Western Governors Support Clinton Roadless Rule

What a big surprise; Washington Governor Christine Gregoire recently submitted a request to the Department of Agriculture to revive ClintonÔÇÖs illegal Roadless Rule for the forest lands in Washington State. This is after both California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, had previously filed suit to bring back the old Clinton plan released just as he left office in early 2001. If that isnÔÇÖt bad enough, Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) had already introduced a bill (HR3563) in the House of Representatives that would enact ClintonÔÇÖs Roadless Rule for all of the so-called roadless areas throughout all national forests across the United States.

As I have previously written, many of the so-called roadless areas of today will most likely be recommended as our new wilderness areas of tomorrow; areas where we would be banned from riding our snowmobiles. Many of these places contain some of our favorite riding areas.

Clinton’s original Roadless Rule would have contained three classifications for recreation; primitive, semi-primitive, and non-primitive. Only the areas designated as non-primitive would have remained open for motorized recreation, and non-primitive classified areas were in the minority. This would have literally turned the primitive and semi-primitive areas into de-facto wilderness areas. That is why U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer ruled in July 2003 that the 58.5 million acres of roadless areas nationwide was a “thinly veiled attempt to designate ‘wilderness areas’ in violation of the clear and unambiguous process established by the Wilderness Act.”

Despite the outcome of these western Governors and Rep. InsleeÔÇÖs attempt to restrict our right to access our national forests, the Forest Plan Revisions (FPR) throughout the western United States are heading in the very same direction. My opinion for many years now has been that the forest service will attempt to convert many of these roadless areas into Recommended Wilderness Areas (RWA) during their next FPR process even without the unwanted help of some of our elected officials. Refer to my article in the July 05ÔÇÖ issue of the Blue Ribbon Coalition magazine titled “The Common Thread – Forest Plan Revisions and so-called Wilderness Areas“. You think it wonÔÇÖt happen? It is already happening; recall all of the proposed closures and new wilderness proposals in Montana during their FPRs such as the recent Beaverhead ÔÇô Deerlodge National Forest proposal. The BDNF plan even goes so far as to treat all of the RWAs as de-facto wilderness and proposes to close these areas to motorized use even though Congress has not designated these areas as wilderness. Or what about the Colville, Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests FPRs that are still in work? These 3 forests contain more than 1 million acres of so-called roadless areas.┬á How much roadless will be recommended for wilderness in these final plans? How much will be recommended for wilderness in the national forest you most often recreate in? Too much is a given. I hope that you have submitted comment letters on all of the proposed closures that SAWS has informed you about throughout the last year or so.

With 14.8 million acres of so-called roadless areas in Alaska, 4.4 million acres in California, 4.4 million acres in Colorado, 9.3 million acres in Idaho, 2 million acres in Oregon, 6.4 million acres in Montana, 3.2 million acres in Nevada, 4.0 million acres in Utah, 2 million acres in Washington, and a total of 58.5 million acres across the United States (http://roadless.fs.fed.us/), we certainly have plenty to lose if these areas become off-limits to snowmobiling and other forms of multiple-use recreation.

Dave Hurwitz
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

┬áCopyright ┬® 2005 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

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Reference information and articles

1st Session
H. R. 3563

To protect inventoried roadless areas in the National Forest System. This bill was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, and in addition to the Committee on Resources, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


July 28, 2005


To protect inventoried roadless areas in the National Forest System.


This Act may be cited as the `National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act’.


(a) Identification of Inventoried Roadless Areas- The inventoried roadless areas within the National Forest System set forth in the maps contained in the Forest Service Roadless Area Conservation, Final Environmental Impact Statement, Volume 2, dated November 2000, shall be known and identified as National Forest Inventoried Roadless Areas. The Forest Service may modify such maps for the sole purpose of improving their accuracy or inclusiveness. Any substantial modification of such maps shall be made through the national forest management planning process and documented in an environmental impact statement.

(b) Management and Protection- The Secretary of Agriculture shall manage the National Forest Inventoried Roadless Areas identified in subsection (a) to maintain the roadless character and values of the areas in accordance with the final rule and record of decision published in the Federal Register on January 12, 2001 (66 Fed. Reg. 3244 et seq.).

Inslee and Boehlert Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Restore Roadless Area Protections


Governor [Gregoire] seeks to restore “roadless-rule” protections


Suit challenges roadless repeal – Oregon’s governor joins New Mexico and California in trying to restore protections for national forests reversed by Bush officials


Governor Schwarzenegger Announces that Roadless Areas Will Remain Roadless in California