Your second link gives an example of poor forest management by the US government by comparing it to the way the Apache manage their adjacent forest.
Like so many other examples of centralized versus diffuse planning at work (East and West Germany, North and South Korea, etc.), we have been blessed with a side-by-side experiment on the ground. The Wallow fire burned deeply into Forest Service-managed lands, but practically stopped at the borders of the San Carlos Apache reservation. Comparable forest ecology and identical terrain, yet the flames simply did not do to Indian lands what they did to public lands. Why not?
In 2002, after a devastating fire that ravaged public and Indian-lands alike, the Apache reservation began a concerted campaign of timber harvest, forest-thinning, and prescribed burning. A preventive blaze was set one year ago just west of where the Wallow Fire ignited and tribal workers completed major fuel-reduction campaigns along the reservation border. Because of that, even flames that crossed into Apache lands burned mostly along the ground, with minimal damage to the environment.
Prevailing winds (blowing away from the reservation) certainly played a critical role, but would anyone really care to accept a counterfactual bet on the outcome of the fire had the winds been blowing onto the reservation?
This is weak sauce.
Presumably the US government was not managing the forests on Apache lands, but a 2002 fire took hold in both forests just the same. After that, the two governments took two different approaches to their adjacent forests. A new forest fire came through and burned mostly US land and not so much Apache land, because:
a. different land management techniques
b. prevailing winds
c. central planning vs. decentralized human action
You could pick between a and b, I guess, but there's no way to prove which one is correct. But, you certainly can't pick c because both were examples of central planning.
The argument continues:
Central planners with access to the finest scientific tools and incalculably large budgets were bested by relatively poor natives who knew and understood their lands, and had no fear of vigorously using their resources. Sounds a bit familiar, come to think of it…
Oddly enough, wildlife apparently picks winners too. Elk, spotted owl, mule deer, and any number of less charismatic species vote with their feet (and wings), consistently spoiling the expectations of conservationists who think they ought to live in the more “hands-off, pristine” environments. The San Carlos Apache reservation is known for harboring the world’s finest trophy elk, an indicator of both ecological and economic health (they routinely charge outsiders $25,000 for the privilege of taking the fruits of their hard-earned management success).
The land resources owned and managed by the Apache tribe is of course communally managed as well, but to a far lesser extent than that of national public lands managed by a central bureaucracy. The number of competing demands is smaller, the boundaries to access clearer and more defined. The tragedy of the commons simply isn’t as tragic.
Why is the land management by the Apache tribe not considered central planning? They may be better at forest management than the US government. Ok. But are they not managing the forest?
What kind of argument are they making here? It's not one against land management and it's not one against government. It's only saying that Apaches are better at forest management than the US.
The land resources owned and managed by the Apache tribe is of course communally managed...
Instead, we have collectively decided that west of the 100th meridian, forest resources are to be held in common, managed by central directorship.
This is a bridge far too far for many, but I cannot help but recommend significant privatization of western forestlands. By allowing management to diffuse to individual actors, it is clear that land management will more neatly align with today’s set of values.
How big a plot of land would one actor own? What if he/she/they owned millions of acres? What if it were an organization that owned millions of acres? Even if it's an individual, guess what? Management of that huge forest would be centrally planned.
If one landowner decides that thick timber is important to him, then that judgment is confined to a small area.
Says who? Who defines the size of this owner's property? Why can it not be millions of acres? What if prevailing winds take the fire onto other land? I guess those owners managed their property poorly too.