For Immediate Release
(802) 434-2388 (office)
Stronger Roadless Area Policy Sought As "Time Out" Policy Expires
RICHMOND, Vt. - A one-year directive on logging and road-building in national forest
roadless areas established by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is
set to expire this Friday. The directive gave the secretary authority
over the management of roadless areas and was hoped to be a de facto
moratorium on roadless development while the Obama administration
determined its roadless area policy. Neither Vilsack nor the U.S.
Forest Service has indicated whether the directive will be extended.
Late last week the Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter
to Secretary Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, requesting
that the “time out” policy be extended and strengthened with
substantive protections for all roadless areas. Under last year’s
directive, the secretary still allowed harmful projects within
inventoried roadless areas, including the logging of an old-growth
forest, construction of a ski resort road, and development of a mine.
Mollie Matteson, a conservation advocate for the Center, says: “Last
year’s directive was seen as a promising interim step, but its actual
implementation failed to fully protect roadless areas. If the directive
isn’t renewed and strengthened, the seriousness of the Obama
administration’s commitment to roadless area protection will clearly be
The Center’s letter states that an
important purpose of last year’s directive was to allow a “break in the
action” of roadless area development while policymakers forged
permanent roadless area protection. An administrative rule by the
Clinton presidency enacted consistent protections for all national
forest roadless areas; that rule was attacked by the Bush
administration, and resulting legal conflicts are still being worked
The Center’s letter points to New
Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest to illustrate how certain
national forests, in the absence of strong and nationally consistent
rules for roadless area protection, will continue logging roadless
areas despite public opinion and science to the contrary. A total of
six roadless logging projects — including clearcutting — have been
proposed on the White Mountain National Forest since the 2005 plan.
“Just this year, more roadless area clearcutting was proposed on the
White Mountain National Forest,” said Matteson. “The only way to stop
the Forest Service from committing such atrocities is for the Obama
administration to enact a strong, nationally consistent roadless policy
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