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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

California Wilderness Coalition " Defenders of Wildlife " Environment California " National Environmental Trust " Natural Resources Defense Council " Sierra Club " Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign " The Wilderness Society

July 11, 2006

Ryan Henson, California Wilderness Coalition: (530) 246-3087
Amy Mall, Natural Resources Defense Council: (202) 841-1542
Carl Zichella, Sierra Club: (916) 837-7127

Governor Takes a Stand to Protect California's Roadless Areas

Appeal of Southern California Forest Management Plans Announced

[See below for resources and supporting documents]

larger version

Sacramento Governor Schwarzenegger announced today he is petitioning the U.S. Forest Service to develop specific rules for protecting roadless areas in California's national forests. The announcement makes California the fifth state (and second with a Republican governor) to join the national, bipartisan effort to secure roadless protections for some of the wildest and most valuable areas in our national forests.

"California's conservation community applauds Governor Schwarzenegger for his actions on behalf of the state's roadless national forests," said Ryan Henson, Policy Director of the California Wilderness Coalition. "The governor has done the right thing for our remaining wild areas."

The governor's petition requests that the U.S. Forest Service work with the state to develop a federal rule to protect California's most important sources of clean drinking water, wildlife habitat, recreation areas, and wildlands. The voluntary state petition process replaced the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule that provided national balanced protections for roadless areas across the country. As a result of this repeal, millions of acres of the nation's last wild forests are now at risk. California's national forests contain 4.4 million roadless acres 21 percent of their acreage.

"Roadless areas play a vital role in California. Our cities and towns depend on these areas for clean drinking water," said Dan Jacobson, Legislative Director for Environment California. "They provide both irrigation water and grazing lands for our farmers, and critical habitat for a variety of fisheries and wildlife. Hunting, outfitting, hiking, horse back riding, camping, wildlife watching, and all sorts of family recreation flourish in California's unroaded public lands."

"Californians overwhelmingly want these areas protected, and today Governor Schwarzenegger is sending this message loud and clear, from the redwood forests to Washington, D.C." said Sami Yassa, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Forest Initiative.

In addition to announcing the roadless petition, the Governor stated he would appeal the Forest Service's management plans for Southern California's four national forests, released last September. Those plans have been widely criticized for neglecting to address challenges that threaten natural and recreational values and failing to protect roadless areas in the Angeles, San Bernardino, Cleveland and Los Padres National Forests. The four forests contain 25 percent of California's National Forest roadless areas.

"The Governor's stand in support of roadless area protection will help safeguard many of California's natural treasures, like old growth redwoods and Sequoias, wild rivers, and essential habitat for imperiled wildlife such as the California condor, Pacific fisher, and Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep," stated Kim Delfino, California Program Director of Defenders of Wildlife.

"Governor Schwarzenegger's action today is a boost for wildland protections across the country. We believe other Governors are likely to follow his lead," said Carl Zichella, Regional Staff Director for the Sierra Club.

To date the governors of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and New Mexico have petitioned the administration for the complete protection of roadless areas in their states.


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