Kerry, Cantwell, Warner Reintroduce Legislation to Protect 60 Million Acres of Roadless Forest
Senator John Kerry, along with Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Warner (R-VA), reintroduced legislation to protect 58.5 million acres of roadless national forests, including two million acres in Washington state. The bipartisan measure would protect the nation's few remaining non-wilderness roadless forests from commercial development by reinstating the Clinton-era roadless rule.
"This bill is about protecting some of the most pristine and untouched land we have left in this country," said Kerry. "We've given up enough to the loggers and the industry lobbyists, and now it's time to place permanent protections on our remaining roadless areas, to ensure that these important public lands are protected for the enjoyment of all Americans."
"Roadless areas make up more than 20 percent of our National Forests in Washington state," said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. "It's irresponsible and shortsighted to let logging, road-building, and mining degrade these untouched lands. With so few truly wild and pristine places left in our country, its time to strike a responsible balance and make the roadless rule law."
Warner said, "This bill will preserve some of the most pristine forests of the Southern Appalachians for future generations, and will save taxpayers money as well."
The Bush Administration is continuing its multi-year push to overturn the existing Clinton-era roadless rule, which protects roadless forest land not set aside as wilderness from environmentally damaging development. By conserving pristine forest lands for future generationswhile allowing hazardous fuels reduction, forest stewardship projects, and limited economic activitiesthe bipartisan Cantwell-Inslee Roadless Area Conservation Act takes a balanced, reasoned approach to forest management in inventoried roadless areas.
The bill also helps address the serious fiscal challenge presented by the more than $8.6 billion maintenance and reconstruction backlog on the 386,000 miles of existing U.S. Forest Service roads. More roads, in addition to degrading sensitive lands, would only add to this backlog. Inslee's bill has over 140 House cosponsors.
The Roadless Area Conservation Act is endorsed by The Wildlife Society, Natural Recourses Defense Council, American Lands Alliance, Sierra Club, U.S. Public Interest Research Groups, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Audubon Society, National Environmental Trust and Heritage Forests Campaign, among others.
The 2001 Roadless Rule has received unprecedented public support, including over 4.2 million public comments submitted to the Forest Service in support of a strong plan to protect remaining pristine forest lands.
Access state-specific roadless area information on the U.S. Forest Service website at: http://roadless.fs.fed.us/
For a copy of the Roadless Area Conservation Act visit: http://cantwell.senate.gov/news/Roadless.pdf