BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. INSLEE. Madam Speaker, today, with bipartisan support from 151 of my colleagues, I introduced the National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2009, which will protect 58.5 million acres of pristine wild forests by prohibiting new road construction and reconstruction and providing critical ecological protections. Roadless areas provide clean drinking water to over 60 million Americans, recreational opportunities, and undeveloped habitat for more than 600 threatened, endangered or sensitive plant and animal species. In Washington, 2,015,000 acres of roadless areas, almost 22 percent of our wildlands, are at stake. Washington State crown jewels, like Eagle Rock and Dark Divide, should be preserved for future generations. This legislation will codify the Clinton Administration's Roadless Area Conservation rule to protect these lands and move us closer to permanently protecting our nation's unique and invaluable wildlands.
In 2001, President Clinton issued the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, protecting 58.5 million acres of National Forest land (30 percent of all National Forest land) from new road construction. The Clinton Roadless Rule was the result of a two-year rulemaking process that included the most extensive public involvement process in federal rulemaking history. The U.S. Forest Service held more than 600 meetings, with more than 1.6 million Americans submitting comments to the plan, where my constituents and many other Americans voiced their overwhelming support for the rule.
While the Clinton Roadless Rule enjoyed enormous public support, the Bush Administration fought a multi-year battle to overturn it. In 2005, the Bush Administration issued a new roadless rule that removed protections and opened roadless areas up for further development. In addition, numerous lawsuits have tracked the roadless rule's course, both in favor and opposed. Recently, the 9th District court has decided in favor of the 2001 Roadless Rule. This legislation will permanently protect our nation's roadless areas and remove all ambiguity concerning their conservation and protection.
As a native Washingtonian and a lifelong outdoorsman, I grew up exploring and enjoying our National Forests. It is my hope that my grandchildren will be able to explore and enjoy the same untouched and protected forests that I have grown to love. By carefully and thoughtfully conserving our National Forest lands, they will be here for future generations to come.
I have led the fight for our roadless areas in Congress since 2002 and will continue to seek ways to protect our National Forests.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT