Last Congress, Sen. Larry Craig
(R-Idaho), one of the salvage rider's staunchest proponents, doggedly pushed a
"forest health" bill, S. 391, that would have permanently enshrined the worst
aspects of the rider. Now Craig has unveiled a new draft bill that proposes to
permanently weaken the laws governing all federal forest management -- not just
salvage logging -- under the guise of "forest health."
Craig's bill would:
- Override existing safeguards that protect water quality, fish and wildlife,
clean air and recreational uses in national forests.
- Undermine the checks and balances that hold government agencies and the timber
- Limit public participation and judicial review.
- Make logging the dominant use of national forests.
Craig has not yet introduced his bill, but he's held a series of Senate
workshops -- five in Washington, D.C., and one in Idaho -- presumably as a way
to claim "broad support" for his anti-forest agenda. Yet even some of Craig's
own experts questioned the need for any new forest-management legislation, let
alone his expansive, logging-first rewrite of our forest-management laws.
Craig got the most pointed rebuke in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, his own backyard,
where Club members and other environmental organizations held a press conference
and a rally calling attention to Craig's efforts to overturn our forest-
management laws. The national forests of northern Idaho are damning evidence of
the damage caused by excessive clearcutting, rampant roadbuilding and failure to
enforce existing environmental laws. These are the very policies Craig wants to
make permanent in his "loopholes for logging" bill.
Another bogus effort to "fix" the management of the national forests is already
moving through Congress. The "Quincy Library Group" bill (H.R. 858), by Rep.
Wally Herger (R-Calif.), is being promoted as a positive community experiment.
But it would set a dangerous precedent by overriding federal environmental laws
on national forests under the banner of local control.
Herger's bill uses the phony "forest health" argument to justify a huge increase
in logging in the three forests covered (conservative estimates indicate that
logging would roughly double). For example, it requires the creation of 40,000
to 60,000 acres of shaded firebreaks on these forests for each of the next five
years. This perpetuates the misconception that there has been a major change in
fire frequency in the Sierra, creating a "forest health" crisis that can only be
fixed by drastic logging. But the data indicates otherwise; the congressionally
commissioned Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project report found little change over the
last century in the size and frequency of fires in Plumas and Sequoia national
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