15 November 2004

Don't Axe the tree! Axe the Bush!

I'm alarmed by the plans that the corporate fat-boys have for some of the most pristine areas on the left coast. I know from my own travels along the Pacific Coast that the Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area and Smith River are paradise. The Smith River in particular is unbelievably picturesque with crystal clear pools flowing through very rugged country. The idea, constantly put forth by the big logging companies, that it's possible to cut roads and harvest trees without fundamentally changing an area is complete garbage. Areas that are logged never look the same. Even decades after the last logging trucks leave, logged out areas are marred by giant upturned stumps, dusty Cat trails, and heavy erosion.

Green Watch has the following report on upcoming Congressional attempts to further gut environmental provisions. Please write your congressman and help us oppose such schemes.

Ancient Forests, Salmon, Endangered Species Act Face Congressional Threat Next Week

When Congress returns next Monday, there is a strong chance that the Interior Department appropriations bill will be rolled into a huge omnibus spending bill.

There is an equally strong chance that an unprecedented logging provision will be included in that bill--a provision which will override a current judicial proceeding and give the green light to the largest timber sale on America's public lands in modern history.

Senator Gordon Smith, an Oregon Republican, has announced plans to attach a rider to the omnibus bill that will override all environmental laws and prohibit any judicial review for a post-fire logging project on the Siskiyou National Forest in southern Oregon. [1]

This would allow logging on ancient forest and roadless areas of up to 370,000,000 board feet of timber in a 20,000-acre area--enough trees to fill 74,000 log trucks. Citizens would have no right to appeal through the courts.

Also known as the Biscuit Project, such logging would endanger roadless areas, ancient forest reserves, wild and scenic rivers and salmon runs in the Siskiyou Wild and Scenic Rivers Area.

Federal agencies such as the EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as independent scientific experts, have said Sen. Smith's rider will likely increase fire risks in the area for up to 30 years. It would also retard the regeneration of old-growth forests. Sediment flowing into streams will choke fish spawning areas.

As much as 40 percent of the units mapped for logging contain live trees. Independent analysts have found that the logging project would cost taxpayers over $40 million, mainly on roadbuilding for timber industry trucks.

The Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area is one of the best remaining refuges for wild native salmon and steelhead left on the Pacific coast. The rivers and streams at risk support 27 runs for Coho salmon, spring and fall Chinook salmon, winter and summer steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, green sturgeon, white sturgeon and Pacific lamprey.

The Smith rider, and the omnibus bill, appear likely to face Senate action next week. There are also reports that California developers are working to sneak in a rider that would seriously weaken the Endangered Species Act.

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