A Real Healthy Forests Initiative "Now, we have George W. Bush coming to Oregon and calling for more of the same. His “Healthy Forests Initiative” proposes to log more than 2.5 million acres of federal forests under suspension of all applicable environmental laws. As usual, it’s another Bush “initiative” that guts environmental protections, provides financial breaks for already wealthy individuals and corporations and does away with pesky public oversight. Couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that the timber industry contributes 82 percent of its millions in annual political contributions to Republicans, could it?" The Big Lie: Logging and Forest Fires "So why is the US Forest Service spending $500 million dollars of taxpayer money every year suppressing fires--most of which occur in remote backcountry areas?The answer is alarming: The Forest Service fights fires not to protect forest eco-systems but to prevent wildfires from reducing the commodity value of forest stands that the USFS intends to sell to logging companies at some point in the future. It's all about economics, not ecology." Exploiting Federal Lands: The Myth of 'thinning' forests "Last week, President Bush announced the "Healthy Forests Initiative," a proposal that would curtail environmental reviews and legal challenges to logging plans and accelerate so-called mechanical thinning (another way of saying logging) on 190 million acres of federal land. The initiative would set aside money made from the timber operations to pay for forest-fire prevention programs, which could cost as much as $4 billion annually."
Money To Burn? "Despite the stampede to do something about fire, advocates of smaller government should hesitate before supporting proposals to give the Forest Service bureaucracy more money and power. The agency is more than willing to take advantage of public paranoia and ignorance regarding fire in order to get a bigger budget. Meanwhile, the debate between environmental and timber interests turns out to be just a battle over pork. Because Congress has proven itself willing to treat fire problems by throwing money at them, numerous interest groups are positioning themselves to get their share."
Forest Service Orders "Agressive Initial Attack" on Wildfires--Despite Consequences "the agency has been deprived of the income it once drew from timber sales (because of greatly decreased demand for lumber and pulp), and so has learned to maximize its income in the fire suppression business. When forests and homes are burning, and the images of slurry bombers are dominating cable news, it’s an opportune moment to pry money loose from Congress. Fire suppression today guarantees there will be more fire in the future to make that gambit sustainable..."
Show Me the Data! Wildfires, Healthy Forests and Forest Service Administrative Appeals "This paper uses the theoretical approaches of public policy literature, especially studies of agenda setting/agenda building, to explain how the framing of problems by various stakeholders affected the political construction of policy reform. The paper shows how forests and wildfires, which had already been identified as problems worthy of a place on the political agenda during the late 1980s, gained particular salience from 1999-2003. The paper also explains how members of Congress and the administration were successful in achieving three goals: Æ to demonize environmental groups through the use of rhetoric, synecdoches, and the repetition of unconfirmed data to reduce their influence and credibility in the forest and fire policy debate; Æ to shift the blame for damage caused by wildfires from government agencies that used fire suppression to protect trees for commercial logging and support politically powerful timber interests, to environmental organizations that misused the administrative and legal processes to promote a radical agenda that led to the loss of lives, property, and valuable natural resources; Æ to attach a desired solution to a predetermined problem by capitalizing upon a series of focusing events. In this instance, the desired solution was reform of the administrative appeals process to reduce regulatory red tape that was perceived as delaying the reduction of hazardous fuels in the National Forests, leading to catastrophic wildfires." Big Timber, Big Lies Last year, however, a General Accounting Office report finally called into serious question the use of timber sales to address fire issues. "Most of the trees that need to be removed to reduce accumulated fuels are small in diameter and have little or no commercial value," the report noted. Because of this, Forest Service managers "tend to focus on areas with high-value commercial timber rather than on areas with high fire hazards" and "include more large, commercially valuable trees in a sale than are necessary to reduce the accumulated fuels." The GAO concluded that the program is "largely driven by commercial rather than safety considerations." Indeed, the principal methods for setting the Forest Service's fire-reduction budget are commercial. The cover of the technical course manual of the Forest Service's National Fire Management Analysis System (NFMAS) shows a balancing scale. On its right side is a stand of trees on fire. On the left, a large bag of money. The text openly states that "NFMAS presently has no provision for directly and systematically estimating the economic impact of effects of fire on wildland resource values that do not in and of themselves produce market or commodity outputs." The message is clear: if it can't be sold, it doesn't have value.
Operation Enduring Forests: Exposing the Lies of the Bush/Rey Forest Service "Unfortunately, Mark Rey and the Forest Service are promoting a great deal of misinformation about wildfire, hoping to capitalize on public fire hysteria, and minimize public opposition to increased logging and roadbuilding in our national forests. Wildfire has emerged as the driving force behind the Bush/Rey Forest Service's logging program: virtually every single timber sale in the West - and many in the East - are now couched in terms of "reducing fuels" or "restoring forest health."
Wildfire: Five Years After Passage, Healthy Forests Restoration Act Falls Short of Goals "Whether the act is accomplishing its goal of reducing hazardous fuels is the subject of dispute. So far, about 213,000 acres of forest land have been treated nationwide under HFRA authorities -- far less than the 20 million acres authorized for expedited thinning under the act. Meanwhile, wildfires have burned 5 million acres this year -- 1.5 million more acres than burned in 2003, the year the act was passed. The worst fire seasons of the last eight years were in 2006 and 2007, with 9.1 million acres and 9.4 million acres burned, respectively."
Healthy Forest Initiative "The primary effect of the HFI was to decrease public involvement, reduce environmental protection, and increase access to our National Forests and other federal lands for timber companies. Combined, these proposals did more to give free reign to the timber industry than to enact the proposed benefits to fuels reduction efforts on our National Forests."
Healthy Forest Restoration Act HFRA "Many counties have Fire Mitigation Plans or Community Based Fire Plans that identify the treatment areas within the WUI. Funding for these plans have come from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Lands (IDL). Counties with Plans will have an opportunity to receive funding for fuel treatment projects throughout the WUI. The HFRA provides the authority, funding and a mechanism for the counties to implement fuel treatment projects to help protect and mitigate the effects of wildfire in their communities." Ending Timber Sales On National Forests: The Facts: In summary, the national forest timber sales program, in addition to being horribly destructive ecologically, loses hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, increases forest fires, is unnecessary for our timber supply and should be ended.
Environmental alliance: Timber billionaires want more welfare The next time you hear a corporate lobbyist call for more government handouts, remember that you, the federal taxpayer, will pay for them – and then consider what you are going to get for your generous timber subsidies. Billionaires will get richer, average taxpayers will get poorer, clearcuts will get bigger and streams will get dirtier. It’s time to just say no to more corporate welfare and clearcuts. Mother Nature produced truly healthy forests for the last 10,000 years, and she did it all for free.
Tipton's Healthy-Forest Bill Makes It Through House Panel "Tipton, R-Cortez, has pushed his healthy forests legislation for two years. It allows states and local governments to nominate areas for more logging, allowing for them to brush aside the Endangered Species Act, legal challenges and lengthy environmental reviews. The bill also sets mandates for the Forest Service to produce higher timber harvests and to share its revenues with rural school districts."
Toss Water on Wildfire Initiative "President Bush's "Healthy Forests Initiative" promotes thinning, but he takes the concept to such an extreme that it might better be known as the "Healthy Profits Initiative" for logging companies. His plan emphasizes the thinning-out of older trees deep in the national forests, as if they were primarily responsible for the threat of devastating fires. Of course, these are the trees that are the most commercially valuable. Bush envisions a win-win situation, starting with the federal government agreeing to virtually negate the regulations governing the logging of such trees. In exchange, the logging companies would employ their crews in forests around communities to clear the brush and smaller trees that have little commercial value."
Bush's "Healthy Forest Initiative": Smokescreen for Raising Timber Industry Profits "The administration’s blaming of environmentalists is thus nothing more than a smokescreen to blind the public to the real purpose of the “Healthy Forest Initiative”: to gut environmental laws and limit public participation in the management of our national forests, thereby giving timber companies the best opportunity since the Salvage Logging Rider of 1995 to fill their pockets at the expense of our environment’s health."
Forest Service Shuts down 'three old geezers' "The unusual face-off seemed to validate concerns that the 2003 Healthy Forests Restoration Act will undermine public involvement in agency decisions (HCN, 12/8/03: Forest Protection on the Honor System). The current forest supervisor, Dave Bull, held the press conference to release an environmental impact statement for a thinning project, the first logging in the Northern Rockies authorized by the act." Tale of Two Forests "It's pretty obvious. I mean, I think the American people are aware of how much sway corporations have," says Rosenberg. "The budget for the Forest Service is determined by how many trees are cut. So the Forest Service has to keep cutting [in order] to keep getting money."
Logging After Wildfires Can Retard Regeneration, Heighten Fire Risk '"This is extreme logging at its worst," said Rolf Skar, campaign director with the Siskiyou Project, and a critic of the Health Forests Restoration Act. "With this over-the-top logging plan, the Bush Forest Service will leave no tree behind." "Logging has sometimes been cited as a way to reduce fuels that could feed future fires," said John Campbell, a faculty research associate in the Department of Forest Science. "But not everything leaves on the log truck. We found that the process of logging in this type of situation actually produces a large amount of fine fuels on the ground that, unless removed, could increase fire risk, not decrease it."' Where There's Fire There's Smoke “Still, the timber industry has spent more than $20 million in the past three years lobbying for its cause, donated over $10 million to political campaigns (80 percent of which went to Republicans) and gave Bush more than $500,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Opponents call the president's signing of the Restoration Act a payback to the timber industry.”
Quietly Paving Paradise: How Bush Policies Still Threaten America's National Forests "While the Forest service justifies logging in these forests to contain the beetles, a recent scientific study that modeled beetle outbreak shows the opposite. The authors found a higher rate of tree mortality from beetle infestation in thinned forests versus forests that were left untouched. The findings even suggested an increased rate of wild fire in these thinned forests." National Forest Protection "However, the Forest Service spends so much money preparing these timber sales, such as through road-building and trying to repair some of the ecological damage after logging, that the Forest Service’s timber sale program is a net money loser, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year. In other words, the timber sales program functions as a particularly destructive form of government subsidy to private logging companies. This subsidy is so large that if the government ended the Forest Service timber sales program, a portion of the money saved could be used to employ every timber worker that is currently involved in cutting down national forests to instead work on ecological restoration, repairing the damage that has been done to our forests, and there would still be millions of dollars remaining in taxpayers savings." 4 Leaf Logging This video shows how efficient subsidized logging is and how quickly a beautiful forest is converted into a clear cut at taxpayers expense for timber industry profit.
Don’t Get Burned by the Forest Service "...the Forest Service’s core business is now firefighting, spending $2 billion to $4 billion every year to put firefighters at risk in largely ineffectual efforts to suppress big forest fires. Why? Because the Forest Service makes much more money by promoting fire hysteria and declaring fire emergencies than it would by letting most fires just burn themselves out, as called for in the prudent, scientific, data-driven 1995 Federal Fire Policy. The Forest Service gets a blank check to fight fires. Congress gave the agency the right to unlimited overspending during fire “emergencies,” and the Forest Service is happy to oblige. But fire, including large areas of intense fire that kills most or all trees, is natural, normal and restorative in western U.S. forests, and forest fires will self-extinguish. Big fires always come during extreme winds when expensive fire suppression efforts are useless – and extremely dangerous to the firefighters involved. ...The rest of the Forest Service’s budget is plumped up through “'uels reduction,' 'restoration' and post-fire 'salvage' logging – misguided and pointless activities that destroy both green and burned forest habitat critical for wildlife and rare plants."