Skip to comments.White House Proposal Would Leave Forest-Use Decisions to Governors
Posted on 07/12/2004 4:51:59 PM PDT by SJackson
ASHINGTON, July 12 The Forest Service today proposed scuttling a Clinton-era rule, which put 58.5 million acres of national forest largely off-limits to logging, mining or other development, in favor of a new system that leaves it to state governors to seek greater or fewer strictures on the construction of logging, mining, recreational or other roads on federal forest land.
The announcement, made by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in Boise, Idaho, a state where ideological opposition to the Clinton rule was most pronounced, was a signature moment for the Bush Administration's environmental policy.
After three years of gradually retreating from the sweeping preservationist rule, which covered about 30 percent of the 191 million acres of national forests and was embraced by environmentalists, the administration decisively rejected it and substituted a patchwork process that makes state officials the moving force in decisions of whether to log or to conserve forest lands.
In her press conference today, Secretary Veneman portrayed the Bush administration's proposal both as a way to avoid the tangle of litigation provoked by the Clinton rule and a way to enhance local participation and federal flexibility in determining the use of national forest land. Final decisions on state petitions will be made by the Forest Service.
But a broad spectrum of environmental groups including some usually sympathetic to the Bush administration voiced outrage and disappointment at the announcement. "This doesn't ensure that a single acre of roadless area gets protected," said Marty Hayden, a lawyer with Earthjustice, one of several groups that are defending the Clinton-era rule in Federal court.
"Everything could be up for grabs," he added.
Jim Range, a former senior Republican congressional staffer who in 2001 helped establish the Forest Road Working Group, issued a statement today saying that the loss of the Clinton-era protections was a disappointment.
"The current regulation established an important degree of certain protection to these valuable areas, which provide important fish and wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for American hunters, anglers, campers, hikers, and others," Mr. Range said in a prepared statement.
"The new process by which state governors can submit new roadless area protection plans will perpetuate the uncertainty associated with this issue and may lead to a substantial reduction in the level of protection that roadless areas are afforded."
The proposal, which will be open to public comment for the next 60 days, includes a provision for an 18-month moratorium on new activity, during which time changes to the current roadless designation could be made only with the approval of the Forest Service chief, Dale Bosworth.
One timber sale, involving 665 acres of land in the Tongass National Forest, was approved by Mr. Bosworth last week. The Tongass, a West Virginia-sized swath of rock and timber in southeastern Alaska, had separately been exempted from the Clinton rules protections by an earlier decision.
The new proposal would allow Alaska's governor to petition for further logging efforts. The 12 states most affected by the roadless controversy, which contain 56.6 million acres, or 97 percent, of all roadless areas in the country, are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Dirk Kempthorne, Idaho's Republican governor, appeared with Secretary Veneman at today's news conference and said of roadless protections: "There's a right way and a wrong way to make that determination. Today the Federal government and the Bush administration is doing it the right way. We now have a roadless process that can be accomplished by respecting state sovereignty."
In a later conference call with reporters, New Mexico's Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, said of his state's 1.1 million acres of roadless forest: "These are areas that the federal government should manage consistently from state to state." Today's announcement, he added, "is another abdication" of federal responsibility.
I've been paging you a lot today, it seems.
Disappointing it took GWB four years to come up with this, better late than never (aka Kerry) I guess
About time the feds devolved control back to the states. The next step should be turning ownership of these collectivist federal forests to the states who, in turn, can sell the forests to private property owners.
In other good news -
This spring the eco-socialists lost 17 out of 17 court cases they filed to stop logging on our nations collectivist federal forests.
The court victories mark a turnabout from recent years, when so-called environmentalists succeeded in delaying and halting logging projects that many Western lawmakers said would have removed the trees and underbrush that fuels wildfires.
The Healthy Forests Restoration Act, passed by congress last year, trumped the whining and junk science used by environmental Marxists to stop logging. This no logging hysteria caused massive conflagrations in the federal forests, resulting in the loss of millions of acres of trees, the destruction of entire eco-systems, destroyed thousands of homes and buildings and covered the sky with massive pollution.
The law authorizes up to $760 million a year to treat up to 20 million acres of federal forests and grasslands at risk of catastrophic fire.
Mark Rey, the Agriculture Department undersecretary who directs U.S. forest policy, said, Any month when you win 14 out of 14 cases is a good month.
Judges are required by the new law to weigh the environmental consequences of inaction in considering tree-cutting projects.
Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group, said what the judges are recognizing - as Congress did overwhelmingly - is that we have a crisis situation facing our forests.
The freedom hating eco-socialists are running from courtroom to courtroom, trying to find a judge who will ignore the law so the forest fires can get roaring again.
These people are not environmentalists. Theyre socialists who dont want to see anyone making a dime off these trees. Theyd rather see the forests burn to the ground than see jobs created and products produced.
Sounds like a great opportunity for California to commit suicide faster than ever.
IMO, it's then a state forest, not a national forest. Give the whole thing to the state if they are going to run it, and let them pay to maintain it. Why should an out of state taxpayer pay for a forest they have no stake in?
The states, I remember them. Took four years to give them a voice. There's a federal role here, but it's secondary. One day we'll recognize that the enviornmentalists are the ones who spend their time there, earning a living, ever hunting and fishing, not the Sierra Club dayhikers.
Well, you get to visit. But why sould anyone pay for a forest, they're at best income generators, otherwise, well, leave them alone.
>A terrible idea, why should Alaska have a say in what >happens to their trees, they're my trees too. Their oil >too.
So can I pick the color you paint your house? I'd love to see it in a pretty paisley pink.
And I thought states' rights were dead...
not dead, on life support. Sometimes they get it right.
Ideally there would be almost no 'federal' land except for military bases. The public property within the state belongs to the people of the state, not some overreaching power that can say "this is mine" because of their size.
That's really a drop in the bucket, but having the Feds back off at all is remarkable.
Depends on the deal. In Alaska the state got relatively next to no land at all. Some state.
I am saying that these forests have costs. They usually have roads. They have fire prevention. Maybe even rescue. Some garbage collection. No telling what all they have. And I am saying that if it's a national forest, then it makes sense not only for the national gubmint to pay for it, but also for the national gubmint to run it. If the state is gonna run it, far as I am concerned, that's a state forest that I as a voter have no stake in, no influence, and therefore, shouldn't pay a red cent for it. If GWB wants to make em state forests, he should do so.
Well... Don't just stick that out there for all of us to wonder what you mean by that! Explain that suicidal statement. I know it makes you weary, but lots of FReepers and Lurkers need to understand the meaning of such astute comments!!!
You touch on an interesting issue. Ill give fire roads a pass, though thats also a state issue. Forest roads, we lease the forests for harvest, then spend federal money to build the roads to take out the timber, otherwise the bid wouldnt be economic.
Thats nuts. If the harvest is economic, let the forest product companies build the roads. If they wont bid enough, leave the forest alone, the Sierra Club will be happy and the owls will have a place to live. Same goes for grazing lands. Its a state issue, with some federal interests, but neither are particularly efficient property managers from an economic perspective.
NO!!! It's an announcement of FREEDOM from pure, undulterated, un-needed, undesirable FEDERAL INTRUSION & INTERVENTION!!!
President Bush... You've made me more proud of you than I expected to be by your selection of the best Ag secretary since Ronald Reagan appointed James Watt as secretary of interior! And your political courage of doing this in the throws of a heated race for re-election shows true grit!!!
someone posted a state / federal land map recently. The amount of land owned by the federal .gov in alaska and nevada is obscene.
Yes, someone wishes to keep the West and Alaska undeveloped for the most part. No better way than to deny the private sector private property rights. Even Prudhoe Bay is just oil and gas rights--subsurface mineral rights. If they want gravel out of the Sag River they need a special permit. We might wonder who wishes this. The Federal gov't is probably not the interested party. I'm not into conspiracies unless I make them up myself.