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Bush To Ease Forest Thinning Regulations

A Bush administration official says the president will propose making it easier for the timber industry to thin national forests. The change in regulations would be designed to reduce the fuel available for wildfires in Western states.

A senior administration official who asked not to be identified, says the president will announce the plan tomorrow during a trip that takes him to Oregon and California.

The President will propose making it easier for the timber industry to thin national forests by changing federal rules to reduce the kind of devastating fires sweeping the West this summer.

Bush will announce the plan tomorrow in Medford, despite opposition from environmental groups. That´s according to a top administration source who insisted on anonymity.

Environmentalists say Bush´s plan is “based on gutting forest safeguards” and that, instead, the administration should direct more resources to protecting communities from wildfires.

Environmentalists are concerned that the Bush plan will open the door for runaway logging.

The Sierra Club, the Oregon Natural Resources Council, The Wilderness Society and other groups today plan to announce a seven-point plan of their own today in Portland to counter the administration´s ideas.