Chain saws trump sound forest policy


Grab the chain saws, rev up the bulldozers, open the federal Treasury to subsidize construction of more logging roads.

The Bush administration has made its decision on continuing former President Clinton’s protection of millions of acres of roadless areas in national forests. It prefers not to.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman tried to disguise her profligate giveaway of environmental protection, wildlife habitat and federal authority as promoting greater cooperation. Fine idea, but there’s reason to worry about her definition of cooperation.

Veneman said she wanted to settle lawsuits. That follows the administration’s pattern of taking a fall when it faces anti-environmental court actions.

In an absurd twist, the new policy would leave it to governors, whose states have frequently abused their own lands, to decide whether to ask for federal land to be protected. Governors do not own federal lands; all Americans do.

Under the administration, only governors who want new logging roads should expect their views to be respected. Witness what happened in Oregon’s Klamath-Siskiyou region where the Forest Service just approved a huge timber sale, much of it in a roadless area despite pleas from Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

As he promises, Gov. Gary Locke should seek protection for all the roadless areas in national forests here if the rule is finalized before he leaves office. But, as Locke recognizes, the administration’s policy is a sellout of the public interest.

And they didn’t even get a decent price.

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