What we don’t know could alarm us | NevadaAppeal.com

What we don’t know could alarm us

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

“The more a government chooses to provide information to its citizens on a ‘need to know’ basis, the more citizens probably need to know what their government is up to.”

– Detroit Free Press

By Nevada Appeal editorial board

So what is the U.S. Forest Service up to these days? It is up to quite a lot, frankly, as the Forest Service manages thousands of acres of public land throughout the Sierra Nevada.

We’re interested particularly today in two projects – one huge, covering all the Sierra Nevada, and the other relatively small, involving just 75 acres on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

The big one is the “Forests with a Future” campaign that accompanied the release of an updated management plan for the Sierra Nevada. The plan is controversial and has plenty in it for loggers and tree-huggers alike to embrace or disdain.

Although it calls for triple the amount of logging, we generally have supported the idea that it is a sound management plan aspiring to prevent catastrophic wildfires.

What we don’t like, though, is the $113,000 the Forest Service spent for a sophisticated marketing campaign to accompany it. We like even less that the Forest Service was less than candid about, as one legislator put it, “use of taxpayer money to spin the public.”

Apparently, the Forest Service thought the plan might be misinterpreted. One of the goals of the promotional campaign was to counter “an apparent atmosphere of mistrust and cynicism about the government’s real intentions” and a public perception the Forest Service was acting “due to some hidden politically motivated agenda.”

Well, we’re glad they cleared that up.

The 75-acre item is the former Dreyfus Estate near Zephyr Cove, where the Forest Service has collected five proposals for a 20-year lease. It won’t reveal those proposals, however, to ensure the selection process stays fair.

We would remind this particular government agency the best way to keep the process honest is to keep it out in the open. Otherwise, somebody might get cynical about the government’s real intentions and start believing there is a hidden political agenda.

Not us, of course. But somebody.