U.S. FORESTS HAVE CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION
After six long years of fighting off bad legislation and an administration
determined to give away the national forests to the timber industry,
forestry activists finally have something to celebrate this holiday
Many bad federal bills– and their sponsors– have gone
away, and the new Democratic congressional majority makes it likely
(though not certain) that environmentally friendly legislation will
be offered and passed.
Among the gifts in the green stocking:
• The Walden/Baird salvage logging bill, HR 4200, died with
the 109th Congress. The bill’s sponsors have threatened to
revive it in the new year, but given the fact that the bill stalled
last year in a Senate with a Republican majority, next year’s
political climate should be even less hospitable.
Forests Forever supporters merit an especial thank-you for the thousands
of letters you wrote in ’06 that helped keep the Walden bill
• Richard Pombo has left the building. Pombo, an intransigent
anti-environmentalist, chaired the powerful House Resources Committee,
through which environmental legislation had to make its way. Forests
Forever, together with several other environmental groups, worked
hard in the ultimately successful effort to unseat him.
• Pombo’s rewrite of the Endangered Species Act would
have removed important protections for endangered species, increased
property owners’ rights at the expense of wildlife habitat,
and put politically appointed bureaucrats above science and scientists
in key conservation decisions. The bill passed the House last year,
but attracted little support in the Senate, thanks again in no small
measure to the letters and calls from Forests Forever’s contributors.
• The task force on the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA) that Pombo put together was the first step in his assault
on the federal law that requires interagency consultation, environmental
review, and public comment processes for all federal projects affecting
air, water, and wildlife. The task force report had little good
to say about NEPA, but its recommendations are unlikely to find
a receptive audience in the new Congress.
• The Bush administration’s repeal of the Roadless Area
Conservation Rule was thrown out in court in September, and the
protections of the original rule for roadless areas in national
forests were reinstated. Forests Forever was one of the 20 successful
While the court battle will continue, the sponsors of the Roadless
Area Conservation Act, which would codify the provisions of the
roadless rule as federal law, have promised to re-introduce the
legislation in the new Congress.
• The Act to Save America’s Forests was introduced by
Rep. Anna Eshoo in the House this year as HR 6237.
The bill would ban clearcutting on all federal forestland and emphasize
the restoration of ecosystem health over industrial-strength timber
An important new feature of the bill is its transfer of Giant Sequoia
National Monument from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park
Service. The Forest Service seems determined to log in the monument,
in spite of the explicit ban in the original proclamation that established
the monument in 2000. The Park Service, on the other hand, has managed
its sequoia groves in nearby Sequoia National Park without resorting
to any kind of logging. Here again, Forests Forever’s letters
by the thousands helped get this legislation introduced in both
houses. Look for a first-ever hearing on the bill in ’07.
• Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has promised to introduce legislation
to address global warming, inspired by the recent passage of the
Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) in California. The latter was
another bill Forests Forever helped to enact in ’06–
its most victorious year in recent memory.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Congratulate yourselves on a job well done and a fight well fought.
The new year will bring us opportunities to put right some of the
damage done to forests over the past six years– and more.
Activists need to be ready with a list of changes we’d like
to see in the way forests are exploited and conserved.
Happy Holidays from Forests Forever!