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E-M:/ RED ALERT!!!!!

Enviro-Mich message from fenner@PioneerPlanet.infi.net (Ray Fenner)

>The Rider to eliminate the US Forest Service's duty to survey for Proposed,
>Endangered, Threatened, or Sensitive (PETS) species has been attached to the
>Interior Appropriations Bill!  Without population surveys for PETS species,
>the USFS has the ability to conduct a timber sale in an area that without
>assessing the impacts to endangered species.
>A Feb. ruling in GA confirmed the Forest Service's duty to collect
>population data for sensitive and management indicator species and suspended
>logging operations on the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia until the
>agency has species data.  The Rider (sec. 329) is a direct effort to undo
>this decision (the language of the Rider mentions the case by name).  The
>Rider proposes a system of total discretion to the Forest Service on species
>monitoring through the year 2000. The Senate Subcommittee on Interior
>Appropriations met Tuesday and attached the rider to the Interior Approps
>bill.  The Full Committee is scheduled to meet on Today!
>Without warning or public involvement, the Senate is preparing to undo a
>decision that it took years of public involvement and debate to establish
>and reverse a federal court of appeals' interpretation of the law. At a time
>when dialogue across interest groups about common ground (stewardship,
>monitoring, and how to pay for it) is increasing, Congress is taking us back
>into red alert.
>Here is the text of the "Blind Extinction Rider":
>"Sec. 329. For fiscal year 2000, the Secretary of Agriculture, with respect
>to lands within the National Forest System, and the Secretary of Interior,
>with respect to lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land
>Management, shall use the best available scientific and commercial data in
>amending or revising resource plans for, and offering sales, issuing leases,
>or otherwise authorizing or undertaking management activities on, lands
>under their respective jurisdictions: Provided, That the Secretaries may at
>their discretion determine whether any additional information concerning
>wildlife resources shall be collected prior to approving any such plan,
>sale, lease or other type of activity, and, if so, the type of, and
>collection procedures for, such information."
>The report language says:
>"the language ensures that the FS and BLM retain sole discretion to
>determine whether to conduct costly and time-consuming surveys before each
>land management decision they are expected or required to make under the
>NFMA and FLPMA respectively, and to determine the type of; and collection
>procedures for; any such information they choose to collect. The duration of
>this provision is limited to FY 2000."
>This rider is very broad— worse than we originally thought.  It removes NEPA
>’s mandate to collect information to ensure that decisions affecting the
>environment are fully informed.
>Background on how the rider surfaced at a recent subcommittee hearing:
>The field hearing of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Dept Operations,
>Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry in Medford, Oregon on June 21, involved
>Congressmen Greg Walden (R-OR), Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and
>Congressmen Thompson.   It became quickly apparent in the Congressmen's
>questions that their interest lay in two areas:
>1) a memo sent to USFS regions advising them to suspend planning on any
>projects that could be affected by a lawsuit filed by environmental groups
>alleging failure to implement the Survey and Manage Program.
>Chairman Goodlatte seemed keenly interested in learning who wrote the memo,
>who was on the phone call that resulted in a withdrawal of the memo, what
>the revised memo will say, and why Chief Dombeck allowed the memo.
>2.  After establishing the detrimental effect that the Survey and Manage
>requirements have had on getting the cut out, the Subcommittee then began to
>question the panel about their opinions on the need to conduct Survey and
>Manage (S&M) or to allow public involvement in land management.
>The logic they guided the panel through:
>a) S&M is required where disturbance is planned, not where it is not
>b) disturbance happens on a small percentage of the overall federal land
>c) we should assume that the species also exist on the rest of the land base
>and is thereby protected;
>d) S&M is an open invitation to lawsuits and injunctions and was entered
>into forest plans without time for public response;
>e) the uncertainty of S&M process is effecting an impact worse than the ESA;
>f) the economic needs should not be overshadowed by the need for
>g) appeals on management activities should be limited or prohibited.

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