Sierra Club Applauds Roadless Plan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 13, 2000 Contact: Allen Mattison, 202-675-7903 SIERRA CLUB APPLAUDS FOREST SERVICE PLAN TO HALT COMMERCIAL LOGGING IN WILD AREAS OF NATIONAL FORESTS 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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