SENATORS ATTACK HANDLING OF NORTHWEST FOREST PLAN

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Sat Sep 18 21:36:30 EST 1999


The following article is from The Oregonian, Sept. 17, 1999, p D11

SENATORS ATTACK HANDLING OF NORTHWEST FOREST PLAN

Four Northwest lawmakers blame the administration for legal difficulties
that have restricted logging

By JIM BARNETT, THE OREGONIAN

	WASHINGTON -- a panel of angry Northwest senators heaped criticism
on the Clinton administration Thursday for failing to anticipate legal
difficulties that have cast the Northwest Forest Plan into legal limbo.
	“It’s going to be tough to keep this program alive if we continue to
see this kind of problem and frankly, this kind of response,” Sen. Ron
Wyden, D-Ore., told administration representatives.
	Sales from 24 million acres of federal timberlands covered by the
forest plan have come to a virtual halt since August, when U.S. District
Court Judge William Dwyer issued two injunctions.
	Dwyer said he halted the timber sales because administration
officials had failed to meet a key requirement of the forest plan: that
they develop and carry out surveys of 32 rare species that inhabit
Northwest forests.
	Wyden and three other senators from the region -- Gordon Smith, R-
Ore., Slade Gorton, R-Wash., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho -- took turns
asking questions of administration officials but got few of the answers
they had hoped for.
	Smith asked how the administration planned to address Dwyer’s
concerns in a timely manner and get federal timber sales moving again
before Oregon mills would be forced to close. He wasn’t satisfied with
the answer.
	“What I’m trying to establish is, we’re not looking at a harvest in
the spring,” Smith said. And harvests might restart in 2001 or 2002 “if
we’re lucky,” he added.
	The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management manage
lands covered by the forest plan. They plan to offer Dwyer a new
proposal for species surveys by June.
	“I believe we’ve been progressing on track right from the
beginning,” said James Furnish, deputy chief of the U.S. Forest Service.
Furnish led the administration’s entourage in the absence of James
Lyons, an undersecretary of Agriculture who oversees the Forest Service.
	But each of the Northwest senators said he was skeptical that the
plan would withstand the scrutiny of Dwyer or the 13 environmental
groups whose suit led to the injunctions.
	“You are going to put a lot of Oregonians at risk with this strategy
that you are pursuing,” Wyden said.
	Several senators speculated that the administration’s failure to
meet the forest plan’s survey standards might be part of a deliberate
plan to appease environmentalists by closing off federal lands to
harvest.
	“Many of us in the Pacific Northwest are beginning to wonder if the
forest plan wasn’t a promise, but rather a step toward further
reductions,” Gorton said.
	Wyden, D-Ore., was more direct. “You all are going to make it
virtually impossible to make sure this plan can survive,” he said.
“Maybe that’s the real agenda.”
	A showdown over the forest plan is likely to occur behind closed
doors in coming weeks as negotiators work out details of an annual
spending bill for the Interior Department and related agencies.
	The administration opposes language in the Senate version, written
by Gorton, that would give a one-year waiver from the forest plan’s
survey requirements. But it also is under pressure from Congress to
provide sustainable harvests from federal timberlands in the Northwest
and may be willing to compromise.

COMMENT BY POSTER: Gee, it seems the best laid plans of some senators
just got waylaid by the judicial system. And the judicial system is
supposed to follow the laws laid down by the Congress, right?

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com


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