Healthy Southern Forests

Donald L Ferrt wolfbat359 at
Fri Feb 20 18:48:22 EST 2004

lhfotoware at (Larry Harrell) wrote in message news:<7a90c754.0402200652.162a9e6d at>...
> February 15, 2004
> Healthy Forests Initiative: Does it protect our national forests? 
> Yes: It's a timely response to environmental challenges
> Throughout the South, we have experienced many challenges regarding
> the health and resiliency of our national forests. We've witnessed new
> threats to our forests in the form of invasive insects and diseases,
> urbanization, unmanaged recreational activities and the possibility of
> wildfire due to the unhealthy build-up of hazardous fuels on our
> lands.
> Although the challenges facing our forests in the South are complex,
> one thing is clear. A do-nothing approach is not the answer. We must
> actively restore and manage our forests by using sound approaches that
> include the best science and expertise available. The Healthy Forests
> Initiative is one such answer that provides managers with critical
> tools to make balanced and effective forest management decisions.
> The Healthy Forests Initiative is a commonsense approach to deal with
> challenges facing our nation's land. This initiative is not about
> timber -- it is about the long-term health of the land. It is about
> sustaining our natural resources while protecting our communities far
> into the future.
> One of the primary goals of the program is to reduce the threat of
> catastrophic wildfires by reducing hazardous fuels build-up on our
> nation's forests and grasslands, especially close to urban areas. In
> the South, we have learned that active forest management dramatically
> lowers our risk of catastrophic wildfires and insect and disease
> attacks.
> In fact, the South is used as a model for decreasing the risk of
> wildfire because of our continued practice of setting controlled burns
> to reduce fuels buildup. This elimination of thick undergrowth not
> only lowers our risk for catastrophic wildfires but also improves
> southern forest ecosystems as well.
> The South leads the nation in hazardous fuels reduction. Last year,
> more than 935,000 acres on southern national forests were treated for
> hazardous fuels reduction, effectively eliminating catastrophic risks
> in those treated areas. Yet much more needs to be done, particularly
> in some of our mountain forests. New procedures established by the
> Healthy Forests Initiative will assist us in our continual effort to
> keep our forests and surrounding communities safe from the risk of
> catastrophic wildfires.
> But fires are not the only threat to our forests. Across the South,
> forests have experienced severe damage due to a variety of
> infestations. For example, since 1999, the southern pine beetle has
> killed more than 1 million acres of trees on public and private lands.
> This destructive insect has caused a reduction in wildlife habitats,
> recreational opportunities and timber production across the South.
> In addition, the beetle-killed trees are added fuel for wild-land
> fires. Addressing this situation in a timely, scientific and
> cooperative manner is crucial. New administrative tools created by the
> Healthy Forests Initiative will better ensure earlier detection and
> containment of such infestations.
> Urban sprawl is also a significant threat to the health of southern
> forests.
> We know there is a limited land base to support our ever-expanding
> population, but we know also that people and forests can co-exist.
> Approximately 50 million people live within a 30-minute drive of a
> southern national forest. Nearly 30 million people in the South depend
> on national forests for their clean water supply.
> But the land in U.S. forests only accounts for 5 percent of forested
> lands throughout the South. We must work with private landowners and
> state and local jurisdictions to create positive partnerships that
> will result in land conservation efforts. The Healthy Forests
> Initiative strengthens public participation as it creates meaningful
> opportunities for early public involvement on a variety of
> environmental issues. And in those cases where some segments of
> society do not agree with forest management decisions, the Healthy
> Forests Initiative provides a more timely appeals process in which to
> participate.
> The purpose of the Healthy Forests Initiative is to improve federal
> processes for more timely decisions and greater efficiency in
> restoring forest health. Because of this balanced approach, forest
> management decisions to restore the health of our land can be made in
> a more efficient, effective and timely manner.
> We owe such an approach to our land, we owe it to our people, and we
> owe it to future generations who will benefit from our stewardship.
> Robert T. Jacobs is regional forester with the Southern region of the
> U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. The Southern region
> is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga
> Comment by poster: This is what we want to hear from our government
> bigwigs. Mr. Jacobs has written a great non-political piece that shows
> Americans that eco-forestry is the new path for the Forest Service. If
> it doesn't stand up in court, it won't fly in the woods. I've worked
> in Oklahoma, Arkansas and South Carolina on USFS projects and have
> seen the problems thay have in southern forestry. It's time to fix our
> forests and not to let them further slide into an unnatural condition.
> Larry,       fixing the woods, ya'll

Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003  

The so-called "Healthy Forests Restoration Act," HR 1904, is a
seriously flawed bill that recently passed the House (256 to 170). 
The Senate came up with a 'compromise' that was no better than the
original, and which passed 80-14. (Please call and thank your
Senator's who opposed the compromise and voted no to tabling

The Senate Compromise:

• Fails to protect roadless areas

• Allows 1,000 acre harvests in any area deemed "at risk" of insect
infestations, which was left undefined but at the sole discretion of
the Secretary

• Fails to protect old growth by allowing timber harvesting in any
area that "poses a threat" for insect outbreaks or has wind or ice
storm damage.  Insect outbreaks and wind and ice storm damage are
naturally part of an old growth ecosystem and help makeup that
• Restricts citizen participation and constrains independent judicial

Read an analysis of the Senate Compromise 
See why the bill fails to address fire in our Eastern forests.  
Read why the bill may increase Southern Pine Beetle infestations 
See a comprehensive HR1904 spread sheet 
And more...  


H.R. 1904 was introduced as a way to address fires

in the west, but it would open up our finely grained eastern forests
to a western mode of management. In addition it:

• allows 1,000 acre insect projects anywhere to be categorically
excluded from environmental review,

• provides $125 million in additional subsides to the biomass

• does nothing to protect communities from fire,   

• guts the National Environmental Policy Act, 

• repeals the 1993 Appeals Reform Act, and

• rigs the courts to rule in favor of the agencies for all hazardous
fuels reduction projects.

The "Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003" will: 


• Not Ensure Any Increased Protection for Communities: HR 1904 does
not include any specific measures to protect homes or communities.  
It is also inconsistent with the Western Governors' Association
10-Year Comprehensive Strategy, which does not call for any changes in
existing laws.   The only proven method to protect homes and
communities is to reduce flammable materials in the immediate vicinity
of structures, yet the sham definitions in H.R. 1904 would not require
any activities to be near homes.   Instead, the bill seeks to further
subsidize the timber industry and eliminate obstacles to logging
large, fire-resistant trees miles away from the nearest home.   The
country's top forest scientists, including the Forest Service's own
scientists, have found that this kind of logging can actually increase
fire risk and make fires larger and more intense.   Read more about
fire in roadless areas.


• Cut the Heart out of NEPA.   HR 1904 allows the Forest Service to
conduct large-scale, environmentally damaging logging projects without
considering any alternatives, including the "no action" alternative or
their relative environmental impacts.


• Remove the Public from the Process.   HR 1904 eliminates the
statutory right of citizens to appeal Forest Service logging projects.


• Interfere with the Independent Judiciary.   HR 1904 seeks to
restrict a core principle of our democracy -- the right of Americans
to seek redress in the court for grievances involving the federal
government.   The bill limits preliminary injunctive relief to 45
days, and forces any U.S court to render a final decision on the
merits of a case within 100 days.   Finally, the bill seeks an
astounding change in American legal standards by requiring courts to
give deference to agency findings regarding the balance of harms in
deciding whether to enter a temporary restraining order, preliminary
injunction, or a permanent injunction in ANY court challenge where the
agency claims the action is necessary to "restore fire-adapted forest
or rangelands ecosystems."


• Create New Insect Categorical Exclusion.   HR 1904 creates a new
Categorical Exclusion from the National Environmental Policy Act on
all Department of Interior and Forest Service lands by authorizing an
unlimited number of projects (up to 1,000 acres each) for all lands
that the agencies claim are at risk of infestation by certain insects.
  Read more about the Southern Pine Beetle in the East.


• Provide New Logging Subsidies.   HR 1904 would authorize $125
million in subsidies to the biomass industry to log our National

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