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December 8, 1999

DC Area Residents to Speak Out at Landmark Forest Hearing

Proposed Plan to Protect Wild Areas in nearby George Washington, Thomas Jefferson National Forests Up for Public Comment at Forest Service Roadless Public Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C.---Washington area residents will have their chance to comment on President Clinton's proposed plan to permanently protect as much as 60 million acres of wild, undeveloped "roadless" areas in National Forests Thursday night, Dec. 9 at the last of 10 regional hearings on the plan.
It is unusual for the U.S. Forest Service to include Washington in these types of public meetings. "These public regional meetings reflect an unprecedented commitment by the agency to involve all interested parties in developing a final roadless protection policy," said Ken Rait, director of the Heritage Forests Campaign.

In the first three months of 1997 alone, the Forest Service heard from more than 80,000 citizens with the overwhelming majority expressing their desire for permanent protection of all remaining national forest roadless areas. A total of 10 regional meetings were scheduled around the country with the final one here in the Washington D.C. area. Previous meetings were held in Atlanta, Portland, Sacramento, Albuquerque, Denver, Missoula, Juneau, Milwaukee, and Salt Lake City.

More than 2,000 people have attended the nine meetings held so far, and the speakers testifying have supported President Clinton's proposal by a margin of more than nine-to-one. At each meeting, those who wished to speak were assigned a number. Forest Service officials then selected speakers randomly from those who registered to speak. In city after city, public support for permanent protection of national forest roadless areas was simply overwhelming.

WHO: U.S. Forest Service and Washington Area Residents

WHAT: National Forests Roadless Public Hearing
The roadless protection plan was announced by President Clinton on Oct. 3, 1999. President Clinton directed the Forest Service to launch a rulemaking process to determine how to protect up to 60 million acres of wild, undeveloped roadless areas, including those in the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson national forests in Western Virginia and the Alleghany National Forest in nearby Pennsylvania.

WHERE: The meeting is schedule to be held at the Arlington Hyatt at 1325 Wilson Blvd. beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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