Last week, the state of California filed suit against the Bush administration contesting federal plans to significantly expand logging throughout national forests in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Bill Lockyer, California’s attorney general, decried the federal decision announced last year to allow four times more wood to be harvested from the Sierra Nevada than in recent years, despite widespread public opposition.
“With no basis in science and no new facts, the Bush administration has jettisoned the product of more than 10 years of study, public participation and consensus building,” he says. Lockyer, a potential candidate for California governor in 2006, goes on to say that the federal logging plan would violate national environmental protection laws.
Meanwhile, federal officials reason that the proposed expansion of logging over the next two decades will curb wildfires throughout the 400-mile stretch of the mountain range by clearing out small trees and brush which can act like tinder.
“We have too many smaller-diameter trees due to well-meaning but overzealous fire suppression in the past,” says Forest Service spokesman Matt Mathes.