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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

CONTACT: Le Evans, NET, 202-887-1342 or 202-487-7465 (cell)

On Roadless Anniversary, Forests Remain in Limbo

Despite Bush Administration Promises, Rollbacks Continue
Washington, D.C. -- One year after the Roadless Area Conservation Rule set aside 58.5 million acres of pristine national forest land, the Bush administration today continues to delay implementation of the roadless rule and undermine its core protections, despite promises to uphold the historic conservation measure.

"The roadless rule is having a birthday, but there won't be too much celebrating," said Jane Danowitz, director of the Heritage Forests Campaign. "After all, the Bush administration has spent the last year promising to uphold the rule, but is quietly working to undermine its core."

In a press conference last May Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth announced that the Bush administration would uphold the roadless rule. They also indicated that the Bush administration would propose its own "minor" changes to the rule later in the year. Despite those promises, the Bush administration has yet to offer its own version of the roadless rule, and has proposed a series of Forest Service Manual changes that eliminate roadless area protections and allow new logging, mining, and drilling in our national forests. Similarly, Attorney General John Ashcroft pledged to defend the roadless rule in court, but has yet to offer any serious defense of the rule. The Bush administration even refused to appeal a judge's decision blocking implementation of the rule.

The roadless rule was the result of years of debate, more than 600 public meetings, and 1.6 million comments. An additional 800,000 comments were submitted in September reiterating the public's strong support for this historic measure. Among the benefits of the roadless rule are clean drinking water for 60 million Americans; protection of critical habitat for more than 1,600 threatened, endangered, or sensitive wildlife; and unlimited recreation for hikers, hunters, and anglers.

Among the rollbacks is the elimination of required environmental reviews before new logging, mining, or drilling can proceed in pristine areas of our national forests. The Bush administration has also removed a moratorium preventing new road-building in undeveloped national forests. Additionally, the Bush administration has eliminated protections for more than a dozen national forests -- including the Tongass national forest, the nation's largest old-growth forest, where the Forest Service is planning timber sales in areas that would have been protected.

For more information, please contact Le Evans at (202) 887-1342


The Heritage Forests Campaign is an alliance of conservationists, wildlife advocates, clergy, educators, scientists, and other Americans working together to uphold protection of our National Forests. Heritage Forests Campaign's partners include Alaska Rainforest Coalition, American Hiking Society, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, National Environmental Trust, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, US PIRG, and The Wilderness Society.

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