In the past few years, environmental groups have adopted a
tactic of bidding on Federal timber lands to preserve old
growth trees from rampaging chainsaws. Clever strategy you
say? Completely legal? Wrong, according to an "unauthorized"
letter from Agriculture Undersecretary James Lyons denying
the acceptability of `non-harvesting bids." The draft letter
with Lyons signature pointed out two devastating flaws
barring the non-logging of public forest tracts. First, it
costs money to produce environmental impact statements on
logging. The letter points out that "It would be a wasteful
use of public monies and contrary to the public interest,"
to produce reports on logging impacts and then sell the land
to non-loggers. (Think of the bureaucrats whose feelings
would be hurt.) Secondly, we might be encouraging unfair
competition because "non-harvesting bidders would have few,
if any, operating or personnel costs..." Hardly fair to send
Weyerhauser up against the economic clout of Earth First.
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