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The Planet

Here Come the Chainsaws

The Planet, October 1995, Volume 2, number 7

Timber Giants Use Salvage-Logging Law to Target Old Growth Trees

No sooner had Sierra Club President J. Robert Cox fired up a chainsaw during a White House demonstration than the umber industry revealed the real goal behind the budget rescissions bill's "salvage logging" provision: cutting down America's last old growth forests. Just weeks after President Clinton reneged ml hi. promise to veto the bill and signed it into law, the timber industry quietly filed a lawsuit to release for logging more than 1.5 billion board feet of healthy old growth timber in Oregon and Washington. The industry is targeting several dozen timber sales offered between 1991 and 1995, which federal agencies withdrew due to environmental concerns.

"The lawsuit proves that the timber industry doesn't want dead and dying trees--it wants an excuse to log healthy old growth forests without honoring environmental laws, " said Mark Lawler, Sierra Club Northwest regional vice president.

The Sierra Club and several other environmental organizations have moved to intervene in the industry's lawsuit.

Under the "logging without laws" provision, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management must begin the sale of salvage timber immediately, regardless of any environmental law. The Forest Service has promised to provide 1.5 billion board feet of salvage timber for fiscal year 1995 and 3 billion board feet for FY1996; it has already prepared 800 million board feet for sale. t

But the Seattle Times reported in mid-August that more than two-thirds of the salvage timber sales offered by the agency in eastern Washington this year haven't even received bids by timber companies.

With a host of other environmental groups, the Club is filing a petition with the North American Free Trade Agreement's (NAFTA) environmental commission challenging the suspension of environmental laws under the salvage logging rider. The petition attacks the rider as a violation of the NAFTA environmental side agreement. Mexican and Canadian non-governmental organizations will likely support the petition, say Club leaders.

The Club is represented in both of these recent legal actions by the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.


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