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By Alan Caruba

June 18, 2002

Dramatic video of the loss of a fire-fighting airplane has driven home the danger that forest fires represent. In California, Colorado, and other States, homeowners are seeing them go up in flames as the beginning of yet another spate of cataclysmic forest fires occurs again. The reason the US is experiencing these fires can be found in the policies of environmental groups crying out to protect "wilderness" and its own Forest Service that is carrying out an environmental agenda.

You protect forests by providing for their proper management and that means timber companies have to come in and thin the old and diseased trees. Overgrown brush has to be removed as well. The US timber industry has been systematically attacked by environmentalists for decades in the name of "protecting" our forests. Remember the "Spotted Owl" hoax that claimed they were "endangered" and, in the process, led to vast acres of Northwest forests being put off limits to any use. 

They are still at it. The US Public Interest Research Group, a Ralph Nader organization, along with the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, and the Sierra Club are demanding that the Bush administration "keep its word to protect 58.8 million acres of national forest lands."  They are pushing hard for legislation that codifies the "Roadless Area Conservation Rule" which they describe as "one of the most sweeping land conservation measures in decades." 

It is a completely idiotic proposal. It is criminally stupid. You cannot fight forest fires if there are no roads with which to reach the areas going up in smoke. "Conservation", however, in Green-Talk means putting land aside so that no one can use it for any reason.

The Federal District Court in Idaho has placed an injunction on the implementation of this "roadless" rule that was developed in secret by the Clinton administration and the Heritage Forests Campaign to deny access to 58 million acres of forestland that is the property of all Americans. On June 5th, forty-four members of the House of Representatives wrote to President Bush urging him to resist any effort to enact the "roadless" rule.

Americans have been led to believe we are losing all our forests at a time when many forests are expanding. The United States is still home to 70% of the forestland that was here in 1600, fully 747 million acres! Of these, 247 million acres (33.5%) are reserved from harvest by law or represent slow-growing woodlands unsuitable for timber productions.

There are 490 million acres called timberlands, forests that can produce more than 20 cubic feet of wood per acre annually. The total amount of large-tree standing timber in the US has increased by 30% since 1950. US forestlands covered 732 million acres in 1920; today they cover 747 million acres.

The Greens, however, have set about finding ways to put these productive and incredibly valuable forestlands aside so that neither the timber industry, nor anyone else can use them. This explains why the cost of building a new home or making an addition to an existing one has risen by an average of anywhere between a thousand and five thousand dollars. It's not that we don't have the wood! It's that the Greens will not let the timber industry access it. It is nuts that the US is actually importing wood from Canada!

"Preserving and protecting our national forests for future generations must remain a priority," said Tennessee Congressman Bob Clement," as he sought support for the "roadless" legislation. Give me a break. We've got tons of national forests. In fact, our national forests were set aside with language that specifically made it clear that they were for the benefit of Americans, including their full use for recreation and for timber. This is just another Green plot to deny Americans access to and use of their natural wonders and natural resources.

If this "roadless" idiocy doesn't get the job done for the Greens, there's always the "Heritage Areas Act", (H.R. 2388) an equally hideous piece of legislation that was just voted out of the House Resources Committee. It would simplify the process for establishing "Heritage Areas" which is the federal government's way of grabbing more and more land while denying Americans access to it. The Greens would turn the whole nation into a picture postcard to look at, but a place where no one can use to fish, hunt, camp, hike, visit with a snowmobile or off-track vehicle of any kind.

What you are never told is that half the land of the twelve westernmost States is actually owned by the Federal government. Federal lands comprise 86% of Nevada, 68% of Alaska, 64% of Utah, and 44% of California. The big lie is that "urban sprawl" is destroying the wilderness, but the total amount of land of US cities, suburbs, highways, bridges and other structures adds up to a paltry 3% of the entire landmass.

Meanwhile, one day you will wake up and find that your home, farm or business is now in a newly declared "Heritage Area" nobody bothered to tell you about. Then the government takes it away from you because it's ruining the view.

This nation, this America, is being stolen from us, acre by acre, as part of the Green agenda and because there are legislators who want to add to the 40% of the nation already owned by the Federal government. You want to visit a place where the government owns all the land? Visit Cuba, Vietnam or Red China.

Alan Caruba - All Rights Reserved

Alan Caruba is the founder of The National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about scare campaigns designed to influence public opinion and policy. The Center maintains an Internet site at,