WASHINGTON - September 13 - Today The Wilderness Society is launching an online campaign to protest the Bush Administration’s decision to repeal the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The campaign website, http://www.wilderness.org/roadless, encourages visitors to sign a petition urging the Secretary of Agriculture, Michael Johanns, to revoke the decision to roll back the Roadless Rule. Visitors to the site can sign the Citizen’s Petition for a National Rule to Protect National Forest Roadless Areas and find out more information about the effects of this dangerous policy on our National Forests.
“Make no mistake about it, this policy means that nearly one-third of our precious national forest land may now be opened to new and destructive activities, like logging and oil and gas drilling,” said senior policy analyst, Mike Anderson.
In January of 2001, after nearly three years of analysis and the greatest public outreach in the history of federal rulemaking, the U.S. Forest Service adopted the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which seeks to conserve 58.5 million acres of roadless forests. The Roadless Rule is not only one of the most significant public lands measures of the last century, but it’s also one of the most popular. More than a million comments were submitted in favor of the original rule. However, the Bush Administration has failed to enforce this policy, and has now taken steps to completely dismantle it.
“Under the Roadless Rule, Americans were assured that the last pristine forests would be preserved,” said Michael Francis, national forests program director. “This decision makes it very unlikely that future generations will see these forests in the same unspoiled condition they are in today.”
One example of a roadless area at risk is the Cherokee Park Roadless Area of Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado. Cherokee Park's 7,800 acres include 600 acres of old growth spruce-fir, as well as grassy lowland meadows and ponds, which serve as critical elk calving grounds. The proposed Sheep Creek Timber Sale would invade part of the Cherokee Park Roadless Area where prescribed burning, pre-commercial thinning, and clearcutting would take place. Cherokee Park's remarkable variety of scenic terrain and habitat and their proximity to Fort Collins offer Front Range residents a rare opportunity to visit some of the last remaining wild lands near Colorado's urban centers.