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PRESS RELEASE: Smith Introduces Legislation to Speed Biscuit Fire Salvage and Replanting Amendment Would End Lawsuits and Allow Reforestation
            9/13/04 Washington, DC -- Today, Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR)
introduced an amendment to his National Reforestation Act (S. 2709)
which would halt lawsuits and administrative appeals for the U.S. Forest
Service's Biscuit Fire Recovery Project allowing the plan to move
The 2002 Biscuit Fire was the largest in Oregon's recorded history.
After two years of study and scientific analysis, the Forest Service
announced a modest plan to salvage dead wood from five percent of the
burn area and to reforest a total of six percent of the burn.
Specifically, the Forest Service proposed reforesting 31,000 acres,
building 300 miles of fuel management zones, implementing 83,000 acres
of prescribed burns, removing 370 million board feet of fire-killed
wood, and considering 64,000 acres of lands adjacent to the Kalmiopsis
Wilderness for wilderness designation. 
"Rehabilitating the Biscuit Fire is one of the most important
environmental obligations we have.  It offers us a clear choice between
leaving millions of dead trees to rot and burn or bringing a forest back
from the ashes for wildlife and the next generation of Oregonians,"
Smith said.  "With such a small area open to salvage, this effort should
not be controversial, yet lawsuits have already halted the effort.
Forty percent of the value of the dead wood is already gone, and we
cannot afford to delay work on the forest any more."
            Rotting wood and court delays have put salvage sales at
risk.  Without the sales, funds will not be available for restoration
and replanting, increasing the likelihood that the Siskiyou National
Forest will revert to brushfields and charcoal for the next hundred
years.  Court-ordered mediation is set to begin later this week, while
the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has already enjoined a portion of the
Biscuit Project.
"Oregonians remember and can see from the Tillamook burns that
reforestation works," Smith said.  "I want to those who are trying to
block the rehabilitation to know that I'm prepared to move this
legislation and do whatever is necessary to start bringing our forest
back to life."
In July 2004, Smith introduced the National Reforestation Act (S. 2709)
which would require the Forest Service (USFS) to replant heavily burned
areas within five years of a forest fire.  This legislation and Smith's
Biscuit Amendment will be reviewed by the Senate Energy and Natural
Resource Committee tomorrow, September 14.  Today, Senator Smith made it
clear that without a swift resolution to the current lawsuits blocking
salvage, he will seek to advance his amendment in the upcoming weeks.



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