1997 Scorecard Vote
Nearly 380,000 miles of roads criss-cross the National Forests--eight times the length of the Interstate Highway system, and enough to circle the globe 15 times. In most western states the density of roads on Forest Service lands is greater than the density of roads on all other lands. Approximately 70% of those roads were built as logging roads. Logging roads have many adverse effects. In addition to destroying the wild character of the forests, logging roads destroy and fragment wildlife habitat, cause erosion and mudslides, and generate sediment in streams that damages fish habitat. Sediment loading in streams also threatens the drinking water of hundreds of communities. Despite the damage done to public resources by logging roads, the Forest Service subsidizes timber companies' road construction costs.
During consideration of H.R. 2107, the Fiscal Year 1998 Department of the Interior appropriations (budget) bill, Senator Richard Bryan (D-NV) offered an amendment to cut by $10 million the Forest Service's $47 million account that funds new logging road construction, and to eliminate an indirect subsidy, the Purchaser Road Credits program. Under that program, timber companies receive credits for construction of new logging roads to offset what they owe the government for sales of timber from Forest Service lands. In essence, the program gives trees to timber companies in payment for road construction costs. The Forest Service spent $40 million last year on the Purchaser Road Credits program.
The initial vote on the Bryan amendment was a tie, which would have killed the amendment. Prior to the vote ending, Senator Bryan switched his vote from "yes" to "no" to allow him to use a procedural technique to ask for a re-vote. On the second vote, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) changed his vote from "yes" to "no" and, on September 17, 1997, the Bryan amendment was defeated 49 - 51. YES is the pro-environment vote. (See House vote 2).