Six days later, the Hatchers got their trucks down with the help of a local, his Hummer, and a winch, in a dangerous five-hour operation. Dozens of people watched. The brothers each escaped the debacle with $300 in fines from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The fragile alpine tundra they drove over, however, may take hundreds of years to recover.
The Texas brothers were big news in Denver, and I remember reading the stories, shaking my head along with everybody else. But the fact is, we don’t need Texans to muck up our alpine tundra here in Colorado; we are doing a fine job of it ourselves. In the three years since I moved West, I’ve seen plenty of people mixing with nature, and nature getting the worst of it.
I’ve been part of a traffic jam in Rocky Mountain National Park, all of us there to gawk at elk during the autumn mating season. I’ve been on top of Grays Peak, a popular day-hike destination near Denver, and seen some hiker’s dog chase snowy white-bearded mountain goats. I’ve seen four-wheelers grind their way up desert rock formations near Moab, Utah, where century-old cryptobiotic crust, made up of soil lichens, green algae, bacteria, and mosses, is as easily damaged and difficult to restore as alpine tundra. And of course, I’ve skied. I have a local’s season pass good at several Colorado resorts, including Vail-owned Breckenridge and Keystone, which all have plans to expand their terrain despite objections from local environmental groups about harm to wetlands and wildlife.
Welcome to the next great threat to the health of our federal public lands. It is us, the people who love them so much–and the recreation industry our tax dollars support. As a nation, we own 652 million acres of public land, nearly one-third of the entire landmass of the United States. The great bulk of these federal lands–460 million acres–is administered by the U.S. Department of Interior’s BLM and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. In comparison, the National Park Service, also under Interior, has just 83 million acres. Some of our wildest scenery is overseen by the Forest Service and the BLM. The great majority of Colorado’s 54 mountains rising 14,000 feet or higher are on Forest Service or BLM land, as are much, if not most, of the red deserts of Utah, the hard granite Sierra Nevada, the prairies of the Dakotas, the swamps of Florida, the plains of Mississippi, and the Appalachians in the East.
For most of their existence, the BLM and Forest Service catered to timber, mining, oil, gas, and grazing industries, which operate under heavy public subsidies. But those industries’ dominance is on the decline. Logging on national forests, for example, peaked in 1987 at 12 billion board feet, and had declined by nearly three-fourths a decade later. The real growth industry is recreation.
In 1946, the Forest Service hosted 18 million visitors; in 2000, that number was close to a billion. Interior Department recreational visits are also on the rise, and numbered nearly 400 million between the Park Service, the BLM, and the National Wildlife Refuges last year. The economic value of recreation, in fact, far outpaces that of timber harvests, the traditional “product” of the nation’s national forest system. The Forest Service estimates that last year the national forests generated $110.7 billion in revenue from recreation, compared to $3.5 billion from timber.
With increased recreational use comes abuse. There is a difference in degree, to be sure, between a mining operation leaching arsenic into the water, or a timber company clear-cutting forests, and an off-road vehicle (ORV) rider tearing a trail through the forest. But the damage is nevertheless significant. Yet confronting recreational challenges to the environment is in some ways much tougher than confronting those posed by the timber, mining, and grazing industries.
Unlike huge, faceless companies, the snowmobilers darting through Colorado pine trees represent Middle America. As regular, taxpaying citizens exercising their constitutional right to pursue happiness, off-roaders, skiers, and other recreationists are enjoying the great outdoors, not trying to profit from it–which makes them a particularly difficult constituency for public officials to say no to. Even environmental groups have been wary of attacking the Gore-Tex set, since their members are often well represented in it. “It’s pretty hard to demonize families out there having fun,” says Andy Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. “It’s harder than criticizing Weyerhauser.”
It’s not just environmentalists who are recognizing the tricky new dynamics of public land use politics. The old timber and mining industries, in fact, have capitalized on it. In a brilliant political move, industries bashed for years by environmentalists have found new cover in linking arms with ORV enthusiasts who share their interests in keeping roads open on public lands. The ORV riders, in particular, complicate what used to be a fairly straightforward duel between industry and environmentalists over land management.
Confronting these new challenges to our public lands is about to get even harder. Major initiatives undertaken by the Clinton administration, including a rule banning new road-building in national forests, a new policy to protect old-growth forests, new ecosystem-oriented forest planning regulations, and a ban on snowmobiles in most national parks, are all under review and in danger of reversal. And the new leadership overseeing our public lands doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that environmental interests will be adequately represented in those reviews.
Ann Veneman, the new Secretary of Agriculture, and Interior Secretary Gale Norton have already signaled their sympathy for off-roaders and other heavy recreational users of public lands. In fact, before taking the agriculture post, Veneman was a lobbyist for a coalition of off-roaders, now teamed up with Chamber of Commerce types and grazing interests, fighting a Clinton plan to reduce logging and some off-road vehicle access to part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
“Recreation is the next battleground. The fights over timber have been largely won by the environmental community,” says Jim Lyons, who served as the Clinton administration’s Agriculture Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment. “As recreation increases, impact on the resources becomes visible. The public and environmental community have become concerned. That’s the formula for a fight.”
Nowhere is this brewing recreational fight more obvious than in Colorado’s White River National Forest, a 2.25-million-acre spread just a few hours’ drive from Denver. Some 3.5 million people now call the Denver area home, and lots of us love to play in the White River, attracted by its many peaks and meadows bursting with wildflowers and wildlife.
In August 1999, White River National Forest administrators released a proposed new plan for management of the forest based on evaluations of plant life, wildlife, wetlands, and recreational use. Nationally, more than two-thirds of such forest plans are due for revision in the next three years. The current battle over the White River plan is evidence of the growing national power of the new alliance between off-roaders and industry to influence these plans.
As required, the forest plan sets forth several different “alternatives,” each with a different theme–for example, a focus on recreation, on biodiversity, on timber cutting. The Forest Service indicates which is its “preferred alternative,” and the public has a chance to submit comments. “Alternative I” was developed with the help of environmental groups that got involved in the planning process early on, and emphasizes the principles of “conservation biology,” which stresses the goal of biological diversity. White River National Forest officials, however, have made “Alternative D” their preference. It would mean new restrictions on motorized vehicles in some parts of the forest and would limit expansion of ski areas to land already zoned that way, but it is a more traditional approach to forest management.
Back in 1984, when the existing Forest Service plan for the White River was adopted, there was no need to consider any restrictions, because there were so few people traveling the forests by anything other than foot or horseback. Now all-terrain motor bikes, snowmobiles, and mountain bikes are ubiquitous on the White River trails. The Forest Service says it barely has the resources to maintain a quarter of the 2,400 miles of official roads that wind through the forest, let alone police the hundreds of miles of new trails forged by off-roaders. Nor can it address the damage they’ve already done.
The Wilderness Society calls off-road vehicles the “the single fastest growing threat to the natural integrity of our public lands.” Before-and-after photographs collected by the group detail severe erosion to hillsides, streambeds, and desert sands on public lands throughout the West. Erosion has far-reaching effects. Soil entering streams and rivers, for example, can harm fish habitat. In addition, many ORVs, motorcycles, and other recreational vehicles use inefficient, noisy two-stroke engines that pollute vastly more than standard automobiles. Subtler is the impact on wildlife, whose foraging and mating patterns can be affected by the noise and traffic. Motorized vehicles also contribute to the spread of non-native plants, a huge problem in the West.
Yet no sooner did the White River National Forest release the proposed plan, than the staff got flooded with complaints from off-roaders. At a series of open-house meetings across the state, angry members of local off-road clubs appeared in force. At one such tense meeting, held at a Denver Snowmobile Expo in the fall of 1999, the questions for the Forest Service officials came fast and furious. “What are the cross-country skiers giving up?” asked one attendee. “Why does segregation work here when it does not work in the rest of society?” asked another. The off-roaders clearly believed that environmentalists’ interests and those of the non-motorized recreationists–the cross-country skiers and hikers and so forth–had been put before theirs.
The off-roaders were right in observing that there had been a philosophy shift at the Forest Service. Twenty years ago, the Forest Service catered to companies seeking to exploit the natural resources on public lands, with environmental protection taking a back seat to industry’s financial interests. Agency officials believed their priority was to ensure, for instance, that timber companies had decent roads to access remote forests, rather than to protect those forests from human degradation. Efforts to sustain the forests were mostly designed so that the timber companies would have a steady supply of lumber.
The new White River National Forest supervisor, Martha Ketelle, is representative of the changes that have occurred within the agency. An “ologist” rather than a graduate of forestry schools, she has an undergraduate degree in geology and master’s degrees in hydrology, geology, and landscape architecture. She is also a member of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. In Ketelle’s mind, the conflict was the result of changing times. “We have been put in a confrontational position with the culture of the Old West,” Ketelle says. “There is always a new place to explore. They don’t like the idea that the range is getting smaller.”
As the debate over the future of the White River heated up, several members of Colorado’s congressional delegation jumped into the fray. In November 1999, Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo.) called a meeting at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to discuss strategy for White River. He invited snowmobile and off-road vehicle groups, representatives from Vail Resorts, the Colorado Farm Bureau, and the Colorado Timber Industry Association, and other industry groups, who also happen to give large sums to the congressman’s campaign fund. Also attending the meeting was Richard Woodrow, now retired, who had Ketelle’s job in 1984. Groups had been invited to submit their concerns to Woodrow, who would put together a new alternative plan reflecting their needs and wants.
During his tenure, Woodrow was known for his pro-ski-industry and pro-timber-industry views. Woodrow believes Forest Service’s current direction is all wrong. “I saw a philosophical shift from a national forest for multiple use toward a conservation and Park Service type approach,” he says. “It’s a shift away from the forest for recreation, and that’s what the White River forest is for.” Woodrow says he was working as a volunteer, although “a couple of folks are helping me out with expenses–a computer, a fax.” He refused to identify the source of these contributions.
Around the same time that Rep. McInnis called his meeting, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) was also at work. In a study by U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Campbell ranked third in the Senate for political action committee (PAC) contributions from companies associated with the Blue Ribbon Coalition. This organization of off-road vehicle enthusiasts, whose slogan is “Preserving our natural resources FOR the public, not FROM the public,” receives financial support from timber, mining, oil, and gas companies, as well as ORV and snowmobile manufacturers such as Yamaha, Honda, and Polaris.
Campbell, along with McInnis, pushed for a delay in the deadline for the official comment period, and he also held a congressional hearing on it that featured testimony from most of the industry and off-road groups that oppose the plan. Only one environmental group testified. On May 8, 2000, the day before the comment period deadline, McInnis submitted his own plan for the White River National Forest, authored by Woodrow. McInnis, who is the new chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, called it “reasonable,” and a “blended alternative,” drawing the best of all the various plans together into a new one.
Local environmental groups, however, quickly labeled it as “little more than an industry wish list.” A close analysis of the McInnis plan by a coalition of local environmental groups revealed that it recommended about 16,000 acres for wilderness protection–about one-third the amount proposed by the Forest Service, and just 5 percent of the 300,000 acres on the environmental coalition’s wish list.
The congressman’s plan would allow ski areas the possibility of expanding beyond their current permit boundaries, unlike the Forest Service’s plan, which would only allow expansion within the current permit limits. The level of logging permitted would quadruple. Finally, the plan would allow motorized vehicles on more of the forest than the agency’s plan. The White River National Forest has yet to release its final plan, which was originally scheduled to be completed this spring, but has been delayed until August.
White River is not the only place the new industry-off-roader alliance is fighting environmental protections for public lands. For example, a lawsuit filed by the state of Idaho challenging Clinton’s last-minute rule that forbids road-building on 58.5 million acres of national forests and limits logging, was joined by the paper company, Boise Cascade, and off-road vehicle organizations. (The Bush administration has delayed the effective implementation date of the new rule and has until mid-May to review it.)
In California, the industry-sponsored Sierra Nevada Access, Multiple-Use & Stewardship Coalition, opposes a Clinton plan to reduce logging by about 50 percent on 11.5 million acres of national forests in the Sierra Nevada. The plan also includes some restrictions on off-road vehicle use. SAMS, as the coalition is called, has a membership that includes timber companies, off-road clubs, Chambers of Commerce, grazing interests, and homeowners associations.
Not surprisingly, the Bush administration is interested in revising the Sierra plan. Before becoming Bush’s Agriculture Secretary, Veneman helped prepare SAMS’ formal comments and congressional testimony against the plan, according to The Washington Post. In February, Veneman recused herself from reconsideration of the Sierra plan–but only after receiving inquiries about her conflict from the Post.
The U.S. skiing industry got its start in the White River. During World War II, the army trained soldiers of its 10th Mountain Division there. From their base at Camp Hale, they learned how to scale cliffs, orient themselves in a winter landscape, and, most important, to ski. After the war, they founded resorts such as Vail and Aspen, all on Forest Service land.
What began with a group of quirky veterans is now big business. Nationally, resort ownership has become consolidated, and the resorts on the White River are part of the trend. Since 1997, Vail Resorts, for instance, has owned four of the 11 ski areas in the forest–Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone. The company would have bought a fifth–Arapahoe Basin–but the Justice Department’s antitrust division wouldn’t allow it.
The whole area around White River is one big company town. People drawn here because of the mountains usually find themselves working for the tourism industry, which provides more than 60 percent of the jobs. Another 20 percent work in construction, building trophy homes and condominium developments, or in finance, insurance, and real estate. Jobs that were once traditional in these mountains–mining, logging, and ranching–barely show up enough in the statistics to be counted.
Despite the change in the type of industry here over the past 20 years, conflicts between the environment and industry have continued. And the relationship between the government and industries that profit from use of public lands has also remained much the same. What few people know is that, just like with the timber, mining, grazing, and oil and gas industries, taxpayers subsidize the ski industry. Unlike the old industries, whose products contribute to the general economy, it is primarily the wealthy who enjoy the “fun” that is the recreation industry’s “output.”
The crowds that descend on Colorado every winter have money. At Vail, during peak season, lift tickets cost as much as $61 a day–and that’s not counting ski rentals, lessons, hotel, food, and latts. More than half of Vail’s visitors come from households with incomes higher than $100,000. This is where the Kennedys spend their holidays and where Ivana Trump and Marla Maples fought over “The Donald” slope-side. Former Sen. John Glenn owns property in Vail; so do Jack Kemp and Ross Perot. Though some resorts offer discounts for locals, skiing remains too expensive for the majority of Americans.
The main subsidies for these winter playgrounds of the rich are 40-year term leases for Forest Service land. In 1998, the latest year for which statistics are available, White River ski resorts paid the U.S. Treasury just $7.6 million. Nationwide, ski areas paid only $18 million to the U.S. Treasury for their use of public lands, a miniscule portion of their profits.
The fees ski areas pay are the product of a little-noticed new law passed in 1996. At the urging of the National Ski Areas Association, Congress revamped the system for calculating fees that ski areas pay for using public land. The U.S. General Accounting Office had issued a report in 1993 that charged that the U.S. Forest Service was not collecting fair market value from ski areas. But the new law did little to address this. Instead, it simply shifted the tab among the resorts–and then sweetened the deal by exempting the ski industry from environmental review when resorts renew their 40-year term leases.
Despite these subsidies, skiing is a tough business to profit from. Even with aggressive artificial snowmaking to force a Thanksgiving opening, most U.S. ski resorts can sell lift tickets only about five months out of the year, if they are lucky. As skier numbers have remained relatively flat since the early 1990s, the ski industry has discovered that real estate for vacation homes and rentals is where the real money is.
“In 1995, real-estate sales at Keystone were 2 percent of our revenues,” Keystone Resort’s John Rutter told fellow ski-resort executives last year at an annual luncheon. “In this past year, real-estate sales were 45 percent of our revenues.” The ski industry’s devotion to real estate helps drive up prices of privately built homes as well. In Eagle County, near Vail, home prices jumped 119 percent between 1990 and 1999, and the median price for a new home was $631,270. Ski-resort employees rarely can afford to rent a place nearby, and so they either commute long distances–creating traffic jams and mountain smog–or cram themselves into shared apartments.
Widespread real-estate development near public lands can also be expensive for taxpayers who don’t live there. The thousands of wildfires that ripped across the American West during the hot, dry summer of 2000 were all the more threatening because so many people now have homes near forest borders. Last October, Congress approved nearly $2 billion in funds to prevent and fight wildfires. The pressure to control these fires, which are part of the forest’s natural cycle, was exacerbated by the property owners who wanted their houses protected, much the way rich people in North Carolina want government-backed insurance for their luxury beach houses in Hurricane Alley.
During the ’90s, as the economy expanded, so did the ski resorts. The Forest Service rarely got in their way, despite numerous challenges by environmentalists. Since 1984, ski areas on the White River doubled their terrain.
The most famous of these expansions is Vail Resorts’ controversial “Category III” project, which allowed expansion into 885 acres that, environmentalists argued, were key habitat for the Canada lynx. In October 1998, Vail suffered $12 million in arson damage, allegedly at the hands of an extremist environmental group, the Earth Liberation Front (see p. 50). Despite the setback, Vail rebuilt its burned lodge and broke ground for an expansion in July 1999. In January 2000, the new area opened. Now named Blue Sky Basin, it is larger than each of a dozen Colorado ski resorts. Two months after the area opened, the Canada lynx made the federal Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of threatened species.
Many of Colorado’s ski areas want to expand even further, both within their permit areas on Forest Service land and beyond, including surrounding land that they own privately. The to-do list for Vail Resorts includes the Breckenridge resort’s plans to add 165 acres of Forest Service land, along with real estate development of its own land at the foot of Peak 7, which has been controversial because of wetlands known as Cucumber Gulch, home to the rare boreal toad, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers call an “aquatic resource of national importance.” Beaver Creek is lobbying to expand downhill skiing into nearby McCoy Park; Keystone Ski Resort wants to expand into an area known as Jones Gulch; and so on.
Ski area expansion can be as damaging to the environment as any timber company logging plan. In comments on the proposed White River plan, the EPA noted that ski areas on the White River make up just three percent of the forest acreage, yet “no other land management prescription on the Forest directly results in more stream-water depletion, wetland impacts, air pollution, permanent vegetation change, or permanent habitat loss. [Since 1984], more wetland impacts and stream depletions resulted from ski area expansion and improvement than from all other Forest management activities combined, including many direct and indirect impacts that are permanent (irreversible and irretrievable.)”
When it comes to water, ski resorts can have a huge impact on the environment, particularly in the arid West. Paving over wetlands to build condos does more than harm wildlife; it can affect drinking water quality miles away, since wetlands act as a natural filter for the water supply.
Artificial snowmaking invites more problems. Streams depleted by snowmaking machines are poor incubators for fish eggs, which shrivel and die for lack of water. Drawing large amounts of water can also exacerbate existing pollution. A case in point is the heavy metals found recently in the drainage that runs through the middle of Keystone. Highly toxic heavy metals are usually a sign of past mining, but there had been no mining in the area. But Keystone draws water for artificial snowmaking from the Snake River which is polluted from runoff from old mine sites and tailings piles.
Yet the pressure to continue with artificial snowmaking to remain competitive is severe. Since Keystone first started making snow in 1970, the resort has increased its snowmaking capacity from 30 million gallons annually to more than 160 million gallons. A similar amount is used at other Colorado resorts.
The ski industry has attempted to deflect enviornmentalists’ growing criticism of these practices. In 2000, the National Ski Areas Association released “Sustainable Slopes,” a list of voluntary environmental principles. But most environmental groups described the charter as a toothless public relations effort that stopped short of addressing the harmful effects of expansion. In explaining the glaring omission, Stacy Gardner, communications director for the National Ski Areas Association, summed up the ski resort mentality: Expansion is necessary, she said, because “it helps mitigate some of the long lines. Nobody wants to wait in line for a ski lift.”
Though many of the nation’s most famous ski resorts are in Colorado, their expansionist tendencies are evident nationwide. Wyoming-based businessman Robert Earl Holding made his fortune on the Little America Hotel chain and increased it through the oil and gas station and ski resort businesses. His holdings include Sinclair Oil, Sun Valley Resort, and Snowbasin, in Utah, and he is worth some $900 million, according to Forbes magazine. For years, Holding’s company wanted 1,320 acres of Wasatch Cache National Forest in Utah, which includes sensitive wetlands. These acres are near the base of his Snowbasin ski area, and the company wanted the land to develop into a four-season resort, with new condos, a golf course, and other up-scale development.
In February 1990, then-Wasatch-Cache Forest Service Supervisor Dale Bosworth agreed to trade Holding 200 acres of land which was increased to 700 acres later that year. But Holding wanted more. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, numerous Utah politicians put pressure on Forest Service officials. Many were recipients of Holding’s campaign contributions. Between 1993 and 1998, according to the newspaper’s analysis, Holding and his wife gave nearly $39,500 to members of the Utah congressional delegation and to Gov. Mike Leavitt’s election campaigns.
Holding also used the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics as leverage. Holding won $13.8 million in Olympic contracts, and his Snowbasin resort will host the immensely popular downhill and super giant slalom skiing races.
In the fall of 1995, Rep. James Hansen (R-Utah) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) each introduced legislation that did an end run around the Forest Service and authorized the land swap Holding wanted. Though the Clinton administration had some concerns, testified Deputy Forest Service Chief Gray Reynolds, “[it] supports the objective … to expedite planning and development at the Snowbasin Ski Area in preparation for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.” Congress gave Holding the land in 1996.
Along with the 1,320-acre land exchange, there were more sweeteners in the legislation. Congress exempted the first phase of new development of the ski resort–the addition of snowmaking equipment, new lifts, a new restaurant, and other amenities–from a new environmental review. It also implied that a new 3.5-mile road to connect Snowbasin to the state highway would be exempted from an environmental impact study if the Forest Service, rather than Holding, built it.
But Forest Service officials said they could not come up with the $15 million needed to build the new road, so in 1998, Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) attached an amendment to an appropriations bill that called for the taxpayers to pay for it. For this effort, the Utah delegation earned a “Porker” award from Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.).
While Congress was willing to spend $15 million for a new road from Salt Lake City to Snowbasin, it is stingy with providing adequate funds for basic Forest Service and BLM recreation needs, such as trail maintenance and toilets. Instead, Congress has decided to ask recreational visitors to pay fees to enter the forests and other wilderness areas. In 1996, it established a recreation-fee demonstration project, the brainchild of an industry group named the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), whose 100 members include Walt Disney, the National Ski Areas Association, and Yamaha Motor Corporation. The project allows federal agencies to keep all of the recreation fees as part of their budgets. As much as 80 percent of those fees may remain with the individual sites where they were collected so that local rangers can use the funds to spruce up outhouses and make other improvements.
In fiscal year 2000, the National Park Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Service, the BLM, and the Forest Service collected $176 million in fees. It’s not much compared to the budgetary needs of these agencies, but a new source of income that will only grow if the recreation-fee program is made permanent. Recreation fees may seem sensible, as the people who visit the forests the most pay more for their upkeep. But relying on fees as a major source of cash for the Forest Service creates an unhealthy dynamic.
Aside from heavily impacting lower-income citizens, fees create an incentive for the agency to make decisions based not on what is best for the land, but on what will increase the number of visitors to the land. Moving toward a model where forest users are “consumers” buying a “product” challenges the essential nature of public lands. Instead of feeling a sense of stewardship that comes with it, people may start to feel that, because they are paying to use the land, they should get to do whatever they want on it. This is, after all, what has happened with the grazing, mining, and timber industries, whose fees also support the public lands agencies’ budgets.
Over decades, these industries have paid (albeit a subsidized rate) for what they take from the forests. A pattern was set, and now there is an entrenched belief that because they pay, they deserve what they have always gotten. There is a pointed difference between this attitude and one where using the forests is a privilege bestowed by the public, which owns the land. That sense of entitlement also makes the government’s job harder when they make even modest attempts to rein in the very people who feed its budget.
Yet strapped for cash, the Forest Service is turning to private industry to provide services the agency once managed. Already, about 17,000 private companies operate campgrounds and recreational facilities. But how can the agency maintain its commitment to sustaining the forests and other wild places if it is dependent on those who abuse the land? Businesses exist to turn a profit. If protecting the forest ecosystem does not produce
Nancy Watzman is research and investigative projects director for Public Campaign. The opinions expressed in this article are her own. This piece was written with an award from The Century Foundations Understanding Government Project.’