|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FEBRUARY 25, 2005
|CONTACT: Wilderness Society
Lawsuit Filed Against New National Forest Rules
Bush Administration Regulations Reverse Decades of Progress in Forest Management, Eliminate Wildlife and Natural Resource Protections
WASHINGTON -- February 25 -- A coalition of conservation groups lodged a complaint today in Federal District Court in San Francisco challenging the Bush administrations new rules for managing the nations 192 million acre National Forest System, a magnificent network of forests and grasslands in 42 states that encompasses 8 percent of the country. The challenged regulations are supposed to govern activities on all national forests and ensure the protection of wildlife and the environment, but the Bush administration has watered them down to the point where they are virtually meaningless.
Earthjustice represents Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and Vermont Natural Resources Council as they challenge these regulations on the following grounds:
The nations forests and the people who own them deserve better than this, said Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife. We are hopeful the courts will send these rules back to the industry lobbyists who wrote them, stamped illegal.
The new Bush forest rules arent rules at all theyre more like suggestions. They turn forest management to mush, mocking the intent of Congress and undermining public participation in the process, said Trent Orr, an attorney with Earthjustice. Agencies need leadership and clear guidance, not this wink and a nod that encourages the exploitation of the publics resources.
Some basic protections for non-timber resources like wildlife and water made sense to the Reagan administration, which put them in place, said Mike Anderson of The Wilderness Society. But this administration just went on a search and destroy mission for any environmental safeguard that might stand between the administrations industry donors and the publics trees.
The Bush administration is eliminating national forest wildlife protections that have been in place and effective for decades, said Sean Cosgrove, forest policy specialist with the Sierra Club. Americans want to protect the places where they hike, hunt, and fish, not turn them over to the logging companies.
Local conservation groups are concerned and have joined this legal challenge. The ramifications of the new regulations may be felt in Vermont, where the Forest Service is updating a plan to manage the Green Mountain National Forest. The regulations seemingly instruct the Forest Service to ignore the monitoring of wildlife species that Vermonters and visitors value and cherish, said Jamey Fidel of the Vermont Natural Resources Council.
The complaint is being filed as a supplement to a lawsuit filed by the same plaintiffs in November against a related rule more specifically attacking national forest wildlife and other resource protections. The lawsuit is Defenders of Wildlife v. Johanns, and was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
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