Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bush Wants to Sell Our Forests to Private Developers

Yikes. Can someone find out where Charles Taylor, John Armor, and Heath Shuler stand on this proposal?
AC-T: "The Bush administration said Friday it wants to sell thousands of acres of federal forest land to aid rural schools, but critics say the plan is an unprecedented auction of public lands.

The Forest Service is considering selling 300,000 acres of land in North Carolina and 33 other states, although the final amount will run about 175,000 acres, said Mark Rey, Agriculture Department undersecretary.

The agency expects to raise $800 million over five years with the sale."
"In North Carolina, the Forest Service proposed selling 9,828 acres. That breaks down to 3,835 acres in the Nantahala National Forest; 2,780 acres in the Pisgah National Forest; 2,317 in the Uwharrie National Forest; and 895 acres in the Croatan National Forest, the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill said. Land parcels range in size from less than an acre to 561 acres."
"Conservationists and some Democratic lawmakers called the sale unprecedented and said the federal government was auctioning off public lands to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy."

To be clear, the Bush administration is budgeting $493 billion dollars for the defense budget, and that's without including costs for the War in Iraq and the ongoing stabilization of Afghanistan. The Bush administration is also calling for the Bush tax cuts to the weathiest Americans to be made permanent. Further, the FY 2007 budget slashes social programs for the nation's most vulnerable people.

And now he wants to sell our forests.
From a press release via the Unified Forest Defense Campaign: "This proposal comes only a month after Congress, in the face of widespread, bi-partisan opposition, dropped mining provisions from budget reconciliation bill negotiations that would have put millions of acres of public lands up for sale."

From an SELC press release: "More acreage is proposed to be sold in North Carolina than any other state in the Southeast."

"The Forest Service is planning a bake sale with our national forest lands," said Derb Carter, interim director of the Southern Environmental Law Center's Carolinas office. "This short-sighted sell-off of national forest lands will harm wildlife, hunters, and fishermen, as well as the ability of future generations to enjoy our national forests."

"The move is tied to the Bush Administration's plans to cut a long-standing, popular program that funds education and community projects in counties with national forests within their boundaries to make up for the reduced tax base. The Forest Service said it will use the expected $800 million earned from the public lands sale to fund the phase-out of the program out over the next five years. Many in Congress are committed to continue funding the payment-to-counties program.

"It's hard to imagine a worse reason to lose our treasured national forests than for the sake of undermining rural children's education," said Carter. "This proposal aims to privatize ownership of public lands while phasing out funding to schools, so in the end, everyone loses."

Ironically, in 2000 the North Carolina legislature passed legislation calling for protection and preservation of an additional one million acres of open space within ten years, including forest land. This Bush administration proposal counters the land preservation goals of that legislation."

Representative Taylor, candidate Armor, candidate Shuler... do you support President Bush's plan to sell our district's forests and cut off some aid to our district's rural schools? What about you, Blogvillains? Are you going to call Taylor's office? Shuler's office? Burr's office? Dole's office? How are you going to do your part to protect our forests?

Here's a list of tracts that would be eligible for sale under Bush's plan.


arratik said...

letters will be on their way tomorrow.

although i'm pretty sure after my last letter to senator dole, it'll automatically go in the trash bin...

Gordon Smith said...


Then we need to fill up the trash bins.

Also, don't be afraid to call these people on the phone. If they're busy answering phones all day, it's harder for them to do their other jobs, which consist of ruining your backyard.

arratik said...

oh, don't worry: there's a whole bunch of stuff heading toward those trash bins as i type this...