No-show lets roads roll

  For the second time in two years, the House of Representatives has shied away from a proposal to make timber companies pay for their logging roads in national forests (HCN, 6/9/97). In July, representatives voted 211-209 against an amendment that would have slashed $41.5 million in roads funding.

"We clearly had the votes to win," says Steve Holmer of the Western Ancient Forest Campaign, who calls the funding "a blatant giveaway of the public's money." Fifteen house members missed the vote, he says, and 10 of them had promised to vote for the amendment, introduced by Reps. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., and John Porter, R-Ill.

Still, says Holmer, the timber industry can't claim complete victory. The House passed a lighter version of the amendment that will cut $5.6 million from the roads program and put a cap on purchaser credits, which allow timber companies to trade trees for roads. Nevada Democrat Richard Bryan is now pushing a full-strength amendment in the Senate.

"Sooner or later," says Holmer, "the roads system will be reduced."

* Greg Hanscom

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