Logging Under the Guise of Fire
In August of 2002, President Bush announced the so-called "healthy forest initiative," which allowed timber companies access to millions of acres of our national forests with no environmental protections under the guise of fire prevention. The initiative offered no real assistance to homes and communities and did not prioritize the area around homes and communities for brush clearing. In 2003, the President failed to provide needed funding in the 2004 budget for fighting fires or for forest restoration.
Undermining Environmental Protections
The National Environmental Policy Act NEPA, the backbone of environmental protection, will be weakened or waived under the Bush plan, allowing for commercial logging to go forward in our national forests and other public lands, including national parks with little or no environmental review or public participation.
Critical habitat of endangered species would be put at risk by altering protections provided by the Endangered Species Act.
Diverting Money From Communities
Instead of specifically concentrating on the wildland/urban interface zones by providing fire-prevention assistance to homes, the Bush plan diverts needed resources to an overly broad national forest logging program.
Interfering With The Judiciary
The Healthy Forest Initiative undermines a fundamental, century-old legal principle -- the right of Americans to seek fair and equitable redress in the courts for grievances involving the federal government. The initiative interferes with how judges manage their courtrooms by ordering courts to lift preliminary injunctions and stays after 60 days, unless they are affirmatively renewed by the court. The bill could provide agencies a new tool to slam the courthouse door on citizens by requiring all legal issues to be raised during the administrative review process.
Trees As Fees
The Forest Service wants to pay contractors with trees rather than with appropriated money, allowing for large fire-resistant tress to be logged as payment for clearing of small brush.
No Protection for Roadless Areas
Despite the remote location of roadless areas in our national forests, the Healthy Forest Initiative provides no protection for these pristine areas.
For more information on Congressional action on fire prevention, check out our Capitol Hill Watch.