FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oregon Wild, Gov. Kulongoski Help Launch First Annual “Roadless Recreation Week”
Outdoor activities start Saturday in Oregon national forests and across the country
Effort aimed at connecting the public to outdoor recreation playgrounds in federally protected roadless areas.Portland, Ore Aug 06, 2010
Starting this Saturday, August 7th, Oregonians will join residents of at least a dozen other states in celebrating the first annual “Roadless Recreation Week.” Following a proclamation by Governor Ted Kulongoski and other governors across the country, organizers are hosting over 50 recreation activities in national forest roadless areas between August 7 and 15. The weeklong celebration highlights the importance of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, issued to protect nearly 60 million acres pristine national forests across the country, and encourages the public to go “all out” to enjoy the unique outdoor recreation opportunities these areas provide.
The conservation group Oregon Wild will lead four events as part of Roadless Recreation Week: an August 7th trek to the summit of Mount Bailey in the Umpqua National Forest, and hikes to Boulder Lake (Aug. 7th), Tamanawas Falls (Aug. 12th), and Memaloose Lake (Aug. 14th) all in the Mount Hood National Forest. Oregon is home to nearly 2 million acres of roadless lands protected by the Rule.
“Oregon’s roadless areas embody much of the best Oregon has to offer,” said Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski. “They are a source of clean drinking water, essential habitat for salmon and other native wildlife, and backcountry recreation. For the past ten years, the national Roadless Rule has protected these values from damage that could occur from roadbuilding and extractive activities.”
Governor Kulongoski’s proclamation recognizes “the recreational, environmental and economic values” roadless areas provide and calls the national roadless rule “one of the most popular federal policies ever developed.” The proclamation notes that roadless areas provide important sources of clean drinking water for cities like Bend, Ashland, and Pendleton and contributes to a thriving outdoor economy.
The USDA estimates there were 173.5 million recreation visits to U.S. Forest System lands in 2009, with more than 57 percent of those visits for activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.
“There are hundreds of good reasons to protect roadless areas. Outdoor recreation ranks high on that list,” said Rob Klavins, Roadless Wildlands Advocate for Oregon Wild. “Roadless forests are some of the best places to hike, camp, fish, and bike in the state, and Oregonians are enjoying their roadless areas even more today than they did when the roadless rule was enacted in 2001.”
The first annual Roadless Recreation Week occurs as a federal court prepares to issue an important decision about the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The rule was issued in 2001 by the Clinton administration to provide balanced protections for the last remaining undeveloped U.S. Forest Service lands. It was the result of the largest public lands review process in U.S. history, with more than 1.2 million comments and 600 public hearings. On a per-capita basis, Oregonians submitted more public comments on the rule than any other state with over 90% in favor.
After being attacked by the Bush administration and its allies in extractive industries, the Rule has been the subject of conflicting court decisions over the past decade. During that time, Oregon continued to lead the charge to ensure protection for our last undeveloped forests. In August 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling to reinstate the Roadless Rule for most roadless areas, but a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision is still pending. The Obama administration has expressed support for the national policy, and has asked the Tenth Circuit to uphold the rule.
Still, conservationists remain concerned by what they describe as mixed signals including the administration expressing support for a Bush-era proposal in Colorado, extending an exception in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, and approving nearly a dozen mining projects in roadless areas. A project in the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon named D-Bug is also the focus of national attention and has been described as a test of the administration’s commitment to the popular Rule. The project, on the doorstep of Crater Lake, if approved could include more roadless logging than occurred across the entire country since the Rule’s inception.
“The view from Mt. Bailey is spectacular and provides a lot of clarity,” said Chandra LeGue who is leading a hike to the summit of the mountain at the center of the D-Bug roadless controversy. “In today’s busy world, opportunities for quiet recreation in the big wild places of the west are becoming more precious and rare.”
Oregonians can go to www.oregonwild.org to find out about the week’s activities in their area, and to learn how to support roadless area protection.
Read Governor Kulongoski’s proclamation here.