The United States Forest Service isn’t known for shaking the trees, which is why it was so strange that its Twitter account started suggesting we might actually be in hell.
The Forest Service’s tame Twitter account got a little spicy on Thursday, a departure from the benign, inoffensive tweets about outdoor recreation, including gems like: “Close to 75 percent of the nation’s outdoor recreation takes place within one-half mile of streams or other #water bodies. #ForestH2O.” On Wednesday, a similarly inoffensive tweet read, “Spring is a great time to explore your local forest and reconnect with wildlife! #WildlifeWednesday.” Again, pretty fluffy stuff.
But on Thursday morning, something unsettling popped up from the U.S. Forest Service’s Twitter account, something a bit more … apocalyptic.
“All of the forests are gone,” reads the tweet, followed by “#HintsYoureInHell.” A photograph below the text shows a grim scene: an expanse of leafless stumps and fallen tree trunks.
As of this story’s publication, the tweet has been live for more than two hours, so it seems like it’s probably not the result of rogue tweeters like was saw in the wake of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.
Plus, the Forest Service has responded to questions about the tweet, including where and when the photo was taken: Arizona, 2009.
So perhaps this isn’t so much a protest as it is a bold new direction for the Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture charged with administering nearly 200 million acres of forests and grasslands.
Some commenters didn’t see it that way, though, and took issue with what they saw as climate change activism.
Of course, nobody was saying that, and in fact, wildfires are a fairly regular occurrence in the Western states.
But in these days of rogue government Twitter accounts, it can honestly be hard to tell whether something like this is a routine — if bizarre — tweet or an activist seizing the helm.
The tweet seems reminiscent of the Biblical Book of Revelation, which tells about the world’s forests and grasses being burned up in the end of days:
“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.”