USDA Forest Service
Joe Walsh, 202-205-1134
NEW POLICY FOR MANAGING FOREST ROADS
WASHINGTON, Mar. 2, 2000 -- USDA
Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck today outlined
details of the agency's proposed road management
policy. The policy would rely upon scientific analysis
and public involvement at the local level. It is
designed to help the Forest Service determine how
to best manage the more than 380,000 miles of roads
in the national forest roads system.
In February 1999, the Forest Service announced
an interim rule that temporarily suspended road
construction and reconstruction in certain unroaded
areas on national forests and grasslands. The interim
rule gave the agency 18 months to draft a new road
policy and develop new analytical tools.
The public has rightfully questioned the
logic of building new roads when the Forest Service
is inadequately funded to maintain its existing
road system, said Dombeck. This proposal
addresses how to maintain our existing road network
in an environmentally and financially responsible
The Forest Service has at least an $8.4 billion
maintenance and reconstruction backlog and receives
only about 20 percent of the annual funding needed
to maintain the existing road system to current
environmental and safety standards. The new policy
is designed to help the Forest Service prioritize
its road maintenance and reconstruction work so
that the national forest road system will be more
affordable to manage in the future.
Implementation of this policy at the local
level will ensure safe and efficient access of public
lands while protecting land health, said Dombeck.
This policy will enable us to engage local
people in constructive dialogue about how they want
their national forests and grasslands managed,
The final road management policy is scheduled for
completion by Sept. 1, 2000. A 60-day public comment
period begins tomorrow, March 3. Comments may be
sent by mail to USDA Forest Service, CAET, Attn.
Roads, P.O. Box 22300, Salt Lake City, UT 84122,
by fax to (801) 517-1021, or by e-mail to email@example.com.
For more information on the proposed road management
policy, go to www.fs.fed.us/news/roads.