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Black Hills Would Benefit From Bi-Partisan Legislation to Protect Forests

May 29, 2007

Rapid City, SD - The U-S House and Senate have introduced bi-partisan legislation that ensures continued protections for the more than 58 million acres of pristine national forests, including the Black Hills in South Dakota. Comments from Jim Margadant, conservation organizer for the West River Office of the Sierra Club.

The U-S House and Senate have introduced bi-partisan legislation to protect the nation's forests. The action follows a recent ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court that found the Bush administration's repeal of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation rule was illegal. Jim Margadant with the South Dakota Sierra Club says millions of acres of wild land are at stake - including three roadless areas in the Black Hills that need protection.

"Entries to aquifers, riparian areas that deal with water systems and nowadays we're experiencing the adverse climatic events and the effects of migrations of species. It's going to be important to preserve these areas and hold onto them."

Margadant says when the roadless rule was introduced in 2001, there was overwhelming public support to keep the last wild forests intact.

"There were six-hundred and some public hearings. There was over a million comments put into the forest service and they all favored preserving these roadless areas."

The Bush administration has filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, hoping to overturn the court's ruling and repeal the roadless law. Margadant says the proposed legislation would protect the last one-third of the nation's threatened forests.

Margadant says the three roadless areas in the Black Hills have experienced logging, but have made a comeback. The rule does allow new roads to be constructed to fight fires to ensure public health and safety.

"Some of them are rough country. They haven't been logged. Other areas where the logging is taking place its way back in history and we've got good mature tree stands growing in there. And we've got associated with those stands, we have good shrub components. It's good wildlife habitat and it's good plant diversity."

Margadant can be reached at 605-342-2244.

David Law/Eric Mack, Public News Service - SD