GOPers probe possible Forest Service lobbying

Congressional Republicans critical of the U.S. Forest Service's timber policies "demanded" last week that the agency turn over "reams of documents" to study whether the agency violated federal anti-lobbying laws by "promoting cutbacks in logging and roadbuilding."

USFS officials said they have not violated the laws and will provide the information.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Resources Committee are investigating whether USFS employees violated the Federal Agency Anti-Lobbying Act. Media organizations last month published an internal USFS memo recommending that Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck promote a conservation agenda by tying it to a clean water initiative launched last year by Vice President Al Gore.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, resource committee chairs Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Don Young, R-Ark., wrote that the USFS employees' activities "greatly concern us." The communications plan outlined in the USFS memo, they wrote, seems "designed to directly influence" legislation affecting the USFS "in precisely the manner prohibited" by law. (Scott Sonner, AP/Washington Post/others, 4/11)

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