We really need to be calling Congressman DeFazio to ask him to oppose
Scott McInnis' fire bill, H.R. 5319. Please contact David Dreher in DeFazio's office at 202/225-6416 today. Apparently McInnis' bill has been revised somewhat based on the negotiations between he and several Democrats including George Miller from CA and Rep. DeFazio. However, the revisions are still unacceptable and include dangerous stewardship logging pilotnprojects and an open door to log mature and old growth forests in the name of fuels reduction (see talking points below)
H.R. 5319 could be voted on in committee as soon as tomorrow. Please contact DeFazio's office as soon as possible and ask him to oppose H.R. 5319 and support the Inslee/Blumenauer fire bill H.R. 5358 which would focus fuels treatment in the areas immediately surrounding homes and communities, among other things.
Thanks in advance,
American Lands Alliance
Here are some talking points about the draft House compromise. It still stinks and is something that should be substantially improved. Please
urge Resources Committee members to oppose this compromise.
Revised Analysis of Discussion Draft of H.R. 5319
There have been several notable changes to the discussion draft:
1. Additional Goods for Services pilot projects. The bill now allows the Forest Service to conduct an additional 15
stewardship pilots using goods for service authority in addition to the previous 26 BLM pilots included in the bill.
2. It adds a prohibition on road construction in inventoried roadless areas.
3. It removes the requirement to build only temporary roads and to remove them after the project is completed
(Sec. 8 of previous draft).
4. It adds a new Sec. 8, calling for a report to determine if expedited procedures should also be applied to threatened
and endangered species with recovery plans that do not indicate fire is a threat, and to other federal lands where vegetation removal is
prohibited or that are suitable for Wilderness designation.
Goods for Services Encourages Logging
Goods for Services stewardship contracting authority (Sec. 12) will encourage the logging of commercially viable
trees to pay for other activities. The impact of this authority, like that of the purchaser road credit program will be far-reaching and harmful to sound forest management. The draft indicates 26 new BLM pilots.
American Lands Alliance is opposed to goods for services authority and urges the Committee to drop this provision from
The definition of "Wildlands/Urban Interface" is overly broad and will not focus the agencies on communities at risk.
We support a much tighter and more specific definition of 1/4 mile from communities.
The Definition of "Other At-Risk Federal Lands" opens the door to broad
scale abuse. It is such an open ended definition that most old growth forests would be included due to the presence
of naturally occurring bugs and diseases.
Class II and III lands are not well defined by the Forest Service. In fact, the agency admits that this is a
broad-scale coarse analysis tool that should not be used for local decision making. Without a fine-scale mapping using consistent methodology, the Forest Service would have unlimited discretion to include areas as Class II or III. Both Class II and III also include lands that are not suitable for mechanical fuel reduction treatments such as high elevation lodgepole pine ecosystems
and temperate rainforests.
Lack of Protection for Mature & Old Growth and Endangered Species
Endangered Species Habitat should be excluded from this bill. The Forest Service is already abusing "species
restoration" to justify logging old growth and the eradication of hardwoods to establish pine mono-cultures.
The Additional Limitation (d) provides inadequate protection for mature and old growth forests. The bill would be
creating an incentive to log old growth due to goods for services stewardship contracting. Without stronger protection for all old and large
trees, the Forest Service could cut large amounts of old growth and claim there was an "ecologically optimum" number remaining.
One could argue that an additional limitation could be added for roadless areas. This is unnecessary. A better
approach would be to narrowly define the interface to 1/4 from communities and to prohibit all road construction and deleting Sec. 8.
Expedite Procedures Unnecessary
The premise that procedures need to be expedited is not supported by the facts. A very small percentage of fuels
projects have been stopped or delayed due to public concerns raised about projects that mixed old growth logging with fuel reduction. If the
agency would focus on the interface and not log old growth, there is consensus among conservationists that these projects should go
forward. Therefore we are opposed to all of Section 7, 9, 10
Allowing the Forest Service to forgo alternatives under NEPA would allow for the agency to focus on logging instead of
broadly supported fuel reduction projects near communities. The bill recognizes that projects may be able to be completed without road
construction, the public should also have a choice about how much and what kind of trees will be removed for what reasons.
The five-day time limit to indicate an appeal will be filed is too little time to review the project documents and
puts an onerous burden on the public to be constantly on guard, and in town when new projects
are issued. It could lead to groups indicating all projects will be appealed to provide more time for this
Requiring that an individual comment during scoping and raise specific issues that an appeal will be based on places
an unreasonable burden on citizens. It is difficult to comment on every project and in general, the public is more interested in focusing their
appeals on projects that have been identified as controversial.
With the initial five days and the extended 20 day period, the public will only have 25 days to comment. On some of
the larger post-fire salvage projects, the EIS is long. This places an unreasonable burden on the public.
The bill places significant burdens on the public and the courts to expedite potentially illegal or harmful projects. Having to file suit
within 15 days of a decision may not offer citizens adequate time to review the decision and prepare a suit. Requiring the court to decide a
matter within 60 places a substantial burden on the courts and puts agency matters ahead of criminal and other cases.
Again the time limits on filing an appeal are burdensome on the public. There has been no evidence presented that
citizen suits have caused undue delays in legitimate fuel reduction projects.
Oppose this Legislation, Support Community Protection
American Lands Alliance urges all offices to oppose this draft alternative of H.R. 5319 and to instead, support an alternative that
focuses projects within a 1/4 mile of communities and that establishes a block grant program for states and tribes. The
fact that this bill does nothing for the private and tribal lands where people live and are at-risk is a glaring omission that raises
concerns that this bill is not only about community protection but is also about increasing logging under the guise of fire risk reduction.