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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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January 10, 2001     Feather River Bulletin
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January 10, 2001
 

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ข UOl"O IIIW ~f~ • QUALITY PAINTS 1 By Victoria Metcalf Staff Writer Final disclosure Jan. 5 of a Clinton-backed federal road- less policy declaring sections of national forest in 38 states off-limits to motorized vehicles and banning the construction of new roads, leaves Plumas National Forest (PNF) un- touched. Farsighted Plumas County environmentalists and PNF of- ficials developed policies and set aside strategic sections of fbrest in the last three decades, doing the work ahead of new policies now affecting nearly 60 million acres of roadless for- est lands predominantly in the west. While PNF is unaffected, lo- cal representatives have none- the-less watched and listened as the roadless area proposal and adoption has played out. It wasn't until the final ap- proval of the proposal was an- nounced that local representa- tives knew with certainty the forest would remain unaffect- ed. No indication had been giv- en that any areas on the Plumas were being considered, but local officials believed that it wasn't over until the final plan was released. In ceremonies in Washing- ton, D.C:, President Clinton an- nounced final regulations now affecting one-third, or 31 per- cent, of National Forest Sys- tems (NFS) lands. • 'These areas possess social and ecological values and characteristics that are becom- ing scarce in an increasingly developed landscape," said Lee Ann Schramel Taylor, PNF public information officer. "They provide unique oppor- tunities for dispersed recre- ation, and contain large undis- turbed landscapes," Taylor said. "Protecting these areas ensures that future genera- tions receive these same bene- fits." Plumas National For•mr In 1972, the U. S. Forest Ser- vice began reviewing NFS roadless areas greater than 5,000 acres to determine their suitability for inclusion in the :National Wilderness Preserva- tion System. That review process resulted in the Roadless Area Review and Evaluation II (RARE II). The PNF now contains seven RARE II areas. These include: Adams Peak, 5,294 acres; Griz- zly Peak, 6,242 acres; Chips Creek, 12,922 acres; Middle Fork, 30,208 acres, Bald Rock, 5,007 acres, and Beartrap, 6,066 acres. The 21,684 acres at Bucks Creek became the Bucks Lake Wilderness area in the 1980s. It is noted that the acreage listed doesn't include wild and scenic river consider- ations on the Middle Fork of the Feather River. Some of these same areas have been further defined and enhanced by the Herger/Fein- stein legislation as proposed by the Quincy Library Group plan, according to Taylor. Roadless criteria Inventoried roadless areas are those within the NFS, typi- cally exceeding 5,000 acres, at the time of inventory. At that time, they met the minimum criteria for wilderness consid- eration under the Wilderness Act of 1964, Taylor explained. In addressing the most re- cent roadless area proposal, the Forest Service used the most recent inventory avail- able on each national forest and grassland to further iden- tify inventoried roadless areas. Under Clinton's plan, Road- less Area Conservation rules protect inventoried roadless areas by: • Road construction prohibi- tions. Prohibiting new road construction and reconstruc- tion within inventoried road- less areas on NFS lands except: --To protect health and safe- ty threatened by a catastrophic eventS; --To conduct environmental clean up; --To allow for reserved or outstanding rights provided for by statuTe or treaty; --To prevent irreparable re- source damage by an existing road; --To rectify existing haz- ardous road conditions; -When a road is part of a Federal Aid Highway project; and • Road construction may be allowed in conjunction with the continuation, extension, or renewal of a mineral lease on lands that are under lease or for new leases issued immedi- ately upon expiration of an ex- isting lease. • Timber harvest prohibi- tions. Prohibits the cutting, sale, and removal of timber in inventoried roadless areas, ex- cept: --For the cutting, sale, or re- moval of generally small diam- eter trees which maintains or improves roadless characteris- tics; --To improve threatened, endangered, proposed or sensi- tive species habitat; --To maintain or restore ecosystem composition and structure, such as reducing the risk of uncharacteristic wild- fire effects; --When incidental to the ac- complishment of a manage- ment activity not otherwise prohibited by this rule. --For personal or adminis- trative use; --Where roadless character- istics have been substantially altered in a portion of an in- ventoried roadless area due to the construction of a classified road and subsequent timber harvest occurring after the area was designated an inven- toried roadless area and prior to the rule. The cutting, sale, or removal of timber under these exceptions is expected to be infrequent. • Procedures. Procedures ad- dressed through new Planning Regulations. • Tongass National Forest. applies immediately to the Tongass National Forest. In- cludes a transition provision that allows projects that have published a Notice of Avail- ability for a drafted environ- mental impact statement by the date of publication of the fi- nal rule to continue. This is one of the plan's biggest changes, since pre- ferred alternatives were re- leased in May 2000. At that time, a decision on whether to prohibit new road construc- tion in inventoried roadless ar- eas on the Tongass would have been postponed until a five- year plan review was sched- uled in A rit 2004. At that time, if it were deter- mined that the inventoried roadless areas on the Tongass merited protection by applying the road building "prohibition, a forest plan amendment or re- vision would have been initiat- ed with full public involve- ment. In November, preferred al- ternative proposals were changed on the Tongass to in- clude the implementation of the prohibitions on road con- struction and timber harvest, and these would go into effect in April 2004. In looking at the partial im- pact the new rule will have on the Tongass, Taylor explained there is no foreseeable effect on the nation's supply of oil and gas. "We don't expect it to for many reasons," Taylor said. These reasons include: • The roadless rule would have no effect on existing oil and gas leases. In fact, it pro- vides for future leasing, with road building, on lands cur- rently under lease; • This policy does not elimi- nate oil and gas exploration, development or production on the National Forest System; • Most roadless areas have been available for leasing for decades. Extensive portions of the lands, which the oil and gas industry believes have high potential are already un- der lease and therefore would not be effected by this rule. • Large tracts of NFS lands that are sensitive in nature have been made available to the oil industry under no sur- face occupancy stipulations which prohibit road construc- tion. This well-established practice could continue under the roadless rule; • NFS lands do not contribute a large portion of domestic oil and gas production today. Cur- rently, only about 0.4 percent of domestic oil and gas produc- tion comes from NFS lands. In- ventoried roadless areas repre- sent less than a third of NFS lands. • While the potential for undiscovered oil and gas re- sources under inventoried roadless areas exists, these re- sources could not contribute to any short-term need for en- ergy at this time. The process of discovering, developing, and producing such resources gen- erally takes many years and considerable expenditures to accomplish. Undiscovered resources are often not economically recov- erable. At the same time, if the nation does encounter a pro- longed dire energy future, any resources under roadless areas would still be available as part of the nation's resource base to call upon. KRound Pizza, Sandwiches, Soup, Salad Bar. PLUMAS PINES SHOPPING CENTER • 283-2320 l-4petsons Luxury Tower ($99 Value) Award-Winning Resort • 1,000 of the nero,•st most spacious aM luxurious rooms & Jaoazziฎ suites , Full-service Health Spa with indoor and outdoor pools • 7 award-winning restaurants • Named one of the top 10 casinos in America where you arc "More Likely To Win" I~, Auth,mv Curtis tff [~.' Las ~ A~iuw The Fabulous l fftets -41~-rs~ms Luxury Tower ($99 ~,alue) * VotKJ Jan. 7. I1. 15~25, 2001, Sondoy. ~a'tdo? only 1 to 4 pefv, oas t~,, ~. E,~chm~$ Im,~k~. CASINO RESORT • RF240 mlblm (~ tht tus Btmht~) Room&Show $66.00 -1 1 BY Dave Keller nal communications is not a de- Under the ; Staff Wnter termining factor." properl3 The Plumas National Forest's The notes add, "After someos and drafts can policy on how to categorize doc- discussion, it was agreed that checked to verify uments that are potentially ac- no letterhead would be used for can be released cessible to the public was re- internal memos. Please mark In the past, fined last year, according to documents'draft.'" on letterhead thatl Forest Service meeting notes The notes go on to say that have been released, obtained by the newspaper.Taylor and another employee er in some The notes are derived from a would visit each district on the March 10, 2000, meeting of what forest and educate employees Last month, the is known as the Plumas Leader- about the policy. Messenger, a weekly ship Team. In an interview with the in Sierra County, But, the notes only recently newspaper, Taylor said she is article about the became public knowledge, concerned that the public may The article, whiChl thanks to efforts by a local resi- think the Plumas is trying to cerns in the dent. avoid compliance with the the Forest Service The notes describe, in gener- FOIA. It's not that way at all, avoid releasing al terms, how Plumas National Taylor said. ments and had Forest employees need to be Instead, she wanted to make do it, states that the careful when they are compos- sure that Forest Service em- tional Forest is ingdocuments, ployees do not unknowinglyto "skirt the publict The meeting notes--which provide the public with docu- law." were obtained by miner Donments that are exempt from the Taylor said that Eno through the Freedom of In- FOIA. case. formation Act (FOIA)--feature Such exempt documents in- Taylor stated comments by Plumas Public In- clude communications with le- cause a document isi formation Officer Lee Annegal counsel regarding personnel memo or a draft ofl Taylor. issues, Taylor said. becomes a final According to the notes of the Those kinds of documents not automatically * meeting, "Lee Anne reminded should not contain Plumas Na- from FOIA. everyone that all information is tional Forest letterhead, Taylor FOIAble. 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