Salvage logging squeaks by Senate

  • Arrested: Environmental activists Andy Kerr and Mike Roselle

    Marv Bondarowicz
 

By a razor-thin margin, the Senate agreed March 30 to suspend environmental laws in order to expedite salvage logging in national forests.

An attempt by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to replace the amendment of her fellow Washington senator, Slade Gorton, R, with a milder one failed 46-48. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., cast the lone Democratic vote to table Murray's amendment, which also called for expedited salvage logging but did not suspend environmental laws.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, now a Republican, originally voted for the Murray amendment but flip-flopped after being cornered by other Senate Republicans (see box).

A House-Senate conference committee will now rectify differences between the separate budget recision bills passed by each chamber. The House passed a similar amendment which calls for the salvage logging of more than 6 billion board-feet over the next two years (HCN, 4/3/95).

The debate on the Senate floor was as hot as a summer wildfire. Gorton declared that the issue boiled down to the question, "Do we care at all about the people who live in timber country ... or do we only care about the well-being of certain environmentalist organizations and their lawyers?" reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Murray said Gorton's measure would "allow agencies to build roads in pristine roadless areas and harvest trees along Wild and Scenic River corridors."

Environmentalists employed every tactic in the book to dissuade Congress from passing the logging riders.

On March 27, Andy Kerr, executive director of the Oregon Natural Resources Council, and Earth First! co-founder Mike Roselle were arrested and charged with criminal trespass after protesting the bills in front of the Portland office of Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore.

"If mainstream environmentalists like me can't have their day in court and are locked out of the process, we have nowhere to go but into the radical arms of people like Mike Roselle," said Kerr, who says his only previous brush with the law was a speeding ticket. "We're not going to say, "tough luck for the forests, I guess I'll just go watch the O.J. trial." "

Other attempts to block salvage logging were more traditional. The Pacific Rivers Council published a report from eight university scientists in the region denouncing the fire crisis as hype and urging Congress to go slow on salvage logging because of its potentially devastating impact on soils and wildlife habitat. And more than 50 biologists, ecologists, geologists and wildlife scientists sent a letter to President Clinton, blasting the proposal to waive environmental laws protecting fish and wildlife.

Five Forest Service smokejumpers criticized the legislation at a press conference in Washington, D.C., March 29. "Most firefighters die in brush fires, and the liquidation of timber creates more brush, not less," said Joe Fox, a forest biologist who was a member of the search-and-rescue team that recovered 14 bodies following last year's Storm King Mountain fire in Colorado.

"These bills are a cynical attempt by the timber industry to use the deaths of courageous firefighters to clearcut the public's forests," Fox said.

Despite their efforts, including a massive traditional lobbying effort, environmentalists found themselves on the short end, clinging to the slim hope that President Clinton might veto the bill. Still, some see a silver lining: "There's a potential here to organize and rebuild the environmental movement," said Kerr. And civil disobedience, he said, will be one of the tools. "It's going to be a hot summer."

For a free copy of the Pacific River Council's report, Wildlife and Salvage Logging: Recommendations for Ecologically Sound Post-Fire Salvage Logging and other Post-Fire Treatment on Federal Lands in the West, call the council at 503/345-0119.

A sidebar article, How Western senators voted on the Murray amendment, accompanies this news story.

High Country News Classifieds
  • ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a part-time Administrative Assistant to support the organization's general operations. This includes phone and email communications, office correspondence and...
  • HISTORIC LODGE AND RESTAURANT - FULLY EQUIPPED
    Built in 1901, The Crazy Mountain Inn has 11 guest rooms in a town-center building on 7 city lots (.58 acres). The inn and restaurant...
  • ONE WILL: THREE WIVES
    by Edith Tarbescu. "One Will: Three Wives" is packed with a large array of interesting suspects, all of whom could be a murderer ... a...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SALAZAR CENTER FOR NORTH AMERICAN CONSERVATION
    The Program Director will oversee the programmatic initiatives of The Salazar Center, working closely with the Center's Director and staff to engage the world's leading...
  • WILDEARTH GUARDIANS - WILD PLACES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Salary Range: $70,000-$80,000. Location: Denver, CO, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Missoula, MT or potentially elsewhere for the right person. Application Review: on a rolling basis....
  • RIVER EDUCATOR/GUIDE + TRIP LEADER
    Position Description: Full-time seasonal positions (mid-March through October) Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10 year old nonprofit organization fostering community stewardship of...
  • BOOKKEEPER/ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Position Description: Part-time, year-round bookkeeping and administration position (12 - 16 hours/week) $16 - $18/hour DOE Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10...
  • LAND STEWARD
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks a full-time Land Steward to manage and oversee its conservation easement monitoring and stewardship program for 42,437 acres in...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ventana Wilderness Alliance is seeking an experienced forward-facing public land conservation leader to serve as its Executive Director. The mission of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance...
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • GRANT WRITER
    "We all love this place we call Montana. We believe that land and water and air are not ours to despoil, but ours to steward...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Development Director is responsible for organizing and launching a coherent set of development activities to build support for the Natural History Institute's programs and...
  • WILDLIFE PROJECT COORDINATOR
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation helps protect and conserve water, wildlife and wild lands in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by supporting organizations and people who...
  • TRUSTEE AND PHILANTHROPY RELATIONS MANGER,
    Come experience Work You Can Believe In! The Nature Conservancy in Alaska is seeking a Trustee and Philanthropy Relations Manager. This position is critical to...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA
    -The Land, History, and People of the Bears Ears Region- The Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa region is one of the most beautiful, complex, diverse,...
  • CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    Position will remain open until January 31, 2021 Join Our Team! The New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC) is a non-profit land trust organization dedicated to...
  • OLIVERBRANCH CONSULTING
    Non-Profit Management Professional specializing in Transitional Leadership, Strategic Collaborations, Communications and Grant Management/Writing.
  • GREAT VIEWS, SMALL FOOTPRINT
    Close to town but with a secluded feel, this eco-friendly home includes solar panels, a graywater reuse system, tankless hot water, solar tubes, and rainwater...
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER- NORTHERN PLAINS RESOURCE COUNCIL
    Organize with Northern Plains Resource Council to protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life. Starts $35.5k. Apply now- northernplains.org/careers