[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]
E-M:/ Call Senator Levin about forest roads!
- Subject: E-M:/ Call Senator Levin about forest roads!
- From: Joy Strawser <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 12 Sep 1997 16:39:01 -0400
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: Joy Strawser <email@example.com>
Enviro-Mich message from Joy Strawser <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Michigan environmentalists,
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) is considering voting against the Bryan amendment to
reduce logging road subsidies. We need your help to enourage him to
Bryan amendment and convince him that it will help improve the management of
national forests in Michigan. He can be reached through switchboards at
888/723-5246 (toll free) or 202/224-3121. His direct # in Washington, DC is
202/224-6221. Chris Miller is the staff person handling the issue here in
I have combined some recent action alerts below to give you background
information on the issue. Please contact me with any questions or for more
Forest Campaign Coordinator
National Audubon Society
1901 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
202/861-2242 fax 861-4290
Senator Levin's biggest concern seems to be that cutting logging road
will endanger the maintenance of recreation roads. This is not true, as the
fact sheet at the bottom of this message points out. Some important points:
-388,000 miles of roads in our national forests is enough for recreation and
anything else the public wants to do on their forests.
-Money from the Purchaser Road Credit program, which would be eliminated by
Bryan amendment, can only be spent on roads which are en route to a timber
Any recreational or environmental benefits are completely secondary to the
purpose of improving the road for logging trucks so they can more efficiently
remove trees. Recreationalists are not likely to appreciate roads which
clearcuts. Any environmental benefits are probably outweighed by the
environmental degradation of the timber sale. The Purchaser Road Credit
has the effect of putting recreational and environmental road-work on the back
of the timber sale program. It is also sets up a terrible road-work strategy:
the Forest Service can only use the money to work on roads which happen to
route to a timber sale, even if roads in other parts of the forest need much
-The Bryan amendment will not touch the budgets for road recreation or road
maintenance, which are separate line items.
-Roads hurt recreation opportunities by destroying fish and wildlife habitat,
and reducing opportunities for solitude.
Thanks for all your help!
Forest Campaign Coordinator
National Audubon Society
1901 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
202/861-2242 fax 861-4290
Please contact your Senators and ask them to support the Bryan Amendment to
1998 Interior Appropriations Bill to cut logging road subsidies and protect
The Senate's opportunity to reduce subsidies for logging roads has been
postponed. Senator Bryan's (D-NV) amendment to the Interior & Related
Appropriations Bill is now likely to be voted on during the week of September
15. The latest version of the amendment, which we believe will be the final,
does 3 things:
1. Eliminates the Purchaser Road Credits Program. Through this program, a
logging company which spent $100,000 building a logging road to their timber
sale would have the price they are required to pay for the sale reduced by
$100,000. The amount the Forest Service can lose through this program had
limited by Congress to $50 million per year, but this year the Senate
Appropriations Committee removed all limits, making it more important than
to eliminate the program.
2. Reduces from $47.5 million to $37.5 million the money given to the Forest
Service to build and rebuild logging roads. This taxpayer money pays for the
planning, engineering, overseeing, and environmental analyses of the timber
industry's roads. The $10 million savings will go toward deficit reduction.
3. 'Holds counties harmless.' Under the existing logging system,
counties 25% of the sale price of all timber sales from national forest land
within their border. Senator Bryan has included provisions to ensure that
payments to counties will remain the same even though logging companies may
less for timber sales once they have to pay for the roads leading to them.
We were hoping for larger cuts in the environmentally destructive
program. Nonetheless, Senator Bryan's amendment would eliminate nearly 2/3 of
the money the Forest Service could otherwise use to subsidize road building
re-building. This amendment may have a better shot at passing than previous
versions which reduced the subsidy further. It should also result in at least
some reduction of logging in our remaining roadless areas, the most valuable
habitat remaining for many species including migratory birds, large predators,
We are actively supporting the Bryan amendment, and encourage you to do the
same. If you haven't called your Senators yet to encourage their support,
Roads destroy bird wildlife and fish habitat, especially in remote areas which
are increasingly important as human development expands. The text of
fact sheet on this issue is included below for more information.
Please contact your Senator and ask them to reduce corporate welfare, protect
habitat, and "Vote for the Bryan Amendment to the 1998 Interior Appropriations
Bill!" The vote is expected to be taken on Tuesday, September 9, or shortly
You can call toll free 888/723-5246, or call the Senate switchboard at
202/224-3121 and ask for your Senators.
We alerted many of you to this vote in late July, so you may have already let
your Senators know you support this amendment. If you have a chance to call
them and remind them again that their constituents support Senator Bryan's
amendment, it could go a long way. This may be our best chance for a while to
make headway on this issue.
Also, please let President Clinton (White House Comment Line - 202-456-1111),
Katie McGinty of the Council on Environmental Quality (202/456-6224), T.J.
Glauthier, Office of Management and Budget (202/395-4561) and Secretary of
Agriculture Dan Glickman (202/720-3631) know you oppose subsidies for logging
roads. The Administration supports at least some of our efforts to cut these
subsidies. It will be important to let them know their is broad popular
for cutting logging road subsidies.
THE RACE TO ROAD AMERICA'S WILDLANDS
Forest Service Subsidizes Building Roads Through Unprotected Wilderness
America is a nation of vehicles--nearly 140 million of them are registered
year. It follows that America is also a nation of roads. Our roads are so
numerous and extensive that few areas of any size remain which have not been
caught in their constantly expanding web. The benefits of roads are
obvious--transportation, commerce, convenience. The downside of roads are
well known--erosion, habitat destruction, subsidies, species endangerment.
importance of keeping some lands road-free cannot be understated. They are
last refuges for species from migratory birds to grizzlies, allowing them to
survive in an increasingly urbanized, humanized world.
Those areas which have escaped the road grader this long are overwhelmingly on
public lands, many within national forests. They exist in spite of efforts to
punch roads into and log our last unprotected lands. Areas which have been
opened up have not fared so well--up to 5 miles of roads may be built to
accompany the logging of every square mile of forest.
Almost all of our nation's forests have been cut over at least once. On
national forest land, the US Forest Service has already paid for over 380,000
miles of roads--that's 8 times as long as our interstate highway system,
to circle the earth 15 times. And still the government wants to subsidize more
roads to log more forests.
Continued road-building in unprotected, unroaded wildlands is a major
some of the most important and rare wildlife habitat in the nation. Many
diverse species rely on the unique habitat characteristics provided by
lands. Large, wide-ranging species like grizzlies and lynx hang on in the
western U.S. because they still have some roadless lands to retreat to. In
other parts of the country, particularly the east, species as diverse as
migratory birds and black bears take refuge from predators in remaining blocks
of unfragmented forest.
Roads cut open these natural wildlife refuges, exposing the forest and its
inhabitants to human traffic-loggers, hunters, poachers, and
recreationalists-and to new competitors and predators which native species are
not adapted to. Erosion from roads and clearcuts pollutes streams and rivers,
threatening the survival and reproduction of fish which need clean water.
Fungi, disease, and insects are spread along roads by vehicles, and 75% of
forest fires start along roads.
Our remaining roadless lands are disappearing fast. The first step towards
protecting these valuable habitats is to end government subsidies to logging
companies to open them up. This subsidy was created when there were fewer
roads, more roadless areas, and less knowledge about the importance of
wildlands. The Forest Service cannot maintain the roads it already has,
evidenced by a road maintenance backlog totaling more than $440 million, and
should not be adding to the problem by building new roads.
Roads Cut Up Bird Habitat
When roads are built through roadless areas, the unbroken interior of the
suddenly becomes the edge of the forest. The forest edge is a much different
habitat than the forest interior because it experiences different amounts of
wind, rain, and sunlight. Forest habitats along roads are hotter and drier,
which changes the types of plants and animals that can thrive there.
animals are also affected by human edge effects: increases in air pollution,
soil erosion, noise pollution, and general human disturbance. The edge
can extend for hundreds of meters into the forest. As more and more roads are
constructed, the amount of remaining interior habitat shrinks quickly. If
unchecked, road density can increase until no interior habitat is left, even
though patches of forest remain.
Many Birds Rely On Interior Forest
The disappearance of interior forest habitat spells disaster for bird species
that require interior habitat for survival, such as brown creepers, northern
spotted owls, and cerulean warblers to name a few. As the amount of interior
forest decreases, the distance between suitable interior patches grows.
Subpopulations of interior-dependent non-migratory birds can be separated from
the rest of their species, leading to inbreeding and possible extinction.
Migratory birds, many of which rely on interior forests as rest stops on their
trips to and from the tropics, have more trouble finding safe habitat to rest
Predators and Competitors
A danger to both migratory and non-migratory birds comes from the invasion of
new predators and competitors. Cowbirds, an edge parasite, lay their eggs in
the nests of other birds, which usually raise the young cowbirds at the
of their own young. Edge predators including raccoons and cats gain increased
access to birds and their nests. The barred owl is following the roads and
clearcuts to the west, where it now competes with the beleaguered spotted owl.
Roads Isolate Large Predators
Large, reclusive, far-ranging predators reside in wildernesses where human
contact is minimized. Grizzly bear, wolverine, lynx, and mountain lion
in or can be reintroduced into parts of the western U.S. because of the
existence of unbroken forest. The gray wolf, an interior-dependent species, is
finally recovering in large patches of continuous forest after decades of
overhunting and trapping. These species need tracts of wilderness up to
of thousands of acres in order to survive. Grizzly bears, for example,
up to 520 square miles of habitat each. Brown bears and Florida panthers
to remaining unbroken forests in the east.
Enemies of Predators Follow Roads
Roads confine the movement of reclusive predators to increasingly limited
sections of forest. Grizzly bears, for example, are reluctant to cross or
approach roads, so their habitat shrinks every time a new road is built.
are quick to learn that humans-hunters, poachers, recreationalists, and
loggers-follow roads, and contact with humans often results in dead bears
for sport, profit, or defense of life. Roads allow hunters, both licensed and
unlicensed, access to otherwise hard-to-reach areas that provide cover for low
density predator populations. The grizzly bear is especially vulnerable to
hunters while hibernating, an additional reason why remote areas for shelter,
protection, and denning are a necessity.
Barriers To Survival
The barrier presented by roads cuts these species off from crucial food
and from members of their own species. Without usable corridors between
populations become reproductively isolated, which may lead to inbreeding and
possible extinction of the species. Smaller predators, such as tree-dwelling
marten and fisher, also appear to be sensitive to impacts from roads. And some
studies suggest that some prey species, like elk, may be more dependent than
previously thought on remote refuges from humans. Road densities in national
forests in the Pacific northwest are currently more than twice the level which
biologists have shown causes declines in elk and grizzly populations.
Roads Can Be The Greatest Enemy
Species without a healthy fear of roads aren't much better off. Over one
million animals per day are killed crossing roads. Florida panthers, of which
only 50 remain, find their greatest enemy on the roads surrounding their
habitat-motor vehicles are the leading killer of this endangered species.
bears and other animals whose ranges are bordered by roads frequently used for
recreation and tourism have lost their fear of roads, especially where some
stop and offer food, becoming prime targets for hunters, poachers, and other
Road Erosion Clogs Fish Habitat
Land animals aren't the only creatures affected by roads. Many fish
are already at risk of extinction, in part due to the impact of roads. Fish
species such as salmon and bull trout require clear gravel stream beds in
to lay their eggs. The sediment that washes from roads into streams fills the
spaces between stream-bottom gravel, choking fish eggs. Increased
also alters the depth, width, and course of rivers and streams, creating
barriers to fish migration. Even the best-kept roads result in 51% more
sediment in rivers than occurs normally. For example, an average of 3000 tons
of sediment is washed into streams for every mile of divided highway that is
built. New roads are especially likely to dump dirt into streams because most
areas which are still roadless are only that way because they are high
areas with steep slopes that are difficult to build roads in. Roads built in
these less stable areas are a major cause of erosion. An aerial assessment of
422 landslides in Idaho in 1995 and 1996 found that 70% were related to Forest
Roads And 'Forest Health'
New roads are often justified using the same argument the logging industry
to justify more logging-that we can make forests healthier by logging them.
Roadless areas are targeted for this intensive logging 'treatment' since they
are generally the least intensively managed forests. This leads industrial
foresters to perceive them to be the least healthy.
Forest Health: Poor Excuse For Roads
In reality, forests have been managing just fine without us for millennia, and
more logging is the major threat to their existence, with few exceptions.
practice of logging forests to promote forest health continues because we
subsidize it. This subsidy is amplified in roadless areas, where the
the road are subsidized, the habitat restoration costs are particularly high,
and the land is removed from further consideration as wilderness. Ironically,
the very issues forest health logging purports to address-fungus, disease,
insects, and fire-are spread by roads. Fungi, disease, and insects can all be
carried into new territory on cars and logging equipment. The widely feared
gypsy moth, which defoliates forests, was carried from the southwest to the
northwest U.S. in a rented trailer, and Port Orford Cedar root rot, which
infects a declining tree species, is transported to new forest with dirt
in the treads of logging machines. In addition, seventy-five percent of fires
are started along roads.
Building Logging Roads Costs You Money
Our government actually pays logging companies to build the roads used to cut
trees from our forests. The forest loses out on the logging and the road, and
so does the taxpayer. Most sales of national forest trees lose money, partly
because we pay logging companies for the roads they build. Roads are a
logging which loggers pay for on private and most state forests, but not in
national forests. We subsidize their logging roads in a number of ways.
1.) We actually give them money. Almost $50 million per year is given to
logging companies to build logging roads, through a few different subsidy
programs. One program requires the Forest Service to use taxpayer money to pay
all of the costs of engineering, wildlife and groundwater impact studies, and
geological assessments that must be done prior to building roads. This
spent so that the Forest Service can determine how much of a subsidy will be
given to the logging company that purchases the timber.
2.) The government pays for all future maintenance of logging roads, except
bridge and culvert maintenance. The Forest Service does not include the
maintaining the road base -the land upon which the road is built-as part of
sale, despite the fact that road bases deteriorate, causing damage and costing
millions of dollars to maintain. The Forest Service also pays to upgrade any
roads that will later be used for recreation. Logging roads are built to lower
standards than recreation roads; over 70% are accessible only those with
high-clearance or off-road vehicles. If the Forest Service decides that a road
is no longer needed, they pay for the obliteration of the road.
3.) The government pays for recovery of the fish and wildlife species
jeopardized by roads and logging. Taxpayer money is used to subsidize road
building when it is known to have negative impacts on wildlife, and then more
taxpayer money must be used to save the wildlife. Such action makes little
from an economic or an environmental standpoint.
4.) The timber roads subsidy is only part of a much bigger and more costly
Forest Service practice of losing money on timber sales. Through one
money-losing program, the Forest Service allows logging companies to receive
trees free of charge in return for building roads. The Forest Service
estimates the cost of the roads to ensure they don't underpay, then adds a
profit margin for the logging company! This can lead to overpayment of up to
30% or more. The program costs taxpayers about $50 million per year. Such
money-losing practices cost the Forest Service almost $1 billion dollars from
the years 1992 to 1994 alone, according to the Government Accounting Office.
All of this subsidy goes to one industry--logging companies-- even though
are a minority user of the forests, a drain on taxpayers, and their work is
directly at odds with nearly every other use of public forests. Recreation on
national forests already contributes nearly 30 times more revenue to the our
economy than logging our national forests does!
How You Can Help
If you don't think it is right that your tax dollars are being spent to
and build roads through your remaining roadless wildlands, and if you don't
your money to contribute to the decline of magnificent species like the
bear, bull trout, and cerulean warbler, please join our effort to stop logging
road subsidies. Senator Bryan (D-NV) is leading the charge in the Senate
this destructive corporate welfare. His proposal will not end logging in our
national forests, but it will reduce direct subsidies for building logging
roads. It also may provide some protection for our remaining roadless areas.
Please ask your Senators to support their efforts. Their chance to do so will
come as an opportunity to vote in support of a Bryan amendment to the Fiscal
1998 Interior Appropriations bill. This vote will probably take place early
Also, please let President Clinton (White House Comment Line--202-456-1111),
Katie McGinty of the Council on Environmental Quality (202/456-6224), and
Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman (202/720-3631) know you oppose subsidies
for logging roads.
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Drive, Ste. 2A
Lansing, Michigan 48912
(517) 487-9541 fax
ENVIRO-MICH: Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.
Postings to: email@example.com For info, send email to
firstname.lastname@example.org with a one-line message body of "info enviro-mich"