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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tony Iallonardo
Phone: 202.887.8855

South Carolina Governor Files Petition to Protect State's Roadless Areas

Statement of Robert Vandermark, Director, Heritage Forests Campaign

Washington, D.C. "South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is showing strong conservation leadership in moving to protect all roadless national forests in his state. He’s putting the desires of South Carolinians at the forefront by asking for permanent protection of these public lands from development. His action, coupled with the outpouring of support among South Carolinians, demonstrates the importance of these irreplaceable public lands to the state and the country.

"Thousands of South Carolinians have sought protection for these last wild areas over the years, only to be ignored by the Bush administration. We applaud Governor Sanford for his actions today."

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South Carolina joins North Carolina and Virginia in petitioning the Bush Administration for permanent protection of their states' roadless areas. Together, these states account for one-half million acres in some of the last pristine areas east of the Mississippi. There are about 8,000 roadless acres in South Carolina.

Governor Sanford is also the first Republican to file a petition under the Bush Administration's roadless rule.

Last May, the Bush administration repealed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule in its entirety and substituted it with a state petition process that eliminated federal protections from logging and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.

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.

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.

Last year, 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. Washington, Montana and Maine joined the suit in recent months.

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