[permaculture] New Forest Roads moratorium

Steve Diver steved at ncatark.uark.edu
Tue Mar 23 12:42:44 EST 1999

New Forest Roads Moratorium 
USDA has announced an 18-month interim moratorium on construction of
new roads in the last pristine areas of national forests. The ban
expires upon adoption of a revised road management policy or in 18
months, whichever comes first.  

See the USDA Forest Service websites below for more information. 

USDA Forest Service Interim Roads RuleWeb Site 

Forest Service Limits New Road Construction In 
Most National Forests
                    WASHINGTON (Feb. 11, 1999) -- Agriculture
                    Secretary Dan Glickman, joined by Under Secretary
                    for Natural Resources and Environment Jim Lyons
                    and Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck, today
                    announced an 18-month moratorium on new road
                    construction in unroaded areas in most national
                    forests, allowing for safe public access while
                    protecting the environment. 

While the 18-month road construction suspension is in effect, the
Forest Service will develop a long-term road
                    policy for the National Forest Transportation
                    System. In addition to minimizing environmental
                    damage, the Forest Service will establish new
                    policies to guide decisions on identifying
                    unessential roads, recommending roads to be
                    eliminated or maintained to reduce environmental
                    damage, and assessing roads that need to be
                    reconstructed and maintained so that they are safe
                    and can sustain constant public use. 

                    "Because a road is one of the most indelible marks
                    man can leave on the landscape, it is our
                    responsibility to safeguard the often
                    irreplaceable ecological value of unroaded areas
                    until a permanent policy can protect our last
                    great open spaces, our water and wildlife, and the
                    economic health of forest communities," Glickman
                    said. "We are therefore calling an official time
                    out, so we can examine the science, involve the
                    public and build a roads policy for the 21st

                    "This interim policy will allow us to protect
                    socially important and ecologically valuable
                    roadless areas while we develop a protective and
                    responsible long-term road policy," said Dombeck.
                    "It's fiscally and environmentally irresponsible
                    to continue to build roads in unroaded areas with
                    our current road system in such disrepair." 

                    According to the new policy, which will be
                    published tomorrow in the Federal Register as a
                    final rule, all Forest Service roads will be
                    placed in two categories - classified and
                    unclassified. A classified road is at least 50
                    inches wide and constructed and maintained for
                    vehicle use. An unclassified road is considered a
                    road that was not constructed, maintained or
                    intended for highway use.

                    Road management is a long-term financial
                    commitment; once built, roads must be maintained
                    by the Forest Service for many years. The Forest
                    Service estimates the national forest road system
                    has 383,000 miles of classified roads and 52,000
                    miles of unclassified roads. The agency projects
                    the current backlog for maintenance and
                    reconstruction of existing roads is $8.4 billion.
                    It only receives 18 percent of the funding needed
                    to annually maintain roads to federal safety and
                    environmental standards.

                    "I commend Jim Lyons, Mike Dombeck and the Forest
                    Service for the leadership role they have taken in
                    implementing this temporary halt to road
                    construction," Glickman said. "This process will
                    provide the agency and public an opportunity to
                    work together in finding a solution to this urgent

                    The 18-month rule will affect unroaded areas -
                    portions of the National Forest System that do not
                    contain classified roads. It also affects those
                    areas as listed below:

                              * All remaining roadless portions of
                              Roadless Area Review and Evaluation II
                              (RARE II) areas and forest plan
                              inventoried areas that lie 1/4-mile or
                              more beyond any classified road.

                              * A National Forest System area that is
                              more than 1,000 acres unroaded and
                              contiguous to a remaining roadless
                              portion of RARE II areas or Forest Plan
                              inventoried areas.

                              * All roadless areas identified in the
                              Southern Appalachian Assessment.

                              * National Forest System lands of 1,000
                              acres or more unroaded and contiguous to
                              wild segments of the Wild and Scenic
                              River System.

                              * National Forest System lands of 1,000
                              acres unroaded and contiguous to other
                              federal roadless areas of 5,000 acres or

                    Areas exempt from this rule include the following:

                              * National forests with forest plans
                              that have been revised since January 1,
                              1996 and have completed the appeal

                              * Those forests with revised forest
                              plans that are under administrative
                              appeal or revised during the period of
                              the interim rule.

                              * Those forests with plan revisions or
                              amendments resulting from multi-federal
                              agency coordination using a
                              science-based, eco-regional assessment.

                              * Road construction for public safety.

                              * Those areas where road access is
                              necessary to ensure access by statute,
                              treaty, or reserved to outstanding
                              private right

                              * Those areas where road access is
                              necessary to save life or property
                              because of flood, fire,

                              or other catastrophic event.

                    The decision, which goes into effect in 15 days,
                    is the outcome of the Forest Service analysis of
                    the public comments and hearings it received and
                    conducted on a proposal made last year.

                    Release No. 0054.99
                    Andrew Kauders: (202) 720-4623
                    Forest Service Media Desk: (202) 205-1134

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