CASCADIA - January 23 - Today the Bush Administration released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) regarding the Survey and Manage program, eliminating protection for hundreds of sensitive species associated with Cascadias ancient forest ecosystems. Eliminating the wildlife survey provisions will open up thousands of acres of ancient forest to industrial logging, place many already vulnerable species at risk of extinction, and ignores the opinions of the overwhelming majority of Cascadians who want ancient forests permanently protected.
The Northwest Forest Plan was adopted in 1994 to protect and restore forest ecosystems, in response to decades of mismanagement and species decline. The Survey and Manage program is the primary environmental protection measure under the Plan, requiring the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to look before logging in order to protect the rare species located during survey efforts.
The agencies should have been surveying for these species, but rather than do what science demands, the Administration prefers to put on a blindfold and run through our forests with a chainsaw, said Kim Marks, with Cascadia Rising. With less than four percent of our native forests remaining in the lower forty-eight states and the fastest rate of extinction ever, it is appalling to see the Bush Administration ignore both good science and public opinion.
Although Survey and Manage requires the agencies to perform surveys, on dozens of occasions courts have found them negligent, as citizens have discovered these protected rare species on their own. Faced with continued lawsuits, the agencies have decided to eliminate the Survey and Manage provisions altogether, rather than comply with the guidelines and court rulings.
The FEIS released today is a Bush administration enforced settlement of years of litigation among the federal government, conservationists, and the timber industry. However the FEIS itself is expected to be vigorously fought in the courts, as it eliminates a core component of the Northwest Forest Plan, which was enacted in order to meet requirements under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Regina Chichizola form Cascadia Rising explained: The Forest Service and BLM need to get their priorities straight. Instead of subsidizing the timber industry to the tune of $1.3 billion dollars a year, we should be protecting and restoring our forested legacy.
The FEIS, expected to be approved in 30 days, is the result of closed door negotiations between the Bush administration and the timber industry. In response, activists throughout Cascadia are planning a region wide day of action to express their concerns with the Bush Administrations attack on our forests. If direct action is the only tool the Administration leaves us, then direct action is what theyll get, promised Laura McKenzie with Cascadia Earth First!