Washington, DC -- On the 8th anniversary of the historic Roadless Area Conservation Rule, Congressional leaders and forest conservationists ask President-elect Obama to take quick action to protect America’s last wild forests from road-building, logging, mining and drilling. With recent uncertainty in the courts, the new administration must uphold and defend the Roadless Rule in all national forests if these lands are to remain intact for future generations. In merely eight days Mr. Obama will have the opportunity to secure protections for these pristine wild lands.
“As we enter this historic period of change, we can learn from other visionary leaders of our past, such as President Theodore Roosevelt. A century ago he created the national forest system, knowing that pristine forests are national treasures that should belong to all Americans, not special interests.” said U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.).
"In the Pacific Northwest, our public lands and parks are some of the most scenic and pristine in the country. Protecting these pristine lands has been a priority of mine since being elected to Congress, and I will continue to do all I can to ensure their preservation for future generations,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D- Wash.).
This spring, Alaska’s Tongass National Forest could be the first casualty as towering old-growth stands are opened to commercial logging. The Tongass National Forest is the crown jewel of our national forest system and the largest temperate rainforest in the world. Without the protections of the roadless rule, this rainforest will be criss-crossed with clear-cuts and logging roads. Development is likely to follow in forests across the country unless immediate action is taken to preserve all roadless forests.
"The Tongass and the few remaining protected areas of our national forests are irreplaceable sanctuaries for America's wildlife," said Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Without swift action, logging could begin in the Tongass as early as this spring. We need to act quickly to end the Roadless Rule exception in the Tongass and preserve America's rainforests for future generations."
“Eight years ago, millions of Americans made their voices heard and demanded protections for our last wild forests,” said Margie Alt, Executive Director of Environment America. “Those Americans and the wild places, trees and wildlife they love are counting on President-elect Barack Obama to permanently protect our remaining roadless areas for future generations.”
The Clinton administration’s Roadless Rule protects 58.5 million acres of wild national forests from road-building, logging and other harmful development. America’s roadless forests provide vital habitat for 1,500 wildlife species, safeguard drinking water supplies for 60 million Americans and ensure quality recreation for millions of hikers, fishermen and hunters.
“The Roadless Rule is key to protecting our most pristine forests,” said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “With global warming threatening more of America's wildlife each day, it's critical that we safeguard what's left of the forests that provide a home to animals like grizzlies, elk, and wolves.”
Conservation leaders look forward to working with President-elect Obama to ensure our natural heritage is around for future generations.
“There’s a strong coalition in Congress that would support the administration taking action to protect our nation’s forests. I would support full implementation of the Roadless Rule,” Inslee concluded.