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Link:  Contents: IN THE WOODS: The Quincy Library Bill Means More Logging In Your National Forests

IN THE WOODS II: San Francisco Chronical Editorial on Quincy Logging Bill ----------------------------------------------------------------------

***** TAKE ACTION ! ***** TAKE ACTION ! ***** TAKE ACTION ! *****

The most dangerous forest legislation since the infamous "Salvage Rider" is moving rapidly through the Congress, and your help is needed now!

Please Take Action Now:

1) contact your Senators right away and urge them to oppose S. 1028. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

2) write a short letter to the editor of your local newspaper about the threat S.1028 poses to our National Forests.

IN THE WOODS -- The Quincy Library Bill Means More Logging In Your National Forests

The so-called "Quincy Library" bill is a dangerous proposal that could determine the fate of three National Forests in California and radically alter how all our National Forests are managed. No matter what warm and fuzzy labels its backers may give it, this bill is a LOGGING bill -- it proposes to more than double the level of logging on the three affected National Forests; it amounts to a timber give-away to a monopoly timber company; and, if enacted, it will serve as a template for similar legislative proposals that circumvent existing environmental laws and procedures on other National Forests all around the country! We need to continue to fight hard to stop this bill and prevent others like it in the future.

A group of timber industry representatives, local elected officials and a handful of local "environmentalists" got together at a library in Quincy, California and developed what they call a "Community Stability" proposal to dictate how to manage vast tracts of three of California's Sierra Nevada National Forests. Unfortunately, their proposal got the attention of one of Congress's eco-thugs, Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA), who introduced his version of the proposal in H.R. 858, the "Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery and Economic Stability Act of 1997."

Virtually every conservation group in California -- local, regional and statewide -- opposed this bill, as did every national environmental group. Concerted efforts were made both through the Administration and on the Hill to stop Herger's bill from getting to the floor. Nevertheless, the House of Representatives got caught up in the feel-good notion of "collaboration" between loggers and environmentalists and got early backing from even the more moderate members, such as Reps. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Tom Campbell (R-CA) and Rep. Sherry Boehlert (R-NY). Once it got to the floor, Rep. George Miller attempted to improve some of the worst aspects of Herger's bill, eventually reaching an agreement with Representatives Herger and Don Young (R-AK) on language designed to make the proposed logging project comply with environmental laws. Ultimately, H.R. 858 passed the House almost unanimously, 429 to 1.

The fight is now in the Senate, and the bill is once again on a fast track. Last week Senator Feinstein (D-CA) introduced S. 1028, a slightly modified version of the bill that recently passed the House of Representatives. Senator Boxer (D-CA) cosponsored the bill. Sen. Feinstein is pushing to get the bill to a vote on the Senate floor before in the next two weeks, before the Senate breaks for their August recess.

A Hearing is scheduled for this Thursday (July 24) in the Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Sierra Club will be testifying, as will at least two regional and local California environmental groups. Your phone calls and letters are needed this week to send the message to the Senate: this bill is a LOGGING bill using the guises of "forest health" and "local collaboration" to cut down more and more trees in our National Forests and provide another sweetheart deal for a near-monopoly timber corporation.

Look for further updates this week and next as developments occur.

Here's a summary of some of the reasons S. 1028 would be a disastrous law:

* this bill would set a dangerous national precedent by legislating local control of our National Forests. National Forests belong to all Americans, not just those who live in nearby communities. Local involvement in National Forest Management is very important and should be encouraged, but management authority of federal public lands should not be abdicated to a small number of local interests. Existing laws, namely the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) afford abundant opportunities for local involvement in management decisions.

* the bill would dramatically increase the level of logging, over twice existing levels for the next five year. MORE LOGGING is not the solution needed for our National Forests ... it is the problem!

* the bill would make logging the highest priority use of the National Forests and preempt the pending Regional Forest Plan for the Sierra region. The Forest Service is currently working on a management plan for the entire Sierra Nevada region to manage lands needed for habitat by the California spotted owl. The bill would require logging to proceed, regardless of whether or not it complies with the upcoming Sierra Nevada management plan.

* the bill ignores the best available science, and could lead to significant adverse impacts on these National Forests. The bill mandates a risky, untested and poorly planned logging program covering over 2.5 million acres of National Forest land. The type of logging required by the bill has never been attempted on this scale. This massive experiment could have devastating impacts on soil and water quality, as well as fish and wildlife habitat.

* the bill would force the Administration to reallocate scare funds within the Forest Service budget to support this expensive new logging program. Funds will have to drawn from other National Forest programs, such as fuels treatment, timber sales, wildlife and recreation.

* the bill gives a huge windfall (280 million board feet by one estimate) to a near-monopoly timber corporation, Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI). SPI was a key participant in the Quincy Library discussions, and just happens to be the largest landowner in the state of California and the second largest timber company in the country. SPI already has a large competitive advantage over smaller, local purchasers in northern California.

IN THE WOODS II -- SF Chronicle Editorial Asks "Who Should Determine the Fate of a Forest?"

The following editorial appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, June 15, 1997.

THE TIMBER WARS of the west are defined by their polarizing icons. The spotted owl. Charles Hurwitz. The marbled murrelet. James Watt. Earth First! Now comes the Quincy Library Group, which is fast gaining legendary status on Capitol Hill as a rare symbol of civility and collaboration. In fact, some members of Congress are so impressed by the warm-and-fuzzy notion of loggers, environmentalists and politicians working together that they are ready to let this group dictate policy for 2.5 million acres of federal forest in the northern Sierra. This scheme needs a closer look, however.

It started in late 1992, when a Plumas County supervisor, a local environmental attorney and a Sierra Pacific Industries forester got together to see whether they could resolve their differences. They met in the only place in Quincy where they were guaranteed not to scream at each other -- the public library. ``After 15 years of fighting . . . the idea that we would sit in one room and recognize each other's right to exist was a new one,'' said Michael Jackson, the environmental attorney in the group. More locals soon joined in. They kept the shouting down and within months, remarkably, a compromise took shape. They decided that their goals were not incompatible after all. They found a way to have it all -- keep the loggers and mill workers busy, lower the risk of catastrophic wildfires and protect environmentally delicate areas.

Their plan involves an ambitious five-year experiment -- encompassing all of Lassen and Plumas national forests, and part of Tahoe National Forest. It calls for the U.S. Forest Service to sanction at least 40,000 acres of logging a year as part of a fire-prevention program and to sell another 10,000 acres of timber of various ages.

Since the Forest Service had neither the money nor the inclination to adopt such an aggressive timber-harvesting plan, the group turned to Representative Wally Herger, R- Chico. His legislation (HR 858) would force the USFS to carry out the proposal.

One of the biggest concerns about the plan is that it relies on an untested theory -- that a system of logger-cleared ``fuel breaks'' in the forest will help contain major fires.

Don Erman, a professor at the University of California at Davis who recently headed up a science team as part of a congressionally ordered overview of the Sierra Nevada ecosystem, raised significant questions about a plan that might ``look good on paper.'' Will the logging be accompanied by equal attention to the non-lucrative aspects of the fire- prevention operation -- such as taking out brush and debris? And will the cleared-out areas become home to even more flammable species of trees and brush? ``What's this going to look like when they're finished?'' asked Erman, suggesting the idea should be tested on a smaller scale. ``Is this going to just be a linear logging show under the guise of protecting the forest?'' There are plenty of reasons to believe that the Herger bill, recently passed by the House Resources Committee, tilts strongly toward the timber industry's interest. For example, the bill allows the Forest Service to shift money from other programs (wildlife protection, recreation, grazing) to carry out this experimental logging program. It leapfrogs some federal environmental laws and pre-empts other forest management plans for the next five years, including those that might take a more comprehensive or conservation- minded approach to the Sierra.

The bias of the Herger bill is also underscored by what it did not include.

Early on, the Quincy group embraced a ``working circle'' concept. They agreed that trees cut in the nearby woods would have to be milled in Quincy--not shipped off to Redding or even a foreign country. That requirement was later dropped at Sierra Pacific's insistence.

Moreover, though the bill is loaded with timber-harvesting mandates, it provides scant extra environmental protection in return. ``This is not the Quincy Library Group . . . this is the hijacking of the Quincy Library Group,'' said Representative George Miller, D-Calif., who unsuccessfully tried to tighten the bill's ecological safeguards. ``It's as if the Library Group plan is cast in stone,'' said Louis Blumberg of the Wilderness Society. ``They talk about this as a collaborative process, but they don't want to collaborate with anyone else.''

Jackson and other participants bristle at the suggestion they were co-opted or rolled by the industry and its allies in Congress. He especially takes issue with the criticism from national environmental groups that too much old growth would be left unprotected. ``We live here; we've walked most of the old-growth areas,'' he said. ``We can see the trees. We're not looking from outer space.'' From an airplane, one of the most striking features of the forest around Quincy is the extent to which the topography is defined by watersheds. Canyons, creeks, lakes -- life follows the flow. Ecosystems far from this proposed experiment with nature will be profoundly affected by its outcome. The scars of logging and wildfire are plainly evident. The patches of pale greenery, the orderly rows of replanted trees and the snaking paths of reddish-brown logging roads show how timber companies have mowed the areas of least resistance. The old growth remains mostly on the steepest slopes.

Which is the greater threat to this public treasure -- fire or excessive new logging? Should those who were not at the Quincy Library in 1993 be excluded from this important decision, including biologists with updated studies? And who speaks for the future generations of Americans and all the wildlife that would have to live with the results? Congress should be respectful of all the hard work and expertise provided by the Quincy Library Group, people who value and know that beautiful stretch of the Sierra. They deserve a voice in the process -- but not the only one that counts, as HR 858 proposes.