A new report by the federal government has found that very few forest-thinning projects have been stalled by appeals from environmentalists, giving the lie to allegations to the contrary by the Bush administration. The General Accounting Office reported yesterday that the U.S. Forest Service was able to proceed with 95 percent of thinning projects within 90 days or fewer, undermining claims by the White House that environmentalists contribute to forest fires by delaying critical wildfire-protection projects. According to the GAO, 75 percent of projects proposed in the last two years faced no administrative appeals at all, and only 3 percent were ever litigated. Those findings undermine the theoretical basis for President Bush’s Healthy Forests initiative, which would limit environmental reviews, administrative appeals, and legal challenges on logging and brush-clearing projects in the name of reducing the threat of forest fires.

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