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E-M:/ Bush Opens Door to Logging in Unspoiled National Forests

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>

Folks:  The Bush Administration today, in response to a required court
filing, made an announcement regarding their approach to the roadless area
protection rule that protected in Michigan 16,000 acres of National Forests
from road building.  The USDA press release follows the statement below from
Sierra Club. The war of words with the Bush Admin may be the biggest battle
to be faced, as the administration starts turning white to black before our
very eyes and ears.   Anne Woiwode

For Immediate Release: May 4, 2001
           Contact: Allen Mattison, 202-675-7903

          Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director

"The Bush Administration heard the public outcry for protecting our
National Forests, and they have backed off for now from earlier indications
that they would try to repeal these protections.  It's positive that
President Bush is letting these protections stand at least temporarily, but
his decision is far different than mounting a vigorous defense to keep our
unspoiled forests from being clearcut, strip-mined or drilled for oil.

"President Bush appears to be retreating from the ring and letting the
timber industry do the dirty work.  Rather than putting up a fight to
defend places where Americans love to hunt and hike, President Bush is
letting the state of Idaho and the timber industry attack these wild

"President Bush concedes that Americans want to protect these areas for
recreation and clean water.  Poll after poll, comment after public comment
has shown wide support for saving our last unspoiled forests.  The Bush
administration is afraid to just dump the plan.  Instead, it has taken a
tack where it can claim credit for upholding the rule while allowing the
State of Idaho and the timber industry to gnaw away at the edges until no
protections remain.

"During Attorney General John Ashcroft's confirmation hearings, he
promised, under oath, to defend these protections in court.  This plan
should be implemented fully and immediately, and we're on watch to ensure
the Department of Justice fulfills its obligations to the American people.
The real test is the Administration's defense of the plan in the courts and
their enforcement in the forests.

"Americans want the last wild areas in our National Forests protected for
our families and for our future.  From the Tongass rainforest to Montana's
ponderosas to Florida's pine forests, citizens calling for wild forest
protection vastly outnumbered those opposed.  People want these forests
saved for hunting, fishing, camping, and providing clean water forever --
not for the profit of a few timber and mining industries."

                                   # # #

       Kevin Herglotz (202) 720-4623
                                          Heidi Valetkevitch (202) 205-1134

Secretary Veneman announces additional actions to address reasonable
concerns to ensure responsible implementation

      WASHINGTON, May 4, 2001 -- Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today
announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will implement the Roadless
Area Conservation Rule, restricting logging and road building activities in
58.5 million acres of national forest lands. The Secretary also announced
additional actions to address reasonable concerns raised about the rule
that will ensure implementation in a responsible, common sense manner.

      "This administration is committed to providing roadless protection
for our national forests," said Veneman. "Conserving these precious lands
requires a responsible and balanced approach that fairly addresses concerns
raised by local communities, tribes, and states impacted by the rule."

      In announcing implementation of the rule, effective May 12, 2001,
Veneman said the Department will propose responsible amendments in early
June that will address important issues raised about the rule, based on the
following five principles:

· Informed decision-making - The rule will be implemented with more
reliable information and accurate mapping. This includes drawing on local
expertise and experience through the local forest planning process;

· Working together - USDA will work with states, tribes, local communities
and the public through a process that is fair, open, and responsive to
local input and information;

· Protecting forests - USDA will protect roadless areas from the negative
effects of severe wildfire, insect and disease activity;

· Protecting communities, homes, and property - USDA will work to protect
communities, homes, and property from the risk of severe wildfire and other
risks that might exist on adjacent federal lands; and

· Protecting access to property - USDA will ensure that states, tribes, and
private citizens who own property within roadless areas have access to
their property as required by existing law.

      "Because roadless protection is the right thing to do, it is
important that we do it right," Veneman said. "The actions we are
announcing today are responsible. They ensure forest protection and address
important concerns that could adversely impact local communities."

      The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, published Jan. 12, 2001, was
challenged in the Federal District Court by the State of Idaho. The Judge
withheld ruling on the preliminary injunction and issued an order citing
several defects with the process by which the rule was developed, and
reserving it's ruling pending issuance of the government's status report,
due on May 4, 2001.

       That report, to be filed with the Court later today, outlines the
Administration's intended actions in this matter, including allowing the
current Rule to go into effect on May 12, 2001 with amendments to be
proposed in June.

      A total of six lawsuits have been filed by states, tribes, and
various interested parties challenging this rule. The actions announced
today by USDA are aimed at protecting the principles of the rule,
correcting data errors, and addressing concerns raised by the court, local
communities, tribes, and state governments. For example, the rule
designated more than 2.5 million acres of land as roadless that actually
have roads.


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