Bush Plan Likely to Up Old-Growth Logging in Northwest

The Bush administration is changing the Northwest Forest Plan to make it easier to log old-growth forests on public land in Washington, Oregon, and California. The rule changes — previously announced, finalized yesterday — scrap the survey-and-manage program that required the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to look for some 300 rare species of plants and animals prior to logging. The administration also loosened rules designed to protect salmon-bearing streams. The Northwest Forest Plan, hatched under President Clinton, originally promised timber companies some 1.1 billion board feet a year, then revised the goal down to 805 million; actual harvests have fallen far short of that number, with 475 million board feet harvested last year. Timber company complaints and lawsuits prompted the changes.