- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Forest Service Chief Dale N. Bosworth wants to simplify Clinton-era regulations governing millions of acres of federal forest and grasslands but finds himself caught between environmentalists and the timber industry two bookends on a long shelf that rarely meet.
Environmentalists believe President Bush's team is chipping away at hard-won forest safeguards. Timber industry representatives welcome relief from what they saw as an overzealous bureaucracy.
Mr. Bosworth, chief since last April, says layers of regulations governing the 192 million acres of federal forest and grasslands are so confusing that the national forests are in a state of "analysis paralysis" subject to endless planning and evaluating but little action, he said in an interview after eight months on the job.
He wants to make policies clear and regulations easier to understand. "I don't want them to add so much more process that they add to the gridlock that we are in already," Mr. Bosworth said.
But, in his changes, environmentalists see an erosion of his predecessor's natural resources agenda and new interest in boosting timber sales and developing pristine lands.
Mr. Bosworth and the Bush administration are revising three major policies:
The roadless rule, which protected more than 58 million acres of forest from most logging and road construction.
A transportation policy outlining the management of more than 383,000 miles of forest roads to reduce maintenance backlogs and protect undeveloped lands.
A set of regulations that guided local officials in writing 10- to 15-year forest management plans that could limit logging, skiing and other activities to protect ecosystems.
In each case, conservation groups contend these changes undermine important protections. Mr. Bosworth says the policies didn't work.
"Those things got all intertwined, and our folks in the field had an awful time trying to understand what it is we really wanted," he said.
The timber industry, on the other hand, is encouraged.
During the presidential campaign, industry executives got the Republican Party's attention with a $1.5 million fund-raiser in Portland, Ore. About a dozen timber company executives and industry lobbyists met in December last year with some of Mr. Bush's key natural resources officials to discuss land management policies.
The issues aren't new. Under a 1960 federal law, the Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, must manage the land for many uses, including timber production, conservation and recreation.
Under former chief Mike Dombeck, the Forest Service received direction from Washington on the proper mix of uses. Mr. Bosworth and the timber industry believe such decisions are best made locally.


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