California Wildland Conservation: Unities and Conflifts
Henry J. Vaux
Given at Berkeley, California, March 16, 1989
The first permanent policy for conservation of forest and rangelands in California was adopted in 1890, the year Horace Albright was born. As we approach the hundredth anniversary of those two events it is appropriate to look back over the first Century of Conservation in our state to see what it may tell us about the process by which conservation policy has evolved from the simple times of 100 years ago to the very complex ones which conservationists must face today.
William Howard Taft, President of the U.S. during the years that Horace Albright was a mining engineering student here at Berkeley, once said: "A great many people are in favor of conservation regardless of what it means". Although I suspect that Taft was giving vent to a bit of political cynicism when he made the remark, his words properly evoke both the wide diversity of concerns that conservationists have embraced, then as now, and the power of the word conservation as a political symbol.
As to the diversity within conservation, the career of Horace Albright himself illustrates it beautifully. From 1915 to 1933 he worked in the Department of Interior, first to establish and make strong the National Park Service under Stephen T. Mather, later to expand the National Park System as Director of the Service. In 1933 he left the government to become an executive for the United States Potash Corporation, a mining enterprise with which he remained until retirement in 1956. After that he was Chairman of the Board of Resources for the Future, Inc., a non-profit foundation conducting a variety of research into topics affecting the issues which its name embraces.
Horace Albright saw no philosophical conflict between mining and National Parks, provided you did not try to locate them both in the same place. He had a profound commitment to future generations, but also perceived that that commitment could not be met without also meeting legitimate needs of the present. This humanistic view offered a framework which could accommodate the apparent conflicts between the two phases of his career. It is in this sense that I will suggest that Horace Albright's professional life offers us a paradigm for conservation worth reemphasizing today.
My focus will be on the conservation of wildlands in California. The wildlands are the forest, range, alpine, and desert lands that taken together occupy 85 percent of the surface of this state. Conservation of those lands means, for me, any action or policy that maintains or increases the capability of a natural resource to yield benefits to people in the future. Thus, preserving a scenic or scientific wonder, establishing a plantation of young trees, taking special measures to minimize soil erosion or water or air pollution would all be examples of conservation.
First, I will review very briefly the principal programs developed over the last century which now comprise the California wildland conservation policy. That history illustrates that, from the beginning, the people whom we call conservationists have constituted a remarkably diverse set of special interests, united in respect to a few things of central importance but also often in sharp conflict with one another. That history also suggests that over the decades conservationists have gotten increasingly good at the game of conflict but increasingly poor at the game of unification. As a result, we have fallen behind in the task of developing the private and public institutions that are essential for dealing with the new generation of conservation problems which emerged over the last quarter century and that are now the fundamental ones if the interests of all conservationists are to be served.
Publicly Owned Conservation Reservations
On September 25, 1890, Congress passed a law establishing Sequoia National Park as the first such unit in this state. A few days later, it created General Grant and Yosemite National Parks. Thus 1890 marks, I believe, the genesis of the wildland conservation policy in this state.1 In the following year Congress passed the Forest Reserve Act which laid foundations for the present National Forest System. The law authorized the President to set aside forest reserves from the unreserved public domain. The Forest Management Act of 1897 stipulated that no reserve could be established "except to improve and protect the forest..., or for the purposes of securing favorable conditions of water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens".
Whereupon Presidents McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed Forest Reserves with such enthusiasm that Congress was persuaded in 1905 to repeal the President's authority to make additional reservations. Gifford Pinchot and his merry foresters took a good bit of the sting out of that loss of authority by sitting up all night surrounded by maps of the public domain drafting additional forest reservation proclamations. President Roosevelt happily signed them the next morning a few minutes before he signed into law Congress's Act that terminated his authority to do so. By that time, there remained only relatively small amounts of forestland within the unreserved public domain. In California some 20 million acres of Forest Reserves had been established.
From time to time Congress subsequently exercised its power to reserve additional parks and forests and it diversified the purposes for which reservations could be made to include national monuments, wildlife refuges, national recreation areas and some other specific purposes. It also enlarged previously reserved areas by exchanges of land and timber for needed land, by accepting donated lands, and ultimately by direct purchase from private owners. In 1901 the California Legislature also initiated a policy of conservation reservations by appropriating the then very substantial sum of $250,000 to buy private land to establish the California Redwood Park at Big Basin in Santa Cruz County.
These new institutions - federal forest reserves, federal and state parks, and the government agencies that administer them - all established during the decade after 1890, comprised one of the two legs of the wildland conservation policy we have today. The other leg dealt with privately owned land.
Conservation on Private Wildlands
From the time that California became a state, the public domain here was steadily transferred to private owners through operation of the federal policy of disposing of such lands. By 1905 in excess of 30 million acres of forest and rangeland (one-third of the area of the state) had passed into private hands. By liquidating some of the resources on that land and reinvesting the proceeds in various enterprises here, its owners erected much of the initial economic structure of the entire state.
The problem of achieving conservation objectives on private land was of a very different order than the one dealt with by conservation reservations. Constitutional considerations lodged questions of the use and regulation of private property solely within the jurisdiction of state and local governments. Thus to advance conservation it was necessary to adopt state programs that would modify the way in which the market system influenced forest and range owners without replacing that system. To do this, of course, raised extremely difficult questions of how to balance the rights and equities of the property owner with those of the public - questions which remain at the center of such conservation problems today.
By 1905 timberland owners, agriculturists dependent on mountain watersheds for irrigation, and the tourist industry had become keenly aware by sad experience that both their short and long-term business interests depended on control of wildfire on forest, range, and chaparral lands. It also had become clear that only state government had the breadth of jurisdiction to deal with an agent like wildfire that had no respect for private property lines or any other manmade boundary, and also the police power required if resource protection laws were to be adequately enforced.
In addition, in a state where the availability of water for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes places very inflexible limits on human activity and where 90 percent of the water runoff arises on wildland areas, not in the areas of settlement, many of the benefits of fire protection accrue to people who do not own the land and who do not even live within the same local government jurisdiction. Much the same may be said for recreational and aesthetic benefits. As a result, and with considerable reluctance, the California Legislature adopted the Forest Protection Act of 1905. It established a statewide cooperative approach to the protection from fire of all non-federal wildlands in unincorporated areas.
For the first time, the Legislature recognized by this Act the universal nature of the fire threat and the fact that efforts to control it had to be conceived on a geographically integrated basis, The fire law foreshadowed broader subsequent recognition that you cannot have conservation on a piecemeal basis.
The fire protection law was followed over subsequent decades by adjustments to the systems of taxing timber property and income. The existing tax institutions were changed so as to eliminate the negative bias which the original taxing practices had on the incentive for long-term private investment in timber growing. A bit later both federal and state governments began programs to encourage small forest owners to grow trees, reduce soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat by sharing with the landowner the costs of the needed practices.
State regulation of private land management practices began with adoption of the California Forest Practice Act in 1945. That law provided a system of industry self-regulation of private timber harvesting practices for the purposes of securing better protection of soil productivity and requiring a measure of reforestation following logging. Sponsorship for the Act came from among the forest landowners. Other conservationists showed little interest and took little part in designing the law.
Cooperative fire protection, financial assistance for conservation practices, and state regulation of timber harvesting all involved significant out-of-pocket costs if they were to be effective. How the burden of paying these costs should be allocated between the landowners and the public has always been a sensitive source of conflict. To date the state bears the main costs of basic fire protection; the landowners bear most of the cost of forest practice regulation; and the costs of encouraging private resource investments are divided between the landowners and the state.
But how such costs should be distributed so as to balance public interests and benefits equitably against private property rights and benefits presented a thorny problem for each of these programs - a problem made more difficult because the several costs and benefits vary tremendously from one piece of property to another. From the beginning of state intervention in private resource management, the Legislature has charged the California Board of Forestry to regulate the programs to maintain an equitable balance between public interest and private right, within statutory guidelines.
Conflicts and Compromises
The pattern of federal-state-private cooperation in fire protection, forest taxation reform, and forestry assistance to landowners, coupled with state regulation of private timber harvest practices was actually hammered out over several decades of conflict. From 1920 on, Gifford Pinchot and others battled fiercely to install federal regulation over private timber harvesting practices. Such regulation was bitterly opposed by forest landowners. The combination of cooperative public assistance with regulation of cutting practices by the state represented the somewhat uneasy compromise produced by the tensions over federal regulation.
The internal conflict that has marked the conservation movement from its earliest days was also apparent in the conservation reservation leg of the policy. Battles erupted around the differences in the purposes established for the different types of reservations. In 1905 Congress withdrew a quarter of a million acres from the Yosemite Park reservation, from which lumbermen, graziers, and miners had been excluded, and transferred that land to the Sierra Forest Reserve, to which those interests had access. A few years later came the Hetch Hetchy proposal to furnish a water supply for San Francisco, details of which are certainly well known to this audience.
Controversies over such actions revealed the deep split within the conservation movement between what have been called its preservationist and utilitarian wings for which John Muir and Gifford Pinchot were the respective and eloquent spokesmen. Unfortunately, almost in the pattern of religious schism, this dichotomy within conservation became sharper and more confrontational as subsequent decades passed.
The conflicts were not confined to the special interests concerned. For example, the Park Service and the Forest Service each defended its turf against the other with vigor. During the ensuing decades they have provided numerous examples of intense institutional rivalry.
Multiplication of Agencies and Organizations
Parallel with the development and growth of these conservation programs went the growth and development of other wildland policy institutions, both public and private. The public ones that I have already mentioned - the National Park Service, the Forest Service and the California Board of Forestry - were subsequently joined by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Soil Conservation Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency at the federal level, and for the state, the Department of Forestry, the Department of Fish and Game, the State Parks Commission and Department of Parks and Recreation, the State Water Quality Control Board and the Regional Agencies under its jurisdiction, the Air Resources Board, the Department of Conservation, and the Coastal Commission.
Examination of the various statutes which established these agencies reveals that all are unified in some way under the conservation rubric of maintaining the quantity or quality of resources for the future. But each agency embodies and was established to protect or advance a particular wildland conservation value. They are joined in a common enterprise by the unifying elements in conservation but divided by the conflicts inherent in their special-purpose character.
When initially proposed, all of the wildland conservation programs were untried and were the object of long-ingrained political opposition based on a variety of ideological, practical, and self-interest grounds. A substantial degree of specific political support was essential if this resistance to change in the system of political institutions was to be overcome. As a result, well before creation of each of the new public agencies, organized groups of citizens with enough energy, resources, and political will to overcome this obstacle had to be created.
Early examples of private conservation organizations which were deeply involved in the establishment of one or more of the major wildland conservation programs would include: the American Civic Association; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Forestry Association; the California Water and Forests Association; the Save the Redwoods League; and the California Forest Protective Association. The list of such organizations which are active today would include many times that number. They function at the national, state, regional, or local levels. A few, like the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society, function at all of these levels.
The arena which such organizations inhabit has, of course, other occupants. User groups ranging from mining and timber companies to water development interests and summer homesite permittees also have organizations, often well financed, to support their particular concerns. Many such groups are also conservation minded in the sense that they wish to maintain the basic resource in perpetuity, but this community of interest with other conservationist groups has often been obscured by the heat of the battle over which current utility should predominate.
Conflicts between such groups, which first emerged over the Yosemite Forest Reserve and Hetch Hetchy, have subsequently been relatively frequent, confrontational, bitter, and basically divisive. The conservationist agenda has tended to focus on issues arising from the allocation of the resources among the several potential current uses: for example, the balance between wilderness and other uses on the National Forests; the balance between strict preservation and public use and enjoyment in the National Parks; the comparative weight to be assigned to various environmental protection considerations versus constraints on timber growing in the regulation of forest practices.
The scars inflicted in such battles over who should get the current benefits of conserved wildlands remain today on the bodies and in the memories of many of these organizations. Such issues are usually much more immediate and dramatic in their consequences for people than the unifying issues of long-term resource protection and prevention of the fragmentation of resource systems. The identity of many of the conservation organizations tends to be built around these points of conflict, with a consequent narrowing of the group's view of what "true" conservation is.
There seems every reason to suppose that such conflicts will continue into the future. Therefore it is important to keep in mind that the origins of conflict within conservation are old and nothing suggests that they are more fratricidal today than they have been in the past.
Impact of Environmentalism On Conservation Institutions
Beginning about 1960 environmentalists added concerns over impacts currently being experienced to the conservationists' concern for the future, The new concerns embraced a multitude of qualitative characteristics of the environment, not just specific objects such as forests, trees, and geological formations. Some represented imminent or potential threats to human life. These concerns were thus both more immediate and more threatening than the original conservationist worry about resources for the future.
Environmentalism appears to have emerged when it did for a number of reasons. One was the increasing understanding of how natural systems work and how the different elements in such systems interact with one another. A second obvious stimulus was the explosive impact of developing technology. From that source came both a much larger scale of industrial activity with its potential for disrupting natural ecological processes and the introduction of new chemical agents, some of whose effects on biological species (including human beings) were seriously adverse. A third factor was the expansion - in some instances the explosion - in the demand for a great many of the uses of wildlands.
In California both the application of new technology and the explosion of demand were driven by unprecedented population growth and by growth in economic prosperity. For each Californian who was here in 1890 there are 25 people here today. Just since 1960, the amount of disposable income in the hands of each of those persons has almost doubled in purchasing power. As a result, people expect far more from wildland resources today than they did 100 or even 25 years ago. Both the quantity of goods and services they expect and the menu of those goods and services have expanded greatly. But the resource base from which such expectations have to be fulfilled is no bigger now than it was then. A fundamental feature of the current generation of conservation problems concerns how to deal with these greatly expanded expectations in the face of a fixed and less productive resource base.
In addition, this phenomenal growth in population and purchasing power has not been evenly distributed. Both have been concentrated until recently in and around established urban centers. Non-urban areas, which depend most directly on the wildland resources, have fallen well behind the rest of the state in levels of income. Quite recently they have begun to share in the population increase which is drastically changing the social structure of many resource areas.
These developments faced the established conservation institutions, both public and private, with a startling new array of problems with which most of them are still trying to cope. For example the inherent conflict between recreational use and preservation, both long-accepted National Park objectives, has been revealed on a much larger scale than has been experienced before. The multiple-use objective, long characteristic of National Forest management, emerged as no longer an objective, but rather as the definition of a difficult problem of balancing competing uses. Beginning in 1970, the Environmental Protection Act, the National Forest Management Act, the Federal Land Management and Policy Act, and other new laws exposed the planning and decision-making activities of the federal resource management agencies to vastly greater public scrutiny and made it mandatory for them to consider a far broader range of influences than had previously been the case.
Each of the state's forestry programs for conservation of privately owned wildlands faced a comparable explosion in both the volume and nature of the problems they were required by law to resolve. The Board of Forestry was restructured by the Legislature so that a majority of its members must be drawn from persons with no pecuniary interest in forests and who must represent the public interest in forestry. The statutory objectives of timber harvest practice regulation were broadened from soil and timber conservation to require giving explicit consideration in the regulations to "the public's need for watershed protection, fisheries and wildlife, and recreational opportunities" as well as aesthetic enjoyment. A new statewide land use zone called Timber Production Zone (TPZ) was created by the Legislature, in which private timberland could be better insulated from the rapidly increasing market pressures to subdivide such ownerships, with consequent further fragmentation in the control over forest systems.
At the same time access to the court system was being broadened. Interest groups which previously had no legal basis for appealing decisions over the heads of the administrative agencies were now recognized by the courts as having standing to sue. This added an entire new dimension to the decision-making process which conservation interests were quick to employ. Application of the California Environmental Quality Act (1969) and the National Environmental Policy Act introduced new requirements on the wildland agencies and on private owners for gathering and disseminating information about the impacts of proposed decisions that vastly increased the time, effort and cost of such decision-making. Interests not previously formally involved in many decisions suddenly became parties whose participation in resolving the issue had become legally mandatory.
Systems in Nature and Society
The environmental movement generated far more attention and general understanding of the systematic character of nature than had previously existed. It dramatized for substantial segments of the public the fact that individual biological organisms are parts of complex systems and that survival of the organism may depend on the stability or other characteristics of the whole system. For example, it transformed the popular meaning of "Save the Redwoods" from reserving from other uses specimen redwood trees or cathedral groves of limited area into reserving from other use whole watersheds in order to protect the entire ecosystem in which the redwoods reside.
But ecosystems do not exist in isolation. They are inextricably linked to both the economic system and the political system, to say nothing of educational, cultural and other types of systems that provide the structure of our society. John Muir's aphorism that "everything in the universe is hooked to everything else" is a very literal truth and implies that concern for nature and concern for the future simply cannot ignore concern for people and concern for the present.
It is thus no accident that both ecologists and economists are fond of pointing out to us that "There is no such thing as a free lunch". But even though both ecologist and economist use the same aphorism, they often do not mean quite the same thing by it. Usually one is looking mainly at the biological system and the other mainly at the economic one. So both economists and ecologists may evaluate the cost of lunch erroneously. Realistic policy must look at both simultaneously.
Biological and Social Capital In Natural Resources
Biologists sometimes refer to the mass of organisms that occupy
any piece of land as its biological capital. Productivity results
from some combination of land with
biological capital. The amount and kind of productivity depends in part on the character of the land and perhaps more so on the amount and kind of biological capital on the land.
Each of these three concepts - productivity, land, and capital - has its counterparts in the social system. There, land and capital are two of the three or four essential economic factors of production. But in general, the social system has not yet recognized all the aspects of land and capital recognized by the biologist. For example the social institution of property gives the owner rights to control most of what happens on the surface of the land but gives him or her few rights in the air column which rests on it or the water that falls on it and runs off or percolates through it. Similarly, the economic institution of the market system recognizes timber, some of the animal populations, and subsurface minerals as economic capital, but that system ignores other features of biological capital, for example, much secondary vegetation, microorganisms, and avian fauna.
Similarly, the economic system is simply not designed to value outdoor recreation experience and the' biological capital that makes such experience worthwhile. If, it evaluates at all the effects that activities on one piece of land have on adjacent or downstream tracts, it does so only after the fact on the basis of damages already done.
The several new conservation institutions created from 1890 to 1945, such as public ownership of wildland resources and regulation of private wildland owners, remedied at least some of the failures of earlier institutions to include in social valuation processes features of the biological system which society was now demanding be valued. They reduced the extent to which the social system was eroding the biological one, as it withdrew economic and biological capital from the resource and devoted it to other purposes. But the examples I just mentioned suggest that there remain many situations where the biological systems which represent the resources and the economic and political systems we rely on to control resource use still do not fit together well enough to achieve effective conservation.
At earlier stages of our history the process of liquidating resource capital to finance development of the country may well have been, on balance, beneficial to American society. But at some point the balance between the costs and benefits of the process shifted against further unrestricted depletion of natural resource capital. The record is clear that the existing institutional structure still favors this process of continuing to withdraw biological capital from the resources, monetize it, and invest it elsewhere, usually outside the region of its origin,
Today we hear much about the budget deficit and the trade deficit but much less about the renewable resources deficit. It is the direct result of this process of wildland capital withdrawal. But the long-run consequences of continuing to enlarge the renewable resource deficit are clearly more dangerous to us than prolonging the deficits in trade and budgets. Ultimately those conditions are self-correcting. The renewable resource deficit is not.
That such a renewable resource deficit exists is evident from unequivocal data which show that in California millions of acres of both private and public forests are not stocked with trees sufficiently well to utilize the potential productivity of the site economically. Observable deterioration in the quality of many park and recreation areas, of wildlife habitat, and of water quality and stream productivity testify to comparable failures to maintain the resource capital at a level consistent with the current rates of use.
Two major institutional defects lie at the heart of this fundamental problem. First, private landowners make decisions about the resources they control largely on the basis of the financial incentives and disincentives offered by the general market for capital. (Those who do not, usually do not long remain private landowners.) The general capital market clearly tends to favor short-term investments of a few years' duration over the longer term ones essential for natural resource maintenance. So long as such forces exist, the wonder is, not that some private owners liquidate resource capital and reinvest it elsewhere, but that some other owners continue to resist such powerful market pressures. To identify landowners, or even liquidating landowners, as the villains is to completely misunderstand the problem. Such tactics stand in the way of a solution rather than advancing it.
On public land, the institutional defects are different but they lead to the same nefarious results. The government (federal or state) makes no distinction between its capital budget and its operating budget. It has no system of accounting which can even tell us what its resource investments and depletions are. With limited exceptions, receipts from government lands go into general treasury funds, not back into resource investment. Some of them are deliberately used to reduce the apparent budget deficit without any recognition that this simply increases the renewable resource deficit.
Moreover, if one examines government appropriations for the wildland resource agencies, it is apparent that year after year appropriations for short-term operations - timber sales preparation, administration of grazing and recreation permits, and the like - are usually quite close to what the agencies request for these purposes. But the resource investment programs of the same agencies - for tree planting, habitat rehabilitation, or soil and water conservation, for example - are usually a much smaller fraction of the agency request. In other words, Congress and the Executive Office of the President have the same preference for a quick return from the money they spend and the land they control as we saw in the case of the capital markets.
Institutional failure is taking place in other situations besides capital investment. For example, the dynamics of population and income growth, and of technological advances in transportation and human settlement patterns are having profound impacts on protection of wildlands from fire. The relatively simple technical problems of fire prevention and suppression have been subordinated to the predominantly human problems of defending residential property and even human life in many wildland areas. The integrity of biological systems has been seriously eroded by subdivision of many such wildland holdings. Such fragmentation is shifting the focus of landowners away from the economics and psychology of on-going resource productivity to the direction of the economics of land speculation and the psychology of the residential community.
On public land Yellowstone National Park illustrates the institutional problem dramatically. That Park includes two and a quarter-million acres of land over which the Park Service has almost complete jurisdiction. But the biologic, hydrologic, and pyrologic systems of which the Park is a part cover a number of times that area. Because so many of those systems extend far beyond the Park boundaries, control and management of the systems is dispersed among at least five federal bureaus, three states each with several' departments having specific but limited responsibilities, to say nothing of numerous private landowners with diverse;, objectives. The basic problem at Yellowstone is not the, forest fire problem or the grizzly bear problem or the elk problem. It is the problem of an institutional structure for control over Park systems which were built essentially without regard to the breadth and nature of the tasks it must, now address. The problem for California wildlands is entirely comparable to that at Yellowstone.
Until these sorts of fundamental institutional defects, are corrected, there seems no possibility of reducing much less eliminating the renewable resources deficit, whether in California's wildlands, in the tropical rain forest, or elsewhere in the world. To begin to work toward a solution, all breeds of conservationists must be willing to face these issues together, recognizing that unless they do so, all stand to lose. Together they must define the problem, negotiate with each other the nature of tenable solutions and, once feasible plans for institutional reform have been agreed upon, unite in gaining the widespread public support for changes more complex than anything conservationists have yet undertaken.
Private Conservation Organizations As Agents of Institutional Change
Although a great many people are in favor of conservation, as President Taft remarked, most of those people do not focus on conservation issues most of the time. The active conservationists are a very much smaller minority who, by themselves, are rarely numerous enough to achieve institutional change. They only do so on those rather' infrequent occasions when, as a result of effective organization and a demonstrated unity of purpose, they are able to motivate the majority to join them in achieving a major conservation goal. This is a tremendously important role for private conservation organizations to play.
The very number and diversity of conservation organizations which have proliferated over the decades is part of the problem of achieving unity. These private groups have increasingly come into conflict with one another. Often they have little contact with each other. There is no established forum where their common interests can be clearly identified and their conflicts mediated or resolved. Today the question is: in the face of these distracting conflicts, how can the power of private conservation organizations be refocused on the fundamental changes which still must be accomplished if wildland conservation goals are to be achieved?
The Board of Forestry's Initiative
About 10 years ago the State Board of Forestry began to call attention to these needs for institutional change which now appear to be fundamental to all others in contemporary wildland conservation. In a report on California wildlands under the title, Renewable Resources Under Siege, the Board concluded that a restructuring of the economic, legal, and political institutions through which resources are managed was now essential. Otherwise, the Board said, the existing lack of incentives for resource maintenance would prevent our achieving the sort of prudent long-term management of wildland resources essential for realizing conservation goals.
In 1985, a succeeding Board devoted much of its Centennial Year to meeting with a wide spectrum of conservationists to focus more sharply on the problem. Capitalizing on insights gained from such discussions, the Assessment Program of the Department of Forestry submitted to the Board of Forestry last August a report entitled California's Forests and Rangelands, Growing Conflict Over Changing Uses. It provides the most thorough compilation of data and the most effective articulation and analysis yet made of the current problems of forest and rangeland conservation in the state.
This new forest and range assessment identifies in its conclusion some 32 objectives which need to be reached if an adequate framework for productive resource decision-making is to be provided. They include such things as designing conflict-resolution mechanisms that will be both less costly and more decisive for many matters which now have to be resolved by the courts; strengthening the role of professional resource managers in resource decision-making; strengthening the machinery through which the state's interest in the planning of federal land management is formulated and embodied in agency plans; reducing the extent to which state agencies, each responsible for a different element in the spectrum of resource conservation values, work at cross-purposes with each other; providing linkages between state and local governments which permit more continuous negotiation of their roles and concerns in the administration of resource programs; providing economic incentives for private owners to produce at least some of the non-marketable benefits such as recreation; and reversing the several disincentives which now exist for private owners to make the capital investments essential for future resource productivity.
If we were to have open discussion of any one of these issues here tonight I am certain that the house would be divided on how to deal with almost every one of them. But no major institutional change will take place without there first being a substantial agreement among the various conservation interests that the problem has the highest priority. In addition, credible leaders of each of the private and public groups must be willing to spend the time and energy together without which no unifying solutions can be developed.
The present Board of Forestry has, I think, made an energetic and far-sighted effort to set the needed process of institutional revision in motion. But, in addition to its statutory responsibility for maintaining an adequate forest policy for California, the Board has heavy legislative and quasi-judicial duties which occupy the great bulk of its time. As a result, much of the Board's work is done at the very focus of many of the conflicts within conservation. Inevitably, many of its legislative or judicial acts do not command uniform agreement across the spectrum of conservation interests. For that reason the Board alone cannot always lead the attack on the fundamental institutional problems it has identified. It must have the help of a broad array of wildland conservation interests in sharing that leadership.
Fortunately, there is evidence in the past two or three years that
such leadership has begun to develop at least at local and regional
levels. For example, groups in Mendocino County, in the North Sacramento
River Basin, in the Mattole Valley and elsewhere have begun to talk
with each other about the common problems of their regions, in search
of areas of agreement. Some other interest groups which have not
spoken to each other for 20 years have begun to talk to each other
at least informally. The potential for success from this kind of
approach is suggested by the recent experience in the state of Washington
where the difficult problem of strengthening that state's forest
practice rules has been attacked, apparently successfully, on a
cooperative basis by a group broadly representative of all
conservation or user interests. From such sources may eventually come the kind of effort needed to deal with the institutional problems the Board of Forestry has identified.
Research and Professional Education In Wildland Resource Conservation
Finally, undergirding all of the elements that I have already discussed is the program of research and education essential for the success of any public policy. This year we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the program of research and professional education in forestry by Walter Mulford here on the Berkeley Campus. As the oldest such institution in the state, the Berkeley program has served from the beginning as the flagship for the research and teaching element of the wildland conservation policy.
There is no need to dwell on the past accomplishments of that enterprise. The details have already been well told in the history of the first 50 years of the School of Forestry published by Paul Casamajor and the update to it now in press thanks to the efforts of Dennis Teeguarden, John Zivnuska and a number of others. These sources tell of essential research that has been done, of the eminent professional teaching programs that have been developed, and of the flow of resource information to the broader communities concerned with wildland conservation, accomplished through Cooperative Extension and other means.
What I should like to emphasize is a less known aspect of the forestry program at Berkeley that has special relevance to the concerns about the future of resource conservation that I have discussed tonight. Unlike most academic departments, its faculty and students are drawn a wide range of disciplines in both the natural and social sciences. As individuals they cherish a diversity of values that reflect much of the spectrum expressed in the broader society. In many ways the forestry program at Berkeley is thus a microcosm of the broader conservation community.
In some 50 years of association with that program I've been profoundly impressed with the ability of its members to achieve unity on fundamentals while maintaining the capacity to disagree on specifics. From its inception, there have been sharp differences in view among faculty and among students on substantive issues of academic policy, professional orientation, and, during Berkeley's Time of Troubles, matters of profound national and international significance. Faculty members who have held conflicting views have been strong-minded and able protagonists for their positions. But once a democratic decision was reached, the ranks closed and each member of the group did his or her best to make the adopted policy successful.
Out of those experiences the members of the Berkeley forestry program
learned the specifics of how to achieve unity in the face of conflict.
They know how to organize forums which can bring antagonists together,
how to structure development of the essential information base and
design alternatives in ways that strip away the less relevant and
focus on the essentials, and, perhaps most important of all, how
to foster the individual attitudes and the personal relationships
that lead to constructive accommodation of differences. Knowledge
and expertise in such areas are as germane to solution of the contemporary
generation of conservation problems as the program's established
role in fields like resource ecology and economics. Finding ways
to extend their application is as
important to the future of conservation policy as the older disciplines have been in the past.
Some will fear the dangers of transcending traditional areas of university service. But a great deal can be accomplished within those traditions by example and by personal involvement. And whatever the dangers of new initiatives may be, it is certain that to fail to respond to current problems in ways that deal with their essence not only courts a different and more insidious set of dangers, but is hostile to the century-old tradition of conservation itself.
Today higher education relevant for problems of wildland conservation has spread to other units of the University and to other components of the state's college and university system. Research now carried on through the University's statewide Wildland Resources Center is greatly augmented by the federal research program. For all elements of that professional education and research institution the task is now to address the new dimensions of the conservation problem I have suggested and to help the community focus on the conservation problems of the future. But in addition, recent public attention to the emerging facts of acid deposition, the greenhouse effect, tropical deforestation, and the linkage between resource degradation and rural poverty leave no room for doubt that wildland resource professionals capable of dealing with the forest and range aspects of those problems in the broadest terms and on a global basis will also have essential future roles to play. The wildland research and professional education program at Berkeley, closely linked as it now is to important related units of the College of Natural Resources, is strongly positioned to continue a flagship role in meeting those future challenges.
During the century I've briefly reviewed tonight, people like Horace Albright built conservation institutions, both public and private, which have served the public interest well but which now face new and very difficult challenges. I have suggested that, over the decades, the unifying elements that underlie conservation have tended to be obscured by conflict over the balance among current uses. This has become a most serious threat to further progress because, while a majority of people look kindly on conservation goals, they are unwilling to give such matters the time and attention needed to understand the problems in their full complexity.
Hence it falls to the much smaller number who are strongly committed to conservation to motivate and guide the larger body of the public. If the efforts of that small committed group continue to be focused mainly on conflict with one another, the costs to conservation will be heavy. But if they can unite despite their differences to do what is needed to build and maintain long-term resource capacities, enlarge the current and future productivity of those resources, and seek a more universally equitable distribution of their benefits, their efforts will be remembered 100 years from now, just as today we recall with gratitude those of earlier builders like Horace Albright, John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and Walter Mulford.
1 Limited areas on the floor of Yosemite Valley and at the Mariposa Grove were transferred by the Congress to the State of California in 1864. Since the State failed rather conspicuously to provide even a minimum of protection for the area, until after the Federal Yosemite Reserve was established, it seems proper to begin this account with 1890.
*Prepared for the 29th Horace M. Albright Lecture in Conservation at the University of California, Berkeley, March 16, 1989.
1 Limited areas on the floor of Yosemite Valley and at the Mariposa Grove were transferred by the Congress to the State of California in 1864. Since the State failed rather conspicuously to provide even a minimum of protection for the area, until after the Federal Yosemite Reserve was established, it seems proper to begin this account with 1890.
Introducing: Henry J. Vaux
Professor Emeritus of the Department of Forestry and Resource Management of the University of California. It is fitting that Professor Vaux received the 1989 Horace M. Albright Lectureship in view of his contribution to education and conservation in forestry.
Nineteen-hundred-eighty-nine marks the 75th anniversary of forestry education at Berkeley and the 30th anniversary of the Horace M. Albright Lectureship. Professor Vaux participated in forestry education at Berkeley as a student in the 1930s and 1940s, earning an M.S. in Forestry in 1935 and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics in 1948.
The 13 years between completion of his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees were spent entirely in graduate study in pursuit of the Ph.D. During that time Professor Vaux worked for Crown Willamett Paper Company, taught forestry at Oregon State University, served as Forest Economist at the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C. and in Berkeley, and spent three years on active duty with the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War 11.
Dr. Vaux joined the faculty of the School of Forestry in 1948 as lecturer in forestry and rose quickly through the professorial ranks. He was appointed Dean of the School of Forestry in 1955 and served in that capacity until 1965. During that period he was responsible for establishing an educational policy and academic program which led to recognition of the School of Forestry at Berkeley as the outstanding professional forestry program in the nation. In the early 1960s Dean Vaux was responsible for launching the Horace M. Albright Lectureship in Conservation. His guidance and direction in those early years set a standard for bringing outstanding conservationists to the Berkeley Campus as Albright Lecturers.
Following 10 years as Dean of the School of Forestry, Dr. Vaux returned to the faculty as professor of forest economics and policy. He made major research contributions in these fields through publication of some 120 papers, many of which stand as classic contributions to our understanding of forest resources supply. These writings by and large are not routine research papers but rather have dealt with broad policy matters as indicated by these titles:
"Conflicts, Strategies, and Possibilities for Consensus in Forest Land Use Management"
"How Much Land Do We Need for Timber Growing"
"Goal Setting - A Meeting Ground of Management and Policy"
"Economics and Social Goals and Public Decision-making in Wildland Resource Management"
He co-authored in 1953 with William A. Duerr the book, Research in the Economics of Forestry which served to define the field of forest economics and to advance and demonstrate the methodology of research in forest economics.
While serving as Dean he proposed establishment in 1958 of the Wildland Research Center at the University of California. He served as its first director and played a key role guiding the major wilderness study conducted by the Center in 1960.
On the national scene he participated in the initiation of the McIntire-Stennis research program in forestry and represented forestry education in the major forestry research planning effort which involved inclusion of forestry under the Current Research Information System of the Department of Agriculture.
In 1976 Dr. Vaux was appointed chair of the California State Board of Forestry, a position he held for seven years. His leadership and special talent for conflict resolution guided forestry in California through a turbulent period of redefinition of the state's role in the regulation of timber harvesting and forest management. He worked for funding of the California Forest Improvement Program and advised in studies under the California Forest Resources Assessment and Policy Act of 1977.
His contributions and attainments in forest conservation have been widely recognized. He is a Fellow of the Society of American Foresters, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. He has served as a member of the Council of the Society of American Foresters, director of the Forest History Society, and director and honorary vice-president of the American Forestry Association. In 1967 he received the Award for Outstanding Current Achievement of the Western Forestry and Conservation Association; in 1978 he was awarded the Gifford Pinchot Medal by the Society of American Foresters, and in 1985 he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Haverford College, his alma mater.