Preservationists running out of ammo?
Donald L Ferrt
wolfbat359 at mindspring.com
Mon Sep 23 14:14:57 EST 2002
lhfotoware at hotmail.com (Larry Harrell) wrote in message news:<7a90c754.0209221418.2d089cd0 at posting.google.com>...
> Let me just offer this reality then:
> Which color of trees would you like us to cut:
> Green, Brown or Black?
> There will always be logging and you should consider that question
As Bush goes ahead without congress = I would say Bush will streamroll
Bush eyes ways to thin forests without Congress' approval
By Mike Soraghan
Denver Post Washington Bureau
Sunday, September 22, 2002 - WASHINGTON - President Bush's forest plan
is in jeopardy on Capitol Hill, and the administration is looking at
ways to make it easier to cut trees and tame wildfires without
Officials think that by changing government rules, they can shave at
least a year off the time it takes to win approval for removing the
brush that fuels exploding wildfires.
They can do that by exempting select projects from most environmental
review, streamlining the required environmental studies and limiting
the U.S. Forest Service's internal appeals process.
Much of what the administration wants to change is how agencies deal
with the National Environmental Policy Act. The law, which requires
land managers to look at the alternatives to tree-cutting projects, is
best known for creating the Environmental Impact Statement.
"We're trying to reinvent how we comply with NEPA," said Mark Rey, the
Department of Agriculture undersecretary who is the administration's
top forestry official. "We want to take it from something long,
complicated and difficult, prone to adversarial confrontations, toward
something more interactive that fosters collaboration and
But environmentalists harbor the same distrust for the internal
changes that they do for Bush's proposal on Capitol Hill. They
especially distrust Rey, a former timber lobbyist and GOP
congressional staffer who now oversees the Forest Service.
"There's plenty of mischief that can happen at that level of the NEPA
law," said Mike Anderson, a forest policy analyst in the Seattle
office of The Wilderness Society. "Mark Rey's not going to wait around
for Congress to act. He's going to get away with what he can get away
Environmentalists say they support thinning the forests, but they
believe the administration's real goal is to use this summer's
devastating fires as an excuse to hand the national forests and public
lands over to timber companies.
Bush's basic plan - to exempt tree-cutting projects on 10 million
acres of public land from NEPA, toss out and rewrite the Forest
Service appeals process and prevent environmental groups from blocking
projects in court - requires changing the law, which must be done by
But he's been stalled by fierce opposition from environmentalists and
their allies in the Democratic Party. Last week, key legislators
trying to broker a deal all but gave up. It now appears unlikely that
they can craft a compromise before the November elections. So the fate
of the forest legislation largely depends on whether Congress returns
for a lame duck session after the election.
But Bush and Forest Service officials have broad discretion to change
internal rules, and many environmental restrictions are grounded not
in law but in those internal rules.
The Clinton administration, faced with an openly hostile Congress,
often took the same tack. The controversial Roadless Conservation
Rule, banning logging and mining from one-fifth of the national
forests, didn't go before Congress.
Under Rey, the Forest Service is looking at a new "categorical
exclusion" for fuel reduction projects in the forest. That means
certain categories of projects would be excluded from extensive
environmental review because they have little environmental impact or
improve the environment, and could be started in days or weeks rather
than months or years.
And for projects that do have to go through more extensive review, Rey
wants to devise a new "environmental assessment." The idea would be to
set new, simpler standards for the review and have a consistent
"template" for foresters nationwide to use.
Staff committees at the Forest Service and Department of the Interior
have been working since August on the plans. Rey expects to see them
by the end of October. ... (cont)
Thin the red zones first
Sunday, September 22, 2002 - A new U.S. Forest Service regional order
to the Pike and Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests on the Front Range
should be extended to other federal woodlands in Colorado.
The directive from U.S. Regional Forester Rick Cables tells forest
supervisors and district rangers to spend less time and money on
forest health projects in the hinterlands and more on preventing
catastrophic fires in the wildland-urban interface, or red zones.
It's the only way to balance the Forest Service's tight budget with
the need to reduce wildfire risks to people.
Two years ago, Congress created the National Fire Plan to help prevent
huge conflagrations on federal lands. The Forest Service and other
agencies got the money in 2001, so have had time to recast their
But some projects still on the drawing boards don't match well with
the areas of highest danger to people and property.
In response to a congressional request, the Forest Service recently
gave U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, a Boulder Democrat, a map showing the
locations of the wildland-urban interface and the agency's planned
fire mitigation projects. The map shows large swaths of high-hazard
areas in red and orange, covering the Front Range, Interstate 70
corridor and other places forests and subdivisions meet. Locations of
planned hazard-reduction projects are outlined in blue and white. The
areas don't match up.
Weirdly, the map shows numerous hazard-reduction projects slated for
prairie grasslands where there aren't even ranches nearby; for parts
of the Uncompahgre Plateau, where timber mills and environmentalists
have clashed over proposed logging and new road construction; and for
Colorado's far northwestern corner where there's only one paved road
and no towns.
The Forest Service says the map is a snapshot in time and doesn't
reflect where it actually plans hazard-reduction projects for the next
several years. But the answer raises additional, troubling issues.
Clearly, the Forest Service's internal inertia caused some of the
delays in implementing hazard-reduction projects. Even as Westerners
saw flames dancing outside their windows, and even as Congress pushed
for a National Fire Plan, the agency was still plodding ahead on
projects literally miles from the areas of gravest danger.
The Forest Service's definition of an urban-wildland interface - and
thus which areas should take priority - is so broad that it could be
applied to almost every woodland in the state.
Yet Colorado State Forester Jim Hubbard wants the feds to concentrate
on reducing potential damage from wildfires in places where flames and
smoke could threaten human lives and destroy public and private
The state forester is right. Since the U.S. Forest Service doesn't
have money to carry out every project, the red zones must take
While the Front Range's woodlands are laced with danger, it's not the
only place under the gun. Twice in the past decade, wildfires seared
federal lands just outside Glenwood Springs. This summer, Durango
residents learned how awfully close the fire hazard looms. The
red-zone map also shows Grand Junction, Vail, Aspen, Rye, Rifle, Estes
Park, Salida and many other communities to be in harm's way.
The Forest Service and other federal agencies must reorder their
More information about the Ag-forst