The Oregon Natural Resources Council and the OIA Business for Wilderness program spearheaded an initiative that has been garnering a great deal of national and international press coverage. Some of the biggest names in Oregon's corporate world joined with local manufacturers of outdoor equipment to call on the Bush Administration to uphold protections for National Forest roadless areas.

The ONRC and OIA circulated a letter, which supports the roadless rule in its current form, that was signed by vendors and manufacturers including Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Entre Prises U.S., Metolius, Nike, Norm Thompson, Outward Bound West, Ruffwear Inc, Sahalie by Early Winters, Salomon, and Solstice.

Jay Ward, the Conservation Director for the ONRC, told BOSS that the 2001 roadless rule was the most popular legislation in this decade. Over 1.5 million people voiced their support during development, and over 1 million additional after it was passed.

The Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment for the Bush Administration, Mark Rey, has said that his office is looking at changes in the roadless rule to make sure members of the timber and gas industries have access to these lands.

“Opening these areas to road development and industrial extraction removes the ability to designate them as wilderness in the future,” said Ward. “It is good to see this part of the corporate world backing this initiative. The corporate voice used to be the extractive voice, but more sustainable companies are speaking out and changing that.”

BOSS spoke with Doug Phillips, founder and president of Metolius, who said, “The point we are really trying to get across is that the Oregon economy is much better off with these trees standing than lying on the ground.”

Several states have circulated similar letters to recreation-friendly industries, including California, Washington, and Utah, but with companies like Nike, adidas-Salomon and Columbia Sportswear backing this Oregon initiative, there has been unprecedented media coverage. Stories have shown up in the International Herald-Tribune, on Reuters, in The New York Times, and in countless local papers.

Meno van Wyck, CEO of Montrail and signatory of the Washington State letter, told BOSS that he was happy to see this attention. “It is clear that the extractive part of the economy is consistently declining, while the recreation-based, sustainable industries are growing,” he said. “Our very legitimate environmental concerns have been ignored, but it astonishes us that this administration refuses to listen to even our business voices. When it comes to these kinds of decisions, we not only want to be at the table, we want to be heard.”