Attacks, threats, and lesser fights involving Forest Service workers reached an all-time high last year, says an advocacy group quoted by the Associated Press. Incidents ranged from gunshots to stalking and verbal abuse. The agency tally shows 477 such reports in 2005, compared with 88 logged a year earlier. The total in 2003 was 104; in 1995, it was 34. Among serious incidents, a Forest Service worker was run down by a man in a snowmobile in California’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management area. Forest Service workers were shot at while trying to confiscate a marijuana plantation in California’s Angeles National Forest. Two shotguns and more than 78 kilograms of processed marijuana were seized.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility obtained the data through a Freedom of Information Act request and provided them to the Associated Press. The group said some of the growing violence in the woods is due to greater access to remote lands and waterways by motorized equipment. Forest Service officials put some of the blame for the growing violence on increasing border enforcement and drug-related activity. Don Amador of the BlueRibbon Coalition, an Idaho-based group that advocates motorized recreation, called the report absurd. “To try to lump off-roaders with drug dealers and other ne’er-do-wells is just ridiculous,” he said.