Carols report from the hearing. Thanks Carol for attending this meeting.
The House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands met in Longview, Washington on May 21st. The discussion was centered on failed Federal forest Policies, endangering jobs, forests and species. Only invited guests were allowed to speak, however we were allowed to submit written comments. There were approximately 150 people present and 9 speakers. Foresters, government officials, environmentalists and federal timberland officials comprised the panel of speakers.
The panel members said that efforts by the government to increase the protected habitat for the spotted owl and old-growth forest ecosystems will only make things worse.
Commissioner Paul Pearce of Skamania County stressed, “No More Wilderness” until all of these issues have been settled. Tom Fox , Family Forest Foundation, said that the Spotted Owl is harming small private landowners and they need help from Congress. Stephen Mealey, Boone and Crockett Club has seen a 34% decline in hunting because of the impact of the ESA. Dr. Hal Salwsser, private citizen-former Forest Service employee—wants the forests restored for prosperity. Kent Connaughton (33 years with FS) represented Region 6, USFS said that care must be taken of all the forests both national and private targeting restoration. The BLM was invited but was not present.
Mitch Friedman, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, a conservation group that as organized “lots” of protests against logging—noted that there is no environmental controversy in Colville NF because of collaboration with other groups. He also stated that if Congress wants more timber cut from federal land, then give more money for ecological protections.
Ernie Niemi, EcoNorthwest has spent 30 years analyzing the National Forest and the economy. With more money forests could produce more uncontroversial timber.
Kelly Kreps owns a timber and cattle ranch that has been in his family for 6 generations. Kreps is a small landowner and the owl has impacted how he can use his land. Kreps said, “condemnation without compensation should be illegal.”
The final speaker Tom Nelson, Sierra Pacific Industries, asked that the Fish and Wildlife drop the critical habitat designation. Ninety percent of 110 species listed in the Endangered Species Act are recovering.
The Northwest Forest Plan has been in effect for 18 years, it’s time that congress evaluate it. When questioned by Representative Hastings, one of the panelists said, “Save an ecosystem, not a single species.”
I did submit a comment regarding the impact the ESA has had on recreation.
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