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Sierra Club Applauds Roadless Plan


Contact: Allen Mattison, 202-675-7903


WASHINGTON -- The Sierra Club today welcomed the U.S. Forest
Service's plan to protect unspoiled areas of our National
Forests, hailing it as a significant improvement over the draft
that the agency issued in May.  Based on this proposal, President
Clinton has the opportunity to issue a final plan that will
protect the last pristine areas of our National Forests for
hikers, hunters and wildlife.

"This summer, more than a million Americans called on the Forest
Service to fully protect the remaining unspoiled fragments of our
National Forests, and the Forest Service clearly heard that cry,"
said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. "By ending
commercial logging in these wild areas, the Forest Service will
help protect some of the best places where Americans love to
hike, hunt, fish and camp. President Clinton can use today's
proposal to fully protect America's wild National Forests for our
families and for our future."

Today's Forest Service proposal, or Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS), largely closes a loophole opened in their May
preferred alternative, which would have banned roadbuilding but
allowed logging in unspoiled, roadless areas.  The EIS would ban
commercial timber sales in roadless areas, but allows
"stewardship logging."  Unless "stewardship" is very carefully
defined, this term could open a loophole leading to the
destruction seen under the 1995 forest salvage rider.

"The Sierra Club is thrilled that the Forest Service recognizes
that the values of recreation, wildlife habitat and clean water
trump commercial logging in these untouched areas," Pope added. 
"However, forest advocates need to remain vigilant to ensure that
cracking the door ajar for `forest stewardship' doesn't throw the
floodgates open for wholesale clearcutting.  We urge President
Clinton to tighten the loose language to be sure that science
guides the decisions to restore forest habitat and protect
communities from unnaturally intense fires."

The earlier draft plan also fell short of full protection by
delaying any decision on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska
until 2004. Today's EIS offers the same level of protection to
the Tongass as is granted to all other National Forests, although
that protection is delayed for four years.

"By granting the same level of protection to the unspoiled areas
of the Tongass National Forest as to all other wild areas, the
Forest Service is taking an important step to protect the world's
largest intact temperate rainforest," Pope said.  "That
protection should not be delayed, though.  The Sierra Club hopes
President Clinton will side with the overwhelming number of
Americans who want to see the Tongass permanently protected now."

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