Conservationists, Industry Join to Advance Roadless Rule

Environmental News Service

WASHINGTON, DC, March 27, 2003 (ENS) - A professionally mediated roadless area conservation dialog among dozens of stakeholders on December 3 and 4, 2002 has resulted in the formation of a working group that aims to advance the protection of roadless areas in U.S. national forests.
The Forest Roads Working Group Tuesday submitted a series of recommendations to the Bush administration for implementing the existing Roadless Area Conservation Rule that affects 58.5 million acres in the national forest system. At the same time, the group proposes, a collaborative process should be established over the next several years to consider whether improvements should be made to the rule and, if so, what should those improvements be.

The recommendations were submitted Tuesday to officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service.

The members of the Forest Roads Working Group (FRWG) include Wildlife Forever, the Wildlife Management Institute, The Wildlife Society, Trout Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, International Paper, the Outdoor Industry Association and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation.

The organizations came together in 2001 as a series of litigants began to challenge the Roadless Area Conservation Rule written during the Clinton administration.

The recommendation states, "The FRWG believes the existing [rule] provides an acceptable basis for national management of [roadless areas], but recognizes there are legitimate questions concerning the rule, and recommends that it be implemented while potential adjustments are considered through a structured process of information gathering and continued multi-stakeholder dialogue.

While working group members have varying views of the Roadless Rule, the coalition grew out of a general agreement that the unsettled nature of the rule could end up threatening the conservation of roadless areas and their unique values. They believe an "acceptable solution can be identified and supported by the diverse array of interested stakeholders."

The Forest Roads Working Group's final recommendations can be obtained through the Meridian Institute's web site at The Institute is the professional mediation group that conducted the dialogue.


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