Environmental groups and the timber industry
are united for once. Both oppose the Forest Service's plan for
protecting roadless areas.
The plan, released
May 9, comes in response to President Clinton's promise last
October to protect undesignated wilderness in national forests
(HCN, 11/8/99: A new road for the public lands). The proposal would
ban road building on 43 million acres of forest, but local forest
managers would decide whether to allow helicopter logging or other
activities, taking into account social and ecological factors. The
proposal also suspends a decision on protecting parts of Alaska's
Tongass National Forest until 2004.
industry officials say that without logging roads there will be no
means of controlling wildfires or tree-killing diseases.
"All they can do is use flame throwers or wait
for lightning to hit," says Frank Carroll of the Potlatch Corp. in
Idaho. From another perspective, Brian Vincent of the American
Lands Association calls the proposal a "bitter disappointment."
Roadless areas are not permanently protected, he says, because
logging and ORV access aren't permanently
"They are taking baby steps where there
needs to be giant leaps," he says.
In the next
two months, the Forest Service will hold over 300 open meetings
around the country for the public to express ideas and share
For a schedule of meetings, to view
the proposal and draft EIS, or to comment before July 17, see
roadless.fs.fed.us, or write to USDA Forest Service-CAET; Attention
Roadless Area Proposed Rule, P.O. Box 221090, Salt Lake City, UT