For Immediate Release: May 15, 2000
Contact: John Carlisle at 202/543-4110 x107 or [email protected]


Congress Rewards Agency Responsible for New Mexico Wildfire With More Money

Congress Approves $45 Billion for Federal Land Purchases at Very Time Federal Land Management is Under Fire

The recent passage of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) by the U.S. House of Representatives, legislation that would allow the federal government to spend $3 billion per year for 15 years to buy additional land for parks and conservation programs, ignores disturbing evidence that the federal government can't even manage the land it currently owns, says The National Center For Public Policy Research.

In fact, the very day Congress approved the bill -- May 11 -- was the day a catastrophic forest fire in New Mexico caused by the incompetence of the U.S. Park Service burned thousands of acres of forest and hundreds of homes. Critics of CARA have argued that it is wasteful to accelerate new federal land purchases given that the federal government already has a $5 billion maintenance backlog on federal land. Rather than giving the government more money to buy additional land, Congress should have ordered the U.S. Park Service and other agencies to reform their flawed land management practices.

The foolishness of increasing federal land purchases was made abundantly clear by the U.S. Park Service's culpability in igniting the New Mexico blaze that has consumed more than 18,000 acres of land and destroyed as many as 400 homes and other buildings. The Forest Service set fire to a 900-acre section of the Bandelier National Monument on May 4 as part of a "prescribed burn" which is designed to prevent larger, catastrophic fires. However, Forest Service officials ignored a National Weather Service forecast that warned that high winds, high temperatures and decreased humidity made a prescribed burn too risky. Said New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson of the Forest Service's decision to start the fire, "This seems to be common sense out the window."

"If you loved the New Mexico fires, you'll love the Conservation and Reinvestment Act," said John Carlisle, director of the Environmental Policy Task Force. "On the very day government bureaucrats started the New Mexico wildfire, Congress approved CARA, giving them even more land to manage, more land to set ablaze."

The Environmental Policy Task Force is a project of The National Center For Public Policy Research, a non-partisan, non-profit education foundation. The Task Force was established to promote innovative, workable solutions to environmental problems - solutions that minimize the suffering of working Americans while still protecting the environment.

For more information, contact John Carlisle at The National Center For Public Policy Research at 202-543-4110 x107 or [email protected].

-30-





The National Center for Public Policy Research
501 Capitol Ct., N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 543-4110
Fax (202) 543-5975
E-Mail: [email protected]

Web: www.nationalcenter.org


Return to The National Center for Public Policy Research Home Page

Return to Hot Topics Index