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National Forests

Last Updated: March 14, 2004

The National Forests in the U.S. have been roaded, grazed, mined and logged until they are barely recognizable as the diverse multi-layered complex ecosystems they once were. On average, 6 miles of road is found in 1 mile of forest in the forest "managed" by the Forest disService in the lower 48 states in North America. Over half of these forests are grazed by cattle. Logging operations cost the taxpayers money, and the mitigation (restoration from the damaging effects of commercial logging) rarely happens, giving excuses for allowing more logging in already hammered forests...

The few wild places that remain are being fought for, piece by piece using a variety of tactics, including both direct action and litigation. A far-reaching policy of protection that covers all forests in this and other countries is badly needed. A policy of recycling and reuse would make it less necessary to log for paper and wood products at all. Learning to use alternative building products will eventually be a requirement. The question is, will we start to do this before or after the forests have been decimated?

It seems that for the short term, boycotting companies that support the destruction of forest ecosystems and logging old growth wood has been an effective tactic, and boycotts have lowered the demand for old growth forest products somewhat.

In February 2004, Forest Ethics declared a Victory for Chile's Native Forests -The "No Conversion Agreement" Preserves 1 million Acres. Forest Ethics reports that NAWLA timber companies have caved to international pressure and agreed to practice sustainable forestry in Chile.

Direct Action tactics have been effective in slowing logging and raising public awareness about the importance of preserving our remaining National Forests. This has been an uphill battle, and the Dec 3, 2003 passage of Bush Jr's Healthy Forest Restoration Act spells doom for the western forests that were born in fire. Largely the public has been misled about the issues surrounding wildfire in the forests.

The hottest fires occur in previously clearcut forests, due to the drying out of soils and logging slash and scrub that is left after most commercial logging operations pull out. Grazing cattle has contributed to fire risk. Fire suppression has increased fuel loading and allowed for fires to burn hotter. The public pressure that led to the passage of Bush's Act, akin to the "Salvage Rider of 1995" was a direct result of misinformation in the media about the issues of wildfire in the forests, inadequate efforts on the part of the Forest Service to establish and educate the public about the proven effectiveness of Community Protection Zone buffers for residents of areas that historically have had a high wildfire rate as a natural part of the ecosystem.

Current Legislative Updates:

**October 30, 2003, the Senate version of the Bush Administration's Healthy Forests Initiative passed overwhelmingly. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) put it this way: "The bill before us is a well-camouflaged attempt to limit the right of the American people to know and to question what their government is doing on the public's lands; It could not be clearer that the administration does not want the public or the independent judiciary looking over its shoulder."

**September 22nd, Democratic Senators Wyden, Feinstein, Lincoln, Baucus, Craig, Kyl, McCain, Domenici, Crapo, and Cochran cut a deal on a new version of HR 1904. Due to the fact that Senator Daschle decided to support the deal, many other moderate Republicans and pro-environment Senate Democrats believe that the deal is good. The problem is that the deal is worse than HR 1904, and will still fully implement President Bush's bill. The compromise language in the deal is controversial, confusing, and unclear from a legal standpoint. The new supposed old-growth protection language has loopholes that could actually increase logging in these stands, as well as in roadless areas. It places restrictions on project appeals and judicial review.

The American Lands Alliance recently put out a synopsis of what the Healthy Forest Restoration Act really means for the fate of legal struggles to preserve our remaining National Forests. Behind the Smokescreen: The Healthy Forests Restoration Act demystifies the issues and what legal avenues are still available for people and groups working within the court system to stop the ecosystem destruction by companies in the business of resource extraction. To get the pdf version, email kbarnes@americanlands.org. For more information contact Lisa Dix, American Lands Alliance, 202-547-9105; ldix@americanlands.org


Back To The WALL Campaign:
~5% of the nation's old growth is left and the pro-environment Democrats are "cutting a deal" that will cut down what's left. we saw this in the Clinton era with the salvage rider and we're seeing it again now. if you're serious about saving forests (and hence ourselves), then you can put no hope in Democrats and liberals. what's needed is a grassroots rebellion against this lawless logging, with protests, direct action, and whatever else will work. the "leaders" and executive directors won't help us here. we need to act ourselves.

The Witness Against Lawless Logging campaign has been revived. this is one great way to fight here in Cascadia, where we stand to lose so much.

"Back to the WALL" is an all volunteer grassroots people's effort and is the revival of "WALL" (Witness Against Lawless Logging) which was organized by Joe Keating and the Oregon Wildlife Federation in 1994 as an answer to seeing our ancient trees succumb to the chain saw of the infamous 'Salvage Rider'.

Now, thanks to the Bush administration, the logging industrialists are back to pick up the few remaining pieces of our forests under the guise of forest fire prevention. They just don't understand that the few remaining groves of our ancient forest must be left alone. As usual, our legislators have failed to protect what is ours and offer us empty compromises that do little to protect our forests. Our children have a right to their heritage. "Back to the WALL" is dedicated to the premise that we can and will successfully defend our children's heritage.

We will fight nonviolently to save every square inch of our ancient forests!

"Back to the Wall" is currently developing strategies for 13 chapters across the state of Oregon. The goal of these chapters is to support each region in the state by busing members of the various chapters to areas that require a large presence and to bring concerned citizens together with forest activists in large numbers to support their efforts to save our forests.

This is the time that we all must dig in and increase our efforts to save our beautiful forests from destruction. "Back to the Wall" will take a variety of approaches to stop this destruction! Everything from appealing proposed timber sales, to civil disobedience, to letter writing campaigns, whatever the situation calls for and whatever each individual feels comfortable with that participates in a specific action.

To find out how more about getting involved with "Back to the Wall" contact the Portland chapter coordinators Steve or Cathy Geiger at 503-649-8493.Stay tuned for more details about upcoming actions and how you can make a difference in helping to protect our forests.

Boycotts Many groups are working to put economic pressure on companies that log old growth wood. This is happening in many ways. Students around the country are pressuring their schools to stop buying from companies that log old growth forests. Forest Ethics, The Southeastern U.S. based Dogwood Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, and Rainforest Relief are some of the groups that work to educate the public and encourage people to boycott businesses that further the destruction by supporting companies that continue to log old growth forests.

Forest Ethics has worked on targetting many corporations, utilizing a "market-based approach using public pressure, protests, events, articles and paid media, and negotiations to persuade key companies to make environmental commitments." They have been very successful with their Paper Campaign, as well as their Wood Campaign which is currently focusing it's efforts on the endangered forests of and Canada. Corporations that have been convinced to alter their purchasing policies include: Home Depot, Staples, and Boise Cascade. In June of 2003 Forest Ethics announced the start of it's Catalog Campaign">.Currently, in October 2003 there is a roadshow going up and down the West Coast intended to educate people about the importance of putting economic pressure on Office Depot, encouraging the boycott of this office supply giant.

For more information, go to www.forestethics.com


Conservation and Local Economy Alternative

Friends of the Bitterroot and other local conservation organizations have developed a model burned area recovery plan for the Bitterroot National Forest called the Conservation and Local Economy Alternative. This true recovery plan, which has been dismissed by the Forest Service, would provide local jobs restoring the forest and is based on the best available science.

For more info, go to Native Forest Network's website at; www.nativeforest.org
Or contact:
Native Forest Network
P.O. Box 8251, Missoula, MT 59807
(406) 542-7343, fax (406) 542-7347

National Forest Protection and Restoration Act

The Native Forest Protection Alliance, founded in 1999 for the purpose of ending commercial logging on public lands, advocates for the adoption of The National Forest Protection and Restoration Act (NFPRA), "to save taxpayers money, reduce the deficit, cut corporate welfare, protect communities from wildfires, and protect and restore America's natural heritage by eliminating the fiscally wasteful and ecologically destructive commercial logging program on Federal public lands, restoring native biodiversity in our Federal public forests, and facilitating the economic recovery and diversification of communities affected by the Federal logging program"

NFPRA was first introduced in 1997 by Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) and Congressman Jim Leach (R-IA). These people responded to the public's call for an end to public lands logging by introducing the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act (NFPRA). This bill has been reintroduced annunally, and currently has at least 105 co-sponsors, and many organizations support this bill. Intended to save taxpayer money, reduce the deficit, cut corporate welfare, and protect and restore America's natural heritage, the Act eliminates the commercial logging program on federal public lands and assists communities dependent on this program with economic recovery and diversification. Though the Act effectively addresses public land logging, it does not affect other resource extraction, such as grazing, mining, and oil and gas development

Friends of the Bitterroot and other local conservation organizations have developed a model burned area recovery plan for the Bitterroot National Forest called the Conservation and Local Economy Alternative. This true recovery plan, which has been dismissed by the Forest Service, would provide local jobs restoring the forest and is based on the best available science.

Southern California Fires Facts: The damage caused by fires that burned in southern California in 2003 were exploited by extremists to push the so-called "Healthy Forest" logging bill through Congress. Unfortunately, they are unconcerned with the facts of the fires.

  1. Most of the fires were not forest fires. According to Dave Reider, a U.S. Forest Service public-affairs officer, "The vast majority of these fires are burning in brush and chaparral and grass." In fact, only the higher elevations in the San Bernardino and Angeles National Forests have significant forested areas - the rest is fire-adapted grasslands and chaparral.
  2. The fires started on private lands. Of the 13 major fires in California, 11 of them started were on private lands (many are suspected arson). Of the remaining two, a lost hunter started the Cedar Fire, and shooting practice and live ammunition from a nearby military base started the Camp Pendleton Fire. Much of the acrage burning is private land - not public National Forest lands. The Senate bill deals almost exclusively with National Forests.
  3. The "analysis paralysis" game is a hoax. The four National Forests in Southern California that are affected by the wildfires are the Los Padres, Cleveland, Angeles and San Bernardino. According to the Forest Service (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/projects/index.shtml), during the past three years there were NO appeals on ANY fuels projects on the Los Padres, Cleveland, Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests.
  4. Weather, not "crowded trees" is the determining factor. Some areas currently burning haven't experienced measurable rain in over four months. Unusually hot, dry weather and dry "Santa Ana" winds have driven the fires. This hot, dry weather has even stalled fuels reduction work which were ready to be implemented on chaparral scrublands. The risks involved in performing treatments during hot, dry, weather resulted in the activities being delayed.
  5. The Wildland Urban Interface is where the greatest risk is. These fires are a tragic example of the need for work in and around communities - where homes and lives are at risk. The Senate "Healthy Forest" bill allows for backcountry logging in National Forests rather than sensible fire safety work around communities and homes.

Other Groups Working On National Forest Issues & Legislation:

  • Native Forest Council
    PO Box 2190
    Eugene, OR 97402
    541.688.2600; fax 689.9835 or 461.2156
  • American Lands Alliance
    1636 W. 1st Ave., Suite 204
    Spokane, WA 99204-0620
    (509)624-5657 / fax: (801) 751-0518