Harmful Anti-Environmental Riders in Interior Conference

wafcdc at americanlands.org wafcdc at americanlands.org
Tue Sep 26 10:48:52 EST 2000

From: "wafcdc at americanlands.org" <wafcdc at americanlands.org>
Subject: Harmful Anti-Environmental Riders in Interior Conference 

Vote NO on the Interior Appropriations Bill

House and Senate conferees to the Interior Appropriations bill are still
meeting but it is reported that they have agreed to highly controversial
language added to the Domenici fuels reduction amendment and failed to
strike other contentious anti-environmental riders.  The House and Senate
should reject the Interior Conference Report until all anti-environmental
riders have been removed.

Domenici Amendment Agreed to Without Environmental Sidebars  

The conferees have agreed to the Domenici fuels reduction amendment, which
provides $240 million in additional funds for hazardous fuel reduction work
on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.  The Domenici
amendment is problematic because the money appropriated for hazardous fuels
funding could be spent on commercial timber sales.  This new authority could
lead to the logging of large trees, rather than the small diameter,
low-value material that needs to be removed.  

Salvage Rider Added to Domenici Amendment Undermines Public Involvement and
Encourages Logging

The conferee's agreed to additional language offered to the Domenici
amendment by Sens. Craig (R-ID) and Burns (R-MT) which would expedite the
environmental review and public involvement process required by the NEPA
(National Environmental Policy Act).  Only 90 days would be allowed to
prepare all of the documentation, conduct scoping and accept public comment
for fuels reduction projects or salvage timber sales.  This would not allow
enough time for good analysis or adequate public involvement.  The expedited
procedures could apply to all fuels management projects and all salvage
timber sales. The amendment now applies to all National Forest and BLM
lands, and not just to the urban/wildland interface zone which the Senate
originally agreed to.

Domenici Language Applies to all Fuels Reduction Money

The Conference Committee also approved funding for both the Domenici
Amendment and the Administration's $1.6 billion emergency fire request --
nearly $1.9 billion responded to this year's wildfires.  Funds will be spent
to pay for suppression costs from this year's fires; rehabilitation of
burned areas, educating homeowners, preparedness activities and fuels
reduction projects.  There are no environmental standards or safeguards
attached to these projects to prevent commercial logging or to ensure real

Urban/Wildland Interface Remains Undefined

The amendment also now applies to all National Forest and BLM lands, not
just to the urban/wildland interface zone, which the Senate originally
agreed to.  The wildland/urban interface zone should be defined as urban,
suburban, and rural areas directly adjacent to wildland areas with
population densities exceeding 400 people per square mile.  Accordingly, the
wildland/urban interface zone should be a relatively narrow band surrounding
communities and should not include expansive areas several miles radius
outside rural communities. The Domenici amendment no longer insures that
fuel reduction projects remain strictly within the wildland/urban interface

Timber Target Language Means, "Get the Cut Out"  

The House and Senate bills contain timber target language mandating the
Forest Service to prepare for sale 3.6 billion board feet of timber.  The
bill language also requires the agency to reprogram additional funds to the
timber sale program on March 1 if this target is not met.  This means the
Forest Service may have to shift additional money out of other programs to
pay for more logging if they can't reach the target.  

Increased Subsidies for Logging on the National Forests

The timber targets would be in addition to $30 million in increased logging
subsidies already included in the bill with $5 million specifically
targeting Alaska's Tongass National Forest.  It is reported that the
Conference has added an additional $10 million on top of the Senate request.
These subsidies will lead to more harmful timber sales on the National
Forests.  For current examples of these harmful sales see

Stewardship Contracts, New Vehicle for Increased Timber Production  

The Senate bill contains language that would authorize the Forest Service to
enter into additional 28 "end-result" stewardship contracts.  The
"goods-for-services" authority allows the Forest Service to trade National
Forest trees for contracted services.  One current stewardship project in
Idaho using goods for services is proposing to log 173 million board feet in
the name of elk restoration.  Further, the Forest Service has only begun
similar pilot projects authorized in fiscal year 1999 and has not monitored
the projects or evaluated their effectiveness.  Expanding these types of
projects without evaluating and learning from the pilot stage makes the
program appear less about stewardship and more as a new vehicle for
increased timber production.    
White Mountain National Forest Exempted From Roadless Policy  

The Senate bill contains an amendment by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) to exempt
the White Mountain National Forest from the roadless area protection policy
now under development.  All National Forests should be included in the final

White River Forest Plan in Colorado Delayed  

The Senate bill contains a rider that would unnecessarily delay
implementation of the White River Forest Plan in Colorado. The Forest
Service deserves credit for taking steps to promote a more responsible
recreation policy in this Forest Plan.

Dangerous Road Building Language in House Bill  

The House bill contains report language that would allow the agency to spend
road maintenance and other road construction funds on timber roads in order
to meet a 3.6 billion board feet target.  There is no language in the bill
capping how much of the $104 million for road construction can be spent on
logging roads.  This language could result in a significant increase in
logging road construction.  

Fee Demo Program Promotes High-Impact Recreation  

The Senate bill contains a rider to extend the Recreation Fee Demonstration
Program to 2002 with a request for legislation from the Administration to
make the program permanent.  User fees promote high-impact recreation
activities that generate the most revenue, such as downhill skiing, off-road
vehicle use, and resort development, and have the potential to change public
lands recreation into a commercial enterprise. 

Gorton Rider Threatens Salmon Recovery

	Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA) has added a rider that would block funding for any
studies on removing the lower Snake River dams or for any studies on
investing in local communities who may be affected if the dams are removed
in the future.  The Clinton/Gore salmon plan directs federal agencies to
study how to bypass the four lower Snake River dams and how to take care of
affected communities if the federal agencies decide that dam removal is the
only hope for saving wild salmon.  Gorton's rider will prevent these studies
from occurring.

Harmful San Rafael Swell Bill Added As Rider

	Rep. Jim Hansen (R-UT) has added the dreadful San Rafael National
Conservation Area bill, H.R. 3605, to the Interior bill.  This bill was
withdrawn from the House floor in June.  The bill fails to designate any
Wilderness, where more than 1 million acres qualify in the San Rafael.  In
addition, the bill fails to control off road vehicles which continue to
damage the area.

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American Lands 
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