POISON IN FOREST PLAN

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Tue Sep 14 23:40:36 EST 1999


The following is an editorial from The Oregonian, Sept. 11, 1999, p D10

THE POISON IN THE FOREST PLAN

The Northwest Forest Plan will collapse without changes to the all-but-
impossible surveys of rare species it requires

	Maybe now it is finally clear to the Clinton administration that it
is fiscally and practically impossible to count every slug, every
lichen, ever salamander that lives on every timber sale on public forest
land in the Northwest.
	The surveys of rare species of animals and plants required in the
Northwest Forest Plan are “technically impossible” and “preposterous,”
in the words of the Society of American Foresters, a professional group
holding its national convention in Portland this week.
	If the Clinton administration persists in requiring these surveys,
it will sink the forest plan and shatter the president’s promise to the
people of the Northwest to provide a small but steady timber harvest
while protecting rare species and adequate funding to do them.
	U.S. District Judge William Dwyer in Seattle halted 34 timber sales
after rightly concluding that the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land
Management had not fully conducted the surveys mandated by the forest
plan.
	That decision brought to a screeching halt what little logging
activity was under way on public lands in the Northwest. It also
prompted the U.S. Senate to vote Thursday to allow the federal
management agencies to forgo the surveys and ask Dwyer to release the
Northwest timber sales.
	U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., tacked an amendment onto the $14
billion spending bill for the Interior Department to give the Forest
Service and BLM a one-year waiver from the survey requirements. That
would provide Dwyer grounds to rescind his rulings.
	We support the Gorton amendment, but not without reservations, and
only because it is just a one-year waiver. What’s really needed is not a
congressional waiver of near-impossible survey requirements, but a
carefully negotiated agreement on appropriate surveys for rare species
and adequate funding to do them.
	In fact, there are reasonable, effective ways to survey for wildlife
and plants. Foresters and wildlife biologists have scientifically proven
methods, including sampling, that could accurately assess the potential
of logging projects to harm rare species.
	Intentional or not, the survey requirement inserted into the
Northwest Forest Plan has proven to be a poison pill -- a way to block
all logging and prevent the plan from working as it was designed. The
poison pill has done its job. In part because of the sharp decline in
logging on federal forests, Oregon’s 1998 total timber harvest fell to
its lowest level in 70 years, according to the state Department of
Forestry.
	With Dwyer’s blessing, the Forest Service has begun negotiating with
the 13 environmental groups that brought suit to block the timber sales.
	It’s hard to be optimistic about a reasonable compromise, given the
events of the past decade. Yet, surely there is a better way to allow
logging, improve forest health and protect rare species than counting
every last salamander.

COMMENT BY POSTER: Asking the Society of American Foresters for opinions
on Clinton's forest plan is like asking the Pope if Catholicism is a
good religion: the congregation heard the story long ago.

Regretfully, the bottom line doesn't change, regardless of who is in
political power: extinction is forever.

Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com


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