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December 15, 2010

Elyssa Rosen, 775-224-7497

Holiday ad asks Obama to protect national forests

Pew and partners call for federal rules that “stand the test of time”

WASHINGTON - As the Obama administration develops sweeping new national forest management rules due early in 2011, an ad campaign starting tomorrow from the Pew Environment Group and 11 other national and regional environmental organizations makes a holiday push for a strong plan to protect America’s national forests.

With a festive ad in Politico and National Journal Daily this week featuring a “holiday wish,” the organizations call for strong standards for water quality and wildlife protection, and a commitment to scientific review. Accompanying the ad are letters to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack from grassroots organizations and leaders in 10 states, and 10,000 holiday cards to the White House and agency leadership.

“President Obama has an opportunity to present the American public with a legacy that will stand the test of time: strong protections for our national forests,” said Jane Danowitz, U.S. public lands program director for the Pew Environment Group. “If well-protected, our national forests will be the gift that keeps on giving – providing clean water for millions of people, a safe home for fish and wildlife, and a natural resource for future generations.”

According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report, national forests and grasslands sustain 223,000 jobs in rural areas and contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. National forest roadless areas are the source of drinking water for more than 60 million Americans. In announcing the new rule-making, Secretary Vilsack said that “developing a new planning rule provides the opportunity to manage national forests and grasslands for the benefit of water resources, the climate and local communities."

The Obama administration is developing the rules under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the law that governs most Forest Service activity, and expects to issue a proposal as early as January. The proposal would replace current NFMA rules originally developed in 1982 and would apply to 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands in 44 states.

To view a copy of the ad from Colorado Environmental Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, League of Conservation Voters, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Oregon Wild, Pew Environment Group, Sierra Club, Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, Southern Environmental Law Center, The Wilderness Society, and Washington Wilderness Coalition, click here (PDF).

The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.

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Read PDFs of the letters from state conservation groups to Secretary Vilsack:

Photos of Forests