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With all the threats facing our environment—from deadly pesticides and deforestation to attacks on endangered species —the time to act is now!

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Forests For Our Future

As I write this, members of the House of Representatives continue to debate and move their way through votes on hundreds of amendments to the chamber's government spending bill. The voting and debate has been a marathon process, stretching from morning through late at night for the last three days, and looks to carry on until late tonight or tomorrow.

House Republicans are using the oft-repeated refrain of “fiscal restraint” as their excuse for gutting several environmental initiatives that will put the public in harm’s way. But there simply is no excuse for hacking away at health protections that will leave our air and water dirtier and our children and seniors at risk.  It’s not hard to see their real agenda.

Anyone who likes to hike, camp, fish, hunt, or view wildlife in our national forests—or anyone who wishes to do any of this anytime in the future—should be aware of a proposal for managing our national forests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Forest Service, released yesterday.

Although the recent elections signal a return to more inhospitable times for environmental protection in Congress, we are sustained by two constants: the power of the law and the dedication of our supporters.

The law provides leverage for progress even when political winds shift, and our steadfast supporters have shown time and again that they trust in our ability to wield it for positive change, regardless of the prevailing politics.

America's National Forests, like most public lands, have long been used to generate private sector profit.  Logging, mining, oil and gas, and livestock grazing generate cash for companies and individuals, usually at the expense of wildlife habitat, clean water and low-impact recreation.

The ski industry also feeds at the public trough.  More than 100 ski areas are located on National Forest land, running the gamut from small family operations to the mega-resort corporations like Vail Resorts and Intrawest. 

America's largest national forest -- the Tongass in Alaska -- has been given another year's reprieve from most logging and mining by the Obama administration. Protecting the forest has long been the focus of Earthjustice legal efforts. As reported by the Associated Press:

The Obama administration Friday extended for another year the moratorium on most logging and mining in millions of acres of remote and rugged backcountry sections of national forests.

Attention has been focused on the financial crisis recently. Yet a study headed by a Deutsche Bank economist concludes that the annual costs of forest destruction is between $2 trillion and $5 trillion. So while Wall Street has lost between $1-$1.5 trillion, we are losing "natural capital" at a rate of $2 to $5 trillion every year 

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