By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
After it appeared as though local residents would have to travel to
Twin Falls or not participate, Sawtooth National Forest officials scheduled a public
meeting in Ketchum to receive comments regarding President Bill Clintons roadless
The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at Ketchum City Hall,
480 East Avenue North.
"We decided to provide this opportunity after receiving requests
for a meeting here in the Wood River Valley," Ketchum District ranger Kurt Nelson
The Forest Service will provide a brief presentation on the background
of the presidents proposal and the process for making decisions. The majority of the
meeting will be dedicated to listening and recording comments from the public regarding
the proposal, according to a Sawtooth National Forest press release.
Nelson and Sawtooth National Recreation Area ranger Deb DesLaurier will
be there to help answer questions.
Similar hearings have been taking place around the state in the past
week, and newspapers are reporting that flocks of people are turning out to protest or
support the initiative. In rural areas of Idaho, miners, loggers and ranchers, in general,
are turning out to speak against Clintons proposal while a recent hearing in Boise
was flooded with environmentalists in favor of the initiative.
In all, Clintons plan could protect 40 million acres of land from
road building nationwide. In Idaho, there are 9,449,400 acres of national forest that
dont have roads.
"The president is asking us to work with the public to develop a
rule that would initiate a two-part process to protect roadless areas," Sawtooth
National Forest supervisor Bill LeVere said. "If adopted, part one of the rule would
immediately restrict certain activities, such as road construction in (road-free) portions
of inventoried roadless areas."
He said the second part of the presidents proposed order is to
establish national direction for managing the inventoried road-free areas in the future
and for determining whether, and to what extent, similar protections should be extended to
non-inventoried road-free areas.
LeVere said the 1987 Sawtooth Forest Plan identifies approximately
702,000 acres in that category.
The deadline for comments during the initial phase of the process is
However, Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne has received support for his
request to extend the initial public comment period by 120 days.
After the Dec. 20 deadline, according to LeVere, the Forest Service
will begin drafting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a national level.
The draft EIS will be released this spring. The Forest Service will
seek more public comment in the process before making a final decision. The final decision
is expected to be made in December of 2000.