Citing the need to reduce fire danger after a season of devastating wildfires, President Bush is planning to propose more extensive thinning of Western forests and support legislation to streamline environmental rules that have slowed down some logging projects in the region. Most Western governors back the plan to thin forests, but environmental groups say the president is simply leveraging fears raised by this season’s fires to push through forest management legislation that is favored by the timber industry. Enviros say cutting would most likely target larger trees, which are more commercially valuable, rather than smaller trees, which pose 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 president is expected to formally unveil the plan tomorrow in Medford, Ore.
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