Monday, March 7, 2005 is the final day for public comment on the Bush administration's plan to overhaul U.S. Forest Service regulations. In less than a week, timber companies will pop Cristal corks and the U.S.F.S. will discard reams of important records detailing wildlife population monitoring.
I'm in favor of minimizing bureaucracy, but this proposal represents a sinister push by the Bush administration to further industry interests at the expense of our national forests. Like many right-wing politicians, I have problems with the "Endangered Species" approach of wildlife management. My reasons, however, are quite different than those of the GOP.
Expensive conservation campaigns that focus on "saving" one species often overlook other ecologically significant, but less photogenic populations in the same ecosystem. Moreover, the environmentalist tendency to plug one hole in a leaky dam only increases the pressure on unnoticed weak spots; a more general approach is preferable. You may lose a few battles, but you're more likely to win the war.
Sadly, the Bush administration is tapping into a growing frustration with the Endangered Species Act not in order to win the war I speak of, but rather to ensure short-term profits and unhindered access to once-protected lands.
Frighteningly, the administration seems to acknowledge the poisonous nature of their plan. They announced the policy two days before Christmas 2004, hoping to quiet public outcry amidst holiday cheer and other news. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, folks! To hell with your forests!
This link will direct you to an article published in The Washington Post on December 23, 2004, but it details the plan nicely.