Governor asks U.S. to restore protections for South Carolina ‘s forests

April 20, 2006 – Governor Mark Sanford today moved to reinstate protection on some of the most pristine areas of South Carolina ’s national forests.   Sanford petitioned the federal government — which manages the Sumter and Francis Marion National Forests in South Carolina — to issue rules that would restrict road construction and timber harvesting on designated roadless areas  within the national forest .  Roadless areas provide some of the state’s premier wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation and harbor headwaters for many rivers.  Roadless areas make up a tiny fraction of the nations’ public lands. In their scarcity, these few remaining wild places become even more valuable since they represent the least fragmented forests on America ‘s National Forest system.      Last July, the Bush administration lifted federal protection on roadless areas within national forests across the country, setting aside a Clinton administration rule that prohibited development on 58 million acres of national forests. This move placed over 728,000 acres of our region’s most pristine forests in jeopardy by opening them up for road construction and logging.    The Bush administration has called for a process in which individual governors must petition for greater or less protection than is called for under existing national forest management plans.  Governor Sanford is the third Governor to file a roadless petition for full protection of roadless areas. South Carolinians own 8,000 acres of roadless areas within the 624,075 acres of the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests .   Governor Sanford joins the Governors of Virginia and North Carolina who have also filed petitions for protection of their state’s roadless areas.  ” South Carolina ‘s roadless areas are important not only for their scenic beauty and the recreational opportunities they provide, but also for their environmental benefits including serving as sources of clean water and wildlife habitat.  These unique and scarce places have an even higher value because of the intense development pressures facing South Carolina. ” said Governor Sanford.    “The Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition applauds each Governor’s actions and encourages other southeastern Governors to file for protection also” says Mark Shelley, Director at the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition in Asheville .   “Roadless area protection has remained one of the most popular conservation initiatives since Teddy Roosevelt’s time — having been supported by a record-breaking number of public comments.  Over 97% of comments received from Southern Appalachian citizens supported complete protection of ALL roadless areas.  Our Governors are acting on behalf of their constituents and should be appreciated for their leadership.” Shelley said.