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 in the state. Approximately 70% of the roads in our national forests were built as logging roads. These 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 mud slides, and generate sediment in streams that damages fish habitat and threatens the drinking water of hundreds of communities. Despite the damage done to public resources by logging roads, the Forest Service continues to subsidize timber companies' road construction costs.
During consideration of H.R. 2107, the Fiscal Year 1998 Department of the Interior appropriations (budget) bill, Reps. John Porter (R-IL) and Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) offered an amendment to cut $42 million from the Forest Service's $47 million account for new logging road construction, and $50 million from 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 timber companies trees in payment for road construction costs. In an attempt to undercut Rep. Porter's proposed cuts, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) offered a timber industry-backed substitute amendment to reduce the Forest Service's logging road construction budget by only $5.6 million, and the Purchaser Road Credits program by only $25 million.
On July 10, 1997, the House passed the Dicks amendment 211 - 209, which then substituted for and defeated Rep. Porter's original amendment. NO is the pro-environment vote. (See Senate vote 2).