News | May 28, 2009

Push by SELC and partners pays off: Obama Administration protects wild lands.

On May 28, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack announced a “time out” on roadbuilding, mining, commercial logging and other development activities in “roadless” areas in the national forests, including some 723,000 acres in the Southeast. These lands—mostly pristine, unbroken tracts of mountain woodlands—provide critical wildlife habitat, clean water, and some of the best recreation areas in the region and the nation.

The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule had previously protected all the nation's 58.5 million roadless acres, but that rule's fate remains uncertain due to legal challenges and efforts by the Bush administration to replace it with a discretionary state petition process.  Under the “time out,” any new activity proposed in a roadless areas must first be approved by the Secretary. The directirve issued by the Obama administration recognizes the importance of protecting roadless areas and responds to the strong scientific underpinnings of the 2001 rule and its broad public support in Virgina, North Carolina, across the Southeast, and nationwide.

SELC worked in tandem with the Pew Environment Group and others in calling on the Obama administration to enact such a “time out.”  In March, 121 House members and 25 Senators signed on to letters asking the administration to take this interim step. SELC will continue to urge the administration, and the southern congressional delegation, to further uphold the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

Roosevelt Resolution (pdf)