Aug. 29, 2008
Scott Stouder, Trout Unlimited, (208) 741-0203
Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited, (571) 274-0601
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sportsmen congratulate Lt. Gov. Risch, state of Idaho, for solid roadless protection proposal
BOISE — Sportsmen joined Lt. Gov. Jim Risch outside of Boise Friday as Risch, primary architect of Idaho’s roadless lands protection effort, unveiled the final version of a state and U.S. Forest Service proposal that will protect the best places to hunt and fish in the gem state for generations to come.
“This is an unprecedented development that gives Idaho sportsmen and women a much better deal than the courts”, said Scott Stouder, Idaho field coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “This rule is the culmination of a lot of work by both Idaho citizens and the Forest Service over the past three years. Roadless lands in Idaho provide unparalleled habitat for big game and wild fish and, by extension, the best hunting and fishing left in the Lower 48.”
Stouder, who worked from the outset of the state-led process to identify and protect places vital to Idaho’s sporting heritage, thanked the state and the Forest Service for their work to keep Idaho’s roadless backcountry intact well into the future. In all, Idaho boasts over 9 million acres of inventoried roadless land on U.S. Forest Service lands. The bulk of it will be protected under the Idaho roadless proposal.
“The state and the Forest Service showed extraordinary leadership on this issue. It’s because of their tenacity, and insistence that Idaho not lose one of its greatest assets—its wild country—that we are nearing the best roadless protection policy in the nation,” Stouder said. “Anglers and hunters are incredibly grateful to those who helped craft this plan to manage wild lands for the benefit of future generations of Idahoans.”
The unveiling of the Final Environmental Impact Statement to the Idaho rule’s on Friday marks the end of a three-year process begun under then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, but engineered under Risch during his seven-month tenure as Idaho governor. Even after handing the reins over to Gov. Butch Otter last year, Risch, now serving as lieutenant governor, remained actively involved in the state’s roadless rule effort.
“Jim Risch cares about the Idaho heritage of hunting and fishing, and that’s why he was so insistent about protecting these wild places,” said Chris Wood, chief operating officer of Trout Unlimited and a member of the federal Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Task Force that worked with Risch to craft the rule unveiled Friday. “This proposal demonstrates what can happen when people work together to form common-sense solutions to common problems for the common good.”
The state’s rule is comprehensive and gives levels of protection to roadless tracts of land based largely on their present quality. For instance, those lands that are pristine and untouched are classified under the state’s “wild lands/recreation” category. Those roadless lands that are less intact—perhaps smaller and closer to urban areas—are classified under categories which allow more management activities so long as roadless area values and characteristics are maintained.
“The key, though, is that the vast majority of Idaho’s 9 million acres of backcountry are still classified as roadless,” Stouder said. “And, for anything to happen in these areas, the U.S. Forest Service will have to reach out to local communities and to those of us who use these areas. That means anglers and hunters will always have an opportunity to help shape any activity planned in the backcountry. And that’s the way it should be.”
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization, boasting over 150,000 members from coast to coast. TU’s mission is to Protect, Reconnect, Restore and Sustain trout and salmon habitat in the United States.