National Environmental Trust- Bush Administration Ends Safeguards for Pristine National Forests; Aim is Logging, Mining, Drilling Conservationists Charge
Today the Bush Administration announced that it was ending protections for roadless portions of National Forests. The plan drew blunt criticism from environmentalists, members of Congress and Governor Bill Richardson (NM), all of whom say it will lead to logging, mining and oil drilling in an ever-shrinking portion of National Forests that remain wild and pristine. The Bush plan strikes down the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which restricted roadbuilding and resource extraction on 58.5 million acres of Federal forestland in 38 states known as roadless areas.
"This takes us straight back to the early 1990's, when the National Forests were managed as nothing more than tree lots for the timber industry," said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust
Environmentalists charge that today's action completes the Administration's abandonment of a promise it made to uphold the Roadless Rule.
-- On May 4, 2001, the Bush Administration held a press conference announcing its commitment to upholding the rule.
-- Months later, a former timber industry lobbyist, Mark Rey, was appointed as Undersecretary of Natural Resources at USDA to oversee the Forest Service.
-- In the years since the Administration made its promise to uphold the Roadless Rule, extractive industries donated heavily to the Bush presidential campaign. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, President Bush received more than $9.5 million in campaign contributions from energy and agribusiness interests in the 2004 election cycle.
-- Last July, the Administration announced its intention to repeal to rule.
-- As of today, the safeguards for roadless areas are no longer in effect.
"The Administration's plan will trigger an avalanche of litigation as the public fight to protect its cherished remaining wildlands," said Jim Angell, an attorney with EarthJustice.
"The Department of Agriculture stated two goals when they initiated this process: to protect roadless areas, and to end the controversy surrounding their future. The only thing that is certain about the Kafkaesque policy announced today is that neither of those was accomplished," said Chris Wood, vice president of Conservation with Trout Unlimited.
Earthjustice -Bush Administration Replaces Key Forest Protection with Treeless Plan; Administration aims to reopen key undisturbed national forest lands to development
Today the Bush administration announced the formal repeal of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which was issued by the U.S. Forest Service in January 2001 to protect the last remaining wildlands in our national forest system. The rule placed 58.5 million acres of the national forest off-limits to virtually all road building and logging. Hunters, fishermen, conservation groups and millions of regular Americans considered it one of the greatest forest conservation measures in U.S. history
"We're trying to protect the kind of natural forest areas where the ivory-billed woodpecker was miraculously re discovered last week after 60 years.
"We intend to carry our legal efforts forward to save these unique natural areas in our forests. They are extremely valuable because they provide our cities and towns with clean drinking water and provide homes for America's wildlife.
"Hunters, fishermen and millions of Americans who enjoy America's great outdoors have been asking us to please continue our efforts to protect these special natural areas in our forests from the bulldozers and chainsaws.
"We think the court will be interested in hearing the views of the millions of Americans who have loudly voiced their support for protecting these last, very special natural areas. The Bush White House is fundamentally wrong to target and tear down our last great American natural forest areas.
"What's at stake are national forests that belong to all Americans. It's been clear since 2001 that the Bush administration has been representing the views of their industry supporters, not the American people. It's been equally clear that we've been representing the views of most Americans who favor protection for our forests.
"EPA professionals have tried to warn the administration that their roadbuilding and clearcutting plan for our national forests will cause water pollution problems for many small communities around the nation. Unfortunately these professionals have been silenced by high political appointees in the Bush administration. The Bush plan also increases the risk of wild fires in our forests."
Heritage Forests Campaign- Administration Puts Our Last Wild National Forests at Risk; Statement of Robert Vandermark, Heritage Forests Campaign
Yesterday 58.5 million acres of ever-dwindling pristine National Forests in this country were protected for all, and today the Bush Administration has deliberately placed them on an endangered list. Millions of acres of our last wild forests are now immediately at risk. Theodore Roosevelt must be rolling in his grave. This leave no tree behind policy shreds paves the way for increased logging and mining in much of the nation's last wild areas.
Four years ago, this Administration made a promise to the American people to uphold the protection of these last wild areas, but almost as soon as that promise was made, they began dismantling National Forest safeguards for political ends. More than $9 million in Bush campaign contributions from energy and agribusiness have paid off.
The American people have spoken loud and clear on this issue - protect these valuable national treasures. Instead, this new policy masterfully executes the agenda of special interests, allowing timber companies to write forest plans that turn majestic national treasures into tree farms. National Forests deserve national protection, and should not be subject to the whims of local politics and Federal political cronies.
Politics aside, there are practical and fiscal problems with the plan. America's National Forests are currently covered with 386,000 miles of roads - enough to encircle the earth 15 times and the Forest Service currently has a $10 billion maintenance backlog on those roads. At this time of massive budget deficits, and a massive road maintenance backlog in our forests, the Forest Service should be making "no roads" the status quo and placing the burden of proof on those who wish to build, not on those who wish to protect. The Bush Administration is asking taxpayers to dig deeper into their wallets to build even more roads to nowhere.
Nancy Pelosi- Bush Administration's New Regulation Repeal Roadless Rule
"With the release of new forest regulations today, the Bush Administration has completed its slow but thorough evisceration of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Developed by President Clinton to protect 58 million acres of road-free areas in our national forests, and supported overwhelmingly by the public, the roadless rule was intended to protect recreation, wildlife, and sources of drinking water in our national forests.
"President Bush's approach to our national forests is a perfect example of his policies on environmental protection - say the right thing, do the opposite. Early in his presidency, the Bush Administration announced their support for President Clinton's roadless rule. Since then they failed to defend the rule from the lawsuits of the timber industry, and in fact worked hand in hand with opponents to overturn the rule in court.
"Today the Bush Administration is issuing new regulations that in effect repeal the roadless rule. Soon the logging trucks will be able to roll into the roadless sections of national forests around the country. At every step of the way, the Bush Administration has given lip service to protecting our forests, while working vigorously to open them to logging and mining."