Groups Pledge to Work With the Administration if the Administration Pledges to Save Roadless Areas
5/8/2001 -- --
Washington, D.C. – In a series of meetings with high-ranking Bush Administration officials this week, a group of major conservation organizations pressed Administration officials to save the heart of the Forest Service’s roadless policy, pledging to work with them to find a solution to do so, if they agreed to commit to such a goal.
Representatives of the Forest Roads Working Group – an ad hoc coalition of conservation groups representing millions of conservationists, hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts – spoke with Administration officials about the tremendous fish and wildlife habitat and recreational values of roadless areas. The Working Group representatives stressed the significance of the policy decision facing the new Administration and the nearly unprecedented broad, bipartisan support for the preservation of roadless areas among a very diverse array of environmental, conservation, sportsman’s and outdoor recreation groups throughout the entire country. In the meeting, the conservationists stated very clearly that the decision concerning the fate of the proposed roadless policy would likely be the defining conservation moment for the Administration.
“The Administration should commit to keeping the existing roadless areas of our national forests and grasslands roadless. If they do that, we believe it is possible to find common ground on some of the concerns people may have with the policy. We are troubled by news accounts forecasting that the Bush Administration will either substantially weaken the proposed roadless policy or scuttle it entirely,” said Steve Shimberg, the National Wildlife Federation’s Vice President for Federal Affairs.
The Working Group initiated the meetings as the clock ticked down on the Bush Administration’s self-imposed May 4 deadline to determine its position on the roadless area conservation policy, which was established by the Forest Service in January of this year. The Bush Administration delayed implementation of the policy until May 4 to allow time to study, and possibly, revise it. By tomorrow, the Administration is also likely to respond with its opinion of the policy in the context of lawsuits filed by the State of Idaho, Boise Cascade and others.
The Forest Roads Working group consists of diverse set of conservation organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation, International Paper, the Izaak Walton League of America, Trout Unlimited and Wildlife Forever. The groups initiated the alliance early this year to protect the remaining roadless areas of our national forests in the face of the legal attacks upon the Forest Service policy and the uncertain position of the Bush Administration.
A recent letter to the President asking that he keep the roadless areas in the national forests roadless was signed by more than 130 hunting, fishing and recreational organizations nationwide.