Greenpeace Reaction to Bush Administration’s Gutting of the National Forest Management Act

The following is a statement from Pamela Wellner, Senior Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace on the changes to the National Forest Management Act that the Bush administration announced yesterday:

"Once again, the Bush administration is continuing its tradition of announcing drastic policy changes just before a major holiday, the public and the media are least attentive. And once again, at a time when trees are celebrated as a symbol of the holidays, the Bush administration is giving away our national forests as a Christmas gift to big industry."

"Almost exactly a year ago, the Bush administration gave logging companies greater access to the crown jewel of national forests by exempting the Tongass in Alaska from the Roadless Rule. Now the Bush administration is opening up all national forests to greater industrial exploitation.

"The Bush administration's proposal to gut the National Forest Management Act is outrageous, not just for its complete disregard for scientific review but also for its arrogant restrictions on public participation in decisions regarding the future of national forests.

"This is not only an environmental issue. It is an issue of fiscal responsibility. Logging in national forests costs millions of dollars a year in government subsidies. Taxpayer money is being used to destroy forests that belong to the American people. This is also a public health issue. National forests are the single largest source of drinking water, supplying clean water to more than 60 million people around the country.

"2005 marks the 100th anniversary of founding of the Forest Service. The coming year could have been a chance for the agency to redeem itself by focussing on efforts to protect and restore our national forests. Instead, under the Bush administration, the Forest Service will be extending its dubious legacy of mismanagement."

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