The Inland Empire Public Lands Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to the transition of the greater Columbia River ecosystem from resource extraction to long term community and biological sustainability.
I took time out from the escalating forest crisis and from caring for my patients to go trout fishing in Idaho with my dad. We set up camp near Selway Falls. For three cloudless late summer days my dad and I fished the pools and riffles of the Selway River and Meadow Creek. No telephones ringing, no pagers beeping, these days were just for father and son, sky and water, and fish and forests. After a day of fishing my dad and I sat around our campfire, watching the sun set and the full moon rise. We reminisced about growing up in Idaho and Washington. We also talked about the fact that so many people in the Northwest care deeply about the land, but are represented by politicians who care so little.
In Idaho as throughout the Northwest people fish, hunt, camp, and greatly enjoy the outdoors. These are shared values that cut across social, economic, religious, and political lines. Yet we elect politicians who destroy the very values that we share and hold so dear.
Wedge politics, deception, and scapegoating dominate political discourse about our forests. Who profits from this polarization? One way to answer that question is to follow the money of corporate profits and campaign contributions. For example, campaign finance reports reveal a well-traveled path leading from the board room of Boise Cascade to the offices of Senator Larry Craig.
Boise Cascade, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, is a multi-billion dollar multinational timber corporation that largely dominates Idaho's capital city and Idaho politics. Boise Cascade grows out of the Northern Pacific railroad land grant. In 1913 Frederick Weyerhaeuser incorporated Boise Payette, which was later joined with Yakima-based Cascade lumber in 1957 to form Boise Cascade. Boise Cascade has a history of interlocking boards of directors with Weyerhaeuser and Potlatch, as well as close ties to governmental leaders. James McClure joined the board of directors in 1990 immediately on leaving the Senate, where through Congress's budgeting process he had greatly influenced logging and road building in National Forests. Today Boise Cascade is a major purchaser of trees cut from the National Forests and is one of the corporations behind the effort to loot the public domain.
Looting the public domain is nothing new in American history. The Council's recently published book, RAILROADS & CLEARCUTS, documents one egregious example of the looting: Congress's Northern Pacific land grant. Another example is provided by the excellent first-hand account, LOOTERS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, by Stephen Puter. Puter, nicknamed "Oregon's land fraud king," testified against U.S. Senator John Mitchell (OR) in trials on Oregon land fraud schemes. Mitchell was convicted, but died before going to prison. According to Puter, Senator Mitchell's conviction "sounded the death knell to the reign of a corrupt oligarchy that had dominated the political destinies of Oregon for practically one-quarter of a century." Unfortunately, a corporate oligarchy continues to dominate the Northwest from Puter's day to our own. As for Puter, he also was convicted and sent to prison, but was later pardoned by Teddy Roosevelt for Puter's role in convicting the Senator and others.
Teddy Roosevelt, memorialized at Mt. Rushmore, is remembered for his efforts to protect the public domain from looters. In 1907, for example, when he proclaimed nearly 16 million acres as National Forests, he explained to the American people that he acted to keep the public forests out of the hands of timber syndicates. Roosevelt's National Forest solution worked, but only for a while. Today corporations such as Boise Cascade largely control the National Forests and are looting them.
Overcutting of forests on corporate-controlled lands has left, to use the words of a corporate spokesman, a "hellacious hole" in Northwest timber supplies. Corporations such as Boise Cascade are reaching for trees in the National Forests. Using wealth amassed from looting the public domain, corporations are working through Larry Craig and others to carry out carefully designed strategies such as suspending and gutting laws under bogus claims of "Forest Health." Stephen Puter would be impressed.
Since multinational corporations have succeeded in taking away our laws, what options remain open to Northwesterners who care about their region? Advocating for criminal trials of looters like those that convicted Senator Mitchell? Writing letters and placing telephone calls? Confronting corporate directors with their looting? Voting out the corporate mouthpieces? Taking to the streets? As the corporations haul away our National Forests one thing is increasingly clear: people who care about our land, our democracy, and our future must now act.
Never before in the history of America's modern conservation movement have the resource industries made such a bald play for total control of our Nation's Forests. Acting under the rubric of (A) forest 'health', (B) endangered communities, (C) timber supply, (D) federal intrusiveness (choose A,B,C,D, or all of the above), corporations have prevailed upon their captive politicians to gut all environmental protections for the National Forests.
Some Congressional actions are already completed, such as the salvage rider to the Rescissions Bill. More are coming. As is becoming evident, the preferred method of destroying the protections for our public lands comes in the form of agency budget cutting and riders tacked onto budget bills. As this is being written, a Senate-House conference committee is putting the final touches on the Interior Appropriations bill. Behind the closed doors of the conference committee, the fate of American landscapes and programs ranging from the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge to the Columbia Basin EIS are being decided by the likes of Senators Gorton, Hatfield and Craig.
It is time to take the message to the streets. Calls to your Congressman and Senator count. But what counts more is being in their face every time they come back to your district. Call your representatives office and track them down. Give them no peace when they are on the coffee shop circuit. Make them aware of the anger that comes from seeing your cherished places destroyed. Let them know that the price they will pay for toadying to the industries is their political future.
Now is not the time to be nice.
"It is written, 'Where the carcass is there will the eagles be gathered together,' and the torn and mangled carcass of the public domain is seen and scented throughout the land. The eagles are here from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south; and those already gorged are the most ravenous of any. They fill the lobbies, press into the committee-rooms, and even intrude upon the floor. They invade the sanctuary of private quarters, button-hole members in the hotels, and waylay them on the streets. They fusillade us with circulars and petitions and private letters, and bombard us through the press. They give us no rest, and will not till the carcass is consumed or they are driven from it. And they will hover near till we declare that what remains shall be preserved..."
U.S. Rep. Winans, in debate over increasing the Northern Pacific railroad land grant (in the Congressional Globe, May 5, 1870, p. 3787).
Railroads and Clearcuts: Legacy of Congress's 1864 Northern Pacific Land Grant
The Northern Pacific Railroad snookered us out of ground it wasn't entitled to, fostered timber barons instead of helping homesteaders and left the Pacific Northwest with a seemingly unsolvable timber crisis 130 years later.
This in return for a gift of 40 million acres, the largest land grant in U.S. history. The checkerboard 2,000 miles long and 120 miles wide stretches from Lake Superior to the Puget Sound. The land grant was intended to finance a rail line that would open the Northwest to settlement. Largely it was a disaster.
So charges the new book, Railroads and Clearcuts, a daring salvo from physician John Osborn and writers Derrick Jensen and George Draffan, all of Spokane, Wash.
They say the men behind the Northern Pacific today part of the
Burlington Northern Railroad
repeatedly violated the terms of the land-grant legislation President Abraham Lincoln signed. They didn't meet congressional deadlines for building the railroad, failed to sell the land after going bankrupt the first time, as the law required, and illegitimately claimed millions of acres of Indian reservation land.
Most egregious in the authors' view, the land barons sold a huge
chunk of the original land grant to Frederick Weyerhaeuser. This gave
rise to the most powerful timber companies in the Northwest
Weyerhaeuser, Potlatch and Boise Cascade which have common founders
and still share some corporate directors. Along with Burlington
Northern's logging spinoff, Plum Creek Timber Co., these corporations
have created the current timber shortage in the Northwest, the
authors charge, and now that the corporations have exhausted their
supplies, they are putting extraordinary pressure on the national
On the 1970s Bellingham waterfront I worked my way through college as a "casual" laborer for the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen's Union. Ships from Asia would come in empty and leave laden with raw logs taken from federal state and private lands. My job was to load those logs, a job as dangerous to the body as it was to the morale, to stand beneath cranes that swung immense Douglas firs from my bioregion onto the ship decks.
Since 1990 the exportation of raw logs from federal and state forests in the Pacific Northwest has been illegal. The powerful Northwest timber industry, however, still legally exports unprocessed trees from some 33 million acres of lands that once measured the integrity of our federal estate. The writers of Railroads and Clearcuts contend the time has come for Congress to exercise its regulatory authority and maybe reclaim those mismanaged lands.
The compelling cover of the book depicts the complexity of these issues. A checkerboard forms the backdrop to represent the alternating square miles of lands granted the Northern Pacific Railroad (later, absorbed into the Burlington Northern) by President Lincoln in 1864. A steam locomotive passes between a field of stumps in the foreground and a vital forest behind to represent the ragged and ecologically devastating edge effects that characterize the discontinuous managements of national forests and grant lands. The locomotive exhales puffs of yin and yang, the familiar Northern Pacific trademark for the opposing forces of darkness and light.
From Lake Superior to Puget Sound, a cut-and-run philosophy has
been enacted by timber corporations be
Railroads and Clearcuts boils complex history into easily digestible prose. There are copious footnotes, startling photographs of clearcuts, and a bibliography to make an academician proud.
The book seems aimed at readers with little knowledge of forestry issues and though that tone will please the novice, it will leave the seasoned environmentalist wanting more. References provide clear direction to additional information, but the writers should have pulled more of the meat out of the footnotes and into the text.
Railroads and Clearcuts is still an intriguing read and poses an innovative solution to forest problems. Congress, the book says, still has the authority to review the land grant and it could force the companies to compensate the American public or even take back the land. There is historic precedent: In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge started an investigation, saying "the defaults of the Northern Pacific were numerous and flagrant." The company forfeited 2.9 million acres and paid a $300,000 fine.
This book couldn't come at a better time, as Congress seems determined to repeat the Northern Pacific land-grant largess by giving away more than 4 billion board-feet of public timber under the guise of salvage logging. Railroads and Clearcuts is photo album and script of what we seem doomed to repeat.
holden to shareholders. Weyerhaeuser, Potlatch, Boise Cascade and Plum Creek not only profit from the formerly public lands that stem from the 1864 grant, but they also share interlocking boards of directors to constitute what amounts to an international oligopoly. Despite the complexity of these issuesecology and law, history and economics these writers have presented them as clearly and concisely as anyone could wish. In a mere 198 pages they thoroughly analyze the Pandora's box of social and environmental ills unleashed when corporate carte blanche, "for the public good," was conditionally granted to a railroad.
Those ills include overcut and flooded watersheds, stream sedimentation and damaged fisheries, fragmented wildlife habitat and impoverished soils, the loss of native diversity and the upsurge of coniferous monocultures, and the ruin of human communities that rely on incomes from dwindling timber. If such symptoms have become familiar to readers of Cascadia Times, the writers may still be less familiar. Derrick Jensen is a scientist and creative writer, author of Listening To The Land: Conversations About Nature, Culture and Eros (1995). George Draffan is a Seattle activist, historian, and researcher. John Osborn, a Spokane physician, is the founder and prime mover behind the Inland Empire Public Lands Council, which published the book.
The writers investigate several possible courses of action that could be taken by Congress to set right the contractual violations of the corporate heirs of Northern Pacific. One action would be to amend the legislation to prevent further damage to the land. Another would be to offer incentives to reward sound and sustainable forestry practices. Yet a third would be to eliminate the land-grant checkerboard system altogether. This could be effected in any one of three ways. Exchanges or swaps of land might satisfy corporate timber barons, especially once they have cut over everything. (The Bureau of Land Management already regularly performs such swaps.) Purchase of those lands is a second way to eliminate the land-grant checkerboard, although the cost would probably be staggering and the public would be forced into the position of buying back its own lands. Outright revestment is the third and most ethical solution, given the legacy of ruin in evidence.
President Calvin Coolidge in 1924 asked Congress to undertake a
thorough investigation. The hearings lasted five years. In 1929 the
Department of Justice sued Northern Pacific, and the case eventually
wound up in the Supreme Court where eight justices disagreed on
degree and number of the company's violations. Northern Pacific, consequently, was made to give over only 2.9 million acres and $300,000. The contract provided, however, that "Congress may, at any time, having due regard for the rights of said Northern Pacific Railroad Company, add to, alter, amend, or repeal this act."
The 120-mile swath that transects the American Northwest should serve as an object lesson in the current era of "wise use" and property rights. History shows us that public lands can be and have been seized and given over to private profit. The Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s nearly succeeded, and plenty of belated rebels like Idaho Rep. Helen Chenoweth now have risen to positions of influence and power, even if their leader James Watt now is facing a variety of federal charges. England during the Thatcher era sold much of its public lands to mining and energy corporations. State lands in Montana likewise recently have been sold to the highest bidder. The importance of organizations like Inland Empire Public Lands Council continues to grow as America experiences this swing to the political right. Citizens need to heed the lessons history offers, and activists must hold the line against the encroachments of private profiteers on public lands.
Paul Lindholdt is an associate in English at Eastern Washington University and co-author of Cascadia Wild: Protecting an International Ecosystem.
Ellensburg to Lind. That section requires $70 million to $100 million to build.
The new line would be built over little-used, undeveloped sections of the cross-state John Wayne recreational trail and across part of the Army's Yakima Firing Center. State officials anticipate few problems with the Army, which wants more rail service. But some trail users might raise a fuss. While the state hasn't developed a policy on BN expansion yet, some officials say Washington could supply an alternative trail, either paralleling the old one or maybe a new trail from Ellensburg through the scenic Yakima River canyon to Yakima and south to Pasco.
Some Yakima Valley agri-businesses people wonder if BN's running-rights agreement with the Washington Central will really occur. They fear that the BN will move most of the rail business via the Ellensburg-Lind route and ignore the Ellensburg-Yakima-Pasco alternative route.
"BN talks about servicing the Yakima Valley, but we're afraid they won't do it, that they are a little too self-interested," said Keith Mathews, vice president of Zirkle Fruit Co.
Some landowners east of Ellensburg along the abandoned Milwaukee line have voiced concerns about noise and "quality of life" problems if the line is reactivated, said Dennis Hamblet, freight rail program manager for the Washington Department of Transportation. The ports have a different view.
"It's vital to our future growth,' said John Terpstra, Port of Tacoma executive director.
The railroad also may build new truck-to-train freight transfer facilities at Auburn, which means more jobs in that community.
Deccio noted at a recent meeting in Yakima that "the (BN) bear will sleep where it wants," but he believes the BN can beef up Yakima Valley railroad business to the south, as well as build the new eastbound line, "as long as everybody stays reasonable." Of course, what constitutes "reasonable" is a matter of opinion.
Nick Temple, owner of the Washington Central Railroad, is upset with BN. He said BN recently bullied him and tried to buy him out. He bought the line from BN in 1986 after the larger railroad left the Yakima Valley. The Washington Central hauls mostly canned fruit, lumber, chemicals and agricultural commodities. BN wanted to buy the Washington Central at first, but has changed its strategy, BN strategic planner David Hatzenbuhler said. Now, BN only wants a running rights agreement so it can pay to use Washington Central tracks, he said.
TACOMAWhen state Sen. Alex Deccio told a recent gathering that an 800-pound bear can sleep wherever it wants, everyone within earshot knew exactly what he meant. He referred to The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroading's 800-pound bear. What it proposes are the most sweeping industry changes that this state has seen in decades, according to rail experts. The railroad is considering:
·Reopening its Stampede Pass line, closed in 1984 for cost reasons. The tracks connect urban Puget Sound with Central Washington.
·Negotiating a running-rights agreement with the Washington Central Railroad, which owns a 350-mile rail line through the Yakima Valley, on to Pasco and then east to Moses Lake.
·Laying 109 miles of new track between Ellensburg and Lind, in the center of Adams County. The line would be built on abandoned Milwaukee railroad bed.
There's a great deal at stake. If BN goes ahead with reopening Stampede Pass and one or both of the other options, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma will grow; if it doesn't, the ports will stagnate, according to officials of both the ports and state. Together, the ports employ about 23,000 people directly in marine commerce and help support about 200,000 more jobs in the state.
The ports of Seattle and Tacoma are two of the largest components of Washington's growing international trade subeconomy, which employs 500,000 people. Another big player is Boeing, the nation's largest exporter. By building a new line and using Stampede Pass, BN will give its freight trains from the ports a quick route across the state to Spokane and east to markets in the Midwest and East Coast.
Currently, BN freight trains run from the ports north to Everett and then east over Stevens Pass, loop southeast to Wenatchee and then turn northeast to Spokane. Or, they run south to Vancouver, Wash., up the Columbia River Valley to Pasco, then northeast to Spokane.
Rival Union Pacific trains must run south to Portland, and then east. The two ports each have two rail servicesBN and UP. Under BN's new plan, Asian freight from the two ports will move across Washington in a faster, straighter route eastbound and on to Midwest and East Coast markets, satisfying large shipping line customers and enhancing the two ports' leading positions on the West Coast, along with rival ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif.
The faster route, through Stampede Pass and on to Spokane, carries the added cost of building new railroad tracks from
EUGENE Oregon's long and lucrative ride on the O&C Railroad isn't over yet.
Some strenuous, last-minute arm twisting by the state's congressional delegation recently punched a ticket enabling the 18 O&C counties to continue receiving receipts for timber cut on lands once owned by the long-defunct Oregon & California Railroad.
Commissioners in those counties, all but one of which are on the
western slope of the Cascade Range, breathed a collec
tive sigh of relief at the deal. Part of President Clinton's controversial budget package, it gives them a projected $78.5 million in 1994 and at least some guarantee of financial certainty over the next 10 years.
But as they peer ahead they find themselves for the first time in decades pondering a day when O&C revenues will no longer be counted upon as a prime source for pumping big bucks into their coffers.
The Oregon & California Railroad originally was granted 2.4 million acres in Western Oregon to build a line linking Portland and California. The U.S. government reclaimed the
lands in 1916 after the railroad scandalously defaulted on its commitments to sell the land to settlers.
Since the timber-rich lands were now public, and therefore non-taxable, the affected counties were left facing a huge drop in potential tax revenues. To rectify the situation, Congress passed the O&C Act of 1937, which gave the counties 75 percent of the receipts from timber sold on those lands.
The counties agreed to amend the act in 1953 by giving up 25 percent of their share. In return, the federal Bureau of Land Management would plow back that money to increase timber productivity.
The latest twists in the formula, however, have left county commissioners far from satisfied.
"We look at it as kind of a bleak situation," Klamath County Commissioner Ed Kentner said. "In the short term, at least, we've got some guarantees. Beyond that, it doesn't sound-too good."
Ray Doerner, executive director of the Association of O&C counties, agreed.
"Even with the new budget deal, it's a downhill proposition for the counties," he said. "There's not much to jump for joy about in all of this."
O&C land is land taken back by the government from the Oregon & California Railroad in the early l900s and is managed under the O&C Act. The importance of O&C receipt to the counties can't be overstated.
Generally, counties with national forest land in them get 25 percent of the money from timber sales, but 75 percent of that money must go to roads and the rest to schools. Receipts from O&C lands, in contrast, can go directly to county general funds. Those dollars finance vital county services such as law enforcement, district attorneys, juvenile services, libraries, assessors and numerous other social services.
O&C revenues also represent a larger share 50 percentof the total receipts than the 25 percent paid to counties for timber cut on other public lands.
Douglas County, which receives the largest share of O&C proceeds, will get nearly $20 million next year. That represents fully 70 percent of the county's general fund budget.
"Those monies are a tremendously important source of revenue for us," said Douglas County Commissioner Doug Robertson. "And with Measure 5 now heavily upon us, they take on even more significance."
But commissioners are unified in the belief that the heyday of O&C receipts may be over.
Their reasoning is two-fold. One, because the new budget package calls for receipts to drop by 3 percent a year for the next five years. And two, because of dim prospects for increased timber harvests in the decades to come that, under the budget package, would boost receipts back up to historic levels.
"It's not a situation where we'll have all kinds of money to do things," Coos County Commissioner Jack Beebe said. "It'll mean that even if we are very conservative and tight-fisted with those dollars, we're still going to be looking at some cuts in the long run."
Budget-strapped Klamath County, for instance, cut more than 50 employees just last year, Commissioner Kentner said. If O&C receipts drop as projected, more reductions in personnel and services can be expected.
"At least 30 of our county departments rely on the general fund," he said. "We can't take much more of a hit without some major cutting."
In Lane County, 1993 will mark the first time that property taxes surpassed total O&C revenues. But with a more diversified economic base, the county will probably survive the O&C downturn better than other, more rural counties, predicted Commissioner Jack Roberb.
"Our situation is bad, because we have relied on that money for so long to finance general government services," he said. "But there are other counties that are in even worse shape. In a few years, they're going to get knocked for a loop."
The counties' best hope is, in some ways, a dim one. It turns on the notion that forces beyond their control will devise a plan to increase long-term timber harvest levels in the region.
"That's the key to our success" said Jackson County Commissioner Rick Holt. "If we can get receipts back up through harvests, we'll at least be able to get back on a steady track."
Idaho's U.S. senators are co-sponsoring a bill to give states the option of assuming ownership of U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands inside their borders.
States would get the royalty revenues from the lands to help offset management costs under the measure introduced by U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., last week. Conrad Burns of Montana, Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Ted Stevens of Alaska also are cosponsoring the bill.
U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, said the transfer of the BLM's 11 million acres in Idaho to the state would dramatically change the federal government's share of land ownership to a much fairer percentage. The BLM has nearly 270 million acres nationwide.
The BLM controls 22 percent of Idaho's land. The federal agency operates more than 130,000 acres in north central Idaho's five counties, with 92,626 acres in Idaho County
Craig said Idaho Gov. Phil Batt, the Legislature and special interest groups would have two years to consider whether to accept the BLM land.
"That seems sufficient time for a thorough airing of the pros and cons," he said in a prepared statement. "Gov. Batt has indicated his willingness to explore the possibilities."
Batt's spokeswoman, Amy Kleiner, said the Republican governor is interested in getting more control over management of federal lands, but hasn't taken a position on the bill.
"As far as transferring title, you have to have the money that comes with the federal lands," she said.
Craig contended there has never been a better time to seriously study state management or ownership of federal lands.
Mark Solomon, acting director of Inland Empire Public Lands Council
Congress has agreed to balance the federal budget by the year 2002, he said. States may be able to own and manage the BLM lands and the underlying minerals at a much lower cost, while protecting the environment and maintaining public access and the many uses of the land and water, he said.
Thomas' bill caps spending for the BLM at $800 million a year up to the time that the land is transferred.
The BLM has about 700 employees in Idaho. Craig said a fair transition process will be developed for employees through the bill, which provides a 10-year period from the time the state accepts the federal lands to the actual transfer of ownership.
The Inland Empire Public Lands Council opposes the measure, according to the council's acting director, Mark Solomon of Moscow.
"We see it as the first step toward selling the American public on giving all federal lands to the states, particularly the national forest lands," he said. The Idaho AFL-CIO has come out in support of a pilot project involving the state taking over management duties for northern Idaho's national forests.
Solomon said the concept of turning control of federal lands over to the states for resource manage
ment "only enhances the pocketbooks of the resource industries dominant in any particular state."
Craig said some groups will attack the bill as a threat to environmental protection, but it could satisfy all their concerns.
He said the bill is a starting point for discussions because considerations in each state will be different. For example, he said, there are a number of amendments that would be needed to address the issue in Idaho.
"The bill already protects designated wilderness, but we would need to provide for state consideration of more than 900,000 acres recommended for wilderness additions," Craig said. "Our National Historic Trails, wild and scenic rivers, the Snake River Birds of Prey Area and other areas of special concern must be maintained."
Brian Whitlock, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, said Kempthorne views the bill as an opportunity to discuss the idea and get all the issues on the table.
The states would get revenues from mining claims and grazing
permits under the bill, he said. Another concern raised is how the
states would dispose of the property under the measure, he said, but
that could be
"The will of the people will be served," said Jack Sept, the BLM's deputy state director for external affairs. "We feel we are doing a very good job of managing the lands for multiple use. We would like to continue to have that power."
The state already is strapped to cover firefighting costs on its current lands, he said.
The BLM gives about $8 million a year in payments in lieu of taxes to counties in Idaho, Sept said. North central Idaho's counties get more than $625,000 a year in payments with Idaho County receiving about $434,000 of that, he said.
The federal agency hands out $2.66 million to the state and $285,000 to the counties from revenues generated through mineral leasing. The counties also get part of the grazing fee revenues, he said.
"Does the cost outweigh the benefits? The debate has just opened on it."
WASHINGTONOne simple way to resolve the conflict between Western states and the federal government over public land management is to turn over the land to the states and get rid of the feds.
Don't laugh. A group of neo-Sagebrush rebels in Congress has introduced this one-sided giveaway and has held a hearing.
The bill would make the 17 Western states eligible to receive not only 270 million acres of free Bureau of Land Management land with almost no environmental strings attached, but also an estimated $1.3 billion a year in annual revenues, $60 billion in untapped coal, minerals, oil and natural gas and untold amounts of valuable water.
The secretary of Interior would offer the BLM land within two years.
Acceptance of it and all accompanying mineral rights and grazing permits would be optional. If a state elected to take over, it would have to accept all the land, not just the best or most valuable portions.
The idea is not new. Congress rejected a land transfer plan during the Eisenhower administration, and the Sagebrush Rebellion of the late 1970s took it up as a cause. But after President Ronald Reagan's Interior secretary, James Watt, initiated a big land transfer and sale program, a public backlash erupted in the West itself, most notably from sportsmen who realized they might no longer be able to hunt and fish on the land.
The idea rose from the grave again with last year's election of a large number of Republicans who support commercial public land users.
The real goal of these groups is not to pass the bill which was introduced July 13 by Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, and Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., and co-sponsored by Rep. Wes Cooley, R-Ore., and Sens. Larry Craig and Dirk Kempthorne, both R-Idaho but to spur BLM officials to ease environmental restrictions and fees on ranchers and miners.
"Just bringing this issue to the forefront makes for a better understanding of public land management," former BLM Director Cy Jamison said last week at a House Resources panel hearing, adding that federal land management agencies have forgotten whom they work for.
The bill itself is a non-starter. Large obstacles loom to having it even brought up for a vote.
First is the legal debate over who owns the land. More than 30 Western counties in Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, California and New Mexico have claimed title, but Congress has passed laws keeping the land under federal ownership and the courts have upheld them.
The issue is emotional, and violence similar to the Oklahoma City
bombing has occurred. Forest Service and BLM offices and employees
have received threats and their property
has been bombed.
Then, there is the problem of piggy-backing legislation. If BLM lands are to be transferred, why not those of the more popular Forest Service?
Timber and other companies are likely to demand equitable treatment.
The U.S. military could easily grow concerned. The Air Force and other services could lose future access to land for future bases and bombing ranges and to air space for flight testing and training.
"City folks" and Easterners aren't the only ones who object to giving away resources owned by all Americans; so do fiscally conservative Republicans. Yet it will achieve little or no savings because of "cherry-picking" by the states.
Bonnie Cohen, an assistant secretary of Interior, predicted that only those few states whose public lands generate the most revenue, mainly from oil and gas, would agree to the transfer, leaving the federal government with the dregs. In addition, legislative rules require a money-losing bill to be paid for with offsetting cuts.
A problem for states is how to make up for the loss of funds that counties and schools receive, including federal timber, mining and grazing fees and payments in lieu of taxes, totaling $100 million a year.
Who would maintain the roads? Who would fight the fires and pay the cost, which totaled almost $900 million in 1994? The legislation is silent, yet only the federal government has the ability and the resources to move firefighters and equipment from state to state as needed.
Few in Congress believe Westerners want the land so they can do a better job of protecting the environment and fish and wildlife.
Are states equipped to manage the 29,000 conservation, recreation and wilderness areas? Are they willing to spend money to manage lands that don't bring in any revenue? Obviously, the answer is no. The states are good at selling resources, in most cases to support the public schools.
Perhaps the biggest political flaw in the bill is that it does not prevent states from restricting public access to the lands or selling them to corporations or other private owners.
But it does have a provision directing states to honor federal mining patents and grazing permits. This discrepancy makes it clear who's behind the bill.
"If history is any guide, states will shut down the lands," said Rep. Pat Williams, D-Mont.
In fact, would the West continue to exist as we know it without the federal lands? Plainly it would not.
A bill before Congress would not only turn federal lands over to the states but would let each of those states decide, on an individual basis, whether they want to restrict uses of the land or sell it to the highest bidder.
This legislation would make it possible for the states of Idaho and Washington to sell your favorite hunting land or your favorite fishing stream to somebody who would keep you out or charge you a fee to use it.
Wyoming Republican Sen. Craig Thomas, prime Senate sponsor, gives the stock argument in favor of such legislation: "Government operates best when it's closest to the people."
Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. The states and local governments do many things better. But the federal government also has its strong points. And as a general rule, the federal government has a better record over the years than local government when it comes to protecting the common ownership of public lands and avoiding the political entanglements that sometimes cause local government officials to give the store away to business cronies.
For instance, the people of America can probably rely with greater safety on their federal government to protect Yellowstone National Park than they can on the state of Wyoming. The people of America can probably count more on their federal government to protect Hells Canyon from dams and pollution than they can the Idaho, the Washington or the Oregon legislatures.
This legislation is a foot in the door for commercial interests to get their hands, one by one, on the special lands and waters of these western states land we are now lucky to have so near and so open to our use.
Republican Congressman Jim Hansen of Utah, prime sponsor of the legislation in the House, says he would expect most states to maintain public ownership of the lands with wide public access.
Notice he says, "most." But not all. He inadvertently admits that not all of those public lands with wide public access will be kept open. He unintentionally notifies us that there will be gradual incursions on the people's property, a state at a time, a parcel at a time, a forest and a stream at a time.
This legislation is a deliberate attempt to undermine public ownership of these lands and to get them into the hands of the kind of people who contribute to the campaigns of short-sighted legislators like Jim Hansen of Utah and Craig Thomas of Wyoming.
These people are getting ready to steal your fishing streams, your hunting lands, even your mineral reserves. And you better find out fast where your members of Congress stand on the issue if you hope to shoot an elk or drown a worm without paying some new landlord for the privilege.B.H.
BOISE Republican Sen. Larry Craig, apparently intent on silencing any serious attempt to unseat him next year, amassed $461,000 in political contributions during the first half of 1995more than 16 months before the election, according to his campaign finance report.
A member of the majority for the first time in his political career, the 50 year-old veteran of 14 years in Congress benefited significantly from out-of-state supporters and special interest political action committees.
And since he already had almost $120,000 in the bank when the year beganeven after spending over $190,000 to get the re-election effort under wayCraig had a war chest of nearly $390,000 on July 1, the report filed on Monday showed.
Even without a Democratic opponent, Craig generated nearly as much cash between January and June this year as he did during the first half of 1990 when the GOP was scrambling albeit momentarilyto replace veteran GOP Sen. James McClure.
Democrats do not have an opponent to face Craig, but Boise businessman Walt Minnick is looking at a run. The executive with TJ International, a Boise wood products company, is taking the next two months to look at the race.
"It pretty much looks like he's going to do it," Michelle Barrett of the state Democratic Party said this morning.
Through June, Craig picked up $227,000 in contributions from individuals and $198,000 from special interest political action committees ranging from timber, mining, agriculture and energy to telecommunications, defense contracting and transportation.
The day before the end of the reporting periodJune 29Craig's campaign also received almost $34,000 from the political party committee, W-N 95 Committee in Washington, D.C.
Just over $100,000 of the individual contributions were in amounts of less than $250 and the donors did not have to be legally identified.
Of the $122,000 contributed by individuals in amounts of $250 or more, $100,000 came from out-of-staters, many corporate executives. Among the most notable was Texas business
Taking advantage of their new majority status, House Republicans led the way toward a record $43.8 million in campaign fund raising in the first half of this year.
The total for both parties represented a 38 percent increase over the comparable period in 1993, when House incumbents raised $31.5 million, and was the highest total for the kickoff season of a new election cycle in the 20 years records have been kept.
Led by Speaker Newt Gingrich's $885,000 and by an aggressive freshman class, the House's new GOP majority accounted for $27.5 million, or nearly two-thirds of the total.
tycoon T. Boone Pickens, who gave a maximum $1,000 toward next May's primary campaign.
Other members or former members of Congress from Idaho who are required to file campaign finance reports include:
· Helen Chenoweth: Information from Chenoweth's report was not yet available. The report must have been postmarked no later than Monday to meet the legal deadline.
·Mike Crapo: Two-term Republican Rep. Mike Crapo, who won a second term over token opposition last fall and is likely to face little more than that next year, reported a 1996 campaign treasury balance of over $180,000.
He raised $72,000 since January nearly $64,000 of that from special interest political action committees.
· Dirk Kempthorne: GOP Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, who is not even midway through the six-year term he won in 1992, reported raising over $32,000 during the first six months of the year, and spent just over $20,000.
· Larry LaRocco: Former Democratic Rep. Larry LaRocco nibbled away at the modest debt from his reelection defeat during the first half of this year.
The campaign finance report filed Friday showed that he had paid $6,200 on the debt that totaled just over $29,000 when the year began.
LaRocco lost the most expensive U.S. House race in Idaho history to Chenoweth. He owes his media coordinator $3,700 and his polling firm $18,500.
US. Sen. Steve Symms, R-Idaho, recently seized headlines by soliciting congressional candidates in the personals column of Idaho newspapers.
But the more lastingand lesser knowneffort in that regard is being mounted by Symms' Idaho Republican colleague, Larry Craig.
Earlier this year, Craig created his own political action committeethe Idaho Committee for a Conservative Majority as an engine to generate contributions and resources to GOP candidates.
It is a separate fund-raising arm from Craig's own campaign committee, which faces federal and state restrictions. By creating this new PAC, Craig can raise money more freely.
The tactic also allows Craig a vehicle to remain active within GOP politics, without usurping the GOP structure.
"For years, I can remember people saying there must be ways for senior members to become more active in the functions of the party," says Craig's chief of staff Greg S. Casey. "By doing what we've done here, we hope we have created the ability to become involved and without seeming like we're getting in anyone's way or seeming like we're interfering."
Not everybody likes the idea of House members and senators establishing their own PACs, however. Critics of the practice point to some senators and House members sitting on top of multi-million-dollar PACs, enabling them to dispense favors to other members in exchange for support in leadership contests or presidential campaigns. All the while, special interests gain more clout in the process.
Last May, the Senate voted 56-42 to ban the practice, although Craig and Symms were on the losing side.
The measure is pending in the House.
No one is sure how many of these "member-PACs" exist, but an unofficial list puts the number at around 50. Members are not required to disclose their personal involvement within a PAC. Federal law requires only the disclosure of the treasurer's name and the bank accounts involved.
"The unofficial list I have in hand is simply one we pull together from people like you," said Federal Election Commission spokesman Fred Eiland.
Craig, however, has publicized his efforts. He registered the group with the FEC on March 29 and the Idaho Secretary of State's office March 14. In April, the group sponsored House Republican Whip Newt Gingrich's fund raising appearance in Idaho, and then won some points with Idaho Republican Chairman Phil Batt by splitting the proceeds with the state GOP.
Batt admits he was initially skeptical about the Craig PAC
encroaching upon the GOP's turf. After all, what's the purpose of a political party if not to provide financial and tactical support for candidates?
"Since then, they've convinced me there's no problem, that they intend to work closely with the party," said Batt, who noted the party received a $3,000 check from the Gingrich appearance.
So far, the PAC has not determined its full scope, although it is organized to work on both state and congressional campaigns. The focus will be refined this fall by a group of board members that includes House State Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Pam Bengson-Ahrens, R-Boise, who is the treasurer; former state Senate President Pro Tem James E. Risch, R-Boise; former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Blake Hall of Idaho Falls; and Arthur Brown of Coeur d'Alene, president and CEO of Hecla Mining Co.
Neither of Idaho's two House Democrats, Larry LaRocco and Richard Stallings, has created his own PAC. But Craig is not unique among Idaho politicians in this regard.
Symms formed the Free Society Forum PAC in the early 1980s to help conservative candidates. No more than $50,000 was raised and spent. It has been inactive in recent years.
And former U.S. Sen. James A. McClure, R-Idaho, maintained Leadership USA, which reportedly distributed $34,000 to candidates during the late 1980s.
"I think you can get response if you work at it," said Symms Chief of Staff Phil Reberger of Boise. "We formed somewhere in there in the 1982 era and raised some money for itand expended itand then, boom, we were into the '86 (election) cycle and just didn't have the time to focus on it."
The genesis of these PACs stems from campaign finance restrictions. As a candidate, a congressman can not receive more than $1,000 per election from any individual contributor and no more than $5,000 per election from a political action committee.
But, if he establishes a separate PAC, the official can double the amount of money he can receive from each source. True, he can't spend much of that on himself. His own PAC cannot contribute more than $5,000 per election to that congressman's own campaign.
But he can make points by spending the money on other campaigns. Most of the congressional leadership engage in this practice.
Some of the notable congressional figures who maintain personal PACs, according to a 1990 Common Cause study, include Republican Senate Leader Robert Dole of Kansas, whose Campaign American PAC received more than $5 million during the period of Jan. 1, 1987, through Dec. 31, 1989; House Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash., whose House Leadership Fund produced $353,000 during the same period; Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif, whose Committee for a Democratic Consensus raised more than $1.5 million, and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. whose Fund for a Democratic Majority received more than $1.1 million.
Aside from the political power involved in dispensing funds there are some personal benefits.
"A PAC may pay travel expenses, as long as it's not in connection with a campaign," Eiland said. "They can spend money that they feel is necessary for their purposes. It's the same as any other political committee."
The bottom line, says Common Cause, is the way this practice
magnifies the power of special interests, who will be asked to contribute to an official's campaign and PAC.
"The existence of (member PACs) is something to worry about and we'd certainly be better off if we didn't have any at all," said Jane Mentzinger, a Common Cause lobbyist based at Washington, D.C.
Craig's people counter their own plans are not ambitious. They hope to raise $35,000 to $40,000 during the 1991 election cycle.
"Common Cause is in business to look for hobgoblins and if they've had a slow week, they'll go after about anything," said Craig communications director John Barclay.
Big oil equals big bucks, even in little old Idaho.
Oil and gas political action committees have given more than $212,000 to Idaho's congressional delegationeven though the fossil fuel industry has little presence in the Gem State.
That's enough to make the oil and gas industry the leader of the PACs, as far as Idaho's all-Republican congressional delegation is concerned, said Project Vote Smart, a non-partisan political watchdog group in Corvallis, Ore. But an aide to Idaho's senior senator says the oil and gas numbers mean little.
"They have a natural interest in what goes on in Idaho, even though it's tangential" said Greg Casey, chief of staff for Sen. Larry Craig.
Beyond the big oil and gas numbers, the Project Vote Smart study found Idaho's delegation raising a relatively small amount of money for campaigns. However, Craig, Sen. Dirk Kempthorne and Rep. Mike Crapo each raised more money from PACs than from individual donors.
PACs generally contribute more money to incumbents than to campaign challengers. Critics of the PAC system say the industry and special-interest money gives incumbents an unfair advantage on Election Day.
The largest donations went to Craig, Idaho's senior senator. From 1989 to 1994, and taking in his successful Senate run in 1990, Craig got about $900,000 from PACs.
That includes $111,758 from oil and gas industry PACs effectively a $50-a-day contribution every day for six years on Capitol Hill. The mining industry followed with $67,650 of its own over six years.
These two industries alone account for close to one-tenth of Craig's contributions.
"That's 10 percent of his money," Casey said. "Big deal."
To Boise businessman and prospective political opponent Walt Minnick, the numbers aren't a small deal. Minnick is considering a Senate run in 1996, and is wondering whether he can raise enough money to compete with Craig.
"He's a very good friend of big oil and big mining," said Minnick, former chairman of TJ International, a Boise wood products firm. "It would be surprising if they weren't (big contributors).... But that doesn't necessarily mean he's representing Idaho."
For the fossil fuel and mining industries, Craig is a strategic investment. He's a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which handles mining reform and energy policy issues.
Kempthorne doesn't sit on Energy and Natural Resources, but he's still popular with the oil and gas industry. Kempthorne received more than $74,000 from oil and gas PACs between 1989 and 1994. That time frame covers Kempthorne's 1992 election.
Kempthorne spokesman Mark Snider declined comment on the Project Vote Smart survey.
Crapo relied heavily on a number of PACs to finance his campaigning in 1993 and 1994.
Crapo said he tries to take a "broad-based" approach to fund-raising, but said it was easier for him to raise money from PACs for his re-election run in 1994. Idaho Republicans poured their money into other races, such as the governor's race, because Crapo faced only token opposition.
Even at that, Crapo's $511,000 for 1993 and 1994 is about middle-of-the-road for a congressional campaign. By comparison, 27 of California's 52 congressional members raised more than Crapo in the same time frame, while 25 actually raised less.
Meanwhile, Craig and Kempthorne run relatively low-budget campaigns. Most Senate incumbents in the West raised more than $2 million between 1989 and 1994.
An inexpensive campaign heavy on mailings, door-to-door campaigning and fund-raising in supporters' homesplays well in Idaho, Casey said. In addition, it doesn't cost as much to buy advertising space and time in Idaho.
"Idaho is just not that expensive a state to run in," Casey said.
Senator Larry Craig turns 50 July 20th. As much as one may try, it is hard to wish him well.
It seems he has found the perfect media grab for his party. The Executive Air Terminal in Boise will be the spot on Saturday, July 22. It will be a joint fest for his birthday and the end of World War II, both 50 years in the waiting.
According to the party organizer, Barrett Rainey, the entire Idaho delegation will be there, along with state representatives and folks from Craig's past.
Rather than letting the fanfare define where Senator Craig lies within the political spectrum, a look into both his voting record and his actions are the best insight into this rogue leader.
Forest Health has been the hot topic for the Senator this legislative session. He introduced his own bill along with giving strong support on the Senate floor for salvage riders that suspend environmental law. This is due to his claim that the forests of Idaho are sick and dying and need salvage logging to mend the problem.
When Idaho conservation groups publicly condemned the riders as catering to the industry at taxpayer expense, Craig's office responded in the Statesman by stating we just wish those crying for no removal of trees would come to the table in good faith.
In a clear showing of Craig's good faith, the Senator chaired a hearing on forest health before the Forest and Public Lands Management Subcommittee. Rumors have circulated that a timber lobbyist actually sat behind the Senator and whispered questions for the panel to be asked. In effect, Craig allowed the industry to speak for him on this most crucial issue.
As if this was not a clear enough sign of the Senator's biases, he literally left the hearing when Idaho's premiere expert on Forest Health took the podium.
Dr. Arthur D. Partridge is a Professor in Forest Disease and Insect Problems as the University of Idaho. He has spent 30 years studying Pacific Northwest forests. He testified in the hearing against Craig's bill.
Craig would not even listen to the man.
A Senator crying about bringing environmentalists to the table in
good faith has none himself. Partridge has headed the most
comprehensive forest health study done
in the Pacific Northwest. Craig insulted all Idahoans when he stood up, walked out, and refused to listen to the voice of science in good faith.
This is where he stands. It is clear Craig is not interested in representing all Idahoans.
Senator Craig's voting record speaks for itself and his bank account. He has received $22,000 from the oil and gas industry, $80,000 from the Wood Products Industry and $50,000 from the Agriculture and Food Processing Industries.
He has voted N0 on bills to protect farm workers from pesticides, allow Family Medical Leave and the Violence Against Women Act. He has voted YES to subsidize off shore oil production, kill funding for renewable energy projects, and restrict a woman's right to choose.
Senator Craig has voted to end enforcement of the Clean Water Act, cut funds for cleanup of toxic military bases and cut funding for public transportation. He is supporting a rewrite of the Endangered Species Act and has voted to cut funding that benefits the poor, school lunch programs and affordable housing projects.
He is not voting for the well-being of Idahoans or our vast wildlands.
If you'd like to let him know what you think, a gathering is planned at 12:45 at the site to let him know there are people out here he seems to have forgotten.
The party is open to the public and will run from 1:00-5:00 p.m.. $5 at the door will get you in, but you may be too late for the preferred treatment. Senator Kempthorne circulated invitations on Craig's behalf months ago to join the "First 50 Club."
According to Senator Kempthorne, "Our concept is to encourage PACs, as well as in and out of state individuals to give their maximum legal contribution ($5,000 for PACs and $l,000 for individuals) for Larry's 1996 primary by June 30th, in time to help officially kick-off his reelection campaign during a huge birthday party."
Now we have the true colors flying over Craig's birthday. Donate big, do it early, and you, too, can bend the Senator's ear. Just don't expect any support if you do not represent industries subsidized by taxpayer dollars.
BOISEThe first big event of the 1996 political campaign season offered a glimpse of what Idahoans can expect next year.
Billed as a 50th birthday bash for U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, Saturday's rally attracted more than 1,200 supporters to the Boise airport's Executive Terminal. Each paid $5 to attend.
In a separate hangar, another function was held to honor about 40
members of the "First 50" Club. Those included the first 50 political
action committees to contribute $5,000, the first 50 Idahoans to
contribute $1,000 and the first 50 individuals across the country to give $1,000 to Craig's re-election campaign.
Craig expects to report a campaign balance of $400,000 next month.
Outside the party, more than two dozen Democrats, conservationists and labor union activists protested. Calling themselves "Larry Craig Watch," they accused Craig of selling out to corporate fat cats.
Before we resort to the overkill of removing every seasoned legislator from Congress, no matter how valuable, perhaps we should try more surgical approaches to the problem of automatic re-election like eliminating the unfair advantages built into being in Congress.
Free mailing of campaign literature, for instance.
Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, one of the worst offenders in Congress, is at it again. He has mailed out a transparent piece of self-promotionat taxpayer expense, as usual. It is another one of his phony polls of the electorate, aimed not at honestly seeking voter opinion but at artificially inflaming voter opinion in his favor.
It is a two-question "opinion ballot," aimed at senior citizens, one of the most shameless Craig has ever issued in the way it loads the wording of the questions toward the answer he wants to hear and in the way it tends to advertise that he is on the side of the angels. Craig gives the recipients two choices:
"Senator Craig, I agree with you. The federal debt poses a real threat to the strength of the Social Security Trust Fund and I support your efforts to reduce federal spending and taxes. I also agree that seniors were unfairly singled out by the Clinton Administration to pay higher taxes on Social Security while government bureaucrats are getting huge bonuses to spend on whatever they want. I strongly support your legislation, S. 50, to repeal the Clinton Social Security tax increases."
"Senator Craig, I do not feel that continued deficit spending and our national debt pose a serious threat to the Social Security system. I am also opposed to S. 50, which would repeal the Clinton Social Security tax increase. Seniors should be required to pay higher taxes on Social Security benefits to pay for other federal spending."
In other words, "Do you support the way Senator Craig is fighting to make senior citizens rich and immortal or do you favor letting senior citizens starve to death?"
It is vulgar enough that a U.S. senator stoops to such manipulative politics. But if he were doing that on his own nickel, that might merely be a matter between him and his political conscience (which, like senior citizens, retired some years ago).
But why should the taxpayers have to pay for the printing and mailing of a campaign flier? No wonder the challengers are at a disadvantage in congressional elections.
Let the term limits peoplewho would throw the better babies out with the bath by outlawing more than a brief time in office start working on specific outrages like these mass mailings at taxpayer expense. Where are the term limits people on that question? B.H.
Boise Cascade Corp.'s comeback from nearly four years of losses rose to a record-shattering level in the second quarter.
Monday, the company reported second-quarter net income of $105.9 million the biggest three-month profit in its 38-year history.
The money was 86 percent more than what Boise Cascade earned in the first quarter $57.0 millionand a sharp reversal of the $19.2 million lost in the second quarter of last year.
It included a net gain after selling its stake in its office products distribution business and setting up a tax reserve. But even without the gain, Boise Cascade still earned a record $93.3 million.
Sales reached $1.3 billion compared to $1 billion for the same quarter a year earlier.
Company Chairman George Harad credited the record quarter mainly to improvements in the company paper business. Shortages have moved paper prices up $323 a ton, or 69 percent, since early 1994.
Because of the higher prices, operating income in the company's paper business, improved by more than $333 million between the first six months of 1994 and the first six months of 1995.
Harad is bullish on third-quarter prospects as well.
"Despite a normal seasonal slowdown, overall paper markets remain strong," he said.
"... If the U.S. and European and economies show even modest growth in the months ahead Boise Cascade's performance will continue to be very strong."
Boise Cascade's change in fortunes are in marked contrast to the prior four years.
The company reported 15 straight quarters of losses, beginning in
1991, as a glut of paper and worldwide recession forced prices down.
pany stacked up $473 million in losses that finally ended in the last quarter of 1994.
While profits from paper products increased the past year, earnings from the building products division have dropped.
Seven interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve slowed growth in the nation's home-building industry, and that cut into Boise Cascade's profits.
In 1994, the company's building products business earned $151 million, including $43.9 million in the second quarter.
This year, the building products division earned $22.8 million in the second-quarter, down from $23.5 million in the first quarter.
"A year ago, our building products business was far and away our biggest segment," company spokes
Cuddy Mountain is a sporting and muscle-powered recreation paradise above the Snake River Brownlee Reservoir trophy waters. Vast rolling green foothills are bedecked in an incredible variety of wildflowers at times one wades waist deep through them. A vertical mile above the Snake, forested and snow-corniced ridges reward one with grand views into the Hells Canyon Oregon's Wallowa Eagle Cap, Blue Mountain, North Fork, John Day and Strawberry Mountain wilderness areas.
Falcons and goshawks soar and dive, grouse thrum and display; bears, elk and deer roam and forage; and frogs sing their piercing notes in marshes emerging on the snow-packed shady and still ancient forest floor. The red-tinged yellow reticulated trunks of venerable ponderosa pines shine in cathedral groves with old-growth Douglas, grand and sub-alpine fir.
Sadly, this roadless 43,000 acre candidate for wilderness protection only two and a half hours from Boise is under immediate threat from Boise Cascade Corp.'s purchase of the Grade/Dukes Timber Sale. While this forested area is undergoing natural succession from dominate ponderosa pine to a climax fir forest, the Payette National Forest would disrupt this ecologically sound process to:
·"Preserve" habitat for one ponderosa-preferring species flammulated owl.
·Avoid potential loss of old growth to crown fires, by clearcutting entire stands first.
·Satisfy short-term demands while absorbing potential wilderness into the timber base.
Increasingly rare and precious evolving habitat would be sacrificed to an otherwise well-planned and well-positioned company's myopic refusal to accept limits to extraction of irreplaceable virgin biomass.
For state-chartered Boise Cascade's privilege of taking profitable advantage of the U.S. Forest Service's skewed science, the U.S. Treasury would supposedly net $3.4 million, and 18 people would get jobs, for a while, doing the wrong thing.
Why not do the right thing? Cease roadless-area operations and donate $3.4 million (three years' worth of the company president's pay, which more than doubled last year) for the economic development of communities that were, until recently, dependent on Boise Cascade's now silent mills.
It is the perfect time for a powerfully positive future-oriented contribution by corporate citizen Boise Cascade. Sufficient previously logged areas exist to fulfill the excessive demand for timber products.
Enough is enough. The pursuit of some of the last as-yet unprotected roadless steep headwater stands of ancient trees will be seen by nearly every reasonable citizen in the not-so-distant future as unconscionable rapaciousness. This has transcended any ideological disagreements; now spiritual ground is, literally and figuratively, being trod upon.
Cuddy Mountain has a substantial regional support network among longtime leaders and enthusiasts in tourism, fish and game, ranching and horse packing, off-road driving and biking, hiking, native American tribes and deep ecology groups. The long laborious course of this well-protested timber sale attests to its controversial nature. With the nation's eyes on this summer's Republican-mandated assault on Idaho's last unprotected old-growth stands, that controversy will intensify and metastasize.
Already it is clear to advocates of roadless area preservation that they are now committed to unprecedentedly large and creative demonstrations, and boycotts, well-supported and well-directed litigation and careful affective documentation of any destruction.
Idaho contains a rapidly changing population, attracting active people with strong ecological sentiments and light ties to extractive industry. A short-term perspective will not enable the best evaluation regarding a permanent end to road constriction, logging and fire suppression on Cuddy Mountain.
Please take the time to ask the Payette National Forest and Boise Cascade to do the right thing.
Bob Beal, a citizen conservationist who lives and works in Boise, enjoys visiting roadless areas.
man Bob Hayes said.
But with the Federal Reserve easing one key interest rate to 5.75 percent in June and housing starts increasing, that segment of Boise Cascade's business is expected to pick up, Hayes said.
The office products division also enjoyed a profitable quarter, earning $13.6 million, compared to $10.1 million a year earlier, the company reported.
The record second-quarter profits included $11 million from Rainy River Forest Products Inc., Boise Cascade's Canadian subsidiary that produces newsprint.
As paper product prices have risen, newsprint has followed suit.
Newsprint prices are up 40 percent the past year. This forced some papers to increase the price of papers. Other papers, at least in part because of the rising costs, have closed their doors. The Houston Post, and, most recently, New York Newsday, are among those that shut down.
BOISESen. James McClure has found something else to keep him busy after his retirement next month.
The Idaho Republican was elected Thursday to Boise Cascade Corp.'s board of directors. He will join the forest products company's board Jan. 4.
McClure, 65, Idaho's senior senator and the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is stepping- down after six years in the House and 18 years in the Senate.
His main occupation after ending his congressional career will be with the Boise law Firm of Givens, Pursley, Webb & Huntley. He also will be a partner in a Washington, D.C., consulting firm.
In addition, McClure is vice chairman of the board of trustees for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and is on the board of governors of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.
The senator is an Idaho native and a graduate of the University of Idaho law school.
It seems that Boise-Cascade is once again speaking out of both sides of its corporate mouth.
Out one side, it is spending thousands, if not millions, of dollars to try to make the people of the region believe that, "at Boise-Cascade, we manage our forests naturally."
Out the other side, it announces an aerial spray pesticide program over 10,000 acres of its forest land with Sevin, a deadly wide-spectrum pesticide that will indiscriminately wipe out all the insects in the spray path.
I suppose we are to believe that killing all the insects in a forest is "managing our forests naturally." And just why is the company's supposedly healthy, "naturally managed" forest so ill that it calls for such drastic treatment?
Which speaks louder, clearcut actions or pretty words? You decide.
Mark Solomon, vice president
Inland Empire Public Lands Council, Moscow
Boise Cascade has published a series of advertisements in The Spokesman-Review drawing medical and historical analogies between smallpox vaccinations for children and Boise Cascade's "scientific treatment" of "deteriorating forests"forests damaged by decades of overcutting.
One ad shows the drawing of man inserting something into a child's arm, with the caption, "Dr. Jenner inoculating a young boy (circa 1796)."
Because Boise Cascade is a multi-billion-dollar, transnational corporation that profits from cutting public trees at public expense, it's not surprising the analogy is utterly false. Smallpox vaccinations don't kill children.
Boise Cascade's "scientific treatment," however, kills trees, streams, wildlife and entire forests.
If Boise Cascade wants to draw an accurate historical parallel with its forest practices, it should recaption the drawing, Dr. Mengele treating a young Jewish or Gypsy boy (circa 1944).
The parallel is apt. At death camps, Nazi physicians used phenol to control typhus and other contagious diseases. Children, adults on the medical block and others who had the potential to become ill were selected for "scientific treatment"the injection of phenol into the patient's bloodstream. Most patients died almost immediately, and thus didn't spread the disease.
On public lands, Boise Cascade kills trees and forests ostensibly for the same purpose, but both examples are lies promulgated to allow the perpetrators to continue their destruction.
The government and a mercenary media are helping transnational corporations destroy our forests. The American people must put a stop to this.
Nobody would accuse the Gingrich Revolution of being subtle. But while the G-Men conduct their frontal assault on women and children, the forest products industry's legislative henchmen are masking their war on trees under the guise of "forest health."To the poll-conscious 104th Congress, it's more acceptable to be against welfare than environmental protection, but if you read the fine print, the basic corporate giveaway agenda is the same.
The major vehicle for the pro-timber forces is the bill introduced by Idaho Sen. Larry Craig under the moniker of "The Federal Lands Forest Health Production and Restoration Act ." The so-called forest health bill would give the U.S. Forest Service a blank check to cut timber in all but wilderness and wilderness study areas in cases where fire or insect infestation even remotely looks like a possibility. Since virtually every tree has a bug in it, that means just about everywhere.
It's no accident that "forest health" is rapidly becoming a synonym for clearcutting. Health is the buzzword of choice these days, no matter what side you're on in the environmental debate. Focus groups commissioned by the Endangered Species Coalition let them know the lay of the land: people only want to save species if it will help them, so concentrate on things like saving the cancer-fighting Pacific yew tree and forget about nature for its own sake.
Mark Rey, who recently joined the staff of Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) after a long stint at the National Forest Products Association, was hip to the jargon. So, with the help of two industry lawyers, Rey got to work on a forest health bill that had been batted around by environmentalists and timber industry people for four years, deleting its provisions for citizen involvement and inserting provisions that would truncate the requirements of at least three major environmental laws: the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Forest Management Act.
In the first two weeks of March, Republicans from the West also introduced two riders, one on an appropriations bill and another on a budget recession bill (which removes items from last year's budget). Sen. Slade Gorton's "sufficiency rider" tacked on to a defense spending bill would exempt national forest land from environmental laws, effectively destroying the Clinton-engineered compromise on ancient forests in the Pacific Northwest.
In other action, the House Appropriations Committee passed a rider permitting expedited salvage logging of over three billion board feet from the national forests over and above the level already permitted by law. Representative Sid Yates (D-Ill.) estimated the amendment, which also limits citizen involvement and judicial review, would cost taxpayers $350 million a year to implement.
Both the salvage rider and the Craig "forest health" bill are supposedly designed to help alleviate a real problem caused by a century of fire suppression, which is that fires now tend to burn hotter and last longer than they used to because of the overabundance of understory in many forests. Given the high cost of last summer's wildfires, you'd think the Forest Service would be thrilled. On the contrary, official reaction ranged from lukewarm to outright opposition.
"Personally, I think we can utilize existing legislation instead of creating new laws," says Ann Bartuska, Director of Forest Pest Management and one of the bright lights of the "new" forest service. Bartuska points out that there has been a forest health program for five years and that, like many of the so-called regulatory reforms of the Republican Congress, the Craig bill would create more bureaucracy and more paper. She adds that Forest Service officials have been meeting with other agencies to streamline the consultation and evaluation processes required by ESA and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)without changing the laws or their provisions for public involvement.
Bartuska is especially concerned about the bill's definitions of "dead and dying" trees which could be salvaged. Like ecologists at both the Wilderness Society and the World Wildlife Fund, Bartuska expressed concern that if the bill passed, it would be the older, larger trees that would be cut, to "sweeten the pot" for timber companies called in for "thinning".
These are the kinds of abuses that Clinton-era reformers have been trying to correct, which explains their vote of non-support for Craig's bill. Earlier this month Jim Lyons, undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, testified before Congress, strongly opposing provisions that would short-circuit existing environmental laws. For instance, in areas qualifying for "emergency" status under the Craig bill, environmentalists would not be able to file administrative appeals. Instead, they would be forced to go to court, a far more
In the recent furor over Congress' efforts to balance the budget, an important issue has received too little coverage the so-called forest-health initiative introduced by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. Ironically, this bill would do nothing to promote forest health while costing taxpayers millions.
Senate Bill 391 would suspend 20 years of environmental laws and encourage wholesale logging in our public forests. It would lay out the red carpet for the timber industry, leaving taxpayers to puck up the tab. Craig's bill says logging must go on, regardless of the cost to you an me: "No . . . activity shall be precluded because the costs thereof are likely to exceed the revenues therefrom."
Craig says his bill will promote forest health by allowing the removal of dead, dying and diseased timber through so-called "salvage logging." But scientists agree that salvage logging harms forests more than it helps. In a study commissioned by Congress last fall, a panel of scientists said, "We know of no scientific reason to engage in salvage logging or road building in burned areas, and we know of many sound reasons not to."
The salvage question aside, Craig's bill would increase logging requirements for our national forests, requiring forest managers to cut live, healthy, old-growth forests - even along salmon runs. While giving a free ride to the timber industry, Craig's bill would further damage the already suffering fishing industry: Logging along salmon runs kills salmon - and killing salmon kills jobs.
A "forest health" bill that hurts more than it helps . . . A taxpayer rip-off from a self-styled fiscally conservative Republican . . . The Craig bill doesn't seem to make any sense at all until you look at Craig's campaign contributions. According to the D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics, Craig received more than $122,000 from timber-industry PACs between 1989 and 1994. Is there a fox in the henhouse?
Looks like another public lands giveaway at taxpayer expense to support an industry which reported record profits in 1994.
Trevor Fitzgibbon, Washington Wilderness Coalition
I am responding to D.F. Oliveria's Feb. 21 editorial on Sen. Larry Craig's so-called forest health bill. Sen. Craig's bill would give unreasonable advantage to an already advantaged timber industry through the "interested person" criteria. As stated in Section 3, "Any interested person may petition either secretary (interior/agriculture) to designate a specific area of lands of at least 100 acres in size within the secretary's jurisdiction as a forest health emergency . . . "
The hidden agenda of the Craig bill is gaining access to roadless areas, which are viewed by conservationists as critical habitat for wildlife. The so-called forest health problems are primarily found at lower elevations where big trees have been logged and little ones left behind in thickets. However, the emphasis of timber salvage will not be focused here.
It is time for all of us to recognize that dead trees are essential elements of forest ecosystems. Insects, pathogens and fire are nature's compost. Mr. Oliveria decries the "wasted" rotting dead trees without recognizing the nutrient cycling and soil-building function of decaying wood.
A recent Times/Mirror commissioned poll shows 76 percent of Americans feel environmental regulations have not gone far enough or are at the right balance. There is no excuse for exempting public lands' timber sales from this nation's environmental laws. Sen. Craig's bill will provide a legal loophole large enough to drive a log truck through. No roadless area or old-growth forest will be out of reach from a well-placed match and an "interested person" petition.
"Congress has sent a clear message to domestic terrorists who are willing to risk killing a person in order to save a tree," Craig said.
Tree spiking is hammering metal or ceramic spikes into tree trunks. They can destroy chain saws or mill saws, possibly injuring loggers and mill workers.
A group calling itself "Elves for Habitat" circulated a letter claiming undetectable ceramic spikes had been embedded in trees in the Cove-Mallard sale areas on the Nez Perce National Forest. Cove-Mallard Coalition leaders have denied any responsibility for tree spiking, or anything beyond protests.
The legislation will strengthen an existing law introduced in 1988 by then-Sen. James McClure of Idaho. It would require the courts to consider the costs incurred by companies while searching for spikes, training employees in detection methods and adding safeguards to saws.
It also would double the maximum prison time upon conviction from 20 years to 40, and allows personal lawsuits against the spikers.
Craig contends the current law has not been as effective as he had hoped because of the $10,000 threshold for the damages incurred. Rep. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho, has introduced similar legislation in the House.
Craig also announced the Senate has approved funds for the Peregrine Fund World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise. It provides $400,000 for the non-profit group, which works to save imperiled raptors worldwide.
More from Thursday's hearing on salvage logging:
·Building new roads and cutting swaths through the fire-burned areas will only worsen erosion and pollute streams and fish habitat, environmentalists said.
They say the GOP salvage plan gives timber
A bill passed by the U.S. Senate would give the Forest Service more money for timber sales and road-building measures that U.S. Sen. Larry Craig said would help speed salvage logging.
The Senate Interior Appropriations bill, passed late Wednesday 92 to 6, would raise the Forest Service timber sale budget from $181 million to $188.6 million an increase of 4.2 percent. It also would raise the agency's road construction budget from $51.8 million to $56.7 million, an increase of 9.6 percent.
The bill would increase the Bureau of Land Management's timber sale budget by 13.5 percent, from $5.55 million to $6.3 million.
"This will ensure that the Forest Service and the BLM will be ready to act, as soon as timber or salvage sales are approved by the normal process," Craig said.
The bill now goes to a Senate-House conference committee for further consideration.
Environmentalists, who opposed a measure signed into law last month that will exempt salvages sales from many environmental laws, were not pleased by the funding hikes.
"We pay for the roads for our trees to be cut down so logging companies can make money," said Lahsha Johnston, field program assistant for the Idaho office of the Wilderness Society. "It's our money. Why should we give it to the logging companies?"
Also Wednesday, an anti-tree-spiking measure by Craig to toughen sanctions against those who attempt to stop timber cutting passed the U.S. Senate. The measure also was attached to the Interior Appropriations Act.
·"You are, by your inability to move, throwing away a phenomenal amount of taxpayers' money," Sen. Larry Craig said.
·Agriculture Under Secretary Jim Lyons agreed the value of
the salvaged logs will fall, the longer they lie while awaiting
environmental studies and preparation of salvage sales. But he also
said demand for the salvage logs isn't nearly what lawmakers claimed.
For instance, of 223.4 million board feet of salvageable timber in
Idaho alone, including 190 million board feet in the Boise National
Forest, sale offers for
48 million board feet drew no bids.
expensive and time-consuming process. The time allotted for citizen review under NEPA would be cut, and requirements to study the environmental effects of Bogging would also be reduced.
Even before Lyons hit the microphones, the environmental movement's senior timber warrior, National Audubon Society vice president Brock Evans, was already marshaling his forces, counting Senate heads to gauge whether a filibuster could be pulled off.
But putting out fires in Washington, D.C., may be draining energy from setting fires in the forests that need them. Forest ecologist Wallace Covington at Northern Arizona University is one of the people trying to figure out how to correct the imbalance created by more than a century of fire suppression. Putting out fires has interrupted natural fire cycleswhich range from half a dozen years to several hundred or moreand created, in some forests, what Covington calls "a population explosion of trees." This is especially true in states like Arizona, where much of the forest thrived on small wildfires every seven to ten years until European settlement In one spot he studied in Arizona, Covington counted 1,200 trees growing on an acre of land that supported only 23 trees in pre-settlement days.
This is the perfect set-up for the big-time fires we've seen in the past few summers. The jury is still out on whether these fires are truly catastrophic Yellowstone is looking pretty good lately but they sure cost the government a lot of money and scare people. And it's true that diversity in these fire-dependent forests has decreased: charismatic megafauna such as Merriam's elk no longer roam in their previous numbers and even shrubs have given way to white firs sprouting in the understory
Covington, who has studied this phenomena in the ponderosa pine forests of Arizona's Kaibab Plateau for 20 years, likens the situation to the extinction of natural predators: wolves, bears, coyotes, black-footed ferrets.
"With the industrialization of the West, lots of things were set into motion,'' says Covington. "The paradigm at the time was an agricultural paradigm instead of a wildlands paradigm. The idea was to eliminate waste. Predators were waste in the food web. Fires were seen as waste, too. But just like predators kept deer in check, fire kept trees in check."
Covington has been developing ways to restore ponderosa pine forests by thinning younger understory trees, raking slash and debris, and setting in place a continuous regimen of prescribed burning. But, like Ann Bartuska of the Forest Service, he's not about to trust the plan offered by Craig because it funds restoration activities through salvage logging, which will inevitably put pressure on foresters to sell off big trees. It's a fox in the hen house scenario, with timber sale planners doing work that should be left to ecologists.
The Craig bill is supported by only one conservation group, American Forests, which has been described as "the Forest Service's little brother." The group's director, Neil Sampson, feels so strongly about the forest health crisis that he's willing to trust the U.S. Forest Service with a blank check. But the rest of the environmental community thinks he'd be better advised to support projects like Covington's plan for the ponderosa pine forests of the Kaibab Plateau.
Covington flew off to Washington, D.C., in early March to sell Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt on the idea of restoring 10,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land to its healthy pre-settlement state, and earn thousands from timber sales in the process. And unlike Senators Gorton and Craig, he won't have to violate any environmental laws to do it.
Susan Zakin is the author of Coyotes and Town Dogs: Earth First! and the Environmental Movement which is being published in paperback in April.
In the tradition of his predecessor Jim McClure, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig has sent a fiery letter to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service demanding to know why timber harvest goals are not being met in its Northern Rockies region.
"I am very disappointed with the Forest Service's accomplishment and accountability for timber outputs in Idaho and the nation as a whole," the Republican wrote to Dale Robertson. "You have serious management problems that must be addressed. It is my hope you will move to assure targets are met and line officers are held accountable for targets."
Craig has yet to receive a reply, but in a congressional hearing Tuesday Deputy Chief Jim Overbay assured him that one was being drafted. A spokesman for regional forester John Mumma in Missoula said Mumma would not comment until Robertson had responded.
In interviews Wednesday, a timber industry spokesman and conservationistwith vastly different perspectives on Craig's letter both noted the senator's reference to Forest Service officers.
"There seems to be no one accountable in the Forest Service," said Joe Hinson of the Intermountain Forest Industry Association. "And because there's no onus on anyone to be accountable, they're not punished, if you will, if the timber sales don't get offered when they should."
The Coeur d'Alene executive said time-consuming environmental analyses and appeals of timber sales are the main reason given by the agency for not supplying the wood that North Idaho and Montana mills were expecting.
Hinson also blames bureaucratic inefficiency. Meetings, conferences and training sessions keep agency staffers from laying out sales, marking trees and designing roads, he said.
Dennis Baird of the Idaho Environmental Council expressed dismay that Craig would come down hard on agency personnel when the real problem is the lack of trees that can be cut without damaging the land.
"Careers are being threatened for failure to pillage," the Moscow activist said. "It's sleazy. It's unethical."
KALISPELL, Mont. Sept. 11 Supervisors of some of the nation's largest public forests say they have come under intense political pressure to cut more timber than the land can handle.
Already, grizzly bears and 20-pound bull trout are in trouble from excessive logging in the forests of the northern Rocky Mountains, biologists say. Now, managers of these forests say they are slowing down the Government's logging program to protect fish and wildlife. But they say they are doing so at the risk of their own jobs.
The timber industry, some Bush Administration officials and other politicians argue that trees on the public lands of the Northern Rockies must be logged at a certain level to keep the regional economy afloat. But the Forest Service supervisors say Western senators and Administration officials are trying to force them into unsound land stewardship to benefit the industry.
"The pressure is there and it is intense," said Orville Daniels. supervisor of the 2.5-million-acre Lolo National Forest in Montana.
Mr. Daniels and other foresters and biologists across the nation say they are caught in a squeeze between science and politics. This week, a Congressional subcommittee began issuing subpoenas to top Forest Service officials, who are to appear at a Sept. 24 hearing, before the House Subcommittee on Civil Service, to determine whether professional land managers are being harassed.
A Federal district judge in Seattle, in issuing an injunction against logging in parts of the Northwest, spoke of "executive branch" meddling in the agencies governing the nation's public forests. The judge, William L. Dwyer, wrote on May 23 that there was "a deliberate and systematic refusal by the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to comply with laws projecting wildlife."
"This is not the doing of scientists, foresters, rangers and others at working levels of these agencies," continued Judge Dwyer, who was appointed by president Reagan in 1987. "It reflects decisions made by higher authorities in the executive branch of government."
At the center of the Montana dispute is John W. Mumma, a 32-year Forest Service employee, who was forced into retirement at the age of 51 this month after Western Republican senators and timber industry executives complained that he was not allowing trees to be logged fast enough from the Rocky Mountains.
Mr. Mumma oversaw 25 million acres of public land in 13 National Forests in Montana, Idaho and the Dakotas. The first biologist to hold the job of regional forester in the Northern Rockies, he was widely regarded as a reformer, and his ouster two weeks ago is seen by some in the service as a signal that the Bush Administration is caving in to political pressure from the timber industry.
"If they get away with this, the budding reform movement in the Forest Service could be squashed," said Jeff DeBonis, founder of the Association of Forest Service employees for Environmental Ethics, which he said has 2,000 past and present service workers among its membership.
Top timber industry executives met recently with Agriculture Secretary Edward Madigan, who oversees the Forest Service, and complained that Mr. Mumma was not putting enough trees up for sale. Nationwide, only 60 percent of this year's Government timber target has been met, which the Forest Service attributes to environmental appeals. It was Mr. Madigan who ordered Mr. Mumma to take a desk job in Washington this month. He refused the reassignment, and announced his retirement instead. Neither Mr. Mumma nor Mr. Madigan would comment on the move.
Susan Hess, director of public affairs for the Forest Service, said the inability of Mr. Mumma to meet the timber cut was only part of the reason for his ouster. She said his removal as regional forester was not an attempt to stifle dissident voices in the Forest Service, but rather "was due to the general job performance of Mr. Mumma."
Under a typical timber sale, the Forest Service builds the roads and then sells the timber to private logging companies. Most of the trees are clearcut, a method in which all the trees are removed from a given site.
The land that Mr. Mumma oversaw is bigger than most American states, and is perhaps the most sparsely populated area in the contiguous United States. But it supports huge trout, badgers, wolves, mountain goats, mountain lions, large herds of elk and deer, and the only sizable population of grizzly bears outside of Alaska.
In an effort to try to repair some of the land after more than a decade of heavy cutting, forest supervisors throughout the region have been reducing the volume of timber, going below the targets set by Congress.
"We have a good thing going for the future, and I do not intend for us to screw it up for short-term reasons that are not sound," wrote Tom Kovalicky, supervisor of The Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho, in a memo sent to other Government foresters last fall.
Commenting on Mr. Mumma in that memo, Mr. Kovalicky wrote, "John is the only regional forester in recent times who is fighting for resource balance.''
But the refusal by Federal land managers to cut as much timber as desired by industry has angered Republican senators like Larry E. Craig of Idaho and Conrad Burns of Montana.
Last May, Senator Craig wrote a letter to F. Dale Robertson, the Chief of he Forest Service, in which he castigated the chief for not cutting trees fast enough in the Rocky Mountain region. "You have serious management problems that must be addressed,'' Senator Craig wrote in the May 23 letter. "It is my hope that you will move to assure targets are met and line officers are held accountable."
He told Mr. Robertson to send him summaries each month of what the service was doing to keep sales flowing. "I intend to take increased oversight of the operation of the Forest Service," he said in closing.
In an interview, Mr. Craig said he did not intend the letter to be a direct threat to Mr. Mumma's job. He said the region was in "crisis and paralysis," and that slowing timber sales could eventually threaten jobs.
As for the contention that forest managers cannot cut the amount of timber desired by industry and Congress without harming wildlife, Senator Craig said, "I'm frustrated by that because I don't know if it's just an excuse."
Yet even other private logging companies say excessive cutting by Plum Creek and others caused officials to restrict logging on public land. "It's very much a part of the problem," said Doug Mood of the Pyramid Mountain Lumber Company, a small concern near Missoula.
But Mr. Mood also faulted the Forest Service. "From the leadership, right on down, they don't know what they want anymore in the Forest Service," he said.
It is also an area with large tracts of corporate timberland, primarily that of the Plum Creek Timber Company, whose managers acknowledged several years ago that were cutting far more trees than could grow back to replace them. They said they were not practicing sustained yield, the long held industry concept of cutting an even amount of trees every year, and then replanting in place of the clear cuts.
Plum Creek owns about 800,000 acres of forest in Montana. The company's leaders now say they are curbing the excesses of the 1980's and are practicing what they call "environmental forestry,"less clearcutting and more trees left as buffer zones around creeks and streams.
In recent years, Federal and private studies have documented how excessive logging, on public and private land, has affected elk, grizzly bears and trout in the Rockies. For example, heavy tree cutting was found to be the cause of mudslides and sediment buildup in Swan River, just south of here, which flows into Flathead Lake.
The sediment, and the algae that come with it, are so high in some places that it strangling the river of oxygen, which trout need to survive, according to a study released this summer.
"The Swan is one of the last premier bull trout basins left in the world, and if nothing is done, it will continue to choke on sediment," said Dr. Richard Hauer, a University of Montana biologist, who was a co-author of the study.
Effect on Wildlife
Near Kalispell, in a 459-square-mile corner of the National Forest where as much as 70 percent of the land has been clear-cut, Federal biologists warned in 1989 that continued high logging could affect grizzly bears, which are a threatened species. The bears have been forced to scatter to isolated high country. Yet logging that section, the Yaak region, was increased by 30 percent last year, rather than reduced as the Forest Service favored, after staff members of Senator James A. McClure, a Republican of Idaho who retired from the Senate in 1990, met with the Forest Service staff.
Mr. McClure and foresters with Plum Creek said a higher level of logging was needed in the Yaak region and nearby areas because the trees are infested with pine beetles. They argued that it was better to salvage the trees while they have commercial value, a view disputed by other foresters.
Idaho Republicans in Congress have again asked the Reagan administration to delay the release of controversial forest plans in Idaho.
Sen. Steve Symms and Rep. Larry Craig have asked Assistant Agriculture Secretary George Dunlop to delay the release of the long-range management plans for the Clearwater, Nez Perce and Idaho Panhandle national forests.
The three plans were scheduled for release in September, a move that would mark the end of years of controversy about the future of the forests.
Symms and Craig asked Dunlop in an Aug. 12 letter to delay the release of the northern Idaho plans for a month to allow more time to study them.
"We fear that in the case of North Idaho, local Forest Service officials have become somewhat defensive and protective of their draft plan decisions," the letter said.
The letter lends apparent credence to charges by conservationists that Idaho Republicans are using their clout with Reagan administration appointees to force the U.S. Forest Service to base the plans primarily on political, rather than biological, considerations.
The plans are already behind schedule for more than a year because of the Republicans' appeals for more time. The Nez Perce plan, for example, was originally scheduled for release in June 1986.
The administration halted the release of all pending Idaho forest plans then, however, for a comprehensive study of the potential economic impacts. That study was released this spring.
The study predicted that there would be a shortfall of federal timber in southern Idaho but little net effect in northern Idaho.
Idaho Wildlife Federation president Kent Henderson of Lewiston said the call for the latest delay was akin to double-dealing. The latest call for a hold on the plans has broken faith with the public that joined in the U.S. Forest Service process.
" One of the things that angers me most is that I am part of the constituency and I had expected a greater amount of respect than to be double dealt," Henderson said.
If forest planning, which is supposed to consider what's best for all resources, is delayed there will be repercussions. Logging plans in some areas will be delayed as well, he said.
"I just wish we'd have half as much interest in wildlife, water quality and fish (as in timber)," said Craig Gehrke of The Wilderness Society at Boise.
"This looks like one last ditch effort to screw up the plans before the public has a chance to see them," Gehrke added.
Regional Forester James Overbay of the U.S. Forest Service at Missoula said he has seen a copy of the letter but has not received word of Dunlop's response.
The requested month delay may be a moot point, however, he said. The plans are not scheduled for release until sometime in mid-September, a month after the letter was written.
Overbay said final work is now being completed on the last parts of the plans and that other parts presumably have already been printed.
"I am trying to meet with them to find out what they are concerned about," Overbay said. Without word from the secretary's office, he added, "I am not planning for a month's delay."
"I don't know what all is going on. We've tried to be responsive in the past."
Carl Haywood, an aide to Sen. James McClure, was at Missoula a week ago seeking more information about the plans. McClure's press secretary, H.D. Palmer, said late Friday the senator knew of the letter but "opted not to sign it."
McClure may not have signed the letter because he was briefed on the plans in recent weeks, Overbay speculated.
Too little time was available during that recent trip to the capital to brief Symms and Craig on the plans, Overbay said.
(Purpose: To provide that the adoption of an amendment to the resource management plan for the Clearwater National Forest under section 314(c)(2) of the bill will satisfy the requirement for revision referred to in the Stipulation of Dismissal dated September 13, 1993, relating to that national forest)
On page 110; between lines 2 and 3, insert the following:
"(7) On the signing of a record of decision or equivalent document making an amendment of the Clearwater National Forest pursuant to paragraph (2), the requirement for revision referred to in the Stipulation of Dismissal dated September 13, 1993, applicable to the Clearwater National Forest is deemed to be satisfied, and the interim management direction provisions contained in the Stipulation Dismissal shall be of no further effect with respect to the Clearwater National Forest."
A 2-year-old settlement of a suit between conservationists and the federal government over management of the Clearwater National Forest would unravel by the end of next year under a proposal that cleared the U.S. Senate this week.
U.S. Sen. Larry Craig Wednesday attached an amendment onto the Interior appropriation that, combined with a separate amendment, would scrap both an interim cap of 80 million board feet on annual timber sales on the Clearwater National Forest and a ban on timber sales and road construction in roadless areas protected under former Congressman Larry LaRocco's ill-fated wilderness bill.
In addition, full environmental impact statements for timber sales and road construction in old growth stands larger than 100 acres and a prohibition of projects that would increase sediment production in watersheds that don't meet the forest plan's standards would be jettisoned.
"Here is Larry Craig doing the bidding of his timber industry masters," said John McCarthy, a spokesman for the Idaho Conservation League.
"The timber industry chose not to get involved in a timely, legal fashion and instead got its senator to cut out the public and the legal system. It flies in the face of public involvement, sound forestry, sound economics and sound multiple use management."
Craig's plan would allow a simple amendment of the Clearwater forest plan to satisfy the settlement's requirement of a revision, which is a much more in-depth undertaking.
The other amendment would require the Clearwater and other national forests in the Columbia River Basin Ecosystem Management Project to amend their plans by the end of the next year, with the help of the project's environmental impact statements.
Craig said Friday he doesn't know whether his staff consulted the timber industry about the amendment, but the proposal was treated like any other and shown to both Democratic and Republican staffers.
"I was interested in seeing that as we move through any renewing of the forest plans that we do so on a level playing field,"he said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.
Craig said he proposed the amendment simply to allow for a review of the areas LaRocco proposed as wilderness on the Clearwater.
LaRocco's wilderness bill would have designated four new wilderness areas totaling 422,000 acres on the forest. Included was the 179,200-acre Great Burn Wilderness, which was the largest wilderness area proposed by LaRocco.
"We certainly support Senator Craig, who shared our concerns about the original settlement," said Ken Kohli, a spokesman for the Intermountain Forest Industry Association.
"If one wants to see a perfect example of a back room deal, you only have to look at the original agreement."
Two years ago, timber industry officials said the settlement of the lawsuit between conservation groups and the federal government represented the spoils of President Clinton's ascent to power for environmentalists.
U.S. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne and Craig subsequently called on then Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy to abandon the settlement and reopen negotiations because they claimed the pact violated the National Environmental Policy Act and National Forest Management Act.
Conservationists filed suit in 1992 to force the U.S. Forest Service to act on a 1987 appeal of the Clearwater's long-range management plan. They claimed the Forest Service was unrealistic in setting 173 million board feet as the proper allowable sale quantity.
McCarthy said issues tied to allowable sale quantity, water quality and old growth stands would get greater scrutiny through a revision of the Clearwater National Forest's resource management plan than through the approach Craig's amendment would allow.
A former Clearwater National Forest supervisor said U.S. Sen. Larry Craig still can't see the forest for the trees and the senator's move to lift the timber harvest cap on the Clearwater region could cause irreparable harm.
Win Green, Clearwater National Forest supervisor from 1991-93, said the Idaho Republican has continued to resist the 1976 edict of the National Forest Management Act that Green said ushered in "the day when the forest was viewed as more than just trees and the trees as more than just timber."
"Sen. Craig and others don't accept that fact," Green said today. "He touts that it's for jobs, but he's concerned about profits, about corporations and businesses. He's not in it for the jobs."
The U.S. Senate approved an amendment drafted by Craig last week that would lift a timber harvest cap of 80 million board feet per year on the Clearwater National Forest.
Craig's amendment would lift bans on old growth timber logging and road construction in roadless area of the Clearwater National Forest, parameters established two years ago after the Idaho Conservation League and other environmental groups dropped a lawsuit over a forest plan drafted in 1985.
"When I was (forest supervisor) it was obvious there were some serious problems with some of the standards of the forest plan that we were trying to sustain," Green said.
At that time, the Clearwater operated at a harvest goal of 125 to 150 million board feet per year, a goal that he said drove water quality and fish habitat standards below federally required levels and was fast putting at risk the 10 percent standard for old growth.
In 1985, former Idaho U.S. Sen. James McClure, now a board member
with Boise Cascade, produced a forest plan for the Clearwater that
called for a yearly
timber harvest of 173 million board feet, despite a plan by district rangers closer to 110 million board feet.
After first appealing a revised version of McClure's original plan to no avail, the Idaho Conservation League initiated a lawsuit in 1992 claiming the revised goal of 135 million board feet of harvest per year was significantly depleting forest resources.
The 80 million board feet compromise was reached in 1993, the same year Green retired.
"It was obvious I didn't have the support of the community or the regional office in Missoula, "he said. "We needed to either restore those watersheds, or just leave them alone and over time let them restore themselves."
But his recommendations fell on deaf ears, Green said.
"When I was supervisor of the forest I tried to spend personal time with (Craig), but he chose to ignore that information and go with his own particular views and go against what the forest required," he said.
"It's obvious he's not as concerned about the impacts on the forest as he is on harvest levels," he said. "Both are important, but you need to get your house in order before you can do both. The Clearwater is very productive, there will always be a good supply of timber, but you have to manage your resource."
Once again establishing harvest levels above 110 million board feet per year, he said, would do irreparable harm.
"They can't sustain that in the long term and not do serious damage to the rest of the forest ecosystem," Green said. "There's a lot of information and studies that have to be done before they can establish harvest levels and produce a serviceable amount."
"Interestingly enough, I did not find hostility to the idea," Craig said.
Craig said the argument that wilderness is an economic boon for the state does not wash because statistics show that few people use wilderness areas.
"It's the access," Craig said "It's the fishing. It is the Coeur d'Alene by the lake that bring people to Idaho." He was referring to The Coeur d'Alene, A Resort by the Lake, a new resort on Lake Coeur d'Alene.
John Barclay, Craig's press secretary, said later that he did not have specific usage figures for the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. But he said Forest Service figures show that wilderness usage amounts to 5 percent of the visitor days at national forests in Idaho.
Craig said a road would not diminish the wilderness experience in the area. Other wilderness areas created by Congress abut roads and have logging and powerlines, he said.
"To Easterners, wilderness is anything they can put their hand on, put a fence around it and call it wilderness," Craig said.
Craig said he favors no additional wilderness in Idaho, a position he shares with Lt. Gov. David Leroy, the Republican gubernatorial candidate.
"That's what I prefer," Craig said. "The reality of what I have to do in Washington is another question. There will be some compromise. There will be some additional wilderness areas."
First District Rep. Larry Craig said Thursday that he may propose construction of a road across the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness when an Idaho wilderness bill next comes up in Congress.
A road across the 2.2 million-acre wilderness "just makes a lot of good sense if Idaho is to promote tourism as one of its large economic components," Craig said in an interview. The Church wilderness, created in 1980, is the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states.
The Republican from Midvale said few people use the wilderness area because the average person cannot take time to hike and cannot afford to fly into it.
"Wilderness is a very elitist attitude toward the handling of our resources," Craig said. "If there were no roads into Yellowstone, no one would see Yellowstone."
Craig said he would propose that the road be paved and that it cut across the area, so motorists would have access to more of the wilderness area. He did not have a suggested route.
Campgrounds, parking lots and trailheads could be constructed along the road, he said.
Craig said he had thought for about a year about the possibility of a road being built in the wilderness area. He said he discussed the idea with Democratic Reps. John Seiberling, D-Ohio, and Arizona Democrat Morris Udall chairman of the House Interior Committee, a few months ago.
James Caswell, supervisor of the Clearwater National Forest, said the Clearwater normally would revise its long-term management plan by the year 2001, but the Senate's amendments would make an amendment tantamount to a revision and require it to be done by the end of 1996.
Craig's amendment to the Interior appropriation is headed to a House and Senate conference committee that will produce a compromise that will go back to the House and Senate for approval.
Craig said the Senate Wednesday approved a Forest Service timber sale management budget of $188.6 million, up from $181 million, and a Forest Service road construction budget of $56.7 million, up from $51.8 million, in the Interior appropriation.
"The Forest Service needs the proper preparation and funding to perform their duties and mission statement, and I am glad to say the Senate was able to give it to them," he said in a prepared statement.
The appropriation also creates a new, revolving account to permit the Forest Service to prepare sales and environmental analysis for future timber sales, Craig said. "This will ensure the Forest Service and the BLM will be ready to act, as soon as timber or salvage sales are approved through the normal process."
possibly have been serious."
"Maybe you're overreacting, senator."
"Overreacting? I spent years working to save that wilderness for future generations, and almost before the grass has grown over my grave somebody comes along and tries to build a road through it. Some people just don't have any respect for anything."
"Craig says the road makes economic sense."
"What would he know about economic sense? He couldn't even keep a doughnut company afloat."
"Everybody's entitled to a little bad luck."
''Building a road through one of the nation's last primitive areas isn't bad luck. It's an outrage."
"The congressman says he's concerned about access. He thinks better access to the wilderness will allow more people to use it."
"Let's see if I understand this correctly," the ghost of Sen. Church said. "He wants better access, right?"
"So that people can drive their cars and trucks and boats and trailers to places most of them currently reach on foot or on horseback?"
"Correct, senator. People who go there on foot or on horseback, instead of in $20,000 Suburbans and $70,000 mobile homes, he calls elitists."
"That's his idea of wilderness? A place people can clutter up with their vehicles? Doesn't he understand that the easier it is to get to, the less likely it is to remain a wilderness? Does he even know what a wilderness is? I just can't imagine why he's doing this! "
"Maybe he wants to put up a wilderness doughnut shop."
Here there was a long pause. The ghost seemed to be reflecting.
"How's the road to McCall these days?" it suddenly asked.
"Same old goat trail," I replied. "I drove it last month and saw a car almost go into the river."
"How about Highway 21?"
"And the streets of Boise?"
"Potholes you could lose a cow in."
"And Rep. Craig thinks the taxpayers have nothing better to do with their money than build expensive new highways across the wildernesswhich he sees as needing better access for recreational vehicles, portable televisions and beer cans?"
"I guess that's one way of looking at it, senator."
At this point, the ghost faded away, its last words lingering on the evening air.
"I'm glad I didn't live to see it."
Tim Woodward is a Statesman columnist.
A peculiar thing happened in the wake of Rep. Larry Craig's announcement Thursday that he wanted to build a road through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
I was driving down Latah Street that night, only hours after Craig dropped his bombshell, when a strange light appeared in Morris Hill Cemetery. At first it seemed to be coming from the restrooms, but then I noticed that it was shimmering and had a sort of unearthly luminescence about it. Curious, I went to investigate.
The light was coming from the grassy triangle where Sen. Church is buried, in the shadow of the public restrooms. As I approached his grave, a rumbling sound arose and the ground began to move. It goes without saying that I was a bit shaken.
"Who's there?" I squeaked.
"Me," a familiar voice replied.
"Me? Who's me?"
"Senator Church," the voice said.
"Senator Church? You're supposed to be dead. What on earth are you doing, Senator?"
"Rolling over in my grave."
"I beg your pardon."
"You heard me; I said I was rolling over in my grave. And with perfect justification, I might add."
"Oh, why is that?"
"You don't know what happened? You didn't hear what that kid from Midvale wants to do to the wilderness?"
"You mean the Larry Craig River of No Return Memorial Highway? Yes, I just heard about it."
"I never heard anything so preposterous in all my life."
As the voice spoke, the light above the grave coalesced and became a ghostly image of the senator. He was wearing the turtle tie left over from his 1976 presidential race.
"I'm sorry they buried you next to the restrooms, senator," I said in an effort to cheer him up.
"Restrooms I can handle," he said, "but this highway business is the final insult. A highway through a primitive area? It's ludicrous! "
"But Rep. Craig said he discussed his plan with some leading Democrats, and that they weren't hostile to it."
"Did he say they liked it?"
"No, he just said they weren't hostile to it."
"They probably thought it was so ridiculous that he couldn't
There's nothing clear-cut about wilderness issues, if you'll pardon the pun. But Congressman Larry Craig (R-Idaho) is about as conducive to bringing the arguments to compromise as the idiot who hammers steel spikes into a tree.
Craig, as you will recall, is the congressman who recently had to check with his mother's diary to determine whether he had hunted in Idaho last year. He's also the representative who proposed building a paved road through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and who suggested in a Bonners Ferry newspaper that one can't camp or hunt within wilderness boundaries.
More recently, Craig has been among the Idaho leaders who have said citizens outside of Idaho should keep their noses out of the state's wilderness debate.
The debate, of course, centers around federal lands, which belong just as much to a resident of New York as they do to a resident of Boisea reality Craig recognizes only when its conducive to his anti multiple-use concept of public lands.
For example, a Montana wilderness bill was introduced in Congress last Wednesday by Rep. Pat Williams (D-Mont). The bill included so-called soft release language, the result of negotiations and compromise among the many interests in public lands. Soft-release language gives the Forest Service some latitude in managing roadless areas by leaving some of the decisions on roadless area management for future generations.
However, Craig stuck his noseas I assume he would put itinto Montana's business by offering an amendment that would insert hard-release language into the bill.
This would do two things: It would require that all lands not
specifically approved in the bill for wilderness would be opened for
logging and development. And it would doom the Montana wilderness
much as these uncompromising tactics doomed Idaho wilderness bills in recent years.
After rambling on about this amendment for a half-hour, Craig withdrew it. No one knows when he will resurrect it again.
Craig obviously is a pawn of the timber industry which is trying to convince the public that soft release language isn't working in Washington and Oregon. This is baloney.
In the early '80s, virtually every timber sale proposed in a roadless area was being challenged by conservationists trying to bring under control the rampant and indefensible destruction of wild lands.
But despite what Larry Craig and the timber industry say, the passage of wilderness bills with soft-release language has been good not only for conservationists and forest managers, but also for the timber industry.
Since the Washington Wilderness Act was passed in 1984, 74 timber sales have been approved in roadless areas within the state while only three have been delayed by appeals or suits.
When Idaho's political leaders say non-residents don't have any say in Idaho's wilderness debate, they're not talking dollars or sense.
Consider anglers and hunters, just two of the many factions of non-residents attracted by Idaho's back country.
Last year, Idaho residents paid $2.5 million for fishing licenses and permits while non-residents paid a substantial $1.8 million. Resident hunters paid $3.6 million for licenses and permits while non-residents paid a whopping $4.1 million, making a critical contribution to the state's wildlife management program.
MOSCOWRep. Larry Craig is offering an apology for saying he had been hunting in Idaho last fall when he actually has not hunted in the state for the last couple of years.
Craig was asked earlier this month about his hunting activities as part of a poll of top state political leaders, and he replied tsays "everything was kind of a blur"hat he had been pheasant hunting just last fall near his family's ranch in Midvale.
But a check of Idaho Fish and Game department records by the Moscow Idahonian, which conducted the poll, showed Craig had not purchased a state hunting license last year.
"I was up to the ranch a lot last fall because we've been having these financial difficulties and I was working with the folks on it and was busy with that and the campaign," Craig said. "So everything was kind of a blur."
"When you asked the question, I automatically reacted, and I reacted inaccurately," he said. "I owe you an apology if I misled you, which it clearly sounds like I did."
The financial troubles Craig was referring to are those suffered
by Craig Ranches Inc., a Midvale cattle firm he owns with his
parents. On Dec. 31, Craig Ranches filed for protection from
creditors under Chapter 12, the federal bankruptcy code approved
specifically for financially strapped farms.
A member of the National Rifle Association's board of directors, the Republican lawmaker has been involved in the uproar over Gov. Cecil Andrus' broadside in which Andrus called some NRA leaders the "gun nuts of the world."
Andrus, who is opposed to gun control, has said that national leaders of the NRA have lost touch with members on such matters as control of plastic guns and armor-piercing or cop-killer bullets. The Democrat also has said that unpopular policy decisions were being forced on Idaho NRA members by out-of-state leaders.
The NRA has countered, saying that the governor has made "utterly false and misleading" statements about the organization and that he has misstated the group's stands on some hunting issues.
The organization supported former Lt. Gov. David Leroy, Andrus' opponent in the 1986 gubernatorial election.
At times, the dispute has deteriorated into back-and-forth challenges of who actually supported hunters and hunting in Idaho.
The informal newspaper poll showed Andrus the most frequent hunter, with the other members of the congressional delegation getting in only a limited number of outings last year.
After the records check showed Craig had not obtained a license, the congressman said he checked his activities with his mother, who keeps a diary of ranch operations.
"She said, 'No, you haven't gone hunting up here for the last couple of years,'" Craig said. "So I wasn't poaching, either."
When Sens. Larry Craig and Pete Domenici unveiled their grazing legislation this spring, they said the measure would protect family ranchers from threats posed by new regulations created by the Clinton administration.
But an analysis of federal grazing permits in Idaho shows that the biggest stake in the grazing rights battle is held by a few major ranching operations: 14 percent of the ranches in the state have rights to 70 percent of the grazing land leased out by the Bureau of Land Management.
"The large operations stand to gain the most from Domenici's bill, because they will survive," said Karl Hess Jr., a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. "The smaller ranches are simply going to disappear."
The Clinton administration's regulations went into effect Monday, after Republicans were unable to head them off before Congress adjourned for summer recess. The regulations set goals for maintaining the ecological health of rangeland and give hikers, anglers and other users of BLM lands a louder voice.
The Craig-Domenici legislation would repeal the administration's regulations. Craig, an Idaho Republican, and Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, want to decree grazing the primary use of public rangelands. Ranchers who do not graze their allotments for two years in a row would risk losing their permits, under the plan.
Hess and other analysts say the legislation could hurt small operations because it would discourage use of land for anything other than raising livestock. Potentially lucrative uses, such as raising wildlife for hunting and fishing, would be made more difficult, he said.
"Under Domenici's bill, all a rancher can do is make cows," Hess said. "Given that it's hard to make money raising cows, the bill's a recipe for small operations to go out of business."
Craig said his legislation does not make grazing the exclusive use of federal rangelands. Ranchers, for example, can apply for extensions that allow them to take land out of livestock grazing use for periods of time. He said the most important role of the legislation would be to block the administration's new rules.
"I've always been an advocate of the small rancher, and, in crafting the Rangeland Management Act, my goal was to make it so the small rancher wasn't so encumbered by regulations that he or she would ultimately be put out of business," Craig said.
But the trend in cattle operations in Idaho and nationwide during the past 30 years has been toward larger, more centralized ranches.
A 1992 report by the General Accounting Office, a research arm of
Congress, found that 16 percent of
BLM permit holders have 76 percent of the grazing rights. Grazing rights are measured in animal unit months, or aum'sthe amount of fodder a mother cow and calf will eat in a month.
"What we found is that there's a small number of people that control a large number of aum's," said Brent Hutchison, author of the report. "The more aum's you have, the more impact any kind of legislation will have on you."
The trend toward larger operations has come as the cost of ranching outpaces the prices that ranchers get for beef. The owners of small ranches often have been forced to sell to larger operations in order to avoid bankruptcy, said Bob Sears of the Idaho Cattle Association.
"Small ranchers could not afford to stay in business," Sears said. "They were fortunate to have Simplot and others there to buy them out."
The number of cattle operations in Idaho has
fallen by half since 1965, from 25,000 to 12,500, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The number of cattle in Idaho, however, has increased by 180,000, from 1.6 million in 1965 to 1.78 million today. The trend toward fewer, larger ranches mirrors the agricultural industry nationwide. The average size of a U.S. farm in 1990 was 461 acres, up from 426 acres in 1981, according to the American Farmland Trust of Washington, D .C. Meantime, the number of farms and ranches has fallen to 1.9 million, the lowest number since the Civil War.
The cattle industry says large operations aren't the only ones affected by the battle over grazing rules.
"All ranchers have their livelihood at stake," Sears said. "The ability to take your cattle onto public lands during the summer is as critical for the owner of one cow as it is for the owner of 10,000."
Sears' Idaho Cattle Association is fighting Clinton's regulations, saying they will make it much harder for ranches of all sizes to survive. Onerous measures that seek to protect the health of rangelands, Sears said, could force ranchers off the land.
Fred Zerza, a spokesman for Simplot Livestock Co., Idaho's largest ranching operation, argues the new regulations are hardest on the smallest ranches.
"The small rancher doesn't have much flexibility," Zerza said. "We think Clinton's proposal increases the possibility that small ranchers will be forced out of business."
J.R. Simplot and members of his family own 10 ranches in Idaho, which lease a total of 74,000 aum's of federal land.
Some say public land grazing often is a marginal occupation that should not be favored by federal law. BLM land, generally in dry areas that homesteaders didn't want, is not highly productive. That's one reason Idaho ranks No. 19 in cattle production nationwide, yet No. 6 in BLM acreage.
Public land grazing on BLM land, U.S. Forest Service land and other public property provides only 3.5 percent of the nation's beef, according to Hess of the Cato Institute.
Chris Wood, a policy analyst for the BLM, said Clinton's proposal, by setting up ways to allow hunters, hikers, anglers and others to work out, with ranchers, ways to share public lands, is the best way to ensure the survival of the ranching lifestyle.
"The West isn't like what it was like 60 years ago," Wood said. "We need to bring the birdwatcher to the same table the third generation rancher is sitting at."
Recreational use of Western land is a growing trend that's not going to go away, he said. If interests other than ranching are kept out of rangeland decisions, he said, lawsuits will certainly result.
"The only certainty that locking the public out will provide is the certainty of conflict," Wood said. "That won't help any ranchers, no matter what size their operation."
WASHINGTON Chanting "we want a leader, not a logger," environmentalists revved up 21 chain saws in front of the White House Friday in a mocking "salute" to President Clinton's signing of a logging law they opposed.
"Americans better get used to the sound of chain saws in their national forests. That's what they are going to hear the next two years," Sierra Club President Robert Cox said.
"This is a 21 chain-saw salute to arguably the most destructive action against the environment in the last half century," he said.
About 150 environmental activists joined in the rally at Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. Several carried signs that read, "President Clinton is an Environmental Chameleon" and "Thanks for Nothing Bill."
"You told the American people you'd veto logging without laws. You broke that promise," said Kevin Kirchner, a lawyer for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.
In Portland, Ore., about two dozen chanting demonstrators marched
in a circle on the sidewalk outside the World Trade Center, where
Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore., has an office. Others circled the block
on bicycles, including some of the yellow bikes collected by citizen
and left unlocked on downtown city streets for use by anyone. Hatfield supported the law that prompted the protests.
Clinton on Thursday signed a comprehensive spending-reduction bill that includes language that waives environmental laws to speed up salvage logging in national forests nationwide. The logging is intended to reduce fire threats by removing dead and dying trees.
It also provides exemptions from laws protecting fish and wildlife to carry out logging in forests with northern spotted owls in Oregon, Washington and northern California.
Clinton vetoed the same idea earlier, saying it was a "very bad environmental provision." In reversing his position and agreeing to accept the logging measure, he said he does not intend to take advantage of the exemptions and will conduct the timber harvests consistent with existing laws.
White House press secretary Mike McCurry on Friday said Clinton was "not happy with the language" on timber salvage, but that he had brought about significant changes in the legislation that would allow him to continue to "meet our responsibilities for environmental stewardship."
JOHN DAY Tim Lillebo seized a bough of green needles that drooped from a lofty grand fir in northeastern Oregon's Blue Mountains.
The tree was within the charred boundaries of the 1994 Reed fire northeast of John Day, but it appeared to have suffered little fire damage. Nevertheless, it and several other green larches and grand firs nearby had been striped with blue paint, signifying that they are to be cut as part of a 6.4 million-board-foot helicopter fire salvage sale by the U.S. Forest Service.
"These are trees that survived years of insects, seven years of drought, and they made it through the fire," said Lillebo, a Bend-based field director of the 6,000-member Oregon Natural Resources Council. "They are survivors, and now the Forest Service is going to kill them."
The Reed fire swept across 2,200 acres of the Malheur National Forest in September and October 1994 killing countless trees. But the fire left a mosaic of living trees, too.
That these green trees are marked for harvest underscores the worst underscores the worst fears of the environmental community about a salvage logging measure signed into law by President Clinton in July.
The "Rescission Bill," as environmentalists refer to it, initially was vetoed by Clinton, but the president later signed it into law. It waives laws protecting fish and wildlife to speed the removal of dead and dying timber on national forests.
The Forest Service anticipates 541 million board feet of salvage
timber will be harvested in Oregon and Washington in fiscal 1996
under the bill, and 4.5
billion board feet nationally by the end of December 1996 said Sandy Berger, Forest Service spokeswoman in Portland.
"Overall, we're going to obey the lawall the environmental laws," which means green timber won't be cut unless it is dead or dying, Berger said of the planning process for those salvage sales.
Sharon Sweeney of John Day, spokeswoman for the Malheur National Forest, said trees in the Reed Fire Recovery Project, as the salvage sale is officially known, were marked last spring. She said nobody intended to include green trees, but some that had been scorched were marked for harvest because they were expected to die.
"I'm sure the vast majority that we marked are either dead or will have died," she said.
From the onset, environmentalists worried the measure would be signed into law with broad loopholes making possible the harvest of live healthy trees as well as those dying due to insects, disease or wildfire damage.
Asante Riverwind and Karen Coulter of Fossil, co-directors of the Blue Mountain Biodiversity Project environmental group, say the designers of the Reed fire sale appear to have ignored recommendations in a March 1995 report called "Wildfire and Salvage Logging" by a group of Northwest scientists.
The team that made the report was headed by Robert L. Beschta of Oregon State University, and it recommended salvage planners leave at least 50 percent of standing dead trees in each diameter class, leave all large trees and those older than 150 years, and generally not harvest any live trees. The document also advised against logging where slopes are steep or where soils are fragile and erosive.
"A lot of this is on steep slopes and fragile soils," said Coulter.
Riverwind believes the presence of the salvage bill plus a more conservative climate in Washington D.C., makes it impractical to try to stop sales such as this one in court.
"The Forest Service would invoke the Rescission Bill," he said. "It's a foregone conclusion the case would be thrown out."
Perhaps ironically, the forest blackened by the Reed fire may
escape the axes and saws of loggers
even without court action. The Forest Service formally sought salvage sale bidders in John Day last week but got no takers, said Sullivan.
"The availability of helicopters isn't that great, and that could be one of the prime reasons," she said. "Logging-type helicopters are few and far between, even for a 6.4-million-board-feet sale, which is getting to be a large sale nowadays."
GRANTS PASSThe battle over the Sugarloaf timber sale heated up Monday as protesters handcuffed themselves to office doors, and the U.S. Forest Service expanded the exclusion zone around the sale site.
The new closure includes three hiking trails and land within the Rogue River National Forest, which borders the 35-square mile area in the Siskiyou National Forest sealed off since Sept. 8.
"I regret the extension of the closure," forest Supervisor Mike Lunn said in a statement. "But the continued violations in the closure area and information we have of future violations necessitates it."
Fifteen people were arrested last week for crossing a roadblock, but authorities say others have penetrated deeper: stealing chainsaws, damaging property and throwing rocks at officers. One man was caught on the sale site during the weekend and arrested.
John Stahmer, a spokesman for Headwaters, an Ashland environmental group, said the new closure illustrated the extreme lengths taken to conduct the sale.
"They're probably going to have to close off all the land in Southwest Oregon to keep people out of there," he said.
The center of protest Monday was the forest's Illinois Valley Ranger District Station in Cave Junction where about 60 people gathered. Josephine County sheriff's deputies eventually arrived and arrested four people who refused to stop blocking the building's entrance.
Ed Reich, 24, of Berkeley, Calif., and Joan Norman, 62, of Cave Junction, had to be cut out of handcuffs they had linked to a doorknob and screen door. A man calling himself Ponderosa Pine also was jailed.
At the Siskiyou National Forest's main office in Grants Pass, four teen-agers were arrested Monday after refusing to leave the building, police said. In all, 26 people have been arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges since logging began on Sugarloaf.
The sale, involving 9.5 million board feet of timber on 739 acres, has been debated and litigated since its inception in the late 1970s and was awarded to Boise Cascade Corp. only last year.
SAN FRANCISCO Arsonists are torching America's national forests for profit, making money on everything from fire equipment leases to burned timber.
And legislation passed by Congress in July could add even more fuel to the billion-dollar fire sale, critics say.
Americans don't realize the extent of arson in forest fires, says Michael Francis, director of national forest programs for the Wilderness Society in Washington.
"They think most fires are accidental, or caused by lightning. They'd be shocked," he said.
In the Southeast, 90 percent of the forest fires on federal land are deliberately set, says Allen Polk of the U.S. Forest Service. The figure is lower in the West, where lightning is a major factorbut that doesn't tell the whole story.
In California only 12.8 percent of fires on state-controlled land are arsonbut they account for 71.5 percent of the dollar damage, said Karen Terrill of the state forestry department.
"They are the most destructive," she said. "Typically they set their fires where they do the most harm."
Some arsonists light fires for the thrill, and farmers touch off many others with illegal burns to clear their land, especially in the Southeast.
But some federal law enforcement officials are convinced there are many more arson-for-profit fires than reported.
Forest fires are a big industry. The nation spent $757 million fighting fires on federal land last year, and hard-hit California spent $60 million more on state lands.
Large blazes generate contracts for everything from water tankers and bulldozers to fire crews, food and toilet paperand generate them fast.
Stevens says money was the dominant factor behind a series of fires in his district's extensive federal forest lands. "Based on our observations, the overwhelming majority of the fires there were arson for profit, 80 to 90 percent," he said.
The most glaring example, Stevens says, was a string of blazes in 1992-93 in the Trinity and Shasta county areas of Northern California.
Ernest Earl Ellison, 33, pleaded guilty to helping set the fires, and was sentenced last month to 15 1/2 months in prison. Ellison owned a water tender truckwhich he leased to the U.S. Forest Service to fight the fires he set.
Stevens said he believes there are many other Ellisons out there.
Another source of arson fires are the very people who fight them, says Patrick Lyng, who trains crimi
nal investigators for the Forest Service.
"Unfortunately, one of the first places we look at are firemen that's been a problem in the past," he says. "Volunteer firefighters aren't paid until they have a fire."
On Aug. 29 in the Mount Shasta area of Northern California, the 60-year-old mother of a firefighter was arraigned on 11 counts of arson. Prosecutors charge she was motivated by a desire to create work for her son.
The financial motives, already strong, may be getting stronger.
A ''salvage logging" provision slipped into the $16 billion budget-cutting bill approved by Congress and signed by President Clinton in July makes it easier for timber companies to cut otherwise exempt trees after a fire.
In May, U.S. Magistrate Thomas Coffin in Portland, Ore., underscored the danger of the policy in ruling for the Sierra Club's suit to prevent logging after a 1991 arson fire in the Warner Creek area near Eugene.
The Warner Creek blaze followed a controversy over its designation as a spotted owl nesting area. Loggers opposed the designation, which until the firehad prevented them from cutting trees in the area.
Environmentalists sued to stop logging after the fire, arguing it rewarded the likely arsonists. The magistrate agreed.
"The effect of selling arson fire-damaged timber could be future acts of arson," the magistrate wrote in May. "Allowing salvage logging after arson in areas where the removal of timber has been limited may provide an economic incentive .. ."
Increasingly, environmentalists and many within the Forest Service itself question whether most fires should be fought at all. While people and their dwellings clearly must be protected, fires are a natural part of forest ecology.
Whether or not firefighting policies are changed, arson will be a likely outgrowth of looser laws and dwindling resources, says Charlie Ogle, the Sierra Club's forest expert in Oregon.
"In the past there were lots of logging opportunitiesyou didn't have to go out and create them," says Ogle. "But that's changed now. You have areas that are set aside for reservesexcept after fires."
receipts will be $40 million, and the project will return just $5.5 million to the treasury.
In fact, the economics of the Boise River project are much worse than that, according to Robert E. Wolf, former assistant chief of the Congressional Research Service's Environment and Natural Resources Division and a national expert on the federal timber sale program. Wolf, who analyzed the project for the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, contends the sale will cost taxpayers $36 million when the full costs of sale preparation and the lower-than-expected bids are figured in. "My analysis, based on Forest Service figures, shows that this sale is being subsidized by the taxpayers to the tune of $35.9 million, while the companies pay only what they think they can get away with," he says.
Carroll disputes Wolf's figures but concedes that the economics of the sale have changed: "The thing that drives all of this is the timber market. If the timber market isn't there, none of this will happen."
Nevertheless, Carroll continues to defend the Boise River sale, saying it will pay for reforestation and wildlife projects that would otherwise have to come out of the agency's shrinking budget. But many scientists would say that salvage logging on lands recovering from intense wildfire will inflict new damage on fish and wildlife. As a panel of leading scientists warned recently, salvage logging contributes nothing to the recovery of fire-damaged forests and in fact may increase erosion and stream degradation unless it's done with great care.
Why is all of this important now? Because President Clinton is about to squander the small store of good will he built up among environmentalists when he vetoed the salvage rider the first time and set a dangerous precedentall to address a nonexistent timber supply and forest health "emergency."
Two key congressional Democrats denounced the rider in the strongest terms.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., fired off a scorching
When wildfire roared through the Boise National Forest in the drought-fueled 1994 fire season, forest Supervisor Steve Mealey wasted no time launching a monumental fire salvage plan. Mealey produced the Boise River Wildfire Recovery Projectthe largest salvage logging project in Forest Service history. It calls for logging 77,500 acres, including 14,700 acres within rugged roadless areas, by the end of 1996. Most of this land lies within the range of the imperiled bull trout, which depends on clear, cold streams for survival.
Mealey's goal: produce 236 million board feet of timber and $65 million in gross receipts, of which $34.5 million would go to the U.S. treasury. Forest spokesman Frank Carroll predicts the project will be a model for the wave of salvage sales throughout the West over the next 18 monthsand that Mealey would be rewarded by being named the Forest Service's next chief.
It looks as if the fire sale will get an extra push from a salvage rider sponsored by Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash. Dubbed by environmentalists the "logging without laws" rider, it will bar lawsuits and appeals challenging both salvage and "green tree" sales through December 1996, in effect giving federal agencies carte blanche to disregard the nation's environmental laws. on June 29, President Clinton said he would sign the Rescission Bill that contains the rider, despite earlier promises to veto it. It appears nothing will stop the rush to salvage.
Except one thing. Timber from the Boise River sale is going begging.
Five sales offered at auction since May have drawn no bids. The minimum bids on those sales will likely be reduced. The ten sales sold as of June 29 drew bids 40 percent lower than expected. The Forest Service has had to downscale its economic projections for the projectdrastically. It now says gross
Less than a third, just 8.4 million board feet, has sold.
More fire sales are planned, especially on the Wenatchee, but "it wouldn't be that far-fetched if two thirds of them didn't sell," says Ron Simon, who manages Longview Fibre Co.'s operations in North Central Washington.
That's hardly what Congress anticipated earlier this summer when it exempted salvage operations throughout the West from environmental laws and court challenges.
Timber starved mills needed wood argued Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks,
Three weeks after Congress handed the timber industry its biggest victory in years, the Great Fire Sale of 1995 is under way in Eastern Washington's three national forests.
Only one thing is lacking: buyers.
Fire charred more than 200,000 acres on the Wenatchee, Okanogan and Colville national forests last year. So far, forest officials have put 27 million board feet of timber affected by the blazes up for sale, enough to build more than 2,000 houses.
press release on July 6 after he finally got a look at the riderthe day after the House vote on the Rescission Bill.
"The salvage rider . . . would allow logging along wild and scenic rivers and in sensitive riparian and roadless areas, with no restrictions based on slope or soil conditions. Its definition of salvage is so broad that it opens the door to wholesale logging in the region's remaining old growth forests and roadless areas," he warned.
What's more, he said, the measure bans appeals and legal challenges to timber sales on federal lands covered by Option Nine, President Clinton's plan for managing forests inhabited by the northern spotted owl.
Clinton forest policy spokesman Clarence Moriwaki says the administration has no intention of offering illegal timber sales in owl forests, rider or no rider, and will "follow the President's Forest Plan to the letter."
DeFazio isn't impressed. "The Clinton administration says "Trust
us." But I don't trust any federal agency with the kind of unlimited
power granted by
this salvage amendment."
In a June 28 "Dear Colleague" letter opposing the salvage rider, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, noted the Northwest has gained 4,000 forest products jobs in the last two years and cited new evidence that public forests in the West are healthier than industry lands.
"Now, when the data shows that the industry is doing well, the public forests are relatively healthy, timber supply appears sufficient, and jobs are on the rise, why should Congress suspend environmental laws?" he asked .
It's an excellent question. But in these times, facts get lost and symbols take on a life of their own. The salvage logging rider is a symbol, a triumph of the world view that says dead trees are good for only one thing. It will be the ultimate irony if a sluggish wood products market accomplishes what the science and logic arrayed against wholesale salvage logging have failed to do.
D-Bremerton, among others. Salvage logging would reduce fire risks, they said, and pump money into the federal treasury.
When President Clinton grudgingly signed the legislation late last month, timber companies cheered. Environmentalists predicted disaster, "the most destructive chain-saw free-for-all our public forests have suffered for decades."
After that buildup, what's happened in Eastern Washington in recent weeks is both ironic and anticlimactic.
·The first salvage sale the Wenatchee National Forest offered on lands charred by last year's huge Tyee fire near Entiat, Chelan County, attracted no bidders last month.
Forest officials eliminated some logging restrictions, slashed the minimum bid nearly in half, and put the 12-million-board-foot sale, known as "Flying BB," on the blocks again last Friday.
Once again, there were no takers.
·The same fate befell the Colville National Forest's revamped, 5 million-board-foot Copper Butte sale near Republic, Ferry County, when it was offered a second time last Friday. No one bid, even though the asking price was so low that forest officials acknowledge the sale would have lost the government money.
·Two leading regional mills told Okanogan National Forest officials earlier this summer they aren't interested in that forest's largest, most controversial proposal, the Thunder Mountain sale near the Pasayten Wilderness Area.
The 13.5-million-board-foot sale, recently revised partly to make it more inviting to timber companies, won't be offered until next month. But officials admit it still may not sell. "When we started this, economic conditions looked a lot better than they do now," says Don Rose, project leader for the Forest Service.
Lower prices, delays blamed
The phenomenon isn't limited to Eastern Washington. Assistant Agriculture Secretary Jim Lyons told a U.S. Senate hearing last week that many salvage sales throughout the West are attracting no
bids or minimum bids.
Why? Explanations vary. Lyons blames industry disinterest on lower lumber prices. "When industry got everyone pumped up about salvage last fall, the market was high," he says. "Then the bottom fell out."
Some mills aren't buying salvage timber, Lyons says, in part because ample wood is available from private lands and from Canada.
But the timber industry blames the unsold timber on Lyons and the Clinton administration. Officials took too long to prepare sales, industry leaders charge, allowing wood to deteriorate and lose value.
"Now, it's like asking us to buy a car that's got no engine," says John Shaver, forester with Omak Wood Products in Okanogan County.
In the Wenatchee National Forest, salvage sales had to wait while officials completed environmental studies required by Clinton's Northwest Forest Plan. In contrast, Longview Fibre's Simon says, salvage operations on his company's 8,000 acres of forest land that burned last summer are now 80 percent complete.
Clinton recently ordered the Forest Service to continue to follow environmental laws, even though it's no longer required. Industry leaders say the agency has imposed restrictions that make many salvage sales uneconomical.
For example, Forest Service plans require most of the timber in the Flying BB, Copper Butte and Thunder Mountain sales to be removed by helicopter. That's anywhere from two to 10 times more expensive than conventional logging methods, West says, and most helicopter logging contractors already are booked up.
But Forest Service officials say helicopter logging does less damage to soils and streams. "We are not going to reduce our environmental standards for the sake of moving volume," Lyons says.
Some foes still suspicious
For environmentalists, who thought they had lost the war when Clinton signed the salvage legislation, the industry's failure to bid on so many sales is an unexpected boon. "The market may end up saving the forests," says Steve Whitney, Northwest director of the Wilderness Society.
They contend salvage logging does little to reduce fire risk in many forests and often does more environmental harm than good. It can push sediment into streams, environmentalists say, and remove wood that stabilizes slopes and provides homes for wildlife.
"It's a knee-jerk reaction by the agency," says Evan Frost of Twisp Okanogan County, staff ecologist with the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance.
The industry's failure to bid on salvage sales suggests there really is no timber shortage, some environmentalists argue.
Others smell a rat. They say mills aren't bidding because they
want to pressure the Forest Service to ease environmental
requirements and drop its asking price even lower.
Congressional Republican allies of the industry, who suspect the administration of subverting the intent of the salvage law, are already talking of additional legislation. The industry got its way with Congress once, says Peter Morrison, research director of the Sierra Biodiversity Institute in Winthrop, Okanogan County.
"They figure the political climate is such that they can get whatever they want," he says.
Rep. Pat Williams, D-Mont., on Friday accused "a few timber beasts in the Forest Service" of doing "their damndest" to scuttle his efforts to protect would-be wilderness land on national forests in Montana.
"There are a few Forest Service employees who think their primary job is to allow timber sales wherever they damn well please," the congressman said. "They've leaked memos. They've lobbied industry groups. There was even an internal Forest Service memo on the Internet."
The sabotage has been ongoing for the past three months - but has intensified in recent days, he said.
The timber industry, too, has tried to deep-six an administrative order issued this week by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Williams said. "Despite what they say the timber industry really does want to have road building and harvesting in these critical lands."
"What Montanans should learn from this little flap is how truly threatened Montana's wildest places really are," Williams said.
Glickman's directive, announced by Williams on Wednesday, instructed undersecretary Jim Lyons "to take all appropriate and necessary steps within our authority to preserve remaining roadless options."
"To do so, I have requested a review of the management activities that are anticipated or proposed in those roadless areas of concern, to determine the extent to which these activities may affect their roadless character and congressional discretion with regard to possible future wilderness designations," Glickman wrote.
Lyons, he added, should "share the information" with Williams, Gov. Marc Racicot and other members of the congressional delegation.
Williams said his understanding is that Glickman will scrutinize every possible "industrial intrusion" into 1.7 million acres of roadless land included in a wilderness bill written by Williams and passed by the U.S. House in 1994.
The bill did not pass muster with the Senate, and there is no wilderness bill pending in this session of Congress.
Another 300,000 acres proposed as national recreation areas, natural areas and wilderness study areas also will be protected for those designations, Williams said.
Already canceled are proposed oil and gas leases on several roadless tracts in the Beaverhead National Forest. Not affected, though, are timber salvage sales in the proposed McIntyre Natural Area in the Kootenai National Forest.
Salvage logging is allowed in natural areas, would have been allowed if a wilderness bill had passed Congress and will still be allowed, Williams said.
The congressman's remarks came after a day of non-stop phone calls between Montana and Washington, D.C. - primarily from timber industry groups and Republican politicians angry about the directive.
The barrage included calls to the media claiming that Forest Service lawyers had ruled the order illegal or at least legally questionable in an internal memo. The memo also apparently appeared on the Internet at one point. Several versions of the secretary's directive also made the rounds by fax.
"We have just tried to find out what is going on here," said Seth Diamond, a wildlife biologist and spokesman for the Intermountain Forest Industry Association in Missoula. "There is a lot of confusion. There appears to be a lot of political rhetoric and not a lot of clarity coming from the congressman or the department."
The first copy of Glickman's order released by Williams' office was not, in fact, the final version, Diamond said. The final version added the request for a list of proposed developments and the plan to share that list with various politicians.
Diamond said that - after talking with Agriculture Department staffers and Lyons - he does not believe there is any change in direction in the Forest Service. "I see no evidence that the Forest Service is supposed to defer any planned activities in areas covered by Congressman Williams' bill."
"I don't know if this is designed just to generate press or to effect some change on the ground," Diamond said. "But our assumption is there is no change. I don't see any evidence in the secretary's letter of what the congressman is saying."
"The harsh rhetoric the congressman directed at the timber industry appears misguided," he added. "We are just trying to support the Forest Service."
Northern Region Forester Hal Salwasser said he is still trying to clarify the agriculture secretary's directive. His office will begin by providing the list of proposed roadless-area development.
Salwasser said, though, that he knows of no agitation within the regional office for or against the directive. "These are political things. Our job is to do the resource management once the policy call is clear. And I'm trying to decide what the policy call is."
By Pat Williams
One of the most disturbing trends of this Congress is the widely reported meetings by the new Republican leadership with corporate attorneys to rewrite long-standing laws to favor their industries.
From the Wall Street Journal to The New York Times, the accounts of company executives and corporate lawyers invited to sit around the bill-drafting table have been numerous.
It is happening with issues across the board, but most intensely with the laws to safeguard our air and rivers and wildlands. Industry lobbyists have been the authors of extreme revisions of laws like the Clean Water Act, and the changes will certainly increase their profits but decrease the public's health and safety.
Nowhere has the blatant power grab by powerful special interests been more evident than in the debate over salvage timber sales in our national forests. Very few folks I know are opposed to the careful salvage of dead or dying timber. Indeed, the Forest Service already runs an aggressive salvage program, removing more dead timber each and every year in the 1990s than was removed during the entire decade of the 1980s. And, in fact, I have pushed hard and successfully for the removal of salvage timber in places like Gird Point along the Sapphires, the Yaak and along the Gallatin Range. Yes, our workers can and should harvest more dying, dead and diseased trees, but this latest congressional proposal is far too extreme.
The timber corporations want much more than the careful, ongoing efforts to reduce dead timber. What we are seeing in a slick and expensive advertising campaign by the industry to convince the public that, because there is dead timber in our forests, that an apocalyptic forest crisis exists and only massive logging will solve the problem.
The industry drumbeat of ads and speeches and letters to the
editors has led directly to Congress' declaring that the industry is
correct. Now with the recent salvage-sale bill, Congress is on the
verge of delivering timber in
pristine areas that Montanans have long supported for wildernessirreplaceable wildlands and wildlife sanctuaries like Roderick and the Swan Crest, the Elkhorns and Cowboys Heaven.
The industry's self-interested theories refuse to recognize that, while not all salvage harvesting is bad, not all dying trees are bad either. There is no such thing as a forest without dying trees, and what we have learned is that all phases of the forest life cycle are critical for the hundreds of species large and small that live in and depend upon our forests for their very existence.
Scientists throughout America widely reject the forest-slashing approach, but their concerns are being pushed aside in an end-run around our normal forest-planning laws. This isn't the first time the industry has tried to short-circuit the laws that protect the public's stake in its forests. And each time in the past those attempts have led to forest management by lawsuit and court order and increased the costs to the taxpayer. The dilemma for forest workers is that this "new" industry driven salvage effort will have the same outcome. The timber industry's slam-dunk timber salvage bill won't create badly needed new jobs for Montana's workers; it will create new lawsuits.
Don't think for a second, if you are an angler or sportsman or outfitter or prospector or rancher with grazing leases, that this salvage debate doesn't affect you. To meet the single-minded, 6 billion-board-feet salvage-timber mandate the timber industry is demanding, and already budget and staff-strapped Forest Service will be forced to dramatically shift its manpower and resources to harvesting timber. The many needs of many other users of our forests will take a back seat.
So, when companies that make profit from timber harvest ask you to trust their Republican spokesmen in mandating harvest outside of current law, be wary. It is not your best interest that they have in mind.
Pat Williams, a Democrat, is Montana's congressman.
A salvage sale on the Colville National Forest last Friday attracted no bidders, just days after President Clinton authorized massive increases in salvage logging across the country.
So the minimum price will be lowered and the Copper Butte fire salvage sale will go back on the auction block next week, said Pat Egan, who runs the Republic Ranger District.
Forest Service officials are "somewhat surprised" the sale attracted no buyers, Egan said.
"There is a need for timber to supply mills."
But the market for lumber is so poor that the selling price of lumber is lower than the costs of logging.
Unlike green timber, salvage sales have to be logged immediately instead of waiting until the market rebounds, Egan said.
In addition, about 60 percent of the Copper Butte sale is supposed to be logged with helicopters, which is more expensive than on-the-ground methods, Egan said.
Still, "we think we have a viable sale offeringit's just a bad time for timber companies," she said.
Fire swept across about 10,000 acres last year after lightening sparked the Copper Butte fire.
The current sale covers about 1,100 acres and includes 5.3 million board feet of Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, larch and lodge pole pine.
The Colville National Forest will try again today to find buyers for the Copper Butte fire salvage sale.
Environmentalists were planning a protest this morning at Colville National Forest headquarters because they contend the sale is going too cheap and will harm soil and water.
In addition, more than half of the trees in one sale unit are alive and green, said Tim Coleman, of the Kettle Range Conservation Group.
The Forest Service attracted no bidders for the sale of 5.3 million board feet in late July when the minimum hid price was $71 per thousand board feet. So the minimum bid was reduced to $41 per thousand board feet and the sale is going back on the block.
An extremely poor lumber market is to blame for the need to change
the price Forest Service officials
said. "The market is the lowest it has been in years and is falling fairly fast," Republic Ranger Pat Egan said.
In addition, about 60 percent of the sale must be logged by helicopter, which is more expensive than on-the-ground methods.
Still, the Forest Service believes the sale is viable and that mills need the lumber, Egan said.
Forest Service officials could not be reached for comment on the contention that part of the Copper Butte sale involves so many live trees. Lightning started a 10,000-acre fire in the area last year.
The East Curlew Creek and Copper Butte timber sales are expensive invasions of a roadless section of Eastern Washington forest, a lawsuit filed Wednesday charges.
Taxpayers will lose at least $125,000 on the Copper Butte fire salvage sale, says the suit filed in U.S. District Court by the Kettle Range Conservation Group, Inland Empire Public Lands Council, and Northwest Ecosystem Alliance.
The Forest Service predicted it would get $170 per thousand board feet in the Copper Butte sale, said Sara Folger of the Public Lands Council. After two tries, the agency hasn't been able to get $41 per thousand board feet.
"Overall, the estimates of revenue in Forest Service documents for all of the sales were wildly optimistic," Folger said.
Beyond money, environmentalists contend that the proposed timber
harvests will take 10 million board feet of timber from in and around
the Profanity Roadless area. That's a mistake because it takes many
of the remaining
200-year-old trees in the area, they said.
In addition, even the environmental impact statement says salvage logging will do nothing to help the health of the forest, Coleman said.
The Forest Service acknowledges that the salvage logging won't help the forest. "It won't hurt it either," said Pat Egan, Republic district ranger.
There are no new roads being constructed for the timber sales, Egan said. All logging in roadless areas is being done by helicopter.
"There are no major impacts to the environment," Egan said.
The economics of the sale are affected by poor timber prices, the Forest Service said. But that's not a fair representation of the entire picture.
"The net return to the U.S. Treasury isn't the only economic benefit," Egan said. "It's the jobs and economic returns to the local community because people are employed."
EUGENE- Anti-logging protesters headed for the hills Wednesday afternoon after a federal judge cleared the way for salvaging timber killed by the 1991 Warner Creek fire.
Some of the two dozen environmentalists who attended the hearing before U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan expressed disappointment at the ruling and vowed to launch so-called "direct action" attempts to stop the logging in the mountains above Oakridge.
"There is no doubt that a number of individuals are prepared to
place themselves between the saws and the trees at Warner Creek,"
activist Tim Ream
said after the hearing. Ream declined to say whether he would participate in civil disobedience in the rugged, remote area but added, "I'll be driving to the mountains tonight."
Hogan, in a surprisingly quick ruling from the bench, dissolved an earlier injunction that banned any logging until the U.S. Forest Service could incorporate findings regarding arson into its environmental impact statement for Warner Creek. An arsonist touched off the 1991 blaze which scorched more than 9,000 acres of old- and second-growth stands.
The key to Hogan's ruling came in his determination that an emergency timber salvage rider approved by Congress and signed into law in July by President Clinton applies to the Warner Creek recovery project.
"The point here is not whether I agree with Congress in its passage of this bill," Hogan said. "The point is, Congress has done so and has cleared the way for short-term salvage projects."
The hearing marked the first time a federal court has heard arguments on a public lands timber sale affected by the salvage rider.
The rider, part of a larger budget-cutting bill approved by Congress, exempts certain salvage projects from major environmental laws, such as the National Environmental Protection Act. Although the rider wasn't approved until this year, Hogan agreed with government lawyers, who argued that its provisions should apply retroactively.
"Our reading of the rider was that it precludes this type of review and appeal," said Brian L. Ferrell, a U.S. Department of Justice attorney who represented the Forest Service. "Congress wants timber salvaged from the forest floor for both the benefit of the industry and for the forest's health."
An attorney representing the two plaintiffs in the case, the Oregon Natural Resources Council and the Sierra Club, said she will file an appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The problem is, said Marianne Dugan, cutting could begin on the first 520,000 board feet of timber set for harvesting before any hearing can be held.
WASHINGTONEnvironmentalists are asking an international panel to help block a new U.S. law that repeals fish and wildlife rules for salvage logging in national forests.
Lawyers for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund told The Associated Press they would file a complaint with the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Montreal today on behalf of more than 20 groups.
In an unusual twist, the conservationists say the logging law President Clinton reluctantly signed last month violates a North American Free Trade Agreement provision that his administration demanded out of concerns that Mexico would try to gain an unfair trade advantage by skimping on environmental protections.
"It is ironic that the first complaint would be filed against the United States," said Patti Goldman, a lawyer with the defense fund in Seattle.
The logging provision suspends the Endangered Species Act and other laws to expedite salvage timber harvests in an effort to reduce wildfire threats in federally owned forests nationwide.
It also directs the Forest Service to logfree from the normal environmental constraintssome of the Pacific Northwest's oldest forests with threatened northern spotted owls and marbled murrelets.
The logging is insulated from administrative appeals or court challenges.
"As a result, many environmental violations will be left unredressed and a great deal of on-the-ground environmental harm will occur," the environmentalists said in a copy of the complaint.
The logging law "offends the spirit of the NAFTA admonition to avoid waiving or derogating from environmental measures to attract or retain investment," said the groups, including the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth and Natural Resources Defense Council.
The three-member commission, made up of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner and her counterparts in Canada and Mexico, will be asked to investigate the new U.S. law to determine whether it complies with NAFTA's environmental side agreement, Goldman said.
The panel has no power to strike down the U.S. law. But a vote that a violation had occurred would open the door for Canada or Mexico to launch a trade complaint that could result in sanctions against the United States, Goldman said.
There was no immediate comment Tuesday from the White House, the EPA, Agriculture Department or U.S. Trade Representative's Office, spokespersons said.
We have an obligation tonight to talk about the legacy we're leaving our children and grandchildren." So Newt Gingrich said in his talk to the nation as Congress recessed. "No truly moral civilization would burden its children with the economic excesses of the parents and grandparents."
Gingrich's concern for what we shall leave our grandchildren would be more convincing if he worried about leaving them not only a burdensome debt but also a country of despoiled land, air and water.
Economic arrangements are temporary. This Congress may decide to victimize the poor, deny welfare to young women with babies, make it hard for people injured by defective products to sue. A later Congress can change those decisions.
But destruction of our surroundings is for keeps. An extinct bird or animal cannot be recreated. A wetland covered with concrete will not again nurture life.
A moral civilization, to use Gingrich's good phrase, must take the long view. It does not burden future generations with polluted water or denuded forests in order to let someone turn a quick profit now.
But that is exactly the tradeoff that legislation rushed through the Gingrich-dominated House of Representatives would make: sacrificing the future diversity and richness of our natural resources for the short-term profit of a few. Plunder now and let tomorrow worry about itself: That is the common theme of several bills designed to strip away legal protections of the environment.
There are measures to gut the Clean Water Act and the endangered species law. Another would effectively prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing or enforcing regulations to prevent pollution.
But the most menacing bill is one that would define as a constitutional "taking" of property any environmental regulation that substantially reduced an owner's ability to use property as he wished. That innocent-sounding idea would make it economically impossible to impose many, perhaps most, environmental restrictions for the benefit of future generations.
One example shows how devastating the "takings" legislation would be. It comes from a story by Charles McCoy in The Wall Street Journal of April 4.
The Central Valley of California, which would otherwise be a
semi-desert, has been made highly productive
by vast amounts of irrigation water supplied from far away by government projects. Farming corporations get the water at subsidized rates that are about one-tenth of the true cost.
So much water is being pumped out of California rivers that salmon runs are drying up. State and federal authorities want to keep more of the water in the rivers to save the salmon. But under the bill passed by the House, Central Valley farmers would have to be compensated for what they say would be taking of their "property"the irrigation waterat exorbitant cost.
The McCoy story quoted a California farm lobbyist, Jason Peltier, as saying, "We have a right to that water, and if the government wants it for fish, they have to pay us." And pay at the economic rate for water there, he said: 10 times what the water actually costs the farmers.
That theory is proof of the old adage, "No good deed goes unpunished." The government makes Central Valley farmers prosperous by bringing water hundreds of miles and selling it to them at discount rates. Now, when some of the water is needed somewhere else, the farmers want to hijack the government. That means us.
Even in straightforward economic terms, it is a foolish idea to gut environmental laws. Canada and Spain have lately been in conflict about fishing off Newfoundland, for the inescapable reason that the fish are running out. All kinds of things will run out, or be ruined, if we remove safeguards.
The safeguards imposed over the last 30 years have worked well. Our air is cleaner, our water more likely to be safe for swimming and drinking, more of our forests self-sustaining. Why would we want to turn back from that success?
The reason is greed: nothing more complicated than that. Lawyers and lobbyists for various industries sat in congressional committee rooms and wrote this ripper legislation. They do not care about their grandchildren, or ours. They want their money up front.
· Anthony Lewis is a columnist for The New York Times.
The American people don't need to give up national parks, national forests and other public lands, as extremists in Congress propose. Rather, we ought to take better care of them, so that we, like visionaries of the past, can pass this vulnerable heritage on to succeeding generations.
The move to liquidate federal lands indicates whose interests today's right-wing lawmakers represent. They aren't representing ordinary Americans, they represent the impersonal corporate concerns that work to log, mine, pave and otherwise exploit what remains of our nation's natural resources.
Each generation must keep a leash on those interests, following the example of one of our greatest Republican presidents Theodore Roosevelt. Surveying devastation caused by the sort of unregulated commerce that modern "conservatives" aim to recreate, this founder of the conservationist movement stood up to the corporate pillagers and set aside national parks and forests. Rightly, he appreciated multiple uses of landhunting, tourism, ranching, logging, mining. But he also appreciated the need to hold certain lands as a national trust, managed for posterity's interests rather than for the shortest-sighted kind of commercial gain.
Pending in Congress are bills calling for a process
to consider closing all but 54 of our 369 national parks, and to turn national forest and range lands over to the states or to private ownership.
Vacationing with his family in the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, President Clinton declared his opposition to these radical notions. The millions who recreate in our public lands at this time of year surely applaud his position. We also should applaud his recommendation that park entrance fees be invested exclusively in park maintenance.
And, in recognition of the severity of national park maintenance needs, Americans should be willing to support a reasonable increase in the parks' very modest fees. It would be absurd, and a betrayal, to give lands away when it lies within our power to care for them more adequately.
Federal stewardship can be improved in a number of ways. But it must continue. Roosevelt advised us wisely: "The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value." His was a conservatism that stands the test of time.
John Webster/For the editorial board