Boston – Today, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issued an interim directive protecting pristine forests from new logging and drilling. The directive requires his personal approval for any new logging, drilling, or roadbuilding in nearly 50 million acres of our most pristine national forests. The measure does not protect roadless areas in Idaho.
Environment Massachusetts Field Organizer Winston Vaughan issued the following statement in response:
“Some of America’s last pristine forests and treasured wild places have been facing a one-on-one matchup with logging, mining and drilling industries. Today Secretary Vilsack stepped onto the court and called a time out for our forests. The next step will be to permanently protect these special places and declare a win for our forests.”
Despite President Obama’s support for the landmark Roadless Rule and overwhelming public support, Environment Massachusetts’ research revealed that Forest Service officials were still moving toward approving plans for logging, mining, and roadbuilding in roadless areas of national forests in Colorado, Alaska, Idaho, and Oregon. Environment Massachusetts’ report, released in April, Quietly Paving Paradise, documents these findings and urges Secretary Vilsack to declare a “time out” on destructive activities in roadless areas.
The secretary’s interim directive includes protection for 8.5 million acres of roadless areas in the Tongass Forest in Alaska – the largest temperate rainforest forest in the world, which features cool, clear streams for spawning salmon and trout and is home to 300 species of birds. The Bush administration had stripped the Tongass National Forest of Roadless Rule protection in 2005 and several timber projects have been nearing approval at the Forest Service.