The Snowbank Roadless Area near Cascade, Idaho, is no longer roadless. The Boise National Forest blames a mapping error for its approval of a road and a 315-acre logging operation in an area previously proposed for wilderness protection, but it's too late now, the agency says.
"We did not become
aware of the mistake until after the timber sale contract had been
awarded and the road construction completed," said Forest
Supervisor David Rittenhouse in a letter to forest users. The
agency was alerted to its mistake by two hikers, who were startled
by the sight of a logging road.
Forest staffer Chris Worth says the mistake occurred because 100
acres in the area were logged in the late 1970s. This led to
confusion within the agency about the boundaries of the roadless
area, he says, which resulted in the approval of the current sale
to Boise Cascade.
Idaho conservationists say the
error illustrates why a moratorium on road building is necessary.
"They need to stop building roads in roadless areas until they get
their affairs in order," says John McCarthy of the Idaho
Conservation League. "They're logging a potential wilderness area,
and they're only talking to themselves."