United States forest service blames environmentalists for fires

It's official: the U.S. Forest Service has added environmental activists to the list of culprits responsible for this year's surge of western U.S. wildfires.

  • The agency says environmental appeals delayed 48 percent of its fire-suppression projects in fiscal 2001 and 2002 – thereby stalling efforts to clear the brush and small trees that fuel the catastrophic wildfires, according to an internal Forest Service report that has been released.

  • The report found that 155 of the agency's 326 plans to log overgrown, high-risk national forests were stymied by environmental appeals.

  • In Arizona and New Mexico, site of some of the summer's worst fires, that figure rose to 73 percent – and hit 100 percent in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Environmentalists – who favour prescribed burns to remove brush and who oppose logging – attacked the report as a thinly disguised attempt to blame them for the fires while bolstering the struggling timber industry.

    Commercial timber companies typically bid on forest-thinning projects and sell the felled trees as lumber.

    "These numbers are a scathing indictment of the process that governs management of the nation's forests," charged Scott McInnis (Republican, Colorado), chairman of the House Resources subcommittee on forest and forest health. He also called the report "a harsh reminder of just how relentlessly ideological some environmental litigants have become."

    Source: Valeria Richardson, Forest Service Says Activists Played Role in Fires, Washington Times, July 11, 2002.

    For text http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20020711-25215940.htm
    For more on National Forests http://www.ncpa.org/iss/env

    FMF Policy Bulletin\16 July 2002

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