2000 Scorecard Vote
Commercial logging has had a tremendous impact on America's national forests, ravaging old-growth forests, washing topsoil into streams and draining nutrients from the soil, destroying wildlife habitat, and, by removing mature trees and leaving brush behind, intensifying the severity of forest fires.
The Forest Service's heavily subsidized timber sale program has long been criticized for spending more money to get timber ready for selling than it receives in sales. According to the General Accounting Office, the Forest Service's timber sale program lost $1 billion between 1995 and 1997. The losses are particularly acute in America's largest national forest, Alaska's Tongass rainforest, where the timber program permits clear-cutting of large tracts of virgin, old-growth forests while running a $30 million average annual deficit.
During consideration of H.R. 4578, the Fiscal Year 2001 Interior appropriations bill, Senators Richard Bryan (D-NV) and Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) offered an amendment to reduce the Forest Service's overall timber sales program by $25 million and eliminate the additional $5 million that had been earmarked specifically for Tongass timber sales. Half of those total savings would have been redirected toward improving the Forest Service's planning and preparation for fighting wildfires in the National Forest System.
On July 18, 2000, the Senate rejected the Bryan-Fitzgerald amendment by a 45–54 vote (Senate roll call vote 207). YES is the pro-environmental vote. A similar effort in the House to cut the timber budget also failed (House vote 5) and the Interior conference report passed both Houses with the timber sale subsidy intact and was signed by the President.