For Immediate Release, May 24, 2010
Contact: Mollie Matteson, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 434-2388 (office); (802) 318-1487 (cell)
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 in doubt.”
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 out.
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 immediately.”
To read a copy of the Center’s roadless letter, click here.
To see footage for roadless area clearcutting, click here.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.