Bush Signs So-Called 'Healthy
Environmental Groups Promise to Expose Truth Behind Bush's
Pro-Logging Agenda and Stop Projects that Don't Protect Communities
or Restore Forests.
For More Information:
- Matthew Koehler, Native Forest Network, Montana: 406-542-7343
- Andrew George, National Forest Protection Alliance, North
- Lisa Dix, American Lands Alliance, Washington, D.C.: 202-547-9105
- Sarah Michael, Commissioner of Blaine County, Idaho: 208-726-7475
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, at 10:40 am EST, President Bush
signed into law the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003
(HR 1904). Like the double-speak rhetoric offered by his "Clear
Skies Initiative," which relaxes pollution standards
for air quality, this legislation leaves homes and communities
vulnerable to wildfire, severely limits public participation
and does not ensure protections for ancient, old-growth forests
or roadless wildlands.
"President Bush has ignored common sense home protection
measures and limited citizen participation in order to increase
commercial logging on 20 million acres of our National Forests,
a stated goal of his administration since day one. You can
rest assured that we will do everything in our power to stop
projects that don't protect communities or restore our public
forests," promised Matthew Koehler with the Native Forest
Network in Missoula, Montana.
Andrew George, spokesman for the National Forest Protection
Alliance, stated "The Bush administration's reckless
plan will not stop wildfires or insect outbreaks in our national
forests, and logging big trees and building roads will only
make things worse. Commercial logging in national forests
is the problem, not the solution."
Lisa Dix with the American Lands Alliance in Washington,
D.C. stated, "Under Bush and the leadership of former
logging industry lobbyist Mark Rey and former logging industry
lawyer Rebecca Watson we have already seen the Forest Service
and the Bureau of Land Management propose massive 'forest
health' logging projects in roadless wildlands and ancient,
old-growth forests. Unfortunately, this legislation, coupled
with a slew of environmental rollbacks from this administration,
will make such logging easier than ever."
Over the course of the past year, county and state officials
have criticized this controversial bill as a timber-industry
boondoggle, aimed more at allowing the logging of large trees
in the backcountry than at providing help where it is most
needed, around homes.
"This initiative is not going to put the resources where
the greatest need is," said Sarah Michael, Commissioner
of Blaine County, Idaho. "That will not protect property,
residences and lives."
The Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 (HR 1904):
- Does NOT effectively protect homes from wildfire. According
to a Forest Service analysis, 92% of the land presenting
a risk to communities is non-federal land, yet HR 1904 ONLY
focuses on federal land. Furthermore, according to Forest
Service experts the most effective way to protect a home
from wildfire is to focus on the home and its immediate
surroundings within 200 feet.
- Limits public participation. While the Bush Administration
cries "analysis paralysis," claiming that lawsuits
from environmental groups are preventing the Forest Service
from reducing fuels, an October 2003 report from the General
Accounting Office - the non-partisan, investigative arm
of Congress - found that of 818 Forest Service fuel reduction
projects, 97% proceeded without litigation. This is the
forth-consecutive GAO study to contain similar findings.
- Does NOT ensure protections for ancient, old-growth forests
and provides no protections for roadless wildlands. The
bill specifically allows logging of ancient, old-growth
forests in the case of of "epidemics of disease or
insects" and in cases of windthrow, blowdown and ice
storms. The bill also does not protect roadless wildlands
from commercial logging under the guise of "fuel reduction."
- Undermines the very "heart of NEPA". Under the
compromise bill, the Forest Service is not required to consider
any alternative other than the agency's proposed action
if the project is located within 1 1/2 mile of a community.
The courts have called this consideration of alternatives
the very "heart of NEPA."