Tucson, AZ – A detrimental Bush Administration policy was reversed by the U.S. Forest Service today, in an effort to save some of the last, wild National Forests roadless areas in the country.
Signed into law by President Clinton in 2001, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule is one of the largest conservation measures in history. Originally, it protected 58.5 million acres of undeveloped wild forests throughout the country.
The Rule has since faced legal and administrative challenges, and recent court decisions make its fate uncertain. In 2005, the Bush Administration issued a state by state process for protecting these last wild forests, but that policy was found to be illegal.
Today’s directive states that no road construction or removal of timber from more than 45 million acres of National Forests protected by the Roadless Area Conservation Rule can take place without approval from the Secretary for one year. This includes inventoried roadless areas in the state of Alaska, but it will not apply to those in the state of Idaho. However, the state of Idaho completed its state by state process under another existing law. As a result, the roadless areas in Idaho are not included in the one year directive announced today.
“As Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, I am committed to supporting policies that preserve our National Forests for the important social and ecological values they provide, said Grijalva. “And today, we are celebrating a major victory for our National Forests. This policy change is in stark contrast to the past eight years. Many of our wild forests will be protected from arrant Bush Administration policies that were potentially moving forward. It also will provide clarity for the Forest Service, while conflicting court decisions are resolved. Today’s action will alleviate the potential risks that inventoried roadless areas face in the short term, while the Obama Administration establishes its long term conservation strategies and policies. I look forward to working with the Administration to achieve this goal.”