Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 29, 2017

Contact: Randi Spivak, (310) 799-4894,

Timber Industry Stokes Wildfire Fears in Push for More Logging in National Forests

WASHINGTON— The Senate Agriculture Committee today gave a preview of the 2018 farm bill, which is expected to propose rolling back environmental protections and increasing logging in national forests under the guise of fighting wildfires.

The 2014 farm bill allowed ramped-up logging on national forests without public input or science-based environmental review, with proponents arguing that more logging was needed to clear beetle-infested trees and prevent wildfires. That assumption has been discounted by studies showing that insect outbreaks do not increase wildfire likelihood, and in fact can reduce burn severity.

 “It's shameful for the timber industry to use the fear of wildfires to advance their agenda,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “This hearing was nothing more than the timber industry wish list to increase logging and clearcutting in national forests, silence the public and gut environmental protections.”

Testimony at today's committee hearing continued the same themes espoused by Republicans and the timber industry during last week's mark up of Rep. Bruce Westerman's bill (H.R. 2647) in the House Natural Resources Committee. Among many damaging provisions, Westerman's bill would eliminate Endangered Species Act requirements that the Forest Service ensure logging projects do not harm endangered wildlife and plants. It also would rush through large-scale logging projects ‒ up to 46 square miles ‒ without meaningful public involvement or scientific evaluation by excluding such projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Logging in the backcountry will do nothing to protect homes from wildfires,” Spivak said. “Study after study shows that the most effective way to protect communities is to remove vegetation to create ‘defensible space' around homes and remove flammable materials such as shake roofs and woodpiles. That's where the focus needs to be.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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