The Battle for Idaho's Roadless Forests Begins

1.11.2008

If there was ever a time for outdoor enthusiasts of all types to come together for the common good - it is now.

Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Central Idaho

Idaho has 9.3 million acres of roadless forests. The largest in the lower 48 by a long-shot, and with development in Alaska approaching, may eventually be the largest in the entire United States.

Right now, this 9.3 million acres is supposed to be protected by the national Roadless Area Conservation rule. This rule was once cast aside by the Bush administration, and was brought back because a Supreme Court Judge ruled against the Bush Administration's illegal tactics.

As of January 7th, 2008 - this is all about to change, at least for Idaho. On this date, the Bush Administration released a Draft Idaho Roadless Rule that would strip protections for millions of acres of Idaho's backcountry forests. The passage of this new rule could bring about the development of 7.6 million acres of once protected forests.

The proposal not only ignores the millions of submitted comments in favor of protecting our forests, but opens the door to road building, drilling, mining and many other forms of invasive development. Simply put, this gives special interests access to Idaho's pristine roadless forests.

If there was ever a time - It Is NOW

Rice Lake

The Payette National Forest from Atop Rice Peak

The Forest Service will accept comments from the public until April 7th (Monday). There is currently a total of 16 public hearings scheduled around the state beginning on January 22nd (see below).

Last year, Governor Risch made a commitment to protect the majority of the roadless forests in Idaho. The former Governor is now scheduled to testify at 2 hearings in regard to the new draft. Let's hope he keeps his commitment. The draft contradicts then-Gov. Risch’s commitment to protect 95% of Idaho’s roadless forests when he testified in Washington, DC in November 2006.

If you care about about ensuring that future generations of Idahoans can experience Idaho’s majestic backcountry, the time is now...Let’s Keep Idaho, Idaho.

BACKGROUND

We are blessed in Idaho with over 9.3 million acres of backcountry national forest areas. With one of the fastest growing populations in the country, Idaho's rugged, natural areas are becoming more important for preserving opportunities for outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing and our way of life.

In 2001, protections were developed to protect all remaining national forest roadless areas around the country. That rule REMAINS THE LAW OF THE LAND.

In September 2006, then-Governor Jim Risch petitioned the Forest Service to allow for some development in Idaho's pristine forests. In November 2006, he “clarified” that he was willing to accept protections equivalent to, or stronger, than the 2001 Rule on 8.8 million acres. Now the Forest Service has developed a draft plan that would weaken protections for 7.6 million acres of Idaho's backcountry forests.

These backcountry areas are the source of Idaho's clean water, critical wildlife habitat and offer the opportunity for solitude, a dwindling resource as Idaho continues to grow.

THE TIME TO SPEAK OUT IS NOW!

PUBLIC MEETINGS

The Forest Service will be hosting 16 public meetings across the state beginning January 22 and continuing until February 28.  A FULL LIST of the meeting locations and times is below. It will be CRITICAL for Idahoans to show up at these meetings and voice their support for maintaining current protections for the backcountry roadless areas we cherish.

GET INVOLVED

Along with a number conservation groups from across the state, the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) will be hosting presentations and meetings in communities around Idaho to let YOU know about the draft plan, and what YOU can do to protect these special places. If you would like more information about attending a meeting, or scheduling a meeting for any group you’re involved with (fishing, hunting, conservation group, audubon, sierra club, or even a group of friends!) please contact TOM SCHWARZ at tschwarz@wildidaho.org or toll-free at 877-345-6933 ext. 27. Tom will also be coordinating transportation to public meetings if you live in a community not served by one of the public meetings (i.e. Moscow, McCall, Sandpoint).

We are also encouraging supporters to submit LETTERS TO THE EDITOR to your local paper AND the Idaho Statesman (editorial@idahostatesman.com) encouraging attendance at local meetings and raising concerns with the draft plan.

Finally, please make sure to EMAIL YOUR COMMENTS to IDcomments@fsroadless.org or CLICK HERE for the submit form

MORE INFO

You can get more information, points to comment on, the Draft Idaho Roadless Rule, the Draft environmental analysis, and links to more at www.wildidaho.org/update.php

Additional roadless info at www.roadless.fs.fed.us/idaho

IDAHO PUBLIC MEETINGS

NORTH IDAHO

January 22, 2007
Bonners Ferry
Kootenai River Inn
7169 Plaza St. Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
7:00 PM

January 23, 2007
Coeur d’ Alene
Kootenai CountyCourthouse
451 Government Way Rm 1A/1B
Coeur d’ Alene, ID 83816
6:00 PM

January 24, 2007
Kellogg
ID Dept. of Healthy and Welfare Office
35 Wildcat Way
Kellogg, ID 83837
6:00 PM
NORTH CENTRAL IDAHO

January 28, 2007
Orofino
Clearwater County Courthouse
150 Michigan Avenue
Orofino, ID 83544
7:00 PM

January 29, 2007
Lewiston
Red Lion Hotel
621 21st Street
Lewiston, ID 83501
7:00 PM

January 30, 2007
Grangeville
Super 8 Motel
801 SW 1st Street
Grangeville, ID 83530
7:00 PM

CENTRAL IDAHO

February 11, 2007
Salmon
Brooklyn Annex
200 Fulton
Salmon, ID 83467
7:00 PM

February 12, 2007
Challis
Custer County Courthouse
Main Street
Challis, ID 83226
7:00 PM

February 13, 2007
Hailey
Blaine County Courthouse
206 South 1st Avenue, Ste 200
Hailey, ID 83333
7:00 PM

February 14, 2007
Mackay
Mackay City Hall
203 S. Main Street
Mackay, ID 83251
7:00 PM

SOUTHEAST IDAHO

February 20, 2007
Idaho Falls
Shilo Inn
Grand Teton Rm
780 Lindsey Blvd
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
6:00 PM

February 21, 2007
Pocatello
Holiday Inn
1399 Bench Road
Pocatello, ID 83201
6:00 PM

SOUTHWEST IDAHO

February 25, 2007
Cascade
Valley County
Courthouse
219 N. Main Street
Cascade, ID 83611
7:00 PM

February 26, 2007
Council
Adams County Courthouse
201 Industrial Ave Council, ID 83612
7:00 PM

February 27, 2007
Twin Falls
Twin Falls City Council Chambers
305 3rd Avenue East
Twin Falls, ID 83301
7:00 PM

February 28, 2007
Boise
Boise City Hall
150 N Capitol Blvd Boise, ID 83702
7:00 PM

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