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Sierra Club Celebrates Proection of Last Unspoiled Areas


CONTACT: Wendy Balazik, 202-675-2383


WASHINGTON -- Today, the Sierra Club celebrated President
Clinton's announcement of the final decision on a plan that will
protect the last unspoiled areas of our National Forests. 
Protecting these pristine areas completes the largest forest
conservation initiative in generations -- protecting millions of
acres of wild forests from New Hampshire to California.

"Today's announcement is a victory for us all -- for everyone who
has ever walked in a forest, for the millions of us who rely on
our national forests for clean drinking water, and for future
generations," said Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's executive
director.  "By safeguarding unspoiled forests from coast to
coast, President Clinton has achieved the greatest land
protection victory in a generation."

The final plan is an improvement over previous drafts because it
provides real protection to the wild areas of the Tongass
National Forest in Alaska, America's last great temperate
rainforest.  The Forest Service also tightened up a loophole that
would have allowed destructive logging in our wild forests under
the guise of stewardship.

Today's decision marks the end of a multi-year public process
that included more than 600 public meetings and more than one
million public comments.

"Today we congratulate the President for leaving a legacy of wild
forests for all Americans who love to hunt, hike, fish and camp,"
continued Pope.  "Congratulations are also due to the more than
one million people who influenced this decision by sending a
letter or speaking out at the public meetings."

With this rule in place, environmentalists will now turn their
attention to defending the plan.  Timber industry allies in
Congress have already launched an effort to overturn this
historic rule.  The Sierra Club will join with other
conservationists to fight all attempts to delay or reverse the
plan.  Environmentalists will also work at the local level to
ensure that this plan is fully implemented and that our last wild
forests are fully protected.


1891-Congress authorizes President to establish forest reserves
on federal public domain lands in the Creative Act of 1891.

1897-Congress gives the Secretary of Interior broad power to
regulate and protect the forest reserves in the Forest Organic
Act of 1897.

1905-Congress transfers the forest reserves to the Department of
Agriculture in the Transfer Act of 1905.

1907-President Theodore Roosevelt triples the amount of national
forest land from 46 million acres in 1901 to 132 million acres in

1924-The U.S. Forest Service establishes the Gila Primitive Area
in New Mexico, at the urging of Aldo Leopold.

1926-Forest Service Chief William Greeley directs agency to
inventory all national forest roadless areas. Inventory
identifies 55 million acres of roadless areas between 230,000
acres and 7 million acres in size.

1929-Forest Service issues Regulation L-20 to establish Primitive
Areas to conserve their educational and recreational values.

1933-Forest Service establishes 63 Primitive Areas totaling 8.4
million acres.

1939-Forest Service issues U Regulations to establish Wilderness
and Wild Areas, where roads, logging, and motorized vehicles were

1956-Sen. Hubert Humphrey introduces first Wilderness Bill.

1964-Wilderness Act establishes the National Wilderness
Preservation System and includes 9.1 million acres of Forest
Service Wilderness and Wild Areas in the System.

1967-Forest Service initiates a new roadless area inventory of
all previously unclassified roadless areas larger than 5,000

1972-Forest Service completes the Roadless Area Review and
Evaluation (RARE), identifying 56 million acres of roadless land
and proposing 12.3 million acres for wilderness study.

1975-Eastern Wilderness Act designates Wilderness Areas in
eastern national forests.

1977-Forest Service begins a second roadless area inventory (RARE
II). 1979-RARE II identifies 62 million acres of roadless land -
nearly one-third of the National Forest System. Forest Service
proposes 15 million acres for wilderness, 10.8 million acres for
further planning, and 36 million acres for non-wilderness

1980-Congress enacts the Alaska National Interest Lands
Conservation Act, designating 5.4 million acres of the Tongass
National Forest as Wilderness.

1982-Decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals finds that
RARE II violates the National Environmental Policy Act.  As a
result, the Forest Service adopted regulations requiring EISs for
proposals that would substantially alter the undeveloped
character of an inventoried roadless area of 5,000 acres or more.
 See Forest Service NEPA Handbook 1909.15, Sec. 20.6(3).  This
requirement made it more difficult for land managers to build new
roads into roadless areas due to the greater environmental impact
analysis and public scrutiny involved in the EIS process.

1984-Congress enacts 18  RARE II Wilderness bills, designating
6.6 million acres of national forest Wilderness Areas in 12
Eastern and 6 Western States. 13.6 million acres are released to
normal Forest Service planning and management.

1988-Forest Service builds 2,037 miles of roads, bringing the
total road system to 355,000 miles.

1990-Congress enacts the Tongass Timber Reform Act, designating
300,000 acres of Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest (the
last major addition of national forest land to the Wilderness

1993-President Clinton holds a Forest Conference in Portland,
Oregon, and directs federal agencies to develop the Northwest
Forest Plan to protect spotted owls, salmon, and ancient forests.

1995-Congress adopts the Salvage Rider, temporarily suspending
environmental laws to expedite salvage timber sales.

July 1997-U.S. House of Representatives comes within one vote of
cutting funds for Forest Service road building.

November 14, 1997-President Clinton announces the Forest Service
is developing a scientifically based policy for managing roadless

December 1997-A group of 169 scientists send a letter to
President Clinton acknowledging the "ecological values associated
with roadless areas" and supporting a policy that "at a minimum,
protect[s] from development all roadless areas larger than 1,000
acres and those smaller areas that have special ecological
significance because of their contributions to regional

January 22, 1998-Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck proposes a
moratorium on new road building in most roadless areas. The
proposed policy exempts national forests with updated management
plans, including the Tongass National Forest in Alaska and 19
forests in the Pacific Northwest.

November 1998-More than 600 conservation organizations and 200
prominent scientists write to Vice President Gore asking for a
strong roadless area protection policy for national forest lands.

March 1, 1999-Forest Service adopts an 18-month moratorium on new
roads in most roadless areas, with virtually the same exemptions
as in the January 1998 proposal.

June 1999-Citing a "holy obligation" to protect God's forests,
more than 300 religious leaders write to President Clinton and
Vice President Gore urging a strong and effective policy to
protect roadless areas.

June 1999-A joint letter from 168 members of Congress is sent to
President Clinton asking for protection of roadless areas in all
national forests from logging, mining and other destructive

June 1999-More than a quarter million comments in the form of
postcards, letters, and e-mail are delivered to the
Administration expressing support for a strong national forest
roadless area protection policy.

June 1999-A nationwide poll, conducted by the Mellman Group,
reveals that 63 percent of Americans favored a proposal to
protect all national forest roadless areas 1,000 acres and
larger, and 74 percent of voters in the poll supported a plan
that would not exempt any national forests from a roadless
protection policy.

October 1999-President Clinton directs the Forest Service to
initiate an open and public national rule-making to determine how
National Forest roadless areas ought to be managed.

October 1999-Forest Service publishes its Notice of Intent (NOI)
to prepare an environmental impact statement on roadless area
management in federal register and initiates a 60 public comment
period on what the "scope" of the policy ought to be.

December 1999-Scoping period concludes with 400,000 people
sending in written comments.

January 2000-National public survey released by republican
pollster Linda DiVall reveals that 76 percent of Americans
support the Clinton policy to permanently protect roadless areas
from development, including 62 percent of republicans.

January 12, 2000 - TRCA finds that 86% of fishers and 83% of
hunters support roadless area protection.

February 2000-Letter signed by 20 U.S. Senators urges President
Clinton to "protect roadless areas in all national forests,
including the Tongass National Forest, from logging, mining, and
other destructive activities as well as from new roads."

March 2000 - A series of eleven state polls conducted by seven
different pollsters found overwhelming support for protecting
roadless areas in every area of the nation.
C A Fairbanks, Masslin and Maulin 72% 22%
CO Ridder/Braden 75% 20%
ID Rider/Braden 57% 38%
MI Mellman Group 69% 23%
MN The Feldman Group 76% 21$
MT Fairbanks, Masslin and Maulin 53% 41%
NM Polling and Research 71% 20%
OR Ridder/Braden 67% 27%
TN Mason-Dixon Research 72% 12%
WA Ridder/Braden 72% 20%
WI Chamberlain Research Consultants 83% 12%
May 9, 2000 -  Forest Service released it's draft proposal for
the protection of roadless areas.  The "preferred alternative" in
the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) prevents road
construction in currently roadless areas, but allows logging in
those areas.  The draft proposal provides no protection for the
Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the nation's largest.

July 2000-In official comments on the DEIS, the National Marine
Fisheries Service (NMFS) commends the USFS and says the proposed
road prohibition is a "critical step toward maintaining and
enhancing the value of National Forest System lands...." It
raises concerns regarding the exemption of the Tongass National
Forest and recommends that the final policy exclude commercial
logging in roadless areas.

July 2000-Exemplifying the broad public support for strong
roadless area protection, organizations representing women,
recreation enthusiasts, seniors, people with disabilities,
hunters, anglers, the outdoor industry, and others participate in
the official public comment period.

July 17, 2000 - The Forest Service ends public comment period on
draft EIS and receives a record 1.2 million comments from the
public asking for full protection for roadless areas.

July 21, 2000 - More than 2,000 members and leaders of the faith
community write to President Clinton urging a strengthening of
the draft roadless policy by inclusion of the Tongass National
Forest and by prohibiting logging as well as road building in
roadless areas.

August 2000-The Mellman Group releases a national poll that shows
an overwhelming majority of Americans favor prohibiting logging
in national forest roadless areas.

October 11, 2000 - 393 scientists write to President Clinton
endorsing strong protection for the remaining unroaded and
undeveloped portions of national forests in the United States.

November 13, 2000 - U.S. Forest Service releases a
much-strengthened final EIS on the roadless rule making.  The
preferred alternative prohibits commercial logging in roadless
areas and includes the Tongass Rainforest but with a four-year
delay on implementation.

January 5, 2001 - Just before a presidential ceremony, Secretary
Glickman signs the Record of Decision on a final roadless rule
that includes more immediate protection for the Tongass and
strong restrictions on roadless area logging. # # #      

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