CONSBIO Archives

December 1999

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Subject:
From:
Jim Northup <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
UVM Conservation Biology Discussion Group <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Fri, 3 Dec 1999 11:21:31 -0500
Content-Type:
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PLEASE come to the public meeting on Wednesday, December 15th in Rutland, VT
and
show your support for protection of wild, roadless areas on the Green
Mountain National Forest. Bring a full car of supporters with you—advocates
of wilderness MUST “win the numbers game” at this critical, first meeting.

The meeting will take place at the Howe Center on Strongs Avenue in downtown
Rutland from 6:30 to 8:30 PM (call GMNF at 747-6709 for a map or specific
directions). The meeting format will be: presentation by the USFS, followed
by questions from the audience. No oral “testimony” will be taken, but it
will be possible for you to artfully preface your questions with a little
pro-wilderness commentary. Written summaries of “talking points” and sample
questions will be distributed to wilderness advocates prior to the meeting.

The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) is mobilizing a large
number of snowmobilers to attend this meeting in opposition to the
protection of additional roadless areas in Vermont. The timber industry is
likely to do the same. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LET THEM OUTNUMBER US.

Please do all you can to attend the meeting on 12/15 and to bring other
supporters with you. Also, Be sure to pass this email along to people you
know who care about saving and re-creating wild forests in Vermont. WE
ABSOLUTELY MUST SHOW the USFS, Vermont congressional delegation (staffers
are likely to attend), news reporters covering the event, and opponents THAT
THERE IS STRONG SUPPORT FOR WILDERNESS.


WRITTEN COMMENTS

The USFS has initiated a rulemaking process to protect roadless areas across
the country and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be done to
analyze the impacts of that rule. The agency has invited public comments on
the scope of the alternatives and issues to be considered in the EIS. The
public will have another opportunity to comment when the Draft EIS is
published early next year.

Written comments will be accepted by the Forest Service at the hearing on
December 15, and may be mailed on or before December 20. The address, a
sample letter and a commentary with information on Vermont roadless areas
are found below.
PLEASE WRITE. Wild Forests and future generations need your voice—NOW.

Address comments to:
USDA Forest Service CAET
Attn: Roadless Areas Notice of Intent
P. O. Box 221090
Salt Lake City, UT 84122

OR e-mail: [log in to unmask]

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear Chief Dombeck:

I applaud the President's initiative and urge you to protect 60
million acres of remaining roadless wild lands in our National
Forests.

I support a roadless protection policy that:

* Applies to ALL National Forest roadless areas over 1,000 acres

* Provides permanent protection for all roadless areas from new road
construction, logging, mining, off-road vehicle use, oil and gas development
and other harmful activities; and

* Protects roadless areas now rather than waiting for the forest planning
process.

The Forest Service must seize this opportunity to protect wild America and
our children's inheritance. Please count this as my formal comment on the
proposed rulemaking for protection of roadless areas.

Sincerely, _____________________________________________ * required


COMMENTARY

Create More Wild Forests, Not Roads (Sunday Rutland Herald, Rutland, VT,
page C3, 11/28/99)

Commentary by Jim Northup, Executive Director of Forest Watch

The 380,000 miles of logging roads that criss-cross our country’s national
forests amount to more than eight times the length of the interstate highway
system—enough road to circle the globe fifteen times. Unbelievably, the
United States Forest Service wants to build =till more roads, primarily to
implement its environmentally destructive, money-losing timber program.
However, the President, the vast majority of Americans, and a dozen Vermont
organizations believe that wild forests—not roads and clearcut
mountainsides—are the legacies that should be left for future generations.

On October 13, President Clinton directed the Forest Service to "provide
strong and lasting protection" for national forest roadless areas—the
remaining blocks of wildland unfragmented by logging roads. In response to
the President’s directive, the federal agency will prepare an Environmental
Impact Statement and promulgate federal regulations, both of which will be
released for public comment in the spring of 2000. Conservationists across
Vermont and the nation praise the President’s visionary initiative.

For more than half a century our national forests have been managed
primarily as storehouses for timber, minerals, livestock and other
commodities. Now, on the threshold of the new millennium and as people,
buildings, roads and automobiles spill across the landscape, national
forests are being looked to as scarce and precious refuges from development.
This fundamental shift in national priorities is long overdue.

A recent national poll indicates that more than 70 percent of Americans want
to see roadbuilding, logging and other development banned on the few
remaining roadless areas on the national forests. Polls conducted by the US
Forest Service in Vermont and New England show even stronger results—94
percent of the respondents support protection of all remaining roadless
areas; 89 percent feel protecting fish and wildlife habitat should be the
highest priority; and 75 percent favor prohibition of logging if habitats
for bear or other sensitive wildlife would be harmed.

Preserving wild, roadless areas on the national forest is the ultimate
public policy no-brainer. It would not diminish the wood needed to supply
Vermont loggers and mills; it would save taxpayers money; it would provide
essential habitats for shy and sensitive wildlife; and it would provide much
desired opportunities for hunting, fishing, and hiking in wild, remote
settings.

Timber is not in scarce supply in Vermont. Nearly 80 percent of Vermont is
forested and the vast majority of forestland is available for and capable of
producing timber. According to State of Vermont data, the amount of wood
being cut annually from Vermont’s timberland is about half of the volume
that is growing annually. Currently, the Green Mountain National Forest
supplies only 1 percent of Vermont’s annual wood harvest and, according to
US Forest Service data, does so at a financial loss of over $500 per acre
logged.

Wild forests, on the other hand, are in scarce supply in Vermont. Designated
wildernesses—areas free from roads, motorized vehicles and logging, but
where hunting, fishing and hiking are allowed—amount to only 1 percent of
Vermont's forestland. Wilderness accounts for 5 percent of the nation's
forestland and as much as 8 percent of the forestland in regions like the
Pacific Northwest.

Scientific studies reveal that the loss of large blocks of wild, unroaded
forest is contributing to the loss and population decline of many wildlife
species. For example, warblers and other neo-tropical migrant songbirds are
disappearing at alarming rates because of increased predation and
competition near the "edge" habitats created by roads and clearcuts.

The Green Mountain NF offers the best place in Vermont to provide large,
wild areas for recreation and wildlife. Computer analysis of US Forest
Service data by the National Wildlife Federation reveals that the Green
Mountain NF has more than 6,000 miles of permanent roads within its purchase
boundary, and at least eighteen roadless areas of 1,000 acres or more in
size. These eighteen areas cover about 140,000 acres—a little more than
one-third of the total national forest. Permanent closure of infrequently
used logging roads could expand the size, sometimes significantly, of most
of these wild forest areas.

Seven of the eighteen roadless areas are permanently protected from future
roadbuilding and logging. The remaining eleven areas do not have any
long-term protection of their wild, roadless conditions. They range in size
from 1,000 acres to 19,000 acres, and cover a total of 60,000 acres—16
percent of the Green Mountain NF or one percent of Vermont.

Keeping this small fraction of Vermont wild and free of roads would help to
re-create the most original of Vermont land uses—vast, old-growth forests
out of which all other "traditional" land uses were hewn. Protecting these
wild forests would enable future generations to hunt, fish, hike and
experience the primeval conditions that greeted the first European settlers
in Vermont. At a time when tract homes, three-car garages, and new access
roads are popping up everywhere, re-creating a few living specimens of
Vermont’s original forests makes good sense. Let’s support the President’s
initiative.

####


Jim Northup is Executive Director of Forest Watch, a 2,000 member
environmental organization based in Montpelier, VT. Check out the Forest
Watch web site at www.forestwatch.org.

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