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E-M:/ Hidden Cost of Clearcutting

Enviro-Mich message from Mike Boyce <birder@voyager.net>

I thought I'd through my two cents worth in on the current clearcutting
dialogue here on Enviro-Mich.  I hate clearcutting.  The sierra Club
Press Release below is just ONE reason I despise it so.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            CONTACTS:
May 9, 1997                                                    Rene
Voss  (404)872-9453
Eric Huber (504)522-1394


Experts Estimate That Logging During the Nesting Season
Kills One Quarter Billion Birds in the United States

ATLANTA (GA)--While many Americans celebrate the coming of Spring and
return of millions of songbirds from their wintering habitats in the
tropics, birders all over the land are greeting this year's
International Migratory Bird Day (May 10th) with a heavy heart.

The last several weeks have seen the most dramatic shift in U.S. bird
conservation policy in the last 80 years since the United States signed
treaties with Great Britain, Canada and Mexico to protect migratory
birds and the U.S. Congress passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)
of 1918. In recent weeks not only did the Federal Government exempt
itself from the MBTA, but two U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals also held
that the law does not apply to federal agencies, including the
destructive clearcut logging practices of the U.S. Forest Service.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was meant to protect songbirds by
their killing "by any manner or by any means."  The U.S. Justice
argues that the law applies to logging operations, and the U.S. Forest
Service freely admits that logging during the Spring-time kills
countless numbers of birds by destroying their nests, their eggs, and
their young.

Three years ago, Sierra Club initiated a series of lawsuits aimed at
protecting declining songbird populations in the eastern U.S. from
indiscriminate logging by the Forest Service on National Forests during
the songbird's nesting season.
 National Forests are vital for the recovery of songbird populations
since they
act as "sources" or large breeding areas from which birds can spread to
areas for recovery.  Birds like the Cerulean Warbler, the Blackburnian
and at least 20 other songbirds have seen alarming declines of up to 90%
the last two decades.  While many of these declines have been blamed on
destruction in the tropics, habitat elimination and the timing of
logging practices in the United States deserve a closer examination.

With the help of a new model developed by scientists studying bird
habitats, experts are beginning to recognize the tremendous scope of
songbird destruction from logging operations in the U.S.  "We were
shocked at the numbers of birds being killed during Spring-time
logging," said Ren' Voss, acting Chair of Sierra Club's Forest Reform
Campaign.  "In the Southern Region on National Forests alone it is
estimated that 1.2 million baby songbirds and eggs are destroyed each
year by logging between April and the end of June," said Voss.  "And
this estimate does not even include logging from private timber

"When this model is applied to logging during the Spring-time across the
entire United States on both public and private land, the total
estimated number of birds killed comes to 1/4 billion birds each year,"
said Ren' Voss. "This could easily be avoided by simply delaying logging
operations by just a few weeks each year.  This indiscriminate slaughter
of millions of songbirds killed directly by clearcutting each year must

According to conservationists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(USFWS) shares in the blame by allowing this slaughter while it has the
power to stop it.  "While Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement
personnel arrest individuals for the possession of feathers or even for
harboring birds that have been injured, they are sticking their heads in
the sand to avoid seeing the indiscriminate slaughter of migratory birds
in the National Forests," said Eric Huber, an attorney for the Sierra
Club Legal Defense Fund.

Sierra Club calls on President Clinton and Secretary of the Interior
Bruce Babbitt to issue an Executive Order and guidelines clarifying that
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act applies to Federal Agencies and their
employees, just as this law and its criminal penalties apply to all
citizens of the United States.  Sierra Club also calls on the US Fish
and Wildlife Service to issue rules that prohibit logging during the
nesting season of declining migratory songbirds.

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