Anti-environment legislators have suspended environmental laws in massive federal giveaway

by Carolyn Chase
ongress has opened National Forests across the country, sacrificing them to timber industry greed. Even now, in the middle of the winter, they are cutting giant trees and dragging them through the snow to be trucked to the mills. Here's how it happened.

The "Salvage Rider" a subversion of democracy

The "Emergency Salvage" timber rider was stealthily attached to the 1995 Rescissions Bill, legislation supposed to reduce federal expenditures, and signed into law by President Clinton. The "salvage rider" is probably the most far-reaching, anti-environment legislation in the history of this country. We, the people, are paying dearly for it: in actual dollars, loss of critical wildlife habitat and ancient forests and in the precedent it sets for lawmaking and the separation of powers in this country.
The "salvage rider" has put logging outside the law. It suspends the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act, three other laws governing public lands, and finally, as a catchall, "all other applicable Federal environmental and natural resource laws," like the Clean Water Act.

Salvage sales

The Rider requires an "emergency" timber salvage program. The definition of "salvage" timber has loopholes big enough to drive a log truck through. Trees only need to be "imminently susceptible to fire or insect attack" or "associated trees" to be included in a salvage sale. Already, conservationists have identified 14 healthy, green timber sales that could not satisfy previous environmental protection laws that have been reclassified as "salvage" sales by the Forest Service. These sales are in Colorado, Michigan, Montana, Virginia and Idaho. Others are proceeding in Oregon and Washington.

Green tree sales

The "salvage rider" has opened up green, healthy, old-growth forests for clear-cutting that were supposedly protected by the President's Forest Plan. All over the Pacific Northwest, the "salvage rider" mandates that such disastrous sales be awarded to the timber industry at give-away 1990 prices. Over one billion board feet of the most valuable old-growth forests, essential for the recovery of salmon, spotted owls and marbled murrelets, will be logged under the "salvage rider."

Salvage Rider repeal bill

Representative Elizabeth Furse (D-OR) has courageously stepped forward to challenge the timber industry's greedy grab at our ancient forests. On December 7, 1995, she introduced bipartisan legislation that will completely repeal the "logging without laws" rider. H.R. 2745, the "Restoration of Natural Resources Laws on the Public Lands Act of 1995," now has 86 cosponsors. In her statement to the press, Rep. Furse asserted that, "America is a nation of laws. Americans are law-abiding citizens. But the Salvage Rider has put logging outside the law."
She cited six key reasons for the repeal of the Salvage Rider: Please call or write your Representative and urge them to cosponsor the Furse/Morella "Restoration of Natural Resources Laws on the Public Lands Act of 1995." The address is Your Representative, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515 or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202/224- 3121.

Carolyn Chase is chairperson of the City of San Diego Waste Management Advisory Board, a member of the Peñasquitos Canyon Citizens Advisory Council and recipient of the mayor's 1994 Spirit of San Diego award for the Environment.

Myths and truths about logging

Myth: Logging our watersheds is only done to improve water quality.
Truth: Logging increases erosion, run-off and silt in our reservoirs which inevitably degrades water quality. Logging is done because the bureaucrats in charge of it want to keep their jobs.

Myth: Logging reduces fire hazard.
Truth: Logging leaves cut-over areas with slash open to the direct sun which dry out and increase fire hazard.

Myth: Old growth rainforests are full of sick, diseased and decadent trees. A young forest is more healthy.
Truth: Old growth rainforests are healthy ecosystems which have evolved over thousands of years to be more resistant to insects and disease. They are naturally regenerating, with trees of all different ages. Decaying wood retains water and supports new life. The needles of big, old trees filter water and their roots hold soils in place. A young even-aged forest which follows clear-cutting is much more prone to fire, insects, disease and erosion.

Myth: Salvage logging is needed after forest fires to aid ecosystem recovery.
Truth: No, it is not. In fact, salvage, and the road building, cat skidding, and log removal it involves increase erosion, reduce habitat for wildlife, and fragment what wild lands we have left. In fact, fire suppression (bulldozed fire lanes and backburns) in combination with salvage are the greatest threat to North Americas remaining wilderness. Forest fires are a natural part of our ecosystem and contribute to the health of our forests. Fires should be suppressed only in tourist and rural interface areas.

Myth: Logging is needed to create jobs and save the economy.
Truth: Sustainable logging is required to truly create the economy that provides jobs long-term. Studies in the Pacific Northwest have shown that, acre-for-acre, ancient forest systems provide more economic benefit and jobs left standing than cut down.

Myth: Timber is needed to build homes
Truth: More timber is most emphatically not needed to build homes. Homes can be built from many renewable materials which are available at a lower cost, with desirable building attributes and with less fire hazard.

Call to Action - what you can do

HELP REPEAL THE SALVAGE RIDER! Ask your Representatives to cosponsor HR 2745. Please consider going to visit your Legislators' offices when they are home. Letters and calls are great, but seeing your Rep. in person has the greatest impact.
Sample letter:
Dear Congressman or President,

I am writing to urge you to restore the rule of law
in our Nation's forests. Please join with the growing number
of bipartisan members of Congress who are
supporting HR 2745, the "Restoration of Natural Resources
Laws on the Public Lands Act of 1995." HR 2745 is a total
repeal of the rider. Only a repeal of the Salvage Rider
will protect forests all across the country that are now
being attacked without legal protection or recourse.
Right now, Ancient Forests that were set aside in the
Northwest Forest Plan to help endangered fish stocks and other
forest species recover, are being BRUTALLY CLEAR-CUT. Forests
are also being laid to waste in Montana, Idaho, Vermont and
Alabama. I am appalled that our children's heritage is being
undemocratically seized from them and bestowed on giant
timber corporations for short-term profit. Please stop
the destruction!

<your signature>
<printed name and address>

A view from the ground

Provided by Umpqua Watersheds, Inc
he Honeytree timber sale contained 7.2 million board-feet (MBF) on 167 acres of towering old giants in the Canton creek drainage in Oregon. It was sold and awarded in the late 1980s. The Forest Service revealed that the "area is currently at very high risk of undergoing further landslides into [Hipower] creek." The fisheries experts recommended that all uncut units be bought back until the watershed had recovered.
Because of its extreme detrimental effect on the entire ecosystem, an injunction stopped the completion of its harvest. Before the salvage rider mandated that its destruction continue, there remained 91 acres left uncut with 3.8 MBF of ancient trees left. But not for long. Read about its present legacy below.
To: The President of the United States, Et. al 

With the greatest of sadness I would like to share with 
you my heart. What I saw yesterday saddened me deeply. 
Roseburg Lumber Company cut trees that are bigger than I 
ever imagined existed still on earth. Hiking through the 
forest, a group of 5 of us came upon hundreds of fallen 
giants lying vagrant in the muddy stream that is the 
beginning of the confluence that I fished as a boy with 
my father. As an ex-logger I could see that this logging 
site (Honeytree) was logged with no regard to any 
environmental concern. It was dirty and quick, and there 
was not a logger or machine to be seen, only a valley of 
scared trees lying recklessly on top of the devastated 
My request is that you repeal, in entirety, the Salvage 
Logging Rider and please Mr. President, please take a 
moment to see for yourself the last of our natural world.
Your signature is the cause of the destruction of my heritage.

Most Sincerely,
S. Shivia, Eugene Oregon 

Umpqua Watersheds, Inc. a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is one of many local volunteer citizen's groups working for sustainable forestry and conservation of ancient and old growth ecosystems. Their purpose is: If you would like to help stop the destruction, there are several things you can do:
Umpqua Watersheds, Inc.
PO Box 101
Roseburg, OR 97470
Their World Wide Web address is
or by email: francis