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ROADLESS AREA INITIATIVE ALERT!

Hi Good HUPC Members and Friends,

From yesterday’s Washington Post comes the story below, not at all unexpected, that President GW seeks to end the Roadless Initiative.

If you are so inclined to contact your Congressman, please urge him to strenuously support this important Roadless Initiative (see HUPC LYNX 4/01, 12/00, 4/00, 2/00, 12/99, 10/99). You can also call the White House, 202/ 456-1414, or you send a free FAX by going to http://www.ourforests.org. Consider writing a letter to the editor in support of the roadless area protection plan.

All of this should have been expected. While it raises our collective blood pressure and, for the first time, the roadless rule does not look as secure as it did a few weeks back, the issues have proven to be independent of any particular Presidential administration. Bush will come and go, just like Clinton. If we’ve learned anything, it is that the real place where roadless areas will be protected and wildness preserved will not be at the volatile national level, where politics has become hopelessly mired in self-aggrandizement, but at the forest level. That is where we must prevail.

<<<And to that extent please keep in mind, sharpen your pencil and prepare your wild voice for the release of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest Draft Forest Plan and Environmental Impact Statement in early May. This is where the real opportunity exists to protect roadless areas, wildlife, biodiversity.>>>

Thanks much!

Dick Carter High Uintas Preservation Council

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White House Seeks to Scuttle Clinton Ban on Logging, Roads

Bush Asks Justice Dept. Lawyers to Reopen National Forests

By Eric Pianin, Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, April 26, 2001; Page A13

The White House has instructed the Justice Department to research ways to scuttle a Clinton administration regulation protecting 60 million acres of national forests from logging and road-building, sources said yesterday. The move is the clearest sign yet that President Bush will oppose the measure.

The administration has until late next week to file a brief with the U.S.District Court in Boise, Idaho, declaring whether it intends to support the U.S. Forest Service regulation that was announced by President Bill Clinton on Jan. 5. It was among scores of Clinton rules and orders that Bush put on hold after taking office and is the subject of a federal suit brought by the timber industry and the states of Idaho, Utah and Alaska.

According to the sources, high-ranking White House policy officials instructed Justice Department lawyers to find a way to set aside the regulation until the administration can produce either a less restrictive proposal or eliminate the rule entirely. The lawyers were asked "to see if they can make this work legally," explained one administration source.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said that "we have not finalized our decision" but that the administration "is committed to providing protection in roadless areas" of national forests.

Kevin Herglotz, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service, said the department was still conferring with industry and environmental groups in trying to reach a final decision. "It's important to note that we are still in the process of listening," he said.

The regulation was one of the most far-reaching of Clinton's environmental initiatives and would protect more than a quarter of federal forests -- including large tracts of Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the largest temperate rain forest in the United States -- from most commercial logging and new road construction.

Environmental groups hailed the rule as a major breakthrough in preserving wilderness covering an area more than seven times the size of Maryland.

However, a timber industry spokesman said the rule would discourage proper forest management needed to avert a repeat of last summer's devastating wildfires in the Northwest. Alaska lawmakers charged that Clinton broke a promise to exclude the Tongass forest from the edict.

Some Bush administration and state officials, as well as the timber industry, contend that Clinton rushed to put in place the regulation before leaving office. Environmental groups note, however, that the Forest Service held extensive public hearings for well over a year on the proposal in which it recorded 1.6 million public comments.

"At the same time they contend the process didn't have enough public input they're working to torpedo the rule in the back room," said Niel Lawrence of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

A suit filed by Boise Cascade Corp. and the states of Idaho, Utah and Alaska charged that the Clinton administration improperly followed procedures in issuing the logging rule. On April 5, the federal judge in the case, Edward Lodge, denied a request by the plaintiffs to issue an injunction to prevent the regulation from taking effect. However, Lodge held his ruling in abeyance until May 4, when the Justice Department is required to file a brief declaring whether it will support the new rule.

Since launching its review, the administration has overturned or revised several Clinton environmental regulations that would have toughened standards for arsenic in drinking water, cracked down on hard rock mining interests and imposed new energy-efficient air conditioner standards.

The president has also abandoned the 1997 global warming protocol negotiatied in Kyoto, Japan, and reneged on a campaign pledge to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's power plants.

However, in a bid to shore up his environmental credentials, Bush within the past week has announced that the United States will sign a treaty aimed at reducing the release of dangerous chemicals in the environment, pledged to come up with a new rule on arsenic next year that would call for a reduction of at least 60 percent from allowable levels, and gave the go-ahead to a ban on recreational snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in Wyoming.

    © 2001 The Washington Post Company

Dick Carter


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