Friday, February 1, 2008

ICL to address Idaho?s roadless forest land

Group will host presentation in Hailey on Feb. 6


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

The future of Idaho's backcountry forests will be addressed during a meeting in Hailey next week.

The Idaho Conservation League will host a presentation on the federal government's new draft plan for managing Idaho's 9.3 million acres of roadless national forest land, released to the public in December by the U.S. Forest Service.

The presentation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Hailey Community Campus at 1050 Fox Acres Rd.

Not all are in favor of the new roadless rule, which would replace the 2001-era Clinton roadless rule.

Idaho and several other Western states had challenged the Clinton rule, which protected a total of 58.5 million acres of roadless national forest land nationwide. The rule was thrown out by the Bush administration, but reinstated in early 2007 by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Laporte in San Francisco.

Under the Clinton rule, which remains in effect even though it continues to be challenged by some Western states, all 9.3 million acres of inventoried roadless areas in Idaho receive the same level of protection. State and national environmental groups contend the new draft plan could open many of Idaho's most remote and pristine roadless national forest lands to logging, mining, road building and other resource development activities.

"It's stark," the Wilderness Society's Idaho forest campaign director John McCarthy said during an interview in December.

Only in very limited circumstances, such as when fuels reduction is needed to protect rural communities, can forest managers authorize development activities inside roadless areas protected under the Clinton-era rule. But environmentalists contend that the new plan, which is backed by Lt. Gov. Jim Risch as well as Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, would place greater development pressure on approximately 5.8 million acres of Idaho's roadless national forest land.

For questions about the presentation, contact the ICL's Tom Schwarz at (208) 830-0721 or by e-mail at tschwarz@wildidaho.org.




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