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Great Lakes Article:

Forest Service Directives Attempt To Open Up Roadless Areas  - Comments Due February 19th, 2002

January 2, 2001

On December 14th the Forest Service implemented several new interim  directives that will continue the Bush Administration'S efforts to  undermine protections put in place by the Clinton Administration,  including the National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Rule. On the  day that the Clinton Policy was adopted by the Forest Service, last  January 12th, a new Transportation Policy was implemented that included  additional protections for areas not covered by the Roadless Conservation Rule.

Under the a smokescreen of the need to remove ôredundanciesö in the  rules, the directives are a plain and simple attempt to reopen our

National Forest roadless areas to logging.  The directives will last 18 months.

The new directives:

1. Eliminate the requirement that there must be a ôcompelling needö to  build roads in roadless areas;

2. Gives the Forest Service added discretion to determine if an  environmental impact statement will be needed, and all small and  uninventoried roadless areas that border wilderness or inventoried areas  will lose special protection; and

3. Weaken protections of old growth in roadless areas.

Under the directives, logging and road building projects in roadless  areas are subject to approval by the Forest Service Chief or Regional Foresters until local forest managers complete a vague ôroads analysisö  that would meet a lower standard - that a road meets a documented needö  and forest plans are updated. Forests with revised plans, such as  AlaskaÆs Tongass National Forest, are exempt from Chief-level review.

Earlier this year the Sate of Idaho and several timber corporations,  including Boise Cascade Corporation brought suits to stop the protection  of over 58 million acres of roadless National Forest Land that would  result if the Clinton [Policy were put in force. Resolution of the legal  battles may take years.  In the meantime the Bush Administration is  seeking other ways to eliminate protections.  Just this week Forest  Chief Dale Bosworth and Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey used ôfire salvageö and ôrestorationö loopholes to open up over 46,000 acres,  with over 50% in roadless wildlands and endangered fish habitat, in MontanaÆs Bitterroot National Forest.

A 60-day public comment period on the new directives was announced in  the Federal Register on December 20th.  Comments are due February 19,2002. 

Send them to:

USFS CAT, Attention: Road Policy, P.O. Box 221150, Salt Lake City, UT,

84122; via e-mail to; or via facsimile to USFS CAT,

Attention: Road Policy, at 801-517-1021.

Talking Points:

*  Please demand that the Forest Service cease any attempts to undermine  protections on our National Forest roadless areas as provided by the  Roadless Area Conservation Rule and the Transportation Policy adopted  last January.

*  Urge the Forest Service and Administration to not renege on their  promise to uphold protections for roadless areas.

*  Our National Forests currently contain over 383,000 miles of roads  and the maintenance backlog on that road system now exceeds $8 billion  dollars.  The Forest Service should eliminate roads not build new ones. 

*  These directives continue the Forest Service policy of turning over  all roadless area management decisions to the local forest planning  process, which has favored logging and other development of roadless  areas.  This marks a return to the same failed management policy that  created the need for the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in the first  place.

Thank you for taking time to submit comments

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