information: 5-point strategy
A 5 Point Strategy for Protecting America's National Forest Roadless Areas.
Will President Clintons Roadless Forest Policies Measure Up?
Teddy Roosevelt. Jimmy Carter. Just two presidents in our nations history have stepped forward to take bold and decisive action to recognize the value and importance of Americas vast treasure of public lands. President Roosevelt created the National Forest System; President Carter led the enactment of the single largest wilderness law in history. These monumental actions provide the yardstick by which all other public lands protection policies are judged.
Now, President Clinton stands on the brink of an equally momentous and historic opportunity to take his place alongside these two conservation heroes of the 20th Century. Some 60 million acres in the National Forests remain wild and untouched by commercial development. And yet these lands remain unprotected and at risk of falling to chainsaws, bulldozers, drilling rigs, and other industrial exploitation.
These wild lands, Americas "Heritage Forests," can be saved. Working with the U.S. Forest Service, President Clinton can establish a policy that will permanently protect these wild "roadless" lands.
As Americans young and old prepare for a new century, many have fond memories of backpacking, camping, hiking, fishing, and picnicking in our countrys spectacular National Forests. Millions of other Americans will enter the new millennium unaware of the invaluable contribution our precious National Forests make to clean drinking water and as valuable habitat for fish and wildlife.
Yet, more and more of these spectacular landscapes are being ripped apart by development and lost forever. Less than one-fifth of the 192-million acre National Forest System is protected and off-limits to logging roads and logging, mining, and drilling. This sliver of Americas public lands stands as a crucial source of clean water, habitat for threatened and endangered species, biological diversity, recreation, hunting and fishing, and refuge from the stress of daily life.
President Clinton can, and should, act on behalf of all Americans to immediately implement a policy that would permanently protect our countrys remaining wild lands in the National Forests. Not only is that what the American people want today, it promises to be a magnificent gift to future generations of Americans as well.
On March 1, 1999, the Clinton Administration imposed a temporary 18-month moratorium on construction of new roads in unprotected "roadless" areas in some National Forests. The moratorium gives the U.S. Forest Service time to review two areas: one, current management of roadless areas for values such as watershed protection, recreation, wildlife habitat, and aesthetics; and, two, its strategy and policies on how and where roads have been built for logging, mining, oil drilling and other damaging activities in the National Forests. This review must result in a policy for permanently protecting roadless areas from industrial activities.
The Heritage Forests Campaign herein offers a five-point yardstick to guide the Clinton Administration in developing its roadless policy to permanently protect as many as 60 million acres of roadless areas in the National Forests. To be credible and lasting, the policy must be based on the very best conservation science and not political elements. And the American people must have a full and fair opportunity to be involved in shaping the final policy.
The Baseline Measurement
More than 80 percent of our National Forests remain unprotected and at risk from industrial development:
o Fifty-two percent, or more than 90 million acres, of the lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service have been degraded by decades of forest clearcutting, oil and gas development, mining, and other industrial uses.
o The National Forest System is criss-crossed with a network of more than 383,000 miles of official roads (and another estimated 60,000 miles of non-inventoried roads). Just how much road is that? Its more than eight times the size of the U.S. interstate highway system; and its large enough to circle the globe 15 times. If you walked all day long, every day of your life, it would take 65 years to cover all the roads that have been built in our National Forests.
o There are three times as many roads in National Forests as there are hiking trails.
o Ninety-five percent of Forest Service roads are for industrial use. Only five percent have been conserved for recreational and general use.
o An estimated 15,000 logging trucks and vehicles associated with logging use National Forest roads each day.
o The Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, the last great expanse of old-growth rainforest in the United States, is exempted from the current U.S. Forest Service road moratorium. The result: two million acres of pristine, roadless areas are still open to logging or other environmentally damaging activities. There are already at least 4,650 miles of permanent roads within the Tongass National Forest. That is enough road to drive from Seattle to New York to Miami.
Sizing Up The Economics
Nationwide, the value of recreation in National Forests overwhelmingly exceeds the value of logging and mining combined. The National Forests are Americas single largest source of outdoor recreation, and the demand on National Forests for recreation in the next century is projected to rise substantially. According to the U.S Forest Service:
o Roadless areas are sources of outstanding recreation. Recreation usage in the National Forests has increased from less than 250 million Recreation Visitor Days to almost 350 million and is projected to increase to more than 1.2 billion in the next 50 years.
o The National Forests contribute $134 billion to the gross domestic product, with the lions share associated with outdoor recreation.
o Federal timber sales lost $111 million in 1997.
o Private timberlands in the U.S. provide about 95 percent of the total wood supply; our nation is not dependent on the National Forests for timber.
o The current roads moratorium is having virtually no effect on the federal logging program. Less than four percent of all timber sales in 1999 and 2000 would be delayed by the moratorium. Scientific studies show that all roadless areas on the Tongass can be protected while still maintaining a viable timber program.
o An assessment of the marginal value of water on National Forest lands is more than $3.7 billion per year. This does not include the value of maintaining fish species, many other recreation values, nor the savings to municipalities which have reduced filtration costs because water from National Forests is so clean. Nor does it account for the millions of visitor days where people are fulfilled by the simple act of walking beside a cool, clear stream, river, or lake.
Gauging the Conservation Impacts
Roads built in the National Forests primarily for industrial uses such as logging, mining, oil drilling, and other activities damage watersheds, destroy wildlife habitat, and ruin scenic vistas.
o Often built on steep or uneven slopes, logging roads tend to erode and cause large-scale landslides. These landslides destroy or severely diminish habitat for an array of aquatic species.
o Roadless areas protect the watersheds of rural communities, guarding private property from flood damage and providing clean water and lower water treatment costs for local residents.
o Roadless areas contain much of the remaining high-quality habitat for salmon and other cold water fish. Road building in National Forests is a primary cause of the decline in salmon habitat.
o More than 3,400 communities, serving over 60 million people, across 33 states, rely on rivers and streams originating in National Forests for their drinking water.
o Nearly 80 percent of all U.S. rivers originate on National Forests.
o Because roadless areas are among the least altered habitats in otherwise heavily disturbed landscapes, they typically have the healthiest ecology and are the least in need of restoration.
Assessing Public Support
There is widespread public support in all regions of the country, among both men and women, Republicans and Democrats, for a strong federal policy to permanently protect roadless areas that are 1,000 acres or larger. Specifically, a recent poll conducted by The Mellman Group found that:
o Sixty-three percent of Americans favor a proposal to protect all roadless National Forest lands of 1,000 acres and larger from development. Seventy-four percent of voters in the poll support a plan that would exempt no National Forests from a roadless protection policy.
o Seventy-five percent of voters nationwide, and sixty-seven percent of those in the West, prefer a proposal to protect roadless areas that does not contain regional exemptions.
o 168 Republican and Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to President Clinton asking him to protect roadless areas in all National Forests from logging, mining, and other destructive activities.
o Citing a "holy obligation" to protect Gods forests, more than 300 religious leaders urged President Clinton and Vice President Gore to draft a strong and effective policy to protect roadless areas.
o Nearly 170 scientists sent a letter to President Clinton stating that a science-based policy for roadless areas on public lands would, at a minimum, protect from development all roadless areas larger than 1,000 acres.
THE POLICY YARDSTICK
The Heritage Forests Campaign proposes a set of standardsa yardstickfor the Clinton Administration to consider as it develops a national policy for permanently protecting National Forest roadless areas. This yardstick can be viewed as a guide for the public and policy makers involved in creating a roadless policy.
President Clinton and Forest Service Chief Michael Dombeck have spoken repeatedly and clearly on their vision for the future of Americas National Forests. That vision cannot ignore the valuable economic and ecological contribution of National Forest roadless areas. A successful roadless policy must be just thatone focused exclusively on roadless areas.
Despite their recognition of the importance of these areas, we are concerned that the Administration may instead place its focus on creating a National Forest transportation policy, within which roadless area protection would be merely a subset.
On behalf of the American public and our supporters and partners in the conservation, faith, and scientific communities, the Heritage Forests Campaign proposes that the Clinton Administration include the following elements in its final roadless protection policy:
o No exemptions
o No logging or mining
o 1,000 acres or more
o Sound science
The final roadless policy should apply to all National Forests. No exemptions or waivers from the final policy should be permitted for any forest. The current 18-month moratorium excludes some 25 forests in nine states. Of special concern are the Tongass National Forest, the nations largest, and the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, which are currently managed under a separate plan.
The roadless area policy must protect National Forest roadless areas from not just from new roads, but also from other destructive activities that could take place even in the absence of roads. These would include but not be limited to helicopter logging, logging using forwarders, cable logging, and helicopter-placed oil drilling and mining. Public support for protecting roadless forests from such exploitation is extremely high, higher in fact, than simply protecting these areas from new roads.
Administrative protection of National Forest roadless areas must come through a rule-making process that is accomplished by an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a process that will most effectively withstand any effort that might be made to overturn the roadless policy in future administrations.
The National Forest roadless area policy must accord protection to all roadless areas larger than 1,000 acres in size. A growing body of science supports the importance of smaller roadless areas for more than just the protection of aquatic and terrestrial species.
The most current and best science about conservation of pristine wild lands should be used as the sole source underpinning a final policy. Political considerations should have no place in developing and implementing a roadless protection plan.
The U.S. Forest Service manages public lands, known collectively as the National Forest System, located in 41 States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The lands comprise 8.5 percent of the total land area in the United States. The natural resources on these lands are some of the Nations greatest assets and have major economic, environmental, and social significance for all Americans.
· Conecuh, Talladega, Tuskegee
· William B. Bankhead National Forest
· Chugach National Forest
· Tongass National Forest
· Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
· Coconino National Forest
· Coronado National Forest
· Kaibab National Forest
· Prescott National Forest
· Tonto National Forest
· Ouachita National Forest
· Ozark-St. Francis National Forest
· Angeles National Forest
· Cleveland National Forest
· Eldorado National Forest
· Inyo National Forest
· Klamath National Forest
· Lake Tahoe Basin Management Area
· Lassen National Forest
· Los Padres National Forest
· Mendocino National Forest
· Modoc National Forest
· Plumas National Forest
· San Bernardino National Forest
· Sequoia National Forest
· Shasta-Trinity National Forest
· Sierra National Forest
· Six Rivers National Forest
· Stanislaus National Forest
· Tahoe National Forest
· Arapaho National Forest
· Grand Mesa National Forest
· Gunnison National Forest
· Pawnee National Grassland
· Pike National Forest
· Rio Grande National Forest
· Roosevelt National Forest
· Routt National Forest
· San Isabel National Forest
· San Juan National Forest
· Uncompahgre National Forest
· White River National Forest
· Apalachicola National Forest
· Ocala National Forest
· Osceola National Forest
· Oconee National Forest
· Chattahoochee National Forest
· Boise National Forest
· Caribou National Forest
· Challis National Forest
· Clearwater National Forest
· Idaho Panhandle National Forest
· Coeur dAlene National Forest
· Kaniksu National Forest
· St. Joe National Forests
· Nez Perce National Forest
· Payette National Forest
· Salmon National Forest
· Sawtooth National Forest
· Targhee National Forest
· Shawnee National Forest
· Hoosier National Forest
· Daniel Boone National Forest
· Kisatchie National Forest
· White Mountain National Forest
· Hiawatha National Forest
· Huron-Manistee National Forest
· Ottawa National Forest
· Chippewa National Forest
· Superior National Forest
· Bienville, Delta, Desoto
· Holly Springs
· Homochitto National Forests
· Tombigee National Forest
· Mark Twain National Forest
· Beaverhead National Forest
· Bitterroot National Forest
· Custer National Forest
· Deerlodge National Forest
· Flathead National Forest
· Gallatin National Forest
· Helena National Forest
· Kootenai National Forest
· Lewis and Clark National Forest
· Lolo National Forest
· Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands
· Humboldt National Forest
· Toiyabe National Forest
· White Mountain National Forest
· Carson National Forest
· Cibola National Forest
· Gila National Forest
· Lincoln National Forest
· Santa Fe National Forest
· Finger Lakes National Forest
· Croatan, Nantahala
· Uwharrie National Forests
· Wayne National Forest
· Deschutes National Forest
· Fremont National Forest
· Malheur National Forest
· Mount Hood National Forest
· Ochoco National Forest
· Rogue River National Forest
· Siskiyou National Forest
· Siuslaw National Forest
· Umatilla National Forest
· Umpqua National Forest
· Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
· Willamette National Forest
· Winema National Forest
· Allegheny National Forest
· Francis Marion-Sumter National Forests
· Black Hills National Forest
· Cherokee National Forest
· Angelina, Davy Crockett
· Sam Houston National Forests
· Ashley National Forest
· Dixie National Forest
· Fishlake National Forest
· Manti-LaSal National Forest
· Uinta National Forest
· Wasatch-Cache National Forest
· Green Mountain National Forest
· George Washington National Forest
· Jefferson National Forest
· Colville National Forest
· Gifford Pinchot National Forest
· Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests
· Okanogan National Forest
· Olympic National Forest
· Wenatchee National Forest
· Monongahela National Forest
· Chequamegon National Forest
· Nicolet National Forest
· Bighorn National Forest
· Bridger-Teton National Forest
· Medicine Bow National Forest
· Thunder Basin National Grassland
· Shoshone National Forest
· Caribbean National Forest
U.S. Forest Service annual reports and Web page
Speeches of Forest Service Chief Michael Dombeck
The Mellman Group Poll
Alaska Rainforest Campaign
Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project, Final Report to Congress
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens Associations
HFC Scientists Letter to President Clinton
HFC Faith Leaders Letter to President Clinton