Bush Administration to Allow Forest Thinning
August 24, 2001
The Clinton-Gore administration cast aside decades of forest management policies in favor of an untested philosophy known as "eco-systems management" -- which worked out to mean letting forests exist "naturally" and manage themselves.
- So that administration decreased logging by 80 percent, put in place regulations banning roads and used federal and state species protection acts to declare off-limits great areas of land.
- In consequence, two-thirds of the U.S. Forest Service's trees -- close to 110 million acres -- are in deteriorating health or unhealthy.
- The forests are choked with deadwood and underbrush -- which, acting as fuel, caused fires which consumed 7.4 million acres and 800 structures last year.
- The General Accounting Office estimates it will take $12 billion to perform the necessary cleanup and restore the forests to health.
Now members of President Bush's cabinet have met with Western governors and come up with a plan to reverse the Clinton administration's policy of "benign" forest neglect, says the Wall Street Journal.
- Sick trees and hazardous fuel will be removed through a process called "thinning."
- Low-intensity prescribed burns will be allowed.
- There will be more coordination between Washington and the states -- with the states assuming a greater decision-making role.
However, the administration didn't endorse logging -- the most effective and efficient way to remove forest debris and prevent raging fires. And environmental groups want thinning defined in the narrowest way.
Source: Editorial, "Playing With Fire," Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2001.
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