Hikes discover a road

  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.

Boise National 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."

* Rocky Barker

High Country News Classifieds