Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Senate Wise to Give Tree Thinning Priority.(Final)(Editorial)

EDITORIALS

With fires raging in New Mexico and Arizona, there is little argument against quickly thinning dense forest areas to reduce further risks.

In the haste to address the issue, the question now before the U.S. Senate is how far to go in exempting forest thinning projects from environmental reviews, too often used as a tactic of delay by logging opponents.

The House has already passed a bill that would limit review and expedite appeals on 10 million acres nationwide. The Bush administration has gone even further, announcing rules that would exempt thinning projects on 190 million acres.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., has offered a bill that would exempt relatively small fuels-reduction projects on 20 million acres near communities or in municipal watersheds. …

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