Bush Admin. to Ease Rare Species Restrictions on Old-Growth Logging

Timber companies hoping to log on federal land in the Northwest will no longer be responsible for surveying and protecting some 300 rare plant and animal species, the Bush administration announced on Friday. (Yes, it’s yet another Friday rollback; they were hoping you wouldn’t notice.) The administration will dump the “survey and manage” plan that was put in place by the Clinton administration; it has been used by enviros to challenge a number of logging plans and has sharply reduced overall logging in Northwest forests. Government officials said that the money saved on the surveys could be better used for projects like clearing undergrowth from fire-prone forests. Industry groups cheered the change, viewing it as a victory in a long-term campaign to step up logging in the Northwest’s old-growth forests. Environmentalists just stared mutely, worn down from fighting. No, we’re kidding! They’re protesting and planning to challenge the decision in court.