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E-M:/ ALERT: Break the link - National Forest logging and local $$

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

Enviro-Mich folks:

This alert relates to one of the screwy ways the Forest Service is funded that
puts local governments in areas with National Forests in a real bind if timber
cutting is reduced or eliminated. In order to assure that management of
National Forests is based on what's best for the land and the people of the
nation as a whole, it is important that the "25% Fund" be delinked from
logging revenues in particular areas.  In states like Michigan, where
the National Forests generate increasing amounts of funds for local
communities through recreational offerings, this makes particular sense.  It
also means that the Forest Service staff would be able to make decisions based
on what is best for the lands they manage as opposed to looking over their
shoulder at local folks demanding that they cut more to pay for more local

Senators Carl Levin and Spencer Abraham of Michigan and your Congressional
Representative ALL need to hear about this fiscally and environmentally
responsible strategy! See below for details-

Anne Woiwode



     Should Our Children's Education Depend On Cutting Down Our National

     A 1908 law, known as the "25% Fund" or "Payments to States," requires
     the Forest Service to turn over 25% of logging revenues to counties
     for use in funding schools and roads. Given that logging revenues,
     and, subsequently, payments to counties, have declined steadily in
     recent years the Clinton Administration has proposed a responsible
     policy of de-linking county payments from timber revenue.  This will
     provide increased, stable annual payments to rural counties while
     allowing Forest Service managers to focus their efforts on natural
     resource needs.

     Sadly, huge logging companies are hiding behind the argument of "more
     money for education" to push for an increased and unsustainable
     logging program on federal public lands.  Under their plan, if the 25%
     of logging revenues are less than the annual payment, the Forest
     Service must pay the difference out of their other programs.  This
     simply means that if the Forest Service doesn't log as much as some
     rural counties want, then the Forest Service will have to take funds
     from vital conservation programs such as wilderness management, fish
     and wildlife habitat, recreation and restoration to give to counties
     to augment their annual budgets.

     To that end, Reps. Nathan Deal (R-GA) and Allen Boyd (D-FL) have
     introduced the "County Schools Funding Revitalization Act of 1999," HR
     2389. This short-sighted legislation would create an even greater
     incentive for the Forest Service to log or lose non-timber funding,
     and puts corporate logging interests at the helm of managing America's
     National Forests.  The timber companies win increased logging
     contracts of subsidized federal timber and America's schoolchildren
     inherit a legacy of clearcuts and degraded watersheds.

     Also, in the Senate, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has teamed up with
     all-pro logging champion Larry Craig (R-ID) to produce S. 1608.  This
     bill increases incentives for logging, increases funding for timber
     sales, and allows local control of the National Forests.  All in the
     name of providing money for schools.  This bill is such a bad idea
     we've dubbed it "Clearcuts for Kids."

     Education funding should not be held hostage to debates over the
     appropriate uses of National Forests.  There is a better way.  The
     1908 law needs to be changed to permanently decouple education and
     road payments from yearly logging levels.  This will ensure stable,
     predictable payments for the future of education while allowing
     National Forest management activities to be decided by sound
     scientific and economic data and public desires.  To that end,
     Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has introduced HR 2868.  This
     progressive proposal is supported by the Clinton Administration and
     presents a sound solution.

     Mike Dombeck, Chief of the Forest Service, said it best: "Why should
     the education of rural schoolchildren be funded off the back of a
     controversial timber program?"

     **CALL your Member of Congress through the Capitol Hill switchboard at
     (202) 224-3121 and urge them to OPPOSE HR 2389 and SUPPORT HR 2868 the
     responsible proposal to de-link rural education funding from National
     Forest logging levels.**

     **CALL your SENATOR at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to OPPOSE S. 1608,
     the Wyden/Craig "Clearcuts for Kids" bill.**

     For more information contact Sean Cosgrove, Sierra Club National
     Forest Policy Specialist at (202) 547-1141.

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