National Forests Under Attack

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on the Administration's plans to do away with our national forests as we know them.

White House Announces Gigantic Timber Sale in Montana

On Sunday, December 16th, the Bush administration made its most glaring assault yet on the national forests. That day, former timber-industry lobbyist and top Agriculture Department official Mark Rey signed off on a huge timber sale of fire-damaged trees in Montana's Bitterroot National Forest. Rey used a little-known loophole to prevent the public from seeking changes in the project. Environmental lawyers say his action created a dangerous precedent that could allow the administration to fast-track industry proposals to log, mine and drill on national-forest lands. Oil drilling in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest, mining in Oregon's Siskiyou National Forest, logging in California's Lassen, Plymas and Six River national forests, and the big one. The Bush Administration's efforts to let industry begin logging and mining in legally preserved virgin national-forest lands.

Why shouldn't dead trees be logged before they rot? Massive logging projects ruin pristine roadless areas and interfere with the natural recovery of the forest. Burnt trees ordinarily provide animal habitat and their root systems prevent erosion. Removing the trees could cause nearby streams to be engulfed with mud and imperil nearly extinct fish.

Bill Clinton placed one-third of the national forests - 58.5 million acres - off-limits to logging, mining and the construction of new roads, while leaving the lands open for recreation. Now, Forest Service regulators are issuing a blizzard of revisions that weaken the rule. For example, Bush appointees recently decided not to protect the 8 million acres of untouched land with Alaska's Tongass National Frost, the nation's largest old-growth forest. They also granted local forest officials the authority to open wild regions to industry development.

Reacting to these moves, Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club says, "On Veterans Day, the Bush administration said the American people should go to the parks and wilderness areas to find peace and solitude, so they lifted the entrance feeds for that weekend." What Bush forget to say is that you'd better go now because, under his policies, we won't have anything but picture post cards to look at before long.

Source: Rolling Stone Magazine, 1/31/02  

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