As wildfires rage through woodland in the West, critics are questioning the federal government’s role in protecting the National Forests. Recently, President Bush proposed a $175 million increase in commercial timber sales on public lands — a move that, along with a planned repeal of the “roadless rule” established by former President Clinton, has many suspicious of where the Bush administration’s true agenda lies.
Big forest fires make the news every summer. Last year, over 7 million acres of U.S. land burned during wildfire season. Many forest advocates believe that wildfires are a naturally occurring, healthy phenomenon and should, to some extent, be allowed to burn within certain limits.
In recent years, the National Forest Service, guided by Congress, has partly relied on commercial logging to address the problem of wildfires. This policy has critics like University of Montana economics chair Thomas Power up in arms. [Read more…]