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Make a call to protect our forests

Discussion in 'Land Use' started by bigjbear, Oct 31, 2000.

  1. bigjbear

    bigjbear 1 ton status Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 18, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Marietta GA
    I am forwarding this,it is a UFWDA Action Alert
    Clinton to lock up national forests
    Pushes to establish roadless rule before leaving office
    Call 1-800/663-9566 (press zero to bypass the long recording)
    And Tell the President not to lock us out of OUR Forests

    The United States Forest Service is rushing to make final by
    mid-December -- before President Clinton leaves office -- a rule that
    would prohibit all road building in the 54 million acres of national
    forest that are currently roadless.

    The proposed rule has come under fire from many in and out of Congress,
    including the supervisor of a national forest in Idaho who says that
    Washington is trying to dictate something that is best determined on a
    local basis, forest by forest.

    Republicans in Congress have also attacked the proposed rule as a
    politically motivated measure, crafted by extremist environmentalists,
    which would increase the risk of devastating wildfires on Forest Service

    Jim Caswell, supervisor of the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho, in
    an interview with Human Events called the plan "shortsighted" and said
    that it fails to recognize the unique local factors that individual
    field offices take into account when planning the use of forest land.

    Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, like many who are watching the issue closely,
    argues that the Forest Service, a division of the Agriculture
    Department, is usurping congressional authority and disregarding the
    federal laws that govern bureaucratic rulemaking.

    In 1897, Congress passed the Organic Act, which created the National
    Forest System. This act explicitly set aside national forests to serve a
    purpose different from national parks. While national parks are more or
    less scenic national playgrounds and nature preserves, national forests
    exist to serve as repositories for the nation's exploitable timber and
    water assets.

    The federal government intended to assure a sustained, renewable timber
    supply by taking ownership of these forests and regulating the logging
    there in the interests of preserving a long-term supply of lumber and
    other wood products. The forests were also intended to be protected

    Road not taken
    In the 1960s, Congress started designating certain federally owned lands
    "wilderness" areas. In these special reserves, mechanized equipment --
    cars, chainsaws, bicycles -- is prohibited. Typically, a "wilderness"
    area is set aside within a national forest after the congressional
    delegation from the state in which the forest is located encourages
    Congress to make the designation by law.

    President Clinton's unilateral roadless rule would impose on regular
    national forest lands many of the same restrictions currently considered
    the prerogative of the states and of Congress through its ability to
    designate "wilderness" areas.

    Craig attributes the Clinton rule to a "political agenda and not a real
    time problem on our political lands." A few environmental
    special-interest groups have basically crafted the rule without any
    public input, he said.

    Craig thinks the Clinton administration -- which has been accused of
    politicizing the INS, IRS, Department of Justice, Census Bureau and
    strategic petroleum reserves -- is using the proposed rule in an effort
    to buy environmentalist votes for Gore and the Democrats. He is
    convinced the Forest Service has been politicized because, during the
    recent fire season, "they were willing to shut
    down all other activities that were involving staff and delegate the
    staff out to the fires, except those who were working on this issue."

    Craig also questioned the prudence of the law.

    "What I think the public saw this summer ... was that a well-managed
    road system can be a tremendous asset during certain conditions. During
    the catastrophic fire season we just went through, we probably lost
    hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat simply because roads had
    already been closed or were not passable for fire-fighting equipment and

    Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt rejected that reasoning this
    summer when he told ABC's Sam Donaldson on Aug. 27, "Sam, I've been out
    on the fire lines, year in, year out, since I was 18 years old as a
    firefighter, and I can tell you one thing: The way we get to fires today
    is by helicopter. This is rough, tough country. What does building roads
    have to do with suppressing fires? I'm put on
    a helicopter when I go to a fire line."

    Doug Crandall, a senior aide with the House Subcommittee on Forests and
    Forest Health, found that statement laughable. Large forest fires, he
    said, can effectively be fought only where there are roads, and that the
    maintenance necessary to prevent fires also requires roads.

    Crandall provided Human Events with information on the comparative
    damage caused by fires in roadless as opposed to roaded tracts of
    National Forest in Montana and northern Idaho last year. While the
    regions covered by the study were almost equally divided between
    roadless (24.3 million acres) and roaded (23.6 million acres), the
    roadless areas were much more devastated.
    While 397,000 roaded acres burned, 622,000 roadless acres burned -- well
    over 50 percent more.

    Les Rosencrantz, a former firefighter with the Bureau of Land Management
    agrees that Babbitt's claim is "a pretty dumb statement," and that roads
    are primary tools for fighting fires.

    But Ron Dunton, the current fire program manager at the BLM's national
    office of Fire and Aviation in Boise, Idaho, says the pro-road forces
    are politicizing the issue as much as the anti-road groups.

    "The whole roadless issue, from a fire standpoint, depends on whether
    you're a Republican or a Democrat because both sides have politicized
    it. It's a non-issue," Dunton said.

    But he did concede the seemingly obvious point that roads make
    firefighting easier, adding that a cost/benefit calculation needs to be
    made. Where there are no roads now, he said, there tend to be few
    precious resources to protect, such as timber.

    George Lennon, spokesman for the Forest Service, echoed that sentiment
    when he said that the rule would limit access only to places where
    loggers or harvesters have so far found no reason to harvest.

    Additionally, Dunton claims that roadless areas have fewer causes of
    fires, because people and machinery are absent. Dunton also rejects the
    claim that active forest management -- which requires roads -- can
    prevent fires. He said such management is helpful in certain forests,
    such as the Ponderosa forests in California, but not in most of the

    Yet, it is precisely this complexity -- that different forests call for
    different management plans -- that makes the nationwide rule
    ill-advised, says Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Jim Caswell.

    Caswell said Babbitt's statement about the need for roads was a
    "simplification." Fires "are more difficult to fight, more expensive to
    fight" from the air, he said. "If it's big and it's really moving, as
    was the case in some of the major fires that burned this summer, less
    access means you're less effective."

    Dunton's paradigm of roadless-equals-worthless is "baloney," says
    Caswell. Agreeing that for the most part if timber is there, roads are,
    too, he added, "That's not the only resource." There are "a lot more
    valuable resources out there than just trees and the products that trees
    make," he said, listing fish habitats, wildlife habitats and recreation
    as national forest resources threatened by fires.

    Caswell's central disagreement with the rule is its repudiation of the
    principle of local control of the national forests. Over half of the 1.8
    million acres in Clearwater National Forest are roadless and would be
    "locked up," as Caswell puts it, by Clinton's rule. That would undo
    months of work put in by an interdisciplinary team of specialists on how
    the local timber, water, soil and wildlife should
    be utilized, as well as how local fires should be fought.

    Clearwater's team worked together, weighing the value of the harvesting
    potential against the value of unique habitats and wildlife. They
    recommended that Congress set aside 198,000 acres as wilderness, and
    leave 235,000 acres available for recreation, but not for harvesting or
    roads. That would have left another 550,000 acres available for eventual
    timber harvesting and the roads necessary to do that harvesting.

    Because Clearwater is unusually wet for an inland forest, it has a rich
    timber supply in currently roadless areas, said Caswell -- refuting
    Dunton's argument.

    Clinton's rule would shut that land down, foreclose timber harvesting
    jobs, and put upward pressure on the price of timber used to build
    American homes.

    Caswell sees the rule as an effort by environmentalists to end-run the
    current process.

    "I don't think it's the right approach, quite frankly, I don't. The
    forest plans have already made these decisions once. It's just that some
    people don't like the answers."

    "The local people look at this national forest as in their backyard,"
    Caswell explained. "Most of those people want to see this forest
    managed. They do not want to see it locked up."

    "Once you draw a line around it and once you proclaim, 'You can't do X,
    Y, Z on those acres,'" he said, "then the fear is that next week, next
    month, next year, it'll be, 'Now you can't do A, B, C.' And then you're
    not going to be able to do D, E, F either."

    Jim '80 GMC
    Vote Freedom First!

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