Teri Murrison is a Tuolumne County Supervisor. For more, visit her blog.

In the first blog of this series, I told you about dots and how connecting them can reveal hidden pictures. You need to see the big picture the conservation movement is contending for, know what that means to the way you live, and understand why you should care. We’ve heard cries – especially from the Central Valley over water – for balance between the needs of man and nature. Attaining balance (as we perceive it) is not an option for conservationists working to save the earth. Many of you will find conservation’s definition of balance equally unacceptable.

Let me once more for the record reiterate that the goal must be developing positive relationships to move beyond conflict. No one and nothing is well-served by blood-sport. But respectful confrontation with valid arguments and a level playing field are the first order of business. I’m not a huge football fan, but here’s a metaphor that works. Game on!

Imagine a football team thinking it could win a game without the entire team showing up to play. That’s what we do. Conservationists are moving down the field to “save the earth” like Oakland Raiders playing a five-man high school team. Our team is just trying to reach balance. They’re in a no-holds-barred fight to the finish. They’ve got money, political and spin control, and they’ve got the home team advantage.

And us? Those that show up don’t wear uniforms and have no coaches, cheerleaders, or protective gear. We mostly play defense – and not very well. The rest of our team – mainstream America – isn’t even watching the game.

Care to guess how this one ends?

Last week, a few folks did show up. Congressmen Herger and McClintock and a dozen frustrated and angry county supervisors met with USFS Regional Forester Randy Moore in Sacramento on a wide variety of forest issues. As you read in my last post, Congressman McClintock was particularly unhappy. Conservationists, while not officially present, were not unrepresented.

We’d been invited by Congressman Herger to discuss forest timber harvest yield targets, fire and fuels management, litigation and planning, the federal budget, the Forest Plan process, and the pending revision of the Planning Rule.

Congressman McClintock and Congressman Herger expressed well what county supervisors and our constituents have been hearing and saying for the last few years.  While It helped to vent – Moore listened intently and politely – we need more than that. We need action and  sooner rather than never.

Moore knows we’re in trouble. We’re losing jobs and young families: communities are hurting. He gets it, but can’t or won’t help us. He’s got his own ball game to play. Moore knows we’re playing zero-sum games – we lose more than win. So does the Forest Service.

So while the congressmen and supervisors made a good case for economically depressed communities and asked for continued access and common-sense stewardship of our national forests, it didn’t get us anywhere. The radical conservation organizations –groups that generally litigate almost every plan and action proposed  – have ensured there’s no longer a market for good stewardship.

The science driving the conservation movement has dismissed good stewardship as inadequate now to address the magnitude of the earth’s crisis. They’re demanding more drastic changes to the use and enjoyment of public and private lands and resources. A variety of crises from global warming to drought  are used to justify and advance their goals. They’re well on their way to reestablishing a natural system that hasn’t existed for generations and that’s incompatible with life as we know it.

The goal line has shifted. Human interests are not a priority.

Why you should care Right about now, you may be asking, “What’s the big deal about conservationists saving the earth? The earth they’re saving is the rainforest or Montana or something, isn’t it?” Well, yes and no.

While conservationists think and work globally, they really think and work locally. Policies and regulations that impact public and private lands and resources may be enacted elsewhere, but they are generally applied here. Most of them, when applied, in some way negatively impact our communities.

Over the last thirty-plus years, we’ve seen new environmental laws enacted and experienced shifts in public values, particularly in urban areas where the majority of voters live. As a result, we’ve seen rural economies change as mills close, cattle and sheep producers quit ranching, and tourism is suggested to replace them.

We live where we live for a reason. In California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, many of us are here because of the awesome beauty – the forests, lakes, and wildlife – and because we love the rural lifestyle and values. We’ve built families, businesses, and futures. But we need to make a living to stay here. And the land and forests do need management.

Conservation has a big picture and plan that seeks to reset our future way beyond what has already occurred.  Yet many of you still aren’t paying attention.

We’re in a critical phase in their plan to control America’s lands and resources. Local government is uniquely capable of defending communities’ socioeconomic interests (more about that later), but many of us are just watching from the bleachers, when we show at all.

So I hope you keep reading this series and seriously consider getting down on the field with us. You can’t win if you don’t play.

Come on. Get in the game!