More than 250,000 Americans from every state today petitioned the Bush Administration to reinstate federal protection for 58.5 million acres of pristine national forests across the nation.
Buck Parker, Earthjustice executive director, said that the petition asks the Bush Administration to undo its earlier repeal of a Forest Service regulation that protected the remaining undeveloped national forest lands for recreation, water quality and wildlife. The filing of the petition coincides with the introduction of legislation by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) that would protect the same areas by statute.
"As the petitions again demonstrate," said Parker, "the earlier regulation protecting these lands, known as the Roadless Rule, enjoyed broad public support from the moment it was proposed in 1998—indeed, 95 percent of the people who submitted formal comments on the original proposal supported it."
"In 2005 the Bush Administration repealed the Roadless Rule and its prohibitions on most new road construction, logging and other development of these remaining wild lands. That decision eliminated an important layer of protection for much of the nation's best remaining fish and wildlife habitat and sources of clean water for over 60 million Americans.
"Earthjustice has filed suit on behalf of 20 conservation groups challenging the Bush Administration's action, as have the states of California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. We are working closely with the states, and with the states of Montana and Maine, which are also supporting our suits. The national forests were created to ensure national protection of lands treasured by all Americans, and we intend to maintain that legacy and tradition."