From: Jim Jontz

Date: May 25, 2000


The New Zealand Labor government introduced legislation this week that will end the logging of publicly-owned temperate rainforests in NZ and transfer them to national parks and other conservation reserves. "These rainforests will go into the conservation estate and they will be there in perpetuity both for their intrinsic value, and also of course for the ongoing benefit of the visitor and tourism industry on the West Coast," said NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark.

"Public attitudes to logging in publicly-owned indigenous forests have changed markedly," Pete Hodgson, the NZ Minister responsible for timberlands, told arliament earlier this month. "These lowland forests are considered by many New Zealanders to be a unique and significant part of our natural heritage, too valuable for logging of any sort to continue."

How sad that at the same time a Labor government in New Zealand is taking action to protect that nation's Ancient Forests, the Clinton Administration (with the nod of Vice President Al Gore?) proposes to speed-up the logging of remaining old growth forests on U.S. public lands.

First, the Administration is pushing for changes in the Northwest Forest Plan for Forests west of the Cascades to weaken the protections for species under the Plan's "survey and manage" requirements. The new rules will ignore many threatened plants and animals that depend on old growth, allow the Forest Service to take shortcuts in preparing timber sales, and generally cut corners to increase logging. A request by all the nation's major environmental groups to consider a "no old growth logging" option, supported by 14 Members of Congress from the Northwest, has been declined. As proposed, the logging of almost 1.0 million acres of old growth forest ecosystems (old growth and late successional forests) on public lands will result.

Second, the Administration is moving ahead with the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Plan (ICBEMP), which rather than protect the forests, fish and wildlife on the 1/4 of the National Forest system in the upper Columbia Basin, will increase logging by 21% and fail to protect 7/8 of the very modest amount of old growth remaining on these Eastside forests.

Rather than the enlightened leadership of Mike Dombeck, these plans seem to be a return to the way the Forest Service used to do it. Other than nostalgia, why would the Administration propose these throw-backs to the "get out the cut" days? Surely someone in Al Gore's office must be anxious that Gore will be asked why, when companies like The Home Depot have promised to end the use of old growth and New Zealand is planning to halt such logging, the U.S. is firing up the chainsaws to liquidate the last of our unprotected Ancient Forests?

Something is amiss. If New Zealand's Labor government can recognize that their forests are "too valuable for logging," is that too much to expect from the linton/Gore Administration? There is still time.

Steve Holmer

Campaign Coordinator

American Lands

726 7th Street SE

Washington, D.C. 20003