A Gift to Clear-cutters

In case you were busy drinking eggnog and missed this story, BushCo delivered a lovely Christmas gift to the timber industry just before the holiday break.

By executive fiat, Alaska's Tongass National Forest will be exempted from the "roadless rule" -- a provision that prohibits road building in millions of acres of our dwindling national forests. The roadless rule was designed to stop the timber giants from clear-cutting these precious natural resources. It's a rule that works -- no roads, no clear-cutting.

But the industry, which already has stripped a half-million acres of old-growth trees from the Tongass, wants more, and has been using its money connections to Bush & Company to get its way. Now, the forest service has dutifully given in, declaring that an Alaskan lawsuit effectively forced the agency to allow more logging.

Hogwash! The Bushites simply chose not to fight the lawsuit, which independent legal organizations say the agency could have won. It's deregulation by capitulation.

Bush bureaucrats deceptively claim that we really shouldn't fuss about this exemption because it allows logging on "only" about three percent of the roadless acres still available. The deception here is that this particular three percent encompasses many of the forest's oldest trees, most valuable watersheds, and the habitat of an extraordinary collection of wildlife. It's like a surgeon saying not to worry, for he's only cutting away three percent of the your total body tissue -- but that three percent includes your heart.

The Tongass exemption is only the start of gutting the roadless rule for all of our national forests. Already, the Bushites are moving administratively to let state governors decide which forests should be roadless, giving a handful of state politicians controlling power over forests that belong to all Americans.

To fight this giveaway to corporate interests, call the Heritage Forests Campaign at 202-887-8800.


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Happy Holidays!