A Plea to Stop Selling Our National Forests sign now

In 1908, in response to the mounting opposition of the National Forest System, Congress made a concession that would allow 25\% of all revenue generated from multiple-use management of National Forest land to go toward the maintenence of roads and schools in these rural areas.

In 1937, a law was enacted and subsequently amended that allowed for 75\% of revenues generated from this land to go directly to the counties in which they were situated.

This arrangement worked very well until 1986, at which time multiple-use management of National Forests has dropped by 85\%, largely as a result of a reduction in timber harvesting.

In 2000, Congress enacted the "Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000", otherwise known as PL 106-393. The full language of the bill can be found here: http://wwwnotes.fs.fed.us:81/r4/payments_to_states.nsf/b21825ca706c908d88256ccb007255e6/215d26ea7223a85c88256ccc0079a649/$FILE/106-393_text.pdf (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).

The recent bill was enacted to address the revenue problems of those counties with a high percentage of National Forest out of which little revenue was being generated for schools and roads.

Unfortunately, in the FY 2006 and FY 2007 presidential budget proposals, 300,000 acres of National Forest land has been earmarked for sale to fund this legislation, generating $380 million to be put back in the U.S. treasury.

It seems imprudent to have a windfall sale of land, which will generate immediate revenue, but will fail to secure a perpetuating source of revenue over the course of decades. One might liken this action to the slaughtering the milk cow. Why consume the cow all at once when the milk produced over the life of the animal will be worth much more? What will happen when the meat from the cow runs out?

Likewise, what will happen when the revenue from this windfall sale of land has been exhausted? What other measures must the federal government resort to in order to keep this bill alive in the future? If the money has to come from the outright sale of federally-protected land, it's not difficult to see the logical end to thinking - the end of our National Forest Service.

Think about it.

If you have to keep selling land to fund roads and schools, it's only a matter of time before there is no more land to sell - land which is not only a source of financial income, but a hedge against the forces of rising carbon levels in the atmosphere that contribute to the problem of global warming.

It doesn't seem to be a problem of legislation; it seems to be a problem of budgeting and proper land mnagement.

Over 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt, in his forsight and wisdom, persuaded the Congress of his time to create our National Forests because he recognized the need for a piece of the American landscape - that selfsame landscape immortalized over and over again in song - to be preserved so that future generations of Americans could know the heritage of their forfathers and the natural beauty of the land that sustained them.

In a land of expanding concrete, our National Forests serve as a refuge from the soul-sucking effects and cold isolation of a modern world run amok - a world in which man is growing more and more disconnected from nature.

For every gain there is a loss, and while modern man might never reverse his course and completely embrace his natural world again, it is our duty to keep the possibility alive. This is why we humbly ask that our Congressmen reject ANY budget proposal that seeks to sell our National Forests to parties that, for reasons of immediate financial gratification, will further widen our rift with our natural world and, in the process, contribute to its overall demise at the hands of man.

It is our hope that you, the lawmakers of this great land, will search your hearts and do what's right for all of us. We're counting on you.

There has to be another way.

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Melva KentBy:
Nature and EnvironmentIn:
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U.S. Congress


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