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E-M:/ Forest Roads in Congress



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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SYNOPSIS:  ASK YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE TO VOTE IN FAVOR OF THE
PORTER-KENNEDY AMENDMENT TO THE INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS BUDGET, WHICH WILL
ELIMINATED SUBSIDIZING NATIONAL FOREST ROAD BUILDING, WHEN IT COMES UP IN
JULY!!

BACKGROUND:  Quick, name one of the most environmentally AND fiscally
irresponsible programs of the federal government!  If you guessed the current
program for funding road construction and reconstruction in our National
Forests, you win a gold star. Now, if I can just figure out how to send gold
stars through the internet...

Within a short time after the July 4th break, as part of votes on the budget
of the Interior Appropriations budget bill for FY'98, there will be a chance
for all of our Michigan Congressional Representatives to vote to ELIMINATE the
outrageous subsidies for forest roads. While most of the attention for these
roads comes from the west, this issue also effect Michigan's three National
Forests.  On Michigan's three National Forests there are over 9,000 miles of
roads that belong just to the Forest Service.  Nationwide, there are 8 times
more miles of Forest Service roads (377,000 miles) than there are in the
entire Interstate Highway system.

While roads provide some benefits, such as vehicular access for recreation and
management activities, forest roads are among the most damaging parts of the
National Forest management activities nationwide.  Subsidies of roads occur
directly, through taxpayers' payment for construction of roads, or through
"free trees", meaning that the timber sale price is reduced to cover the cost
to the timber cutter of road building.  Although there may be good reasons for
wanting a road built in some cases, the system of subsidies has created
some of the most perverse incentives anywhere in government.

The forest roads subsidy has been used to build roads into roadless areas that
would not be economical otherwise.  Thus, increasingly rare remote habitat is
opened to destruction, both by timbering and vehicular access, and potential
wilderness areas are eliminated by consideration.  In addition, the forest
roads have been identified as the PRIMARY cause of mud slides in the Pacific
Northwest, that have both destroyed homes and caused the death of a family,
and caused destruction of stream habitat.  In this region, roads are already
overly abundant, and new roads further fragment habitat, opening up pathways
for destructive organisms, from gypsy moths, to brown headed cowbirds, to
illegal off-road vehicles and trash carrying humans.

While the budget includes between $40 and $50 million per year for direct
funding of forest road construction, the General Accounting Office has
identified road construction costs from 1992 to 1994 as being $245 million.
According to GAO, this was a period of time in which the timber sale program
for the Forest Service lost $995 million, with the road subsidies clearly
making an enormous impact on that loss.

Michigan Congressional Representatives can make an ENORMOUS difference on this
issue.  Last year, this same amendment was passed by the House for 17 hours--
211 YEAS vs. 210 NAYS.  However, the leadership mustered one additional vote
for continuing to subsidize destruction of forests through roading, and got a
tie (211 to 211) to kill the deal.  EVERY VOTE WILL COUNT ON THIS ISSUE!

PLEASE, CALL, WRITE OR MEET WITH YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AS SOON AS
POSSIBLE AND URGE HER/HIM TO VOTE YES ON THE PORTER/KENNEDY AMENDMENT TO THE
INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS BILL!!  Many will be home over the July 4th break, so
take time to talk with them while here if you can!! Here is a vote where
fiscal conservatives and environmental supporters find common cause for
action.

For more details, contact Sierra Club  (517) 484-2372 or email to
anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org


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