As Congress debates next year's budget, attention should be given to the recently released Green Scissors report. This report shows how to cut economically and environmentally destructive projects from the budget, saving taxpayers billions of dollars.
One of these projects is the construction of forest roads. Under the U.S. Forest Timber Program, more than 440,000 miles of roads have been built on national forest lands. About 95 percent of these roads were logging roads, constructed to assist logging companies in cutting and removing timber. Forest roads cause serious soil erosion and stream sedimentation while destroying wildlife habitat and scenic beauty. Green Scissors proposes cutting all funding of new forest roads that benefit the timber industry at theexpense of our national forests.
Grazing subsidies should also be cut. The grazing program administered by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management is highly subsidized, costing the government about $5.80 per animal, while the current fee charged to ranchers is only $1.35. Below-cost grazing fees have encouraged overgrazing, which damages soil and harms numerous fish and wildlife species. Green Scissors seeks to reform grazing programs, end rancher subsidies and trim expenditures that do not protect or restore our resources.
Dorothea M. Reilly Dunkirk