Mark Twain National Forest for Sale
President Bush says he can raise more money for schools, if the federal government sells 119 acres of national forest in Boone County and 120 acres in Callaway County to private owners.
"Every time the national budget gets into a bit of a problem, are we going to say, 'Sell off some national lands'? What's next?" asked Ken Midkiff, Sierra Club conservation chairman.
He said a Cedar Creek Forest sale will shut out everyone.
"When these go into private hands, this whole public process gets eliminated," he complained.
The proposed forest sale would fund the Secure Rural Schools Act, but that doesn't mean more money for nearby schools because the law lets Boone County put the money into roads instead of classrooms. It's only $4,000 a year, and money from Missouri's land could even go to other states as far away as Oregon to help schools in areas that depend on the forestry business.
"It's a real shame to get rid of our national forest that isn't even going to benefit the people of Missouri, whereas the forest itself does," added Midkiff.
But, the Bush administraton says the relatively few forest acres for sale won't hurt the environment, and it could help some rural districts stay open in tough economic times.
The Secure Rural Schools Act has brought about $29,000 to BooneCcounty since 2000. The act brought more than $100,000 to Callaway County because it's more rural.