Campbell’s rider for White River Forest plan withdrawn |

Campbell’s rider for White River Forest plan withdrawn

Jeremy Heiman

The new management plan for the White River National Forest figured in some Washington, D.C., wheeling and dealing last week.

A rider attached by U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell to the annual appropriations bill for the Interior Department was withdrawn last Thursday under threat of a presidential veto. The rider would have required more economic analysis of the effects of the proposed management plan for the White River National Forest.

A rider is an additional clause added to a piece of legislation, usually not related to the legislation. The rider called for a study that might have delayed implementation of the plan by as much as a year.

Chris Changery, Campbell’s press secretary, said yesterday the rider was withdrawn by Senate leadership in a negotiation session. Campbell wasn’t notified until after the fact.

“He was disappointed,” Changery said. “He felt sorry for people in Colorado, that an administration would play election-year politics in a situation that would threaten their jobs.”

Changery said Campbell’s study would have had top government experts study the impact of the new forest plan on small businesses. The Small Business Administration, a federal agency, would have been involved, he said.

But Forest Service officials say the study, called a “regulatory flexibility analysis,” would have been unnecessary and would have delayed the implementation of the new forest plan.

“In the draft of the forest plan we did a ton of economic analysis,” said Carolyn Upton, planner for the White River National Forest. And the type of study Campbell prescribed is not appropriate, she said. A regulatory flexibility analysis is intended to gauge the impact of a new rule, not of something as complex as a new forest plan.

An economic study, done as part of the new forest plan, predicts jobs would grow under all the proposed alternative plans studied.

Under Alternative D, the preferred alternative plan of Forest Service officials, jobs associated with activities occurring on National Forest lands would grow from 33,943 in the base year of 1997 to 41,153.

Ted Zukoski, attorney for the Land and Water Fund, a Boulder-based environmental group, expressed mild relief at the withdrawal of the rider.

“Our position has been that it’s just a redundant, costly and time-consuming study,” Zukoski said, adding that it would have only delayed implementation of the plan.

“The old plan is already 16 years old,” Zukoski said. “No business would tie itself to a business plan that’s that outdated.”

Zukoski said he’s not entirely sure that he’s seen the last of Campbell’s rider.

It’s not on the version of the Interior appropriations bill going to the president’s desk, but if the president should veto the measure for other reasons, the rider could be restored later, he said.

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