Save the Roadless Rule |

Save the Roadless Rule

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:The Bush administration has announced its intention to all but kill the Roadless Rule, which prohibits unfettered road-building in potential wilderness areas. Just about the only hope for preventing this rollback of yet another popular environmental protection is if enough citizens submit public comments opposing the change. Comments must be received by Sept. 14, which means they should be mailed by this Saturday.The administration has proposed setting up a new process in which it would be up to state governors to decide which areas they would like to see protected, and then to petition the Department of Agriculture for that protection. The decision of whether to grant protection would then be made by Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey, a former timber industry lobbyist.This procedure is entirely unworkable, and the administration knows it. Few if any governors are going to spend their limited resources and political capital asking the Forest Service to protect these remaining wild areas, especially when they know that Rey gets to make the final decision on their request.And most western governors have other agendas. The governors of Alaska and Idaho have made it clear that they’d like to use our national forests primarily for logging and oil and gas production, regardless of other important values that would suffer from these activities. Our own Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, who has close ties to the gas industry, is hardly likely to opt in for roadless protection.Protecting National Forest lands is supposed to be the job of the Forest Service, not state governors. This rule change is just a ruse to open up the remaining 30 million acres of unprotected roadless areas under the control of the Forest Service for industry. This giveaway isn’t in the interest of the American people, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Roaring Fork Valley. Most residents of Carbondale – to cite one local example – would rather see the Thompson Creek Roadless Area remain protected from natural-gas drilling and all the road-building that goes with it.Please send a letter today to register your opposition to this policy change. Letters should be sent to: Content Analysis Team, Roadless State Petitions, USDA Forest Service, P.O. Box 221090, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84122. Or you can fax your letter to (802)517-1014.Dave ReedWilderness Workshop