Guarding the environment

By SALLY SWENSON, a member of REP’s California Chapter

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: Letter to the editor of the San Bernardino Sun and the Redlands Daily Facts, August 29, 2004


The Bush administration seeks to undermine the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule that protects one-third of the country’s national forests from private interests.

Roads compact soil, interrupt natural drainage, and promote erosion. Runoff chokes downstream waterways with sediment, pollutes fish habitat, poisons drinking water, and adversely affects outdoor recreational activities. Timber cutting leaves behind a residue of combustible slash. Risk of human-caused forest fires, whether inadvertent or intentional, increases near roads. 

Congress has designated less than 20 percent of national forest land as protected wilderness areas. Half of our national forest land is already open to commercial endeavors such as logging. The Forest Service (at taxpayers’ expense!) has built more than 350,000 miles of logging roads that interlace forestland.

I am outraged with the proposed Bush administration policy. I am a member of REP America, a grass-roots, Republican, pro-environment organization, that professes conservation is the conservative message. REP America hailed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule when it was enacted.

We’re not talking about clearing dead trees in residential communities at potential risk of firestorms. Rescinding the roadless plan will open 58.5 million acres of pristine, rugged, backcountry national forest land to extraction by private interests.These 58.5 million acres represent only 2 percent of the more than 2 billion acres in the United States. It is the duty of the Bush administration to spend taxpayers’ money responsibly as well as to protect and preserve these national forests for all Americans.