Wyden Eastside Forest Bill Unworkable

Note: the following essay has been submitted to the Oregonian in response to their unsigned editorial of June 8, 2010 [here]

To the Oregonian Editorial Board

Your editorial “The wrong place to drive a wedge” of June 4 is naive and disengenuous. The facts regarding Sen. Ron Wyden’s “Eastside Forest Compromise” are these:

1. The compromise was engineered between two minority factions of two special interest groups. Those factions do not represent the interest of their respective groups, which in turn do not represent the interests of the greater public, who are the actual owners of the land.

2. As such, the compromise will not be successful in averting litigation. Excluded groups such as the Sierra Club have already announced their intention to litigate any timber sales created under Wyden’s program, should it become law.

3. Politicization is a fact of life in major forest initiatives. Wyden’s compromise does not de-politicize anything, nor should it, and your call to remove this issue from the political dialog is ill-considered. Debate is an essential element of democratic society. Squelching debate is contrary to our American political system.

4. Forest restoration is already the law. The Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 (Title IV of the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009) calls for restoration on a landscape scale, with Technical Advisory oversight, on a national basis. Wyden voted for the FLRA but has fought against funding it. His bill duplicates many of the provisions, undermines others, and inserts poison pill clauses where none exist in the current law.

5. Wyden’s bill contains prescriptive language that violates NEPA and NFMA, proposes management guidance that is unscientific and unworkable, does not protect (increases risks to) vegetation, habitat, wildlife, water, air, soils, and other ecological values, and does not protect (increases risks to) heritage, utility, resiliency, sustainability, public health and safety, private property, and other human values.

6. Wyden’s bill establishes “local forests” managed under separate laws and overseen by duplicative advisory panels, yet financed with federal dollars and staffed with federal employees, that supplant current statutory mandates for planning and management processes. It establishes a new law that conflicts with existing laws and does not address systemic problems with the USFS mission.

7. Wyden’s bill is unworkable, and hence not one stick of timber will ever be cut under its provisions. It thereby creates unrealistic expectations on the part of communities and forest stakeholders, will draw action and funding away from other projects, and will delay unnecessarily desperately need treatments to reduce the threat of catastrophic fire.

Forest restoration is already the law. Wyden and the Oregonian need to support the Act he already voted for and not seek to undermine it with obfuscatory gamesmanship. U.S. Senate candidate James Huffman is correct in his critical assessment of Wyden’s bill, joining with Harris Sherman, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, Jack Ward Thomas, former Chief of the US Forest Service, many current and retired USFS officials, and numerous forestry experts well-versed in the issues.

Mike Dubrasich, Exec Dir W.I.S.E.
33862 Totem Pole Rd.
Lebanon, OR 97355

The Western Institute for Study of the Environment is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational corporation and a collaboration of environmental scientists, resource professionals and practitioners, and the interested public.

Our mission is to further advancements in knowledge and environmental stewardship across a spectrum of related environmental disciplines and professions. We are ready, willing, and able to teach good stewardship and caring for the land.

W.I.S.E. provides a free, on-line set of post-graduate courses in environmental studies, currently fifty topics in eight Colloquia, each containing book and article reviews, original papers, and essays. In addition, we present three Commentary sub-sites, a news clipping sub-site, and a fire tracking sub-site. Reviews and original articles are archived in our Library.



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