If trees fall in Canada, can you hear them in New York? The Sierra Club
and New York City Council members heard them loud and clear.
In June, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, Club volunteers and
staff joined with New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone and council members Gifford
Miller, Kathryn Freed and Herbert Berman to announce the introduction of legislation that
would curb the city's use of wood from endangered forests. New York City is one of the
largest municipal consumers of wood in the United States, and most of that wood is cut
from ancient forests such as Canada's Great Bear Rainforest, the last intact temperate
rainforest left on earth. (See "Good Wood,"
May 2000 Planet.)
If passed, New York City will give preference to wood alternatives,
reclaimed wood and sustainably harvested wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
The city would be the first major municipality to adopt such a policy, and Club leaders
are optimistic about the bill's passage.
"When so many alternatives exist, there is simply no reason why New
York City should contribute to global deforestation," said council member Miller.
Initiative Gets Funding
The North Carolina legislature was quick to pass the Million Acres Open
Space Goal, H.B. 1633, sponsored by Sen. LaFontine Odom (D). It was introduced in April
and signed by Gov. Jim Hunt in late June. (See "North Carolina's Bold Open Space
Plan," June 2000 Planet.) The bill sets a goal of preserving 1 million acres of
unprotected farm land and open space over the next 10 years. Each day, the state loses an
average of 425 acres of wetlands, forests, farm land and open space to development.
Open space advocates were concerned that the bill did not include funding
requirements. However, the state assembly approved expanded funding for two natural
resource trust funds that can help implement the plan. The Farmland Preservation Trust
Fund buys conservation easements as an alternative to developing farm land, and the Clean
Water Act Management Trust Fund provides some funding for land acquisition.
Victory for Wetlands
Sprawl and wetlands activists are celebrating the June "death"
of the destructive Nationwide Wetlands Permit 26, which allowed developers to destroy up
to 10 acres of wetlands without public notice or involvement.
The Army Corps of Engineers will now issue a set of replacement permits
that, while imperfect, reduce to one-half acre the size of wetlands that can be destroyed
with no notice or review.
"We expect to see more scrutiny and public notice before construction
moves ahead," said Robin Mann, chair of the Sierra Club's Wetlands Task Force.
"These reforms will vastly reduce the floodplain sprawl and wetlands destruction that
put thousands of acres of wetlands and hundreds of lives at risk from irresponsible
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