Former US Forest Service Chief Jack Ward Thomas believes that fewer laws could make for a more effective and efficient forest service. Mr. Thomas gave a lecture on the UW campus entitled Forks in the Trail: Ecosystem Management in Transition. The former US Forest Service Chief under President Clinton says that the service was originally established with three mandates: water, timber and land protection. Now that the mission has grown to include wildlife and endangered species, he says that number has grown to 64 laws. He says the key to a future of more efficient land management is reducing the number of laws. "I think my vision would be a much more legally clarified vision of what they should do and how they should do it. Right now there’s several hundred different laws that apply to the forest service. That needs to be boiled down to one or two."
Thomas believes guidelines have become confusing and forest management would be more effective if the laws were clear and streamlined from the outset, instead of relying on the court system to settle ambiguities.Thomas says that the impetus for changing these laws would need to come from congress.