Logging Causes a Split Legislators Battle over Chattahoochee
Pace, David, The Florida Times Union
WASHINGTON -- Georgia senators have lined up on opposite sides of a pending Senate showdown over the management of government lands that grew out of a federal court decision that temporarily has halted logging in the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Sen. Paul Coverdell, a Republican, announced Tuesday night that he will fight for a provision in the fiscal 2000 interior spending bill that would overturn the February decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sen. Max Cleland, a Democrat, has joined Sen. Chuck Robb, D-Va., in sponsoring an amendment to remove the provision. The showdown is likely to come next week when the Senate debates the interior bill.
The appeals court halted seven timber sales on 2,100 acres in the Chattahoochee, ruling that the Forest Service had failed to adequately study the potential impact of the logging on endangered and threatened species and on plants and animals that serve as indicators of forest health.
The judges said such studies are required by the 1976 National Forest Management Act. The Forest Service then suspended 25 other pending timber sales in the Chattahoochee, totaling about 6,000 acres, until it completed a review of its species monitoring program.
Cleland, in a letter to other senators urging rejection of the provision, argued earlier this month that it would undermine wildlife management in Georgia's national forests.
"The smart, economical approach to avoiding an ecological crash is to monitor and conserve sensitive species before they reach a crisis state, while we have the maximum amount of flexibility and the costs of conservation are low," he wrote. …