Christy Sherr: Extreme partisan politics jeopardize forests |

Christy Sherr: Extreme partisan politics jeopardize forests

Our shared forest heritage faces grave peril from extreme and divisive partisan lawmaking. The Forestry Title of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), also known as “the House Farm Bill,” currently being considered in the House of Representatives, consistently prioritizes the logging industry over all other forest stakeholders.

It would perversely incentivize logging by making resource management and forest stewardship dependent on logging revenue and deprioritize hazardous fuels reduction efforts in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). H.R. 2 would cause irreparable harm to our federal forests, drinking water, wildlife, recreation, and economy.

H.R. 2 is replete with provisions that undermine bedrock environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Roadless Area Conservation Rule (Roadless Rule). This bill would allow logging and grazing on up to 6,000- acres — almost 10 square miles for each single project — without any NEPA review or public disclosure and discussion of potential harms. The numerous new exemptions are double the size of the legislated NEPA exclusion just passed in the omnibus deal and they also eliminate the requirement, preserved in the omnibus agreement, to consider cumulative effects and “extraordinary circumstances” such as wilderness and roadless areas and endangered species.

This partisan bill also goes further than the omnibus deal on the ESA, allowing federal land management agencies to “self-consult” on whether their actions would harm threatened and endangered species, even though such self-consultation has already been declared unlawful by the courts.

The harmful federal forest proposals in this legislation solve no problem; they only add controversy to the House Farm Bill and weaken its chances of becoming law. Strongly urge our representatives to oppose the federal forest provisions in the House Farm Bill, and any amendments that further undermine environmental safeguards on our federal forest heritage, including our water, wildlife, recreation, and our economy.

Christy Sherr lives in Nevada City.

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