White House voices concerns over Tester’s bill

Top Ag Dept official says logging levels ‘not reasonable’
By Associated Press | December 18, 2009

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Thursday it has several concerns about Sen. Jon Tester’s plan to create more wilderness and mandate more logging in Montana’s national forests. Speaking at a Senate hearing, a top Agriculture Department official said Tester’s bill would require logging levels in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest that are “not reasonable.”

Agriculture Undersecretary Harris Sherman, who oversees the Forest Service, said he was concerned that the bill’s cost and mandates could create a harmful precedent for other national forests. Sherman urged Tester, a first-term Democrat, to “alter or remove highly site-specific requirements” for logging and other forest-thinning projects that are “likely unachievable and perhaps unsustainable.” [Click here for Sherman’s testimony]

The bill would require logging of about 7,000 acres a year in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge forest – seven times the current annual average.

“The levels of mechanical treatment called for in the bill far exceed historic treatment levels on these forests, and would require an enormous shift in resources (away) from other forests in Montana and other states to accomplish,” Sherman testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
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Click here to view an archieved webcast of the hearing.  To read testimony submitted on behalf of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, click here.

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