WASATCH ENVIRONMENTAL UPDATE; Utah’s Need for Roads in Roadless Forest Service Lands

Wasatch Environmental Update for October 21, 2018

By John Worlock, Member of Save Our Canyons

Utah’s Need for Roads in Roadless Forest Service Lands

The Governor of Utah is mounting a new challenge to the federal government’s control of our public lands.  He wants relaxation of the Forest Service’s Roadless Area Conservation Rule, better known simply as the Roadless Rule.

This Rule has been in place since early 2011, and generally prohibits road building and logging in nearly 60 million acres of national forest roadless areas.  Exceptions include road building to access non-federal land inholdings and preexisting mineral leases, while logging is permitted to reduce fire risk or to improve habitat for endangered species. The rule doesn’t close any roads or trails, or limit off-road vehicles.

Recently some of our neighboring states have succeeded in getting the Forest Service to amend the Roadless Rule, for local conditions.  The Colorado and Idaho enterprises succeeded because the Department of Agriculture and the states themselves solicited the inclusion of voices not only locally but, indeed, nationally, as the Forest Service lands are owned by all the citizens of the USA.  Also there were provisions for enhancing the forest health.

Utah is in a big hurry to get its petition organized, and is currently offering a series of six so-called listening sessions to get local public input from around the state.  Not one of them, however, is in or near the highly populated Wasatch Front.  So, Salt Lake County invites you to attend a Public Open House this Tuesday, October 23.  Listen carefully for details later.  We want you to educate yourself and send in your comments to be considered by the state of Utah.

The Governor’s office argues that roads are needed to help prevent and fight the wildfires that envelop the west for much of the year.  One should know that only 10% of the acreage burned in the last five years was within one of the Forest Service’s roadless areas.  Additionally, states that have achieved modified roadless rules have not found them to be any noticeable benefit in suppressing wildfires.

To join our campaign to make helpful amendments to Utah’s Roadless Rule, first read the information on Save Our Canyons’ website, and then attend the open house from 5 pm, next Tuesday, October 23 at the County Government Center South Atrium at 2001 State Street

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