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JULY 25, 2002
3:18 PM
CONTACT:  Sierra Club
Annie Strickler, (202) 675-2384
Bipartisan Action in Senate Would Protect America's Wild Forests
Statement of Carl Pope, Executive Director of Sierra Club
WASHINGTON - July 25 - "Today the Sierra Club applauds Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Warner (R-VA) for introducing a new bipartisan bill to protect some of America's last wild forests. The Roadless Area Conservation Act would protect 58.5 million acres of our National Forests' last pristine wild areas.

"Americans deserve this strong bill to protect forests from the Tongass in Alaska to Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. These increasingly scarce unspoiled places are crucial for providing quality hunting and fishing, for protecting watersheds that supply clean drinking water, for offering magnificent scenery and providing backcountry recreation, for our families, for our future."

"Since taking office, the Bush administration has whittled away at the core of wild forest protections, ignoring overwhelming public support. Today's introduction of the Roadless Area Conservation Act in the Senate, together with the companion bill in the House, will help ensure that the millions of Americans who support protecting our forests will be heard. The administration has voiced support for forest protection while consistently working to undermine it, planning to move forward with dozens of timber sales and other destructive projects in wild roadless forests. The Roadless Area Conservation Act turns forest protection rhetoric into reality.

"The Roadless Area Conservation Act also makes economic sense. Already more than half of our National Forests have been logged and scarred by 440,000 miles of roads. With an $8.4 billion maintenance backlog on the current road system, it makes no sense for the Forest Service to waste taxpayer funds building new logging roads.

"Last year Americans celebrated when the most extensive public comment process in history culminated in protections for the last wild areas in our National Forests. Today we applaud the many Senators and forest advocates around the country who have maintained steadfast support to bring protection to these special places.

"Without the protections offered by the Roadless Area Conservation Act, our last wild forests are at risk of being devastated by logging and other damaging activities. Right now many destructive logging and oil and gas drilling projects are threatening wild forests in Alaska's Tongass Rainforest and the lower 48. These projects destroy wildlife habitat, imperil plant and animal species, and jeopardize the ability of our children and grandchildren to enjoy these wild places as we do.

"The Sierra Club urges all Senators to support the Roadless Area Conservation Act and work to pass this important legislation."


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