Rule Cuts Out Public Participation, Violates Law

WASHINGTON (December 22, 2004) -- Today's Bush administration changes to the rule governing national forest management plans would undermine wildlife protection and exclude the public, other agencies and independent scientists from forest management planning, according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). The rule would open up public lands -- including old growth forests, roadless areas and sensitive wildlife habitats -- to industry to log, drill and build roads.

"The rule is illegal. It rips the guts out of National Forest management plans. It doesn't ensure that the Forest Service protect resources," said Amy Mall, NRDC senior forestry specialist. "And it doesn't even require that timber sales comply with forest management plans.

"The White House is deliberately creating a legal controversy, knowing the rule will be struck down in court, so it can give Congress the justification to roll back the forest protection laws these new rules violate," she added.

The revised rule also eliminates the environmental review process for forest management plans. This process provides the public information about forest planning and gives the public the ability to participate in management decisions about public lands. In addition, the revised regulations eviscerate some of the nation's most effective wildlife protections.

"The Bush administration is ignoring overwhelming public support for protecting wildlife, and trying to hide what it is doing on the public's own land," Mall said.