Contact: William Lutz (202) 772-0269
Brad DeVries (202) 772-0237
DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE LAWSUIT CHALLENGES
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION’S DECISION
TO DROP WILDLIFE PROTECTION IN NATIONAL FORESTS
Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and Vermont
National Resource Council
Co-Plaintiffs in Defenders of Wildlife v. Veneman
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Defenders of Wildlife and other leading conservation groups filed suit today to challenge the Bush Administration’s decision to drop a Reagan-era rule that mandated federal forest managers maintain viable wildlife populations on national forest lands. The lawsuit comes after a new rule to repeal sections of National Forest Management Act regulations was finalized last month.
Defenders is joined by The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and Vermont National Resource Council and represented by Earth Justice. The case is Defenders of Wildlife v. Veneman.
"Our decision to file suit comes as a last resort, but we cannot sit by and idly watch this administration allow the timber industry to tear down our national forests and ignore their duty to protect our nation's wildlife and natural resources,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife. “Our lawsuit challenges the new rule which tosses aside decades of bipartisan progress on forest protection and flies in the face of the consensus recommendations of hundreds of scientists and expert policy makers.”
“Make no mistake, this is a gift to the timber industry disguised as a government streamlining measure,” Schlickeisen stated. “This isn’t about cost-cutting or red tape; this is about opening more and more forested lands to unsustainable logging.”
In December, 2002, the Bush administration proposed replacing national forest regulations based on science with regulations based on recommendations by the timber industry. Nearly 200,000 citizens urged their withdrawal, as did the Society for Conservation Biology and 325 scientists. In July, 2003, 198 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in support of an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM) to block these new regulations. The Bush administration vigorously opposed the amendment.
“We cannot and will not allow this new rule to go unchallenged.” Schlickeisen continued, “It jeopardizes important wildlife habitat and puts more species at risk of endangerment and extinction.”
For specific information on how these new regulations will affect wildlife in forests throughout California, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other states, visit http://www.defenders.org/forests/forest/local.html.
For more information on these regulations, including opposition from Congress, scientists and the public, and Defenders' efforts to protect them, visit: www.SaveNationalForests.org.
Defenders of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit conservation organization recognized as one of the nation’s most progressive advocates for wildlife and wildlife habitat. With more than 480,000 members and supporters nationwide, Defenders is an effective leader on environmental issues. For timely information on environmental issues, visit www.defenders.org and subscribe to DENLines, a free e-mail alert newsletter.