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Nation's First Roadless Logging Began Today; Unprecedented Action Ignites Protest

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest began logging today in a roadless forest that was protected by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule which protected 58 million acres of public forest from industrial logging, and road-building. The Bush administration is now logging roadless forests, despite massive public opposition and a pending court cases challenging the logging.

More than 100 citizens from across the country attended a rally in front of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest office in Medford today to protest the first logging of Roadless Areas. A dozen people with shirts reading "Roadless is Priceless" sat down in a road in front of the Forest Service office with potted trees. This resulted in twelve arrests, with charges still pending.

Kate Ritley a concerned citizen stated while being arrested that "There is nothing more precious than the wild and scenic forest of the Pacific Northwest. And today by the Bush administration cutting into Roadless Area's they are setting a national precedent that defies the will of the public and puts millions of acres across America at risk. I'm putting myself on the front line to take a stand against the Bush Administrations assault on America's forests."
"When the government ignores the will of the people, the people have to stand up," said Laurel Sutherlin. "Such civil disobedience provides a critical check and balance against corruption in a democracy. Actions like those taken today carry on in the rich tradition of defending American democracy inspired by figures like Henry David Thoreau and Rosa Parks."

The original Roadless Rule enjoyed unprecedented public involvement and support. In 2005, the Bush administration replaced the Roadless Rule with a watered-down version that erodes protections for wildlands. The states of Oregon, Washington, Californian and New Mexico are now suing the Bush administration to restore the 2001 Roadless Rule.

After repealing the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in 2005, Bush Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey promised interim protection for roadless areas while governors submitted petitions for protection, but broke that promise when he ordered logging at Mike's Gulch before the Governors' petitioning process was complete. Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski has scheduled an August 16th hearing on the issue in Medford. A lawsuit filed on behalf of roadless protections by the Governors of New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, the Attorney General of California and numerous conservation groups, is pending in federal court.

Some participants in today's rally pointed out that the Mike's Gulch roadless timber sale sold for a price far below any anticipated in Forest Service planning documents, costing millions of taxpayer dollars.

"Washington, D.C. pretends to listen to the public, but their actions speak louder than words. Bush's Forest Service broke its promise to the American people, while allowing corporate interests increased access to our remote public lands." said Lesley Adams.
Laurel took a courageous stand for roadless forests 08.Aug.2006 14:19

Rolf Skar

Laurel Sutherlin risked his life today to protect the last best wild forests on our public lands. This photo, which I took of him just after sunrise, shows his inspiring commitment to the earth. When it comes to protecting the last, best parts of our natural heritage, there is something for everyone to do -- you don't need to block a road or dangle from a bridge. Attend the public forum on roadless forest conservation Governor Kulongoski is holding at Portland State University August 14th (6:00-8:00 PM University Place, Columbia Falls Ballroom), keep your eyes out for local rallies for roadless forest protection, and contact Forest Service decision-makers (check www.siskiyou.org for more info). One of the best things to do is take a weekend to go to the Siskiyous and see the special places that are at risk.

The most important thing is to take action, and to do it now. Now is the time to stand up against the Bush Administration's cut-at-any-cost management of our National Forests.

Laurel Sutherlin dangling from a bridge above the Illinois River
Laurel Sutherlin dangling from a bridge above the Illinois River