Sept. 15, 2004 – Environmental advocates and members of Congress announced yesterday that over a million people have participated so far in a letter-writing campaign to pressure the Bush Administration over its proposed change to the Forest Service rule that protects millions of acres of National Forest from development.
"It's abundantly clear that Americans across the country continue to overwhelmingly support protecting our last wild forests," said Gene Karpinski, executive director of US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), said in a press statement. "The public has responded with strong opposition toward the Bush Administration's national forests giveaway, and we hope this outpouring convinces them to change direction."
At issue is a plan proposed by the Bush administration to potentially change the Forest Serviceâ€™s 2001 Roadless Rule and open almost 59 million acres of untouched roadless national forests to logging, mining and drilling interests. Conservationists support the Roadless Rule and tout it as a crucial protection for the nationâ€™s remaining wildlife, clean water and recreational areas. Opponents of the Rule say it dangerously leaves forests exposed to fires and intrudes on energy development, a charge most forestry experts consider baseless.
The Rule change would give governors the power to decide whether their stateâ€™s National Forest should remain protected or be opened to energy development.
"The enormous number of comments that have been received so far means that every single day since the beginning of the comment period, at least 20,000 people from across the country and from diverse constituencies, have taken the time to write in favor of protecting our last remaining roadless forests for future generations," said Bill Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society, in a press statement.