As the first round of the NCAA national basketball tournament prepares to tip off tomorrow, the Pew Environment Group launched a new ad campaign that appeals to President Barack Obama's affinity for the sport by calling for a “time out” on new road building in undeveloped national forests.
A bipartisan group of 25 U.S Senators and 121 U.S. House members this week also asked the Obama administration to suspend industrial activity in the nation's remaining wild forests until they can be permanently protected.
“We are asking President Obama to call a time out on new road building and development in our last wild national forests,” said Jane Danowitz, the Pew Environment Group's U.S. public lands program director. “Taking this action would send an important signal that the President is committed to fair play when it comes to the way our public lands are managed.”
Pew's television and print ads ask for protection of the places where “jayhawks, cardinals, wildcats and wolverines play” and for a “time out” on road building in the nation's last undeveloped forests. To coincide with the tournament's first round of play today, the print ad ran in Politico and Congress Daily, while the TV ad will run on WUSA-TV (CBS) and on cable news programs in the Washington, DC, market during this afternoon's games.
As a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate, President Obama supported the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a popular policy issued in 2001 that protects roughly 60 million acres of the country's remaining undeveloped national forestland. Because the previous administration attempted to rewrite roadless policy, its legal status remains the subject of conflicting federal court decisions. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, was an early and visible supporter of the 2001 policy during his tenure as governor of Iowa.
“With the ball now in President Obama's court, we hope he will fulfill his pledge to protect our national forests,” said Danowitz. “Protecting these special places is a slam dunk for the environment.”
For more information about roadless forests and the campaign to protect them, go to www.ourforests.org.