Salvage Logging Bill Introduced
Salvage Logging Legislation Introduced in the House of
On Thursday November 3rd, Representative Greg Walden
(R-OR) and Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced a bill that
will sweep aside protections for old growth reserves,
roadless areas, fish and wildlife in order to rush
logging after fires and natural disturbances. The bill
eliminates meaningful environmental review and public
The Walden-Baird bill is an extreme
example of what happens when money from the logging
industry influences politicians that are entrusted
with protecting America's natural heritage.
Representative Tom Udall (D-NM) has introduced an
alternative bill called the "National Forests
Rehabilitation and Recovery Act" (H.R. 3973). The
Udall collaboration bill is a cautious, common sense
approach, to studying the best responses to natural
disturbances on forest ecosystems based on science and
community collaboration. The Udall collaboration bill
sets up five pilot projects to test rehabilitation
needs after natural events on National Forests. The
projects are required to comply with current
environmental protections and are monitored by a
national scientific committee.
The Walden-Baird salvage bill has generated a number
of articles in the local media, and two are attached
below for your review. Please take action today in two
1) Call Your Representative. Call Members of the
House of Representatives at 202-224-3121 and tell them
to oppose the Walden logging bill (the Forest
Emergency and Recovery Act) and cosponsor the Udall
collaboration bill (H.R. 3973, The National Forests
Rehabilitation and Recovery Act. If Brian Baird is
your representative (SW WA), please call and let him
know how disappointed you are.
2) Write a Letter to the Editor (LTE). Talking points
and news articles are below. It always helps to refer
to an article the paper has already run in your
opening line, and remember to include your name,
address and phone number with your LTE.
LTEs to The Columbian may be submitted to:
LTEs to the Olympian may be submitted to
LTEs to the Oregonian may be submitted to:
Walden-Baird Salvage Bill Talking Points
* Salvage logging is harmful to our forests. Dead
and dying trees are important habitat for wildlife
ranging from the spotted owl and woodpeckers to small
* The Walden logging bill eliminates meaningful
environmental review and cuts the public out of
decisions that would harm America's public forests.
The bill waives the National Environmental Policy Act
for damaging logging activities after natural events
on National Forests.
* Logging after natural disturbances is not
restoration or recovery. Logging these sensitive
recovering forests degrades aquatic habitat through
sediment runoff into streams, spreads invasive weeds,
and causes the loss of biological legacies such as
large live and dead trees that are vital in the
* Salvage logging is highly controversial, and the
Walden-Baird bill adds fuel to the forest management
debate. Congress should be supporting legislation to
solve Northwest forest problems, not add to them. A
good example of a solution is the common sense,
collaborative approach recently taken on the Gifford
Pinchot National Forest.
* The Walden logging bill is an extreme example of
what happens when money from the logging industry
influences politicians that are entrusted with
protecting America's natural resources.
Baird backs plan to boost salvage logging after fires
Wednesday, November 2, 2005
By ERIK ROBINSON, Columbian staff writer
Rekindling debate over logging in fire-scarred
forests, U.S. Rep. Brian Baird this week will
introduce legislation to speed salvage, replanting and
research on national forests ravaged by disturbances
such as wind or wildfire.
Baird, a Vancouver Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Greg
Walden, a Republican from Hood River, Ore., outlined
the legislation during a visit with The Columbian's
editorial board earlier this week. They plan to
introduce the bill on Thursday.
The bill, known as the Forest Emergency Recovery and
Research Act, allows federal land managers to act
quickly to salvage merchantable timber after a fire,
wind storm or other disturbance. The two Northwest
congressmen said post-fire salvage operations are
often delayed by intensive analysis required by the
National Environmental Policy Act.
"By the time you finish it, the wood's worthless,"
The American Lands Alliance has already launched a
national campaign with other environmental groups to
defeat the Baird-Walden bill, releasing a report on
Tuesday comparing it to the controversial salvage
rider of 1994. The rider, which authorized a slew of
timber sales while restricting public comment or
judicial review, fueled a political backlash by
Baird said he doesn't think that will happen this
time, partly because he and Walden intend to ensure
that federal agencies do not abuse their discretion to
harvest only fire-damaged trees.
"We're going to be right on top of it," he said.
"We're going to make sure you do it right."
Although salvage logging has not been a hot issue in
Southwest Washington national forests in Baird's 3rd
congressional district are not afflicted by the
frequent, intense fires more common east of the
Cascade Mountains Baird said local sawmills and timber
workers stand to benefit from logs salvaged elsewhere
across the Pacific Northwest.
"For me, it's a common-sense sort of bill," he said.
The quick decay of dead or dying trees makes it
imperative to salvage those logs quickly, said Tom
Partin, president of the American Forest Resource
Council, a timber industry group in Portland. Partin
said he also is pleased the bill will encourage
reforestation to occur quickly after the salvage takes
"It's something that's long overdue," he said. "I
think they're taking a great step forward with this
Walden noted that 20 billion board feet of timber is
laying on the ground in Mississippi and Louisiana in
the wake of Hurricane Katrina, 10 times the annual
logging rate for the entire national forest system.
Similar to wildfires in the Northwest, he said, forest
managers will need to act quickly to salvage the logs
before their economic value is lost.
"You don't have a year or two years to go in and
decide what to do after a fire," Walden said. "We need
the tools to be able to move quicker after these
Environmentalists acknowledge that decay undermines
the economic value of fire-scarred logs, but they say
fire-scarred landscapes are the most in need of full
analysis before logging takes place.
"It's really hard to do a rush job on salvage logging
because it's such a sensitive landscape," said Jasmine
Minbashian, communications director for Conservation
Northwest in Seattle. "Salvage, in general, is not an
area of common ground."
National forest managers already have the ability to
devise contingency plans with plenty of opportunity
for public involvement in case of a fire or other
disturbance, said Susan Jane Brown with the Pacific
Environmental Advocacy Center at Lewis and Clark
College in Portland. Brown said she's worried that
Baird and Walden's bill will sacrifice forest health
in the name of expedient logging.
"It's really just bad management, without a lot of
opportunity for public comment to change those options
before they're implemented," Brown said.
Some environmental groups view Baird's sponsorship as
Representatives of Conservation Northwest pointed out
that much has been done lately to bring together rural
community members, environmentalists and timber
workers to plan mutually agreeable timber sales on the
Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Pinchot
Partnership promotes collaboration to manage a 1.37
million-acre forest that covers Baird's congressional
"It's troubling that instead of putting out a bill
that helps support this kind of collaborative work,
Baird is putting out a bill that creates more
divisiveness and contention," Minbashian said.
Baird, during his interview with The Columbian's
editorial board, said his office has already fielded
complaints about the bill over the past few weeks.
Calling these complaints a form of "psychic
environmentalism," Baird said the groups are
pre-opposing a bill they haven't seen.
"The attitude seems to be, 'You shouldn't have
anything to do with this,'" he said.
Baird acknowledged he is the only congressional
Democrat in the Northwest to support the bill at this
point. "Frankly, a lot of them are sitting back and
waiting to see how much abuse this guy has to take,"
The Sierra Club, which campaigned for Baird during his
successful campaign to unseat Republican Rep. Linda
Smith, will oppose the bill.
"Am I disappointed that Brian's involved with this
particular endeavor? Sure," said Bill Arthur, the
Sierra Club's Northwest director in Seattle. "I'm sure
we'll be disappointed with some of our friends in the
Despite the disagreement over the salvage bill, Arthur
said he doesn't expect Baird's sponsorship to
undermine general support for Baird in the
"This is one of those areas where we disagree," Arthur
Now the fight is over dead trees
Two Northwest congressmen offer a salvage
and reforestation plan to overhaul a policy that
wastes time, money and wood
Friday, November 04, 2005
This country's policy on dead trees is
rotten. The government spends many months and millions
of dollars writing salvage plans after wildfires and
windstorms, and then environmental groups fight those
plans until most of the trees decay and topple over.
There must be a better way. Congressmen
Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Brian Baird, D-Wash., on
Thursday introduced legislation that generally looks
like a more sensible approach to salvage logging and
reforestation. Their bill would accelerate planning
after fires and other catastrophes strike forests, and
allow for more timely salvage of dead trees and
reforestation of damaged areas.
Environmental groups started attacking the
Walden-Baird bill long before they read a word of the
legislation. In Oregon, where the Biscuit fire and
other blazes have left hundreds of thousands of acres
burned, fire salvage has become one of the most bitter
disputes on the national forests. Environmentalists
insist that post-fire logging is harmful to damaged
forests and a waste of taxpayer money, and say most
reforestation is unwise and unnecessary.
Yet polls have shown that an overwhelming
number of Oregonians still hold to the common-sense
view that after fire sweeps across a forest, some
blackened timber should be put to economic use, and in
many cases seedlings should be planted to replace the
The Walden-Baird bill seems a good-faith
effort to put this practical view of timber salvage
and reforestation into law and practice. It would
require a federal assessment of a damaged forest in 30
days, and then allow another 90 days for development
of a salvage and recovery plan. It includes a
streamlined public appeals process patterned after the
healthy forest law approved by Congress two years ago.
The bill is not perfect. It is
unreasonable to suggest that a Forest Service team
could sweep in after a half-million-acre fire like the
Biscuit and in just 30 days produce a responsible
recovery plan. It is a mistake to make no distinctions
in the bill for salvage in roadless or old-growth
areas. Yet Walden and Baird are on the right track.
Their bill is an attempt to stop the waste of time,
money, wood and jobs inherent in the current salvage
policy. It is a not a radical, log-all approach to
post-fire recovery. It is nothing like the awful
salvage rider rammed through Congress that opened up
Northwest forests, including green, live trees, to
Yet critics are already asserting that
Walden and Baird are ignoring the best science and
sacrificing the health of local forests. Yet it seems
to us that it is Northwest environmental groups that
oppose virtually all post-fire salvage that are
looking at this issue through a narrow and warped
While they fight over every last blackened
tree, there is no letup in the global demand for wood
products. The Northwest is one of the world's great
timber-growing regions. To fight even a modest salvage
program is to imply that dead trees, killed in an
Oregon wildfire, are more precious than live trees
somewhere else, even in a vulnerable rainforest. Like
a lot of things about our country's salvage policy,
that just doesn't make sense.
Gifford Pinchot Task Force
917 SW Oak Street, Suite 410
Portland, OR 97205
add a comment on this article
add a comment on this article