by Paul Mann
Mad River Union, June 10, 2016
Timber industry officials and environmental activists warn that the state’s logging safeguards have become a bureaucratic snarl that can drag out rule-making for a decade and a half and more.
Experts say that 43 years after the enactment of the Forest Practice Act, timescales are so out of joint that the pace of environmental damage far outruns preventive action on the ground.
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This forbidding reality demands a legislative overhaul, according to Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), and her colleague Rob DiPerna, California forest and wildlife advocate.
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One of the worst holdups stemmed from a set of “road rules” first bruited by the state Board of Forestry in 1999 to ward off the impact of construction on the North Coast’s fast-declining salmon and steelhead populations. The rules did not take effect until January, 2015, a 16-year hiatus.
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There is also concern that the public is shut out. DiPerna wrote in a recent EPIC monograph,“It is nearly impossible for the average citizen to read, navigate, understand or provide meaningful comment or engagement in the Timber Harvest Plan process.” It has taken him some 20 years to become fully informed about the issue.
Ironically, the purpose of the relevant statutes, like the California Environmental Quality Act and the Forest Practice Act, was to ensure that private citizens had meaningful information about, and open access to, the management decisions that affect air, forests, water and wildlife.
Exactly the opposite, said DiPerna and DeLapp. Forest protection plays third fiddle to an Orwellian regulatory chorus which fails in any meaningful way to effect “operational change or on-the-ground protection, enhancement, restoration or conservation of public trust resources.” The bureaucracy exalts legalism, they contend.
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Moreover, “I find it offensive when public agencies blame public interest organizations for ‘costing taxpayers money’ when they lose court cases,” said DeLapp. “When courts find in our favor, it means the agencies failed to uphold their end of the bargain. Blaming us for catching them is 100 percent inappropriate.”
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To read the entire article, visit The Mad River Union:
Forest regs a self-defeating glut