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Know the West

RX for forests

  In response to last year's devastating fire season, the Forest Service has proposed 330 projects over the next two years to reduce the threat of disease and fire while producing an estimated 1.5 to 2 billion board-feet of timber. Some 1 million acres would be affected, including as much as 150,000 acres on roadless areas. The plan would allow salvage logging on as much as 200,000 acres of fire-damaged land, thinning trees on nearly 400,000 acres of unburned forest, setting controlled fires on more than 300,000 acres, and replanting trees on 130,000 acres. The timber industry says the Western Forest Health Initiative does not go far enough. "There's a very serious forest health problem in the West, and a small number of demonstration projects doesn't even come close to addressing it," says Doug Crandall, vice president of the American Forest and Paper Association. Environmentalists, who oppose opening roadless areas to logging, say the plan is a ruse. "The Western Forest Health Initiative is garbage. It's another term to get wood products out of the forest," says Barry Rosenberg of the Spokane-based Inland Empire Public Lands Council. Forest Service officials say the plan will comply with environmental laws. Local agency offices should have copies available of the forest health initiative.