What a difference a year makes

  • Federal agent tells protesters of road closure on Umpqua Nat'l Forest

    Kurt Jensen

Note: This article is a sidebar to a feature story.

A brief history of the salvage logging rider:

July 27, 1995: President Bill Clinton signs the salvage logging rider. The measure, attached to a budget bill containing financial aid for victims of the Oklahoma City bombing and for war-torn Bosnia, expedites logging on national forests across the country by suspending environmental laws that ordinarily protect these forests (HCN, 8/7/95). The rider not only orders increased logging of dead and dying trees, it also directs the preparation of sales in the Pacific Northwest that fall under the president's Northwest Forest Plan (Option 9), as well as sales dating back to 1990 in Oregon and Washington that had been held up for environmental reasons (section 318 sales).

Sept. 6, 1995: An Oregon district court judge, Michael Hogan, releases the Warner Creek Fire Salvage Sale from an injunction, allowing it to be logged under the salvage rider. Activists move in immediately and set up a barricade on the road leading to the sale.

Dec. 4, 1995: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that senior Clinton administration officials, including Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, privately admit that "unprepared White House negotiators gave away the store when they agreed to a so-called salvage rider."

Dec. 8, 1995: Rep. Elizabeth Furse, D-Ore., introduces H.R. 2745, the "Restoration of Natural Resources Laws on the Public Lands Act of 1995," with 40 co-sponsors. The bill would repeal the salvage rider in full and eventually garners more than 150 sponsors (HCN, 12/25/95).

Feb. 24, 1996: On a trip to the state of Washington, President Clinton admits he erred when he signed the rider and says the rider "has to be repealed" (HCN, 3/18/96).

March 1996: On its third try, the Forest Service draws a bid of just $138,000 from Omak Wood Products for the Copper Butte salvage sale in eastern Washington's Colville National Forest. The agency had predicted it would receive an offer of $888,000 for the trees, but the timber market is soft.

March 14, 1996: After a bitter floor debate (HCN, 3/18/96), the Senate rejects 54-42 an amendment by Washington Sen. Patty Murray, D, that would partially repeal the salvage rider and restore environmental laws for salvage and old-growth sales offered under the rider.

March 21, 1996: The Okanogan National Forest refuses to give the Thunder Mountain Salvage Sale in northeastern Washington to the highest bidder - an environmental group. The Northwest Ecosystem Alliance had won the sale with a bid of $30,000 and offered to protect the trees. The Forest Service said the contract required cutting the trees (HCN, 4/15/96).

April 2, 1996: Citing "escalating public concerns," the Forest Service cancels the Barkley Salvage Sale on California's Lassen National Forest 24 hours before it is slated to be sold. The sale would have undermined an agreement worked out by a diverse coalition, the Quincy Library Group (HCN, 5/13/96).

April 6, 1996: The Forest Service and Roseburg Forest Products approve a timber swap which will halt clearcutting of an ancient forest on the Umpqua National Forest in southwest Oregon in exchange for timber elsewhere. The deal comes on the heels of protests at the site (HCN, 4/15/96).

April 24, 1996: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Judge Hogan's ruling that vastly expands the number of healthy, old-growth trees that can be cut in Oregon and Washington under the salvage rider.

May 8, 1996: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allows logging in two sales on the Kootenai National Forest in northwest Montana. The sales allow clearcuts of hundreds of acres in previously protected grizzly bear habitat.

June 14, 1996: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reverses Judge Hogan's decision that marbled murrelet habitat can be logged unless a nest is found in the trees. The court also rules that the Forest Service does not have to search out timber companies to log old sales if the original party is disinterested or ineligible. This is the first court victory for the Clinton administration (HCN, 7/22/96).

June 20, 1996: The House of Representatives narrowly defeats an amendment (211-209) that would have ended the logging rider at the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 1996, instead of Dec. 31, 1996 (HCN, 7/22/96).

July 2, 1996: Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman issues a directive to the Forest Service, notifying it of new restrictions on cutting green trees and logging in roadless areas under the "salvage" provisions of the logging rider. Glickman says, "The salvage rider should be used only where emergency conditions warrant its use" (HCN, 7/22/96).

July 27, 1996: Forest activists rally in Portland, Seattle, Eugene and San Francisco to mark the one-year anniversary of the salvage rider.

July 31, 1996: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the salvage rider exempts timber sales offered under the President's Northwest Forest Plan (Option 9, which covers old-growth forests in western Washington and Oregon) from appeals and environmental laws.

Aug. 1, 1996: Agriculture Secretary Glickman tells Congress that 157 salvage sales, covering 653 million board-feet of timber, will be cancelled as a result of his July 2 directive.

Susan Elderkin works for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund

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