Los Padres Forest Association issued an obsequious letter to the Forest Service declaring their full embrace of the two month closure of Los Padres National Forest.
They called the shutout “wise.”
That’s a word of exceptional assuredness. Not just smart, but much more than that, wise. Yet, oddly, they provided no insight into their thinking.
Why was it wise?
They did not say, other than a vague reference about “making sure people were okay,” whatever that means.
We have been left wondering where the wisdom lies, because their letter held nothing of explanative substance, only a few words of empty rhetoric.
The trail maintenance group—toiling volunteers doing a tremendous amount of great field work—failed to offer any reasoning supporting their opinion; that the forest threatened public health and so it was imperative to close it entirely.
Who knows what happened after the storm? Who knows what’s out there? Better close it. All of it.
That’s the essence of their position. And that’s not wisdom.
The letter thus followed suit with most all other local commentary and reportage about the closure; remarkably superficial and unserious.
Most writers online in local hard news and opinion have served as unquestioning bullhorns for authority and amplified the Forest Service’s false narrative, that the forest is damaged and a threat to our health.
This is an issue of great import regarding public health and the curtailment of civil rights by diktat that has cleaved the people from their public lands.
Yet, even though they chose to take a position publicly endorsing the diktat, Los Padres Forest Association glossed right over the issue in blasé fashion.
The Forest Service closed thirty percent (30%) of Santa Barbara County based on the notion that a few people might get hurt if it remained legally open.
Opportunities for the betterment of the vast overwhelming majority’s well-being through healthy pursuits of happiness in these public lands was coldly denied due to the purported concern that something might happen to a tiny minority.
This is not rational policy. And it does not comport with our common experience elsewhere in American life.
So how is it wise?
This is a stifling standard of micromanagement, inconsistent with many other areas of our daily lives, where it’s not uncommon for people to get hurt or even killed, and where we accept much greater rates of injury and death, without issuing dictatorial prohibitions to save the people from themselves.
There were “so many unknowns,” Los Padres Forest Association said, casually, echoing the Forest Service.
“We simply don’t even know what we don’t know,” Andrew Madsen said, Los Padres National Forest spokesman, repeating a phrase taken from risk management theory.
But we don’t have to live averse to rational thought and blind to information, fact and reason. And we don’t have to react emotionally out of ignorance in kneejerk fashion to make sure “people are okay.”
We can look to the science of probability for guidance and we can look to our lives elsewhere in society for context and perspective in how we face risk sensibly, rationally.
Pursuits of happiness in Los Padres National Forest are relatively safe compared to many other common activities outside the forest.
How many deaths, injuries and need of emergency services could there possibly have been if the forest had remained legally open? Not many. That’s the answer on that one. If history is any guide to the probability of future happenings.
Only a slim sliver minority of recreationists–a miniscule number–would ever possibly have gotten hurt.
The American roadway with its rates of injury and death is a horror show relative recreation in the forest. It’s one of many examples.
Motorcyclist, 18, Killed In Collision On Santa Barbara County Road (March 5, 2023)
Is it not true that a hiker stands a much greater chance of dying on the drive out of town before they even get to the forest than they do when walking in it?
We can look elsewhere for additional context to maintain perspective.
From economists we understand life as a series of questions about tradeoffs and opportunity costs.
Certain levels of pollutants are accepted by society although known to be harmful, in order that we may engage in industry and common activities we agree in general, on balance, tend to better our lives.
Life is not an all or nothing game. It’s a balancing act.
Why should we have wildly different public health standards applied to our public lands than we do nearly everywhere else in life?
Why should we apply a zero tolerance policy of injury to our public lands?
How is this wise? Cowboy up, and explain it.
This is a serious issue. And so serious people grant it serious thought and consideration.
Los Padres Forest Association appears flippant in their letter, not to have given much thought to the issue at all. They advocate curtailing civil rights without appearing informed by any degree of due diligence whatsoever.
In my previous blog posts opposing the closure I have offered opinions, surely, even lampooned Stubbs and the Forest Sevice.
But I have also put up lengthy, well-reasoned arguments. And I have offered context from our common lives outside the forest to provide perspective. We stand on principle on this blog, guided by reason by way of facts and information, with a long view.
Would that Los Padres Forest Association do the same if and when they dabble in politics supporting such serious policy proscriptions that separate people from their public lands.
Personally, I’m taking advantage of the closure. It’s going to be a zoo when they do open it, so go enjoy it now!
Thank you for your continually highlighting this issue.
Jack’s interpretation of the LPFA letter is a bit different than how it was written but please read it for yourself:
On behalf of the LPFA, we’re happy to talk (805.405.8628) about the closure, discuss that letter, share what we’ve been working on in order to help reopen the forest or anything else Los Padres related, feel free to call or email.
And for those of you who would like to be part of the solution and help reopen the forest, the LPFA is hoping to spend next weekend clearing the dozens of downed oak trees that have fallen across Sunset Valley Road after last weeks snow storm so that the FS can reopen vehicle access to NIRA. Come on out and help please – we can use all the help we can get, should be fun too…..
Email us if you’d like to sign up to help next weekend: VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org
I had linked to your letter right at the beginning of the post.
Ray Ford published your letter on Friday, March 3. That’s only 11 days before the forest was already scheduled to be reopened. If we then take it to Monday, March 6 with the idea that’s the very soonest we could possibly ever hope to expect any response to your letter from the Forest Service, then that means you called for the reopening a mere 8 days before it was already scheduled to reopen.
So I suppose you are right when you say my interpretation is a “bit” different than your letter when I say you fully embraced the closure. Eight days is a bit like nothing when you accepted the closure for 50.
I mean, come on. That’s really in effect a full embrace.
What exactly did I misinterpret?
The LPFA fully embraced the blind blanket closure for 46 days out of the full 60. At the 46 day mark, they issued the letter to the Forest Service asking for a reopening. But they also called the closure wise.
That means, not only did LPFA in hindsight unequivocally endorse the closure exactly as it was originally handed down. Their letter also suggests, or at least provides no reason to believe otherwise, the group would be inclined to close the forest again in the future for the same reasons. After all, it was wise.
Now you tell us, where is the misinterpretation? Tell us how we’re wrong.
The LPFA wants credit for their call to open the forest 14 days early. Which is the same thing as saying the LPFA wants credit for their support of a 46 day closure.
And, of course, nobody would ever expect the Forest Service bureaucracy to respond to the letter in a timely fashion anyway, so the whole idea is absurd.
The LPFA’s call for early opening appears like window dressing.
You should have been allies in access with us, but you threw us out of the forest. And then you called it wise. And so we’re going to hold you to account on the record. As a civic organization operating in the public arena in lockstep with the federal government on this regulation, you should not expect any less. It’s a simple matter of business.
Who cares. Go hiking.
Not enough people. That’s why you were thrown out of the forest.
There are signs
This is just another example of the loss of our freedoms to faceless bureaucrats. It rose out of the ashes of the Twin Towers with the creation of the Office Of Homeland Security. Remember having to go shoeless to travel by air? It escalated into the unreal when Covid came, with those bureaucrats telling us to stay home, no school for the kids, wear useless face masks, and never get within 10 feet of another human being. God only knows what comes next.
1. The Los Padres Forest Association supported the two-month closure of Los Padres National Forest, calling it “wise”, but provided no explanation for their reasoning.
2. The closure was based on the risk of a few people getting hurt, denying opportunities for the majority to enjoy healthy pursuits of happiness in the public lands.
3. The Forest Service’s narrative that the forest is damaged and a threat to public health was blindly endorsed by most local writers and commentators, without questioning or offering a critical perspective.
4. The closure is inconsistent with rational policy and the common experience elsewhere in American life, where people accept much greater rates of injury and death without issuing dictatorial prohibitions to save them from themselves.
5. The Los Padres Forest Association appears flippant and uninformed in their advocacy for curtailing civil rights without due diligence and informed by reason and facts.
That might be a better way to put it, now, huh? Clean and concise. Well done.
If it’s any consolation, nobody is paying attention to the closure.
You can now rest.
Heheh. Thank you. We can hike and chew gum at the same time, though. Cheers.
The forest will be no safer once it is open. This whole thing has been such a nonsensical joke. The only thing the closer has accomplished was restricting the freedom we once had to roam our public lands and perhaps condition us for more closers to come. Maybe they are going to try and turn this into an annual thing? This is what concerns me the most.