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Rep. Porter Sign-On Letter

Congress of the United States
Washington, DC 20515
July 2, 1999

Michael Dombeck
Chief, U.S. Forest Service
14th and Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Chief Dombeck:

We are very pleased with the Forest Service's overdue implementation of the eighteen-month moratorium on the construction of logging roads in the National Forests and your decision to construct a long-term, comprehensive management plan for these roads and the surrounding roadless areas. We believe that the direction of this policy meets the rising demands of the American people for the conservation of their public lands and waters.

In the process of developing options for long-term management of both roads and roadless areas of the National Forests, we would like to share a few thoughts with you that may help avoid future contentious debates in Congress.

First, we hope that you will permanently protect inventoried roadless areas in all national forests from new road construction. In addition, we support the permanent protection of other roadless areas that are valuable to the integrity of important ecosystems.

Second, we also hope that your final policy recognizes and protects the importance of such values and services as drinking water, wildlife and fish habitat, biological diversity and reference areas for research. As we believe you will agree, short-term interests should not be allowed to override the long-term health of forest ecosystems.

Third, in developing the roadless strategy, we believe that a particular focus should be to reconnect the isolated roadless lands that serve as a refuge for rare species. Following recent scientific research, reconnecting wild areas and creating corridors would serve to maximize wildlife habitat in the National Forest System. One of the most important and lasting values of the national forests is that in a rapidly urbanizing and developed landscape, they remain wild and natural.

Fourth, restoration will require closing, or selectively upgrading many hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of road. Such work will produce jobs for workers from many rural communities. We hope that you will factor into your policy ways to actively engage local resource dependent communities in restoring the health of their public lands and waters.

Finally, given the agency's $8.4 billion backlog in road maintenance and reconstruction and the fact that your maintenance funding needs are about 80% higher than current funding levels, we would hope that any kind be undertaken only after close financial and environmental scrutiny. It makes little sense to build new roads when you cannot afford to take care of so many thousands of miles of existing roads.

Chief Dombeck, we support the direction in which you are leading the agency. We believe that a comprehensive policy for the management of roads and roadless areas that addresses the above concerns will provide needed balance to the multiple uses of our National Forest System. Specifically, such a policy will rehabilitate the health of these forests and enable the public to derive from these lands the services, goods and values which they need and expect without damaging important ecosystems.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns.


John Edward Porter
Member of Congress

Sherwood Boehlert
Member of Congress

James Greenwood
Member of Congress

Mark Foley
Member of Congress

Rick Lazio
Member of Congress

Mike Castle
Member of Congress

Vernon Ehlers
Member of Congress

cc: Secretary Dan Glickman
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