Last week the Bush Administration took the controversial survey-and-manage provision—which required the review of potential timber sales for the presence of endangered species—out of the Northwest Forest Plan.
Environmentalists are worried that hundreds of rare species and old growth will suffer. Loggers, who filed a suit to end survey-and-manage, are hoping that the change will help them finally make headway in cutting timber in Northwest forests, thus providing jobs and reviving the local economies.
Survey-and-manage was added to the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994 as a way to protect hundreds of rare species that might not be protected in the plan's forest reserves, and which are not listed on state or federal endangered-species lists. The provision calls upon the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to protect sites where known rare species live, perform regional-level surveys to give an overview of species protection, and conduct surveys of rare species before ground-disturbing activities, such as timber harvests.
Meanwhile, the agencies are also supposed to keep providing timber to the logging industry. Environmentalists fear that with the elimination of the survey-and-manage provision, federal officials will be able to move more quickly on timber sales in controversial areas.