By formally repealing the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, the Bush administration is, yet again, doing its hardest to ignore over 4 million public comments in support of wild forest protection as well as an exceptionally strong ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the legality of the rule.
By creating a sham process requiring a multi-step unfunded mandate, the Federal government is shirking its responsibility to protect these few remaining roadless areas. The concerns of millions of Americans meet deaf ears, while the administration hangs on the words of a handful of timber industry lobbyists.
Instead of finding ways to provide millions of dollars in subsidies to the timber industry, the government should be working to permanently protect all remaining roadless areas in each state and across the National Forest system. These are areas of national significance and they deserve a single, nationwide policy to protect them-not a piecemeal state-by-state approach.
The original Roadless Rule was the product of exhaustive studies and scientific, economic and public input, including 600 public meetings. Unprecedented in its overwhelming popularity, the rule garnered 10 times more public comments than any federal rule in history. Sadly, the Bush administration hastily replaced it with an ill-conceived plan that forces a convoluted process on governors and leaves America's last remaining wild forests at risk.
By revoking the landmark roadless rule, the Bush administration is leaving wild forests across the country vulnerable to destructive commercial timber sales and road building. This move is part of the Bush administration's overall assault on National Forest protections. From day one, the administration has worked to weaken or eliminate the core protections for America's wild forests, putting the interests of the timber industry ahead of the clean water, recreational opportunities, economic benefits and wildlife habitat that these forests provide the country.
-Sean Cosgrove is the National Forest Policy Specialist for the Sierra Club