Bush Administration Should Mark Anniversary Of Roadless Policy By Keeping Its Promises
Vice President for Conservation Programs
1/10/2002 — Arlington, VA — On the anniversary of the establishment of a sound national policy for protecting roadless areas, Trout Unlimited called upon the Bush Administration and the Forest Service to live up to their commitment and protect 58.5 million acres of National Forest roadless areas.
The Administration has repeatedly voiced its desire to protect inventoried roadless areas. Instead of substantive protection, the American people have been fed a bureaucratic maze of interim directives and policy pronouncements that diminish protections to these wild and unfragmented watersheds, said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimiteds Vice-President for Conservation Programs.
One year ago, U.S. Forest Service Chief Dombeck finalized the rule to protect inventoried roadless areas. In May, the new Administration announced it was upholding the roadless rule, but failed to defend it in court. In June, Chief Bosworth released an interim directive reserving for himself decisions about roadless areas. In July, 850,000 people responded to a request from the Forest Service for new public comments on the issue. This was followed by another interim directive in August, which in turn was replaced by the set of interim directives released in mid-December. The dizzying array of interim directives each of which have weakened protections for roadless areas clouds rather than clarifies the position of the Administration and Forest Service.
Moyer added that the latest directives may undercut protection of inventoried roadless areas by exempting the one area that protection is most needed Alaskas Tongass National Forest and permitting new road construction after completion of a roads analysis that, while a useful tool for managing existing roads, has nothing to do with roadless areas.
We are disappointed. At every opportunity, the American people, including many trout and salmon anglers who are working to protect and restore Americas watersheds, have made clear their preference for substantive and lasting protection for the 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless areas. The Administration and the Forest Service need to heed their calls and live up to their own promises.
Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading coldwater conservation organization, is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of trout and salmon rivers and streams and their watersheds. The organization has over 125,000 members in North America. Its Director of Watershed Programs, Chris Wood, was the former Senior Policy Advisor to Forest Service Chief Dombeck. He can be reached for comment at 703/284-9403.