Statement on the Obama Administration’s Support for Roadless Forests

Contact: Elyssa Rosen, 775.224.7497

Washington, DC - 08/14/2009 - Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Environment Group's U.S. public lands program, today issued the following statement on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s support for a national forest roadless policy and the Obama administration’s decision to join environmentalists in an appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals of a 2008 Wyoming federal district court ruling that struck down the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. 

"We are pleased the Secretary of Agriculture affirmed the importance of a strong nationwide standard for protecting roadless areas.  The Secretary’s support for a national roadless policy, along with the administration’s move yesterday to join conservationists in defending the roadless rule in court, marks an important step toward resolving the conflicts and patchwork approach that have hindered forest management for decades.

“We hope this signals that the Obama administration intends to move quickly toward fulfilling its pledge to reinstate the roadless rule as the best policy to preserve pristine forestlands across the country.”

Background: In 2005, the Bush administration attempted to replace the popular Roadless Area Conservation Rule, issued in 2001, which protects roughly 60 million acres of America's remaining undeveloped national forestland with a discretionary state-based petition process. In May 2009, the Pew Environment Group praised the Obama administration for calling a "time out" on activity in roadless areas until legal and administrative conflicts are resolved. Last week, on August 5, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision to reinstate the 2001 roadless rule for the majority of roadless areas.

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