"With today's introduction of the National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act the American people reclaim the forest conservation legacy they forged nearly two years ago. The National Forest Roadless Area Conservation rule is quite simply the most widely supported forest conservation measure in our lifetime. Americans from across the country submitted more than 2.3 million comments on this policy. The overwhelming majority of those commenting support the roadless policy. The Act introduced today provides protection for 58.5 million acres of pristine national forest lands. These lands ultimately provide drinking water to millions of Americans and contain some of the best remaining fish and wildlife habitat in the entire national forest system. Americans understand that these areas are important to safeguard for future generations.
"Unfortunately, big timber corporations and other development interests have the ear of the Bush administration. Each step the administration has taken over the past year has been calculated to undermine protections sought for these areas. From their utter failure to defend the roadless policy in court to the Forest Service's announcement on May 16 that they prefer not to protect a single new acre in Alaska's magnificent Tongass Rainforest as wilderness, the administration has shown how hollow their rhetoric of protecting 'roadless values' really is.
"On behalf of Earthjustice, I want to extend our sincere appreciation to the bi-partisan coalition led by Representatives Jay Inslee and Sherwood Boehlert who are introducing the National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act with more than 170 original cosponsors. It is noteworthy that this effort began with 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans who came together to act on the American public's strong desire to protect these wild forests. I would also like to thank Representatives Nick Rahall, Jim Greenwood, Maurice Hinchey, Connie Morella, George Miller, Eva Clayton, Jim Leach, Nancy Johnson, David Wu, and Stephen Horn for their leadership on this important issue as well. We look forward to working with all of the cosponsors to enact the Inslee-Boehlert bill so that the will of the American people, rather than that of the corporate interests, will be the law of the land."