June 24, 1999
Dear President Clinton:
We wish to thank your Administration for beginning a process to ensure that our nation's magnificent wildlands will remain protected for future generations. We urge you to take decisive action to protect the remaining roadless areas in our national forests. Safeguarding these scenic wild areas that provide premier habitat for fish and wildlife, protect the greatest reserves of diverse plant life, and offer abundant supplies of clean drinking water and unique opportunities for outdoor recreation is of great interest to our constituents.
Over half of the Forest Service's 191 million acres are available for logging, mining, oil and gas, and other kinds of development. The interim moratorium on road building in roadless areas on Forest Service lands will provide at least temporary protection for many of the remaining wild areas. But we hope your Administration will see greater possibilities in the moratorium than an opportunity to reassess the Forest Service's road construction policy. We hope the Service will take the opportunity to design a policy for future management of all existing roadless areas as well.
In your statement when you signed the FY 1998 Interior Appropriations bill, you said the following regarding roadless areas: "... the Forest Service is developing a scientifically based policy for managing roadless areas in our national forests. These last remaining wild areas are precious to millions of Americans and key to protecting clean water and abundant wildlife habitat, and providing recreation opportunities. These unspoiled places must be managed through science, not politics." We agree that the time has come for a sound and consistent policy for managing these areas.
In December 1997, 169 scientists from across the nation wrote to you saying the following: "In our view, a scientifically-based policy for roadless areas on public lands should, at a minimum, protect from development all roadless areas larger than 1,000 acres · because of their contributions to regional landscapes." This past year, on November 19, 230 scientists wrote to Vice President Gore to express the same view. Along with them, we urge you to protect roadless areas in all national forests, including the Pacific Northwest, the Tongass, and other areas exempted from the road moratorium, from logging, road building, mining, and other activities that can damage their unique character, as well as from road building.
As the millennium dawns, safeguarding these remaining scenic wild areas will provide a lasting legacy akin to the bold actions taken by President Theodore Roosevelt when he set aside our first forest reserves at the beginning of this century. We urge you to act boldly in that tradition so that these national treasures are not lost.
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