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For Immediate Release                                                  

September 30, 2004                                                                      

Doolittle, Herger, House Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte Blast Radical Environmentalists'

Enviros Hijack Meadow Valley Wildfire Protection Project

Washington, D.C. - House Republican Conference Secretary John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) today released the following statement:

 Earlier this week, a coalition of so-called environmental groups filed a lawsuit in federal court against a fuels reduction and wildfire protection project in the Plumas National Forest in Northern California.  The approximately 6,400 acre project was planned as part of the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act (HFQLG Act).  In accordance with the goals of the HFQLG Act, the project is designed to create healthier forests and community stability and protect communities against catastrophic wildfires.  It calls for the construction of thousands of acres of Defensible Fuel Profile Zones, or DFPZs, including around the communities of Meadow Valley, Butterfly Valley and Blackhawk.  The Forest Service estimates that eighty-five percent of the project area is Condition Class 2 or 3, meaning at moderate to high risk to catastrophic wildfire.

Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA): 

"It's clear that these so called 'environmentalists' are intent on turning our communities into charred shrines to their cause," stated local Representative John T. Doolittle.  "The obstructionists who filed this baseless lawsuit are inviting destruction on the very forests they claim to protect.  In order to return our forests to a healthy state we need to expedite these forest restoration projects and not allow these radical eco-marxists to hijack the process."

Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA):

            "More communities will be destroyed and more people will be killed if steps are not taken to reduce the risk of wildfire disasters," California Congressman Wally Herger stated. 

"Using the courts to stop critically-needed community and forest health projects demonstrates a blatant disregard for the safety of our rural communities and forests.  The radical environmentalists claim they support thinning near communities for protection.  But their sinister motives - to lock up our forests - belie their empty rhetoric.  This frivolous lawsuit is the most recent proof that the extremists will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, even if it puts human lives and communities at risk."

            "This project is consistent with environmental laws and policies.  It was planned under the original overly restrictive Sierra Nevada Framework, which placed unnecessary limits on the size of the trees that can be removed and which the so-called environmentalists supported," Herger said.  "Yet, now they are seeking to stop even this modest, limited project, the only chance these rural communities have to combat a serious and growing fire threat.  The citizens of this state should be outraged by this reckless disregard for the lives of our rural citizens."

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA):

Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA) stated, "this week, a coalition of groups well-known for their reckless approach to environmental litigation filed suit against a wildfire protection project in California."  "This modest project meets all the requirements of the existing forest plan, and is one of several projects called for in the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group law that has been on the books for over six years."

"It is disappointing that groups whose publicly stated aim is disrupting any management of our public lands are trying to stymie a legitimate public safety project," said Goodlatte.  "These same groups criticized the Congress as we worked on the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.  Now, when the agency proposes a community protection project, the same groups sue to stop it.  It's unconscionable."      

            During debate in the House of Representatives on the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (P.L. 108-148) last year, there was a great deal of concern about the role of so-called environmental groups in appealing, litigating and/or otherwise delaying forest health and community protection projects.  Supporters of the HFRA argued that its provisions were needed to expedite environmental analysis and appeals and prevent needless delays of critically-needed community protection projects.

 

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