Statement of Carl Ross
Executive Director
Save America’s Forests

Thank you to our Congressional Champions

July 14, 1999

 I want first and foremost want to express my deepest gratitude to these 5 courageous congressional leaders on behalf of the Save of America’s Forests coalition, and the many other citizen groups working to pass this legislation, including the 7 million member Humane Society of the United States, Friends of the Earth, The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and many millions of Americans.

Their legislation is the most important and the most serious Congressional effort since the founding of the federal forest system over 100 years ago to right the egregious wrongs perpetrated on our public forestlands.

The Act to Save America’s Forests can finally put an end to the economically wasteful and ecologically disastrous clearcutting on our federal forest lands.

This legislation is scientifically based, it is comprehensive, it is moderate, and it is already widely supported in Congress.

We believe it is near passage.

Thank you so much to Representatives Eshoo, Maloney, and Forbes, and Senators Torricelli and Kerry.

The 20th century has seen catastrophic losses inflicted upon our federal forest lands.

America’s last virgin forests have been hacked away, year-by-year, until now, only a few percent of these magnificent and irreplaceable treasures remain.

Every day, in every region of our country, acre after acre of our national forests is being clearcut. Large regions of our public lands now resemble brown moonscapes.

And biodiversity, that miracle of nature that creates so many things seen and unseen, familiar and strange, has been attacked with methodical ferocity by our federal forest agencies. They have clearcut, bulldozed, and poisoned our beautiful, natural forests into submission, reshaping them into biologically sterile tree farms or leaving them as abandoned scars. These timber policies are unraveling the fragile web of life.

It’s not as if there is an economic need to destroy our public forests. The national forests supply less than 6% of our nation’s wood. We can reduce the logging on our national forests and still meet our nation’s timber needs.

How can we look our children and grandchildren in the eye and say that when we were kids we enjoyed America’s forests, but then as grownups we destroyed them?

How can we tell other nations, including many poorer nations, to protect their virgin forests, while we, the richest of all nations, destroy our own public forests?

How can we spend billions of dollars exploring outer space and searching for life there, while we spend billions of dollars destroying irreplaceable species of life here on earth?

Dr. Stuart Pimm is considered one of the world’s leading experts on extinction of species. He says that following current worldwide trends, 50% of the world’s species of plants and animals will be extinct within the next 100 years.

The extinction crisis is a worldwide catastrophe. Not since the dinosaurs went extinct 60 million years ago has there been such a rapid loss of species on earth. But this extinction crisis is not a natural catastrophe, it is manmade. Because we are the cause, we can also be the solution.

The place to start is on our national forests. Let’s pass the Act to Save America’s Forests, and make our national forests a shining example to the world of enlightened, ecological forest management.

Thank you again to these wonderful members of Congress, and to all the other cosponsors of this legislation.