Heritage Forests Campaign News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2006
Frank Robey: (207) 928-2161
Jim Sconyers, NH Sierra Club: (603) 969-6712
Sean Cosgrove, Sierra Club: (202) 675-2382
Steve Holmer, Unified Forest Defense Campaign: (202) 429-2647
Robert Vandermark, Heritage Forest Campaign: (202) 887-8800
Group Aims to Stop First Sale in Roadless Area East of Mississippi
Sierra Club Moves to Protect Prized White Mountain National Forest
New Hampshire Highlighting the shortage of wild, roadless forests in New England, the Sierra Club today challenged the Bush administration's proposal to move forward with the Than Brook Timber Sale on New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest. The controversial timber sale is the first project proposed in a roadless area in the Eastern U.S. since the administration rescinded the Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2001 that protected the nation's last intact forests.
"If we care about the overall health of New Hampshire's forest landscape, we need to protect the few roadless forest areas that we have left," said Jim Sconyers, Conservation Chair for the New Hampshire Sierra Club. "The Than Brook timber sale is completely out of step with science, common sense and the wishes of the citizens of New Hampshire."
The Than Brook Project, approved by the Forest Service on May 16 would log 473 acres of forest and build roads within the Wild River Roadless Area of New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest. At 71,387 acres, Wild River is the largest National Forest inventoried roadless area East of the Rocky Mountains, and it is prized in part because it comprises a complete, pristine watershed.
The widely supported 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule protected Wild River along with the last unroaded 58.5 million acres of national forests nationwide from most logging, road-building and other development. A weaker policy was put in place last year, which requires governors to petition the Forest Service if they wish for roadless protection in their states and erases the original, nationwide protections. Several states, including Maine, have complained that the new system is a poor substitute for the original protection.
Conservation groups also noted that the Bush administration broke its promise that roadless forests would be protected while the state-petitioning process was underway. According to Mark Rey, Undersecretary Natural Resources and Environment, in a letter written to the New York Times on Sept. 9, 2005, "We are providing interim protection to roadless areas, pending the development of state-specific rules provided for in our 2005 rulemaking." Despite that promise, nearly two dozen logging projects in roadless areas four in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest alone are currently moving forward. These projects are the subject of a recent report by the Heritage Forests Campaign titled "Broken Ground".
"These new projects are examples of the very of thing that was feared when the Bush administration repealed the most popular conservation rule in U.S. history the destruction of America's last wild forests one state at a time," said Robert Vandermark, director of the Heritage Forest Campaign. "Piecemeal protections will only lead to more logging, more mining and more road building. Our national forests deserve better than this."
The Than Project is the first of four new commercial logging and road construction proposals within inventoried roadless areas on the White Mountain National Forest. The other three include:
- The Batchelder Brook Timber Sale - 171 acres of commercial logging in the South Carr Mountain Roadless Area
- The Wildwood Timber Sale - 552 acres of commercial logging in the Jobildunk Roadless Area
- The Mill Brook Timber Sale - 1,796 acres of commercial logging and .9 miles road building in Kilkenny Roadless Area
The Sierra Club and its New Hampshire Chapter are joined on the appeal by The Wilderness Society, Forest Watch and Frank Robey. The appeal was filed with the Forest Service's Eastern Region in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A copy of the appeal is available here. Forest Service documents can be found here and project area photos can be viewed here.