US House Ap­proves Orgy of National For­est De­struc­tion

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The U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has ap­proved HR 2936, with a par­ti­san mar­gin of 232 to 188.

The bill will dev­as­tate national forests by gut­ting en­dan­gered species pro­tec­tions and rub­ber-stamp­ing huge log­ging projects.

Un­der the guise of re­duc­ing for­est fires, the bill would in­crease un­fet­tered log­ging across national forests and pub­lic lands, in­crease fire risk and harm for­est health, while do­ing noth­ing to pro­tect com­mu­ni­ties.

“This bill is a dan­ger­ous bait-and-switch that re­wards the tim­ber in­dus­try. It puts the health of our forests and wildlife in grave dan­ger and ig­nores real so­lu­tions,” said Randi Spi­vak, pub­lic lands pro­gram di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity. “It would green-light the worst for­est man­age­ment prac­tices from decades ago, when reck­less log­ging dev­as­tated wildlife, de­graded rivers and ru­ined recre­ation op­por­tu­ni­ties for count­less Amer­i­cans.”

Wester­man’s bill is a tim­ber-in­dus­try wish list. Among other harm­ful pro­vi­sions, it would al­low rushed log­ging projects up to 30,000 acres — 46 square miles — with­out pub­lic no­tice or sci­en­tific as­sess­ment of po­ten­tial harm to the en­vi­ron­ment as re­quired un­der the National En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy Act.

The bill would ren­der for­est plans mean­ing­less, roll back mea­sures de­signed to pro­tect old-growth forests in the Pa­cific North­west, waive pro­tec­tions for wa­ter­ways and wa­ter qual­ity across the national for­est sys­tem, pro­mote harm­ful log­ging in oth­er­wise pro­tected road­less ar­eas and force the For­est Ser­vice to ig­nore po­ten­tial harm to thou­sands of im­per­iled species.

It would also give pri­vate landown­ers with ease­ments on pub­lic land full own­er­ship of that land and al­low her­bi­cides to be sprayed with­out re­view­ing the harm to wa­ter, fish and wildlife.

“The knee-jerk re­sponse from Repub­li­cans is al­ways to gut our en­vi­ron­men­tal laws, no mat­ter what the is­sue is,” said Spi­vak. “They’re will­ing to sac­ri­fice our wildlife, healthy streams and rivers, and vi­brant pub­lic lands for pri­vate profit.”

In the first four months of the 115th Con­gress, Repub­li­cans have in­tro­duced more than 80 bills that at­tack pub­lic lands, weaken en­vi­ron­men­tal safe­guards on those lands or turn over con­trol to states and lo­cal gov­ern­ments. Th­ese at­tacks go against the wishes of most Amer­i­cans, since the vast ma­jor­ity of vot­ers across po­lit­i­cal par­ties support pro­tect­ing and main­tain­ing forests, national parks, mon­u­ments and other pub­lic lands and wa­ters.

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