Forest Plan on the Block

The Bush Administration is attempting to remove key protections for forests and waterways in the 24 million acres covered by the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan, the landmark plan governing logging in  Oregon, Washington, and northwestern California.
The US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management  are proposing to  eliminate the Northwest Forest Plan’s requirements to “survey and manage” logging impacts on old-growth habitat. They are also drafting a statement that would weaken stream protection, opening the way for 250 million board feet of previously blocked timber sales.
The effects on the ground could be catastrophic. “We’re looking at watersheds that are on the brink of complete collapse,” said Susan Jane Brown with the Vancouver, WA–based Gifford Pinchot Task Force. “One additional timber sale, even if it is just a couple hundred acres, is likely to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
The proposals, due in the next few months, will consider a variety of regulatory options, but likely not what activists prefer: “Drop the logging of old-growth in the Northwest Forest Plan,” said Anthony Ambrose of the Environmental Protection Information Center.
Rex Holloway, media relations officer for the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest region, said that the agency has already received many comments pushing for such an option, last considered in 1994.
The survey-and-manage proposal is set for release in late January 2003. The draft statement on changes to stream protection is due in February 2003. Each will be open for comment for 90 days after release.

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