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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

HFC On The Road!

July 14 Portland, Oregon

Time: 11:00 AM

Pioneer Courthouse Square
700 Block SW 6th Avenue
Portland, OR 97205-3103

Press contact:
Jay Ward
Conservation Director
Oregon Natural Resources Council
503-283-6343 x210
[email protected]

General contact:
Seth Horstmeyer
Heritage Forests Campaign
[email protected]

Press Information:

Alaska Coalition, Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, Republicans for Environmental Protection, Siskiyou Regional Education Project, Trout Unlimited

For Immediate Release
July 14, 2003

Contact: Jay Ward, 503-283-6343 x 210
Oregon Natural Resources Council

Oregonians Rally for Roadless Forests

Urge President to Finally Implement Protections for 58 million acres of Public Forests

In an effort to energize Americans who care about public lands, mountain climbers, hikers, political leaders and conservationists kicked off a nationwide 13-city tour calling for the full implementation of the long-delayed Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

Published in January 2001, the Roadless Rule was over 2 years in the making. During 600 meetings throughout the United States, tens of thousands of Americans helped the Forest Service improve the proposal to protect 58.5 million acres of federal forests from roadbuilding and clearcut logging. "The American people have spoken," said Jay Ward, Conservation Director of the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC), "and 2 million times they stated their desire to protect their national forests from more destructive roadbuilding. But the Bush administration has done everything in its power to ignore the people and gut the rule's protections".

"They appear to be committed to stonewalling," said Rolf Skar of the Siskiyou Regional Education Project. "For the last two and one-half years, this president has tried to figure a way to deny, defer and delay these long-overdue protections. But the wild roadless forests of Oregon, especially the Siskiyou deserve those protections now; And to paraphrase William Gladstone, protection delayed is justice denied".

President Bush suspended the rule immediately upon his inauguration, and his administration failed to defend the rule when snowmobilers, livestock interests and the timber industry sued to overturn it. After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rule, the administration offered an "implementation" plan that eliminates protections for the nation's largest national forest, the Tongass, and created a loophole to allow individual states to opt-out of the rule.

"It's a classic bait and switch," said Patrick Shannon of the Alaska Coalition. "One week they say they will implement the rule, and 4 days later Mark Rey creates exemptions so large you could drive a log-truck through them. The Tongass already has 5,000 miles of roads going nowhere, it doesn't need anymore."

Jim DiPeso of Republicans for Environmental Protection concurred and called further roadbuilding wasteful and destructive. "Our national forests are already riddled with over 380,000 miles of roads, and the repair backlog exceeds $8 billion. It is fiscally irresponsible to spend the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars to further fragment our forests with new roads when we can't afford to maintain the old ones."

Sam Mace, Western Conservation Advocate for Trout Unlimited pointed out the links between roadless forests and healthy fish populations. "The headwaters and upper tributaries of such signature Northwest rivers as the Clackamas, Umpqua and Rogue all begin in unroaded public forest lands. Their world-famous fisheries depend on this high quality upstream habitat. Protecting our remaining roadless forests is critical to preserving these rivers and their native fish for the next generation of anglers."

Representatives of elected officials noted a pattern in the Bush administration's forest policies. In a statement read at the kick-off, Congressman Earl Blumenauer said, "From day one, the Bush administration has sought to unravel the carefully crafted rules and regulations that protect our national forests from excessive logging. This is another example of an attempt to further erode, rather than strengthen and uphold, our environmental laws."

Sam Wilson, representing climbers and outdoor enthusiasts, was also critical of the Forest Service and supportive of wildland recreation. "I've grown up in Oregon, hiked in Oregon, and climbed many of Oregon's wildest mountains. The view from the summit tells it all, we simply don't need any more logging roads in our national forests." Wilson continued, "Oregon's future, and the economic future of my generation lies in maintaining and improving our quality of life. Roadless forests are at the foundation of that quality of life. They provide the scenery, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities tourists and entrepreneurs long for, and the clean air and drinking water the rest of us depend upon."

Economics were also pointed out by David Deveer, of Patagonia Inc, a wholesale and retail company with 39 locations in nine countries. "A sustainable economic future is based upon industries that don't degrade the foundations they are built upon. The human powered recreation industry generated over 18 billion dollars in business last year. 137 million people participate in outdoor activities that rely upon intact forests and abundant wildlife." Deveer also mentioned the needs of future Oregonians: "As our population becomes more urbanized, we will need more opportunities for solitude and more exposure to the natural world. The Roadless Area Conservation Rule advances both of those important objectives." Deveer added, "Wild, roadless forests are good for people, good for the natural world, and as Patagonia has demonstrated, good for business."

The Rally for Roadless forests continues to Eugene tomorrow.


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