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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

June 3, 2004

Hikers Hit Endangered Roadless Areas on June 5 National Trails Day

New Maps Document Nationís Premier Trails at Risk

Washington, DC (June 3, 2004) Hundreds of organized hikes around the country will commemorate National Trails Day, many of which will draw outdoor enthusiasts to settings in some of the nationís most precious wild national forests.

Environmental advocates are concerned that these trails could vanish under proposals sought by the logging industry that would change current Federal law and open portions of national forests known as "roadless areas" to logging, mining and drilling. To underscore this threat, the Heritage Forests Campaign today released maps and figures showing that many of the nationís premier hiking trails run through these threatened stretches of national forests.

Among the trails that would be threatened under regulatory changes under consideration by the Bush Administration are the Appalachian Trail, the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Pony Express Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the California Trail and many others. High-resolution downloadable maps and other information have been posted on the Internet at ourforests.org/trails.

"These maps make clear that some of the best trails in the nation would be endangered under changes the Bush Administration is preparing to the Roadless Rule," said Robert Vandermark, co-director of the Heritage Forests Campaign. "We wouldnít sell Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon on eBay, and the Bush Administration should not let the timber industry destroy our last remaining wild forests."

"A hike in our national forests is a simple, yet majestic, and uniquely American pleasure," said Tiernan Sittenfeld, conservation advocates for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). "Special interest politics and campaign donations from the logging industry should not deny future generations the opportunity we have today to enjoy these forests."

Recreational enthusiasts are unlikely to support changes to the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Their numbers could be decisive in exerting pressure on this Administration. According to the American Hiking Society, hiking is one of Americaís fastest growing recreational activities. Almost one-third of Americans went hiking in 2002. Because outdoor recreation is a booming business; Nike, Adidas and other major gear companies recently declared their strong support for the Roadless Rule. In 2001, sales of outdoor gear, clothing, footwear, and other accessories for 2001 amounted to more than $18 billion.

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, garnering 10 times more public comments than any federal rule in history and proving popular in state polls.

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Tony Iallonardo, NET
202-887-8855 (ph)

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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