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E-M:/ Sign on letter for our National Forests



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Enviro-Mich message from Frank Ambrose <snakeman@expert.cc.purdue.edu>
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I am currnetly circulating a sign on letter for Michigan groups to signon
to as part of a campaign to influence Senator Levin to vote to cut timber
subsidies from this years Forest Service appropriations.

Senator Bryan plans to offer an amendment that will eliminate funding for
all roadless area timber sales and funding for roadbuilding in roadless
areas not covered by the roads moratorium (there is currently an 18 month
stopage of road building in inventoried roadless areas with exception of a
couple of areas -the pacific northwest, alaska, Jefferson NF in
Virginia, etc).

The money he will cut will go into various conservation and recreation
programs and deficit reduction.

If your group would like to sign on, please contact me, either through
email or on the phone at 812-337-1631.

The letter will be delivered later this month, before Levin leaves from
the august recess.  It will also be released to the press.

For the Forests,
Frank Ambrose
American Lands Alliance

Here is the letter:

Dear Senator Levin,

We the undersigned citizen groups of Michigan are writing to urge you to vote 
for the Bryan Amendment to the Senate Interior Appropriations Bill.

Each year, taxpayers spend large amounts of money to finance the timber 
program in our National Forests.  Part of this money is spent to build 
logging roads for the timber companies.  This subsidy costs taxpayers 
approximately $88 million a year according to the Forest Service.  
Independent analysts calculate the losses at $500 million.  Despite this, the 
Forest Service is asking for more money to fund the timber program and build 
more logging roads (including roads into roadless areas).

Michigan's National Forest are amongst the most roaded in the country.  The 
2.7 million acres of National Forest contain over 10,000 miles of roads built 
for or by the Forest Service. This amounts to approximately 2.4 miles of road 
for every square mile.  This does not include roads built by other 
governmental agencies (counties, state, federal) or the hundreds of miles of 
ORV, illegal, and unaccounted for roads.  

These roads cause significant problems.  They contribute to sedimentation of 
rivers and streams, infiltration of exotic plant and animal species, and they 
increase access ot forests for illegal activities such as poaching.  Under 
Secretary of Agriculture, Jim Lyons has stated that " the number one problem 
with water quality in the National Forest System is roads"(May 23, 1997).

Likewise, logging has severe affects on the environment.  It fragments 
habitats, causes large amounts of erosion, and changes the climate of the 
entire forest ecosystem.  It particularly affects some of the more important 
species as they are becoming alarmingly rare through management decisions on 
private lands (development, logging, and land use changes).  Our National 
Forests are the last holdouts of many of these endangered species.  It makes 
no sense for us to be destroying their habitat in any program, especially on 
that costs us millions annually. 

There are programs that can be funded that will return money to the economy, 
and at the same time not destroy the environment.  One such is recreation.  
Recreation contributes 30 times more to the economy than does logging on a 
national scale (FS budgetary expalantion FY97).  In Michigan, the Forest 
Service has concluded that recreation will bring 23 times more jobs than 
logging and contribute 16 times more to the economy.  In real numbers, they 
expect there would be demand for 36,837 jobs created for recreation, with a 
total income of $1,473,475 to local economies.  On the other hand, the Forest 
Service expects 1,629 jobs to be present for logging with a total income of 
$89,760 to the local communities.

Despite numbers and facts like these, this years budget calls for 33% of the 
money to be used for the timber program, and only 11% to be used for 
recreation and wildlife management.  It makes more sense to invest taxpayer 
dollars in the programs that will provide the greatest return to the 
taxpayer.  

Senator Bryan's amendment will offer you a chance to make a vote that will 
reflect the needs of the forests and the taxpayers.  
It will cut all money from the timber road construction budget, and eliminate 
funding for roadless area timber sales.  It will place half of the money into 
conservation and recreation programs and the other half will go towards 
deficit reduction.

Add the numbers in
 
The time has come to change the role of the Forest Service.  The Chief of the 
Forest Service, Mike Dombeck, has said it best: 

"We can leave no greater gift for our children, show no greater respect for 
our forefathers, than to leave the watersheds entrusted in our care 
healthier, more diverse and more productive." 

During the appropriations process this year, you can begin this process of 
protecting our forest resources by supporting the Bryan Amendment to the 
Interior Appropriations Bill.

Sincerely,

Frank Ambrose
American Lands Alliance
Bloomington, IN
812-337-1631



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