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E-M:/ Stupak acts as Timber Industry Tool

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org


MI's Congressman Bart Stupak is one of the prime signatory to a
letter being circulated among members of Congress trying to torpedo a proposed
18 month moratorium on road building in roadless areas in National Forests
nationwide.  In a district that is increasingly diverse it may be somewhat
surprising the Mr. Stupak is dancing still to the tune of the timber industry,
but since the industry is playing hard core politics in Michigan today and
trying to run with the big bad boys out west, this signals what has become an
unfortunate trend.

The roadless area moratorium has been proposed by the Chief of the Forest
Service as a way to assess the costs, both economic and environmental, of a
continued strategy of building new roads into unroaded areas throughout the
country. The proposal, part of an overall look at the issue of roads in these
public lands (current said to have over 440,000 miles of roads already), is
currently up for public comment until March 30.  The timber industry, which
has spent most of the last two decades trying to undo the public input
provisions of the laws governing these public lands, have now popped up
claiming that the comment period must be extended (it has already been
extended once).  Of course, the  roadbuilding goes right along without any
pause until or unless the moratorium comes into effect.  Gee, what a surprise!

What effect would this have proposal have in Michigan?  A little -- two areas
studied in the 1970's for potential wilderness designation (Fiber on the
Hiawatha NF eastside and Norwich Plains, on the Ottawa) would definitely be
put into the 18 month review. Possibly other roadless areas of 1000 acres or
more next to existing wilderness or other sensitive areas might be included as
well.  Total acreage would likely be less than 20,000 acres out of
Michigan's 2.8 million acres of National Forest lands.  This is certainly not
an earth shattering effect here and could result in no changes in management
for these areas at all. Criticisms here come from those who misunderstand the
intent of the review and have improperly described it as another round of
review for wilderness consideration, which is not to take place outside of
regular planning processes on the state's three National Forests.

On the plus side, this moratorium and review has the potential to bring
reasonability and good sense to policies the Forest Service currently pursues
that cost the public money and in many cases have devastating environmental
effects. While the issues of "roads to nowhere" and intentional devastation of
remote areas by Forest Service directive are not present in Michigan, issues
of restoring intact ecosystems the provide needed habitat for often rare and
declining species is a major issue.  Bringing scientific understanding up to
date as it is applied in the forests that we all own is an outstanding idea.

If you are a constituent of Mr. Stupak's it might well be appropriate to ask
him what on earth he is thinking of.  If you would like a summary of the
letter and issue I can provide one taken off an update by an independent
organization (ie not with my bias injected).  Also additional information
about the roadless area road building moratorium is available from me as well.
Based on distorted information that was provided about this issue to another
Congressman, I have a letter that was sent to explain the details of this
issue in Michigan that interested people can request as well.

Anne Woiwode

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