The final roadless area rule for Idaho has been released.
There are many improvements in the rule, especially in Eastern Idaho where I live.
When President Bush tried to overturn the Clinton roadless rule (protecting all the national forest roadless areas as what you might call “backcountry” or sorts), western governors were invited to develop a plan for their states’ national forest roadless areas.
Idaho has more national forest roadless, non-Wilderness land than any other state — over 9-million acres. Conservationists feared the worst when Idaho became the only state to accept the Bush Administration’s invitation.
Now that’s it’s down, I can’t say that it is all that bad. I would rather see Congress designate many of these areas as Wilderness. I’d like to see off-road vehicles under more restraint, but neither the Clinton rule or Idaho’s new rule addresses that.
The major controversy turned out to be the Sage Creek roadless area in SE Idaho, a small roadless area near the Wyoming border. A massive phosphate strip/pit mine is planned to expand into the area, and from start to finish Idaho state government and the Bush Administration has made sure the current roadless nature of the Sage Creek roadless area would NOT be maintained. After all this is a Simplot mine.
There are many phosphate strip pits in SE Idaho and they are now leaking toxic amounts of selenium into the streams. This is no trivial matter. The fish in the mountain stream are dying, and selenium is a threat of acquifers and agriculture in Idaho and adjacent Wyoming, but perhaps this controversy can be settled in some fashion other than protection as roadless or this roadless area.
The New York Times has a article just out on the roadless rule.
Truce Is Reached in Battle Over Idaho Forest Land. By Felicity Barringer.
It is possible the Forest Service will give most proposed developments in these protectec areas designated as backcountry, wildlands, primitive, etc. a mere wink and a nod, but that is more a matter of who is President than anything else. The nice thing about Wilderness, protected by Act of Congress, is that who is President doesn’t matter. This is one reason to argue over the next President here on this blog, although I can’t say that either candidate is much committed to public lands protection. You have to read between the lines, the speeches, the news releases, their past history, etc.
Below is the final rule. For those interested, it discusses each of the many roadless areas and shows how it will be managed.
Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)
- FEIS – Summary – (pdf | 555k)
- FEIS – Volume 1 (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) – (pdf | 3793k)
- FEIS – Volume 2 (Appendices A-R, except C)
- FEIS – Volume 3 (Appendix C, Clearwater, Idaho-Panhandle, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Wallowa-Whitman) – (pdf | 3019k)
- FEIS – Volume 4 (Appendix C, Boise, Payette, Sawtooth) – (pdf | 2287k)
- FEIS – Volume 5 (Appendix C, Caribou, Challis, Salmon, Targhee) – (pdf | 3460k)
- FEIS – Errata – (pdf | 356k)
- FEIS – Figures
Once again I urge people to check out http://roadlesslands.org for the loction, photos, comments, etc. about all the national forest roadless areas in the United States.