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E-M:/ Forests: US House Passes Destructive Logging Bill



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <Anne.Woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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For Immediate Release: May 17, 2006
Contact: Annie Strickler, (415) 977-5619

               US House Passes Destructive Salvage Logging Bill
   Based on Controversial Science, Bill Would Increase Future Fire Risk

Washington, D.C. -- Ignoring concerns about increased fire risk and more
taxpayer-subsidized commercial logging, the House today passed, by a 243 to
182 vote, a far-reaching Salvage Logging bill. The ill-named Forest
Emergency Recovery and Research Act, a bill which disregards important
protections for clean drinking water and wildlife, promotes subsidized
logging road construction in wild roadless forests and eliminates
meaningful environmental analysis and public involvement required by the
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

"As the fire season gets underway, it is shameful that Congress is once
again diverting critical funds from real fire protection measures in order
to fast track more destructive logging," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club
Executive Director. "This bill has nothing to do with forest recovery or
research, and everything to do with logging and subsidizing the timber
industry."

The bill creates more perverse incentives for harmful logging, and diverts
funding from fire suppression, preparedness, hazardous fuels reduction and
community fire planning. It is also likely that more funds will even be
diverted from needed replanting and restoration work to pay for salvage
logging.

"This bill in effect says that compromising citizen and firefighter safety
in order to cut down more trees is a fair trade," said Pope.

Salvage logging after fires or other disturbances can increase the severity
of future fires because of the increase in fuel loads from logging slash
and the alteration of the character and condition of other vegetation. In
recent weeks the group Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology
(FUSEE) -- a non-profit organization of current, former, and retired
wildland firefighters to promote firefighter and community safety -- came
out in opposition to the bill.  They know that this bill would make forests
more flammable and increase the safety risks for wildland firefighters. The
bill is also opposed by taxpayers advocates because of the great increase
in waste, fraud and abuse associated with the federal timber program.

The bill has been at the heart of a scandal over efforts to censor the
science showing that post-fire logging can increase fire risk and hamper
the ability of forests to recover from natural disturbances. A handful of
faculty at Oregon State University sought to derail publication of a
contradictory ground breaking scientific report by some of their
colleagues. The study, based on two years of on-the-ground research from
the aftermath of logging in the Biscuit fire area in Southwest Oregon,
appeared in Science magazine in January and was critical of post-fire
logging due to increased fire risk and the destruction of young trees
growing back on their own. An inquiry by the Oregon state legislature
revealed that some of the same OSU faculty and staff that had been involved
in the censorship efforts also collaborated closely with Republican
congressional staff and timber industry lobby groups to do 'damage control'
so that the Science article would not derail the progress of the Walden
bill.

"Congress didn't just ignore the implications for wildlife and forest
health when passing this salvage logging bill," said Pope. "They also
shoved aside legitimate concerns about firefighter and community safety
while making room for politicized science."


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