Environmentalists want to prevent tree thinning; want moratorium on water rights changes
from Washington State Farm Bureau
IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE FOREST SERVICE BE ALLOWED TO THIN NATIONAL forests and restore the natural role of fire in the ecosystem, U.S. Forest Chief Dale Bosworth said Thursday. (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 9) Bosworth spent the day touring the Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon, where fire has destroyed nearly 300,000 acres this summer. He denied assertions by environmental groups that the Forest Service is using thinning for fire prevention as an excuse for logging mature trees. “It’s a new day and a new time,” Bosworth said. “It’s time for people to get on with solving the problem.” Wildfires have destroyed more than 5 million acres of forests this summer – potentially the worst wildfire season in history. The cost of fighting the fires could top $1 billion.
ENVIRONMENTALISTS HAVE ASKED THE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY TO DECLARE a moratorium on changes in water rights until they can petition the Legislature to give the agency greater authority to deny changes based on environmental concerns. (Spokane Spokesman-Review, Aug. 9) The state Supreme Court recently ruled that Ecology has authority under the U.S. Clean Water Act to issue new permits designed to protect stream flows, effectively killing a hydroelectric project in Pend Oreille County. But the court also ruled that Ecology could not turn down an application to change an existing water right “based on public interest considerations.” In a letter to Ecology Director Tom Fitzsimmons, the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, the Washington Environmental Council, American Rivers and two Northwest chapters of the Sierra Club worried that the ruling means water users “may now transfer or change a surface water right without any assessment of environmental harm to the stream from which the water is taken.”
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