July 28, 2008
Bush Does Texas Two-Step to Trample Colorado’s Roadless Forests, Say Conservation Groups
WASHINGTON, July 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bush administration is spearheading two separate meetings here this week that will examine plans for the proposed changes to the way roadless forests are managed in Colorado. The meetings are in response to the administration's newly proposed rule change (published July 25 in the federal register) that would open the land to logging and ski resort expansions. The change could also allow 97 new oil and gas leases on 87,000 acres to be developed on national forests in Colorado that are currently protected from drilling by federal rule.
"President Bush is doing the Texas Two-Step to trample public lands in Colorado on his way out of the barn," said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society. "The meetings in Washington are Bush's latest attempt to weaken strongly-supported protection for the state's 4.4 million acres of undeveloped roadless lands. Combined with the fancy footwork he's doing in Idaho and the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the president is trying to leave his bootprint on nearly 50 percent of America's roadless forests."
The meetings in question start with a Forest Service open house on July 29 from 5-9 p.m. in which agency personnel will be available to provide information and answer questions about the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule. The Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee, meanwhile, will meet on July 30 to discuss the proposed rule for the management of roadless areas on National Forest System lands in Colorado and to discuss other related roadless area matters.
The Sierra Club also expressed displeasure with the way the Bush administration is trying to skip some beats: it has cut Coloradoans' opportunities for comment to 50 percent of what it afforded their Idaho neighbors on a similar challenge. The disparity of the eight meetings scheduled for Colorado is even greater when measured against the 26 held in the state when the Clinton administration explored the 2001 rule.
"We are disappointed that there is little opportunity for meaningful public comment on a rule that could open pristine forests to oil and gas drilling and excessive logging," said Michael Degnan, Washington Representative for Sierra Club. "While proposing that over four million acres of roadless areas lose significant protections, the Bush administration has established a process where citizens largely lose their voice."
A spokesperson for Environment America noted that Bush continues to spend time dancing with the wrong partner.
"The Bush administration stood-up the American public by cutting them out of the dance," said Christy Goldfuss of Environment America, "The American public has repeatedly called for strong protections for our national forests, but this time, the Forest Service refuses to hear it, instead choosing to step in line with oil and gas interests."
The Wilderness Society
CONTACT: Christopher Lancette, TWS Communications Director,+1-202-429-2692, [email protected]