How much forest planning is enough?

  Dear HCN,

I disagree that President Clinton's 40 million-acre roadless area proposal represents "uncharted territory: (HCN, 11/8/99: A new road for the public lands). We have already done what the president wants - been there, done that! Each national forest has been through at least one forest plan. In that process we looked at each inventoried roadless area and discussed the pros and cons of leaving it roadless. This was done through an open public-involvement process that all could participate in. Following that process, national forests allocated roadless areas to either a roadless or roaded prescription. No one is 100 percent satisfied, but we can at least live with the result.

Now the president wants to impose a top-down decision. Apparently we didn't get it right the first time, so we have to do it again. But whose definition of "right" do we go by? If we look at the roadless areas again to satisfy Clinton and the next administration does not agree, do we do it again? This will lead to a perpetual planning process. Now that we have public-involved forest plans, I think it is time to bury inventoried roadless areas so far in the earth they cannot be dug up again.

Jim Gerber
St. Anthony, Idaho

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