Natural resources are a scarcity that we can ill afford to waste. In the past the government has protected our natural resources of old-growth forest. That protection has been cut by President Bush's Healthy Forest Initiative, which includes thinning of overgrown forest in the effort to protect all forestland from major forest fires. While this is an important issue that needs to be addressed, taking away all the protection leaves the sections of old-growth forest open to forest-thinning projects as well. Environmentalists are worried by this initiative. Thinning old-growth lumber will greatly reduce the natural ecosystem. Economists are worried about this initiative because of the effect on tourism and natural resources. The timber industry is in favor of this initiative. Harvesting the old-growth trees would help them meet their goal; 1.1 billion board feet of lumber per year.
President Bush states,
"By thinning overgrown forests, we will reduce the risk of catastrophic fire and restore the health of forest ecosystems.
That is the purpose of my Healthy Forest Initiative. We're cutting through bureaucratic red tape to complete urgently needed forest-thinning projects. We are speeding up environmental assessments and consultations required by current law. And we're expediting the administrative appeals process to resolve disputes more quickly. By the end of this fiscal year in September, we will have treated more than 2.6 million acres of overgrowth, more than twice the acreage that was treated in the year 2000 (President discusses Healthy Forests in weekly radio address, 08/16/2003)."
Environmentalists are worried about cutting through bureaucratic red tape. It is the red tape that is keeping old-growth forest safe. A report by the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project (SNEP) found that "old growth forests in the Sierra Nevada have been significantly reduced." They estimated that "55 percent or more of the Sierra's mixed conifer...