Friday Rant: C4 Stands for "Four Cows" — Some Things You Just Can't Make Up

We are way past the April 1st cutoff, but this is a real story: hold on to your horses, cowboys!

Our government has run into an unexpected bovine challenge -- this past winter, half a dozen cows managed to get into an old Forest Service ranger station high up in the Rockies, where they collectively got stuck inside the cabin and died. There the cows are, still in the cabin, frozen solid.

According to the Forest Service, this is quite a predicament. Some hot springs in the area might receive unwanted runoff from the decomposing carcasses. Instead of letting wild animals, worms, bacteria, and natural in general do its business -- as it has for millions of years -- officials are now weighing their options: bring in helicopters or trucks get the bodies out, burn the place down, or, wait for it...use dynamite! Yes, the Forest Service uses explosives to blow up dead animals found on federal land: horses, deer, elk, and now, cows!

Do we even want to know how to judge "mission success" in a situation like this? What is a sufficient amount dynamite charge? Do you count ounces of beef residue per square foot? Measure the smallest circle that the largest chunk can pass through? Who gets to measure this? Sr. Ranger: "Hey, Rookie Ranger -- go count those cow pieces!" The KPIs start to get rather morbid.

The over-riding administrative concern is stated as keeping the hot springs free of cow effluvia. Since critters die in nature on a regular basis, daily even, and bears are known to do their business in the woods, there must be all sorts of impurities that have made their way into these hot springs over the past few millennia. One wonders if these hot springs are visited by ranking Forest Service officials during internal team-building efforts?

If rotting animal corpses are routinely sought out and disposed of by rangers, there can be no end to their activities -- or the budgets needed to support them.

Given the Forest Service's stated goal of "preserving the natural habitat," the options under consideration seem draconian, not to mention costly. Option A: burn down cabin. Option B: blow up cabin! What happened to the gentle, low cost Option C: let nature (worms, predators, bugs and bacteria) run its course?

Closing on a more serious note, since the GSA (General Services Administration) has recently launched a GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction initiative, the highest priority is to reduce GHG created by internal activities. At Spend Matters, we can state with full confidence that blowing up the cabin, burning it down, flying helicopters up into the Rockies, or driving trucks up there, will generate far more GHG than our proposed Option C above.

- Thomas Kase

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