Bush reviewing Clintons Nat'l Forest Policy

Tinhorn

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Story Filed: Thursday, May 03, 2001 10:11 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration will try to revise a Clinton-era ban on road-building and most logging in a third of the country's national forests to allow decisions to be made locally on a forest-by-forest basis, officials said Thursday.

The Clinton ban, which covered 58.5 million acres, will remain in place until a new rule is devised, according to administration and congressional officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

``We are going to be reviewing it for a while, but at least we are going to be doing it on a site-specific basis where real land considerations can be made,'' a congressional source said.

This official stressed the current protections for roadless areas would remain until each forest is analyzed........
 



tommyo

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Thanks for the update.  I am puzzled by this issue - how many roads do we need in the forest?  i am not opposed to new roadbuilding - yet some/all existing roads are worthy of continued maintenance.  i am not convinced that as a sportsman it is as clear that Clinton was all wrong or that Bush is all right.  Seen too much partisanship on this issue to get  a good sense of it so far.  Help me if you please.
 

Speckmisser

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Tommyo,

Grab your asbestos shorts before you get too involved in this issue... trust me. You might scan back to the "Eastern Sierra In Trouble" thread in this forum.  But try to keep in mind that this issue is much bigger than a couple of areas in California.

It's a rather convoluted battle, but it boils down to a couple of main issues.  

Probably the first issue is that roads encourage use.  Sometimes, that's not a bad thing.  But generally, when a road enters the wilderness, the "wilderness" quickly becomes just another "forest".  Roads generally precede development, and that is one of the main points of opposition that environmentalists offer. . .the "slippery slope" argument.  First a road, then logging or mining, then erosion and destruction of watersheds.  Development usually follows closely, with impervious surfaces (pavement) and highly increased user impacts.  

The argument has drawn an unfortunate and inaccurate line between "Environmentalist" and "Conservationist", a line perpetuated by lobbies such as the "Wise Use" contingent which is comprised mainly of off-roaders, extractive industry, and the automotive industry.  

Many hunters find themselves in the Wise Use camp as well, often drawn in by propagandistic fear-mongering about how "THEY" (enviros) are taking "OUR" lands away from us.  The argument seems valid because public lands are being closed to vehicle access... particularly OFF-ROAD vehicles.  The fact is, though, most currently existing roads aren't going anywhere.  The majority of legislation impacts currently roadless areas (yes, with some exceptions).  And bottom line is, most of these areas will remain available for hunting and fishing.  

Wise Use groups play on the hunters' distrust of the environmentalists (many of us inaccurately equate environmentalist with anti-hunter) and use our own paranoia to turn us toward Wise Use dogma.  To further enhance the self-perpetuating cycle of distrust, many environmentalists assume that hunters are all Wise Users and automatically take up defensive positions.  The paranoia works both ways, and we end up with diametrically opposed efforts, rather than constructive cooperation.  

The other big issue here is that defining "Roads" is apparently as tricky in the governmental lexicon as defining "Sex".  Many of the laws governing extractive industry and development hinge around "existing roadways".  

In Utah, for example, if an existing road is identified in a township or county's borders, it can be "maintained", which means that an old jeep trail is subject to being paved if it can be proven that the trail is an "existing road".  This may not sound like a big deal, unless you have been out in the Utah desert and seen the number of jeep and four-wheeler trails carving across the terrain.  Under the current laws, a majority of those trails would be susceptible to paving and development at the whim of the county or township.  

In a similar issue, logging trucks are restricted in some areas to the use of existing roads.  You might be able to imagine the creativity some of these guys use in defining a road... especially when they're way back in the boonies where no one can really watch them anyway.  

Even establishing roadless areas hasn't proven to be a simple feat, because it is still necessary to distinguish a "road" from a "trail".  And as we have seen, closing any road OR trail leads to some pretty loud screaming.  

One of the things I anticipate the Bush administration to do when "reviewing" Clinton's roadless areas designation is to redefine "roads"... much as Reagan and Bush Sr. did when they redefined wetlands.  This will open up some loopholes, especially for the extractive industry folks.  

I dunno if this shines any light on the issue, or makes it even cloudier.  But that's pretty much what I know of it, filtered by what I think about it.  I can't pretend to be unbiased in this one.  I've said before. I'd love to see more roadless areas where access is foot, canoe, or horseback only.  
 

Scank

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You're right! We don't need more roads in the desolate, sagebrush infested, wasteland we call the majority of the Eastern Sierra.The Mono Lake area is so beautiful and wild that even foot traffic should be halted. Give me a break...
 

grizz

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Besides being a hunter and a fisherman I consider myself an ATV'er and a 4x4'er. I use them (the truck, jeep and quad) to get to my hunting and fishing spots wherever that might be in any given day.  Some spots are easyly acessable an some aren't.  So I chosse the one ( or more) that works for me that day.
  But maybe the next day I just want to go wheelin or ATV rideing. Maybe hit the jeep/mule trails or old logging roads to some of the nice places I know.  Should I have to have a horse or now walk or ride a bike to get to those spots?  No thanks!  I like gas power.  After all this is 2001 not 1801.
  Also I belive if motor vehicles are ban from an area.  Than ban Horeses and bikes too.  Thier nothing but a vehicle, and cause thier own problems and damage to these so called senceative areas.  Plus why should I be penalized for not haveing a horse or being able to ride a bike.
 I hope Bush undoses all this Clinton Monument/ Roadless crap.  
 

tommyo

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Thanks Speckmisser - now I know what side of the fence I am on!
 


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