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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

August 6, 2003

National Forest "Whistle Stop" Tour Calls On Bush Administration To Save America’s Pristine Forests

Tour Comes In The Midst Of Proposals To Log In Alaska and Idaho

WASHINGTON The Heritage Forests Campaign’s 24-city Whistle Stop tour pulled into its final stop today urging the Bush administration to keep its promise to protect America’s last wild forests by upholding the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The tour coincides with a public comment period on the administration’s proposal to allow for logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest. Today’s event also comes on the heels of the Bush administration’s new proposal to designate roadless areas in Southwest Idaho for logging.

"If the Bush administration is willing to log America’s largest rainforest, located right in my backyard, your national forest could be next," said Shoren Brown, forest organizer for the Heritage Forests Campaign. Brown is a resident of Juneau, AK, and led the Whistle Stop Tour along with three others. "By allowing logging in pristine Idaho and Alaska forests, the administration is selling out America’s natural heritage."

Despite a pledge made by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in May 2001, to uphold the roadless rule, the administration recently proposed exempting Alaska’s Tongass and Chugach National Forests from rule officially clearing the way for 50 large-scale timber sales. The administration also proposed allowing governors to opt out of the rule. In its first forest plans released since the changes were proposed, the administration opened up nearly 3/4 of roadless areas in Southwest Idaho to various forms of logging.

"It is clear from our travels that Americans value our last wild places, and they want the Bush administration to stop allowing big oil, gas, and timber companies to rewrite protections for these places," said Paul Hutter, forest organizer for the Heritage Forests Campaign. Hutter is a resident of Bend, OR.

The roadless rule protects 58.5 million acres of pristine forest from most commercial activity, and was adopted in January 2001 following years of scientific study, hundreds of public hearings across the country, and more than 1.6 million comments. To date, the Forest Service has received 2.2 million comments on the rule 95% in favor of roadless protection. This outpouring of public participation is ten times greater than that of any other federal rulemaking in history.

From high-altitude aspen wilderness to low-lying grasslands, roadless areas encompass a cross section of pristine forest land, and are the last remaining strongholds for grizzly bears, wolves, elk, salmon, and trout. Every year millions of Americans hike, fish and hunt in our national forests and live off the clean drinking water from the forest headwaters and streams.

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Learn more about the Heritage Forests Campaign’s Whistle Stop Tour.

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

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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