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Undue Influence by Ron Arnold

This story is copyright 2000 by the Associated Press

ADVANCE for the weekend of Feb. 26-27 and thereafter

GOP sees foundations as the menace in federal land restrictions

AP Photos WX115-116

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House GOP has been taking on Democrats, President Clinton and environmental groups for years in their fight to keep federal land available for recreationists, cattlemen and loggers.

But now the lawmakers are taking aim at a new target they see as an increasingly powerful menace: foundations.

Organizations such as The Pew Charitable Trusts and Turner Foundation are pouring millions of dollars into environmental groups, who launch campaigns and use White House access to influence natural resource policy decisions, GOP lawmakers and foundation critics say.

The environmental groups — while well-funded and powerful — do not represent a broad base of people and are accountable only to foundations that fund them, said Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R-Idaho.

``This is a malignant mess and the metastasis is growing very quickly,'' said Chenoweth-Hage, who chairs a House Resources Committee panel that held a hearing on foundations earlier this month.

Ron Arnold, executive vice president of a Bellevue, Wash., non-profit group, said foundations, environmentalists and federal agencies form an ``iron triangle'' that unfairly influences policy to devastate local economies and private property.

``This is an intolerable program of rural cleansing,'' Arnold, of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, said at the hearing. ``Foundations are not accountable to anyone. They are totally unregulated.''

Political attacks on foundations are not new, but Democrats and environmentalists say the GOP has little to gain.

Foundations' practice of giving grants to environmental groups is not only legal, they say, but fairly typical of what foundations do for a score of causes — liberal and conservative — from education and health care to property rights and religious freedom.

A Portland, Ore., environmentalist whose group has received foundation money dismissed Chenoweth-Hage's effort as a ``groundless witch hunt'' designed to squelch public participation in government.

``The Resources Committee's desperate inquisition is little more than an attack on democracy,'' said Ken Rait, director of the Heritage Forests Campaign.

Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the ranking Democrat on the forests and forest health panel that Chenoweth-Hage chairs, said corporations form trusts dedicated to extracting natural resources.

``It's not fair to stand up here and say, `How dare these folks advocate for a position,''' Smith said. ``What should be the policy — are we saying the Pew Trusts doesn't have the right to exist?''

No one disputes, however, that environmental groups rely on multimillion-dollar donations from foundations to fund sophisticated, high-tech campaigns geared to influence policy makers and the public.

Bruce Lovelin, executive director of a Portland, Ore.-based river industries group, last summer tried to publicize the fact that foundations had given millions of dollars to salmon restoration groups.

Lovelin of the Columbia River Alliance said he raised the issue not to say that foundations were doing anything wrong, but to try to knock down perceptions that environmentalists are the Davids facing industrial Goliaths.

``They've got the cash and we don't,'' Lovelin said. ``We're just being out-funded out here in the Pacific Northwest on these salmon issues.''

But Dan Beard, senior vice president at the National Audubon Society in Washington, D.C., said even with the foundation grants to environmentalists, resource extraction groups have the upper hand with money.

``I have always felt that in this town on environmental issues it was a contest between the peanut and the elephant,'' Beard said.

``We're the peanut.''

Pew, a Philadelphia-based foundation with $4.9 billion in assets, has especially been a GOP target.

The organization gave nearly $3.5 million to finance the Heritage Forests Campaign, which has pushed for a rule-making process that could protect up to 50 million acres of already roadless federal forests.

Republican lawmakers, recreationists and other land users view the process, announced last October by President Clinton, as a federal land grab that attempts to sidestep Congress.

In hearings and reports since Clinton announced the plan, GOP lawmakers have carefully structured a case to argue the rulemaking is not only flawed but illegal.

``The roadless initiative was hatched in a back room with special interests,'' Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., said at a hearing Tuesday.

The complaints could lay the groundwork for legislation to revamp the plan and lawsuits to derail it.

But Joshua Reichert, director of the environment program at Pew, said he was befuddled by Chenoweth-Hage's hearing.

Reichert said the foundation's job is to help the public better understand the nature of the roadless debate. He said the success of the initiative so far has more to do with the public support for protecting forests than the influence of any particular group.

``Congress has given us and other foundations in the country the right to do what we do on issues that we care about — and we care about wilderness,'' Reichert said.

AP-WS-02-23-00 2051EST


Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

This Associated Press story is copyright 2000 by The Associated Press.

Wednesday, March 15, 2000

Dombeck would sign no agreement with environmentalists on forest plan

By JOHN HUGHES, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck said Tuesday he would not sign an agreement that would have environmental groups carry out analysis for President Clinton's proposal to ban development in 50 million acres of forests.

Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage questioned Dombeck about a memo that
she said shows the Forest Service was developing an agreement to have environmental groups help map and assess roadless forests, a key step in carrying out Clinton's plan.

"That has not merely crossed the line, it
totally obliterates the line" between government and interest groups, the Idaho Republican said at a hearing of her forests and forest health subcommittee.
But Dombeck said the Forest Service has signed no such agreement
and that he can't be held accountable for a memo written by environmentalists.

"It's basically a suggestion on the part of someone," Dombeck said, adding that the memo is likely "just staff dialogue."

The 11-page memo is a draft of a proposal from the Wildlife Fund and the Conservation Biology Institute to The David and Lucile Packard Foundation for a $650,000 grant.

In the memo, the environmentalists tell Packard the Forest
Service was eager to sign an agreement that would have the agency and the two groups "work together to create a sound, science-based roadless areas assessment" and that – at the Forest Service's urging – the agreement "will be national in scope."

Staff members for Chenoweth's
subcommittee found the memo among several stacks of documents the administration handed over to satisfy a subcommittee request for materials related to Clinton's proposal.

Dominick DellaSalla, director of the
Klamath-Siskiyou regional program for the World Wildlife Fund, confirmed the authenticity of the document Tuesday, though he said the groups ultimately
requested $400,000 from Packard.

Scott Rehmus, an associate program manager at the Packard foundation, said no final decision has been made on the grant request.

Chris Wood, a Forest Service spokesman, said the World Wildlife Fund has a draft of a proposed "memorandum of understanding" pending with the agency. But he declined to disclose the nature of the agreement, saying it had not been finalized.

DellaSalla said working on roadless areas is only a part of the proposed agreement.
He said he believes the proposal also
includes a pilot project in southwestern Oregon on adaptive forest management and other types of projects, although he could not name the other projects that would be covered.

DellaSalla said group members were "exaggerating for the purpose of trying to get a foundation grant" when they wrote that the essence of the proposed agreement was to help the Forest Service create a science-based roadless areas assessment.

Dombeck told Chenoweth at a hearing of the House Resources
Committee panel on Tuesday that the Forest Service has 5,000 memoranda of understandings with outside groups for activities on forest lands, and that such agreements are common.

Dombeck said he had no knowledge of the memo until he read media accounts about the document Tuesday.

Agriculture Undersecretary Jim Lyons, who oversees the Forest
Service, said the memo is from the environmental groups to Packard and "doesn't involve the Forest Service in any way."

But Chenoweth-Hage pointed out the memo was sent to the
subcommittee from agency offices. "Chief, to say you are unaware doesn't satisfy us at all," she told Dombeck.

Clinton has launched a process – hailed by conservationists as
one of the great environmental acts of the 20th century – to craft a regulation that would permanently protect 50 million acres or
more of already roadless federal forests from development.

The regulation is expected to be
complete near the end of the year, before Clinton leaves office.

GOP Congress members, recreation groups and the timber industry have been assailing Clinton's initiative almost from the day it was announced, saying it restricts access to forest lands.

AP-WS-03-15-00 0309EST

2000 The Associated Press

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