Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Another Bush Smackdown

Most schoolchildren are familiar with California's Giant Sequoia trees. Towering over ordinary trees, they can become thousands of years old.

With appropriate ceremony, President Clinton announced the creation of Giant Sequoia National Monument in April of 2000. More than 300,000 acres were set aside to protect the Giant Sequoia trees, unique to the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.

Jump forward just a few years.

In another shameless attempt to divest the public of precious natural resources in favor of big business, the Bush administration intended to permit logging within the protected area. Ruling the plan illegal, a federal judge has made it twice within a week's time that a Bushco policy has been shot down.


SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Bush administration plan to allow commercial logging inside the Giant Sequoia National Monument violates environmental laws.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer sided with environmental groups that sued the U.S. Forest Service over its plans for managing the 328,000-acre preserve, home to two-thirds of the world's largest trees.

The Bush administration plan permitted the cutting of 7.5 million board feet a year and trees up to 30 inches in diameter. Two separate lawsuits arising from the plan were brought by several environmental groups and the California Attorney General.


Judge Breyer found that the "Monument Plan is decidedly incomprehensible" and "lacks coherent or clear guidance" on how the unique ecological resources of the Monument, including numerous sequoia groves and old forest dependent species, would be managed.
In addition to ruling that the Forest Service's overall management plan for the monument is illegal, Judge Breyer invalidated several individual timber sales inside and adjacent to the monument because of their potential impact on endangered wildlife.

Apparently, in a now familiar pattern, the relevant federal agency, in this case the Forest Service, supplied cover for Bushco.

In the lawsuit filed last year, the Sierra Club and other conservation groups said the management plan for the reserve in the southern Sierra Nevada range was a scientifically suspect strategy that was intended to satisfy timber interests under the guise of wildfire prevention....

"The plan proposed by the Forest Service ignores the clear recommendations of its own fire scientists that fire risk reduction is not about logging large trees," stated Craig Thomas, director of the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign.

Is nothing sacred? I suppose not. All bow down to the great American dollar.

This says it for me.

"The American people are looking to their government to protect these forests forever as a National Monument, not as a tree farm," stated Carla Cloer of the Tule River Conservancy. "Logging the Sequoia National Monument is just as unacceptable as selling the Statue of Liberty for scrap metal."


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