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.
The following statement is by Earthjustice attorney Jim Angell who presented arguments to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver yesterday defending the Roadless Rule.
“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.”