Forest Fog Heritage Forests Campaign

Press Room

Recent Editorials

Over the past two years, more than 300 editorials from the nation’s most prominent newspapers have supported the Roadless Area Conservation Policy:


Forest Stream"In his last month in office, President Clinton protected 58.5 million acres of National Forest land from timber and petroleum companies, a signal accomplishment for an administration whose record on the environment overall was mixed. Now even that achievement is being undermined by the Bush administration, which is not defending Clinton's ''roadless'' regulation when commercial interests challenge it in court." The Boston Globe, February 19, 2002

President George W. Bush took a stab at nontraditional thinking when he proposed the creation of "charter forests," to be managed by local trusts instead of the Forest Service. However, we share the concern of conservation groups that the Bush administration is simply trying to shift management problems rather than fix them." The Daily Sentinel (CO), February 10, 2002

"But ulterior motives aren't necessary for charter forests to be a lousy idea. Residents of Southwest Washington may have a special interest in and relationship with the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, but that doesn't mean we ought to have no say, as citizens and taxpayers of this country, in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico or the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania or the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida -- or that the residents of those states have no stake in the Gifford Pinchot." The Columbian (WA), February 7, 2002

"If defending America against terrorists has been the Bush administration's shining moment - and it has - defending wilderness areas against exploitation has not. While one could argue that the administration has stood tall on some environmental issues, such as clean water and air, only a GOP marketing specialist could claim with a straight face that the administration has been equally diligent when it comes to forests." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 1, 2002

"At his confirmation hearings, for example, Attorney General John Ashcroft pledged to defend as the "law of the land" a landmark Clinton-era rule barring logging and other forms of commercial development in 58.5 million acres of roadless national forest. Mr. Ashcroft's lawyers have since done almost nothing to defend the rule against court challenges from industry, a failure that has encouraged the timber lobbyists who now run the Forest Service to proceed with their parallel campaign to destroy the roadless policy by administrative means. Mr. Ashcroft's negative handiwork is everywhere. Three days after Mrs. Whitman upheld a Clinton rule protecting wetlands, his lawyers opened settlement talks with developers seeking to weaken the rule. That, in turn, can only encourage the Army Corps of Engineers in its parallel efforts to undermine other aspects of wetlands law." The New York Times, January 28, 2002

"Jan. 12 was a significant date for our national forests. It marked the first anniversary of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. But instead of protecting 58.5 million acres of pristine national forests and grasslands from roads and logging as was intended, the Bush administration is doing everything it can to overturn the rule ...Through one obscure directive after another, the Bush Forest Service, under the tutelage of Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman and Forest Chief Dale Bosworth, is steadily whittling away at the hard-fought protections in the roadless rule." (Albany) Times Union (NY), January 21, 2002

"Mark Rey, the assistant secretary of the Department of Agriculture, which is supposed to protect our national forests, spent two decades lobbying for groups such as the National Forest Products Association, American Forest Resources Alliance and the American Forest & Paper Association." The Atlanta Journal Constitution, January 20, 2002

"Other forest directors should be allowed to maintain the roadless policy and resist timber-industry pressure to gouge out major hillsides simply to make logging easier and cheaper." Santa Fe New Mexican (CA),January 6, 2002

"Now it appears that the Forest Service is once again selling out to the tree cutters as well as to ranchers and off-road vehicle groups. But these are the people's forests and should be managed with a broader view of the legacy that will be left to future generations." Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2002

"That is the game: Kill the rules you don't like quickly and quietly, then take your sweet time writing new ones. Don't worry about how many strained backs or stiff wrists people suffer in the meantime. And now, don't worry if the companies that tolerate unsafe conditions are getting fat government contracts at the same time." The Washington Post, January 2, 2002


"While the War Against Evil is being waged with successful restraint, the same crew in Washington is undoing -- or trying to -- just about every conservation effort in the last 50 years. Roadless areas in national forests? Forget it. Under review. Drilling in the Arctic? Very likely, especially now that oil prices are rising." The Buffalo News (NY), December 30, 2001

"In short, the trees are more valuable left standing. Pure water, clean air, abundant wildlife -- all natural resources have value beyond what they produce in short-term dollars. It's an economic fact to which we've been mostly blind. Perhaps the northern spotted owl has helped us to see." The Columbian (WA), December 9, 2001

"In other words, trees hold value that can't be measured solely in dollars; they are often worth more to us standing in a forest, cleaning the air and water, providing habitat for other creatures and calming the human soul, than they are laying on the back of a logging truck. Public policy has to protect that balance." The Atlanta Journal Constitution, December 6, 2001

"Americans have repeatedly expressed their regard for environmental protections that have slowly improved the air, water and land over the last 30 years. Mr. Bush's voluntary, market-based approach risks stifling that progress and marring the countryside for generations to come. The Bush administration environmental philosophy is out of step with America - even in wartime." The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 25, 2001

"While the nation's war on terrorism continues to dominate headlines, the Bush administration is quietly pushing through several flawed environmental policies. Already, it has been successful in getting environmentally damaging bills passed that will increase logging and new road-building in some national forests and scrap tougher hard-rock mining regulations." The New Jersey Record, November 23, 2001

"Americans overwhelmingly support a number of environmental protections, according to a Los Angeles Times Poll last spring. Never mind, the Bush administration is quietly selling out the environment by 'negotiating' settlement of lawsuits brought by business and industry. The Department of the Interior is using this procedure as a way to reverse the ban on snowmobiles from Yellowstone National Park and the prohibition on further road building in 60million unspoiled acres of the national forest. It's an underhanded way of gutting needed environmental measures taken after years of study and strong popular support. This practice should be stopped. When rules were challenged in the past, the federal government went to court to defend them. Now they are 'negotiated' before any talks are even held, a de facto victory for the commercial exploiters of the nation's parks and forests." Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2001

"While the nation's attention is focused on the war against terrorism, the Bush administration is moving, both overtly and covertly, to dismantle major elements of Bill Clinton's environmental legacy... In like fashion, the administration has signaled a retreat from Mr. Clinton's most ambitious land conservation measure -- a Forest Service rule protecting 60 million largely untouched acres of national forest from new road building, new oil and gas leasing and most new logging. Nine separate lawsuits have been filed against the plan, by private companies and state governments. In each case, the Justice Department has failed to defend the conservation rule in court. Nor, from the look of things, does it intend to. The sad truth is that the Bush administration would like nothing better than a court-ordered excuse to rewrite the plan so as to accommodate the very commercial activity Mr. Clinton had hoped to prevent." The New York Times, October 29, 2001

"Bush was and is big oil and gas. True to the form he showed as Texas governor, Bush has spent his first six months in office stacking the deck against fair use of public lands, packing resource agencies with industry reps. Those choices are mirrored in Bush's energy bill, which would forsake the long-term value of preserving our wild lands for a few quick bucks by oil, coal, gas and timber interests." The Times-Picayune (LA), September 16, 2001

"The Bush administration's plan to amend the roadless rule in national forests parallels its bid to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Just as the latter would provide only a modest contribution to the nation's petroleum supply, the roadless areas in the national forests contain just one-half of 1 percent of the nation's timber supply." The Boston Globe, August 13, 2001

"U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft might as well have waved a white flag and surrendered to the timber and mining industries in an Idaho federal court last week. Instead of defending the Clinton administration's rule banning new roads in certain national forest areas, Ashcroft filed a 'status report.' In plain language, that means that while the Bush administration would not rescind the rule outright, it would significantly weaken it." The Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 17, 2001

"Even with the conservation rule, more than half of national forests remain open to logging, mining and drilling. The roadless initiative merely restored balance by preserving unspoiled areas. It should stand as is." The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 10, 2001

"In effect, the Bush administration intends to look good by letting the rules go into effect. But later, while Americans are busy with other interests, the administration may wreck the rules as it sees fit, based on achieving ‘balance’ through ‘local input.’ We believe the conservationists have every right to be nervous. We say be watchful and raise the alarm if the ‘changes’ become sell-outs to those who want no curbs on how they may use these forests. What changes are proposed will truly reveal just where President Bush stands on the protection of the federal forests." The Nashua Telegraph (NH), May 10, 2001

"What could be wrong with forest-by-forest decision-making? Well, it will take a long, frustrating time, mountains of paper, more hearings and more lawsuits. We've been through this before …" The Idaho Post Register, May 9, 2001

"Protecting these areas from roads and logging still leaves two-thirds of the national forests accessible via an extensive, albeit inadequately maintained network of roads. The bulk of the national forests remains open for logging. And remember, now, trees are a renewable resource. The timber industry doesn't - or shouldn't, anyway - need to constantly pioneer new logging areas. This policy is economically, environmentally and socially sound …" The Missoulian (MT), May 9, 2001

"After stalling as long as possible, the Bush administration has pledged to implement the Clinton executive order, but to allow exemptions on a "case by case" basis. In this case, that seems to be bureaucratic shorthand for allowing maximal exemptions for exploitative industries without taking the heat for dumping the Clinton order wholesale. Public support for protecting the one-third of the nation's forests that remain pristine is overwhelming." The Chatanooga Times-Free Press (TN), May 9, 2001

"No one should be fooled by the significance of the fine print. The local level is where the logging, mining and oil industries have the most clout. The Bush administration has effectively undermined Clinton's roadless plan. It's back to business as usual in the national forests. But the Bush loophole goes much further. … It opens the door for renewed resource battles in local venues where timber and mining companies are most likely to prevail. It loses the sense of balance that Clinton and Dombeck were trying to bring to forest management … The Bush administration seems to forget that the national forests belong to all of us." The San Francisco Chronicle (CA), May 8, 2001

"Until the administration proposes its revisions, the praiseworthy decision to go forward with the rules remains subject to skepticism. At the least, forcing Americans to comment again when they already have in huge numbers suggests the Bush administration has no great desire to heed them." The Detroit Free Press, May 8, 2001

… on balance, the roadless rule protects the best interests of the American people and the forests they treasure, including 69,000 acres in Wisconsin. Bush administration officials should support it." The Miwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI), May 4, 2001

"…the road rule was not a spur-of-the-moment thing. The Bush Administration made a mis-step in delaying the rule’s effective date until mid-May. His administration should step back and let this order go through." The Chicago Tribune (IL), May 4, 2001

"We wish President Bush would remember these forests belong to all our citizens, not to a few industries, and act to ensure that generations to come will be able to experience the true American wilderness." The Tampa Tribune (FL), May 4, 2001

"The Bush Administration is going the wrong way on forest roads. The public wants these lands protected." The [Portland] Oregonian, May 3, 2001

"The Bush administration obviously has its own definition of public input, but 20 years of public discussion and 600 public hearings in recent years does not remotely indicate "a back-door approach." Maybe Mr. Cheney means that the 1.2 million people who favor the action - 24,670 from Ohio, 29,404 from Michigan – didn’t include lobbyists for the timber, ranching, oil, and mining interests that helped put George W. Bush in office with millions in campaign contributions." The Toledo Blade (OH), May 3, 2001

"If Mr. Bush weakens them, he will be making a mistake. The rules drew a line and sent a message: Harvest and mine in areas already open, and save the remaining wild places for their own sake and for the future. If Mr. Bush erases that line or blurs it, he’ll be sending a message too, one that will leave the country poorer in the long run." The Washington Post, May 2, 2001

until a clear need for roads arises, the president should stand against the waste of tax money represented by new roads into our national forests." The Sante Fe New Mexican, May 2001

"He can - and should … enforce the Roadless Area Conservation Rule … He should confound his detractors, and implement the policy." The Roanoke Times (VA), April 30, 2001

"The rule demands vigorous support for three reasons. First, it is sensible resource policy, an overdue recognition that taxpayer-subsidized logging, mining and drilling are not always the highest uses of the nation's best remaining wilderness. Second, it is a by-the-book piece of federal decision making. Third, the sheer cynicism of the Idaho case deserves a sharp rebuttal." The Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 30, 2001

senators reviewing the nomination of Attorney General John Ashcroft to ask whether he would defend the roadless rule in court. He said he would, and he must." The Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 30, 2001

"Not only is the roadless policy in the long-term best interest of the environment and local communities, it would also best serve the interests of taxpayers. Bush should enforce the roadless policy, not reject it." The Harrisburg Patriot News (PA), April 30, 2001

"The Bush Administration should respect the process and its result and support the conservation initiative." The Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME), April 29, 2001

"President Bush should implement the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, but we will be presently surprised if he does. So far, his administration has indicated a discomforting willingness to drill, cut or mine anywhere there is a private buck to be made. This would be a good place for the new president to signal otherwise." The Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME), April 28, 2001

"We encourage the president to support the Forest Service's Roadless Area Conservation Rule. We hope President Bush doesn't reopen this divisive debate. He should allow the roadless plan to go into effect. It would be a mistake to undo a conservation plan that has such broad public support." The Olympian (WA), April 27, 2001

"Regrettably, Attorney General John Ashcroft, who supported the road ban during his confirmation hearings, has backed away from that pledge. Both he and Mr. Bush should think again. Banning new roads would not only protect forests, but also the taxpayers. The ban is therefore compatible with the administration's conservative agenda. All it needs is to be implemented." The Albany Times Union (NY), April 23, 2001

"The importance of this … plan is the protection of land that is becoming incredibly rare. There's no need to review a proposal with such obvious citizen support." The Southwest Virginia Enterprise (Wytheville, VA), April 18, 2001

"There is very little to gain economically or otherwise by reversing the protection of nearly 60 million roadless acres of federal forests. But there is a great deal to lose … We urge the Bush administration to allow the roadless order to stand, and for Congress to insist on it." The Harrisburg Patriot News (PA), April 16, 2001

"The American public would almost certainly vote to protect roadless parts of the national forests, as it would to reduce the amount of arsenic in water. But the public is not the audience that concerns Bush and his appointees. They are out to please the interests that supported and financed his campaign: timber companies, mining companies and the rest." The Grand Rapids Press (MI), April 3, 2001

"What few stands of old-growth forests and wilderness remain of this nation's original landscape merit protection from further loss and degradation. They are far more valuable to the vast majority of citizens as areas for recreation, scenic enjoyment and solitude than they are for private-interest exploitation. Americans overwhelmingly supported the decision to reserve the remaining third of public forests as roadless areas. The public would save money as well its wilderness heritage." The Chatanooga Times-Free Press (TN), January 21, 2001

Copyright 1998-2001 Heritage Forests Campaign. All Rights Reserved.