Can’t See the Forest for the Stumps
Here’s something you probably weren’t feeling very thankful for on Thursday: The Bush administration issued a proposal last week that would allow managers of the country’s 155 national forests to approve logging and other commercial activities without thoroughly assessing the potential environmental damage that could result. The proposal would radically alter Clinton-era rules that required the government to protect fish and wildlife in national forests and to evaluate likely environmental implications when revising forest management plans. The Bush plan would leave it up to forest managers to decide whether to prepare environmental impact statements, and would suggest but not require protecting fish and wildlife. Environmentalists and congressional Democrats are denouncing the proposal, which would affect 192 million acres of public lands; the American Forest and Paper Association, by contrast, is hailing it. That’s no surprise, says Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, because the proposal was shaped by Agriculture Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey, a former AFPA vice president.