Saturday, February 11, 2006

Selling out America the Beautiful

Pres. Bush is proposing to sell about 300,000 acres of national forests and other public land to help pay for schools, roads, and other local needs in rural areas, mostly in the West. This is how the wealthiest country in the world pays for public education, folks: By selling off irreplaceable natural treasures to private interests.

NOTE: I went back and added the text below after posting the above.

Note this paragraph in the WaPo article about the proposal:

The proposed sell-off would total less than half of 1 percent of the 193 million-acre national forest system. The money would be used for roads, schools and other needs in rural counties hurt by sharp declines in timber sales,in the wake of federal forest policy that restricts logging to protect endangered species such as the spotted owl.

First of all, it's not less than half of 1 percent of the national forests in the areas where the sales would take place. The national forest system is a priceless treasure for all Americans, but we're also talking (or should be) about how selling off thousands of acres of forest to private developers who care only about profits, not about America's natural heritage, is going to affect the areas in question.

And second, that canard about logging being restricted "to protect the spotted owl" is a crock of you know what. It's a catchphrase that opponents of protecting old-growth forests have latched onto to make it sound like environmentalists care more about one particular bird than they do about human beings.

It's not about the spotted owl alone; it's about species diversity and the ecosystem that all living things, including humans, need to survive. Protecting and preserving old-growth forests is key to protecting hundreds of species, not just one. It's key to protecting the ecosystem, which includes all biological life as well as more permanent features of an environment, like rivers and lakes -- and forests. And guess what? Human beings are part of the ecosystem.

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