U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today released its summary report of public comments from an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), which will help determine the next steps for roadless area management in national forests and grasslands. The 1,200-page report is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/roadless/.
The Forest Service received approximately 726,000 responses, mostly form letters, to its 10 questions presented in the ANPR. The Forest Service read each response and considered all issues and concerns, including those not related to questions asked in the ANPR.
“We remain committed to protecting and managing roadless values and consider inventoried roadless areas an important component of the National Forest System,” said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. “We will use the public comments to help inform our decision-making on where to go next as we move forward with a responsible and balanced approach that fairly addresses concerns raised by local communities, tribes and states.”
Any future decision on roadless area management will incorporate the Administration’s principles of informed decision-making; working together; protecting forests; protecting communities, homes and property; and protecting access to property.
The report will also be shared with the Forest Roads Working Group, a self-appointed set of non-government organizations that are sponsoring a public dialogue to help resolve issues related to roadless area management in national forests and grasslands.
For a hard copy or CD of the report, contact the Forest Service Content Analysis Team in Salt Lake City at (801) 517-1020.
The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, announced on Jan. 12, 2001, would have restricted logging and road building activities in 58.5 million acres of National Forest System lands. On May 4, 2001, Veneman announced the rule would be implemented, but USDA would move forward with changes to the rule. However, on May 10, 2001, the Idaho District Court preliminarily enjoined the rule nationwide and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the matter. There are a total of nine lawsuits against the rule. While most of the lawsuits have been stayed, three are proceeding, two in North Dakota and one in Wyoming. Inventoried roadless areas in national forests and grasslands are currently managed under directives issued by the Forest Service Chief last year. Under these directives, with some exceptions, final decisions on road building and timber harvesting in inventoried roadless areas are reserved to the Chief. In the meantime, no roads have been built or timber harvested in national forests that would have been prohibited under the roadless rule."