4 Library Court, SE • Washington, DC 20003 • 202-544-9219 •

July 14, 1999

CONTACT: Carl Ross 202-544-9219

Forest Protection Bill Gaining Momentum
Over 100 original cosponsors positions bill for House passage

WASHINGTON -- A coalition of over 100 Representatives and Senators announced their intention to pass the Act to Save America’s Forests, legislation to reverse a century of wasteful and destructive logging practices in the federal forest system.

The Act’s authors, Representative Anna Eshoo and Senator Robert Torricelli, joined with lead cosponsors Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Michael Forbes, and Sen. John Kerry, as well as Save America’s Forests Executive Director Carl Ross, to mark the reintroduction of the Act in the U.S. House and Senate with the highest level of support in the bill’s legislative history.

"I want to thank Representatives Eshoo, Maloney, and Forbes, and Senators Torricelli and Kerry for their courageous work in Congress to stop the wasteful destruction of our national forests. This new, unprecedented level of support shows that the Act to Save America’s Forests can run the gauntlet of logging company lobbyists and become law," said Ross.

Support for the legislation has increased in each recent session of Congress. Hearings and votes on the Act are anticipated during this session of Congress.

"The American people support more environmental protection, not less. They want Congress to change forest policy to emphasize protection and restoration of native forest species and halt the tremendous financial drain on their tax dollars caused by subsidized forest destruction. The Act to Save America’s Forests bequeaths to future generations environmentally and economically sound forests which will enrich humanity and all life on earth," said Representative Eshoo.

"When this country was founded over two hundred years ago, there were hundreds of millions of acres of virgin forest land across what is now the United States. Today, 95% of those original virgin forests have been cut down.", said Senator Torricelli. "As a legacy for the enjoyment, knowledge, and well-being of future generations, provisions must be made for the protection and perpetuation of America’s forests.

"This is a measure that is of tremendous common sense—and it is long overdue. As a nation, we’ve gotten away from the true intent of federally protecting America’s precious forests. This legislation is critically important," said Representative Forbes. "I am hopeful that we can get bipartisan support to bring this to the floor, and to have a vote on this bill."

The Act would end a century of destructive logging practices in the entire national forest system. Over 600 leading scientists, including Dr. E.O. Wilson, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Dr. Peter Raven, have said that the Act provides the best way to save our national forests, which include the last five percent of America’s original forests.

Senator Kerry said "This bill is based on sound science, and will preserve these fragile and irreplaceable resources, while allowing for economically sustainable logging."

"The Act to Save America’s Forests will effectively shift the focus of forest management on federal lands from corporate profits to protection and nurturing of our rare natural resources," said Representative Maloney.

"The Forest Service and other federal agencies have failed to protect these priceless, publicly-owned forests", said Ross. "It is time for Congress to step in to pass a new law that will direct these public agencies to manage our federal forests based on science—and in the interests of the American people. The Act to Save America’s Forests is the most important national environmental legislation for the 21st Century. Its passage is necessary to ensure the survival of countless endangered plants and animals."

Save America’s Forests represents a coalition of citizen groups throughout the U.S. working to protect and restore the federal forests. Other national organizations supporting the Act include Friends of the Earth, the 7 million member Humane Society of the United States, and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

The Act would permanently end logging in "core" forest areas including old growth, roadless and other sensitive forest areas on federal forestlands. Outside of these protected areas, the Act would ban clearcutting, but would permit limited amounts of ecologically compatible logging.

Despite a decade of empty pledges by the Forest Service to reduce clearcutting, save the Ancient Forests, end roadbuilding in roadless areas, and protect the native biodiversity of our national forests, the Forest Service and other federal agencies continue to promote destructive logging policies.

Clearcutting and other damaging logging practices cause landslides and floods, pollute our drinking water, and are pushing many endangered species towards extinction. Clearcutting also threatens highly popular recreation and tourist activities in our national forests which contribute billions of dollars to our nation’s economy.

Even today, the Forest Service is aggressively logging rare and irreplaceable Ancient Forests, and building logging roads into the heart of dwindling roadless areas. Endangered species like the wild trout and salmon continue their dramatic decline directly caused by destructive clearcutting.

Public opinion surveys reveal that the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to clearcutting and the logging of America’s last virgin forests. Americans are also against paying billions of tax dollars for this atrocious waste of our children’s heritage. Americans want the destruction and the tax-subsidized clearcutting to stop now.

A recent government report by the Congressional Research Service shows that we can reduce the logging on the national forests and still meet our nation’s timber supply. The national forests currently contribute less than 6% of our nation’s wood.