Kerry proposes $100 million for new forest corps
By The Associated Press
VERDI, Nev. — Democrat John Kerry would cut $100 million in annual government subsidies to the timber industry to pay for a new Forest Restoration Corps that would invest in the long-term health of national forests, his campaign said Tuesday.
Shifting spending from commercial logging operations on federal lands would allow for creation of new jobs while restoring forests, streams and rangelands that have been mismanaged or severely damaged by wildfires, campaign aides told The Associated Press.
The new program reminiscent of the Civilian Conservation Corps President Franklin D. Roosevelt established during the Great Depression is one of the highlights in a three-page plan, "John Kerry's Forest Plan: Putting Communities First."
A retired Forest Service official, local Democrats and union firefighters who work for the Nevada Division of Forestry joined campaign officials in unveiling the plan Tuesday at Verdi near the site of a wildfire that burned 1,200 acres on the western edge of Reno two weeks ago along the Nevada-California line.
Among other things, a Kerry administration would pledge to annually budget to cover all federal firefighting costs, make necessary additions to aerial firefighting fleets and focus reduction of fuels in overstocked forests on those areas posing the most immediate threats to communities.
Spokespersons for the Forest Service and its parent Agriculture Department in Washington referred calls to the Bush-Cheney campaign, which dismissed the proposal as campaign politics aimed at building support among environmentalists while ignoring concerns of mainstream Westerners.