Forest Roadless Rule Delayed 60 Days

BACKGROUND: Today the Federal Register published a “final rule delay of effective date” for the Forest Service Roadless rule. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman signed the delay Jan. 29, 2001. The delay pushes the effective date from March 13 to May 12, 2001.

President Bush promised to review all “hurried last minute” rulings made by the outgoing administration. This is a rule that would have grave consequences on the health of our national forests and should be reviewed.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: This is a good decision by the Bush administration to review the Forest Service roadless plan. The disastrous wildfires we had last summer burned twice as many acres in roadless areas as they did in forests with roads. Forest roads are invaluable tools for controlling fires, as well as the sustainable logging necessary to maintain forest health. This plan, formulated behind closed doors, deserves thoughtful review.

DISCUSSION:According to the ruling listed today in the federal register, the “temporary 60-day delay is necessary to give Department officials the opportunity for further review and consideration of new regulations, consistent with the Assistant to the president’s memorandum of January 20, 2001.”

As we earlier reported it seems the development of the Clinton Administration roadless plan was done in violation of open meetings laws because it was the product of a series of secret meetings between the Heritage Forests Campaign, the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The Heritage Forests Campaign is composed of members from a variety of “environmental” groups, financed by the National Audubon Society, using funds from the Pew Charitable Trust. For a detailed investigative report on how the Heritage Forest Campaign worked with the Clinton White House to develop the roadless plan, contact the House Forest and Forest Health Subcommittee Staff Director, Doug Crandall, at 202-225-0691.

Also, the House Forest and Forest Health Subcommittee has a study which demonstrates that fires last year in roadless areas were well over 50 percent more destructive than fires in roaded areas. Information on this study is available from the subcommittee’s staff director, Doug Crandall, at the above number.

From a legal standpoint, the plan would appear to be in violation of Title 16, Chapter 2, Subchapter I, Sections 528,529, 530, 531 and 532 of the U.S. Code. And, in the case of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, Title 16, Chapter 51, Subchapter VI, Section 3213 would appear to have been violated as well.

For extensive studies and reports of forests, fires and land management, go to:

Click on Issue Areas, then Federal Lands.

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