Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Roadless plan is rotten deal

More than two-thirds of Idaho's pristine forests are at risk for development in the new Idaho Roadless Rule. The stark fact of less protection for Idaho compared to the rest of the nations' last best forests is a rotten deal for our children.

Our Idaho lakes, rivers, trails, trees, fish, wildlife and scenic beauty are all connected through our 9.3 million acres of pristine, roadless forests. Water quality and wildlife habitat are supported by the foundation of roadless forests.

The Idaho Roadless Rule puts 6 million acres at risk to loose its roadless quality and scenic quality, according to the U.S. Forest Service analysis.

The new plan opens new loopholes for road construction, logging and mining in 6 million acres. More logging, mining and roads equals less protection for our forests.

Idahoans and Americans will not benefit from less protection to our forests. Corporations will get sweetheart deals.

All Idahoans benefit from clean water flowing from our forests, for drinking water, for farmers, for anglers. All Idahoans benefit from scenic beauty to hike, hunt, fish, watch wildlife, camp and picnic.

A national rule was hammered out in 2001, with flexibility to do specific management treatments in focused areas. The 2001 plan set a national standard of protection for all roadless forests and it permitted protection actions for fire, water quality and endangered species.

Conservationists, land managers, community officials and sporting interests have worked out projects in roadless forests to protect communities and municipal watersheds all over the state. Projects have been done or are in the works in roadless areas near Bonners Ferry, Silver Creek, Salmon, Stanley, Yellow Pine, Grandjean, Montpelier, and Warm Lake—all consistent with the 2001 rule.

These projects include logging and thinning of forests for specific fire or watershed protection.

Safety for people and communities is a common goal for everyone. Protection of our last, best forests is also a common goal for Idaho and American people.

The Forest Service Web site for Idaho roadless forests said on Dec. 19, 2007, "all categories of Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs) get equal protection under the final rule." The final rule was supposed to be in 2001.

On Dec. 20, 2007, more than 1,100 pages of documents were posted on the same Web site. Under the new Idaho rule, in 2008 more than 6 million acres of Idaho forests will get less protection. Less protection from development is not progress, it's going backwards.

A 90-day public comment period started today, Dec. 26. Please make your voice heard to protect Idaho's forests for our children.

John McCarthy

The Wilderness Society


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