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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

For Immediate Release
November 15, 2004

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

Click to hear audio clips from the teleconference (mp3 format):

NET’s Phil Clapp (629 kb)

New Mexico Governor Richardson (649 kb)

Bishop William O. Gregg (404 kb)

NWF’s Larry Schweiger (1.33 mb)

REP America’s Martha Marks (410 kb)

Americans Send Strong Call For National Forest Protections

Gov. Richardson, Diverse Experts Decry Bush National Forests Plan

Washington, DC (November 15, 2004) Americans delivered a record-breaking 1.7 million comments to the Bush Administration opposing a plan to open roadless areas of National Forests to logging and other environmentally harmful activity. A diverse group of opponents of the Bush plan today that included conservationists and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said the comments make clear that the administration cannot claim a mandate to overturn National Forest protections. Activists also held more than a dozen events around the nation, releasing state-based reports on the ecological and economic value of roadless areas in National Forests.

"Americans from both red states and blue states continue to overwhelmingly support protecting our last wild forests," said Phil Clapp, President of the National Environmental Trust. "The public, including constituencies that supported President Bush at the polls, have responded with strong opposition toward the Bush Administration's national forests giveaway."

"The Administration has no better opportunity to redeem its promise to sportsmen than to listen to their concerns about the future of the nation's National Forests and to uphold the Roadless Rule," said Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

On July 12th, the Bush Administration proposed repealing National Forests protections currently in place in the Roadless Rule. Conservationists say the Bush plan eviscerates protections for our last wild forests, and instead abdicates national forest stewardship to state and local politicians who could either petition for protection of roadless areas in their states or for more logging, mining and drilling. November 15th marks the final day the Administration will accept public comments on their plan.

"The Administration has proposed an expensive convoluted process that allows the Forest Service to abdicate its role as the steward of National Forests, and they are wrongly creating more bureaucracy," said Gov. Richardson.

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. Conservationists say the Rule ensures that national forests will continue to provide habitat for fish and wildlife, clean drinking water for millions of Americans, and endless opportunities for recreation.

Richardson, Clapp and Schweiger were joined on today's call by Martha Marks, President of Republicans for Environmental Protection, and the Right Reverend William O. Gregg, Ph.D., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon.


TV Media: Beta tapes of b-roll footage are available. For information contact Jennifer Quilo at Planet Vox at 202-842-1515.

Photos of Forests