Michael Anderson, Senior Policy Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org 206-624-6430 x227
Jared White, Communications Manager, email@example.com, 406-586-1600 x109
WASHINGTON, DC (February 5, 2014) – The Wilderness Society strongly opposes a U.S. Senate bill, S. 1966, that would pose serious threats to the environment and wildlife conservation in the nation’s forests. The bill was introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and is the topic of a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on February 6.
“S. 1966 would require a massive increase in logging across tens of millions of acres of national forest while weakening essential environmental protections,” says Michael Anderson, senior policy analyst at The Wilderness Society. “The bill proposes a serious threat to environmental stewardship of our western forests and makes no effort to offset the impact by preserving new wild lands and wilderness, which sustain local jobs and economic growth in many communities across the U.S.”
The Wilderness Society cited several reasons for opposing the bill.
- S. 1966 would require the Forest Service to more than double commercial logging and related activity in western forests.
- The bill would cut out an essential review process required by the Endangered Species Act, eliminating consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about potential impact on threatened or endangered species.
- The bill replaces the opportunity for judicial review of logging projects with an arbitration process. This process does not ensure that the Forest Service actually follows environmental laws.
- S. 1966 waters down safeguards provided by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
In rejecting the one-size-fits-all approach of S. 1966, The Wilderness Society instead called on Congress to advance collaborative forest restoration efforts that balance increased forest restoration with conservation of essential wildlands and habitat.
“Realistic solutions for our national forests should aim for developing collaborative plans involving local communities that allow for sustainable timber harvest along with other values that forests, like the Bridger-Teton, provide,” says Kniffy Hamilton, who served as Forest Supervisor for the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming for 11 years. “Top-down congressional mandates like S.1966 just weaken the overall forest economy, limit public participation, and gut the bedrock laws that protect clean water, scenery and wildlife.”
The hearing also addresses S. 1784, the Oregon and California Land Grant Act, which is legislation introduced by Senator Wyden that would impact the management of 2.1 million acres of forest in western Oregon. While The Wilderness Society applauds Senator Wyden’s efforts through this legislation to protect the old-growth forests and other special places by designation of Conservation Emphasis Areas and new Wilderness Areas, the Society remains concerned that, as drafted, the bill would weaken a number of environmental safeguards. The Wilderness Society recommends eight changes to the Oregon and California Land Grant Act that would restore greater scientific review, public involvement, and other procedures to address the shortcomings in the legislation.