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Managers at the Colville National Forest seem more interested in selling trees than managing the forest.

Managers of every national forest are mandated to perform an "ecosystem inventory" every 10 years to document the number and type of trees in their forests. It's an involved procedure that's planned and budgeted for years in advance. And without it, managers can't be sure that they're correctly managing their forests. But Cynthia Reichelt, who has worked for the Forest Service for 20 years, says she's never seen an inventory like the one underway now in the Colville National Forest in Eastern Washington. Reichelt admits that inventorying at the Colville forest was never the best, but this time, forest officials tried to skip it all together, she says. Reichelt says that her supervisors wanted to use the money for planning timber sales instead. When the Spokane Public Lands Council discovered what was going on and filed an injunction, Reichelt says forest managers directed employees to inventory the entire forest in just one year — half the time it would normally take —so that the work wouldn't conflict with an upcoming timber sale. "They're rushing through it, taking fragmented aerial inventories, classifying stands
of trees on economic status and using some strange voodoo to determine old-growth stands," Reichelt says. "This isn't an ecosystem inventory, this is an attempt to pacify the public." Under federal whistleblower protections Reichelt has been reassigned to the newly organized Information Resources Management unit of the Office of the CIO.

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