(Long) Biodiversity guidelines in logging

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Thu Nov 23 00:58:42 EST 2000


The following article is from The Oregonian, Nov. 21, 2000, p D1

Plan clears path for logging
With new rules, biologists will look for 60 fewer species of plants and
animals before logging can begin in old-growth forests

By MICHAEL MILSTEIN, The Oregonian
	New guidelines for protecting rare species that depend on old-growth
forests will open the way for more timber-cutting in the Northwest.
	The plan, released Monday, drops more than 60 species from the list
of plants, animals and other forest life that biologists must look for
before logging can begin.
	Some of the species, such as a tiny mushroom that turns out to live
mainly in Wyoming, probably never should have been on the list, which was
compiled as part of the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan, a sweeping attempt by
the Clinton administration to balance logging with species protection.
Others, such as a slug known as the papillose taildropper, have proved to
be more common than forest officials first thought.
	Biologists originally lumped such species into a group of more than
400 organisms thought to live only in the Northwest's old-growth forests.
	Federal officials said their shortened list of about 340 species
should streamline long and costly surveys for slugs, fungi, lichen, moss
and other organisms that have often slowed logging promised under the
1994 forest plan. The list was released Monday in an environmental impact
statement.
	"We included some of these species because we didn't know much about
them," said Chris Strebig of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. "Now
we're fine-tuning based on new information, to make sure we meet both
tenets of the Northwest Forest Plan: to protect species and to provide
reasonable timber harvest."
	Biologists also would be able to drop additional species from
scrutiny if research showed that logging would not threaten the
organisms.
	The secretaries of interior and agriculture are expected to put the
new strategy into effect in January.
	But conservation groups said Monday they may challenge the action in
federal court because it undermines the Northwest Forest Plan's goal of
protecting the integrity of old-growth forests and the life forms that
inhabit them.
	"They're basically making it easier to log old growth," said Doug
Heiken of the Oregon Natural Resources Council. "We may know more about
these species, but we still have enough uncertainty to remain cautious. I
don't think we know enough to start dropping species left and right."
	The Northwest Forest Plan projected in 1994 that the region's
federal forests could produce more than 1 billion board feet of timber.
In recent years, though, they have yielded less than half that. In part,
that has been because courts have insisted on a strict reading of the
plan's mandate to survey for rare and sensitive species - from slugs to
lichen - linked to mature and old-growth forests.
	By trimming the number of such species, federal officials said they
hoped to cut the cost of surveying from more than $100 million a year to
less than $30 million. The changes also should permit logging of about
400,000 more federal acres, boosting harvests by about 50 percent and
providing about 2,000 more timber jobs, although the number of jobs
surveying for sensitive species would fall by about 1,500.
	Frank Gladics of the Portland-based American Forest Resource Council
said the timber industry won't hold its breath waiting for those timber
jobs. With conservation groups already threateneing to sue over the
shortened species list and the courts watching over the shoulders of
forest supervisors, he said, hoping for any boost in the region's federal
timber supply "is like counting on winning the Irish sweepstakes."

SIDEBAR:

Critics say roadless plan goes too far
By JOHN HUGHES, The Associated Press

	WASHINGTON - President Clinton's roadless plan would prohibit
national forest officials from building roads in roadless areas to
prevent wildfires and insect infestations, congressional Republicans said
Monday, citing a General Accounting Office report.
	Clinton's plan to ban road building in 58.5 million acres of
roadless national forests would allow logging and road construction only
in rare cases, such as to protect endangered species and to prevent
catastrophic wildfires.
	But GOP staff members for Sen. Larry Craig and Rep. Helen Chenoweth-
Hage, both R-Idaho, said federal forest officials would be floodded with
lawsuits if they attempted to log and build roads based on the exceptions
spelled out under Clinton's proposal.
	"The interpretation from people on the ground is that this precludes
the cutting of trees, period," said Doug Crandall, chief of staff for the
forests and forest health subcommittee. Chenoweth-Hage chairs the
subcommittee.
	U.S. Forest Service officials disputed the Republicans' analysis but
acknowledged that road building and logging in roadless areas would be
rare under Clinton's plan.
	Chris Wood, a top aid to Forest Service Chief Mike Combeck, said the
agency needs to focus on protecting watersheds and preventing fires in
the millions of acres of forests that have roads.
	Clinton's proposed rule restricts logging, mining and road building
on chunks of Forest Service land that add up to the size of Oregon.
	The road building ban is important to environmentalists, who say the
pathways disrupt wildlife, increase erosion and make it easier for timber
and mining companies to reach remote forests.
	Chenoweth-Hage and Craig said the Clinton administration has cut
back logging too much. They asked the GAO, the research arm of Congress,
to investigate how the roadless plan would affect the Forest Service's
mission to maintain and restore forest health. They study was completed
before the latest draft of Clinton's plan was relaesed Nov. 13.

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


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