USDA Forest Service
Heidi Valetkevitch, 202-205-1134
ANNOUNCES NEW ROAD POLICY
WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2001 -- USDA
Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck today approved
the agencys new forest road management policy,
which will rely heavily upon scientific analysis
and public involvement at the local level to provide
a road system that is safe, responsive to public
needs, environmentally sound, affordable and efficient
to manage. The policy was sent today to the Federal
Register for publication.
The new road policy will improve public access
to the forests we all love while diminishing the
risks of erosion and water quality degradation,
said Dombeck. It shifts the agencys
policy from developing its transportation system
to managing its transportation system in an environmentally
and financially responsible way.
The Forest Service has a mounting $8.4 billion
maintenance and reconstruction backlog and receives
only about 20 percent of the annual funding needed
to maintain the existing 380,000-plus mile road
system to environmental and safety standards.
The dramatic shift in public use of national forests
over the years led the Forest Service to find a
new approach to deciding the appropriate extent,
use and standards for the forest road system. About
15,000 logging vehicles use forest roads dailyabout
the same number as in 1950. In contrast, an estimated
1.7 million vehicles travel forest roads for recreation
on a daily basis, which is 10 times greater than
We need to work better with local people
to make decisions about their forests local
roads, said Dombeck. This policy will
help us bring communities together to make common
sense decisions in the best interest of the land
about the roads we should keep, those we should
close and those we may want to convert to other
uses, such as walking trails.
The policy addresses all roads over which the Forest
Service has jurisdiction and sets official definitions
for road management terms. In addition, the policy
gives interim requirements for inventoried roadless
areas and contiguous unroaded areas.
The policy is a result of an extensive public involvement
process that began in January 1998 when the Forest
Service announced its intent to revise its road
policy. At the same time, the agency issued an interim
rule that temporarily suspended road construction
in certain unroaded areas on national forests and
grasslands. The agency received a record number
of commentsmore than 130,000. The interim
rule gave the agency a time out to develop
a new road management policy and analytical tools.
The Forest Service received approximately 5,900
comments when it released its proposed road management
policy in March. The agency is currently working
on a separate policy that protects inventoried roadless
areas on National Forest System lands.
More information on the road management policy
can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/news/roads.