After six long years of fighting off bad legislation and an administration determined to give away the national forests to the timber industry, forestry activists finally have something to celebrate this holiday season.

Many bad federal bills– and their sponsors– have gone away, and the new Democratic congressional majority makes it likely (though not certain) that environmentally friendly legislation will be offered and passed.

Among the gifts in the green stocking:

• The Walden/Baird salvage logging bill, HR 4200, died with the 109th Congress. The bill’s sponsors have threatened to revive it in the new year, but given the fact that the bill stalled last year in a Senate with a Republican majority, next year’s political climate should be even less hospitable.
Forests Forever supporters merit an especial thank-you for the thousands of letters you wrote in ’06 that helped keep the Walden bill bottled up.

• Richard Pombo has left the building. Pombo, an intransigent anti-environmentalist, chaired the powerful House Resources Committee, through which environmental legislation had to make its way. Forests Forever, together with several other environmental groups, worked hard in the ultimately successful effort to unseat him.

• Pombo’s rewrite of the Endangered Species Act would have removed important protections for endangered species, increased property owners’ rights at the expense of wildlife habitat, and put politically appointed bureaucrats above science and scientists in key conservation decisions. The bill passed the House last year, but attracted little support in the Senate, thanks again in no small measure to the letters and calls from Forests Forever’s contributors.

• The task force on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that Pombo put together was the first step in his assault on the federal law that requires interagency consultation, environmental review, and public comment processes for all federal projects affecting air, water, and wildlife. The task force report had little good to say about NEPA, but its recommendations are unlikely to find a receptive audience in the new Congress.

• The Bush administration’s repeal of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule was thrown out in court in September, and the protections of the original rule for roadless areas in national forests were reinstated. Forests Forever was one of the 20 successful plaintiff groups.

While the court battle will continue, the sponsors of the Roadless Area Conservation Act, which would codify the provisions of the roadless rule as federal law, have promised to re-introduce the legislation in the new Congress.

• The Act to Save America’s Forests was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo in the House this year as HR 6237.

The bill would ban clearcutting on all federal forestland and emphasize the restoration of ecosystem health over industrial-strength timber production.

An important new feature of the bill is its transfer of Giant Sequoia National Monument from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park Service. The Forest Service seems determined to log in the monument, in spite of the explicit ban in the original proclamation that established the monument in 2000. The Park Service, on the other hand, has managed its sequoia groves in nearby Sequoia National Park without resorting to any kind of logging. Here again, Forests Forever’s letters by the thousands helped get this legislation introduced in both houses. Look for a first-ever hearing on the bill in ’07.

• Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has promised to introduce legislation to address global warming, inspired by the recent passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) in California. The latter was another bill Forests Forever helped to enact in ’06– its most victorious year in recent memory.


Congratulate yourselves on a job well done and a fight well fought. The new year will bring us opportunities to put right some of the damage done to forests over the past six years– and more. Activists need to be ready with a list of changes we’d like to see in the way forests are exploited and conserved.

Happy Holidays from Forests Forever!


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places