Southwest’s Tinderbox Conditions Will Be Helped by the Healthy Forests Initiative

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Jody Clarke, 202.331.2252

Judy Kent, 202.331.2266


Click here for Robert J. Smith soundbite


Washington, D.C., June 26, 2003—“Ask the people of Arizona or New Mexico if they think forest management changes need to be made.  They are watching a good deal of their states go up in smoke because of antiquated laws that have created these tinderbox conditions,” says one of this nation’s top environmental scholars.  Robert J. Smith, adjunct scholar of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, commended President Bush’s Healthy Forest Initiative and believes it is a good first step in addressing this serious problem. 


Environmental groups such as Greenpeace have been critical of the plan, saying it was a move by the Bush administration to increase logging on public lands.  “You have to wonder how groups such as these can say they are ‘pro-environment.’  No matter how you look at it, hundreds of thousands of charred acres is not good for the environment,” Smith adds.


Under President Bush’s “Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003” (H.R. 1904) both the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior would be allowed to plan and implement hazardous fuels reduction projects on National Forest System lands and Bureau of Land Management lands.  This would include the mechanical thinning of dense areas of forest by small, local timber companies, community associations and volunteer groups. The legislation is aimed at protecting communities, watersheds, and certain other at-risk lands from catastrophic wildfire, Smith explains.  The bill passed in the House and  Senate hearings were held today.


Forest Issues Expert Available For Interviews

  • Robert J. Smith, Sr. Environmental Scholar, CEI and Executive Director of the Center for Private Conservation.
  • Robert H. Nelson, Sr. Fellow, CEI and author of the book, “A Burning Issue: A Case for Abolishing the U.S. Forest Service.”


Robert J. Smith soundbite  (16 seconds): “Once again catastrophic wildfires are destroying our forests, wildlife, watersheds, homes and communities.  It is past time for all Americans to join in an effort to manage our natural resources–instead of destroying them.”


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