Veneman: Red tape is tying up forests



and The Associated Press

Describing an agency paralyzed by litigation and paperwork, the heads of the U.S. Forest Service told Congress Wednesday that managing national forests is getting harder raising the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman testified that Forest Service managers spend about half their time meeting burdensome regulations created by acts of Congress and court order.

''Frequently, this onerous process does little to improve the quality of agency decisions,'' Veneman told the House Resources Committee.

And that does not include the time spent on the approximately 5,000 legal actions currently filed against the Forest Service involving timber sales, water rights and claims under the National Environmental Protection Act, Undersecretary Mark Rey said.

"That's not too far off," said Stanislaus National Forest timber manager Dan Young, responding to Veneman's comments.

During a meeting with Mother Lode loggers last month, Stanislaus Supervisor Ben del Villar said there has been an increase in "sophistication" by environmentalists appealing timber sales. Once an appeal of a timber sale is upheld on one national forest, del Villar said, the groups instantly notify other groups so they can try the same appeal.

Most of the appeals filed against the Stanislaus have come from environmental groups outside the area; some local environmentalists have sided with the Forest Service, urging them to overturn the appeals.

The appeals process was created years ago by the Forest Service to allow forest users a way to appeal concerns up the agency's chain of command, avoiding costly legal battles. While the appeals are usually made by environmentalists, it has also been used by loggers, ranchers and off-road-vehicle riders.

More than 200 appeals by such groups have been filed against the recently adopted Sierra Nevada Framework, which calls for less logging and grazing on 11.5 million acres.

The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Saturday October 22, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
Columbia Elementary board ousts superintendent


Five days after receiving a 2 percent raise, Columbia Union School District ... more

Paying the price


Chris Lusardi, of Sonora, is one of thousands of Tuolumne County residents ... more

Sheriff details investigation of Marshall murder-suicide


Philip Marshall acted alone in killing his two teenage children, a pet ... more

County wants changes on wildfire risk assessment


Tuolumne County officials are preparing to fight in Sacramento for local residents ... more

Mudslide knocks out a portion of TUD’s ditch system


The Columbia ditch will be closed until Saturday, following a mudslide that ... more