Pack Up, Smokey Bear

Possible move of Forest Service from Agriculture Dept. to Interior could spark controversy

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You may not think of the Forest Service’s iconic spokesbear as living in a gray, columned building in Washington D.C., but some action on Capitol Hill may give Smokey a new home–up a few blocks and across the Washington Monument to another gray, columned building.

There’s been talk around D.C. that the Forest Service, which is currently part of the Department of Agriculture, could possibly be moved to the Department of the Interior. Some are predicting an all-out turf war over the Service and the 193 million acres it controls.

What’s the big deal about shuffling some people and papers around D.C.? Well, for starters, backers of the move say it just makes logical sense concerning issues like climate change, wildfires and encroaching urban areas. The Interior is in charge of similar units such as the BLM, National Parks Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and having them all under one roof would create better efficiency and consistency. Critics say the benefits just wouldn’t exceed the costs and the move would expose the Forest Service to increasing political pressure.

This debate is in no way a new one–it has surfaced five times in the past 40 years. Previous undersecretary of agriculture Mark Rey also recommended creating a new natural resources department encompassing all land agencies. Do you think moving it to the Interior would help with conservation or just be a waste of taxpayers’ money? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

–Morgan Keys

Attempt to move Forest Service could spark turf war (Kansas City Star)

Image credit: lumachrome

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