. Now when you came to the Nez Perce, was that going to be any different than what you had been doing in Montana, or?
TK: Yes. Yes.
CH: How was that different?
TK: Well, it was different from the standpoint that the Regional Forester whose name was Tom Coston, who was a very dynamic man, well loved and respected leader. He had leadership qualities, this man. He told me, he said, “Lookit, Tom, we need you to go to the Nez Perce National Forest and do a couple of things that we’d like to reverse. Number one,” he said, “it’s the most heavily appealed forest in the nation.” He said, “It’s always in trouble with the timber program and we want that stopped. Number two,” he said, “we need to make friends with the Fish and Game Department because they’re the ones doing all the appealing and suing through activist groups. You know how they work, get somebody else to do the bidding because they can’t do it themselves.” And he said, “Also,” he said, “water quality has got to be your top priority.” And very seldom do they tell you, or give you a marching order in the Forest Service. When they promote you, they promote you based on the fact that they think they’ve picked you because you have the talent that they want. In other words, let’s pick this guy or this gal. We’ll send ‘em to this location because we expect, based on the way they’ve operated in the past, they will automatically do the things we want them to do, but we don’t want to tell them to do.
CH: Can you give me an example? In your case?
TK: In my case?
TK: Well, making friends with the local community and the diverse interest groups here. You know, they didn’t say, “Come here and make everybody love the Forest Service.” They knew that I would do that.
CH: Why didn’t they want you to? Why wouldn’t they tell you that?
TK: Well, chances are, if you would be a line officer that would be putting a lot of pressure on our people that’s not necessary. Why would you say, “Go make friends with everybody,” and have the guy fail and he would be ready to jump off a bridge because he’d failed. I thought it was probably a pretty wise strategy not to pick somebody because you can play the trumpet well, but what if you lose the ability to play the trumpet, you know, so it’s just kind of - this going off again?
CH: No I. (Switches off)
CH: So, a question I had for you was on the water quality they said that was your highest priority. Now, what did that mean, what aspect of water quality were you to be focused on?
TK: Road building, logging, mining, any earth disturbing activity is where I saw the problems that were a little bit on the careless side here, the professionals here weren’t doing the best job they could but they were trying to save money and you know - engineers always want to go, like I said earlier from A to B in a straight line and that gets resource people in trouble, they allow the engineers too much latitude, they let, they offer the engineers the chance to be part of the management or leadership team and engineers don’t understand their role because they’re not resource oriented people, they should be kept in the background and brought forward only when needed..
TK: They shouldn’t be allowed to run the Forest Service.
CH: So when you were brought here and you were going to be managing the forest for water quality, what kinds of things did you consider changing and what actually did you work on to increase water quality here?
TK: Well the first thing we did was examine and examine our road building practices and find out what we were doing that was causing the loss of water quality, then I brought in the expertise that the forest didn’t have, I brought in as many hydrologists and fish biologists as I could to beef up our expertise ranks and I spread them out across the forest at the ranger district level and in the Forest Supervisor’s office and then I took the job responsibility away from the staff in my office and put it back out on the ground where it belonged with the rangers. I held rangers accountable for the health of the land. When I got here this whole forest was being run by several people who had taken away the authority of the rangers unwittingly, I don’t think they did it purposefully, it’s just human nature to grab power whenever you can and it was primarily the Forest Engineer, the Timber Staff Officer and the Forest Supervisor, all three of them had pretty much decided that, that they would collectively run the forest and again it wasn’t a purposeful thing, it was something they did through the budget and they made all of the decisions kind of in the closet you know and I reversed that procedure. I put the rangers back in charge and demobilized the power that I had in here so that it was more decentralized, not centralized, and it worked. We immediately, with the new expertise and hydrologists and the fish biologists and wildlife biologists, they were part of the quotient too, we got on top of our problems relatively fast here and became a leader nationally, in fact my forest engineer responded real well to the new challenges that I gave him about fixing the broken clock and went on to receive quite a bit of acclaim as an engineer who cared about the land. It worked real good, real good, we got a lot of notoriety we got many, many awards nationally, we had tremendous appeal to help other folk who couldn’t do what we did. We offered workshops and we probably were on the road helping other people to overcome similar problems than we were staying at home at times. It got to be quite a workload.
CH: What specific types of problems did you have that your work with hydrology and the fish biologists and wildlife experts what, ..that..that they solved those problems?
TK: Well basically, it was putting the money, basically it was putting the money up front to stop the problems before they occurred, in other words you would build a road to a higher standard and the engineers would always want to build the road to the lowest, cheapest standard they could, not worrying about aesthetics, water quality, wild life, etc. So we had to go back in and show those folk that they were going to have to spend more money to stop this problem and then of course the engineers could apply their expertise and solve the problem once we told them what they were doing that caused the problem. They didn’t always know what they were causing, you know, it’s just not part of their background, you know, to them a little dirty water looks like a little dirty water, to a hydrologist that might be the difference between a budget level that’s acceptable and a budget level that’s not acceptable... a water budget level, water quality budget level.
CH: What kind of latitude did you have in making these decisions?
TK: Oh, I had all the latitude in the world, I was the Forest Supervisor, Forest Supervisors are the king of their own domain. No-one can tell a Forest Supervisor what to do other than his boss, which is the Regional Forester and they’ll do that if that Forest Supervisor is out of control, but for the most part they let a Forest Supervisor have his way. The people who you have to watch out for, the people - the staff officers who work for the Regional Forester, they’re the culprits, they’re the ones who try to control a Forest Supervisor though his budget by saying, “well if you don’t do this Tom, then you’re not going to get this chunk of money we’ll do this other thing.” So they’re always holding you up, blackmailing you and pushing you around and you have to get back in their face and let them know that you’re in charge and that you wont tolerate that kind of unprofessional conduct and go charging right to the Regional Forester and say, “you got some sleazy people on your staff and here’s what they’re doing to me,” and I wouldn’t hesitate doing that, not at all.
CH: Did it actually happen?
TK: Oh sure many times, yeh. But once you train them to lead, once you get your staff officers trained to lead then they leave you alone, cause they don’t want to be embarrassed any more than I would want to be embarrassed because I was doing poor work myself.
CH: How did you balance the different objectives between the extractive industries and the recreational interests within this forest?
TK: Well, I didn’t really try to balance it, what I tried to do was respond in positive ways by showing improvement over an existing level of involvement, lets say that we had, like for instance our trail maintenance. This forest was doing a lousy job of trail maintenance and we knew that and when I got here I took a look at that and I saw a need and room for improvement. So I told my people we’ll develop a million dollar budget and I don’t think the budget for trail maintenance was ever more than $200,000. So we put a million dollars every year into trail maintenance and some of my traditional staff people objected because I was taking money from their sacred pots and I said, “that’s tough pal, we’re going to show some improvement in our trail stewardship and here’s the way it’s going to work,” and you know, they’d grumble and they’d get over it and they’d start to co-operate. I didn’t ever try to balance anything, I just tried to get ahead and incorporate, overlap into the on the ground scenario as much as possible, while doing Job A lets take a look at what we could do to help Job B at the same time and people would say, “Well you can’t use money to do this,” and I says, “Yes you can, we can do any damn thing we want as long as we don’t violate the integrity of the money like changing its color or its denomination, you know like taking money that was set aside to do Job A and completely destroying that integrity and doing Job B. But there’s no reason why A can’t help B out when it’s in the same area”. It’s like people telling me I’d say, “Well why aren’t you stopping to pick up that litter?” “Well I’m a timber cruiser, I’m on my way to cruise timber and that’s the recreation job.” I said, “No it’s not,” I said, “You’re part of a team on a National Forest and if the culvert is blocked you get out and you unblock it, or if there’s litter on the road you stop and you pick up the litter,” and he said, “well I’m spending the money wrong,” and I said, “No you’re not,” I said, “I’m the one you got to worry about and if I’m not worried then you should feel pretty damn comfortable about picking up that litter.”
CH: [laughs] Well by what standards were you measuring your success by?
TK: Primarily by report cards from the public, the public was quick to feed back, I watched the newspapers and I talked to the public a lot and I got most of my monitoring through the public, they were telling us in a hell of a hurry, and we had people we always stayed in touch with locally and regionally and nationally who could pass judgement on our behavior and our actions. We worried about cost effectiveness but I really worried more about the health of the land and having the expertise here on board and be damned with the tradition and the holy cows that men and women tend to build into their jobs, you know sacred cows.
CH: What was the priority for, in this forest for logging, mining and grazing?
TK: Well, logging was pretty damn high, when I got here they were cutting a lot of timber and we were in the process of building this forest management plan, (FMA), you know and the plan was being pushed by a model that developed timber over other resources and I didn’t like that. So we started looking for ways to tinker with that model so that the model didn’t override good judgement and we found out that water quality was our saving grace there. So we built in some traps for over-harvesting and we set thresholds for water quality as high as we could, recognizing that anadromous fish and water quality went hand in hand and that we were responsible for 15% of all the Columbia Basin anadromous stock. Those babies are born on this forest and we were losing our habitat potential. The dams were the major culprit but the ones that did survive and got here depended upon the habitat to make it. Of course, the politicians view of that was, “Tom, don’t worry about the habitat, after we get through logging and roading the Nez Perce Forest we’ll give you the money to go back and rehab the entire thing.” You know that’s the way politicians think, create job A, destroy something, create Job B to build it back up again and they always stay in power and elected that way. I didn’t buy that and as a result of that I referred to lowering timber thresholds as rapidly as I needed to in order to bring a form of balance. You know balance doesn’t mean equal, it means representative piles of things on a resource agenda, you know when you’re balancing things on a scale, yeh, you know you put weight A on one side and weight A on the other side you get a balance, but here we’re talking about different piles that represent the importance of the resources. So between lowering the cut here on the forest and insisting on higher road standard criteria we also went back in and brought back damaged areas so that our threshold for working on the land actually got higher rather than lower. The more you destroy your water quality the less you can do on the land. The higher the water quality is the more you can manipulate the land and that’s hard for people to understand that, especially extractive people like miners and loggers and sheep and cattle grazers. They don’t understand that a healthy land base actually gives them more options rather than less options. So you are dealing with a perception that he’s going to cut me back from 100 sheep to 50 sheep, I’m going to lose my ass over the deal, well he’s not in the long run, those 50 sheep might end up looking like 200 sheep, but he needs to see that happen before he believes you.
CH: And did it happen?
TK: Oh, sure happens all the time. If you can get through the morass of barriers that you’re faced with.
CH: So what happened to lumber, timber production from this?
TK: Well, it started to fall in the forest plan and that’s where I started to get in trouble with my bosses and the politicians. They wanted to predetermine, a predetermined amount of timber that would be harvested off of this forest, regardless of what the forest plan said and I was told to start tinkering with it through, mainly through the politicians. I came up with a, what they call, an allowable sale quantity of roughly 100 million board feet and the timber industry objected to that, they said we want 125 million board feet as a minimum, they went to McClure, Symms and Craig and said you need to make sure that this Nez Perce plan has that in the preferred alternative and of course my bosses got to me and they tried to indirectly manipulate that, I saw what they were trying to do and I refused to do it. I said under no circumstances am I going to raise that value. Well McClure and company got mad at me and he denied it and later on he corrected himself. He had asked the chief to remove me and the mere fact that he asked the chief to remove me started a whole new level of support for keeping me here from the public who found out about it. We leaked everything to the press as quickly as we got it, that McClure was doing these things and Symms and Craig. To make matters even more complicated we found out that one of McClure’s aides, a guy by the name of Carl Haywood was implicated and alleged to be stealing timber off this National Forest and we confronted the Justice Department with this information and it mysteriously disappeared into the cracks and crevices of law enforcement. I was working right up until the day I retired to bring that case to fruit. In fact we even made an overture of not pursuing criminal charges but pursuing civil charges so that we could not embarrass these people, you know.
CH: So when was this happening? What period of time?
TK: Oh that was roughly 1988, 89, 90 somewhere in that era right there.
CH: And you, I’m wondering in terms of the debate on this what the public debate on this issue was versus what was really, perhaps, the situation behind that in terms of the production you’re supposed to have in this forest, you wanting 100 million and them wanting 120 million ...?
TK: 125 million minimum, yeh minimum.
CH: 125 million, and the basis for which they were saying that they wanted this, the basis that you were replying, that it couldn’t be done, what McClure said he wanted, you know, in public and then perhaps, if there was, another dialogue that was going on behind that, what was that?
TK: Well the public for the most part didn’t even care about this argument. Of course you know your local sawmill owner was in favor, your school board was in favor because it was a cash flow for them, the more trees that were harvested the more money they get. So the only people who really were tracking this was me and the environmental community. The environmental community were fully aware that the industry was trying to push its weight around again through the political offices. My bosses in Missoula were probably confused but felt the need to respond to McClure and company because that’s the way they were trained career wise, you know these were career men who saw the need to respond to the political pressures you know. I did, I had no regard for unfair political demands, if they were fair political demands, like, say, let’s hire more minorities I’d say sure, let’s work on that if that’s a problem or let’s have a higher wage for these people, sure let’s work on it you know. Good political demands but, if it was something that was gonna profit people and not the land I usually fought it, in a positive way, I very seldom got negative, you know, I’d develop allies [unintel.] now.
CH: Who in the environmental community were you building a relationship with?
TK: Well one person in particular was Dennis Baird out of Moscow, Idaho, who was a Sierra Club rep and also a librarian and historian and who had a lot to do with what lands in Idaho became eligible for wilderness you know. He was friends with a lot of politicians, he could work effectively with land managers as well as school teachers and activists of all types, he was a good leveling man he also knew how to punish the Forest Service if they got out of the box, if they got out of the ethical box, he was good at that. He knew how to sue and when to sue and stopped many a Forest Service operation from moving past point “A” at all. So he became a real ally because he saw that we were trying hard to become professional. Fish and Game Department also came over to our side, they became one of our best defenders, we also worked with a lot of prominent people in Idaho who had political clout, republicans and democrats alike. Cecil Andrus became an advocate of our management style here because we put water quality and fish habitat first which are Idaho’s future. Timber you know is here today gone tomorrow, you know who’s going to live 300 years from now to see old growth, no-one’s going to be around. So little by little we developed a hard core constituency who wouldn’t let anybody destroy our programs here, it was quite rewarding.
CH: How openly could you work with the environmental groups?
TK: As openly as they would allow me to work with them.
CH: As who would allow?
TK: The environmentalists, they were always suspicious about the Forest Service no matter how many doors you opened up for them they still doubted that you were sincere. So there had to be a period of time of trust-building.
CH: There was no liability on your part for working openly with environmental groups in terms of the higher echelon of the Forest Service?
TK: Oh no, it wasn’t a liability except in my career, but again I wasn’t in it for the career that they thought I should have; I was in it for the career I thought I should have as a steward of the land. I never got punished for my openness with environmentalists I just got ignored a lot by my own people above me, my own bosses would say oh that’s Tom, they learned to live with it which is exactly what I wanted them to learn to live with.
CH: So you didn’t get any direct feedback from them?
TK: Nah, very seldom, very seldom, I very seldom had anybody yell at me at all. They would say well, what their trick was was to avoid the issue by offering me promotions, I was probably offered a chance to have every prominent job in America on every National Forest at least once, but it was all closet jobs, big money to go disappear and I wouldn’t take em, because once you leave a line officer’s job you lose your power. You see the first power job in the Forest Service is the Forest Supervisor. Rangers have power but it’s pretty limited, the total power at the National Forest level is the Forest Supervisor. There’s only four people who run the Forest Service, the Chief, Regional Forester and the Forest Supervisor and the Ranger. Now if even one of those men or women can have that power eroded if they allow it, I would not tolerate my power erosion, I would sometimes yield it but I would never tolerate it being taken away from me and if they didn’t like it then they could find a way to get around it by
[End of tape 2, side 2]
Tape 3, Side 1
21 October 1999
CH: I just asked you about whether the Forest Supervisor could go around, I mean the Regional Forester could go around the Supervisor to implement his own ideas or policies to the district rangers?
TK: No, he can’t do that and I’ve never known that to happen other than maybe on a real informal thing like in the case of a sick Forest Supervisor, somebody who wasn’t available due to an illness or something, no that wouldn’t occur. The system isn’t designed to allow that to occur and most Regional Foresters would have way too much integrity to do such a thing as that.
CH: So you never found yourself in extreme conflict with Regional Foresters?
TK: I found myself in extreme conflict with his people but not him directly.
CH: I see.
TK: I did have one Regional Forester who was totally upset with me because I wouldn’t yield to the political pressures that would take the pressure off him and he was visibly upset with me to the point that he told me at one of my annual interviews that I had trouble dealing with people, which was of course one of my strong suits every place I’ve been, all of a sudden I’m having trouble dealing with people according to him and I was on the merit promotion system where I got a bonus every year rather than an automatic pay increase and I think I was the only Forest Supervisor each year in that system who never got a bonus because I wouldn’t play ball with the Regional Forester and his staff. And that’s the way they got back at me with denying me the opportunity to have a year end bonus of x number of dollars and it was kind of funny because this Forest was often voted the best of everything and received numerous awards from outside and inside the agency, the Department of Agriculture, certificates of merit and wildlife conservationist of the year and several rites of recognition, Nez Perce tribal relationships - the best ever they’ve ever had. And so here we were doing everything that we were supposed to do, but yet internally the Forest Supervisor was misbehaving, you know tongue in cheek I say that because it didn’t bother me, sure I’d be out maybe 5, 6, 7 or 10 grand at the end of the year that would have been a nice reward but to hell with it, why should I change the posture of the land and what the people on the land wanted for 5 grand. It didn’t make sense to me at all.
CH: So what kind of issues in this particular case with this Regional Forester that was undergoing a lot of pressure from people about what issue did that ....?
TK: Primarily to increase the allowable sale quantity, he wanted me to increase it arbitrarily, you know without a reason and also to agree to allow the timber industry to get into an area called West Meadow which I refused to do. Which is a real sacred area in terms of the last stronghold of unmarred water and the home of the anadromous steelhead and chinook salmon.
CH: And this was in a wilderness area?
TK: No, this was a roadless area.
TK: But the timber industry wanted to get in there for years and I wouldn’t agree to do that.
CH: During that period when you were Forest Supervisor, what happened to the roadless areas, were there, were very many of them transferred either into wilderness areas or logged, either way..?
TK: No, in my day nothing went into wilderness, it had all been, occurred prior to my time here. To give you an example, this is a 2.3-million-acre national forest - the Nez Perce, 1.1 million acres is in wilderness and the other is outside of wilderness so by the time I got here all those large battles had been won or lost depending on how you want to look at it. The remaining roadless areas, which is about 400,000 acres on this forest were studied under the forest plan per view and it washed out that they were not needed to round out the wilderness system. Now Earth First and some other groups feel strongly that we missed an opportunity to add those acres into the wilderness system and protested that. But we never had any problems with the EIS that we wrote disqualifying these wilderness areas, it was shown that they were better suited for manipulation rather than just for preserving. Dennis Baird being one of the people who passed judgment on that decision, saying yes he agreed. All the environmental communities, the Fish and Game Department, all your user groups said we had done an excellent job of leveling the playing field on the remaining roadless areas. One area I just told you about, West Meadow for instance, doesn’t have to go into wilderness to be protected, it just takes the courage of the land manager to say no. There is a higher form of use out there called watershed and anadromous habitat and we’re not going to log it and we’re not going to road it and it does not have to go into wilderness.
CH: But doesn’t that leave the land in a precarious situation?
TK: Yeh, absolutely, it’s vulnerable to the next Forest Supervisor who sees things differently or is talked into seeing things differently, or some sleazy politician gets his hands on the wrong people, yeh, it’s dangerous.
CH: But you don’t see these areas becoming wilderness?
TK: Well, you know, I don’t think so, to tell you the truth, although West Meadow Creek, if anything is going to go wilderness in order to protect it, it will be West Meadow Creek. There’s a lot of advocates for doing that, so it wouldn’t surprise me. As far as it being unique enough to be wilderness because it has special merit that the other wildernesses, existing wildernesses, don’t have, that’s not happening. It’s a valuable piece of land in its own right, it doesn’t have to be wilderness, but it certainly could be if that’s what the public wants to see it end up. I wouldn’t fight it, I’d say sure go ahead put it in there.
CH: So these other 400,000 acres of roadless area are being managed in what way then?
TK: Well, now they’re not going to be managed at all because of Clinton’s proposals.
CH: You think that’s actually going to happen?
TK: Oh yeh, in fact it was a brilliant strategy, what he has done, I’m not sure if Clinton knows this or not. I wish he was here in the room so we could ask him, but what he has done is he has taken the politics out of the forest management. He has unknowingly set up. He has set up for the first time in my lifetime the ability for the Forest Service to play Forest Service because now the politicians have no old growth to attack. They have no reason to hold back money anymore like they did in the past you know with roads and timber harvesting. The PAC groups are going to go out of business rapidly.
CH: The what?
TK: The PAC groups, the political action, the people who get money from timber industry to pay off the politicians and so forth with. That is not going to have any use any more because now they’re gonna have to convert themselves from, “lets go get the remaining old growth in the few roadless areas left,” to, “what can we do to enhance forestry laws and what can we do to give the Forest Service more money to go back in now and re-manipulate the land that we took the front end off.” Tremendous opportunity here. This whole thing could work out to the benefit of National Forest status.
CH: But the way he was able to circumvent the political process was by doing this as an administrative decision rather than going through Congress?
TK: He totally ignored them, he did not follow a democratic process.
CH: Because they would not have eh..?
TK: This would never would have happened.
CH: But then what if, I mean this is his last year in office, what if George W. Bush becomes president and decides, “Hey, I don’t care for that administrative decision, we’re going to make it retroactive that something else is going to happen.”
TK: Yeh, the next president could do that providing that the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) hasn’t been written. If the EIS is written, that’ll be almost impossible for George Bush to walk in the afternoon and do that, he might do it but its going to take him 4 or 5 years to get through the mirage of people who are going to defend that EIS written as Clinton foresaw it. It’s going to be tough for him to get around that.
CH: Could you describe the EIS process for me?
TK: Yeh, basically what you do is you have an idea for manipulating the land, or saving the land, whatever you want to do and so you go through a scoping process which is the first step. Everybody is asked how they feel about it and you record that. And then you take that data and you do an analysis from that data that you got out of scoping, how the public feels, how the industry feels, how anybody feels, plus your own inventory data, plus your own professional knowledge, put that all together mix it up and you develop scenarios and those scenarios are the result of analysis, OK? From that analysis you develop a draft agenda and you have to determine if there’s going to be a significant impact on the land and if there is then it kicks it in from an analysis to an environmental impact statement. See the analysis step is first and the analysis will tell you whether you have a significant impact on society and the land, that’s simultaneously, you know the health and welfare both of people and the land, OK? So, if it doesn’t kick it in then you stop at the analysis process and you develop alternatives and you give it to the public and you say this is our preferred alternative what do you think? And you negotiate from there. If the analysis kicks it into a significant effect on the environment then you tell the public that and you say we have developed a draft alternative, we’re gonna float these out to you, manipulate them and send ‘em back to us. You do the public involvement process, you get your information back, you take a look to see what you missed on the first go round, redevelop that into the final environmental impact statement, you make a decision, you pick a new alternative, I mean you pick an alternative on the one, say you developed four alternatives, you pick one of those or you recreate a fifth one [claps] by combining what the public really wants, ok? Then you put that out as a final decision and it hits the street with four steps. It hits the street and somebody doesn’t like it, either who has been part of the process or somebody who is new to the process, somebody who didn’t participate and all of a sudden gets interested in it. They can sue, that’s the fifth step which is the most difficult one because then you have to take it and renegotiate through the court or through the appeal process first, which would go all the way to Washington, DC, or, and if they lose the appeal, it doesn’t come out the way they want it then they’ll sue you, so then the sixth step kicks in. So then you get everything tied up in the courts for an indeterminate amount of time, which the Forest Service is expert at doing, is tying things up in the court system.
CH: Inadvertently I hope. [laughs]
TK: Yeh, its quite inadvertently.
CH: Well, then in terms of the 45 million acres that Clinton has made this decision on, is this land, has this land already gone through part of that process in being classified as a wilderness area?
TK: Yeh, oh yeh.
CH: So how likely is it that in the next year or two that the EIS could actually be completed so that it is effectively irreversible?
TK: Well you know 75% of the work of that EIS is already done really, if the Forest Service got its act together and they don’t know how to respond to the pressure, in fact they’ll probably do better in this case than they do where there is no pressure. They respond best when there’s a lot of pressure on them, they really put out the product then. My guess is that 75% of their work is already done, it’s a matter of regrouping it into a new format with a new language that responds to the President’s goals and objectives, put it out to the public and then bring it back in and put it back out on the street saying done. Now if they can get that done by September of next year, they’ve got it made.
CH: What incentive do they have to deal with it?
TK: What incentive?
CH: Yeh, what incentive do they have to make it happen so quickly? They’re basically taking land out of their control and putting it into a status of wilderness?
TK: Oh. The answer is easy, the Forest Service is part of the Executive Branch and remember I told you earlier there were four people in the Forest Service who make decisions, well the fifth one is the President.
TK: And we respond to the President’s marching orders, we never challenge the President, never have and never will because that’s the Executive Branch, he’s the boss. Now as far as the hacks go under him, forget em, we could double cross the Secretary of Agriculture and the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and anybody else we feel “I could probably get away with it without a”,probably get a good scolding or a couple of firings something like that. But if the President says, “Mike Dombeck, I want this done by September,” it’ll happen.
CH: Do you have any idea whether those kinds of time lines have been set up?
CH: They have?
TK: Oh, yeh, absolutely, oh yeh.
CH: Do you know what they are?
TK: Well I gave you one of them, September.
CH: Oh, so that was an actual ..?
TK: Yeh, real time.
CH: So how much confidence do you have in the Forest Service that they won’t bungle the job, you were referring to if they had it, if they didn’t bungle it this would fall into place, how confident do you feel that they will do the right thing, that they’ll get it done?
TK: Oh I would give them, I’d give em a 90 at least a 90% success on that.
TK: Now who will torpedo will be little people, I don’t mean stature-wise, but I mean little people in the organization below, below the decision makers who know how to stop things. There’s a lot of people in the Forest Service who have power in a certain position that they can kick that in at the right time and stall things. Those are the kind of things you’ve got to watch out for.
CH: Because all these different phases, I mean, apparently a lot of this has already been done but you know the scoping analysis, the various opinions, the draft statements, the alternatives an so on, it sounds like something that could take many many years.
TK: Normally it does but it doesn’t have to. The Forest Service stretches it out because of a lot of reasons. One would be they’re never given all the money they need to do these things instantly so they have to stretch them out, otherwise they’re going to rob Peter to pay Paul and you know Project F collapses while Project C thrives and they can’t do that. So they kind of stretch things out purposely.
CH: Em not... well I don’t mean for this to sound subversive in a way but do you feel that the extractive industries have the de facto operatives within the Forest Service that could either stall something like this from happening or, or keep it from happening altogether?
TK: If they do have, they do have operatives inside the Forest Service but in this case Mike Dombeck would have to be their key operative in order to have this thing fail.
CH: And you’re confident Mike Dombeck is going to push for this happening?
TK: Well, unless Mike, and this is the other scenario, unless Mike were totally surprised by Clinton’s message. Now I find that hard to believe.
TK: I think Mike has been part of developing that message. Had he not been part of Clinton’s message and heard it for the first time last Wednesday, Mike may not give a damn whether this thing gets done or not. But again he’s executive branch he’s the Chief of the Forest Service, the President talked to him and he’s going to get it done.
CH: And these 45 million acres will have the legal status of a wilderness.
CH: Well, how, what is ....
TK: They’ll have the legal status of anything short of wilderness and that would be no road building and no timber harvesting. Some lands could be acceded to existing wilderness or designated as new wilderness.
CH: Right. What about other things like grazing?
TK: Grazing probably in certain cases will be fine, motorized traffic might be fine, recreation activities ...
CH: What about mining?
TK: Mining only if it doesn’t destroy the character of the land you know.
CH: So that’s the bottom line definition of these areas then, it’s activity that does not destroy the ... and who interprets that standard?
TK: The Forest Service.
CH: The Forest Service, so under another political administration the, whoever’s put in charge of the Forest Service can undermine that with his own determination of what the standards are?
TK: Oh sure sure, you bet, that’s happened in time. It happened with the Rare 1, Rare 2. They kept watering down the criteria. Other people were pushing criteria higher and Forest Service was lowering the criteria. Yeh that happens, that part of the game.
CH: Of this 45 million acres. Do you know how much is in the Columbia River Basin?
CH: Do you have any idea, general idea?
TK: No. No I have no idea.
CH: Do you know what kind of effect that will have on areas right around here that you are familiar with?
TK: Yeh, it will have an effect here between this forest and the Clearwater National Forest, it’ll probably affect close to 800,000 - 900,000 acres of land.
CH: What kind of response have you heard since he came out with that announcement last week?
TK: Well other than from the politicians I haven’t heard anything.
CH: (laughing) What have you heard from the politicians?
TK: Well, just what I read in the secular press and that is the politicians are criticizing Clinton for end-running the process, you know, which they do all the time but in this case they can attack and they’ve been real vocal about Helen Chenoweth and company you know or, criticizing him but I notice how mild their criticism is. Larry Craig is probably already now looking for another agenda as a senator he is no longer going to be timber industries’ sweetheart, he’s probably going to switch over to something that doesn’t have to do with timber. You know that’ll dry him up now, moneywise probably.
TK: Well, there’s no reason to go after old growth anymore and that’s where the money is.
TK: Why pay Larry Craig PAC money to develop a stand of tree that’s already been harvested. [CH laughs] Why pay Larry money to pass a law saying let’s put more baby trees on the land next year.
CH: But at the same time those timber companies are going to have to have some type of compensation for not being able to get into these wilderness areas aren’t they? They’re going to have to have more harvesting in other areas or something like that.
TK: Yeh, they’ll switch over to private lands, county lands, state lands, corporate lands, which they’re doing now anyhow. What will happen is that the Forest Service will kick in with new developmental alternatives on the previously entered lands, they’re a lot of trees there; there are a lot of trees left; but what they’ll do is they’ll be more sophisticated about it, they’ll practice silvaculture and there’ll be a lot of investment in rehab. Rehabing what they’ve screwed up and that’s where the timber industry can come in as a new expertise. They’re the ones who mauled it, they’re the ones who know how to unmaul it and they’ll be paid to do that. Also utilization standards will change dramatically, we leave more material in the woods than goes to the mill and industry will start looking at that now and saying how can we take this fibre and turn it into a product. You know we burn more, we probably burn, pile and burn more material today on National Forest land than ever entered the mill.
TK: Yeh, sure, yeh, you start thinking about pine needles, cones and branches and roots and stumps and the tops of trees and so forth.
CH: Are there examples of those kinds of management techniques say in Germany or Japan or some other area that they could use as a model for doing something like that here?
TK: No, Europe has screwed up their forestry centuries ago and we don’t want to be like them. They have forests that are so denuded they’re having fertilization problems, they’re having acid rain problems, they’re having air quality problems, they have no water quality. No, we can’t learn anything from them except that they are experts at developing machinery that’s easy on the land. They are far ahead of us in that. They have some systems over there to harvest, you know, mechanical harvesting that is, that is truly amazing.
CH: Well, to go back to the point where you were at odds with the Regional Forester and you were trying to accomplish some of these things in this forest, what kind of repercussions, what repercussions came from your working so closely with the environmental groups, you said, you had mentioned that not getting your bonus paid, which is a very tangible sacrifice that you made, perhaps not getting other types of promotions that you might have been able to get. You said that the people, you got this word out and I’m not sure exactly who you went through to get the word out because I presume the Forest Service medium that you had to be able to communicate to this group was not used for that purpose. So how did you do this and what was the reaction?
TK: Well, you know, since the politicians made no, weren’t hiding the fact that they were allied with the timber industry I made no bones about the fact that I was allied with the environmental community, the fishing community, the hunting community, the berry picking community, the recreation community and the newspapers. And so every time they got nasty I just called up a reporter and said “Lookit, are you aware of what they just asked us to do, or told us to do?” and they would jump on that as you could well imagine. You know that was real great stuff here for 4 or 5 years wondering what Tom was going to do next but it worked beautifully because they immediately got with the story, neutralized every body’s negative impacts on us. You know, you asked me earlier how did we know how good we were doing, well if you went back and looked in the records, I told you about the awards that this forest was winning both as a forest and as individuals working here, but you got to go back and look at the fact that we were constantly in a newspaper article or a national magazine and the 4 or 5 books that have been written about things we’ve done on this forest, that was our feedback that we were OK. We never lacked national priority or publicity. National Geographic, Audubon Society, Smithsonian, they’ve all done feature articles on this forest.
CH: I noticed that coming up the road here last night that there are a lot of Native American monuments, and things like that. Was the forest involved much with that and as supervisor were you involved with that? You also mentioned the Native Americans too and your rapport with them, is there something more that you can tell me about that?
TK: Yeh, when I got here this forest for years had basically ignored the treaty rights of the Nez Perce Indians and I didn’t. What I saw here was a chance to involve me in the Indian land management decisions that favored their culture, not our white culture and I went to the Indians and I found out that they had the harvesting rights to the entire Nez Perce National Forest, even though it’s not inside their boundary anymore. It used to be but they modified the treaty, and so they took this land away from the Indians but they retained, the Indians retained, the right to come on the Nez Perce Forest to this day for customary practices; harvesting roots, berries, trees, they could raise cattle up here if they wanted to tomorrow morning. We’d have to kick somebody else off but they could do that if they wanted to.
CH: Was that part of the Stevens’ Treaties?
TK: Yeh, it was, so I went to them and I said here’s some decisions stuff that we’re getting ready to do, how do you see it and they would feed back to me and they had equal rights at the table. We honored them as a sovereignty, we didn’t treat them as a user group. Indians are not a user group they’re a cultural entity with sovereign powers so we recognized that and they had a seat at the table and if they said yes or no on a given issue that weighed as much weight as me saying yes or no. And we got along real good with, in fact we wove into the forest plan those areas without telling, without making them tell us why, that were sacred to them. We have an area here on this forest where we will not let anybody fight fire except Indians. Something happened on that site back in the grandfather days that is important to them and white people might desecrate that accidentally so the Indians said, “if a fire breaks out in there we want to fight the fire ourselves.”
TK: Go ahead, we’ll make sure that happens. The area has been set aside with a boundary since that report, no road building, no timber harvesting, no nothing on that piece of land without the Indians’ permission. Those are the kind of things we did with the tribe.
CH: You had mentioned at one point in terms of the Forest Service dealing with its budget and the effect that it might have on closing various ranger districts that it would be better to cut 200 jobs at the regional office level than actually close the ranger districts themselves. What was going on there do you remember that? Was that a ....?
TK: Let’s see. They wanted a - say that again, what did you...
CH: The issue is about closing ranger districts.
TK: Oh, yes, consolidation.
CH: And you said quote, “they should be seeing how they can eliminate two hundred jobs in the regional offices. All studies show that the regional offices are artifacts.”
TK: What I was saying there that they were destroying the grass roots effectiveness of the Forest Service by either doing away with the ranger district or combining them. They said that they were going to save money by doing it. Well, that’s wrong. You can’t - you can go back ten days later after they do this thing and ask them to show you the money saved. They can’t do it. So what I’m saying there is that you are doing something for the wrong reason. If you want an efficient streamlined organization, don’t pick on the ranger district. Go pick on the regional office which is unneeded. That’s the artifact right there. There are too many people doing the wrong work for today’s challenges. Ranger Districts were designed to represent and respond to local communities. If you take a Ranger Station out of a small town, you’ve left them void for those people to be heard. So you therefore eliminate or skip that, and that is not how the Forest Service was envisioned to operate. Even in this modern day, making policy around the campfire is preferable to making decisions around the coffee pot in Washington, D.C. And the reason the foresters are losing sight of their mission on the ground here, the computer is doing it.
CH: Yes, I read that...
TK: The computer is doing it.
CH: Yes, I read that you had said that, and in a way it seems puzzling in that I would think that the computer would give, and the computerized information age that we’re in, could give the local people more access to information that has an effect on them.
TK: Ah, ha. That’s true, and that’s not what I’m saying, because I really didn’t spell that out. But what I’m saying is this, is that the chief’s office has all the data that I have now, and he doesn’t have to ask me any more what I think. He can run his own analysis on my data and make up my mind for me without me knowing it and adjust my budgets or anything else that used to be my purview without my permission. He can start telling me through the computer what I need to do based on my own analysis because he has my data base. I used to control the data base. Knowledge is power. The way the Forest Service operates today, they are sucking the knowledge out of the local grass roots, manipulating it for political reasons, making decisions back there and shipping it back out to us down here at the ground. That’s how a computer is destroying the grass roots...
[end of tape 3, side 1]
Tape 3, Side 2
21 October, 1999
CH: Finishing up there on this last subject we were talking about, whatever information you get out of your forest, whether they get it through the computers in Washington or compiling it here, it still has to be interpreted. And the interpretation, if it’s done at a distant place, is not likely to reflect the local characteristics of that information. The information is - I mean how do you characterize the people living in this area and the more individual aspects of the community that perhaps statistics can’t really reflect?
TK: Yes. And neither can the computer relay that information to the chief. What’s happening it’s a power work thing. I’m responsible for interpreting the data because I’m not hiding it, but accumulating it and assessing it and interpreting it and forwarding it back along with a recommendation to my boss saying, “Here’s what’s best for our area and the resources, okay.” With the access to the computer, the chief knows what I know, or his people know what I know. They can just say, “Let’s see how Tom - let’s see what Tom’s forest plan says about this item.” And they look at it and they make a decision without asking me, and then they forward that decision to me asking me to approve it. That’s not the way the system was designed to be built. That’s why the computer is dangerous. It’s not that I’m bad mouthing computer science, I’m bad mouthing abuse. And therefore the computer, as the Forest Service has designed it, is a dangerous item to the decentralized method of doing business. Now if they want to do business like that, then let’s restructure from decentralized into centralized which is another format of organizational effectiveness. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a decentralized centralized organization.
CH: So how were you able to convince them to look at it?
TK: I never did.
CH: You didn’t. Okay.
TK: I never did. I wasn’t even aware of that until I basically retired. You see we’ve been in the computer business long before the public, and you know we had - I don’t know if you know this or not, but the Forest Service has a computer system that has more analysis capability than the Department of Defense.
CH: Oh, is that right?
TK: Yes. We have a beautiful system. We started way back in [word unintelligible] far ahead of most people in that regard, but we’re now falling behind in terms of government efficiency, paying for the cheapest product and getting the cheapest product [laughs]. You know, our equipment needs updating badly. But anyhow, I didn’t know that. It took me awhile to realize what was happening with the power structure. And it became apparent to me when I retired what I had been experiencing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. People all of a sudden knew everything that I knew, and it didn’t make sense that they would know that. I had no problem with them knowing that. I would tickled pink that they knew the forest that intimately, but I couldn’t figure out where the hell they were getting that kind of information so quickly, and then giving me alternatives that I might not ever have put together. Because it didn’t suit local conditions. It suited something going on in another locality. And I got suspicious about that.
CH: What kind of rapport did you have with the other forest supervisors in the northwest, particularly in the Columbia River Basin?
TK: You know, I wished I knew that, but I could say this. If I had to make a guess, it would be something like fifty-fifty. Fifty percent of the peer group really appreciated what I was doing, and the other fifty percent probably wished I was gone away. Because I was putting pressure on them to change their behavior, and they didn’t like that.
CH: In what way, just by your...?
TK: Oh, my standard. The quality. I’ve had four supervisors tell me that. “We wish you would stop this, because it’s not necessary. You’re playing outside the traditional venues, and you don’t have to do that. You could just shut up...”
CH: Can you give me an example of that?
TK: Yes, the Forest Plan. Water quality, the highest in the nation and we refused to co-operate on timber targets and a host of other things like that. I put a lot of pressure on a lot of people; they didn’t like that. I was, I was, I didn’t know it at the time but I was re-establishing the parameters for behavior, professional behavior. Remember I told you I questioned some land ethics? They started to kick in when I became a Forest Supervisor, because prior to that time I had no power.
TK: I could say something and people would say, ah you know just another drunk talking, right? Well, when I got to be a Forest Supervisor I could tell people in no uncertain terms what my ethics were and you had better change your behavior or you’re not welcome here. That kicked into inadvertent pressure being put on people who were sleazy. In fact I got into a lot of trouble the day I retired. A newspaper from Spokane, Washington, interviewed me and they said how do you view the eh, the eh Forest Supervisors in the Forest Service and I said well, I said, “most of them would make better shoe salesmen than they would Forest Supervisors,” and of course that came back to bite me many times, a lot of people resented that but I meant it, they’d make better shoe salesmen than they would Forest Supervisors of an important land resource job like this.
CH: So what was the route of pressure on these other Forest Supervisors in the Columbia River Basin that your actions had an effect on them, was it up through the Regional Forester and back down on them, or was it through the media or ..?
TK: It was through the media directly to them. The group that was most uncomfortable with me were the Forest Supervisors in Oregon and Washington because they have ready access to this news thing here and I was in the newspapers and Nez Perce was in the newspaper continually about fighting these battles with the politicians over allowable sales quantities and they of course were doing just the opposite over there. So all of a sudden that constituency group over there were saying, “why can’t you behave like the Nez Perce?” And they didn’t like that. I got a lot of harsh phone calls and computer messages from Forest Supervisors there saying, “knock it off” and also Jeff De Bonis, who started the AFSEEE Group, (Forest Service Employees for Environmnetal Ethics) used to work here on this forest and we had a very open forest here, we were very liberal and very tolerant and Jeff was considered a very high profile contributor to our success here, he was not a pain in the ass at all.
CH: He, he was here before he actually started ethical ..?
CH: Standards group.
TK: He was a silvaculturalist here working on a ranger district and when he left here he was asked to fix the analysis process so that there would be no constraints stopping a District Ranger there from harvesting more trees to meet this cut, which would mean a feather in his cap and a promotion in the forest and blah, blah, blah. Well Jeff called me up and he said, “you won’t like what they’re doing over there.” I said, “I’ve got a pretty good idea,” I said, “in Region 6 they solve problems with money” and he said, “well I’ve been told to fix the fight.” I said, “welcome to the world,” [CH and TK laugh] I said, “I get told that every damn day Jeff.”
CH: Well, I guess I have to go back to my own Forest Service experience as being a lowly ..
TK: Yes, you were at the bottom of the pile man.
CH: Wilderness Ranger, I mean they were below anything in timber ...
CH: And the feeling I had, in fact all of us had, was of always being on the outside, of having really very little respect from anybody in the Ranger Station. There were certain people in the Supervisor’s Office and perhaps the Regional Office that liked a lot of the things that we were doing but, you know there was never any feeling that the Forest Supervisor or the District Ranger had ...
CH: Yeh, and that there was support of what we were doing, so we were always in a defensive mode. How was that different for the people that worked in your forest?
TK: Well, first of all we never told the employees to not respond to having failed to improve things. I had a policy on the forest that anybody could walk into my office to discuss a problem and they didn’t need an appointment and if they did need an appointment my secretary would say, “well lookit Tom’s booked I can’t get you in until tomorrow morning” or whatever. But if I wasn’t busy they could walk in, I’d stop and they’d sit down and Jeff would say, “Tom,” he said, “we’re missing a chance here,” and I said, “well what is it?” And he said blah, blah, blah and he said, “my Ranger doesn’t believe me.” I says, “I’ll tell you what,” I said, “sounds like you’re onto something here,” I said, “wait a minute,” so I called up my timber staff officer and said, “come on down to my office,” I said, “this guys’ got something he wants to share.” And this guy didn’t like De Bonis that much, he thought De Bonis was a troublemaker and but, it was just that it was his style, Jeff’s style - in your face, and he didn’t mean to attack you personally. But anyway, the timber staff officer agreed that there was room for improvement in what Jeff saw and agreed to look into it and as a result we made some changes.
CH: Can you mention what that was specifically?
TK: Well silvacultural examination, how to apply the silvacultural knowledge at the proper time while you’re laying out the timber sales. I can’t remember all the details, but it involved that. So that’s the way we operated on the floor. Anybody could walk in, we had plenty of access to the computer, I had a file that was open for anonymous complaints, they could punch in and say, “Tom we want you to know the following things are going on, they’re negative blah, blah, blah,” and you could get back with a response and they wouldn’t be identified. So we operated that way plus we had leadership team meetings that were amazingly open and candid without punishment. I had a think tank on the forest, people could join the think tank, we allowed only 7 at a time to join and they would develop proposals based on problems, but they couldn’t solve a problem that they were being paid to solve. The think tank could not do the job that they were paid to do, they had to come up with new innovative ways to run this forest for the benefit of the public as a resource. We never had any of the things that you experienced. If a Wilderness Ranger wrote us a letter and said, “we need more money,” we’d respond by saying, “we don’t know how to get it to you. We agree with you but we don’t know where we’re going to get it from, we’ll try to include your ideas in next year’s budget.” You know, things like that.
CH: But how would a District Ranger feel if a Wilderness Ranger completely circumvented his authority and went to the Forest Supervisor? Well I would imagine that that Wilderness Ranger could be put on slash burning for the rest of his life.
TK: Well, I would get rid of those kind of rangers that did those things, we wouldn’t tolerate that. The Ranger had better get used to the fact that he wasn’t responding to that person’s complaints and that person had a higher level of appeal, without being formal about it, you know, we’re not talking about a formal appeal policy we’re talking human beings inter-reacting and the people at the top of the pile and at the bottom of the pile had a right to appeal, informal appeal and that’s the way I operated. So if the Ranger was that type of a ranger I’d say, “bye bye, we’ll find somebody who wants to work with people.”
CH: I knew people that had some of the higher GS positions in ranger districts who believed in what Jeff Du Bonis was doing 100 percent but were afraid even to have any kind of affiliation with his organization because of repercussions that might come down on them for that. Were those justified, those fears justified?
TK: Yes, oh absolutely. Yeh they were throwing away, wholesale throwing away all his publications when they arrived in the mail room. He knew how to reach people in the Forest Service because he was part of it and he would send enough copies earmarked for these certain people you know, so that they all had the same information at the same time. Mail clerk would take the whole bundle and throw it away.
CH: Was that legal?
CH: It wasn’t legal to do that, they can’t screen the mail.
TK: No, no, you can’t have a mail clerk screening mail for God’s sake, you know unless there’s a bomb in it or something. Well that’s how bad it got. Yeh, people didn’t like him, they didn’t like him.
CH: So what kinds of standards was Jeff De Bonis proposing that people in the Forest Service were so ..?
TK: The same standards that he encountered here on this forest. All he was trying to do was transpose being heard without pressure and not being heard, in other words if I say, if he said as a silvaculturalist, “A, B, C, D is good and E, F, G, H is bad,” he didn’t want to be told to change his opinion. That’s all he was asking for, there’s nothing complicated in that.
CH: Going on to your own career, you were Forest Supervisor during which years again?
TK: I was a Forest Supervisor from ‘82 to ‘91.
CH: 1982 to 1991 and during that period of time, first of all do you have a term where your Forest Supervisor can be changed during any...
TK: Any what?
CH: Is it a fluid situation or are you appointed for a specific period of time?
TK: Oh no, its anything I wanted it to be. Anything I wanted it to be.
CH: Why was it that you had so much control over that?
TK: Well, because I was the Forest Supervisor, it was my career and I decided that Forest Supervisors’ought to stay in place until they made a difference on the land. So I controlled that, I wouldn’t allow anybody else to tell me [phone rings] and I said that I determined that longevity.
CH: Right, I guess I was surprised that you had that much ability to be able to determine your own ...
TK: I don’t know if that’s standard but I did, I mean I arranged that or I controlled it or I manipulated it. Also the Regional Forester that was uncomfortable with me left. This had no bearing on my decision to stay or go. That was not the problem, but he left and so there was a period there where he left and the next guy took over and the next guy was more tuned into what I was doing than the guy that left. So all of a sudden the atmosphere changed quite a bit and all of a sudden I was coming up in status rather than going down in status with the Forest so to speak.
CH: Um, how did that manifest itself in terms of the way you ran your job, I mean if you had, if you were, had a better relationship with this Regional Forester then what was the net effect of that here in the forest?
TK: Well it was good, it was less resistance from the staff in Missoula to change our ways to you know, make them feel comfortable. In fact the guy who took over is the guy that they fired because he adopted a posture of running the region without the pressure of cutting trees that the other guy didn’t resist, John Muma. And John Muma became the Regional Forester here he started to behave, resource wise, much like we were on the Nez Perce. He wasn’t copycatting us, it was just his natural inclination to resist unfair political maneuvering and he finally had a power job to do this. Being a Regional Forester is another power job and he was in a position to say, “no, no, no, no, no” and of course he got in trouble for that and eventually put himself in the position of getting fired simply because he was in senior executive service, he was no longer a rank and file forest service member, he had joined the senior executive service which is outside the purview of the Forest Service.
CH: So was it the industry people then that were able to get to the ....
TK: Yep, the politicians and the industry people.
CH: Alright, and you weren’t vulnerable that way.
TK: I was vulnerable but they seemed unable to convince the Chief of the Forest Service to fire me. John Muma told me after I had retired and after he had retired a strange story that I wasn’t privy to while I was working but he said that he did receive a phone call from the Chief of the Forest Service telling him to let me go, find a way to get rid of me and John told him that he wasn’t going to do that, he said, “Tom has a power base that’s bigger than yours, if I do that Chief, we’ll have unbelievable explosions occurring over that type of thing,” so he said, “I’m not going to do it” and of course they dropped the ball at that point.
CH: What kinds of reactions could have resulted from that?
TK: Well everything from them using trumped up charges to get rid of me and then getting caught at it, or, firing me for doing a good job which would be almost radically impossible to convince anybody to support that. They could have done it but then they would have had to support it and then if they couldn’t support it that means that I could have, I suppose, entered into a lawsuit with them saying “Wait a minute, you can’t do this to me” [laughs].
CH: Well people who are political liabilities are often gotten rid of ...
TK: Yeh they are yeh. Well they do that in various ways. I know Forest Supervisors who were political liabilities and they were told that they had to be at a certain location on a certain date or else, and for whatever reason they agreed to do that and it could be the stress factor. The individual decided the stress wasn’t worth it, fighting the system and staying in place, so why not take the easy way out, you know?
CH: So at the point that .... then John Muma came in as the Regional Forester about what year was that?
TK: That had to be right around ‘87, ‘87 somewhere around then.
CH: And then what happened to your career at that point then, I mean did you, eh...
TK: Well John and I got along great, yeh and John was a wildlife biologist by training and he understood perfectly well what we were doing. The other guy was a forester was a forester and he didn’t understand what we were doing but John did and we had no problem with John.
CH: Were you involved in any of the issues during that time regarding the salmon and I know you were working as far as the habitat goes but in terms of say working with the Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife, or working with the Corps of Engineers or some of the other groups eh, Bureau of Reclamation, whatever, did you have cross bureaucratic ties with these other agencies that you worked with on plans?
TK: Yeh, we co-operated on providing them with data, that was one item, once we let go of the data we never saw it again; we weren’t part of that data manipulation process. We would loan them our expertise whenever they asked for it but we relied on them to give us money.
CH: I see.
TK: We got an awful lot of habitat repair money, rehabilitation money from those folks and we got a good rapport with BPA (Bonneville Power Administration), Corps of Army Engineers, the Indian Federation who would all funnel money to us to come back in and take care of the habitat.
CH: How was the money funneled to you by these other groups?
TK: Well it came through that mitigation process that the BPA used to charge up. You know the Northwest Power Planning Council, all that stuff. Who knows what the process is, all I know is that if we responded to it we got a check in the mail.
CH: Were you in touch with the Power Planning Council members from Idaho that were participating in some of these decisions?
TK: Yeh, informally, never formal. A lot of them you know were political hacks that were appointed by politicians to take care of jobs so you know you had to be a little suspicious of what they were doing and what they were telling you half the time. You took those people with a grain of salt.
CH: Were there people on the Council that you had a good deal of admiration for or you felt were doing a good job?
TK: Yeh, there was one guy, one guy who was one of McClure’s key people, I mean Gollar, Jim Gollar. Jim Gollar was always square with me, I felt he always was, even when he was working for McClure. I think he got pushed out by this Carl Heywood guy. I’m not sure about that but all of a sudden Gollar retires and is appointed to an $85,000 a year job on the Northwest Power Planning Council. But Jim, Jim Gollar was a good man to deal with.
CH: Now at what point were you, was it suggested that you might be a candidate on Clinton’s shortlist for the Head of the Forest Service?
TK: Well, I got a phone call from Dennis Baird and it went something like this. He said, “The process allows the selection of a new chief,” allows for nominations to come from the floor, like the conservation community was allowed one nomination, the environmental community was allowed one nomination, timber industry, you know, blah, blah blah something like that, he said, “Is it OK if we run your name up the flagpole,” and I said, “Sure, go ahead.” He said, “Are you committing?” I was retired already, he said, ”Are you committed to come back into the system?” I said, “Oh sure, to be Chief of the Forest Service and establish a rapport with the environment and the user group,” I said, “I would love that.” And they said, “well we want to support you, you know, we have nationwide support for your name.” I said, “well go ahead you,” know and I wasn’t really optimistic about this because I know the process and lo and behold at a certain point in time I was informed by somebody in the Department of Agriculture, in fact I don’t even know who the heck it was, that my name was on the Secretary’s desk along with three other names, one of which was Jack Ward Thomas, one name I never did learn, you know and I can’t recall that third name right now, and I had that down; its eluding me. But anyhow, that was the end of my involvement in the process and the next thing I knew that there was a meeting in Portland, Oregon over the Spotted Owl issue and they brought Jack Ward Thomas in to meet with Jim Lyons. Jim Lyons had been, you know he was the Undersecretary of Agriculture in charge of the Forest Service and he and the folks, the Regional Forester from Portland were all meeting somewhere in Portland and next thing we knew Jack Ward Thomas had gotten the nod for that job and that was the end of it right there, that’s about the total involvement I had.
CH: And, what was your impression of Jack Ward Thomas getting the ..?
TK: Well I know Jack Ward, he’s no stranger to me and I’ve always admired him as a scientist. I was happy for him, but I also thought it was going to partially destroy him. He had come out of a strong arm of research, he had never been a ranger, he had never been in a line job, he’d never been on the ground, he’s street smart, he’s tough, he’s well spoken, he’s literate, he’s a hero to a lot of people including me in his expertise column, but he was not a line officer and I saw that and I felt sorry for him because a lot of things went bad for him, right off the bat.
CH: Like what?
TK: Well his wife died, of cancer.
CH: Personal things.
CH: Personal things that went bad for him.
TK: Yeh, personal things and he developed a lot of health problems including heart problems and diabetic and prostate, you know the guy went through hell, plus being under that gridiron back there. You know my heart went out to Jack and I was hoping he’d survive and I had some personal conversations with Jack and they indicated that he, he himself saw the end of his tenure as Chief and wasn’t afraid to talk about it. Like I heard him, he would say that publicly at meetings, that he was not here like “Baby Doc” for life you know. He saw he had a role and he was going to get in and get out and by golly that’s just what he did.
CH: Did he replace Robertson?
CH: And what was the net effect for this area of his having been the head of the Forest Service, did he have any influence on the way things were managed here?
TK: You know I don’t think he changed a heck of a lot in the Forest Service to tell you the truth because he was not a strong line officer and a lot of us saw Jack being manipulated by the staff around him. He didn’t have that, he didn’t have that experience to know who was working him and who was working with him. But he did do one great thing, he brought into focus ecosystem management and before that time noone was talking about it and noone was worried about it, noone was paying it anything more than lip service and Jack started letting people know that that’s the way the new Forest Service was going to work and so for that you have to applaud him as having that single biggest contribution. Plus Jack was very responsive to people inside the Forest Service, he was a good listener and he tried his best to take complaints back and correct them. But of course they were manipulated by his staff so he lost track of that. Also they did an old trick with Jack, that is a good old staff trick and that is keep the Chief on the road giving speeches while you stay home and run the business the way you want to run it and Jack fell for that. He was on the talk circuit probably more than any other chief we had and they kept him there and they wore his ass out and he wasn’t getting anything done in his own desk because he was relying on the people around him and I suspect that they were not playing with a full deck with Jack.
CH: Well they appointed him at the time when the Spotted Owl crisis was at its very peak didn’t they and how did he respond to that because it was such a, at least from the point of view of living in Portland and the Forest industry, that space there just seemed like there was practically an environmental war going on and Thomas was brought in at a time that was very sensitive. How did he manage to sort things out on that issue?
TK: Well he did a good job, as you well know, he had the expertise and he offered the administration the help that they needed and I think were, they felt the need to make him Chief, he was the man of the hour, he had the choices and opportunities laid out for the administration to grab a hold of and run just like that, so he did a great job of applying that knowledge to that owl problem and everybody just fell right in place, right in line. You know, without Jack it might still be going on. Who knows, you know? They did reach some compromises that were effective. Well they did have that first summit.
[End of Tape 3, Side 2]
Tape 4, Side 1
21 October, 1999
CH: You had referred to Thomas introducing the ecosystem management plans. What is that and how did that differ from what went before?
TK: The ecosystem agenda revolved around the use of the word and what it meant. It was tough to interpret that word into a practical process, the word means taking care of your house and Jack explained that to people that it was time to start taking care of our house and that we were going to do the right things on the land by taking a look at what the land needed in terms of response for, you know, uses and treatment and he outlined an approach, an attack, so to speak that the analysis people in the Forest Service would use when looking at problems and putting together forest plans and revising forest plans and of course you saw that come out in the form of the Columbia River Basin. That process was ecosystem driven, they looked at ecosystems, not boundary lines and that’s the beautiful part about that assessment is that it was a crack at doing something that had never been done before, a process. So that’s basically where Jack left it, in the hands of his people who followed him and that was - you now have a process that responds to the land. That’s about as far as I could kick it because I was already retired of course when he put that into effect, so I’m not sure I understand all the products that he delivered through ecosystem management.
CH: What were the factors behind your decision to retire?
TK: Oh, yeh, I get asked that question a lot. A lot of people think that, the popular notion is that I left or that I was fired, or kicked out or so forth and actually it was kind of amusing. I was not in the least bit wore out, I was looking forward to the next year, you know the next business year of doing more of what I was doing although I knew that I had hit a ceiling with my flexibility to move to the next highest line job. In other words, I could take any staff job in the Forest Service and get a promotion and move anywhere I wanted to but I wasn’t tuned into that type of career, I wanted to stay in line, so as a result of that I knew in my past behavior was that the system wasn’t going to allow me to have any more power than what I had. In other words I would have gladly taken a Deputy Regional Forester’s job because that’s a power job, you’re the alter ego for the Regional Forester, you have as much power as he has or as much power as he’ll let you have, but its still a power base, people have to listen to you. So, I knew that those options were foregone and a funny thing happened, my secretary walked in around December 1 and she said, “You know, Congress is passing a law that allows government people to retire and take half of their earnings out of their retirement fund in cash and not be penalized on your annuity,” and I said, “You got to be kidding me,” and she said “No, the funny thing is you only have until December 31 to take advantage of this,” and I don’t understand the math real well anyhow so I took that to my, what do you call, financial manager, and I also talked to Forest Service folk and they ran the numbers through showing me what I would get in cash and what my annuity would be, it would be slightly reduced, not much and then the financial manager showed me what I could do with the available new money and I looked at that and I said, “you know I’ve taken this boat about as far as I can take it, I’m going to get out now, the boat’s near a dock, I’m going to get out, I’m going to pay myself back some cash that I could use for my own entrepreneurial spirit and do what I want to do for the next, for my remaining years.” I was 55 years old, I had a great career, I loved every bit of my Forest Service career, I would do it over, only I would do it more vigorously, I wouldn’t be so shy, I would be much more vocal, much more emphatic and much more inquisitive, I would have had even an higher risk profile. And I think well, now it’s time for something new to do. I can go back now and look at what I did and then maybe apply that as a consultant, a natural resource consultant at large. And I had many, many offers to go to work for large eh large companies and also large activist groups like Trout Unlimited and I’d been invited to consider being the Executive Director of that, and things like that came my way.
CH: And why didn’t you exercise those options?
TK: Well it would be going right back into more bureaucracy that I didn’t need, I already had 30 years of bureaucracy, why would I go back, why would I take an executive director’s job in Washington DC when I refused to go there as a forestry professional? I didn’t want that, I didn’t need that in my life, I needed, what I needed was a chance to be myself for Tom’s reasons, not for anyone else’s. So I just became an ad hoc person, I did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.
CH: And did you become involved with any groups then after you ...?
TK: Oh yeh, I was appointed by Cecil Andrus to the Idaho Outfitters and Guide Licensing Board, I did that. I was invited to join the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation Board, which was a front for raising money for the Fish and Game Department, I did that. Em, I became part of the Arthur Carhart Institute, which is a training institute, inter-agency training institute to teach line officers how to interpret and do wilderness stewardship, its out of Montana. I did that for 8 years, course I helped develop that when I was in the Forest Service so I had a reason to stick with that because it was something I had developed and I wanted to push the agenda as far as I could.
CH: What did you actually do with that while you were in the Forest Service?
TK: I was going to ... what in the Forest Service?
TK: I was part of a group that thought up the idea and then gave the Chief of the Forest Service the option of making it happen and showing him why and what the pay off would be. And he, he took the advice, our advice, and said, “yes.” He said, “please do this.” It was a real hallmark because part of that time wilderness training had no, no status whatsoever. You know, you could get trained on how to handle a tree and be paid $90,000 a year to do that, but you couldn’t major in wilderness in the Forest Service and get training. So we instituted that. It went over good; it’s still in effect. They’re still doing it, and I’m no longer associated with it because of their budget problem. They’re using their own in-house expertise now. So I did things like that, I was continually on a talk circuit, I don’t know how many times I’ve been invited to talk to different groups, whether it be wilderness or water quality or fish or some form of Forest Service - understanding the Forest Service better, you know where the Forest Service is coming from type of thing. I’m associated with a firm in Boise that does organizational effectiveness and team building, I work with Joe Zimmer, a retired State Deputy Director of the BLM in Idaho who’s very talented. So I work with Joe, we do a lot of, we teach a lot of courses to the BLM. Oddly enough the Forest Service has never really hired me back to be part of their training program, other agencies do, but not the Forest Service.
CH: [Laughs] Do you think that’s intentional?
TK: No, I think that it’s probably they haven’t thought about it [laughing].
CH: You know in terms of the, the various policies or whatnot that the Forest Service has pursued, there seems to be more attention to riparian zones, riparian zone management, is that something that came out of this debate that the Forest Plan, the management plans, the Forest Service was putting together for each one of the forests?
CH: What was behind that? What was the impetus behind that?
TK: Well you can really thank the activists groups from the outside, the different activist community. They don’t have to be in Idaho, they could be anywhere. You know Trout Unlimited, Idaho Rivers United and the Idaho Conservation League and People for Salmon out of Portland or whatever, they all brought that into focus and the Forest Plans had to respond to that, and as a result of it the price of playing poker on public lands, went up, into water quality and riparian zone, all new standards were developed and there were new experts in the field all the time you know, so between your activist community pushing the buttons, Congress and the Forest Service had to respond to that and it became a new hallmark of excellence, was how well you managed your riparian zones. You know, people were losing and making their careers based on that one factor.
TK: Yeh, it wasn’t how much timber you were getting out, it was how bad you screwed up the riparian or how well you saved it.
CH: So, do you really feel that the Forest Service has changed its goals that its oriented to?
TK: Yeh, but it’s not showing up because that’s how slow the progress is. You see, the Forest Service never talks about its good points, it always talks about, it’s always busy defending its bad points. As per how the public perceives bad points, well the Forest Service has never learned how to get ahead of the curve, they have one of the worst public relations divisions in corporate America. Between their personnel people, their public relations people and their administrative services, are horrible examples of inefficiency. So the Forest Service has never learned the art of apologetics, all they’ve learned is how to defend themselves. For the wrong reasons. So the good things are laying there cooking and no one gets to know about them. My philosophy was that on this forest we always drew the big things out every day, we had press coverage 24 hours a day whether people wanted it or not they were going to get it and then they could make judgment on how good we did or not. So in the long run the good things are gonna surface all at once and people are going to say the Forest Service has changed but it’s not visible yet and internally there are still some bad actors and actresses out there and there always will be, but they’re losing strength rapidly, you know the old guard, which is an overworked term, is starting to lose its effective hold on the Forest Service. If Mike Dombeck is lucky enough to stay four more years you will see some amazing things happen. If he gets booted out, we’re going to go back to ground zero, especially if it’s a change in administration from Democrat to Republican. That’s my prediction.
CH: Really? And in terms of the forest, the other types of forest practices and the development of management plans, do you think that they are really responding to the crisis in land management that’s going on today?
TK: The Forest Service?
TK: Yep, yeh they really are, they’re trying to but I don’t know how successful they’re going to be, that’s one of Mike’s agendas, was to rebuild the public’s trust in their ability to handle those crises. But first what Mike has got to do is re-establish a team around him that supports him, not torpedoes him. He, he’s trying to change the model that destroyed Jack Ward into a model that supports him, lets hope he succeeds.
CH: Well, that’s what I was going to ask you next, was how he was able to deal with the situation better than Thomas was?
TK: Well he’s had some opportunities that Jack hasn’t had with his career, to see line officers at work. Mike himself has never been a line officer, he was always staff. His first line job was acting Director of the BLM (Bureau of Land Management).
CH: Is that right?
TK: Yep, no he’s come up the ranks as a fish biologist, never had authority, was never in charge of any program or any organization and what is amazing about him is that he’s a good watcher, he’s learned by osmosis, I think and by being next to somebody who was practicing leadership and Mike is using those leadership principles today which is amazing to a lot of people. How could a guy who came up through the ranks as a fish biologist all of a sudden step out as a leader and that’s why he’s going to succeed.
CH: A lot of people in the West are critical of the influence that environmental groups, especially those that are based in the East, have over how decisions are made in Congress and that the decisions out here should be made by the people and the interests out here and how did you respond to this when you were in the Forest Service if this was addressed to you and how would you respond to it now?
TK: Well, you know at one time all the decisions were made for local enhancement and then we got into the “act locally, think globally,” is that right? Yeh. And all of a sudden people back East became aware of the problems out here. You know they were never aware of the problems so they didn’t care what it involved. But now, you know with the media methods we have today, television and satellites, computers and blah blah blah, they know within one hour of anything that’s going on out here and as a result of that they want to be involved because they see this as their land too now. You know, before the locals would say, “well we’ll let you in if we feel like it, but otherwise stay home.” Well now the public is saying, “well, we will let you stay there a little longer if we feel like it.” So you know the playing field has changed quite dramatically in that regard, the only way I knew how to handle that was to allow national groups to represent those people who didn’t live here and listen to ‘em. But also weight things in favor of local people where it made sense to do that. And I’m not talking about allowing more trees to be cut just so that the school board can have more money, I’m not talking about that; I’m allowing local people to have more of a say in developing alternatives, you know, maybe delaying things or stretching things out so that they have time to retool, retrain and re-enter the job market or the recreation market, that was always, you know, an option.
CH: So when the logging was cut back in your forest and these communities were hurting, I presume economically from that, has this been a difficult transition for logging communities around here?
TK: I don’t think there has been, I think there’s been individuals within that community that have hurt, because they were people who relied on the, you know on the job, and they had no other skills, so they got caught flat-footed. Now a portion of that work community that was thrown out on the street after these mills shut down indeed did suffer, and maybe are still suffering, but the town, the surrounding towns and the businesses did not suffer that I could see. If they are suffering they’re doing awful well in their suffering department because they’ve been going forward ever since the mill shut down.
CH: Has there been something that has compensated for that then?
TK: Well, there’s been some training for the blue collar workers especially, the executive you know, all moved on to bigger, fatter jobs. The people who owned the mills retired with a great amount of wealth, the school boards started to collapse because they never invested their money wisely in the first place so all of a sudden they found their coffee pots empty and the County Commissioner started grumbling because they had no more access to this road money that they were used to. So you know, there was where you had your hot spots but the rest of the community went on with life as normal. I don’t know of anybody who went out of business locally because the timber mill out here closed down. They tell you that but I don’t know.
CH: So what kind of jobs did the people out there take?
TK: Primarily, in tourism or the service industry or went to work as entrepreneurs like several people entered into electronics repair, plumbing, welding, you know all new kinds of service training opportunities were relied on to keep people here local.
CH: You know I read something in the High Country News magazine about someone that had been critical of something that you, that you had signed a legal document just prior to your retirement called Decision Notice Cove and Mallard Timber Sales and that was on November 30th 1990, just one month before you retired and this person said that, even though they had supported a lot of things that you had done before, that you had opened up the heart of the “Big Wild” and I’m not really sure exactly what they referred to there - to a massive invasion of bulldozers, chainsaws, roads and clearcuts, and Cove and Mallard are now in an unprotected enclave formally called Jersey-Jack, forty miles east of his area that he’s most concerned about, his lake basin that he was concerned about.
TK: Well he’s right in terms of the semantics of opening up, but that was not my decision to open up, what I did is the analysis based on agreements that had been made earlier with the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Compact. There were some informal agreements made by the Governor, the senators, the congressmen, Sierra Club, timber industry, everybody was involved except that group there whoever they are probably Ron Mitchell or Howie Wolke, somebody like that probably. Or it might have been that outfitter, Mr. Smith. There was an outfitter down there who was mad at me. But what I did was I followed up on the earlier agreement that Mallard Cove, which was formerly Jersey-Jack. I changed the name so it could have a new identity, so that the analysis would follow through on the promises made that would be looked at for manipulation. So we wrote an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) and we involved everybody in the world including the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, ICL (Idaho Conservation League), Fish and Game. No one was exempt from it and they loved the EIS, in fact the Sierra Club said it was one of the best EIS’s ever written in Idaho, because it weighed and evaluated all the options. What I said was this, I said “We have now, we’ve finished the EIS, we’re leaving the door wide open to do anything you want to do with that area except we’re not going to recommend it for wilderness because it didn’t pass the Rare II evaluation.” It wasn’t unique enough to be added to the Frank Church or made into a separate wilderness. It could have been added into it, that was a decision I no longer could make, they took that away from me. I didn’t have the ability to do that at that point in time. My job as per law was to do the EIS and see what Mallard Cove, (Jersey-Jack) was best suited for. So I told my Ranger, Steve Williams, I said, “Lookit when we write this thing,” I said, ”I want to write it so that anybody who replaces us rangers and foresters has total options to do something or do nothing.” So we wrote it in that language. It’s unfortunate that the man who replaced me didn’t look at the options he had, I think he was talked into entering the area despite all this new “Earth First” activity down there just to show them that he could. I think that if he were to look at some of the language in that EIS he would have found out that he could have been doing anything he wanted there on the ground. I wanted that option, I had no idea I was gonna leave. So that’s why he’s critical of what I did.
CH: This is Howie Wolke?
TK: Wolke, yeh.
TK: And it’s critical, I mean it’s unfortunate that the two Forest Supervisors who followed me were anti, anti-people in this case, you know they didn’t recognize that these folks, who could have participated in the process but didn’t, came in later.
CH: I see.
TK: They came in after the Sierra Club said, “This is great.” But they could have come in and said, “Lookit, Forest Service, we support you in your EIS for manipulating it, but can you change the way your gonna manipulate it, can we be part of the manipulation process?” And a smart Forest Supervisor would say, “Sure, what do you see as critical?” And they could have said Blah, Blah, Blah and he’d say, “Hey, no problem, let’s take a look at that and see what we can work out.” But they chose not to do that. So unfortunately my legacy is the guy who created and started the mess, because unless people ask the right questions they’ll never know the whole story.
CH: Yeh, I had a question about the, about some letters that - there is a letter here that addressed something that you were concerned with, I’m not sure, I just gave you a note there, what does this refer to?
TK: This is about a conference, a national conference of Forest Supervisors called the Sunbird Conference and this is a really unique thing that happened, a first-ever event in the Forest Service, I think. You know because people didn’t do Oral History prior to 1980, we don’t know what might have gone on in the Forest Service that was similar to this but here’s what happened. Basically, based on the behavior of the Nez Perce National Forest refusing to knuckle under to political pressure to raid the ASQ and lower water quality standards. The Forest Supervisors in Region One, which was basically Montana, parts of North Dakota, and all of Northern Idaho, were very much aware on a day-to-day basis what was happening on the Nez Perce, and the refusal of this forest to do anything except what was right for the land. OK. As the pressure mounted through the administration to cut more and more trees, all of a sudden Forest Supervisors in Montana and Northern Idaho decided that they had had enough of political pressure and being told how to manage land that they were hired to manage without political interference. John Muma was the Regional Forester. The Forest Supervisors got together from Region One at the Sunbird Conference, well prior to the Sunbird Conference, and talked about needing to get a message to the Chief of the Forest Service, that would be honest and open but respectful of his pressures and letting him know that there was a bottom line, that Forest Supervisors were there, it was no longer acceptable to have messages coming down, “Get the cut out or else.” So the Forest Supervisors collectively in Region One got together and wrote this letter (the Regional Forester saw before it was mailed to the Chief of the Forest Service) and it basically pulled the props out from underneath the Chief’s notion that anything he wanted to have happen he could make happen. The Forest Supervisors basically went on strike, in a professional way because there’s no union involved here, saying, “Sorry we’re not going to respond any more as a group to any more unreasonable demand on the land.”
CH: How many Forest Supervisors are we talking about?
TK: There was eleven or twelve.
CH: Eleven or twelve.
TK: I think probably eleven, eh lets see, there was more than that, I take it back. There was eleven in Montana and then three in Idaho, so that’s 14. Fourteen Forest Supervisors signed that letter. Oddly enough and I’ve never told this to anybody, I was against sending the letter. I didn’t see where the letter would produce anything other than what it was going to produce. I encouraged the Forest Supervisors to act as individuals, as per the Nez Perce formula, to say, “No.” But they wanted to go on record as a unit or as a group and I agreed to sign the letter and again it wasn’t me or anybody on the Nez Perce who started this, this was started by other folks, other Forest Supervisors who wanted to be heard. I thought that there was a better way to be heard than the way they were doing it, but since we were playing team I decided that, OK, why lecture? What’s the worst thing that could happen? The worst thing that could happen was that the Chief took the note personally at the Sunbird Conference where they were holding a conference once every so many years that only Forest Supervisors could attend from all over the nation.
CH: That would be how many?
TK: About 160.
CH: And was there communication between these other Forest Supervisors and this group of 14 about what you were doing?
TK: Well the letter signed by the 14 was the only letter of its kind out of 150 Forest Supervisors but it had gotten leaked out to all the other supervisors. Everybody was aware of this letter and of course then the press got a hold of it and the environmentalists got a hold of it, everybody got a hold of this letter and Chief Robertson was mortified, absolutely mortified, wounded, he was - and I’m repeating what I had heard. I had not talked to him personally about it and I knew Dale, I mean Dale was not an enemy of mine, I liked Dale, unfortunately he was not the leader that should have been chosen for that job. But, when we went to this conference, we thought that since the backlash had occurred and it had gotten out to the press and that there was a real revolution going on inside the Forest Service and that people were expecting the worst. The politicians were embarrassed, they got caught...
[End of Tape 4, Side 1]
Tape 4, Side 2
21 October 1999
TK: The Chief was so damaged by this that when we met with him at the Sunbird Conference the 14 of us who had signed that letter decided that we would try to get a little closer to him at that meeting, it was a private dinner, no one else was invited except the 14 plus the Regional Forester, John Muma and the Chief and some of his staff.
CH: And what was John Muma’s ..?
TK: He was the Regional Forester.
CH: Yeh, but I mean what was his reaction to what was going on?
TK: Oh, he was OK with it, he said, “You know I have to allow this letter to go forward,” he said, “This is how you feel,” he said, “I’ll let it go forward.” And at first he was concerned about the backlash. We met with the Chief but it was too late to heal anything, you could see that the man would not accept our apologies in terms of not retracting where we were coming from, but we couldn’t, we couldn’t convince him that the letter was not meant to harm him, individually, personally. He took it personal, he stayed that way right to the very end. Of course people started aligning themselves with him, against us internally, and we had a huge rift going on inside the Forest Service. It wasn’t allowed to get to the pustule point. It didn’t quite get there. It kind of absorbed itself and that’s unfortunate because what happened next was suspicion, and men and women started disappearing out of Region One. Forest Supervisors were being sent to far off places and dumped. That was the impression, that was the accusation. No one really knows if that really happened. So that’s where it ended, it ended on a bad note, it started off on a professional note, ended up on an unsavory attitude toward the people who signed that letter. In fact if you were to trace the careers of those people who signed that letter, you would probably see some amazing things pop out. I was not affected by it one bit.
TK: I don’t know, I don’t know, in fact my status actually grew. My status in the forest actually grew as a result of this fracas and of course, like I said before, I have never told anybody that I advised that group earlier not to do this; not because I was afraid of the consequences. I just saw that it wasn’t going to go anywhere and it didn’t. But it had a positive side and that is the Forest Service at the national level had to rethink a lot of things at the staff level. You see, I think what happened was the staff was pumping out the messages to get the cut out and probably doing most of the talking for Dale, and Dale didn’t realize how bad the pressure was at the ground level. Back where he might have seen it a little earlier, I think Dale got caught with his guard down and as a result of this his right hand people, who were powerful timber-industry-oriented people (who surrounded him in those days), they were the big shots in the Forest Service and they were pushing the buttons left and right and it backfired. So environmental awareness on the ground became noticeably clear because the Forest Service admitted they had a problem. They could no longer deny they had a problem. They admitted that they had a resource stewardship problem on the ground. So its- there’s a little bit of history there in what happened, really a person like yourself should follow up with some of the other players like John Muma.
CH: Well, John Muma was forced out wasn’t he? Could this have had anything to do with that?
TK: Oh, it set the stage for it, you bet. Yeh, I’m sure John got talked to real tough like about letting that letter go forward.
CH: What happened to Dale Robertson’s career?
TK: Well, you saw that when the Clinton administration took over his days were severely limited, like January 1 he was out of office.
TK: Jack Ward Thomas was in and Dale was gone.
CH: So the fourteen that you refer to here was that 100% of the supervisors in this region? Did that represent all the supervisors?
TK: Yeh, in Region One, yeh.
CH: Were there others that may have been reluctant to sign that felt somehow peer pressure?
TK: No, I don’t recall any Forest Supervisor who didn’t want to sign that, they all signed it quite willingly.
CH: What kind of discussion did this provoke with other Forest Supervisors, particularly in this national meeting?
TK: Well again it mirrored almost exactly what was happening to me when I was more or less standing alone on these same issues, saying, “we’re not going to cut any more.” There was a division right off the back of the top end that was criticizing these 14 Forest Supervisors and yelling for their scalps and then the other half was not saying anything but cheering and clapping loudly, but no one could hear it, they didn’t want to come forward. There was not a great rush of Forest Supervisors rushing forward to save anybody but what happened was kind of amazing in that a lot of the lieutenants below the Forest Supervisors started writing letters to the Chief echoing this letter. In other words Deputy Forest Supervisors, Rangers, Staff Officers, writing individual letters saying, “I’m quitting the Forest Service because of the unsavory methods of doing business regarding timber sales.” That happened all across the West, California had a lot of em, so did Oregon and a lot of people actually terminated their careers purposely over this letter. I mean they took the opportunity to retire, they weren’t fired, they just said I’m out of it, you know, I’m not going to be part of this process just getting the cut out.
CH: Were the charges in the letter pretty well documented?
TK: Oh yeh, of course yeh. Well yeh, Region One had violated all its own watershed bench marks and reached a point where the forest was - if they had cut any more trees and built any more roads, there would be nothing left. Water quality would be gone, hillsides would be moving from Montana to Idaho.
CH: What about Region Six?
TK: Well Region Six you know kept the stiff upper lip. They have plenty of room to cut more trees and all you gotta do is send us more money and we’ll take care of these problems with falling down hillsides. They never admitted anything.
CH: So the supervisors in Region Six, were they less likely to have supported this?
TK: I don’t know of any Forest Supervisors in Region Six, especially on the west side that supported this. We had a couple of Forest Supervisors on the east side who thought we were OK, but of course their problems were the same as ours, their water problems, zones where it was drier and the climate was a little tougher and trees didn’t grow as quick, you know. Back over on the west side of the rain forest you could do some pretty good damage over there and nature gives you the ability to cover it up real rapidly with green vegetation. You know it may not be trees but it’ll be brush.
CH: But do you think that those appointments in the western part of Region Six are perhaps more politically sensitive and that they get people that ......?
TK: Yeh, I always think so ...
CH: Were you going to be politically correct in there?
TK: I always thought so, in fact eh, remember before I told you the story about the Regional Forester who sent me here and told me what he wanted me to do?
TK: Tom Coston, well he then left Missoula and they sent him to Portland and oddly enough Tom only lasted a year over there and he quit.
CH: He was the Regional Forester?
TK: He was the Regional Forester, I think they told him to go over there because he was a, he had a real great personality, knew how to work with people, I think they sent him over there to mend fences and get the cut out and I think Tom told them that it was just an impossible job and he retired gracefully.
CH: Do you have any idea how much influence the industries might have over who gets appointed to different places and upper echelon positions?
TK: Well it would have to be, it would have to be no lower than Regional Forester, I think they can influence to that level, yeh, but I don’t think they can influence below that level.
CH: And certainly that level and above?
TK: That level and above yeh, oh sure you know, Dale Robertson had two key players surrounding him, one was Jim Overbay who was the Regional Forester here before Muma in Region One. He came out of that timber culture of Region Six, and the other one was George Leonard. George came out of the timber industry to work with the Forest Service and was placed conveniently in the Chief’s office and they were the two key associate deputies so, yeh, the timber industry had a lot of influence. I don’t think they have any [1 word unintel. Sounds like thing] none whatsoever.
CH: So what’s your projection for the service, the Forest Service and the land it manages and the Columbia River Basin?
TK: Well you know if the Forest Service can get through the next four years of the new administration, is environmentally friendly, and that could be Republican I guess as well as Democrats, although the Republicans who are running don’t show any intelligence about the environment at all so there’s no hope there. But let’s say that a Democrat gets in and let’s say it’s Al Gore, who are going to play your scenario, Al Gore being now his own man might give the Forest Service four more years to turn the battleship in a positive direction. It would take four more years as a minimum for Mike Dombeck to put the right team in place that is environmentally oriented, not industry oriented. That could play out as a scenario, and the Columbia River Basin would see the fruits of a new era of professionalism by the Forest Service. Worst case scenario is: an unfriendly Democrat gets in, an unfriendly Republican gets in to the environment; Mike Dombeck is thrown out of office as Chief, they bring in another industry-oriented person. Goodbye Columbia River Basin, goodbye, goodbye [says quietly]. They’ll just get even with everybody and everything, that’s my prediction.
CH: And do you feel that you’ve left behind much that’s stayed in place, have you had any long term effects on the way this particular forest is now or is being run or will be run in the future?
TK: You know I thought I did when I retired, I said I left in place a system that’s inviolate, no one can un-scrabble the good work we’ve done in eight years here and I watched it un-scrabble in four short years, by two different Forest Supervisors who lost sight of the mission and the expertise that this forest had to offer the nation. So I think the only thing I’ve left behind is the legacy of being interviewed by people like you.
TK: Because in a short order no-one’s gonna remember my name let alone what I did here. I’m amazed at - I always figured you turned to dog shit right after you retired in the Forest Service and I have to admit that I thought when I retired that my name and my activity would be forgotten next morning, but they haven’t been. That was 1991 when I retired and I’m still being invited to talk about that era and for what its worth I get more exposure, more and more exposure rather than less and less exposure to that era, and that amazes me, truly amazes me, something’s happening there that people don’t want to let go of and I’m not sure what it is. Three books come out this year, they’ve devoted entire chapters to this forest.
TK: Yeh, Cecil Andrus wrote his memoirs and talks about this forest highly. You know it just goes on and on and on, so I’m amazed that people haven’t let go of the experience here. People still walk up and say, “I know you and I know you from when you were working,” or “Where do I know your name from, how come I’ve heard of you?” You know, I get either response.
CH: The supervisor that was appointed right after you, do you how that appointment was made and why it was made?
TK: No. All that I know is that he followed a traditional path, he did what I call circus tricks, you do certain things in your career, take certain training, go to certain places, don’t question certain things and you get yourself lined up to be anointed as a Forest Supervisor. It’s got nothing to do with your ability to be a leader. It’s more to do with how well you perform these circus tricks, I call them. He followed a safe path, he was appointed Forest Supervisor here based on, not his leadership ability, but based on the fact that he had done these certain tricks and touched bases in these certain places.
CH: So what kinds of things are you doing now in terms of your own activities that relate to this?
TK: You mean to natural resources?
TK: Well, I work as a consultant at large, I don’t have a firm, I don’t have hours, I don’t advertise, I just use word of mouth scenarios and I get invited to advise the big agency folks. I get asked to work with timber companies on environmental alternatives rather than hardcore cut-and-run alternatives. I’m working here locally with a timber company on this stewardship pilot program that the Nez Perce has been authorised to conduct which means that the Forest Service can collaborate with local citizens to design the products from the forest that suit the community rather than the target mentality. I do a lot of wilderness lectures on the care and feeding of wilderness management or stewardship, not adding more lands to the base because that’s a political process and my opinion is no more valuable than some body else’s on that issue. I get to work a lot with diverse environmental groups, in my case Idaho Conservation League and Wilderness Society, and Idaho River United and local regional groups; Wilderness Watch and more or less act as a, as a floating feather, wherever the wind blows me and somebody feels they want me to participate, I’ll take a look at that. I do an awful lot of my own stuff. I do a lot of backpacking yet, I do a lot of river rafting, I ski, I try and stay in touch with the outdoors. I try to enjoy the things that I couldn’t enjoy while I was working. Everybody says that but I’m actually trying to do that.
CH: [laughs] Well, is there anything else that you’d like to contribute in the way of this oral history that we’ve been doing here?
TK: No, except that I really appreciate the fact that I’ve been earmarked for an interview, I don’t understand totally that process but I appreciate that and I think that if anything is to be learned from my words, it’s this; that if you’re a bureaucrat, learn how to say “no” professionally and stick by your guns, put the land first, put your career second or get the hell out of the business. If you want to have a career that creates fame and fortune and money, the Forest Service is not the place to get it anyhow, even if you sell out you’re not going to get fame and fortune and money, as a bureaucrat. So hopefully this all could be summarized, somebody that is thinking about government as a career, wondering if they can get away with what I’ve got away with and my answer is absolutely, “God hates a coward.”
CH: Well you’ve set a good example.
TK: [laughs] Thank you. Appreciate that.
CH: And I appreciate, we all appreciate the time that you’ve been able to devote to this.
TK: Yep, good.
CH: I’d like to thank you for this contribution.
[End of oral history]