The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

429 2692

The Wilderness Society praises momentous speech by Secretary of Agriculture

Vilsack states that restoring health of forests and watersheds is top priority


The Wilderness Society today
praised U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack after he outlined the Obama
administration's vision
for greatly improving the way forests are
managed. Following are highlights of Vilsack's remarks and reaction to
those points by The Wilderness Society. All comments are from Mike Anderson, the Seattle-based attorney and senior
resource analyst for The Wilderness Society.

Vilsack on Subject of Restoration: Stated that restoration will be the
guiding principle of forest management under the Obama administration.

TWS Reaction: "It was a momentous occasion to see a secretary
of agriculture state that restoring forests will be the top priority for the
Forest Service. He recognized the connection between healthy forests and
healthy communities. Investing in our forests today will pay countless
dividends in the future. First and foremost, it will safeguard supplies of
clean drinking water."

Vilsack on Forest

Announced that the administration will not appeal the June 30, 2009 court
ruling that invalidated President Bush's 2008 National Forest Management
Act (NFMA) planning rule. (The
court found
that the 2008 rule violated the National Environmental Policy
Act and the Endangered Species Act.) He also said that he is instructing the
Forest Service to develop a new forest planning rule that will emphasize

TWS Reaction: "We are especially pleased that
the administration decided to refrain from appealing the court ruling that invalidated
the Bush administration's forest planning rule. That decision by a federal court
in California
gave a huge victory to wildlife and public involvement by negating Bush's
attempts to roll back protections for forests."

Vilsack on the Roadless Rule: Reaffirmed yesterday's
that the Obama administration will appeal an injunction placed
on the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule by a federal district court judge
in Wyoming.
He also said that if the courts aren't able to resolve roadless rule
conflicts, the Obama administration will initiate a new roadless rule process.

TWS Reaction: "President Obama and
Secretary Vilsack have clearly recognize that roadless forests play a vital
role in providing recreational opportunities for people, protecting habitat for
wildlife, and providing a defense against global warming."

Since 1935, The Wilderness Society has led the conservation movement in wilderness protection, writing and passing the landmark Wilderness Act and winning lasting protection for 107 million acres of Wilderness, including 56 million acres of spectacular lands in Alaska, eight million acres of fragile desert lands in California and millions more throughout the nation.