1998 Scorecard Vote
The timber industry has backed a series of bills aimed at increasing commercial logging under the rubric of protecting "forest health." The 104th Congress voted to suspend environmental safeguards for 18 months--under the "salvage logging rider"--to increase logging in virtually every national forest. Salvage logging proponents contend that America's national forests are threatened by mounting outbreaks of disease and insect infestation, and by the risk of catastrophic fires. They argue that only increased logging of trees can save these lands. Environmentalists counter that sound science does not support claims of a national "forest health" crisis and reject the blanket prescription of logging as the cure, pointing out that dead and dying trees are part of the natural process of succession and adaptation.
H.R. 2515, the Forest Recovery and Protection Act of 1998, sponsored by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Smith (R-OR), would require the Forest Service to designate "recovery areas" within national forests and to conduct "recovery projects" in these areas. The bill contains numerous incentives to ensure that most "recovery projects" would be commercial timber sales. Furthermore, the bill provides no limit on the size, number, or duration of recovery areas and projects--entire national forests could be designated as "recovery areas."
Logging would be subsidized by a self-feeding trust fund, free of congressional oversight. The bill specifically authorizes money-losing timber sales under the "recovery projects." Moreover, by requiring consideration of local economic impacts to communities dependent on revenues from logging sales, it could place pressure on local forest managers to prescribe commercial logging, rather than more appropriate methods to treat legitimate forest health problems.
On March 27, 1998, the House defeated H.R. 2515, 181 - 201. NO is the pro-environment vote.