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Harmful House Deal on Fire Logging Needs to be Stopped

by semp Saturday, Oct. 05, 2002 at 5:31 PM

An agreement has been reached between Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Scott McInnis (R-CO) that can best be described as a chainsaw massacre.

EPIC ALERT Harmful House Deal on Fire Logging Needs to be Stopped

An agreement has been reached between Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Scott McInnis (R-CO) that can best be described as a chainsaw massacre. The agreement will be voted on tomorrow in the Resources Committee and only an outpouring of calls can stop this harmful compromise from moving to the House floor for a vote next week. A summary of the bill is provided below.

The deal would provide new goods for services stewardship contracting pilots, and substantially gut NEPA by allowing the agency to skip preparing alternatives for fuel reduction projects. Appeals and judicial review would also be substantially curtailed.

Please contact the following Resource Committee members and urge them to oppose the McInnis/Miller compromise and to support a "community protection alternative" to be offered by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA).

            Rep.                    & nbsp;                Phone                  Fax                Staff
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV)       202/225-6065      & nbsp;226-4077
Rep. George Miller (D-CA)       202/225-2095      & nbsp;225-5609   Amelia Jenkins
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)       202/225-6416      & nbsp;225-0032    David Dreher
Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO)           202/225-2161  & nbsp;    226-7840        Stan Sloss
Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM)           202/225-6190  & nbsp;    226-1331        Tony Martinez
Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ)               2 02/225-4765       225-0778
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD)       202/225-5311      & nbsp;225-0254
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)           202/225-2836
Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI)           202/225-3611  & nbsp;    225-6393
Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)       202/225-2726      & nbsp;225-4580
Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX)       202/225-7742      & nbsp;226-1134
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)       202/225-4671      & nbsp;225-9665
Rep. Cal Dooley (D-CA)           202/225-3341  & nbsp;    225-9308
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)       202/225-8901      & nbsp;225-5893
Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)               2 02/225-5506       225-5739
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA)               2 02/225-6311       226-1606
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA)       202/225-5256      & nbsp;225-0027
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)               & nbsp;   202/225-5801       225-6025
Rep. James McGovern (D-MA)       202/225-6101      & nbsp;225-5759
Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA)               2 02/225-5464       225-5467
Rep. Brad Carson (D-OK)           202/225-2701  & nbsp;    225-3038
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN)       202/225-6631      & nbsp;225-1968

Also, please let Rep. Miller (202/225-2095, Amelia Jenkins) know how disappointed you are that he is not standing up for real community protection and that he would open the door to uncontrolled logging and a severe weakening of NEPA. Also please contact Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, 202/225-0100, fax 226-0938, Bill Frymoyer (Staff) and urge him to oppose the McInnis/Miller proposal and to support the Inslee Community Protection alternative.

Analysis of Discussion Draft of H.R. 5319

Goods for Services Encourages Logging Goods for Services stewardship contracting authority (Sec. 12) will encourage the logging of commercially viable trees to pay for other activities. The impact of this authority, like that of the purchaser road credit program will be far-reaching and harmful to sound forest management. The draft indicates 26 new BLM pilots and allows the Forest Service to conduct an additional 15 stewardship pilots using goods for service authority.

American Lands Alliance is opposed to goods for services authority and urges the Committee to drop this provision from the bill.

Faulty Definitions The definition of "Wildlands/Urban Interface" is overly broad and will not focus the agencies on communities at risk. We support a much tighter and more specific definition of 1/4 mile from communities.

The Definition of "Other At-Risk Federal Lands" opens the door to broad scale abuse. It is such an open ended definition that most old growth forests would be included due to the presence of naturally occurring bugs and diseases.

Class II and III lands are not well defined by the Forest Service. In fact, the agency admits that this is a broad-scale coarse analysis tool that should not be used for local decision making. Without a fine-scale mapping using consistent methodology, the Forest Service would have unlimited discretion to include areas as Class II or III. Both Class II and III also include lands that are not suitable for mechanical fuel reduction treatments such as high elevation lodgepole pine ecosystems and temperate rainforests.

Lack of Protection for Mature & Old Growth and Endangered Species Endangered Species Habitat should be excluded from this bill. The Forest Service is already abusing "species restoration" to justify logging old growth and the eradication of hardwoods to establish pine mono-cultures.

The Additional Limitation (d) provides inadequate protection for mature and old growth forests. The bill would be creating an incentive to log old growth due to goods for services stewardship contracting. Without stronger protection for all old and large trees, the Forest Service could cut large amounts of old growth and claim there was an "ecologically optimum" number remaining.

It adds a prohibition on road construction in inventoried roadless areas. A better approach would be to narrowly define the interface to 1/4 from communities and to prohibit all road construction.

The latest draft removes the requirement to build only temporary roads and to remove them after the project is completed. This will encourage more road construction which increases fire risks.

Expedited Procedures Unnecessary The premise that procedures need to be expedited is not supported by the facts. A very small percentage of fuels projects have been stopped or delayed due to public concerns raised about projects that mixed old growth logging with fuel reduction. If the agency would focus on the interface and not log old growth, there is consensus among conservationists that these projects should go forward. Therefore we are opposed to all of Section 7, 9, 10

Allowing the Forest Service to forgo alternatives under NEPA would allow for the agency to focus on logging instead of broadly supported fuel reduction projects near communities. The bill recognizes that projects may be able to be completed without road construction, the public should also have a choice about how much and what kind of trees will be removed for what reasons.

The five-day time limit to indicate an appeal will be filed is too little time to review the project documents and puts an onerous burden on the public to be constantly on guard, and in town when new projects are issued. It could lead to groups indicating all projects will be appealed to provide more time for this preliminary review.

Requiring that an individual comment during scoping and raise specific issues that an appeal will be based on places an unreasonable burden on citizens. It is difficult to comment on every project and in general, the public is more interested in focusing their appeals on projects that have been identified as controversial.

With the initial five days and the extended 20 day period, the public will only have 25 days to comment. On some of the larger post-fire salvage projects, the EIS is long. This places an unreasonable burden on the public.

The bill places significant burdens on the public and the courts to expedite potentially illegal or harmful projects. Having to file suit within 15 days of a decision may not offer citizens adequate time to review the decision and prepare a suit. Requiring the court to decide a matter within 60 places a substantial burden on the courts and puts agency matters ahead of criminal and other cases.

Again the time limits on filing an appeal are burdensome on the public. There has been no evidence presented that citizen suits have caused undue delays in legitimate fuel reduction projects.

Oppose this Legislation, Support Community Protection American Lands Alliance urges all offices to oppose the McInnis/Miller alternative of H.R. 5319 and to instead, support an alternative that focuses projects within a 1/4 mile of communities and that establishes a block grant program for states and tribes. The fact that this bill does nothing for the private and tribal lands where people live and are at-risk is a glaring omission that raises concerns that this bill is not only about community protection but is also about increasing logging under the guise of fire risk reduction.

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