Monday, January 14, 2008

Forest Service Issues Draft Idaho Roadless Plan

In 2001, protections were put in place for all national forest roadless areas across the United States. Now, the Forest Service has issued a draft plan for the State of Idaho that rolls back some of those protections by allowing new roads and mining interests into the backcountry. According to the Idaho Conservation League, this new plan would weaken the protections on a portion of Idaho’s 9.3 million roadless acres.

You can read a copy of the plan here. It is written in bureaucratic English and difficult to get through. There is a table (see page 11) that summarizes the "net benefits" of the proposed changes compared to the 2001 rule and "existing plans" (where these came from, I couldn’t tell) . On page 14, the "benefits" for hunting and fishing are summarized this way:

“Opportunities could be affected in locations of phosphate leasing and geothermal development.”

There is more info to digest here, including the draft environmental impact statement, if you just can't get enough bureaucratic English.

What can you do?

Go to the conservation league site for more info on how to get involved. Seems like the most important thing to do is to let the Forest Service know how you feel. Comments can be submitted via email to: Or attend one of the public meetings (requires a PDF reader).

If you are snowed in and cannot remember what the backcountry looks like, here are some of my images of places without roads, some of the places I love best.

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