It is “very possible” Congress will act to blunt President Clinton’s new logging policy if he goes forward with an anticipated moratorium on harvests in roadless areas of national forests, a senator said Thursday.
“They are dictating to Congress a policy that is more based on politics than good forest policy,” Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., said in an interview. “These are extremists who are simply trying to subvert all responsible policy on good forest health management.”
Smith called Vice President Al Gore an extremist who is “pushing a policy that has little to do with science,” he said.
Rep. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho and chairwoman of a House subcommittee with jurisdiction over national forests, expressed similar concerns.
“President Clinton is no longer executing the nation’s laws, he’s dictating this nation’s laws,” she said in a statement.
The Forest Service is expected in the next two to three weeks to unveil a policy that could ban logging on millions of acres where there are no roads.
Forest Service officials briefed congressional aides on the progress on the policy Thursday, but aides said few details were provided.
Smith and Chenoweth are among several Western Republicans who have been pressing the administration to exempt from the policy forests in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and Columbia River Basin, on grounds that new management plans are being developed or are already in place there.
But timber industry and environmental officials said Thursday that the plan will not exempt forests in northern California, Oregon and Washington state.
“We understand there are no northern California forests exempted,” said Frank Stewart of the American Forest and Paper Association.
Michael Francis, a forestry expert with the Wilderness Society, said he too understood that California, Oregon and Washington forests would not be exempted.