Allan Fitzsimmons, the man chosen by the Bush administration to head its wildfire prevention program, does not believe in ecosystems and says the extinction of threatened and endangered species would not be a crisis. Fitzsimmons was tasked last week with reducing fire danger on Interior Department lands through the newly formed Healthy Forests Initiative, but environmentalists say the appointment confirms their fears that the initiative is just a smokescreen for expanding logging on public lands. President Bush wants logging companies to thin forests, theoretically to reduce fire danger, in exchange for the right to harvest commercially valuable trees. Under the White House plan, forest protections would be suspended and it would be harder for environmentalists to sue to block thinning. Fitzsimmons, a free-market policy analyst aligned with libertarian and conservative think tanks, has written papers calling ecosystems human constructs and criticizing those who try to “accommodate nonexistent ecosystem needs.”

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