National Forests Are Not For Sale

Take Action

Tell the U.S. Forest Service our National Forests are Not for Sale

As you know, President Bush has proposed selling off some of America's National Forests and BLM lands as part of this year's budget process. Tens of thousands of WildAlert subscribers have already spoken up asking their members of Congress to oppose this wrong-headed move. While members of Congress have voiced their opposition, the proposal nevertheless remains a part of the budget and a very real threat to our public lands.

The Forest Service is seeking public comment on the proposed sale of National Forest lands, which could be the only official public comment gathered. Please send a resounding "Not for Sale!" to the agency. You can do that easily and quickly by clicking here.

//action.wilderness.org/campaign/forestselloff

What's At Stake

Photo: Middle Lewis Falls in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. USDA Forest Service, Erik Odegard. The Bush administration's FY 2007 budget request includes a proposal to sell up to 300,000 acres of National Forest land and use the revenues to phase out funding for rural schools over the next 5 years. While funding of rural schools is something we support, paying for it by selling off precious natural resources is misguided.

Such a land disposal plan has, as conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote in 1949, "the same desperate finality as having to chop up the furniture to keep warm." The land sale proposal would require Congress to adopt special legislation because the Forest Service currently has very limited legal authority to sell National Forest land.

Locking out the Public

If the legislation passes, it would eliminate virtually all formal opportunity for the public to comment on or object to proposed land sales, short of going to court. The sales would be exempt from environmental reviews unless there are "extraordinary circumstances" such as impacts on endangered species habitat.

Special Areas Could be Sold and Developed

Lands that are currently protected through forest management plans and regulations -- such as Inventoried Roadless Areas, old-growth forest reserves, riparian areas, streams, lakes, wetlands, campgrounds, big-game winter range, and endangered species habitats -- could be considered for sale.

Moreover, a purchaser of the land would be free to develop the land in whatever ways are allowed by local zoning and land use laws that apply to any private lands. Potentially that could include housing subdivisions, strip malls, gravel pits, and parking lots, as well as new mansions and driveways perched on scenic real estate.

Opposition Growing

Many Senators and Congressmen already have vowed to stop this legislation. Governors have spoken out against the idea and urged their Congressional delegations to take action. State legislatures in Colorado and Idaho, as well as counties all over the nation, have passed resolutions opposing it.

The newest voices in the chorus of opposition to this proposal are the four former Chiefs of the Forest Service who wrote a letter to current Chief Dale Bosworth urging him to abandon the misguided plan.

You Can Help!

Please tell the Forest Service that your National Forests are NOT for sale. You can send that message immediately from here.

//action.wilderness.org/campaign/forestselloff

Or use our sample letter below to send your own official comment directly to the Forest Service. Comments will be accepted through midnight on March 30th.

Contact Information

USDA Forest Service SRS Comments, Lands 4S
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mailstop 1124 Washington, DC, 20250-0003 Fax: 202-205-1604 Email: SRS_Land_Sales@fs.fed.us

For More Information

* Fact sheet on the land sale
//wilderness.org/Library/Documents/upload/Factsheet-LandSellOff.pdf

* Facts about the BLM's proposed land sale
//wilderness.org/Library/Documents/upload/Factsheet-BLMlandselloff.pdf

* Letter from four former Chiefs of the Forest Service to current Chief Dale Bosworth
//www.wilderness.org/Library/Documents/upload/ChiefsLtrtoCongress.pdf

* Forest Service website with details on the proposal
//www.fs.fed.us/

Sample Letter

To the U.S. Forest Service:

I am strongly opposed to the sale of National Forest lands proposed in President Bush's proposed budget for FY2007. The "Secure Rural Schools Land Sales Initiative" is absolutely the wrong way for the federal government to fund rural schools. None of the 300,000 acres of our treasured National Forests listed for sale should be put on the auction block.

Our National Forests are an American birthright, something that makes our homeland unique. Those lands deserve protection, defense and thoughtful stewardship for the benefit future generations. They are not commodities to be used in a shortsighted scheme to raise money that the federal government needs to meet its obligations. Rural schools should continue to receive federal assistance through existing dedicated funds, not through short-sighted land sales.

The National Forests are extremely valuable for their natural assets, such as water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. Federal ownership of these lands also helps prevent suburban sprawl and loss of scenic open space. National forest lands should not be sold and turned into strip malls, gravel pits, and industrial tree farms.

I also strongly oppose expanding the Forest Service's legal authority to sell National Forest lands. Existing law makes it clear that National Forests are NOT FOR SALE. I want to make sure they stay that way.

Sincerely,
(Your name and address)

--------

Explore National Forest Lands for Sale with Google Earth

//www.indybay.org/news/2006/03/1809825.php

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2006
CONTACT: Eric Antebi 415-977-5747

Explore National Forest Lands for Sale with Google Earth

New Data, Mapping Tool Shows Full Scope of Administration Proposal

The Bush administration created a major stir when it recently proposed selling off hundreds of thousands of acres of national forest land. Now you can use Google Earth to explore the parcels on the auction block and see for yourself the full scope of what the administration has proposed.

The Google Earth maps are available at: //sierraclubplus.org/forests/maps

The administration has described the parcels it intends to sell as "non-vital," characterizing them as isolated properties that are difficult to manage. Viewing the parcels through Google Earth instead reveals that far too many of the areas up for auction are within or immediately adjacent to large blocks of public forest land. Selling these properties would only serve to fragment undeveloped forestland, something Chief Dale Bosworth has called one of the biggest threats to America's forest heritage.

The maps are based on the latest Forest Service data, dated March 14,
2006.

"The Bush administration's proposal to auction off national forest and other lands is shameful," says Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "These lands not only belong to you and me, but they also belong to future generations, and they should not be sold off to the highest bidder for development."

A full statement and additional background on the land sale is available at: //www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/releases/pr2006-03-15.asp


Informant: Scott Munson

--------

STOP BUSH'S PLAN TO SELL OFF OUR NATIONAL FORESTS

Paul Richards, Democratic candidate for Senate in Montana and courageous lifelong advocate for the environment, is leading the fight to stop the reckless decimation of our national forests. Please read Paul's personal message to you below, and join him in being a champion for our forest heritage by submitting this action page.

ACTION PAGE: //www.richards2006.us/petitions/pnum226.php

After six years of undermining protections for public lands and forests, President Bush's FY 2007 budget proposes to sell more than a quarter of a million acres of public lands. This is another example of the Bush administration's loyalty to the logging, oil and gas industries. According to the New York Times, the Department of Interior's budget documents show that they plan to allow companies to pump about billion in oil and natural gas without paying royalties.

A total of 304,370 acres of national forests across the country would be up for auction under the President's proposal; including over 12,000 acres in Montana (my home state), 75,000 acres in California, 25,000 acres in Idaho, 21,000 acres in Colorado and 21,000 acres in Missouri, 17,000 in Wyoming and 15,000 in South Dakota. Many of the lands up for sale provide important wildlife habitat, clean drinking water and air, and a natural legacy for future generations.

ACTION PAGE: //www.richards2006.us/petitions/pnum226.php

We only have until March 30 to get our comments into the National Forest Service. Please join me in telling the Forest Service not to sell off our public lands to environmentally hostile corporations and condo developers!

Thank you,

Paul Richards


BACKGROUND

The Administration claims that selling forests managed by the U. S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is necessary to generate million to "offset" payments to rural schools. The permanent sale of these forestlands will only temporarily fund the program. This land sale proposal comes only a month after Congress, in the face of widespread, bi-partisan opposition, stripped Representative Pombo's scheme to sell millions of acres of national forests and parks for private development from the federal budget bill.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination (SRS) Act of 2000 ended the perverse incentive of funding rural schools and county roads from logging sales on national forests by guaranteeing funding to counties based on historic levels of logging revenue. The bill is up for reauthorization in September 2006. The Bush Administration wants to sell national forests to fund the SRS program. This is an irresponsible move. Our children's education should be paid for responsibly with a dependable funding source - not by recklessly pawning our national forest inheritance.

The President's proposal has generated a fury among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, but it's critical that the Forest Service and BLM and Congress hear FROM every state.

Click here for the complete list of places that have been proposed for this sale: //www.fs.fed.us/land/staff/rural_schools.shtml

Click here to see recent press on the public forests land sale: Recent Press on Land Sale: //www.americanlands.org/news.php?subsubNo=1090602339&article=1142525819

TAKE ACTION

ACTION PAGE: //www.richards2006.us/petitions/pnum226.php

Please take a moment and let the Forest Service know that you oppose selling national forestland. Comments on the proposed land sale must be received by March 30. The action page above will automatically send your personal message by email. Written comments may be sent to: USDA Forest Service, SRS Comments, Lands 4S, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mailstop 1124, Washington, DC, 20250-0003. Send faxed comments to (202) 205-1604.

SAMPLE LETTER TO FOREST SERVICE

USDA Forest Service SRS Comments, Lands 4S
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mailstop 1124 Washington, DC, 20250-0003 Dear Forest Service,

I am writing you to oppose any sale of national forests or BLM land to fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination (SRS) Program. The proposed auction of more than a quarter of a million acres of public forests around the country would do irreparable harm to our national forest system. The lands, which would be lost forever provide important wildlife habitat, clean drinking water and air, and a natural legacy. As wealthiest nation in the world, we can afford to preserve our public lands and pay for our children's education.

Education and our national forest heritage are investments for future generations. It is irresponsible to ask us to choose between these essential responsibilities of our government. This one-time sale of valuable national forests would permanently harm the national forest system and could only temporarily fund the Secure Rural Schools program; it's not a solution to the problem of under-funded rural education. Our children and rural communities deserve a dependable source of income for education that does not rely on the reckless pawning of public lands.

When Teddy Roosevelt and other Administrations during the last century created the 193-million-acre National Forest System, they intended for these lands to be preserved forever as a public trust and managed for the good of all Americans. The proposed auction of hundreds of thousands of acres without an equal or greater increase in protected acreage is a direct assault on the idea of a dedicated National Forest system.

Don't ask Americans which national forests you should sell; it's a disservice for the Forest Service to even consider the idea. This proposal is in direct opposition to your agency's mission and reason for existence. Financial challenges always cause us to reassess our priorities. Selling our natural forest heritage to pay for other government programs is unacceptable.

Sincerely,

Your Name

Address



Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know.

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