A group of foundations donated close to $10 million over the past several years to fund the efforts of nonprofit environmental groups working to bolster public support for protection of pristine National Forest lands, the Portland Oregonian reports.
Foundations contributing funding, which totaled some $9.7 million, include the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, the W. Alton Jones Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Seattle-based Brainerd Foundation.
Environmentalists say that the relatively high level of funding provided by these and other foundations was a first for a public-lands issue. More than three dozen environmental groups received funding and used it to help underwrite direct-mail campaigns, television commercials, newspaper ads, opinion polls, and other efforts aimed at convincing the White House and the U.S. Forest Service to ban road building and commercial logging in roadless areas of National Forest lands. Last week, President Clinton announced that he would sign an executive order to protect 58.5 million acres of pristine timberland, including about 9 million acres in Alaska, before he leaves office later this month.
Foundation support for the effort has drawn complaints from representatives of the forest products industry, who say their groups don't have the financial resources to compete with large institutional philanthropies. But environmental groups counter that charge by pointing to the millions in campaign contributions that the timber industry makes annually to politicians who are sympathetic to its agenda.