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Bush Ditchubg NF Roadless Rule

The fun never stops! The dick-tater's poularity is dropping fast, millions at home and abroad are glimpsing the perfidious misleadership (or at least a bigger portion of it) due to F911. We've always known that Bu$hco wanted to overturn the Roadless Rules in our National Forests. Here's a reiteration from the Missoula, MT daily rag about how he plans to do it. And it's just in time for Biscuit and the election (if that;s allowed to proceed).
State-by-state roadless plans unveiled
By SHERRY DEVLIN of the Missoulian

Saying communities need more certainty and less litigation, the Bush administration on Monday proposed replacing a ban on logging in roadless areas of national forests with state-by-state roadless plans proposed by governors.

"We can do better," Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said in announcing the proposed new roadless conservation rule. "The prospect of endless lawsuits provides no certainty for communities."

Announced at a news conference in the Idaho Capitol Rotunda, the proposal was hailed as "a welcome message" by that state's governor, and later by Montana Gov. Judy Martz.

"We will now have a roadless process that respects state sovereignty," said Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, who sued the U.S. Forest Service after the Clinton administration adopted a rule conserving all remaining 58.5 million acres of roadless national forest land.

"The president has again proven that he and his administration understand that state, tribal and local governments are best equipped to make key decisions about the future of our public lands," added Martz.

Just as quickly came the outcry from environmental leaders, who blasted the proposal as a giveaway to the timber industry and a slap in the face of millions of Americans who supported the Clinton rule.

"This is the biggest single giveaway to the timber industry in the history of the national forests," said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust. "The day this administration's proposal takes effect, every acre of the remaining untouched 30 percent of the national forests will lose protection from logging, mining and oil drilling."

"Today's announcement will all but eliminate protections for America's last remaining unspoiled national forests," said William Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society. "Worse yet, this decision completely ignores the wishes of the 2.5 million Americans who have repeatedly supported these protections."

In her announcement, Veneman said the Clinton administration's roadless rule "has been and continues to be the subject of extended and complex litigation, including nine lawsuits in seven different states involving at least 12 federal judges."

Clinton's rule, published as he left office in January 2001, forbid road building and logging in roadless areas, including 6.4 million acres in Montana and 9.3 million acres in Idaho.

Kempthorne was among the loudest critics, eventually convincing a federal judge that states had been illegally excluded from the rule-making process.

Last July, U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer of Wyoming threw out the Clinton administration's roadless rule.

"The prognosis for the 2001 rule is for continuing litigation for many years," Veneman said Monday. "Much of this involves complaints about process shortcuts and the refusal to allow states any role in decision-making."

The Bush administration plan begins by temporarily reinstating the ban on development for 18 months. During that time, the chief of the Forest Service must approve any road building in roadless areas of the national forests.

Governors will have those 18 months to propose a conservation plan for roadless areas on national forests in their states.

Thirty-nine states have roadless areas within their boundaries, although 97 percent of the acreage lies within 12 Western states.

"State governments are important partners in the stewardship of the nation's land and natural resources," Veneman said. "Strong state and federal cooperation in the management of roadless areas will foster strong local involvement and support for a final policy."

States would submit their roadless area proposals to Veneman, who would pass them on to the Forest Service for environmental analysis and public comment.

"We see this as a collaborative process," the secretary said. "This is an opportunity for input, not for sole control."

In Missoula, Regional Forester Gail Kimbell emphasized that a long list of laws governs the use and management of national forests, "and all of those remain intact."

"Just because someone wants something doesn't make it so," she said. "We've been faced with that challenge before."

Governors deserve more access to the decision-making process, Kimbell said, but the public will not be excluded and environmental laws will not be ignored.

A number of industry groups endorsed the move, including the Montana Logging Association and Society of American Foresters.

Michael Mortimer, forest policy chairman for the SAF, said his group's main objection to the 2001 rule was its top-down approach.

"They were essentially dictating how roadless areas were going to be managed or not managed by virtue of a blanket rule from Washington, D.C.," said Mortimer, a professor at Virginia Tech.

"With this proposal, we see more flexibility afforded to individual forests and states to craft a roadless policy that makes sense for their state," he said. "The society is in favor of a process that acknowledges local concerns and local issues."

Politics are an inevitable part of the process, Mortimer said. "But would you rather have political debates occurring in Washington, D.C., or in Montana?"

At the Montana Logging Association, resource specialist Julie Altemus said her group looks forward to working with the governor's office in writing a statewide roadless rule.

"Each year, we watch more and more of our forestlands turn to a sea of red as they are consumed by disease and wildfire," she said. "Proper forest stewardship requires active management to promote long-term forest health. This proposal is a step toward reconciling sound stewardship with forest health."

No way, countered Matthew Koehler, who heads the Native Forest Network in Missoula and supported the ban on road building.

"Let's not forget that when the Bush administration came to power, America's roadless wildlands were protected from most forms of logging and development," Koehler said. "That policy was a direct result of an unprecedented public process in which 95 percent of the 2.5 million people who participated favored full protection for roadless wildlands.

"Not only has the Bush administration failed to uphold the roadless rule at every opportunity over the past three years, now they have come up with what can best be described as a crazy idea to let governors decide which wild areas should be protected on U.S. public lands."

Reporter Sherry Devlin can be reached at 523-5268 or at  sdevlin@missoulian.com

To get involved

The Bush administration's proposed roadless area conservation rule will be published in the Federal Register this week and is available on the Web at www.fs.fed.us. A 60-day public comment period will follow the rule's formal publication. Written comments should be mailed to: Content Analysis Team, Attention: Roadless State Petitions, USDA Forest Service, P.O. Box 221090, Salt Lake City, UT 84122. Or faxed to (801) 517-1014. Or e-mailed to  statepetitionroadless@fs.fed.us.