Destructive Forest Bill Passed For Immediate Release: May 17, 2006 Contact: Annie Strickler, (415) 977-5619

House Passes Destructive Salvage Logging Bill Based on Controversial Science

Bill Would Increase Future Fire Risk

Washington, D.C. --- Ignoring concerns about increased fire risk and more taxpayer-subsidized commercial logging, the House today passed, by a 243 to 182 vote, a far-reaching Salvage Logging bill. The ill-named Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act, a bill which disregards important protections for clean drinking water and wildlife, promotes subsidized logging road construction in wild roadless forests and eliminates meaningful environmental analysis and public involvement required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). "As the fire season gets underway, it is shameful that Congress is once again diverting critical funds from real fire protection measures in order to fast track more destructive logging," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director. "This bill has nothing to do with forest recovery or research, and everything to do with logging and subsidizing the timber industry." The bill creates more perverse incentives for harmful logging, and diverts funding from fire suppression, preparedness, hazardous fuels reduction and community fire planning. It is also likely that more funds will even be diverted from needed replanting and restoration work to pay for salvage logging. "This bill in effect says that compromising citizen and firefighter safety in order to cut down more trees is a fair trade," said Pope. Salvage logging after fires or other disturbances can increase the severity of future fires because of the increase in fuel loads from logging slash and the alteration of the character and condition of other vegetation. In recent weeks the group Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE) -- a non-profit organization of current, former, and retired wildland firefighters to promote firefighter and community safety -- came out in opposition to the bill. They know that this bill would make forests more flammable and increase the safety risks for wildland firefighters. The bill is also opposed by taxpayers advocates because of the great increase in waste, fraud and abuse associated with the federal timber program. The bill has been at the heart of a scandal over efforts to censor the science showing that post-fire logging can increase fire risk and hamper the ability of forests to recover from natural disturbances. A handful of faculty at Oregon State University sought to derail publication of a contradictory ground breaking scientific report by some of their colleagues. The study, based on two years of on-the-ground research from the aftermath of logging in the Biscuit fire area in Southwest Oregon, appeared in Science magazine in January and was critical of post-fire logging due to increased fire risk and the destruction of young trees growing back on their own. An inquiry by the Oregon state legislature revealed that some of the same OSU faculty and staff that had been involved in the censorship efforts also collaborated closely with Republican congressional staff and timber industry lobby groups to do 'damage control' so that the Science article would not derail the progress of the Walden bill. "Congress didn’t just ignore the implications for wildlife and forest health when passing this salvage logging bill," said Pope. "They also shoved aside legitimate concerns about firefighter and community safety while making room for politicized science."

Terry Clark
May 24, 2006