Heritage Forests Campaign Once They're Gone, They're Gone Forever

WASHINGTON – On the heels of proposals to allow snowmobiles in western national parks and rollbacks of major clean air safeguards, the Bush Administration today proposed National Forest Management Act (NFMA) regulations that restrict public participation, and leave roadless areas vulnerable to unregulated logging and road-building projects.

“The Bush Administration is returning favors to its campaign contributors by giving the oil, timber, and gas industry easy access to our national forests,” said Rob Vandermark, of the Heritage Forests Campaign. “The revised forest planning regulations are a backhanded way for the Administration to undermine roadless protection that the public has called for again and again.”

The revised NFMA regulations weaken environmental and wildlife protections on 155 million acres of national forest land and eliminate specific protections for roadless areas. Under the new regulations forest plans are exempted from environmental impact statements at the discretion of local forests managers and citizen participation is restricted.

“Without environmental protections, our national forests can be used and abused. The timber industry obviously has no problem logging its way through every inch of our forests, but the American people want our last unroaded forests protected,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, U.S. PIRG.

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects 58.5 million acres of national forest lands from most commercial logging and road-building, was crafted after years of scientific analysis and 600 public hearings. The Forest Service has received more than 2.2 million comments from the American people nationwide in favor of the rule.

“The Bush Administration is systematically cutting the public out of the process,” said Sittenfeld. “They continue to ignore millions of Americans who have called for roadless protection; the last thing they should do is limit our ability to even comment.”

Despite public support and a commitment from Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman to provide roadless protection, the Bush Administration has failed to implement the rule. Had the roadless rule been implemented as written, roadless areas would be protected withstanding changes to NFMA regulations.

“It is time for the Administration to stand up to the special interests and listen to the millions of Americans who want their last undeveloped forests protected,” said Vandermark.

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Contact: Tony Iallonardo, NET
(202) 887-8855

The Heritage Forests Campaign is an alliance of conservationists, wildlife advocates, clergy, educators, scientists, and other Americans working together to uphold protection of our National Forests. Heritage Forests Campaign's partners include Alaska Rainforest Coalition, American Hiking Society, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, National Environmental Trust, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, US PIRG, and The Wilderness Society.

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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

November 27, 2002

Bush Administration Accelerates Post-Election Environmental Assault

Roadless Areas at Risk, Public Cut Out of the Process

Photos of Forests