715 PASSES ASSEMBLY, MOVES TO SENATE!
In a victory for California’s currently unprotected roadless
areas, A.B. 715 passed the state Assembly on May 31 on a vote of
41 to 34. The measure, authored by Assemblymember Lloyd Levine (D-Van
Nuys), would require the governor to consult with the legislature
before taking any action on roadless areas.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
"This is an exciting win, given the setback just handed us
by the Bush administration," said Paul Hughes, executive director
of Forests Forever. "We’re pleased to see the legislature
responding so swiftly to the threats now facing our last unguarded
wilderness areas. We have the hundreds of letters and calls by our
supporters in recent weeks to thank for this."
Forests Forever began its push for passage of A.B. 715 on May 12.
Since then the bill has passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee
and the full Assembly.
After January 2006, the new federal rule that replaces the Roadless
Area Conservation Rule will require a governor who wants to protect
roadless areas in his or her state to submit a petition to the U.S.
Forest Service. The secretary of agriculture can then accept or
deny this petition.
If a petition is accepted, a state-specific rulemaking process will
be set in motion. If a petition is rejected, or if a governor chooses
not to file one, the management of roadless areas in that state
defaults to the existing forest management plans for each national
forest in question. Almost 60 percent of the national forest plans
allow roadbuilding and other development.
A.B. 715 would require the governor to consult with appropriate
legislative committees before making decisions that would affect
roadless forests. He also would have to submit a report to the legislature,
which could hold hearings, hear testimony and review the report.
The legislature would consult with state agencies such as the Resources
Department, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and
the Department of Forestry. And the legislature could deny or approve
the governor’s proposed action.
"Given Gov. Schwarzenegger’s mixed signals of late concerning
his position on California’s roadless areas, we feel this
bill provides some assurance that the public’s interests in
wilderness protection won’t be ignored," Hughes said.
California’s roadless forests are too important to be left
in the hands of the governor alone. Contact your state senator and
urge him or her to support A.B. 715.
To get contact information for your state senator, visit http://www.sen.ca.gov/