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JUNE 24, 1999  12:00 Noon
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Sierra Club
Allen Mattison, 202-675-7903
166 Representatives Tell Clinton To 'Act Boldly' To Save America's National Forests
 
WASHINGTON - June 24 - A bipartisan coalition of 166 Representatives is urging President Clinton to protect wild areas of America's National Forests from development, roadbuilding, mining and logging. Sierra Club applauded the Representatives for asking Clinton to protect every roadless area in all National Forests.

"America stands at diverging paths, and President Clinton has the opportunity to choose which road our nation travels. Rather than continuing to pay lumber companies to clearcut our National Forests, President Clinton can lead us on a path to protect the remaining uncut forests for our children and grandchildren to enjoy," said Sean Cosgrove, Sierra Club's forest policy specialist. "These 166 Representatives have earned our praise by working to protect roadless areas in our National Forests. We thank these Representatives today; our children will thank them tomorrow."

Representatives Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Steve Horn (R-CA), Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Michael Forbes (R-NY) led the effort to build support for the letter. In their letter, the 166 Representatives paint the issue in historic terms, asking the President to act before it becomes too late to save the forests: "As the millennium dawns, safeguarding these remaining scenic wild areas will provide a lasting legacy akin to the bold actions taken by President Theodore Roosevelt when he set aside our first forest reserves at the beginning of this century. We urge you to act boldly in that tradition so that these national treasures are not lost."

America's National Forests are scarred by a system of logging roads eight times longer than our nation's interstate highway system. These roads, built at taxpayers' expense, ruin wildlife habitat and dump silt into streams. Roadless areas, on the other hand, while becoming increasingly scarce, are crucial for providing backcountry recreation opportunities, high quality habitat for fish and wildlife, and magnificent scenery. Roadless areas also produce some of our clearest, cleanest rivers and streams, which provide clean drinking water for communities and high quality habitat for sensitive fish species.

"Sierra Club volunteers have been working with other citizens for more than 100 years to protect our forest heritage for future generations. We have reached a pivotal point in this long history of protecting forests," Cosgrove said. "There is no doubt that our last wild forests are most valuable to our nation as quiet retreats, playgrounds and campgrounds for America's families, water purifiers for our communities, and habitat for the nation's wildlife. Scientists tell us this, religious groups tell us this, public opinion polls tell us this, and now 166 Representatives tell us this. President Clinton and Vice President Gore must seize this last historic opportunity to stop cutting down and paving over our children's inheritance."

Earlier this month, the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations delivered 235,000 postcards to Vice President Gore and Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck calling for permanent protection of all roadless areas over 1,000 acres.

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