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December 11, 2002: Changes Boosting ‘Fuels Treatment’ Projects in Forests Put Forward

Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman James L. Connaughton meet with President Bush to discuss the implementation of the administration’s “Healthy Forest Initiative.” After the meeting, they announce proposed changes that would expedite the approval of “fuels treatment” projects (forest thinning) by weakening the review process and restricting public input. (US Department of Interior 12/11/2002; Lindlaw 12/11/2002) Critics say the changes would make it easier for the timber industry to cut the larger, more fire resistant trees, making the forests more vulnerable to wildfires. They also charge that the proposed rules would allow logging interests to override local concerns. (Natural Resources Defense Council 12/11/2002) Mike Francis, a forest specialist with the Wilderness Society, commenting on the proposed rule changes, tells the Associated Press, “Those are nothing more than administration’s typical desires to cut the public out of forest decisions. This administration doesn’t like what the public wants to do with their forests.” (Lindlaw 12/11/2002)


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