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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

October 5 , 2004

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

Estée Lauder, U.S. Industry Leaders Call for Protection of America’s Last Wild National Forests

Companies from several sectors push to uphold the Roadless Area Conservation Rule

Washington, D.C. (October 5, 2004) Cosmetics giant Estée Lauder and home-furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma, Inc. are among the leading companies that have recently written letters to the U.S. Forest Service, calling upon the Bush administration to protect roadless areas in U.S. national forests. In addition to Estée Lauder and Williams-Sonoma, Building Materials Holding Company (BMHC), one of the largest construction services and building material distributors in the U.S., and two leading forest products distributors, EarthSource and Golden State Lumber, sent letters to the Forest Service urging protection for U.S. national forests.

These public comments by representatives of diverse industry sectors broaden the growing list of major U.S. companies, such as Nike, Columbia Sportswear, KB Homes and International Paper, who strongly support roadless area protection as much for the economic benefits as for the intrinsic beauty of the U.S. national forests.

"We must not allow America’s last remaining national forests to be logged and mined into history," said Phil Barbato, Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Safety for Estée Lauder. "We believe that the [2001] Roadless Rule will help protect clean drinking water for millions of Americans, preserve wildlife habitat and provide tranquil and pristine recreational spaces."

The letters from Estée Lauder, Williams-Sonoma, BMHC, EarthSource and Golden State Lumber respond to the Bush administration’s proposal to repeal the 2001 Roadless Rule and replace it with a process that could result in no national protection for these roadless forest lands. The company letters express concern that the Bush administration’s proposal will lead to the logging of some of the last remaining large, unfragmented forest blocks in the U.S. All but one of the letters directly urge the Bush administration to reinstate and enforce the 2001 Roadless Rule.

"With a commitment to biodiversity and conservation of natural resources, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule will help to protect our last remaining forests," said Jason Benford, Environmental Marketing Coordinator for EarthSource.

Additionally, the company letters question the fiscal responsibility of the Bush administration’s proposal.

"If [the Roadless Rule] is enforced as issued in January 2001, the rule would allow current U.S. Forest Service funds to be spent for repair of existing roads, instead of requiring additional appropriation of funds for construction of new roads," stated Rick Zaslove, Vice President of Golden State Lumber.

The Forest Service faces a massive maintenance backlog on existing national forest roads that currently exceeds $10 billion.

Environmentalists applauded the five businesses for taking a strong position in favor of fiscal responsibility and national forest protection.

"We commend Estée Lauder, Williams-Sonoma, BMHC, EarthSource, and Golden State Lumber for their leadership and urge other companies to follow suit," said Robert Vandermark, Co-Director of the Heritage Forests Campaign.

The Roadless Rule was finalized in January 2001 after years of scientific study, 600 local public hearings and meetings and a record number of public comments. Prior to the current public comment period, the Forest Service received 2.5 million comments in favor of the rule. The Rule protects 58.5 million acres nationwide while allowing temporary road construction in order to fight wildfires, ensure public safety, and protect forest health. Over 50 percent of U.S. national forest lands are already open to unlimited commodity development. Only 18 percent of these lands are protected as wilderness.

The Forest Service is taking comments on the Bush administration proposal until November 15th.

For more information, Mr. Barbato of Estée Lauder may be reached at 631-454-5343; Mr. Benford of EarthSource may be reached at 510-208-7257; and Mr. Zaslove of Golden State Lumber may be reached at 707-553-7330.

Read the letters:

Photos of Forests