Idaho is home to 9.3 million acres of roadless wilderness. (“ICL Latest Updates”) This wilderness is home to countless wildlife, flora and pristine waterways. Idaho’s roadless areas provide Idahoans and other outdoors enthusiasts with endless amounts of recreation.
More than 400,000 acres will soon be opened up, losing their protection to full forest uses, including logging, road construction and phosphate mining. (Barker) The plan establishes five management themes that guide timber cutting, road construction and mineral development in 250 designated areas. On Thursday, October 16th the rule was published in the Federal Register and now supersedes the 2001 Clinton rule. Jonathan Oppenheimer of the Idaho Conservation League says “The protections provided by this rule demonstrate the importance Idahoans place on our rugged backcountry. This appreciation for the land and for Idaho traditions of hunting, camping, hiking and fishing led to a plan that will ensure that our kids and grandkids have the opportunity to experience Idaho at its best.”
The 2001 rule prohibits the construction of new roads in inventoried in roadless areas and prohibits the cutting and selling of timber from these areas. (“Roadless Conservation Final Rule”) Idaho has chosen to overturn the federal regulation on multiple attempts. The new rule would allow more than 50 miles of road construction, 15,000 acres of logging and about 75 million board feet of logs to be removed over the next 15 years. (Barker) This will possibly cause irreparable damage to the environment. Causing irreparable damage is included in the original 2001 roadless rule. Other states that have tried to overturn the Clinton-era rule are Wyoming and Montana.
The roadless rule has been a source of great controversy and has raised the heads of environmental groups. The Wilderness Society and Greater Yellowstone Coalition are among the many who protest Idaho’s idea that they can go against federal law. Even the Idaho Conservation League was originally opposed to the Idaho Roadless Rule. They have since decided that trying to find a balance was the best path. The new rule does not go without its pros and cons. Those in opposition fear that it won’t stop here, that the remaining roadless areas will be in jeopardy in the not so distant future.
A natural resource goes far beyond the definition of a material source from nature that is economically beneficial to humans. (“Definition: Natural Resource”) The value of our environment can not be measured in simple dollars and cents. There are the benefits of enjoyment, memories, strengthening relationships, and not to mention the preservation of our world for future generations. The roadless areas in Idaho are truly a natural resource that needs its people to defend it.
Barker. Rocky. “Green groups are split on Idaho’s final roadless rule,” Idahostatesman 17 October 2008. 11 Nov 2008 <http://www.idahostatesman.com/newsupdates/story/540788.html>
“Definition; Natural Resource.” Answers.com. 2008. 13 Nov 2008 <http://www.answers.com/topic/natural-resource>.
“ICL Statement on Idaho Roadless Plan.” Latest Updates. 14 October 2008. Idaho Conservation League. 13 Nov 2008 <http://wildidaho.org>.
“Roadless Conservation Final Rule.” Roadless USDA. 05 January 2001. US Forest Service. 11 Nov 2008 <http://roadless.fs.fed.us/documents/rule/ruledo.shtml>.