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For Immediate Release, February 20, 2009

Contact: Mollie Matteson, Center for Biological Diversity, (802)-434-2388 (office); (802)-318-1487 (cell)

Forest Service Denies Appeal to Uphold Roadless Protection and
Protect Wildlife Habitat and Climate in White Mountain National Forest

RICHMOND, Vt.— On February 17, the U.S. Forest Service denied an appeal by conservation groups seeking to halt logging and road construction in the Kilkenny Roadless Area in the White Mountain National Forest. The appeal, filed in early January by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Vermont and New Hampshire chapters of the Sierra Club, opposed the Mill Brook Project, a proposed timber sale in a protected area of the forest in northern New Hampshire.

At issue is a national rule, enacted during the Clinton administration, which mandates the protection of national forest roadless areas nationwide. The conservationists say that in addition to unlawfully intruding in a roadless area, the timber sale will degrade wildlife habitat crucial for rare and wide-ranging species and for those stressed by climate change, such as lynx and American marten.

“Once more, officials at the White Mountain National Forest prove just how out of touch they are with both conservation science and the desires of the American people,” said Mollie Matteson, conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “National forest roadless area protection has immense popular support, in New England and nationwide. How long is this agency going to keep its head in the sand?”

One of the leading issues raised in the conservationists’ appeal, in addition to roadless area protection, was the need to consider the climate change implications of clearcutting and other logging techniques.

“There is mounting evidence that climate change is already having an effect on New England’s wildlife and forests. Species are shifting their ranges; some are just disappearing from places they used to be,” said Matteson. “Furthermore, cutting trees, especially the big, old ones that characterize roadless areas, releases carbon dioxide. Disturbing precious wildlife habitat in roadless areas and simultaneously adding to greenhouse gas emissions makes absolutely no sense.”

The Forest Service has already commenced logging in two other roadless areas on the Forest: the Wild River roadless area and the South Carr Mountain roadless area (see photos below). Late last year, the Forest Service finalized a decision to log in a fourth roadless area, known as Sandwich 4. It is located next to the Kancamagus National Scenic Byway and the Sandwich Range Wilderness. The conservation groups are awaiting the Forest Service’s decision on their appeal of that timber sale, called “Kanc 7.” The agency has indicated that virtually all future timber sales on the national forest will include roadless areas. The Caribou area, in western Maine, is among those likely to be targeted soon.

“Some individual national forests, still operating in a 19th-century, timber-cutting mindset and embroiled in local politics, are not able to see the national significance of protecting our last remaining roadless lands,” said Matteson. “The actions of the White Mountain National Forest illustrate perfectly why the protections of the Roadless Rule were established in the first place.”

South Carr Mountain Inventoried Roadless Area, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire.
Stand 39/11, before and after logging on the Batchelder Brook Timber Sale, 2008.

Wild River Inventoried Roadless Area, White Mountain National Forest,
Unit 15, before and after logging on the Than Brook Timber Sale, 2008.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 200,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Northeast office of the Center is in Richmond, Vermont.

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