Says Bush Administration's Christmas Gift to the Timber Industry
Is The Tongass National Forest
December 23, 2003
"It's ironic that, at a time when trees are celebrated as a symbol of the holidays, President Bush gives the crown jewel of the national forest system to timber barons as a Christmas gift," said John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace. "President Bush had pledged to uphold the Roadless Rule. Now he has taken the definitive step to gut it by excluding our largest national forest. The Tongass is as important to the world as the Amazon rainforest, and President Bush wants to open it up to large-scale industrial logging. This is another example of this Administration's complete disregard for the wishes of the American people and America's environment."
The Roadless Rule was enacted by President Clinton in 2001 after three years of study and more than 600 public meetings across the nation. Quoting a Greenpeace news release, Americans submitted a record number of public comments - more than any other administrative action - with more than 2 million in favor of upholding the rule. Anticipating Bush's moves to weaken the Rule and exclude the Tongass, Greenpeace sent its largest ship, the Esperanza, to Southeast Alaska earlier this year to investigate and document pristine areas that face clearcutting.
In a news release Tuesday, Greenpeace wrote that President Bush is also planning to allow western governors to exclude national forests in their states from the Rule, which Greenpeace notes has the potential for opening up 85% of land that should be protected from roadbuilding and logging. Greenpeace said the exclusion of the Tongass from the Rule comes on the heels of the passage of the so-called "Healthy Forest Initiative," a Bush-endorsed measure designed to further open public lands to industrial logging. According to Greenpeace, Bush has also gutted the Northwest Forest Plan and the Sierra Nevada Framework, forest management plans that place conservation before commercial exploitation.
Greenpeace said the Administration is undermining Americans' right to oversight of public lands and their right to peaceful protest. Further quoting the news release from Greenpeace, "in a move unprecedented in U.S. history, John Ashcroft's Justice Department has indicted an entire organization -Greenpeace - for the peaceful protest activities of its members. Greenpeace is fighting the charges as a case of selective prosecution and an attempt by the Bush Administration to stifle nonviolent dissent."
"These lands belong to
the American people, not to the Bush Administration's buddies
in the timber industry," said Passacantando. "Americans
will not sit idly by while our natural heritage is sold off for
short-term profits and our rights are trampled."
Source of News Release: