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Northwest Lawmakers Chastise Forest Service for Limiting Public Input

Eleven northwest members of Congress of both parties have admonished the U-S Forest Service on its plan to limit public hearings on forest management changes. Last month, the Forest Service announced that public listening sessions would be an important element in revising land management rules in the Northwest Forest Plan - policies that will determine how resources will be managed for the next 15 to 20 years.

But members of Congress from Oregon, Washington and California were dumfounded to discover there would be only three listening sessions - all three in urban areas on the west side of each state - one in Seattle, one in Portland and one in Redding, California.

Led by Oregon Republican Greg Walden, the representatives cried foul in a sharply worded letter to the Forest Service. They demanded that the agency hold more public meetings in rural forested areas throughout the Northwest - as they put it - where the residents feel the impacts of plan changes most directly.

The lawmakers said revisions to the Northwest Forest Plan are long overdue, but that Forest Service officials must ensure more equitable public participation. So far, there's been no response from Forest Service administrators.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
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