Senate Bill Introduced to Codify Forest Roadless Plan; Plan Bans Building Roads for Fighting Forest Fires, by Gretchen Randall

BACKGROUND: Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) added language to a spending bill that would exempt the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota from environmental lawsuits that prevent logging. This proposal would outlaw litigation and appeals that attempt to prevent logging to thin that forest. Thinning the Black Hills National Forest will make it less susceptible to dangerous forest fires similar to those that have engulfed the West this summer. Mr. Daschle said his proposal is “the fastest and most effective way to get the forest thinned.”

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: Daschle should provide the same protection for loggers and forest communities nationwide that he is seeking for his home state of South Dakota.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Daschle’s proposal contradicts environmentalists claims that logging does not help prevent forest fires. Western states have been bogged down by environmental regulations and lawsuits that prevent thinning of forests; it will be interesting to see if Mr. Daschle believes the fire prevention programs he proposed for the Black Hills National Forest are also worthy for the fire-ravaged Western states.

DISCUSSION: According to the National Interagency Fire Center, fires have burned more than 3.7 million acres of land this summer. Dr. Thomas Bonnicksen, professor of forestry at Texas A&M, has said that logging is essential to maintaining the health of our forests. Logging projects were cut by over 80 percent during the Clinton-Gore administration, which has helped lead to the increase of dangerous fuel loads in our nation’s forests.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: See Bonnicksen’s paper on how to safely and effectively manage forests, National Policy Analysis #418: Monster Wildfires are Preventable, at

Information on fire statistics can be found at the National Interagency Fire Center at


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