FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 8, 2001

CONTACT: Steve Holmer, 202/547-9105 or mailto:wafcdc@americanlands.org

Forest Service Chief Calls for End to Old Growth Logging Conservationists Laud Agency

In a history-making speech today, Chief of the Forest Service Michael Dombeck called for the protection of our nation's remaining old growth forests. In his speech, Chief Dombeck outlined a series of steps the agency will take to direct each National Forest to inventory, map, protect, sustain, and enhance old-growth forests.

"This announcement to protect old growth forests recognizes their importance to all Americans," said Randi Spivak, President of the American Lands Alliance. "We wish to thank Chief Dombeck for his leadership. Its an enormous step in the right direction. It would be great to see congress turn old growth preservation into the law of the land."

Chief Dombeck's directive also calls for the agency to determine the extent and pattern of old growth forests of the past and to plan for old growth in the future. "This is a significant step towards restoring old growth in the Eastern U.S., which has been nearly eliminated," said Kristen Sykes, Eastern Forest Advocate for American Lands. "With only 1% of the eastern old growth left, few people know or appreciate how magnificent the forests east of the Mississippi really can be."

"I will anticipate the critics' charge that protecting old growth somehow translates into an abandonment of multiple use and active management," said Dombeck's statement. "In fact, the opposite is true. What we do not need to do to accomplish our stewardship responsibilities is harvest old-growth trees." Dombeck noted that there is a substantial amount of restoration activities required in already roaded and managed areas that preclude the need to enter pristine roadless areas or old growth.

"This is a very welcome change in direction from an agency, that until recently, seemed to be taking shortcuts to log more old growth," said Spivak. "The Survey and Manage FEIS, the appeal of the Rothstein decision, and the final Columbia Basin Plan all propose to allow more old growth logging. With the Chief's announcement today, we expect to see immediate changes on the ground." Public opinion polls show that the majority of Americans want greater protection for national forests and believe that logging the last remaining ancient forests on public lands is unacceptable and unnecessary. In addition, the market demand for old growth is diminishing. "Major corporations including Home Depot, the world's largest lumber retailer, Microsoft, AT&T and Kinkos have pledged to stop using old growth in their products," said Ivan Maluski, Northwest Organizer for American Lands. "If corporate America can move away from old growth, so can the federal government."

"Federal timber is no longer a driving force in local economies," said Spivak. "Federal timber now accounts for less than 10% of all wood logged in the Pacific Northwest and less than 1/5 of one percent of total employment in the region affected by the Northwest Forest Plan. The economic health of the region relies in part on preserving our natural forest heritage which provides clean drinking water and air, habitat for fish and wildlife and unparalleled recreation opportunities."

Steve Holmer

Campaign Coordinator

American Lands

726 7th Street SE

Washington, D.C. 20003