Heritage Forests Campaign News Release
July 25, 2002
HFC Backs New Senate Forest Protection Bill
Bipartisan Bill Protects Roadless Areas From Most Commercial Logging
WASHINGTON The Heritage Forests Campaign announced its support for bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate today -- the National Forests Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2002 -- a bill to protect 58.5 million acres of national forest lands from most commercial logging and road-building. A companion bill was introduced in the House with 179 co-sponsors in June.
"We commend Sens. Cantwell and Warner for their leadership on forest protection," said Jane Danowitz, Director of the Heritage Forests Campaign, a national alliance of organizations working to protect our national forests. "With timber sales moving forward in the Tongass National Forest and road maintenance backlog at an all time high, expanding bipartisan support for roadless protection couldn't come at a more critical time."
Introduced by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Warner (R-VA), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Cleland (D-GA) and Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI) the bill codifies the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, one of the most sweeping land conservation measures in a generation. The new legislation would protect the remaining nearly one-third of undeveloped forests from most commercial logging and road building. Like the rule, the new bill would allow new roads to be constructed in order to fight fires, ensure public safety and provide for thinning to protect forest health.
America's national forests are already covered with 386,000 miles of roads -- enough to circle the earth 15 times. A recent report by Taxpayers for Common Sense revealed that nationally there is a backlog of road repairs that amounts to $8.4 billion. 16 states including Alaska, California, Washington, and Michigan have a backlog of road repairs amounting to more than $100 million.
"We should focus on fixing and maintaining existing roads before building more roads to add to the backlog of needed road repairs," said Danowitz.
The rule was approved following years of scientific study and more than 600 public meetings across the country. To date the Forest Service has received more than 2.2 million comments favoring roadless protection. This outpouring of public response is almost ten times greater than that of any other rule in history.
To learn more about the roadless issue, please visit www.allears.org
For More Information, Contact: Jen Coate, NET, 202-887-8855 or 202-320-0693 (cell)
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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