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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Local conservationists praise “time out” for roadless forests

Decision is a result of national and local campaign to Obama Administration

Local conservation and recreation groups applauded the Obama administration's call today for a one-year moratorium on road-building and development on millions of acres of national forest roadless areas. Efforts in Washington State have been at the forefront of a national campaign urging the Obama administration to uphold the previous Roadless Rule, and diverse voices of support (including hunters and fishermen, elected officials, tribal leaders, and religious leaders) were heard across the state.

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Washington, DC May 28, 2009

ALPINE LAKES PROTECTION SOCIETY
AMERICAN WHITEWATER
CONSERVATION NORTHWEST
GIFFORD PINCHOT TASK FORCE
OLYMPIC FOREST COALITION
THE LANDS COUNCIL
THE MOUNTAINEERS
WASHINGTON TRAILS ASSOCIATION
WASHINGTON WILDERNESS COALITION

Local conservation and recreation groups applauded the Obama administration’s call today for a one-year moratorium on road-building and development on millions of acres of national forest roadless areas. As announced by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the directive states that for one year, no road construction or removal of timber can take place without the Secretary's approval in areas of National Forests protected by the Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

“Today’s decision by the Obama Administration is a critical first step toward upholding important protections for our last remaining roadless forests pending additional rulings in the courts,” said Tom Uniack, Conservation Director for the Washington Wilderness Coalition. “We look forward to working with the Obama Administration over the next year to reinstate permanent protections for these special places that are so important to our quality of life here in the Pacific Northwest.”

Efforts in Washington State have been at the forefront of a national campaign urging the Obama administration to uphold the previous Roadless Rule. Over the last six months, more than 200 local elected officials and more than 160 local stakeholders just in Washington State alone have signed on to a so-called Teddy Roosevelt Roadless Resolution focused on the Obama Administration.

“We appreciate President Obama’s confirmation of his past support of the 2001 Roadless Rule both as a Senator and on the campaign trail, “ said Mike Petersen, Executive Director of the Lands Council. “This decision is a welcome acknowledgement of the strong support for the 2001 Roadless Rule both nationally and here in Washington State.”

Diverse voices of support (including hunters and fishermen, elected officials, tribal leaders, and religious leaders) were heard across the state on the opinion pages of local newspapers including the Spokesman Review, the Seattle PI, the Everett Herald and the Peninsula Daily News. Additionally, Governor Christine Gregoire wrote a personal letter calling on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to institute a “time out” for our roadless forests and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA01) lead efforts to encourage more than a hundred of their Congressional colleagues to carry the same message to the Administration.

"We are pleased that Secretary Vilsack has issued a clear directive that will protect the undeveloped backcountry that roadlesss areas represent with a commitment to rigorously review opportunities for long-term protection over the coming year", said Thomas O’Keefe, Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director for American Whitewater.  "Washington State's roadless areas provide several outstanding destinations for backcountry recreation including wild rivers like tributaries of the Cowlitz flowing through Dark Divide, climbing destinations like Liberty Bell in the North Cascades, and hiking trails in the South Quinault Area of the Olympic Peninsula."

Background
The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule was a historic and balanced conservation initiative enacted under the Clinton Administration to protect 58.5 million acres of wild national forest land from most commercial logging and road-building. The rule protected more than two million acres of roadless areas in Washington State. These roadless areas include some of the most important and well known forests in our state, including areas in the Colville National Forest’s Kettle Range, the Dark Divide Roadless Area located between Mt. St. Helens and Mt Adams in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and most of the proposed Wild Sky Wilderness, including the Eagle Rock Roadless Area.

The values of protecting roadless forests include:
• Sixty million Americans rely on clean drinking water from the national forests. Roadless areas provide the purest source of that water due to their pristine and road-free condition.
• Outdoor recreation has become more and more popular over time as Americans participate in everything from hike and camping to hunting and fishing in roadless areas. Approximately 2.5 million Washington residents took part in hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching in 2001, contributing $2.4 billion to the state economy.
• A majority of the unspoiled habitat for hundreds of threatened, endangered, and declining species is found in roadless areas. In Washington, 25 at-risk species, including bald eagles, steelhead and bull trout and chinook salmon are found in national forests and could be harmed by the building of new roads and the ensuing destruction of roadless areas.

For more information on the Teddy Roosevelt Roadless Resolution and the support developed from Washington State, visit www.wawild.org

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