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Environmental Pillagers Deserve Plaque Buildup

Thu., May 11, 1995

We mount plaques on bridges and name great wilderness areas in honor of politicians who have a hand in laws and projects of lasting value.

At least as much should be done to commemorate those who usher in destruction.

Future generations ought to know whom to loathe.

There should be a memorial to the native cutthroat trout that once thrived in the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. At that monument, a large brass plaque should list the politicians who allowed the Silver Valley and Lake Coeur d’Alene to become one of the nation’s saddest examples of heavy metals pollution.

On the Snake River, we should build a visitor center in memory of chinook and sockeye salmon. Prominent space should be given to former Sen. James McClure and other politicians and bureaucrats who allowed forest roads to be gouged into steep slopes in fragile spawning drainages.

The Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club could rename its Kamloops & Kokanee fishing derby in honor of Larry Craig and Slade Gorton. Both senators are pushing for weaker endangered-species laws and elimination of citizen oversight in timber sales.

These men are monuments to the mindless human destruction inflicted on the spawning grounds of onceprolific bull trout and rainbows.

Such infamy should never be forgotten.

Time out: I’ll lighten up briefly to recommend postponing all non-life-sustaining activities for a walk or bike ride on the Centennial Trail.

Try the stretch between Plante’s Ferry and state line, where show-stopping displays of golden arrowleaf balsamroot have peaked, but are still holding on. Take a camera if you dare, but double expected travel time.

Salvage sanity: Sen. Craig is among those trying to use the smoke from last year’s forest fires to sneak through a bogus agenda for suspending federal environmental regulations.

Craig wants to give bulldozers virtually free rein in what the timber industry is promoting as “a forest emergency.” Meanwhile, scientists say there’s no more reason to trash forests now than before.

A fisherman isn’t worth his weight in worms if he doesn’t recognize that a future for fishing depends on maintaining environmental safeguards for watersheds, not suspending them.

Bureaucrats, too: The U.S. Forest Service has proposed rules to reduce the impact rare plants have on forest plans.

Plants already have a pitifully low profile in stopping bulldozers. But the “National Forest System Land and Resource Management Planning Proposed Rule,” proposed last month, would allow forest planners to ignore all but the rarest of plants.

In other words, a plant would have to be on its last roots before it would get any consideration.

Info: Ann Christensen, Forest Service spokeswoman, (202) 205-1034.

Stand up for rights: Washington citizens for sane environmental protection have only until July 14 to gather signatures and bring Initiative 164 to a vote.

The so-called “property rights” law would milk taxpayers every time they dare demand laws that protect wildlife habitat or trout streams.

The legislature approved the initiative after a who’s who of corporate land rapists donated thousands of dollars on its behalf.

It will become law unless 90,000 voter signatures can be raised to put the measure on the November ballot and allow a public debate.

As written, the law would allow an enormous transfer of clout from the taxpayer to the people who control large acreages. It would cripple government’s ability to regulate forestry and development.

Wetlands would be first on the hit list. No sense letting those ducks think we’re anxious to see them rebound from years of historic low populations.

Some adjustments are needed in current laws to help landowners cope with the irrefutable need for regulation. But a law that paralyzes government from enforcing environmental regulations is bad news from all of us who live or recreate downstream from someone we can’t trust.

Don’t wait for someone to approach you at a mall. Call the Washington Environmental Council, 328-5077, and get a petition to sign and pass around.

You can contact Rich Landers by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 5508.

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