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Oregon Forests Named as One of Nation's Biggest and Best Forests

The forested lands of the Klamath-Siskiyou and a section of the Southern and Central Cascades were named as two of the nation's 11 "Keystone Forests" by the environmental group Greenpeace today.
In a new report, "America's Keystone Forests: Mapping the Next 100 Years of Forest Protection," Greenpeace identifies the biggest forest areas left in the United States that provide the best habitat for the most diverse species. Released on the opening day of the U.S. Forest Service's Centennial Congress, the report also faults the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for failing to protect these keystone forests, most of which are found on public land.

"This report documents the last remaining intact forests in the U.S., including the most biologically rich forest -- the Klamath-Siskiyou of southern Oregon and northern California," said Joseph Vaile spokesman for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center. "If these ancient forest ecosystems can survive four more years of the Bush administration, they will be treasures troves for our children and generations to come."

Greenpeace worked with the Big Sky Conservation Institute to identify the keystone forests, using the latest scientific studies of forest fragmentation, road density, biological diversity and health of plant and animal communities. Unique maps show the condition and ownership of the forest lands.

America's Keystone Forests also details how the Forest Service and BLM have allowed, and even encouraged, rampant industrial exploitation of the nation's forests at taxpayer expense. Under the Bush administration, this mismanagement is escalating at an unprecedented rate. Most recently, the administration announced on December 22 that it was opening up all national forests to greater logging and mining.

"We live next door to a world-class ancient rainforest that provides local residents with clean drinking water and recreational opportunities," said Josh Laughlin, campaign coordinator of the Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands Project. "It is appalling that the government still sells off this piece of American heritage to the highest bidder."

America's Keystone Forests provides a blueprint for saving the nation's remaining forests. In the short-term, Greenpeace is calling for a moratorium on large-scale industrial logging and road-building in all forests administered by the Forest Service and BLM. In the long-term, America's best forest lands, starting with the keystone forests, must be given greater protection, and the missions of the Forest Service and BLM must be refocused on restoration and conservation, not commercial exploitation.

Local spokespeople are available for comment for each keystone forest region. To read the report and view the maps, visit www.greenpeaceusa.org/keystoneforests/

phone: phone: (202) 462-1177
address: address: Washington, D.C.

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