New Report: Allegheny National Forest at risk of logging, gas-drilling

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[Philadelphia, PA] — PennEnvironment released a new report today revealing that pristine areas in the Allegheny National Forest could be at risk of logging and gas-drilling if bills moving through the U.S. Congress are signed into law. The new report, “Trashing our Treasures: Congressional Assault on the Best of America,” exposes a startling trend of legislative attacks on our nation’s treasured places, like the Allegheny National Forest.

“The Allegheny National Forest is one of Pennsylvania’s greatest treasures— and the state’s only national forest. From its old growth forests of beech-hemlock and sugar maple trees to its scenic vistas and crystal clear waterways, the Allegheny is home to numerous animal species and draws more than 870,000 visitors every year.” said Lacey Vogel, Preservation Associate for PennEnvironment. “Yet Representative Glenn Thompson, Lou Barletta, Mike Kelly and other members of Congress seem bent on trashing our treasures, and have launched an assault on the best of Pennsylvania.”

The PennEnvironment report analyzes the effects that various pieces of legislation moving through the U.S. House of Representatives would have on Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest and more than a dozen other treasured places across the country. Like the Allegheny, these beloved state and national landmarks provide clean water, improve air quality and support critical wildlife habitat, and drive recreation and tourism. Nevertheless, the Representatives mentioned above support two bills that put the park at risk.

The Wilderness & Roadless Release Act (H.R. 1581) and the Wilderness Development Act (H.R. 2578) would allow road building and logging in the most pristine areas within and surrounding the Allegheny National Forest. To make matters worse, the Wilderness Development Act would waive more than a dozen environmental laws within Pennsylvania’s border—allowing vehicles, road and fence construction, and tree removal in wilderness areas within the Allegheny National Forest, causing irreparable damage and disrupting recreational activities that are so beneficial to the local economy.

“Imagine going to the Allegheny National Forest to experience the solitude of wilderness – only to find that acres of forest have been clear cut. Or perhaps you’re hiking one of the remote trails deep in the park and are startled to look up and see trucks rumbling by,” remarked Vogel. “The Wilderness & Roadless Release Act and the Wilderness Development Act would allow road-building and logging in the most pristine and sensitive areas in and around Allegheny National Forest, even though Congress granted extra protections to this national forest’s wilderness and roadless areas decades ago.”

“More than 870,000 people come to Allegheny National Forest every year to marvel at the scenery, hike, bike, canoe, and experience the 370 species of fish and wildlife that make the Forest their home,” said Vogel. “It is astounding that members of Congress, including Pennsylvania’s own Glenn Thompson, Lou Barletta, and Mike Kelly, would risk losing all of this by opening the most sensitive areas of Allegheny to logging and gas-drilling.”

“Consider this: the Allegheny National Forest has some of the oldest and largest tracts of virgin beech-hemlock forest in the eastern United States, and for decades Congress has protected them; but this year, many members of Congress want to risk destroying this Pennsylvanian treasure – our only national forest – by allowing more logging and gas drilling,” concluded Vogel. “Pennsylvanians need to say enough is enough. We must call on our elected officials to reject these bills and make sure that visitors can continue to enjoy Allegheny’s pristine beauty for generations to come.”