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Northwest Salmon Protections Saved

Quid Pro Quo

After a million dollars of timber industry money moved to Republican campaigns in 2000, the Bush White House adopted a timber industry strategy to give the industry more access to timber on federal public lands in the Pacific Northwest. The strategy included removing regulations restricting logging on extremely steep, landslide-prone mountainsides common in Northern California, Oregon and Washington.

What's Wrong with Logging Near-vertical Hillsides?

Many miles of salmon streams have been buried and rendered useless to spawning salmon by landslides caused when steep clearcut hillsides collapse. That's why scientists who advised federal policy makers suggested strictly limiting this kind of logging. Their suggestions were adopted in the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan. These regulations successfully kept more landslides from occuring until the Bush administration rewrote the rules at the behest of the timber industry.

Rule Rewrite Illegal

The Bush administration polled some of the original scientists who suggested the hillside protections in 1994. None of the scientist supported weakening the rules. All of them said such a move would harm salmon. Earthjustice made clear to the court the rule rewrite undertaken by the Bush administration clearly violated the law and was scientifically indefensible. The court agreed and ruled to keep the protections in place. The Bush administration appealed to a federal court of appeals but later realized their folly and dropped their appeal leaving the original protections firmly in place.