portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements united states

corporate dominance | forest defense | government

Urgent Calls Needed: Deal on "Healthy" Forests HR 1904 Approaching

Calls between now and on Monday are critical, as a group of Senators have almost come to a consensus on a back room deal on HR 1904 (the so-called Healthy Forests and Restoration Act). There could be a vote as early as Monday afternoon on the Interior Appropriations bill, which is where 1904 could be attached.
To: All Activists
From: Lisa Dix, American Lands Alliance
Date: September 19, 2003

The deal is poised to give the Bush Administration and the timber industry a huge victory and will have extreme impacts on our
National Forests and BLM administered lands for many years to come. The timber industry will no longer have to face challenges from Americans concerned about logging on publicly owned forests even if logging increases fire risk, does nothing to
protect communities, continues to build more ecologically damaging roads, and destroys our public resources such as water
quality, wildlife and fisheries habitat, and sensitive forest soils.

The Administration will no longer have to conduct environmental analysis on their logging proposals as to give the timber
industry free reign to log what's left, under the guise of "hazardous fuels reduction." In addition, citizens will no longer even get a fair court hearing because this deal could make it virtually impossible for citizens to win challenges to government logging proposals in the courts. This would be true anytime the agencies claim that the purpose and need of the project is to reduce
"hazardous fuels," which is defined so loosely as to include just about any agency action.

According to the latest information, the current backroom deal is problematic because it:

1. Fails to direct projects to be prioritized in the 1/2 mile community protection zone in order to truly protect
communities and municipal drinking water infrastructure;

2. Guts the National Environmental Policy Act by eliminating the "heartof NEPA" which requires that a range of
alternatives and analysis of a "no action" alternative must be considered in Environmental Assessments and
Environmental Impact Statements;

3. Repeals the Appeals Reform Act for all Hazardous Fuels Reduction
projects and sets up a new appeals process at the discretion of Mark Rey;

4. Tips the scales of justice toward logging projects by tinkering with
timelines, venues and standards of judicial review; and

5. Fails to protect currently healthy forests such as roadless areas
and mature and old growth forests and relies on logging the largest, most
fire resilient trees to pay for hazardous fuels reduction landscape wide.
The industry will get paid in tress to log from our forests that arecurrently healthy and most resilient to fire,
thereby exacerbating future restoration and ecosystem damage costs to taxpayers.

Please call the following offices below and tell the Senate staff that you do not want your public forests turned over to
the timber industry. Talking points and Targets are provided below.

Sample Talking Points

1. The Senate should not allow a backroom deal on HR 1904 to be attached to the Interior Appropriations bill,
especially because the bill has not even been debated by the full Senate.

2. The only way to truly protect communities and their drinking water infrastructure is to require fuels reduction to
be conducted in the 1/2-mile Community Protection Zone. Focusing logging in the backcountry miles away from communities can exacerbate fire risks, make fires more severe and intense and could jeopardize communities. In fact, the Forest Service
itself withheld funds for important community protection projects such as in the recently burned town of Summerhaven.
Instead, of funding fuels reduction work around Summerhaven the Forest Service spent needed hazardous
fuels reduction funds to controversially log currently healthy, old growth trees three miles from the North Rim of the Grand
Canyon.

3. Do not allow the bill to tips the scales of justice toward logging interests by tinkering with timelines, venues and
standards of judicial review. The Forest Service and BLM have provided no evidence to Congress to
support their claim that litigation is a problem of such significance that Congress should act to overturn the fundamental
legal principal regarding injunctive relief that has endured in our federal courts for centuries. The Administration is asking Congress to make a precedent setting change in the way the federal courts review logging projects,
that will restrict a core principle of our democracy -- the right of Americans to seek fair and equitable redress in the courts for grievances involving the federal government.

4. Do not gut the National Environmental Policy Act by eliminating the "heart of NEPA," which requires that a range of
alternatives and analysis of a "no action" alternative must be considered in Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements.

5. Please do not repeals the Appeals Reform Act for all Hazardous Fuels Reduction projects and set up a new appeals process where former timber lobbyist Mark Rey will have full discretion. According to two independent
studies, appeals and litigation do not hold hazardous fuels projects up.

6. Please protect currently healthy forests such as roadless areas and
mature and old growth forests and repeal the "goods for services"contracting authority, which is how the
Administration plans to use to pay for fuels reduction. "Goods for services" gives the timber industry healthy, fire resistant trees as payment instead of cash to carry out fuels reduction work, a mistake that can actually increase fire risk and increases future restoration costs to American taxpayers due to ecosystem damage.

Please try to get as many calls and faxes to the
following offices:

Tom Daschle (D-SD), staff Jonathan Lehman; Phone:
202-224-2321; FAX:
202-224-6603
Ron Wyden (D-OR), staff Sarah Bittleman; Phone:
202-224-5244; FAX:
202-228-2717
Diane Feinstein (D-CA), staff John Watts; Phone:
202-224-3841; FAX:
202-22-3954
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), staff Kira Finkler; Phone:
202-224-4103; FAX:
202-224-2852
Patty Murray (D-WA), staff Doug Clapp; Phone:
202-224-2621; FAX:
202-224-0238
John McCain (R-AZ), staff Heather Wicke; Phone:
202-224-2235; FAX:
202-228-2862
Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL), staff Jim Rohner; Phone:
202-224-2854; FAX:
202-228-1372
Max Baucus (D-MT), staff Karen Bridges; Phone:
202-224-2651; FAX:
202-228-3687
Robert Byrd (D-WV), staff Franz Worfmanstobler;
Phone: 202-224-3954; FAX:
202-228-0002
Kent Conrad (D-ND), staff Zayben Towner; Phone:
202-224-2043; FAX:
202-224-7776
Mark Dayton (D-MN), staff Jack Danielson; Phone:
202-224-3244; FAX:
202-228-2186
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), staff Chuck Barnett;
Phone: 202-224-4843; FAX:
202-228-1371
Zel Miller (D-GA), staff Merrit Meyers; Phone:
202-224-3643; FAX:
202-228-2090
Ben Nelson (D-NE), staff Jason Briggs; Phone:
202-224-6551; FAX:
202-228-0012
Norm Coleman (R-MN); staff Alan Elias; Phone:
202-224-5641; FAX:
202-224-1152
Richard Lugar (R-IN), staff Aaron Whitesel;
Phone: 202-224-4814; FAX:
202-228-0360
Thad Cochran (R-MS), staff Rebecca Benn; Phone:
224-5054; FAX: 202-224-9450
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), staff Aaron Mullin; Phone:
202-224-6342; FAX:
202-224-1100
Charles Grassley (R-IA), staff James Rice; Phone:
202-224-3744; FAX:
202-224-6020