| Bush Administration trying to gut National Forest planning
The Bush administration released in late November revised National Forest Management
Act (NFMA) rules to make forest plans voluntary and eliminate opportunities for
public participation. The proposed revisions would essentially remove science
and the public from the Forest Services decision-making process, jettison
species protections and open the door to uncontrolled logging. This announcement
is one of a string of decisions to rewrite National Forest management safeguards
to benefit logging companies.
When the Bush administration rewrote the rules, they wrote the public out
of the equation, said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director.
The regulations, first implemented under NFMA early in the Reagan Administration,
were revised and updated in 2000 after significant scientific and public input.
But after complaints from the timber industry, the Bush administration put the
revised safeguards on the chopping block. The new NFMA directives would severely
limit public participation in deciding how public lands are used.
Americans have a right to know if forest plans are going to allow for projects
that harm the forests where they fish and hike, and they have a right to speak
out against such destructive projects, said Pope.
These sweeping changes in forest management rules reflect the Bush administrations
continued efforts to undermine forest protections and reward timber industry contributors.
The Roadless Area Conservation Act, which enjoyed overwhelming support with Americans
but incited anger among timber companies, was the first victim of the new Administrations
logging craze. Then, after last summers forest fires, the administration
tried to sell the public a carte blanche for the industry under the guise of fuel
Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey, former lobbyist
for the American Forest and Paper Association, has led the charge. Unremarkably,
the NFMA changes mirror the timber industry wish list from the American
Forest and Paper Associations 2001 congressional testimony.
The rewritten NFMA rules would:
Sending in the logging trucks is not how Americans envision the management
of their National Forests. They want to see proactive solutions that protect communities,
fish and wildlife and special places, said Pope.
- Allow timber sales and other projects even if they are inconsistent with the
- Allow logging anywhere in the foresteven where it is prohibited by the
planunder the guise of salvage logging or fuel reduction.
- Abuse the categorical exclusion provision in the National Environmental
Policy Act to exclude forest plans from meaningful environmental analysis.
- Eliminate the current requirements for maintaining native wildlife species
on National Forests.
- Eliminate public appeals of forest plans.
This is the first time that significant changes would be made to the forest management
regulations without independent scientific review. The text of the rule changes
can be downloaded from the Forest
Service website. Additional information is available here.
The deadline for public comment is March 6.
Send comments to USDA FS Planning Rule, Content Analysis Team, P.O. Box 8359,
Missoula, MT 59807. Email, email@example.com, FAX: (406) 329-3556. Note
on document: Planning Rule Comments.
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