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E-M:/ Stupak Seeks to Block Forest Service Policies
Enviro-Mich message from Murphwild1@aol.com
For Immediate Release
Dec. 15, 1999
Contact: Bob Meissner
Stupak Seeks to Block Forest Service Policies
(Note: The congressman s remarks offered at a recent public hearing on
Forest Service road policies are included at the end of this news release)
WASHINGTON A northern Michigan congressman said today he will use any
means available, including legislative action, to
block implementation of U.S. Forest Service policies he termed outmoded,
unnecessary and harmful to the environment and economy
of his largely rural district.
The remarks of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, followed Monday s public
hearings in the Upper Peninsula community of Ewen, at
which more than 300 area residents turned out to hear Forest Service
officials discuss the proposed 40 million acre national roadless
Stupak, who had scheduled a town meeting for the same day in another
location, sent a strongly-worded statement via a staff member
to the hearing, in which he criticized the Forest Service both for its
plans to implement a 14-year-old policy, and for its public hearing
When the Forest Service says it is preparing a new forest plan, posts
signs for a non-motorized zone in the Ottawa National forest,
announces a national roadless initiative, and then at the last minute
schedules a public hearing, it s impossible for the public to discern
what issue is on the table and where the process stands, Stupak said
Stupak reserved his greatest ire for the policies themselves, targeting
first the non-motorized plan for the Ottawa National Forest.
This non-motorized zone policy was created during discussions of the
present forest plan approved in 1985 and 1986. I believe the
public comment period held 14 years ago is outdated and the process needs
to start over.
In some circumstances nationwide, a non-motorized area may be ideal to
protect overused sensitive areas, Stupak said. However,
most of the National Forest land in the Upper Peninsula is not in danger
of being overrun. In short, this policy is outdated and not
applicable to the U.P., and any new attempts to create a non-motorized zone
should be discussed with full public input in the new
The new roadless initiative, targeting 40 million forested acres
nationwide, is also badly flawed, both in its broad application and in
the way it has been announced, Stupak said.
The Forest Service s Roadless Initiative was announced in October of 1999,
with no warning or notice. In fact, my office has never
been officially notified and no information about the parameters of the
plan have been forthcoming.
Even the local Forest Service supervisors and employees were left in the
dark until recently and then were asked to hold public
comment periods before January 2000, Stupak said.
I think we can start by giving more advanced warning and extending the
public comment period to February 29, 2000.
The economic impact of such a policy could be devastating to
heavily-forested northern Michigan, especially at a time when payments
in lieu of taxes, or PILT, remains woefully underfunded, hurting county
governments, school districts and emergency services.
In addition to PILT, counties with National Forest lands receive payments
equaling 25 percent of gross federal timber revenues. The
Forest Service has been reported to have estimated that this new policy
could result in the loss of $160 million in revenue--- a
conservative estimate at best, Stupak said.
In addition to the two federal payment programs, many jobs and businesses
are based directly on the National Forest system through
sustainable harvesting, tourism and recreation, all of which could be hurt
by closing forest roads. This region cannot afford to lose
any more industries, Stupak said.
There is no need for a non-motorized zone or a roadless area in northern
Michigan, and the forests in the U.P. are not in danger of
being overrun and overused, Stupak said. We enjoy a balance of multiple
users, a sustainable harvest, and a sound ecosystem.
I am opposed to the 61,000 acre non-motorized zone and I am opposed to the
40 million acre roadless initiative.
Individuals interested in commenting on the national Roadless Initiative
policy must postmark their remarks by Dec. 20. These should
be addressed to: CAET United States Forest Service, c/o Roadless, PO Box
221090, Salt Lake City, UT 84122. Remarks may also
be e-mailed to: email@example.com
Comments on the Ottawa National Forest Non-Motorized zone can be addressed
to: Ottawa National Forest, E6248 US 2, Ironwood,
Congressman Bart Stupak
Comments and Concerns
The National Forest Services
40 Million Acre Roadless Initiative
December 13, 1999 Public Hearing
Ottawa National Forest, Ewen Michigan
"First I would like to express my disappointment with the confusing
Forest Service policies throughout the past two months.
There have been numerous public hearings and new policies, which has made
it hard for many to differentiate one policy from
another. A few weeks ago, the Forest Service had public meetings on the
Proposed Rule for the new forest plan. In another issue,
signs were erected on the Ottawa National Forest explaining that a
Non-Motorized zone will be implemented in September 2000 on
61,000 acres. Now the Forest Service has announced an enormous 40 million
acre roadless area initiative, which is what brings us
together this evening. There are now three policies and I believe the
process to implement these policies is backwards. It appears that
the Forest Service implements policies then asks for public input.
"How does the Forest Service expect to receive accurate public opinion
on each separate issue? I believe it was poor planning by
the Forest Service to have these issues converge on the public at the same
time. The Forest Service wants to have this proposal open
to, and in part planned by, the public, but notice of the public hearings
came so late that I was unable to attend due to a previously
scheduled townhall meeting in Grand Marais. I would have liked to have
participated in person.
"Before I address my concerns with the Roadless Initiative, I would
like to put in the record that I am opposed to the Ottawa
National Forest s plan to implement the Non-Motorized zone in September
2000. This Non-Motorized zone policy was created during
discussions of the present forest plan approved in 1985 and 1986. I
believe the public comment period held 14 years ago is outdated
and the process needs to start over. If the Ottawa National Forest is
holding hearings on a new forest plan, then include this
Non-Motorized zone in the new plan, not 14 years later. I am troubled by
the fact that it has taken 14 years for the Ottawa to institute
this policy and believe that after this much time the policy should expire.
I understand that this policy does not effect hunting or access
to camps and private property, but it troubles me that some forest users
will be prohibited from utilizing the effected areas. In some
circumstances nation wide, a non-motorized area may be ideal to protect
overused sensitive areas. However, most of the National
Forest land in the Upper Peninsula is not endanger of being overrun. In
short, this policy is outdated and not applicable to the U.P.
Any new attempts to create a non-motorized zone should be discussed with
full public input in the new forest plan.
"The Forest Service s Roadless Initiative was announced in October of
1999, with no warning or notice. In fact, my office has
never been officially notified and no information about the paratmeters of
the plan have been forthcoming . Even the local Forest
Service supervisors and employees were left in the dark until recently and
then were asked to hold public comment periods before
January 2000. All of this has simply added to the confusion. On November
3, 1999, Mike Dombeck, Chief of the National Forest
system, testified before the Committee on Resources and said that they
have no proposal yet and have no preferred alternative and
that the Forest Service wants this to be an open public process . I think
we can start by giving more advanced warning and
extending the public comment period to February 29, 2000.
"The small communities in my district rely on the National Forest
system for their economic vitality. Jobs and businesses are
produced through sustainable harvesting, tourism and recreation. The
logging industry is one of my district s top employers and I
am very concerned that the Roadless Initiative will negatively impact the
hard working constituents in my district. This region cannot
stand to lose any more industries. While the rest of the state and the
nation have prospered in the last decade, the Upper Peninsula
has seen major employers close their doors.
"This initiative could also have a drastic effect on our local
communities. By law, counties with National Forest lands receive
payments equaling 25 percent of gross federal timber revenues. These
payments are used by county governments, school districts
for education programs and road maintenance. The Forest Service has been
reported to have estimated that this policy could result in
the loss of $160 million in revenue--- a conservative estimate at best. At
a time when the PILT program remains woefully
underfunded, local communities may be the hardest hit by this roadless
"Is there a need for a non-motorized zone or a roadless area? Are our
forests in the U.P. in danger of being overrun and
overused? NO! We enjoy a balance of multiple users, a sustainable
harvest, and a sound ecosystem. If forests in other parts of the
country are experiencing specific environmental problems, you should
address those problems individually, not with a one size fits
all nation-wide policy. Our forests in Northern Michigan and the respect
given to them by our local residents is very different than
forests in other parts of the country like California or Oregon.
"While attempts to prohibit road construction which will cut forestry
programs in our National Forest may be made in the name of
environmental protection or aimed at large corporations, this is not where
their impact is felt the most. Not only do these policies
negatively impact forest health, but they also hurt our counties, our
schools, our emergency services, and our working families. We ,
and our forests, can ill afford to continue down this path.
" I am opposed to the 61,000 acre non-motorized zone and I am opposed
to the 40 million acre roadless initiative."
Robert C. Vandermark
Government Affairs Manager
National Environmental Trust
1200 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 887-8800 fx: 887-8877
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