Dicks Not Sure - Move Forest Service from Agriculture to Interior Department

The Lyin King

Public Lands Advocate
In what eventually could become a major bureaucratic turf war, there have been stirrings on Capitol Hill about moving the U.S. Forest Service from the Agriculture to the Interior Department.

For more than a century, the Forest Service, which manages the federal forests, has been part of the Agriculture Department, while the nation's three other public lands agencies - the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service - have been at Interior.

Together, the Forest Service and these other agencies manage more than 680 million acres of forests, rangelands, wetlands, pristine parks and untouched wilderness, mostly in the West.

Backers of the switch say it makes sense because the agencies face such similar problems as climate change, wildfires and the pressures of urbanization. Critics say the move wouldn't save much money, at least initially, and it could leave the Forest Service more vulnerable to political pressure.

During the hearing, subcommittee chairman Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, said that "we regularly see inconsistencies" between how the Forest Service and the Interior Department handle public lands, adding that there was "room for more collaboration" to make land management more effective and efficient.

In a later interview, however, Dicks said he found the GAO report, which he had requested, inconclusive. Though not ruling the switch out entirely, Dicks said, "I came out of the hearing thinking it would be better to leave things as they are."

Read more here . . . Proposal: Move Forest Service from Agriculture to Interior | Campaign for America's Wilderness

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