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The GOP's Shocking Attack on America's National Forests

August 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Reynard Loki, AlterNet

Two Republican bills in Congress seek to pillage U.S. National Forests in the name of corporate profit.

Two Republican bills currently making their way through Congress should anger any American who cares about the nation's forests. Introduced this summer, both bills are pro-industry and anti-environment, and seek to eliminate public participation in federal decisions about forest management that could negatively impact local communities, ecological health and wildlife.

The first bill,

Fire suppression and post-fire logging have destroyed much of the natural habitat of the Black-backed woodpecker, a threatened species that needs fire-killed trees to survive. (image: Rachel Fazio/John Muir Project)

“One pair of Black-backed woodpeckers generally needs at least 200 acres, typically with at least 100 standing fire-killed trees per acre, on average, in order to have enough of their prey — native wood-boring beetle larvae which live under the bark of fire-killed trees — to survive,” according to JMP. “Once relatively common, before fire suppression and post-fire logging, this species is now extremely rare, and there are no meaningful protections for its habitat on either public or private lands. It is estimated that as few as 1000 pairs remain in California (600 pairs)/Oregon (400 pairs) with less than 500 pairs remaining in Black Hills of South Dakota.”

Rachel Fazio, JMP's associate director, told AlterNet that the California spotted owl also is “adversely affected by both green-tree thinning (which destroys or degrades both nesting and foraging habitat) and post-fire logging (which destroys its preferred foraging habitat) — both of which tend to result in territory abandonment.” Last week, Sierra Forest Legacy and Defenders of Wildlife filed a petition to list the California spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act.

JMP argues that these bills, by “dispensing with environmental review, oversight by the courts, and doubling or tripling logging levels, will only mean further threats to these species and an overall reduction in native biodiversity in both green and burned forests.”

“Let's face it,” Fazio said, “Any way you cut it, these bills would be devastating for imperiled wildlife species.”

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