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The Roadless Rule
Threats to Roadless Areas
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Roadless Areas by State
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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

In This Section


" Clear Forks Divide

" The Siskiyou National Forest

" The Tongass National Forest

" The Sage Creek Roadless Area

" The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

" Additional Local Reports

The Sage Creek Roadless Area

In September of 2003, despite promises by the Bush Administration to uphold the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U. S. Forest Service granted J.R. Simplot Company a permit to build new roads into the Sage Creek Roadless Area of Idahoís Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The roads will allow Simplot to access and drill 25 exploratory holes for phosphate mining. The area contains sources of drinking water for local families, as well as important habitat for elk, mule deer, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Phosphate is used primarily as an industrial fertilizer.

In 1998, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest Supervisor Jerry Reese "strongly recommended that this area of the Sage Creek Roadless Area should be closed to phosphate mining due to its "sensitive nature and the importance of the surface resources."*

Photo of The Sage Creek Roadless Area of Idahoís Caribou-Targhee National Forest

Peter Riede, a local resident and two conservation organizations have asked the Interior Departmentís Board of Land Appeals and the US Forest Service to reverse the illegal permitting of phosphate exploration. "We are asking that the BLM and the Forest Service safeguard the water and wildlife in the Sage Creek Roadless Area," said Marv Hoyt, Idaho Director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. "The decision to allow construction of roads, test holes, and wells understates, and in some cases simply ignores, the harmful effects Simplotís activities will have in this area. This decision sets an alarming precedent by the two agencies to allow development in protected Roadless lands."

Deer Creek flows through Peter Riedeís Afton ranch. According to Riede, "Fishing, hunting, wildlife, water quality, and property values all will be negatively affected, but the agencies have ignored or downplayed the potential degradation of those values."

John Robison of the Idaho Conservation League added, "The streams and mountains of the Sage Creek Roadless Area are more valuable as fish and wildlife habitat than as open pits and waste rock piles."

*February 23, 1998 letter to then Idaho State Director for the BLM.

JR Simplotís Smoky Canyon Phosphate Mine

Photos of Forests