Greenpeace Director and Alaska Residents Arrested Following Protest of Bush Forest Policy

 

Media release - November 20, 2003
Activists, including the Executive Director of Greenpeace and several Alaska residents were arrested this morning at 10:00 a.m. (ET), following a protest at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The protesters lay down 12 tons of sod in front of the USDA building, headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service, in protest of the Bush Administration's plans to exempt the United States' largest national forest, the Tongass from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Following the sod delivery, the activists refused to leave until they were able to deliver a letter to Undersecretary Mark Rey, urging him not to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule.

Call for an End to Road Building and Logging in Protected Forests

WASHINGTON - Activists, including the Executive Director of Greenpeace and several Alaska residents were arrested this morning at 10:00 a.m. (ET), following a protest at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The protesters lay down 12 tons of sod in front of the USDA building, headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service, in protest of the Bush Administration's plans to exempt the United States' largest national forest, the Tongass from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Following the sod delivery, the activists refused to leave until they were able to deliver a letter to Undersecretary Mark Rey, urging him not to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule.

Prior to today's protest, Alaska residents met with Mark Rey, the Undersecretary of Agriculture who oversees the national forests, and called for a change to the Forest Service's current agenda to weaken protection for the Tongass. The administration is expected to hand down a ruling to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule before year's end.

"We asked Mr. Rey not to log anymore in protected areas and he said no," said Don Mueller, a bookseller from Sitka, Alaska. "Americans don't want to see a single road in their forests and we wanted to show what roadless means. The roads the Bush administration wants to punch into our forests are permanent and will destroy the biggest and most beautiful trees."

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which went into effect January 2001 protects 58.5 million acres of America's remaining wild forests found throughout national lands in 38 states with public support from more than 2 million people. Although the Bush administration pledged to uphold the Roadless Rule its actions have signaled an intent to weaken it and eliminate protection for pristine areas of national forests such as the Tongass and the Chugach in Alaska.

"The Tongass is just the beginning of the Bush administration's plans to put all of our national forests on the chopping block" said Matthew Anderson-Stembridge, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner. "The American people are drawing a line in the sand and demanding no more roads to nowhere, no more clearcuts."

In addition to undermining current environmental protections, the Bush administration has also begun to attack civil liberties from limiting citizen oversight of public lands to treating peaceful protestors as terrorists. Greenpeace is currently facing a federal indictment charge for exposing a Miami shipment of illegal mahogany from the Amazon last year. It is the first federal indictment the organization has faced in its more than 30-year history of peaceful protest and the prosecution is unprecedented in U.S. legal history.

"People who expose environmental lawlessness should be praised, not persecuted" continued Anderson-Stembridge. "U.S. citizens and the global community will not stand by while the President sells out on the environment as well as our freedoms."

Find out more about the Roadless Rule.