Everyone should write their Congressman that we want Roadless Areas converted to "Backcountry Recreation Areas" with Off-Highway Vehicle and Motorized Recreation guaranteed as part of the management plan.
Want to know what a "Backcountry Recreation Area" is? Link to www.sharetrails.org (Blue Ribbon Coalition).
Want to know what the California Wilderness Coalition wants (the opposition quoted in the article)? Link to www.calwild.org.
Forest Service wants more comments on roadless areas
By LARRY MITCHELL - Staff Writer
Once again, the U.S. Forest Service is asking the public to say how roadless areas in the national forests should be managed.
On July 10, a 60-day period began during which the agency will accept written comments on the management of 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless areas in 120 national forests.
Last year, at the request of President Clinton, the Forest Service sought public input on a plan to protect these roadless areas from further development - a plan that was ultimately adopted.
While promising to protect roadless areas, the Bush administration has asked whether changes in Clinton's
protection plan are warranted.
"A number of states, tribes, organizations and citizens have raised a number of concerns," Dale Bosworth, chief of the Forest Service, wrote in a memo dated July 3. "Many assert that the most appropriate process for evaluating and making long-term resource management direction - including inventoried roadless area protection and management - is through the local forest planning process ..."
Tina Andolina, a spokeswoman for the Davis-based California Wilderness Coalition, said the new round of
comment-seeking is just "a front effort" by the Bush administration as it tries to get around the protection rule and open up the roadless areas to logging and other development.
Having decisions about these areas made at the local level is "returning to square one," she charged. That's how the areas have been managed since 1979, she said, asserting that since then, 97 acres of roadless sectors have been lost every day to logging and other development in California alone. That's an area the size of Yosemite National Park, she added.
The Forest Service ought to know by now how the public feels about roadless areas, she said. In connection with Clinton's protection plan, the Forest Service held 600 public hearings and received 1.6 million comments, 90 percent of which called for keeping roadless areas roadless, she said.
In his memo, however, Bosworth wrote that eight lawsuits involving seven states have been filed against the protection plan. He wrote that "these lawsuits share a common allegation that there was inadequate opportunity for public review and comment on the roadless rule."
The new round of comments will "help decide the next steps in providing long-term protection of roadless values," he wrote.
In his memo, Bosworth asked that public comments include responses to the following questions:
g What is the appropriate role of local forest planning as required by the National Forest Management Act (the law that mandates long-term land use plans for each forest) in evaluating protection and management of inventoried roadless areas?
g What is the best way for the Forest Service to work with the variety of states, tribes, local communities, other organizations and individuals in a collaborative matter to ensure that concerns about roadless values are heard and addressed through a fair and open process?
g How should inventoried roadless areas be managed to provide for healthy forests, including protection from severe wildfires and the buildup of hazardous fuels as well as to provide for the detection and prevention of insect and disease outbreaks?
g How should communities and private property near inventoried roadless areas be protected from the risks
associated with natural events, such as major wildfires that may occur on adjacent federal lands?
* What is the best way to implement the laws that ensure states, tribes, organizations, and private citizens have reasonable access to property they own within inventoried roadless areas?
* What are the characteristics, environmental values, social and economic considerations and other factors the Forest Service should consider as it evaluates inventoried roadless areas?
* Are there specific activities that should be expressly prohibited or expressly allowed for inventoried roadless areas through forest plan revisions or amendments?
* Should inventoried roadless areas selected for future roadless protection through the local forest plan revision process be proposed to Congress for wilderness designation or should they be maintained under a specific designation for roadless area management under the forest plan?
* How can the Forest Service work effectively with individuals and groups with strongly competing views, values and beliefs in evaluating and managing public lands and resources, recognizing that the agency cannot meet all of the desires of all of the parties?
* What other concerns, comments, or interests relating to the protection and management of inventoried roadless areas are important?
Written comments may be mailed to USDA-Forest Service - CAT, Attention: Roadless ANPR Comments, P.O. Box 221090, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84122. Comments may be sent by e-mail to [email protected] or by fax to 1-801-296-4090, Attention: Roadless ANPR Comments.
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