THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS TO THE POOL BY GEORGE FRAMPTON CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY Reddish Knob Overlook, Virginia
1:41 P.M. EDT
Q This is a new rule being proposed by the Forest Service to extend new protections to 40 million acres of land?
MR. FRAMPTON: At least 40 million acres.
Q At least 40 million acres, okay. What -- in what way would it --
MR. FRAMPTON: Actually, what's going to go in the Federal Register this week -- next week -- is a Notice of Intent. And there'll be a proposed -- to take public comment, there will be a proposed rule in, probably, February or March.
And it would do two things. It would, first, extend permanent protection to at least 40 million acres of roadless areas across the country that have already been inventoried in past planning processes. And, second, it would create a process to look at another 10 or 15 million acres of smaller roadless areas that have never been part of a survey process.
So potentially there's 50, 55 million acres.
Q Fifty, 55 --
MR. FRAMPTON: Potentially 50 or 55 million acres of roadless area on the national forests nationwide that could be protected in the two stages of this rule. But at least 40 million in stage one.
Q And Congress has no recourse on this? This is pure presidential --
MR. FRAMPTON: Congress always has a supervisory role, but this would be through regulation, Forest Service regulation, creating a new protective category for these --
Q Okay, I'm going to be jerked out of here -- it's George Frampton?
MR. FRAMPTON: Yes.
MR. FRAMPTON: Yes.
Q And you are, sir?
MR. FRAMPTON: Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.
Q Thank you.
MR. FRAMPTON: Nice to meet you.
Q And do you know if the Tongass is part of this?
MR. FRAMPTON: We're taking comment on whether to include the Tongass or not, but it --
Q In the -- million, or would that be separate?
MR. FRAMPTON: That's part of the whole package.
Q Is the practical effect of that, then, to essentially end any economic use of the forest? You can't get a road in there, you can't get wood out?
MR. FRAMPTON: Well, many of these areas, of course, have a greater economic use for recreation and clean water than they do for logging. We're going to look at various alternatives, including simply banning roads, but also the possibility of banning timber harvest. So it doesn't necessarily proscribe timber harvests, but that's part of the process that we're going to be taking comment on.
Most of these 40 million acres -- I think there are less than 9 million that are even theoretically in the timber base, and much of that timber is not really valuable. So we don't think there'll be a significant impact on the timber program at all.
But, for example, there might still be the possibility to protect areas from roads, but allow helicopter logging of the high-value timber -- which, in some cases, would have to come out by helicopter anyway, in some of these areas, because they're pretty remote.
Q And this was all logged, then, at one point?
MR. FRAMPTON: Most of these Eastern forests along here were logged in the mid- to late-1800s, 19th century. And it was something called the Weeks Act in 1911 that actually, for the first time, made it possible to bring Eastern lands into the National Forest System.
Q Just for my own interest, is that why the -- it's kind of a scrub forest, right? It's a little bit stunted.
MR. FRAMPTON: This is all second-growth forest. But it may look a little stunted here because it's high.
Q Right, right. Thank you.
MR. FRAMPTON: Okay, thanks a lot.
END 1:45 P.M. EDT