The Act to Save America's Forests
United States Senate
Floor Statement by Senator Jon S. Corzine
In the United States Senate Congressional Record
OF SENATOR JON S. CORZINE
Mr. President, today along with Senators Schumer, Lautenberg, and Reed, I am introducing the Act to Save America's Forests. This important legislation is designed to protect our national forests from needless clearcutting, safeguard our roadless areas, and preserve the last remaining stands of Ancient forests in this country.
Mr. President, there used to be over one billion acres of forest on the land that is now the United States. Over 95 percent of that original forest has been logged, and less than one percent is in a form large enough to support all the native plants and animals. This land is under continuous threat, and if we don't act now to protect these Ancient forests we might lose many of them forever.
Our national forests also are under attack by clearcutting. Removing huge groups of trees at once creates a blighted landscape, destroys wildlife habitats, increases soil erosion, and degrades water quality. In the last ten years, over a quarter-million acres of our national forests were clearcut. Clearcutting destroys a vibrant, ecologically diverse natural forest, which is usually replaced, if at all, with a single species tree farm: tightly packed rows of the most profitable trees. This is forest management focused solely on economics, not ecology. And it is not the way to save America's forests.
Mr. President, this bill is a balanced, scientific approach to forest management. It bans all logging operations in roadless areas, Ancient forests, and forests that have extraordinary biological, scenic, or recreational values. These are our most fragile ecosystems and need to be protected. This bill also bans clearcutting in our national forests except in specific cases where complete removal of non-native invasive tree species is ecologically necessary.
However, this bill does not ban all logging in our national forests. It allows a method of logging called "selection management," which cuts individual trees instead of the whole forest, leaving a healthy, diverse woodland. Selection management is less harmful to the soil, less destructive to wildlife, and less disturbing to people who enjoy the scenic beauty of our forests. Selection management can be sustainable and profitable, as demonstrated by a number of private forests around the country.
Mr. President, this legislation emphasizes biodiversity and sustainable management, allowing ecologically sound logging practices in some of our national forestland and fully protecting the rest. That's why over 600 scientists, including Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr. E.O. Wilson, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, support this bill. I am proud to introduce this legislation to protect and restore America's public forests, and I ask unanimous consent that a copy of the bill be printed in the Record at this point.
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