First, President Bush has unveiled his plan for lawless and
unregulated logging. The Bush plan proposes to:
1.Eliminate the citizens' right to appeal and bring lawsuits
challenging fuels treatment and restoration projects. This could
translate into exempting some or all fuel reduction restoration
projects nationwide. In other words, this provision could bring back
days of "lawless logging" under the infamous Salvage Logging Rider of
1995, a policy that even the Forest Service has acknowledged was
un-democratic and not in the best interest of the land.
2.Authorize long-term stewardship contracting including "goods for
services" provisions. This provision will allow the logging companies
and the Forest Service to log merchantable federal timber to pay for
hazardous fuel work. This very controversial authority was dropped
from the Farm Bill this summer because it creates a perverse
incentive to cut bigger, more valuable trees, which are also the most
fire resistant trees.
3.Increase logging in the Pacific Northwest. The plan supports
legislation to increase timber sales in the Pacific Northwest by
"removing needless administrative obstacles" to allow timber projects
to proceed without delay when consistent with the Northwest Forest
Plan. This part of the plan is not limited to fuel reduction and
restoration projects. It is an outright attempt to increase logging
of mature and old growth forests to provide logs to the timber
industry. The Northwest Forest Plan governs the forests in the
western Cascades, which are relatively moist and fuel reduction is
generally not an issue. The inclusion of these forests in this plan
is nothing more than a hand out to the timber industry.
These central elements of the Bush proposal are EXTREMELY controversial and VEHEMENTLY opposed by the environmental community.
Thus, from an environmental perspective, the Bush Administration
seems to be more interested in overriding environmental laws and
eliminating public participation than it is in reducing wildfire
risks and restoring healthy forests and rangelands.
The second part of the attack is coming from Industry friendly
congressman Larry Craig (R-ID) and Pete Domenici (R-NM). It is
expected that on September 4, these two will offer yet another
salvage rider that seeks sweeping exemptions from environmental laws
to expedite "thinning" of millions of acres of National Forest land
under the guise of fire prevention; this is shaping up to look like
the plan endorsed by President Bush.
We have not seen the language of the Craig/Domenici fire rider so it
remains unclear how far the exemptions from law will go and what
parts of the landscape would be at risk. But if Senate Bill 2427
introduced in May by Senator Craig is any indication, the bill could
be the worst logging rider ever. Craig's solution is to limit or
eliminate meaningful citizen participation, judicial review and
exempt appeals for timber/fire and bug infestation projects. The rider may also call for permanently authorizing the stewardship contracting authorities including goods for services, so that large merchantable trees could be logged to pay for hazardous fuel thinning.
Calls are urgently needed to alert your Senators to this threat. Please contact your Senators at 202.224.3121 or at their district office and urge them to:
1.Make community protection from fire risk the #1 Forest Service priority.
2.Oppose any riders that suspend environmental laws or limit public
involvement for forest management decisions. The last time this
happened under the Salvage Logging Rider, the Forest Service abused
their authority to cut green trees under the guise of salvage and to
cut old growth forests in the name of forest health. There is no need
to suspend or weaken environmental laws to carry out legitimate fuels
reduction to protect communities.
3.Direct 90% of the fuel reduction projects to where it is needed -
in the immediate vicinity of homes and communities. Right now, only
39% of the acres treated by the Forest Service and BLM are spent in
the "Community Zone"; this number should be increased to 90%. The
latest scientific review from top Forest Service fire researchers
Jack Cohen and Bret Butler, indicates that a zone of 60 meters from
structures and up to 500 meters for firefighter safety are the
maximum areas needed for legitimate fuel reduction treatments for
community and firefighter protection.
4.Increase funding that would go directly to communities that need
protection through state block grants. A substantial amount of the
Community Zone is on private property. To get the work, more funds
should directly to states - not the Forest Service - to ensure that
flammable brush is cleared and small diameter trees are thinned in
the Community Zone.
5.Oppose stewardship contracting authorities that would log older
forests to pay for restoration. Logging to restore forests will
perpetuate the problem. Congress needs to invest in ecologically
sound forest restoration, not more logging.
We will keep you up to date over the next two weeks. Time is very short todefeat these riders. With your help we can stop this "smokescreen"
And put community interests ahead of special interests.
Securing the ecological integrity of the Wild Rockies bioregion
through citizen empowerment and the application of conservation
biology, sustainable economic models and environmental law.
ALLIANCE FOR THE WILD ROCKIES
PO Box 8731
Missoula, MT 59807-8731
406-721-5420 fax: 406-721-9917
Kaz Thea, Ketchum, Executive Director 208-726-5293
Dave Bell, Outreach Director 406-721-5420
Ryan Shaffer, Ecosystem Defense 406-542-0050
Renee Van Camp, Membership Coordinator 406-721-5420
The Internal Revenue Service classifies Alliance
for the Wild Rockies as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Contributions to the Alliance are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law and support our grassroots issue work and programs.