by Dave Muhly, Sierra Club Regional Representative
George Orwell would be proud of the Bush administration, which has taken the art of "doublethink" and "newspeak" to heretofore unknown levels. The latest example of this is the administration's announcement that it would "retain" the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects 58.5 million acres of publicly owned wild forest, including America's only temperate rainforest, from roadbuilding and logging.
"Retaining," to this administration, means dismantling.
To begin with, the Tongass and Chugach national forests in Alaska would be exempt, immediately opening up more than 300,000 acres of wild forest in Alaska to logging. Next, governors would be given the option of exempting national forests in their states. Already, some western governors are lining up to give the timber industry a place at the trough.
The roadless rule was developed over a period of three years prior to 2001, involved more than 600 public meetings, and more than 1 million comments, overwhelmingly in favor of the strongest protections for these wild forests, making it the most extensive public-comment process in history. (See also The Fire Next Time.)
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Here's a sample letter:
The Bush administration has taken the first steps toward dismantling historic wild forest protections-one state at a time. With its announcement that it would "retain" the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, but with exemptions, the administration has carved out loopholes large enough for Paul Bunyon to stroll through.
Time and again, Americans have shown an overwhelming support for protecting these last wild forests, and the courts have agreed that the process and intent of the roadless rule are sound. Unfortunately, it now appears that the Bush administration has not been listening but instead has tuned its ears to its allies in the timber industry.
We can do better than turn our last wild places over to the timber industry. These special areas should be protected.
For more information, go to www.sierraclub.org/logging.
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