Snowmobile Alliance of Western States Cutting through deceptions & misperceptions to protect YOUR RIGHT to ride!

27May/07Off

Fast-tracking “roadless” and “wilderness”

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The words “roadless” and “wilderness” should be of utmost concern to all those whose recreational pursuits include snowmobiling and other activities that require motorized access to public/federal land. Knowing their meanings will help readers understand my concerns as stated in this article.

“…there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.” – The Wilderness Act of 1964.

Many elected officials in America’s western states have cast a pall over the 110th Congress, which is ominous to those supporting multiple-use of our national forests. Many voters don’t yet know how forests must be properly managed. Responsible reduction of both disease and catastrophic fire hazards makes healthy American public timber land abundantly available for recreation and harvesting of this vitally needed renewable resource.

The Forest Service was created under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be a land management agency. The lockdown of our national forests by fast-tracking “roadless” and “wilderness” designation blows an ill wind upon these lands. Land management does not occur in roadless and wilderness areas. At this rate (roadless and wilderness designation), the Forest Service will soon be obsolete: There is no need for a land management agency without any land available to manage. However, another federal agency would be created to deal with the massive forest fires, so there would be no savings to the taxpayers.

Here are but a few of the current bills impacting public access in western states currently offering snowmobiling opportunities on public land:

Multiple State anti-access bills:

  • Roadless bills – Two bills to “protect” 58.5 million acres of so-called roadless national forests across the United States were recently re-introduced in the U.S. House and Senate by WA Rep. Jay Inslee and WA Sen. Maria Cantwell.
  • Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (H.R. 1975). This bill would designate 20.5 Million acres as wilderness in the states of ID, MT, OR, WA and WA. This bill would put in place the American component of the “Yellowstone to Yukon” portion of “The Wildlands Project.”

State-specific wilderness bills:

  • AK: Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act (H.R. 39). The Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act would designate 1.5 million-acres of wilderness.
  • CA: California Wild Heritage Act of 2007 (H.R. 860/S.493). The California Wild Heritage Act of 2007 would designate over 2.4 million acres of wilderness.
  • ID: Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (H.R. 222). This bill would designate more than 300,000 acres in Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds Mountains as wilderness.
  • ID: Owyhee Initiative Implementation Act (S. 802). This legislation would permanently put off-limits 517,000 acres as wilderness.
  • OR: Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2007 (S. 647). This bill would designate nearly 129,000 acres on Mount Hood and in the Columbia River Gorge as wilderness.
  • WA: Wild Sky Wilderness Act of 2007 (H.R. 886/S. 520). This bill would close 106,000 acres in Washington State’s Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest by designation as wilderness.

95.8 Million acres are already under wilderness designation in these ten states, with 53.7 more acres designated as “roadless.” Note: The Forest Service currently manages 34.8 million acres of wilderness across the United States.

AK – 57.5 million acres of wilderness.  14.8 million acres Roadless.
CA – 14.1 million acres of wilderness.   4.4 million acres Roadless.
CO – 3.4 million acres of wilderness.  4.4 million acres Roadless.
ID – 4.0 million acres of wilderness.  9.3 million acres Roadless.
OR – 2.3 million acres of wilderness. Nearly 2 million acres Roadless.
MT – 3.4 million acres of wilderness. 6.4 million acres Roadless.
NV – 2.9 million acres of wilderness. 3.2 million acres Roadless.
UT – 0.8 million acres of wilderness. 4.0 million acres Roadless.
WA - 4.3 million acres of wilderness. 2.0 million acres Roadless.
WY – 3.1 million acres of wilderness. 3.2 million acres Roadless.

Current pending legislation, “public-private partnerships” that effectively bind federal policy to whatever “green” organizations deem, and the new Forest Service plan revisions – which go hand-in-hand with closing more public land – all attempt to move 53.7 million “roadless” acres from the right column to the left column.

The more forestland that is locked up and left unmanaged, the more forests will degrade and die from bug infestations. These “protected forests” are on a fast track to conflagration. “Endangered species” lose the optimum habitat for which the claim is made that virtually all forests and federal land are needed, when the entire landscape is sterilized by FIRE.

In just the past six years, 49 million acres have burned nationwide according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Most of this acreage is either Forest Service or otherwise federal land. “Five former Forest Service chiefs recently told Congress those soaring costs are affecting everything from campground maintenance to research on national forest lands”. As stated in the linked article, “at one time, the Forest Service depended on the funds it took in from its timber sale program to keep its checkbook in the black.” That is no longer the case. And of course the other inferior alternative is to just let the fires burn. There are very limited options for fighting fires within wilderness areas and the best available option – fighting these fires by air – is very expensive as mentioned above. You certainly will not see any bulldozed fires lines around wilderness forest fires or fire control access roads.

It seems far cheaper, short-term, to harvest timber in third-world countries with very few or no environmental laws and ship the timber to America to support our huge demand.

Over the long-term, however, stripping other countries’ trees and other resources simply spits upon the “sustainable” sales pitch being used by global corporate magnates.

By that time, those in control of our forests intend to have their way back here at home, with no rural property owning voices to warn us.

Timber growth and harvest, recreation in rural parts of America and the responsibility for our own backyards means utilizing our own resources. This benefits everyone – except those with a vested interest in outsourcing American labor and production in favor of exploitative “cheap labor” and “cheap products.

Dave Hurwitz
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States 

Additional research and editorial assistance provided by Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net Julie’s website: http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org

Copyright 2007, Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

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Reference information:

It is important to know the difference between “roadless” and “wilderness.”

Roadless – An area in a national forest or national grassland that 1) is larger than 5,000 acres or, if smaller, contiguous to a designated Wilderness or primitive area, or lies east of the 100th Meridian and therefore under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Wilderness Act, and 2) do not contain improved roads maintained for travel by standard passenger-type vehicles, and 3) has been inventoried by the Forest Service for possible inclusion in the Wilderness Preservation System. – Appendix H (Biological Assessment and Evaluation for Revised Land and Resource Management Plans and Associated Oil and Gas Leasing Decisions) http://www.fs.fed.us/ngp/final/pdf_feis/Appendix_H.pdf 2. For the purpose of the wilderness review program, this refers to the absence of roads, which have been improved and maintained by mechanical means, to ensure relatively regular and continuous use. A way maintained solely by the passage of vehicles does not constitute a road. Words and phrases used in the above definition of "roadless" are defined as follows: 1. Improved and maintained: Actions taken physically by man to keep the road open to vehicular traffic. "Improved" does not necessarily mean formal construction. "Maintained" does not necessarily mean annual maintenance. 2. Mechanical means: Use of hand or power machinery or tools. 3. Relatively regular and continuous use: Vehicular use, which has occurred and will continue to occur, on a relatively regular basis. Examples are: Access roads for equipment to maintain a stock water tank or other established water sources; access roads to maintained recreation sites or facilities; or access roads to mining claims. (DOI/BLM) http://www.ut.blm.gov/utahwilderness/imp/impglossary.htm 3. Refers to the absence of roads constructed and maintained by mechanical means. – McGregor Range Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment and Environmental Impact Statement, Prepared for United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, Las Cruces (New Mexico) Field Office, January 2005.

http://www.nm.blm.gov/lcfo/mcgregor/docs/Draft%20RMPA_EIS_01_05_low.pdf (DOI/BLM)

Glossary (Pages 259-268 of 282)

Wilderness – An area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvement or human habitation, that is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and that (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least 5,000 acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value. – Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Pit 14 Coal Lease-by-Application, DOI/BLM http://www.wy.blm.gov/nepa/rsfodocs/pit14/DEIS/09chap5-ref-glos.pdf (pages 15-18 of 18) 2. Those areas protected by the provisions of the 1964 Wilderness Act. These areas are characterized by a lack of human interference in natural processes. http://www.nps.gov/yose/planning/sfbridge/ch4.htm 3. A designated area defined in the Wilderness Act of 1964 in the following way: A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which: (a) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprints of man’s work substantially unnoticed; (b) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (c) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (d) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value. – KIPZ – Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests http://www.fs.fed.us/kipz/documents/reference/glossary.shtml 4. The definition contained in Section 2(c) of the Wilderness Act of 1964 (78 Stat. 891). (See Appendix B for its full text.) (DOI/BLM) http://www.ut.blm.gov/utahwilderness/imp/impglossary.htm 5. Areas designated by Congressional action under the 1964 Wilderness Act or subsequent Acts. Wilderness is defined as undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and influence without permanent improvements or human habitation. Wilderness areas are protected and managed to preserve their natural conditions, which generally appear to be affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of human activity substantially unnoticeable. Wilderness areas have outstanding opportunities for solitude or for a primitive and confined type of recreation. They include at least 5,000 acres or are of sufficient size to make practical their preservation, enjoyment and use in an unimpaired condition; they may contain features of scientific, educational, scenic or historic value as well as ecologic and geologic interest. – Appendix H (Biological Assessment and Evaluation for Revised Land and Resource Management Plans and Associated Oil and Gas Leasing Decisions) http://www.fs.fed.us/ngp/final/pdf_feis/Appendix_H.pdf and The Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team (FEMAT) http://pnwin.nbii.gov/nwfp/FEMAT/ Chapter 9 Glossary http://pnwin.nbii.gov/nwfp/FEMAT/Chapter_9.htm 6. All lands included in the National Wilderness Preservation System by public law; generally defined as undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence without permanent improvements or human habitation. – Bureau of Land Management "This glossary defines terms used by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to explain natural resource concepts and management activities specific to this final environmental impact statement and proposed plan amendment." http://www.mt.blm.gov/ea/ohv/Glossary.pdf (Page 7/199 of 7 pages; 68 KB)

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