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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release


Reports Released in 12 States Find Changes to National Forest Policies Threaten Last Wild Forests in U.S.

Heritage Forests Campaign Calls on Administration to Keep Its Promise

WASHINGTON, DC -- Reports released in 12 states warned that changes to the Roadless Area Conservation Rule would destroy most of the remaining roadless areas in our National Forests that remain intact. The reports were released today to mark the three-year anniversary of Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Venemanís pledge to uphold the provisions of the 2001 rule. Changes to the rule, which protects the last pristine roadless portions of Americaís National Forests, threaten to ravage as much as 32.7 million acres with commercial logging, road-building and mining according to current Forest Service plans. Despite Secretary Venemanís pledge, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark E. Rey recently announced that changes to the rule were imminent. Environmental advocates say the changes are expected to follow the Bush Administrationís practice of favoring logging interests instead of protecting old-growth forests for future generations.

"Despite overwhelming public support and their own promises to uphold the Roadless Rule, the Bush Administration has been chipping away at the rule for three years and itís becoming apparent they would like to shred it altogether," said Robert Vandermark, Co-Director of the Heritage Forests Campaign. "Our National Forests are as much a part of Americaís heritage as the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore and the public has made clear they do not want them harmed."

Environmental advocates say the Bush Administrationís rhetoric is sharply contrasted by their actions. The administration already exempted Americaís largest National Forest -- Alaskaís Tongass Rainforest Ė from the rule, and the U.S. Forest Service is proposing timber sales in several roadless areas. The Administration took a pass last year on defending the Roadless Rule by opting not to file an appeal to a case in the Wyoming District Court after the court had enjoined the rule in the state.

"Despite overwhelming public support for roadless protections, the Bush Administration continues to do the bidding of timber companies," said Tiernen Sittenfeld, Conservation Advocate for U.S. PIRG. To date the Forest Service has received 2.5 million comments favoring roadless protection. "Instead of systematically dismantling national forest protections on behalf of corporate special interests, the Bush Administration should protect our last wild forests."

The reports profile roadless areas in National Forests across 12 states, documenting acreage that has been lost due to logging and road-building prior to the creation of the Roadless Rule, and identifies numerous examples of roadless areas in National Forests that could meet a similar fate if the Roadless Rule is reversed. An analysis of government statistics show that a reversal of the Roadless Rule could result in the complete loss of roadless forests in 11 states. Among them are the politically important states of Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Online copies of the report are available at: https://ourforests.org/localreports/

The Roadless Rule is a landmark conservation initiative enacted in 2001 to protect 58.5 million acres of roadless areas in our National Forests from most logging and road-building. The Roadless Rule enjoys widespread support. Unprecedented in its overwhelming popularity, the rule garnered 10 times more public comments than any federal rule in history. Members of Congress, major corporations such as Staples, outdoor retailers such as REI, hundreds of gun groups in states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan and Governors from New Mexico, Virginia, Maine, Washington, and Pennsylvania have announced their opposition to changes to the rule.

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TV Media: A satellite feed of b-roll footage and sound bites will be made available at 13:30-13:45 ET and 16:30-16:45 ET on May 4. For information contact Jennifer Quilo at Planet Vox at 202-842-1515.

Radio Media: State-specific and national radio actualities are available. For assistance, call Esther Rege at Strauss Radio at 202-638-0200.

For additional information, contact Tony Iallonardo, at 202-887-8800.

The Heritage Forests Campaign is an alliance of conservationists, wildlife advocates, clergy, educators, scientists, and other Americans who are working together to uphold protection of our National Forests. To learn more, visit: ourforests.org

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