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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

September 20, 2006

Dave Bard, 202.486.4426
John Anthony, 202.277.2103

Federal District Court Decision Reinstates 2001 National Forest Protections

Gov. Risch Moves Forward With Industry-Friendly Proposal Anyway

Washington, D.C. Despite a sweeping court decision this morning which threw the current petition process squarely into legal jeopardy, Gov. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) today put forth a plan that would open up the majority of Idaho's last wild forests to commercial development. Risch is the first governor to support road building, logging and mining within roadless areas in national forests.

"Today's ruling takes management of these public lands out of the hands of special interests and gives it back to the public, who made it resoundingly clear that these lands should remain intact," said Robert C. Vandermark, director, Heritage Forests Campaign. "Proposals such as the one rolled out by Governor Risch spotlight the urgent need for a comprehensive national policy to safeguard and responsibly manage these precious national resources."

As noted in today's decision, the Bush rule did not ensure that endangered species, such as grizzly bears, gray wolves and bald eagles that depend upon roadless area habitat, would be protected. Idaho's roadless areas contain some of most productive fishing opportunities in the western United States and protect one the longest and most liberal big game hunting seasons in the country. According to the latest data (2001) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey, hunters and anglers annually pump more than $542 million into the state's economy. That is almost $630 million in today's dollars.

"America's national forests and those who champion their protection won a great victory in court today," said Phil Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust. "It's regrettable that Governor Risch insists on turning his back to Idaho's heritage, missing yet another chance to protect pristine forest land cherished by so many from Idaho and across the country."

In May 2005, the Bush administration repealed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, replacing it with a voluntary state petition process. From that time until today, millions of acres of national forest land had no federal protections and were at risk to road construction, commercial logging, oil and gas drilling, and mining exploration. Today's court ruling mandates than any on-going development and extractive operations within the acreage protected under the 2001 Rule must cease immediately.


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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.

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