New USFS Appeals info

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at
Wed Oct 2 20:05:09 EST 2002

October 2, 2002  

Environmentalists, Forest Service agree that fire report was rushed,
figures were off

By ROBERT GEHRKE, Associated Press Writer
Washington (AP) - A Forest Service report that politicians cited in
blaming environmentalists for this year's severe wildfire season was
assembled in haste and contains misleading information, advocacy
groups contend.

The agency reviewed the July report and now says that
environmentalists actually are more to blame than originally reported
for delays of logging projects that could have reduced the trees and
underbrush that fueled the fires.

The initial report said environmental appeals delayed 48 percent of
the projects; the revised figure was put at 69 percent.

Forest Service spokeswoman Heidi Valetkevich said Wednesday that since
the July report was released, the number of logging projects was
reduced from 326 to 206, but the number of appeals fell by about a
dozen to 143.

Environmentalists had requested documents supporting the agency's
original conclusions, which politicians have used to argue for
eliminating some appeals that delay tree-cutting projects.

On Tuesday, they released a letter from Frederick Norbury, director of
Ecosystem Management Coordination at the Agriculture Department in
response to a request for documents. It said that ``the timeframe for
gathering the information used to develop the report was limited to

``This is amateur hour and they released this to a committee of
Congress,'' said Tom Weis of the National Forest Protection Alliance.
``This was obviously put together for political reasons to make
political hay over this issue and we view this report as a sham.''

The changes in the Forest Service numbers since July should raise
questions about the agency's credibility, Weis said.

Severe drought and overgrown forests have led to one of the worst fire
seasons in 50 years, with more than 6.5 million acres blackened.

Environmentalists have criticized the report since its release,
asserting that it includes logging projects in remote areas and
ignores controlled burns and other forest treatment methods that
account for 85 percent of the acreage the Forest Service treats.

Forest Service officials and Republican politicians have complained
the appeals created gridlock, making treatment of overgrown forests

President Bush is seeking to identify 10 million acres of forest land
at high risk of forest fire and exempt plans to cut trees on the
designated areas from environmental appeals. Parties still could file
an appeal in federal court, but a judge could not block a project
while the appeal is pending.

Comment from poster: Interesting but a little embarrassing for the
Bush Administration and the USDA. It's a good thing the rest of the
Bush Cabinet is better <G>. It seems the USFS has a very long road
ahead in restoring the public's faith before it can proceed with
restoring our forests. Force-feeding the public something they deem to
be unpalatable will only cause them to choke on it.


PS I haven't spammed my website for a while <G>

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