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The Planet
No Shame: Headway Made to Halt Logging

ECL advocates stump on trams, in classrooms and for Tao Society.

By Jenny Coyle

It was the senator, not Sierra Club activist Sheila Bosworth who struck up the conversation.

Kalamath National ForestBosworth, an Iowa Chapter member, was in Washington, D.C., during a lobby week for the Club's End Commercial Logging on Federal Lands Campaign, and found herself in one of the underground Senate tram cars with Sen. Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican - and die-hard logging advocate.

Burns leaned forward and asked what Bosworth's button said. "Stop Logging Our National Forests," she said matter-of-factly, and a red-faced Burns replied somewhat less than diplomatically that Bosworth should be ashamed of herself.

Bosworth was just doing her part to educate the public about the Club's campaign. She's the one who convinced Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) to author - along with Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) - H.R. 1396, the bill to end commercial logging on federal lands. Now she's always looking for co-sponsors.


Sheila Bosworth

Sheila Bosworth

"The high point in the year 2000 was that we got 99 co-sponsors on the bill," said Sean Cosgrove, the Club's national forest policy specialist, who added with a chuckle, "The low point was that we got 99 co-sponsors on the bill."

One more co-sponsor doesn't make a difference in whether the bill begins its move through the committee process in the House. And in fact, if George Brown (D-Calif.) hadn't passed away this year, the campaign would have reached that goal.

"Sure, we'd like 100, and Rep. McKinney was eager for us to get there," said ECL Campaign Committee Chair Bernie Zaleha in Idaho. "But the big picture is that we got three times more than we had in the previous session of Congress. I'm sure we'll exceed 100 in the next session."

Zaleha, who spent three separate weeks in Washington, D.C., to lobby on the bill, said it's easier to build support when he can point out that the campaign is one of the Sierra Club's top four priorities. "They realize it's not just a 'feel good' piece of legislation," he said.

Only 4 percent of America's old-growth forests are still standing, and 75 percent of those remaining are within national forest boundaries. Not only is commercial logging allowed, but it's being subsidized by taxpayers at a huge loss - to the tune of $2 billion between 1992 and 1997, according to the federal General Accounting Office. More than 440,000 miles of roads now scar national forests, and the overwhelming majority of them were built for the logging industry and paid for by American taxpayers.

Zaleha has traveled the country talking about the importance of halting this travesty. He has addressed Club groups, chapters and regional conservation committees, as well as other organizations, like the Tao Society of Salt Lake City, where a student translated his speech for the native-born Chinese members. He has also discussed the Forest Service's activities on national forests in venues like an Arizona radio talk show called "See You in Court." And in December he gave the opening address to a conference in Hendersonville, N.C., organized by the Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation. The ECL committee co-sponsored the event.

The campaign published and distributed "Seeing the Forests for Their Green," a report written by two independent economists who prove that protecting and restoring national forests produces more jobs and economic benefits than logging does.

Clyde Hanson Clyde Hanson, an ECL campaign committee member and treasurer of the North Star (Minnesota) Chapter, held a press conference in Duluth when the report was released, and the ensuing media attention landed him in front of a classroom at the University of Minnesota's School of Natural Resources.

Clyde Hanson

"It was a course on the economics of natural resources, and the students were about half conservation biologists and half foresters," said Hanson. He talked about the ECL campaign and showed the campaign's video, "This is Your Land." "It was a good way to target and educate grad students who could be allies or valuable activists," Hanson said.

It wasn't all good news for the campaign, however. The passage of Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-Ore.) onerous "Clearcuts for Kids" bill, S. 1608, kept in place an outdated incentive for politicians in timber communities to advocate for logging.

"But we were able to stop the worst parts of the bill that would have mandated that counties use their funds for logging projects and raided Forest Service budgets for recreation and wilderness management," Cosgrove said.

In another setback, there was an increase in subsidies for logging in the Forest Service fiscal year 2001 budget.

"Our challenges in the coming year will be to continue our outreach to the public and Club members, build more congressional support, fight off pro-logging legislation and bad administrative policies, and gain more support among scientists, economists and other professionals," said Cosgrove.

Maybe they can get Sheila Bosworth to ride the Senate tram every day.

Photo credit:
(top) Supposedly Serene: It looks like a playful outing at the Scott River on California's Klamath National Forest. But don't be deceived, said Devorah Chirco-Macdonald of Aptos, CA, who won a photo contest held by the End Commercial Logging on Federal Lands Campaign. "Logging surrounds this area, and we heard and saw logging trucks constantly," she said. Contest organizers asked for pictures taken in national forests where logging was under way, or where timber sales were planned.

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