18 Jun 2009, 11:42am
Latest Forest News
by admin

Herger bill would fast-track forest clearing, logging

By Ryan Sabalow, Redding Searchlight, June 17, 2009 [here]

U.S. Rep. Wally Herger has drafted a bill that would allow local governments to declare a fire-risk emergency on federal forest land, putting them on a fast track to clearing and logging projects while bypassing lawsuits.

The Chico Republican’s California Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention and Community Protection Act is designed to bypass the “red tape that has stymied effective forest management,” Herger said Tuesday in a statement.

“We have tried for years to bring collaboration and sound forest management to our landscape, only to be stymied by activists who don’t understand the danger Northern California is faced with each fire season,” Herger said.

The bill was immediately condemned by at least one environmental group.

“Herger’s bill is completely out of touch with the best available science on fire and forest ecology,” said Douglas Bevington, the forest program director of Environment Now, a Santa Monica environmental group responsible for several lawsuits against timber projects on public land. “It is simply another pretext to subsidize the timber industry to plunder our national forests at taxpayer expense.”

Herger’s legislation seeks to implement clearing projects on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management acreage if the projects are identified “at-risk” by a nearby community or watershed.

The federal agencies would still have to conduct environmental review on the proposed thinning projects, but under Herger’s law, they wouldn’t have to come up with a list of alternatives that can delay the process.

The projects that are granted emergency declarations also wouldn’t be subject to judicial review.

“My legislation seeks to implement these projects under an expedited process and free from the delay tactics of frivolous appeals and lawsuits,” Herger said. … [more]



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