Heritage Forests Campaign News Release
December 22, 2005
Gov. Warner Becomes First to Request Protection of National Forests
Statement of Robert Vandermark, Director, Heritage Forests Campaign
WASHINGTON, DC "Virginia Governor Mark Warner is giving some of our nation's most valuable roadless forests an early holiday present this year by announcing today that he is seeking permanent protection for them. Governor Warner's leadership makes the best out of a flawed policy by recognizing that these national treasures deserve federal protection and management.
"The Bush administration claimed their plan would empower governors, but up to now most have shown ambivalence or outright hostility. We commend Governor Warner for protecting these public treasures for future generations."
In May, the Bush administration repealed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule in its entirety and substituted it with a state petition process that eliminated federal protections from logging and mining in millions of acres of national forests. Gov. Warner is the first to file such a petition (Read the petition).
Conservationists say development and sprawl have made pristine national forests increasingly hard to find east of the Mississippi, making those national forests that are left all the more valuable for recreation and the environment. Ninety-seven percent of roadless areas fall into 12 western states. Virginia's has the most roadless areas among the eastern states, with a total of 380,000 acres.
The governors of Washington and Oregon have formally requested reinstatement of the 2001 rule through the Administrative Procedures Act. Those requests have been rejected by the Administration. The Governors of Arizona, New Mexico, and Montana have similarly voiced their strong support for, and commitment to the protection of roadless areas in their states.
In recent months, two state attorneys general and a governor from three western states -- California, New Mexico and Oregon -- filed the first legal challenge to the administration's repeal of protections.
For more information on the roadless rule and roadless area conservation, visit ourforests.org. For a copy of Gov. Warner's press release, contact Tony Iallonardo at 202-887-8855.
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Contact: Tony Iallonardo, NET
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.