Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has re-affirmed his support for the Bush administration’s overturning of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

In a recent email sent by the governor’s office to concerned individuals who wrote to him urging support of the original roadless rule, the governor said:

"Due to pending legal questions about the status of existing roadless protections, I have taken strong action to ensure the safety of roadless areas in the Golden State. At my direction, Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman has requested that the Forest Service undertake a rulemaking process for California that will result in a final Roadless Rule at least as protective as the existing rule. I am pleased to inform you that on January 27, 2005, the Forest Service agreed in writing to fulfill this request and finalize a rule to protect California's roadless areas."

But Secretary Chrisman’s letter of Jan. 24, 2005, mentioned by the governor in his email message above, makes no specific request for protection of roadless areas. Instead it advocates that the Forest Service’s "Interim Directive"– which governs management of roadless areas until the proposed new rule takes effect in January 2006– be used as a standard for the permanent, ongoing management of roadless areas in California.

The Interim Directive, however, is not in any way "at least as protective as the existing rule." On the contrary, it places broad discretionary power over roadless areas into the hands of Forest Service bureaucrats.

"The Interim Directive does not prohibit resource extractive uses or road building on national forest roadless areas at all," said spokespersons for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment California, and Defenders of Wildlife in a March 28 letter to Chrisman.

The original roadless rule, implemented in 2001, protected 58.5 million roadless acres of federal forest nationwide from logging, mining, and oil drilling, and helped to ensure clean water, wilderness recreation, and habitat protection. California has 4.1 million acres of roadless national forest.

The new rule proposed by the Forest Service would take effect in January 2006. It requires state governors to petition the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture if they want to protect inventoried roadless areas in their states. Under this proposed rule, if a governor fails to file a petition, or if his or her petition is rejected, roadless area management would default to the Forest Service's individual forest management plans. More than half of the forest management plans in California would allow development in roadless areas.

Schwarzenegger’s stand on the roadless rule is apparently unchanged– he supports the Bush administration revocation of the original, environmentally sound, strongly protective rule.


There is still time to affect the outcome of federal rulemaking that could save or sacrifice our roadless areas. Call the governor on Earth Day– Friday, April 22– and let him know that you think all of California’s remaining roadless areas deserve protection. Tell Schwarzenegger that the rulemaking he is suggesting would do nothing to protect the state’s roadless areas. Ask him to live up to his declaration that roadless areas should remain roadless, and demonstrate his leadership on this issue.

Call Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at (916) 445-2841.


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places