Sitka Gear

Does anybody really regulate outfitters on USFS lands?

Dsnow9

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Oct 29, 2019
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A retired USFS employee I know recently referred to that organization as “ The Forest Circus “. Seems about right after reading all this.
Sounds like government work in general. Constantly making new positions to promote long term employees and new departments. Pretty soon departments are so far separated that finding the right person to talk to can be the hardest challenge, then they have to go get it approved by their two up level supervisors then you have to bring it back to yours and get it approved. Then it goes to the budget and finance department, if they don’t kick it back your almost there.

This is just at the city/county level (Denver). I can’t imagine the fed. So many steps and people that doing anything is almost impossible and takes months to do.

For an example our average time from a person quitting to having the position filled is 3 months at best, and that’s a vast improvement. It used to be over three months from the time the application period ended.
 

MarvB

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Yup “the Circus” has been around for a looooong time lol. When I first started as an intern our DR told me “welcome to the most efficient branch of the USDA; before long you’ll be wondering how?”

He was a pretty good dude, he was also RIGHT in my wonderment🤷🏻‍♂️
 

hank4elk

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SW NM
We called it a circus when I was on Hot Shots & tanker crew in the 70's.
Buzz made a good point,but each office has their screw ups too.
Outfitter/packer bud finally sold the business a couple years ago. I worked for him from time to time.
Guy would have his planned permitted permits pulled mid season. Then would get more contracts for FS day use to carry their crews/supplies into area he just got cut from.
I would find cattle from a ranch/permit 100mi north in the local wilderness,with no permits.

I tried to work with them for many years on projects,permits,plans,reviews,testimony before congress,only to have 10 yrs work throw out in a day.
I only go into office now for firewood tags anymore.
I never see a FS employee on FS roads around here,or very rarely. Never had a tagged load checked. Seen hundreds of truckloads go out the last year with no tags or permits from FS,out of state woodcutters. Reported by many locals with no response from FS.
They will ride one cattle man like a tick and let others just do what they want around here.
 

kwyeewyk

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Washington
Gotta remember the gubment is just a bunch of people, some better at their jobs than others. The problem is the difficulty in reassigning or firing non-performers. A couple bad workers can really screw up an office. Also attracting and retaining good employees has been more and more difficult with federal jobs being less and less desirable. FS is a bit of a circus though, a lot of friction along the chain of command, the guy probably got jumped by one of his supervisors.
 

Eric Albus

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May 24, 2012
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992
A bit of a rant but, I believe, some useful insights for discussion…


So, I have a high alpine, remote, elk hunt that I was pondering a pack out by an outfitter for our elk (2 tags in camp) if we felt the need.

Simple minded as I am I thought to call the Forest Service and ask “Who are the permitted outfitters for these several drainages I plan to hunt as options A-C for the 3 weeks we have to bowhunt.”

The first gal I spoke to said there is no USFS list of permitted outfitters with this info and I should do like SHE DID and search the Colorado guide and outfitters association website for the unit and start calling to ask the regulated folks where the regulators gave them permits to operate. No doubt that line of BS works ofr the other 90% but I am easily a top 10 percenter in the realm of instead pivi=oting to “Naw, I’d prefer you do your job we pay you to do instead.” She did give me the names of the 3 on that list she downloaded for my unit (which is missing at least 2 outfitters I KNOW work in there) and she had no idea which specific drainages they are permitted for. She seemed to not understand that if an outfitter is not a member of the association, they ain’t on the trade association list and if they are a member and do not submit the data they too are not on that list. This my purpose in calling USFS who ‘regulates’ the permits… Sheesh, the USFS grants the permits with specific geographic, timing and activity constraints but cannot tell me a darn thing about said permits?

So I asked/suggested there must? be someone in the office responsible for managing the permits and could I talk to them to learn who is permitted in the drainages I am interested in? Why yes there is but he will tell you what I did…and she sent me to his voice. He actually called me back a few hours later.

Step2 ). I talk to the very nice gentleman at USFS in that office who MANAGES ALL THE PERMITS I AM ASKING about. We talk and he explains permittees have geographic areas or consignments mostly defined by drainage names so him telling me the consignments names probably won’t mean much to me. I tell him I know the name and location of the significant drainages so try me. Groan from him and he starts rattlling off 6 consignment names, all of which are supert obvious and well known drainages. Perfect, I write them down and then prepare for receiving the very short list, or single names of outfitters permitted for my 3 drainages/consignments of interest.

So I say “Awesome, I knew this data had to exist so now all I need are the outfitters permitted for my desired day use packout or possible drop-camp-pack-in-pack-out activity for drainages A,B, and C. I do not need the others so no need to go to the trouble for those since you said you have to dig through paper files to get it.

He says, with a lot of rustling paper sounds. “Oh man, everything is in paper files and I have over 80 permits to manage and I have only been in this job for a year, I never dig up permits to review the particulars unless there is a reported issue with a given outfitter. This is gonna take time to go through thsi huge paper file…I really need to organize this.” He keeps rusting and double talking and finally says this will take some time, “how about I get back to you whn I pull the permitted outfitter names for the areas together”

I say sure and maybe the effort will prove useful for future requests and how about you email me if that makes it easier. He says he is doubtful the effort will be useful to his needs and I am the first person to ask who outfits where…(mind you this is a pretty high preference point area). The next day/today I get the following response to my question which remains “Which outiftters are permitted for pack in/pack out or drop camp activity in the three consignment/drainages A, B and C.

Morning,

I was going to compile lists and information of what you requested, but currently I do not have time to get it done. Unfortunately I have priorities/permits/campgrounds that outweigh additional projects at this time.

I can give you the website that will allow you to search units, guides, hunt types and they will give you contact information for the outfitter. Please call the outfitter that meets the requirements and request information for their hunts. They know the area and terrain and can easily answer questions that will take hours for me to look up.


http://www.coloradooutfitters.org/find-your-outfitter.php

Thanks,”

Holy crap!! Asking who the permitted outfitters are in 3 drainages is considered ‘a new project?”…. leading to my thread title question’”. Who regulates outfitter permits on public land?!

Answer Freaking NOBODY. If an outfitter is not accused of high crimes nobody at the USFS can tell you if they are even permitted to work an area, what area that is, nor which of many categories of use they are permitted for. We are told to ask the outfitter trade association and the outfitters…

Anybody see a problem with the regulators having a ‘system’, if you can call it that, where they have basically no ready access to the info about who they gave permits to and for what activity and where?

More than frustration, I think I am kinda mad this is how our publics lands are ‘managed’.

Did he not just say with a straight face. “
My excuse is I am crappy at my job and so I cannot help you because being crappy at my job prevents me from providing 3-5 outfitter names or so I hope you understand and sympathize that it is not my fault I am crappy at my job?”. Kinda sounds like it when i think it though from start to finish...

Thoughts? Am I being too hard on the fat fed employees here?
You obviously expect way to much of Gov’t employees.
 

Nameless Range

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We need greater oversight and reporting when it comes to commercial interests on public land. But let me play the devil's advocate for a moment. I don't know if it is true, but I can imagine a scenario that I can sympathize with, because I have seen or lived it.

Having worked for a public agency at times in my life, I have fielded hundreds if not thousands of requests for data. Often, those requests are fulfilled instantly, as they are frequent requests, a process or model of closing those tickets is in place, and things are nearly automated. Sometimes though, someone requests something that only gets requested once or twice a year, maybe even less. The actual work of fulfilling the request may only take a half hour or hour, but guess what, that request is in a line dozens of requests long that is perpetually growing, and the juice is not worth squeeze in terms of ROI to automate the fulfilling of those requests.

It can be frustrating - requesting data the public should have access to, that is either not readily available, or is barely available at all, and I have been both a frustrated requestor and on the receiving end of a requestor's ire. We like to think public employees and their agencies serve the public, and they do, but chief in their roles is keeping the ship they are on afloat. This comes first, and I have seen workflows and structures of a public office change in such a way that keeping the ship afloat is all an employee can do, and public data requests are fluff that may or may not be addressed.

This of course is not a universal condition, and there is great variability in aptitude and customer service across all public sector employees, but available bandwidth can be such a limiting factor. I have seen it bury people as 21st century citizens demand (rightfully), more from their government in many ways.

More with less baby.
 

MarvB

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It’s chasing the next tier Paul, “they”don’t typically move you around but if you want to grab the ladder at some point you might have to. When I started on our district there was a bottleneck of mid level at the GS-9 level. After I interned in on a 5-7-9 ramp it became very clear to me that the 9 level was gonna be a stretch because no one there was going anywhere further (all at best a few more years experience than me but all with no degree or a 2-yr) it then became my choice of staying or exploring options elsewhere. I do agree though about continually loosing folks that finally get up to speed- the worst I’ve worked with was the Feds in the Western Area Power group (WAPA). They constantly rotated and became jacks of all trades but masters of none. The quarterly groundhog days were pretty damn frustrating to deal with.
 

geetar

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Jan 28, 2019
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North Carolina
One big problem I have seen with the USFS is they move people around constantly. They are there long enough to learn the area and then transferred to a new place. West fork DR bought my place 3 years ago and has already moved on. Bad way to operate if you ask me.
That happens here in NC on the state level as well. My dad works for forest service and they seem to always be hiring people and either moving them or not paying them enough to be able to live in an area that has cost of living prices going up faster than wages and they move in themselves.
 

406dn

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Dec 12, 2019
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902
appreciate the responses and insights.

Not a big surprise but the forest supervisor did not return my call…
Don't let them get away without giving you the information you requested. Be a PIA if that is what it takes.
 

Nostromo

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Jan 4, 2020
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Michigan
We need greater oversight and reporting when it comes to commercial interests on public land. But let me play the devil's advocate for a moment. I don't know if it is true, but I can imagine a scenario that I can sympathize with, because I have seen or lived it.

Having worked for a public agency at times in my life, I have fielded hundreds if not thousands of requests for data. Often, those requests are fulfilled instantly, as they are frequent requests, a process or model of closing those tickets is in place, and things are nearly automated. Sometimes though, someone requests something that only gets requested once or twice a year, maybe even less. The actual work of fulfilling the request may only take a half hour or hour, but guess what, that request is in a line dozens of requests long that is perpetually growing, and the juice is not worth squeeze in terms of ROI to automate the fulfilling of those requests.

It can be frustrating - requesting data the public should have access to, that is either not readily available, or is barely available at all, and I have been both a frustrated requestor and on the receiving end of a requestor's ire. We like to think public employees and their agencies serve the public, and they do, but chief in their roles is keeping the ship they are on afloat. This comes first, and I have seen workflows and structures of a public office change in such a way that keeping the ship afloat is all an employee can do, and public data requests are fluff that may or may not be addressed.

This of course is not a universal condition, and there is great variability in aptitude and customer service across all public sector employees, but available bandwidth can be such a limiting factor. I have seen it bury people as 21st century citizens demand (rightfully), more from their government in many ways.

More with less baby.
Good post.
 

wllm1313

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Dec 9, 2015
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Manetheren
We need greater oversight and reporting when it comes to commercial interests on public land. But let me play the devil's advocate for a moment. I don't know if it is true, but I can imagine a scenario that I can sympathize with, because I have seen or lived it.

Having worked for a public agency at times in my life, I have fielded hundreds if not thousands of requests for data. Often, those requests are fulfilled instantly, as they are frequent requests, a process or model of closing those tickets is in place, and things are nearly automated. Sometimes though, someone requests something that only gets requested once or twice a year, maybe even less. The actual work of fulfilling the request may only take a half hour or hour, but guess what, that request is in a line dozens of requests long that is perpetually growing, and the juice is not worth squeeze in terms of ROI to automate the fulfilling of those requests.

It can be frustrating - requesting data the public should have access to, that is either not readily available, or is barely available at all, and I have been both a frustrated requestor and on the receiving end of a requestor's ire. We like to think public employees and their agencies serve the public, and they do, but chief in their roles is keeping the ship they are on afloat. This comes first, and I have seen workflows and structures of a public office change in such a way that keeping the ship afloat is all an employee can do, and public data requests are fluff that may or may not be addressed.

This of course is not a universal condition, and there is great variability in aptitude and customer service across all public sector employees, but available bandwidth can be such a limiting factor. I have seen it bury people as 21st century citizens demand (rightfully), more from their government in many ways.

More with less baby.
Fair points. That said I'm not giving this particular ranger district a pass for not having a handle on their outfitters, there are only like a dozen for the district.
 
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