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
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • ARIZONA PROGRAM MANAGER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks an Arizona Program Manager. The Arizona Program Manager works...
  • CROWN OF THE CONTINENT COMMUNITY CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY is seeking a Community Conservation Specialist, for the Crown of the Continent DEPARTMENT: Conservation CLASSIFICATION: Grade 6 Specialist/Representative (Low of $54K) REPORTS...
  • ASSISTANT FARM DIRECTOR
    About The Organization Building community through fresh vegetables is at the heart of the Sisters-based non-profit, Seed to Table Oregon. Based on a four-acre diversified...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • DYNAMIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    VARD is seeking an Executive Director to lead a small legal & planning staff dedicated to the health and sustainability of Teton Valley Idaho and...
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Restore Hetch Hetchy, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, seeks experienced development professional to identify and engage individuals and institutions who are inspired to help underwrite...
  • PUBLIC LANDS COUNSEL
    The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
    Solar Energy International (SEI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit education organization with a mission to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower...
  • TRAINING MANAGER
    This is a full-time position based out of our Paonia office. This position is responsible for organizing all of Solar Energy International's renewable energy trainings....
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org