A Fungus Among Us
There’s no time for snails and ‘shrooms — that was the gist of an announcement Monday by the Bush administration, which is seeking to ease environmental regulations governing logging on federal land in the Pacific Northwest. The timber industry and administration officials complain that the “survey and manage” component of the regulations, which mandates detailed surveys of fungi and other small wildlife in potential logging areas, can take years to complete and cost the feds millions of dollars. The industry says the rules are preventing it from felling the 1.1 billion board feet of timber allowed for annually under the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan. Environmentalists defend the surveys as vital safeguards for old-growth forests and the species that depend on them. The Bush administration, which agreed to revisit the rules to settle a lawsuit filed by the timber industry, plans to propose a change to the regulations by the end of February and reach a final decision on the issue by July, after a public comment period.