Skip to comments.BUSH EXPECTED TO PROMOTE NEW FOREST POLICY
Posted on 08/21/2002 9:47:05 AM PDT by madfly
When he speaks Thursday in Medford, President Bush is expected to push for more intensive thinning of Western forests to reduce fire danger. And he will likely support legislation streamlining environmental rules that have slowed many Western logging projects.
It will plainly signal the administration's approach to forest management against the backdrop of epic wildfires burning throughout Oregon and the West.
It could also incite a storm of opposition from environmental groups that argue logging only will do more harm to Western forests.
And the White House, which in May joined Western governors in backing plans to thin forests, has invited governors to appear with the president Thursday.
Administration officials have blamed tangles of environmental rules for slowing logging on federal lands and want cutting accelerated to meet targets set by the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan. But so far the administration has not offered specific plans or direction on how to surmount either hurdle.
The president's visit comes as Western lawmakers, led by Craig, draw up legislation to speed cutting of overgrown forests. Craig was part of a bipartisan group, including Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that appeared at an Aug. 1 news conference pledging to work to lessen the fire risk that accompanies overgrowth.
Craig said Tuesday that after the news conference he had discussed plans for a new wildfire policy with administration officials and discovered that Bush already had taken a strong interest in the topic. Craig said he expects the president to make a statement on the issue in Oregon, where many of the nation's largest wildfires are burning in forests clogged by decades of fire suppression.
"Public policy of the past has created the crisis of today, and I think our president recognizes that," Craig said. "He is willing to lead us on the issue to see if we can find some common ground to begin to treat these forests and bring down these wildfires."
Environmental groups, long critical of the president for appointing friends of timber and other industries to top posts, said the president is simply using Western wildfires to justify increased logging. They said cutting would likely target the most valuable large trees instead of the smaller wood that poses the greatest fire risk.
"This administration was pushing logging before these fires, it's pushing logging because of these fires, and it'll be pushing logging after these fires," said Nathaniel Lawrence of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The White House on Tuesday invited Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber to join the president in Southern Oregon on Thursday, when Bush will ride in a helicopter over the huge Biscuit Fire and visit a smaller fire closer to Medford.
Kitzhaber has led an effort by the Western Governors' Association to address wildfire threats across the West.
The Bush administration has signed onto the governors' plan of stepped-up thinning, and Bush will promote that Thursday. But the administration has so far not committed to the funding the governors want and in some cases has suggested firefighting costs have escalated out of control.
Governors from Idaho, Arizona and Montana also have been invited to join the president in Medford.
Craig's staff is still drafting its new wildfire policy, giving priority to 30 million acres of Western forests that are most densely overgrown and infested with insects.
Spokesmen said it would be similar to language devised by Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., that exempted thinning projects in his home state from appeals and lawsuits that could hold them up. Western senators from both parties have expressed support for the move, said Craig spokesman Mike Tracy.
"We know also the White House will be pushing for this," he said.
Daschle has said his language, approved as a rider to a defense bill, came only after South Dakota environmental and industry groups had reached agreement on the thinning and related wilderness designations.
Among other things, Craig said the bill might allow timber companies to thin forests and use the material -- a practice known as "goods for services" -- and would not allow lawsuits on thinning projects. He said companies should do the work because they have the expertise to do the work efficiently.
"I want people in there who are professionals who can follow the rules established by the Forest Service to thin and to clean," he said. "We can't spend the next three years training a work force."
But Craig said he would not support a bill that allowed for logging of the large old-growth trees that scientists think are most able to withstand fires.
"I am not talking about logging old growth, period -- end of statement," Craig said.
Craig is also working with Wyden on a bill that would protect old growth on the west slope of the Cascades, while speeding up thinning on the drier east side by easing legal and procedural hurdles for projects there. Many environmental groups oppose the measure, saying it sacrifices one forest for the other.
Josh Kardon, Wyden's chief of staff, said Wyden is interested in bills that would let agencies approve vital thinning projects more quickly as long as it does not eliminate the public's option of going to court to block a project.
"If it means ensuring timely judicial process for management activities where fire and other risks are present, Senator Wyden is very interested in pursuing bipartisan solutions," Kardon said.
Chris West, spokesman for the American Forest Resource Council, said the industry would welcome a commitment by Bush to forest health. Forest thinning under the National Fire Plan hasn't been able to get off the ground, he said.
Michael Milstein: 503-294-7689;
email@example.com Tom Detzel of The Oregonian staff contributed to this report.
Well the way I see it .. We can either thin the forrest with logging or
Continue to use the Enviro Whacko's plan/idea
I'm thinking the whacko's plan ain't working so I'm willing to try the logging
At least the damn forrest won't burn to the ground
I'll be amazed to see Kitzhaber here tomorrow...he's about as fond of Medford as he is of Klamath Falls! LOL! Besides he usually can't be bothered with things like this.....And if I get the chance I'm giving Pres. Bush a copy of "Natural Process".
Thanks for the ping Mad...Link to similar thread HERE
Jenny been talkin' 'bout owls and minnows. She don't want no one in the woods. Jenny sits in trees and hates Mr. Bush. She chants and smokes funny cigarettes. Jenny says she wants to burn down lots of houses. She hates loggers. But I say, stupid is, as stupid does.
We are going to be there tomorrow to put in our two cents. Our Sheriff says they have a section fenced off for the protestors.
President Bush will arrive Thursday on Air Force One at 9:55 a.m.(pacific) at the Medford (Oregon) Airport and then tour some of the fire damage near Ruch. He will make his speech at the Compton Arena at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Central Point at 12:45 p.m. The speech is by invitation & ticket only, so I do not know if there will be any other access for the public.
I will try to take pictures!!
What else can they say? They don't have a limb or twig to stand on so they fabricate a platform out of thin air. And anything growing out of that stance will not even approximate logic.
Unless, of course, one can honestly admit that logging trees for profit hurts the forests and the civilization that exist near them.
Unfortunately, the president is correct in saying the costs of fighting wildfires are out of control. I'd say the cost are escalating out of control in proportion to the massive wildfires themselves.
The USDA budget has been increased as much as it possibly can. Around 80% of the increased funding is earmarked for the Forestry department.
Now that the governors and senators who went along with the envirowacko policies of the last three decades in exchange for votes and are reaping the bitter harvest of what they sowed....I suggest they let the FREE MARKET provide a solution to the problem.
Last month I began talking to Foresters and the contractors they hire: very soon there will be a LOT of work for those with the record, certifications and ambition to follow though on the president's idea. There are many willing and experienced hands and minds ready to help. I want the old timber management crowd in on this from the get go, so that we can expetide the cure to environazi insanity.
Hope it works.
LOL...we say that all the time. It'll never happen. They are theorists, not practicianers. They're too busy hugging trees to bother stopping their destruction.
Smokey the Bear
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