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HANSEN GOES TO BAT FOR TIMBER INDUSTRY

Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, wants the Forest Service to streamline procedures that he says allow environmentalists to stall timber harvests in Utah and other states.

He joined other concerned members of Congress Thursday in writing a letter asking the Forest Service to shorten the process of appealing planned timber sales. The letter went to Agriculture Secretary Edward Madigan and Forest Service Director Dale Robertson."In Utah, there exist communities which are almost totally dependent upon the national forests for their living. Because of the appeals, people in those areas are facing serious economic troubles in the form of industry cutbacks and increasing unemployment," Hansen said.

He added, "The original intent of the administrative appeals process was to provide an avenue of redress regarding line officer decisions that affect small ranching and business interests dependent on national forest resources.

"However, as preservation interests became adept at using the appeals process to stop or delay timber sales, new regulations were adopted. But these new rules do nothing to protect the rights of all those involved."

Hansen said the Forest Service creates forest plans that allow for adequate public input and following them more closely would avoid the need of lengthy appeals on proposed timber harvests. "More diligence is needed by the Forest Service to implement and defend the forest plans."

The letter he wrote with other members of Congress urged the Forest Service "to restore a degree of effectiveness and sanity" by simplifying the appeals process.