I'm cross-posting this to BOO which may be a better place to carry on, if folks want to.
For starters, I have to say, I generally enjoy Lars' colorful and erudite way of expressing himself, even when I disagree.
In this case, I agree with his remark that "restoration" has become a buzzword that can be used to justify almost any anthropogenic disturbance.
In my book, "anthropogenic disturbance" includes a wide range of tree-planting projects that were aimed to "restore" riparian forests in places that were demonstrably unforested (or at most sparsely wooded) grasslands in the mid-1800s. We lost a small but significant population of "Oregon" Vesper Sparrows at Luckiamute SNA to one such case of good intentions in the early 2000s.
The current trend toward canopy thinning is still trivial in comparison with past and ongoing forestation projects, so I welcome it. There's a whole lot of room for the pendulum to swing back the other way, toward maintaining open habitats.
I disagree with Lars on his suggestion that land managers are just doing this for "brownie points." Also on most recent projects that I'm aware of, there's been an effort to gather baseline data, though budgets are limited.
Finally it's a bit unfair to poke sticks at public land managers because many of them are not fully at liberty to defend their actions in this forum.
There are a lot of ways for birders to get involved in the process, for any patch of habitat on public land that you care about. Oregon's public meeting laws are strict enough that public employees think twice about even riding an elevator together, if they didn't publish their plans to do so in the local newspaper of record, 5 days in advance.
So if you want to stay informed, it's easy to do so. You just need to pay attention, and consider sacrificing some of your birding time to go sit in boring meetings. Public lands managers are generally an accommodating bunch. They will generally listen to you, and if you can provide them with baseline information, they'll be thrilled.
But in order to have an influence, birders need to stay informed and show up for meetings. Whether we're willing to talk about it on OBOL or just push it off to BOO, we need to be a lot more proactive in communicating about habitat issues at popular birding sites. Otherwise we'll just be stuck with complaining after the fact when these developments catch us by surprise -- and honestly, it'll be our own fault.