For Immediate Release, August 3, 2011
Contact: Taylor McKinnon, (928) 310-6713
Pearce, Gosar "Forest Forum" on Wrong Track
PHOENIX, Ariz.— In the wake of Arizona’s Wallow fire, Congressmen Steve Pearce (R-NM) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) have announced a “forest forum” in Eager, Ariz., on Aug. 10 to “re-evaluate forest management policies at all levels of government.” Both Congressmen are on record blaming recent fires on environmental groups, federal environmental law and public participation policies.
At 530,000 acres, the Wallow fire is the largest in recent Arizona history. A U.S. Forest Service report published last week credited forest restoration projects with saving communities like Alpine from burning. Those projects were the result of the White Mountain Stewardship Contract, a collaborative forest restoration program made up of conservation, community and small-diameter timber industry interests.
“One lesson of the Wallow fire is that collaborative forest restoration works in Arizona’s ponderosa forests, and there needs to be more of it,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Meanwhile, Pearce and Gosar are fixated on using fires to advance their anti-environmental policy agenda. They’re wrong, and they’re on the wrong track.”
The Center has not filed any lawsuits against green timber sale decisions on the Apache-Sitgreaves since 2000. Lawsuits prior to that targeted old-growth logging, which contributed to today’s uncharacteristic fires by removing fire-resistant large trees while leaving flammable thickets of small trees. No administrative (non-court) appeals or objections have been filed in connection with green timber sale or restoration thinning decisions on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest since 2005; the last before that was in 2002. Both — the only two in the past decade — were quickly resolved, and forest treatments ensued.
Despite this, politicians continue to blame fires on environmental laws to advance their de-regulation agenda. Earlier this year, Rep. Pearce introduced a bill that would exempt all national forest logging from all federal laws and regulations. The bill would require the Forest Service to automatically approve any and all logging proposals from the timber industry on national forest lands. The Center for Biological Diversity is chronicling factual errors in Pearce’s rhetoric on this website.
The Center and other organizations have been working together to expand the success of the White Mountains Stewardship Contract to the rest of the Mogollon Rim. The 2.4-million-acre Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI) seeks to restore the ponderosa pine forest from Flagstaff to New Mexico, focusing on the strategic thinning of small trees on 1 million acres over the next 20 years in order to protect communities and safely reestablish self-regulating forest ecosystems maintained by beneficial natural fires. 4FRI includes a plan to develop a restoration wood industry designed specifically to thin and utilize small-diameter trees in order to eliminate costs to taxpayers and rapidly expand the amount of forest work being done. See 4FRI.com.