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Roadless Rule back for comment

The U.S. Forest Service has formally reopened discussions on former President Clinton’s roadless rule, a sweeping mandate which closes 58.5 million acres of federal forests to logging and road construction, including nearly 15 million acres of unroaded areas in Alaska where it would have its biggest impact.

The public has until September 10 to comment on ten questions that were published in the Federal Register last month.

The rule was originally scheduled to take effect in March, but the Secre- tary of Agriculture extended the effec- tive date until May to permit a thorough review by the new Bush administration. Eight lawsuits involving seven states, including Idaho and Alaska, were filed against the rule. In May, the Idaho Dis- trict Court granted a preliminary injunc- tion barring the Forest Service from implementing the measure.

Judge Edward Lodge agreed with the arguments of a variety of interests who filed the Idaho lawsuit that allowing the rule to take effect would pose serious risks of “irreparable harm.” However, Lodge encouraged the Bush administration to move ahead with a study of possible revisions after seeking additional public input.

Many interests in the West, where most of the rule’s impact would be felt, maintained all along that the Clinton administration’s roadless rule was pre- determined and one-sided, failing to consider the long-term consequences for managing the health of the national forests. Senator Larry Craig of Idaho argued during the rule’s creation that it would amount to a sweeping mandate from Washington that didn’t take into account the conditions of each forest.

Many assert that the most appropriate process for evaluating and making long-term resource management decisions is through the local forest planning process. They also maintain that decisions affecting individual national forests should be based on local information and knowledge and the best available science rather than applying one

RDC maintains that decisions on new roads in national forests should be made on a case-by-case basis through local plans.

standard uniformly to every roadless area, no matter its location.

Environmentalists claim the Bush administration and the Court are ignor- ing 1.6 million comments the Forest Service already received on the issue. According to the agency, 95 percent of the comments were in support of the rule.

However, most of the comments supporting the rule were in the form of pre-printed post cards with generic, but compelling sound-bites designed to appeal to one’s environmental con- science. The post cards were printed in mass by environmental groups and sent to well-meaning Americans who know little about local forest planning and other technical resource management issues.

Most comments received from local and state governments in the West, as well as residents and a wide variety of interests near the forests impacted by the rule, were in opposition to the mandate.

The vast majority of roadless areas are in the West with smaller sections scattered across the nation.

RDC is working with various interests in Alaska to provide the new administration with additional input on the rule. An Action Alert will also be sent to members and posted on the RDC website at www.akrdc.org.

Page 6 / RESOURCE REVIEW / Augu

st 2001

2001 Alaska Coal Classic

Proceeds from the Alaska Coal Association’s Golf Tournament go directly to AMEREF. Above are Bob Stiles, Gail Phillips and Charlotte MacCay. Below, Becky Gay swings, but look closely, the ball is still there! Good thing Becky bought her mulligans.

AMEREF ...

(Continued from page 5)

various fund-raising activities such as the “Coal Classic” Golf Tournament, a raffle held at the Alaska Miners Association’s (AMA) annual conven- tion, and an annual matching grant from National Bank of Alaska, now Wells Fargo. Also, each year a proposal goes before the Alaska Legislature to con- tinue the public/private partnership be- tween the Department of Education (DOE) and AMEREF. DOE is a full participant in the partnership by directly funding a portion of the program.

If you know a teacher that would like to receive a kit or you are interested in helping support the AMEREF pro- gram and responsible resource educa- tion for Alaskan children, please call or e-mail RDC.

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