Salvage logging reborn

  Despite a previous veto, President Clinton has signed a compromise bill that calls for accelerated logging on national forests. The president justified the action to angry environmentalists by claiming that his administration now has Republican backing to implement salvage logging that is "consistent with the spirit and intent of our forest plans and all existing environmental laws." The original rider mandated that 6 billion board-feet of dead, diseased or fire-susceptible timber be cut within two years; the new rider shortens the time-frame to 15 months and does not mandate a specific harvest level, although the Forest Service estimates potential salvage volume to be as much as four billion board feet. As in the original rider, emergency logging will be exempt from lawsuits or administrative appeals on environmental grounds. "We're relieved and ready to get some wood moving and put people back to work," says Chris West, vice president of the Northwest Forestry Association. Environmentalists call Clinton's signature an "evil betrayal" that subverts the law. Jennifer Ferenstein of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies says, "Clinton and the Congress want to remove the right of the public to have a say in how our forests are managed."

* Rick Keister