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E-M:/ Sierra Club Press release on Forest Service Roads Policy

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

     Enviro-Mich -- Relating to the previous message, here is the Sierra 
     Club's national release regarding the proposed Roads policy on 
     National Forests.  The release raises the enormous problem of illegal 
     off-road use, a major issue on Michigan's three forests.  AW
     March 2, 2000                                                          
     Sean Cosgrove--202/675-2382
     David Willett--202/675-6698
     Roads Created By Off-Road Vehicles Should Also Be Examined
     Washington, DC:   The Sierra Club today applauded Agriculture 
     Secretary Dan Glickman for the proposal for a new forest road 
     management policy for America's National Forests.  The proposed policy 
     would ideally concentrate more efforts on maintaining existing roads 
     in forests and prevent the building of new roads.  
     "We're glad that the Forest Service is finally taking a look at the 
     serious problems with road management in National Forests. This is a 
     process that is long overdue," said Sean Cosgrove, Sierra Club's 
     National Forest Policy Specialist.  "It's high time to move past 
     subsidized road construction and logging on the National Forests. The 
     Forest Service should seize this opportunity to get its affairs in 
     order and protect clean water and wildlife habitat at the same time."
     The Forest Service has long been the nation's largest road building 
     agency, but has not managed the existing road system responsibly. Lack 
     of road maintenance has caused roads to fall apart and dump mud and 
     silt into streams. The new policy will set a new and higher standard 
     for the construction of any new roads in the National Forests.  The 
     Forest Service managers will have to prove a "compelling need" and 
     weigh environmental impact before they build any new roads.  
     The Sierra Club is also hopeful that the Forest Service will address 
     the increasing damage done by off-road vehicles (ORVs.)  While the 
     Forest Service proposal will address the 380,000 miles of official 
     roads in National Forests, there are an additional 60,000 miles of 
     unofficial and illegal "ghost" roads that have been created by logging 
     operations and ORVs. Irresponsible ORV use--on designated roads and 
     off the road system where motorized vehicles carve  "user-created" 
     roads and trails--is especially damaging to streams and fish and 
     wildlife habitat.
     "While we support the development of a forest road management policy, 
     which covers the 380,000 miles of official road network, we're also 
     very worried about the serious amount of damage done by off-road 
     vehicles and the extra 60,000 miles of user-created roads not included 
     on Forest Service maps," said Cosgrove. 
     Right now there are half a million miles of roads on America's public 
     lands -- ranging from paved to primitive dirt trails -- open to ORVs. 
     The majority of Americans want ORV use regulated and reined-in.  A 1999 
     poll done by the Mellman Group showed that 67 percent of respondents 
     want ORVs prohibited in the undeveloped "roadless" areas of our 
     National Forests; 55 percent thought ORVs should be prohibited 
     everywhere in National Forests.  American Viewpoint found that, by a 
     2-1 margin (60 to 31 percent), Americans oppose logging, mining and 
     other industrial activities on National Forests.  Nationwide, 76% (72% 
     in the West) favor the Clinton Administration plan to protect the 
     roadless, still wild and undeveloped areas of our National Forests. 
     (American Viewpoint, a GOP firm, January, 2000).

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