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Roadless comments due Monday

Aspen Times Staff Report

Public comments on President Clinton’s roadless initiative must reach Salt Lake City by July 17.

The 60-day comment period opened in May. The initiative directs the administration of each National Forest to identify roadless areas within the forest’s boundaries. The inventory of roadless areas will be included in each National Forest’s new management plan as it is created.

A final management plan for the White River National Forest is now being drafted, and the new plan is expected to be released next May. White River officials have identified 642,000 acres of land that qualify to be managed under the roadless rule.

The roadless initiative will prevent further construction of roads on the designated lands, but will not change management otherwise. In general, said WRNF Planning Director Dan Hormaechea, all activities allowed currently would continue to be allowed in roadless areas.

The National Forest has the largest system of roads in the world, and congressional budget cuts have left the Forest Service with funds to maintain as little as perhaps 20 percent of the existing forest roads. The result is roads are falling into disrepair and eroding.

“Right now the road system we have is extensive. We don’t have the budget to maintain it,” Hormaechea said. “So this is an attempt to not continue to build roads we can’t afford and don’t need.”

Citizens comments will be analyzed by the Forest Service Content Analysis Enterprise Team in Salt Lake City and sent to Washington, D.C., for a final environmental impact statement by the U.S. Forest Service. That project should be done, Hormaechea said, in time for inclusion in the White River National Forest management plan.

Comments can be mailed (or expressed) to USDA Forest Service, CAET, attn.: Roadless Area Proposed Rule, P.O. Box 221090, Salt Lake City, UT 84122, or they can be e-mailed to roadlessdeis@fs.fed.us

For more information, check the USFS Web site, at http://www.roadless.fs.fed.us


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