Thursday, February 16, 2006

One of those forests would look nice over by the oil wells, huh, Sheikh?

A few days ago, Fixer posted about Bush selling off National Forest and Park land. It's gettin' pretty close to home for me. I live smack dab in the middle of the Truckee District of the Tahoe National Forest. From my local fish wrapper paper, the Sierra Sun:

More than 2,000 acres of Tahoe National Forest land is on the chopping block, part of a list of 300,000 acres of federal land that could be sold to fund schools and roads in states across the nation.

A proposal to raise $800 million over the next five years, a reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-determination Act, was announced last week by the U.S. Forest Service. Rural counties hurt by reduced revenue from lower timber production would benefit from the land sales, which are slated to be up for adoption later this year.

Forest Service officials said they are considering the sale of parcels that are isolated or difficult to manage.

"These are not the crown jewels we are talking about," said Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called the plan "a terrible idea based on a misguided sense of priorities."

"I will do everything I can to defeat this effort," she said.

Not only is the Bush administration proposing to sell off public lands to help finance the president's budget, the move also won't sufficiently fund the rural schools program, which has helped California and other states, Feinstein said.

In 2005, California received $67.4 million from the act. Nevada County collected $770,856, according to the U.S. Forest Service Web site.

Although the Tahoe National Forest has sizable chunks of land on the proposed sale list, including several parcels just north of Truckee, the majority of the land that could be sold is in the northern reaches of the state.

The Plumas, Lassen and Klamath Forests hold 75 percent of the land on the list, said the Forest Service's Holguin.

California alone has eighteen National Forests and a shitpot full of National Parks, National Monuments, Historical Sites*, and Recreation and Wilderness Areas. 2000 acres (about three square miles) isn't much, and swapping out NF land for different purposes goes on all the time. Under 'normal' circumstances, it doesn't bother me very much. Sometimes it does, but that's for another time.

What bothers me about this latest sale proposal is that this particular administration works for the moneyed interests instead of us and I just flat don't trust 'em to do the right thing. I think their track record bears this out.

These seemingly small sales are just the camel's nose under the tent, so to speak.

*You sharp-eyed folks, ladies especially, check this one out just for fun.

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