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E-M:/ Anti-roadless area folks flood Forest Service meetings

Enviro-Mich message from doug welker <dwelker@up.net>

Unless YOU put in your two cents to the Forest Service about the need for
additional roadless area designations on our national forests, public input
on the President's Roadless Initiative will likely be highly skewed in
favor of those who oppose designation of new roadless areas.

Last night I attended the public meeting on the Ottawa National Forest in
Upper Michigan.  Over 300 people were there.  There was a mixture of
concerned (and often confused) citizens, property rights folks, loggers,
ATV users, and the like.  Essentially everyone who spoke was opposed to any
new roadless areas.  Our U.S. Representative Bart Stupak (R(disguised as a
D)-Menominee) sent an aide, who emphasized Stupak's opposition to the
Initiative.  (Not coincidentally, this is the same Stupak who recently
annoyed the locals with his support for background checks for gun buyers at
gun shows.  Have to get those votes back somehow-there IS an election year
coming up!)

The Forest Service made it clear that this initiative presented an unusual
situation.  The public was being asked, basically, to tell them what
CRITERIA should be used to evaluate existing roadless areas for PERMANENT
roadless status.  They did not ask what areas should be made premanently
roadless, nor did they ask for comment on whether the program as a whole
was a good idea.

The Forest Service had big stacks of comment forms, which the attendees
eagerly filled out and handed back, to be added to the tally of comments
the Ottawa would forward on for inclusion in nationwide tallies.  Some
attendees even brought pre-printed, anti-Initiative comment forms that just
needed a signature.  Regardless of what type of comments (i.e., criteria)
were called for, my suspicion is that most commenters basically wrote that
they were opposed to the program and wanted no additional roadless

It is no great secret that this Initiative is timed (with a short public
comment period which ends (postmarked) December 20, 1999) so as to get the
issue through before Clinton leaves office.  This short comment period,
though, could cause the demise of the program.  By making essentially all
public meetings on the national forests themselves and not in centers of
population where pro-Initiative folks are more likely to reside, public
comment will probably be largely in opposition.  Likewise, the short
comment period makes it nearly impossible for environmental magazines to
cover the issue, and to encourage their readers to comment in favor of the

I think it's critical to spread the word QUICKLY, in any way possible, to
the environmental community, encouraging them to make comments to the
Forest Service in favor of the initiative.  Simply stating support for the
Initiative would be great, but adding a few comments about criteria for
evaluating roadless areas would be better.  Here's a portion of a letter
from the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition to the National Forests.
It may give you a few ideas on the types of comments you could make:

"The Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition wholeheartedly supports the
Presidentís Roadless Initiative on the National Forests, and encourages the
Ottawa National Forest to make a strong effort to provide roadless
designation for all suitable areas on the Forest.  

In doing so, we hope you will take into consideration the following:

1.  Large acreage should be only one factor in determining whether an area
should be classified as roadless.
2.  Many small, currently roadless (and probably uninventoried) areas also
are excellent candidates for roadless designation.
3.  Areas should be given priority for roadless status if they lie adjacent
to existing wilderness, wild and scenic river corridors, campgrounds, or
other scenic, recreational, or ecologically significant areas.
4.  Equally important, areas should be given priority if they fall within
existing or potential migration corridors for isolated wildlife
populations, if they are otherwise ecologically unique or significant, or
if they contain important recreational resources such as the North Country
National Scenic Trail or the Gogebic Ridge Trail.
5.  The existence of high timber values should not, of itself, be reason to
exclude an area from consideration for roadless status.  Likewise, high
timber values should not be given higher priority than the other issues
mentioned in this letter.
6.  The Ottawa has a shortage of an important element within the ROS
system- sizable areas which are non-motorized, not open to logging, and
non-wilderness.  This ROS class allows for fairly intensive non-motorized
recreation management.  Areas which may fit within that class should be
sought for when evaluating potential roadless areas on the Forest.
Providing recreational alternatives to designated wilderness would reduce
negative impacts on those wildernesses.
7.  Once areas are designated as under consideration for roadless status,
they should remain unroaded until final evaluation takes place; that final
evaluation should be done as expeditiously as possible.

Please place us on your mailing list to receive additional mailings on this

Here's where to send your comments via snail mail:

      USDA Forest Service-CAET
      Attn: Roadless Areas NOI
      PO Box 221090
      Salt Lake City, UT 84122

An here's the email address:       roadless/wo_caet-slc@fs.fed.us

As a minimum, please give the Forest Service a quick email comment.

Thanks.		-doug welker-



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