Road ban stops a timber project

  The Forest Service ban on road construction in roadless areas was proposed more than a year ago (HCN, 2/2/98) and went into effect at the beginning of March. Now, it's finally having an impact on the ground. Last month, Dixie National Forest officials canceled a controversial timber sale because it conflicted with the 18-month nationwide moratorium; it's one of the first projects affected by the new policy.

The sale would have allowed logging on about 15,200 acres west of Boulder Mountain in south-central Utah. According to Dixie spokesperson Frances Reynolds, the project called for the construction or reconstruction of almost 29 miles of roads, some within areas now classified as "unroaded" and off-limits to road construction under the new moratorium.

Reynolds says the withdrawal is not connected to a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, the Boulder Mountain Wilderness Committee and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance shortly after the project was announced in 1995.

In the Cedar City office of SUWA, Liz Thomas says Dixie officials' actions are a step in the right direction. "There's not much wilderness left in Dixie. We're pleased that they're taking steps to protect the area from further damage," she says. "It's encouraging that Dixie officials have finally recognized that these areas do fit into the roads moratorium." The environmental groups plan to settle their lawsuit.

Meanwhile, says Reynolds, Dixie National Forest officials will re-examine the project and decide whether it can be altered to fit the requirements of the moratorium. They expect to reach a conclusion by the fall of 1999.

*Lisa Church
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