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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

For Immediate Release
May 13, 2005

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

Administrationís National Forests Rule Published

Takes Effect Despite Opposition

WASHINGTON, DC Today the Bush Administration's final rule governing 58.5 million roadless acres of National Forests was published in the Federal Register. Following last week's announcement by the Forest Service, this change in policy repeals the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule and represents one of the Bush Administrationís most sweeping environmental policy changes. The plan has drawn blunt criticism from conservationists, governors and members of Congress who say it will lead to logging, mining and oil drilling in an ever-shrinking portion of National Forests that remain untouched.

The Administration's new approach gives ultimate decision-making power to political appointees at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), after allowing governors 18 months to petition the U.S. Forest Service with their recommendations. The petitions are not binding, and the Administration is free to accept or reject them. During a public comment period held last year on the proposal, 1.7 million Americans asked the Forest Service to abandon this new plan.

"This new policy is the evil twin of the original," said Robert Vandermark, Director of the Heritage Forests Campaign. "It immediately opens millions of acres to logging, drilling and mining while claiming to protect those very same places."

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders responded to the Administrationís plan by pledging to introduce legislation that would permanently protect these last wild areas from roadbuilding and resource extraction. In a letter seeking support from other Members of Congress, they criticized the Administrationís plan, saying, "by requiring State action to effectuate Federal resource protection, this policy change sets a dangerous precedent. National forests are an asset of all United States citizens."


The Administrationís rule can be viewed on the web here. The Congressional letter is available at https://ourforests.org/risk/DearColleague_5-10-05.pdf. 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.

Photos of Forests