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E-M:/ Bush Stocking Stuffer on Whacking National Forests

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>

December 22, 2004

Mike Anderson, The Wilderness Society, 206/890-3529
Brad Devries, Defenders of Wildlife, 202/682-9400
Annie Strickler, Sierra Club, 202/487-4493
Tiernan Sittenfeld, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, 202/422-6796


    New Rules are Expected to Favor Logging, Cut Standards for Wildlife
                Protection, Forest Management, Public Input

WASHINGTON, DC - For the second year in a row, the Bush Administration has
announced a harmful new forest policy on the eve of the Christmas holiday.
Last December 23, the administration announced it was opening up pristine
parts of the Tongass National Forest to new logging and development. Today,
it is releasing what are expected to be damaging new regulatory changes to
the rules that guide sound forest management.

According to the Forest Service, the final regulations will be very similar
to how they looked in draft form. If that is the case, important wildlife,
clean water, and other environmental protections will be undermined,
threatening forests the American people want preserved and protected for
future generations. Additionally, this rule will sharply limit the
opportunity for meaningful participation by citizens in local forest

"These are America's forests and should be managed for all of us," said
Rodger Schlickeisen, executive director for Defenders of Wildlife. "These
rules reject sound science, ignore the importance of public input, and tilt
the playing field sharply toward the logging companies."

The new rules for long-term forest planning will likely reduce protections
for forest wildlife and eliminate requirements that forest plans comply
with the National Environmental Policy Act.  The final rules will change
enforcement of the 1976 National Forest Management Act, and are expected to
conform closely to a timber industry "wish list" presented shortly after
the presidential inauguration.

 "We fully expect that the new forest rules will reflect the Bush
administration's belief that logging companies should be the primary
beneficiary of our National Forests," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive
Director. "Americans want to protect the places where they hike, hunt and
fish, but when the Bush administration rewrote the rules, they wrote the
public out of the equation."

The new forest planning rules are likely to:

*     eliminate analysis of forest plans under the National Environment
Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal government agencies to assess
potential environmental impacts of their actions, and examine alternatives;
*     scrap wildlife protections established under President Ronald Reagan;
*     severely limit opportunities for public input into forest management
decisions; and;
*     scale back the role of independent scientists in forest management,
in favor of administration scientists.

"Today's new rules could roll back 20 years of forest protections -- even
many put in place by Ronald Reagan," said Mike Anderson of The Wilderness
Society. "Taken together with the Administration's plan to curtail roadless
protection for national forests, these changes will threaten many of our
last-remaining roadless areas and old-growth forests."

The Bush administration's rules will likely track very closely to testimony
presented by the American Forest & Paper Association on May 10, 2000 before
the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  An analysis of the
wish-list is available at

"Why are federal bureaucrats making new regulations that are going to
destroy places the public holds dear?" said Chuck Pezeshki, director of
Clearwater Biodiverity Project.  "It is the quality of life for our
children that will suffer as a result."

As requested by industry, the new regulations will likely scrap
requirements that forests maintain viable wildlife populations, make
independent scientific review of plans discretionary, create a presumption
that all national forest lands are open to industrial or timber uses unless
explicitly prohibited, and leave monitoring of logging impacts at the
discretion of individual forest supervisors.

"It's time for the administration to reverse its present course and start
following the best available science instead of thinking only about the
profits of industry," said Gene Karpinski, U.S. PIRG Executive Director.
"Without major revisions by the committee of scientists these regulations
will harm wildlife, clean water and recreational opportunities for all

Unified Forest Defense Campaign (UFDC) is a coalition of national and
regional conservation organizations working to protect and restore federal
forests.  The UFDC includes Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC, The Sierra Club,
The Wilderness Society, Earthjustice, National Environmental Trust, U.S.
PIRG, American Lands Alliance, Northwest Old Growth Campaign, National
Forest Protection Alliance, Alaska Rainforest Campaign, Center for
Biological Diversity and Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.


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