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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

July 12, 2006

Dave Bard

California Requests Full Protection For Its Roadless National Forests

Governor Schwarzenegger Joins Bipartisan Effort to Protect America's Last Wild Lands

[See below for resources and supporting documents]

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Tahoe National Forest, Calif. Today, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger submitted a petition to the Bush administration for complete protection of all roadless areas within California's national forests. The governor also appealed four Southern California national forest plans that opened almost 90 percent of the roadless areas on those lands to logging, road construction and other forms of development.

In May 2005, the administration repealed the enormously popular 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule in its entirety, replacing it with a voluntary state petition process. As a result, millions of acres of the nation's last wild forests have no federal protections and are now at risk. The administration's reversal of the 2001 rule opened up one-third of America's national forest land to road construction, commercial logging, oil and gas drilling, mining exploration and other forms of development. Governors are now forced to submit petitions if they wish to protect roadless areas in their states.

"Protecting our national forests should not be a partisan act," said Phil Clapp, president, National Environmental Trust. "Nor should our governors have to devote their time and resources to do so. But now, the only way to preserve America's last wild lands is for our governors to petition the federal government to provide these areas with the protection they deserve. By helping to save those national forests established by such Democratic and Republican presidents as R, Teddy Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, Gov. Schwarzenegger is sending a clear signal that partisan politics should not factor into the preservation of our country's greatest national treasures."

Gov. Schwarzenegger joins a growing band of bipartisan governors from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and New Mexico who have already requested complete protection of roadless areas in their states.

Roadless areas play a vital role in California. California's national forests include more than 2,400 lakes and reservoirs, which supply clean drinking water for its citizens and provide both irrigation water and grazing lands for farmers; 13,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, 1,200 miles of designated wild and scenic rivers which provide critical habitat for wildlife; and 10,500 miles of maintained trails for hiking, horseback riding and off-road vehicle use.

"If we want to preserve the quality of life in our country and ensure the future of these natural treasures, these areas need to remain wild and roadless," said Robert C. Vandermark, director, Heritage Forest Campaign. "The fate of the roadless areas still remains uncertain and should not be left to the whims of partisan politics. Our national forests deserve better than that. We urge the administration to quickly approve this request and to reinstate protection for all roadless areas."


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