For Immediate Release, January 21, 2009
Contact: Mollie Matteson, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 434-2388 (office); (802) 318-1487 (cell)
U.S. Forest Service Plans More Clearcuts in White Mountain Roadless Areas;
Conservationists Look to Obama Administration to
Stop Destructive Logging on Protected Public Lands
RICHMOND, Vt.— In the final weeks of the Bush administration, the U.S. Forest Service slipped in one more plan to clearcut in a roadless area on the White Mountain National Forest. Six weeks later, on the morning of Inauguration Day but before the Bush administration left office, conservationists filed what they hope will be their last appeal of a logging project located in a roadless area on any national forest in the country.
The Center for Biological Diversity and the Vermont and New Hampshire Chapters of the Sierra Club submitted their appeal to the U.S. Forest Service, opposing the fourth roadless area logging project to be proposed on the White Mountain National Forest in the span of eighteen months. The Kanc 7 Project, which would rebuild roads and clearcut a portion of the Sandwich 4 roadless area, is located between the Sandwich Range Wilderness and the Kancamagus National Scenic Byway, west of Conway, New Hampshire. Earlier this month, the conservation groups appealed the Mill Brook Project, which targets the Kilkenny roadless area, in the northern section of the national forest.
“The Bush administration tried, and failed, for eight years to kill protections for roadless areas on our national forests,” said Mollie Matteson, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The American people would not allow it. They recognized the importance of safeguarding these special places on national forests as final bastions of natural beauty, wildlife habitat, and healthy watersheds. ”
Said Matteson: “But unfortunately, a few national forests saw the anti-environmental policies of the Bush administration as good cover for invading roadless areas. The White Mountain National Forest was one of these. They hoped they’d get away with flouting the Roadless Rule.”
The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which was enacted at the close of the Clinton administration, prohibits road construction and logging in national forest areas that are still relatively free of development and provide the intact habitat and security that many of the most imperiled and vulnerable species in the country need to survive. The rule received more public support than any other administrative rule in American history.
Barack Obama has said he supports the rule, and conservationists are calling on the new president, as well as the new Congress, to carry out the will of the American public and ensure that the Roadless Rule is fully and permanently implemented.
The Kanc 7 project would log approximately 938 acres in the Sandwich 4 Inventoried Roadless Area, including about 80 acres of clearcuts. The logging would be visible from the Kancamagus Highway, one of the most traveled and spectacular scenic drives in the eastern U.S. The corridor along the Swift River, which the Kancamagus Highway parallels, is extremely popular for camping, hiking, fishing, and backcountry skiing. The logging project would affect numerous high-use hiking trails that access the Sandwich Range Wilderness.
“We are optimistic that the new administration will view roadless areas as a precious, common heritage we should protect and pass on to future generations, not as warehouses of lumber and pulp fiber for companies to make a fast buck,” commented Matteson. “We sincerely hope Kanc 7 will be the last roadless area logging project proposed by the Forest Service, anywhere, and that soon, we will have lasting, strong, consistent protection for all our national forest roadless areas.”
The conservationists await the decision of the Forest Service on their appeals of Mill Brook and Kanc 7. They say they hope the Forest Service will drop the projects, but are prepared to pursue legal action if the agency decides not to follow the law.
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.