[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

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

(202) 225-4735


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

 area initiative. 


 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

 process itself.


  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

today.


 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 public comment period held 14 years ago is outdated and the process needs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  In short, this policy is outdated and not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

 forest plan.


 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: roadless/wo_caet-slc@fs.fed.us


 Comments on the Ottawa National Forest Non-Motorized zone can be addressed

to: Ottawa National Forest, E6248 US 2, Ironwood,

 MI  49938.

                                                     30  







                                           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

policy.


      "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

rvandermark@environet.org


==============================================================
ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
http://www.great-lakes.net/lists/enviro-mich/

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"
==============================================================