Citizen Participation And The Roadless Areas Initiative (This May Also Fall Under 'forestry')

1457 words - 6 pages

Background InformationLate in the year 2000, the Clinton Administration directly issued several new rules to affect the National Forest System (NFS). The most controversial of these rules pertains to 'roadless areas' of the NFS. Commonly known as the Roadless Areas Initiative, it restricts road building and development in approximately 58.5 million acres of inventoried United States Forest Service (USFS) roadless areas, roughly one third of all NFS lands. Before the Roadless Rule was issued, the Forest Service held a public comment period where 1.6 million comments were received. The final rule, signed on January 5, 2001, prohibits new road construction and reconstruction on all 58.5 million acres with a few exceptions, such as protecting public safety. On May 10, 2001 a preliminary injunction was granted that effectively halted the rule .The Roadless Area Initiative has inspired heated debate between environmental groups, business, and other interests, and some have taken political or legal action. Most of these debates revolve around whether or not all points of view were adequately represented during the comment period, how the rule may or may not effect jobs, and if the rule is appropriate forest management.Interest Groups That Are Playing A RoleThere is a wide range of interest groups that support the initiative that are playing a role in this issue; so wide that it is impossible to address them all. I have chosen to discuss the Heritage Forest Campaign because it is affiliated with so many other groups. The Heritage Forests Campaign is an alliance of conservationists, wildlife advocates, educators and others who lobby for National Forest protection. Heritage Forests Campaign's partners include Alaska Rainforest Coalition, American Hiking Society, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, National Environmental Trust, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, US PIRG, and The Wilderness Society .As far as environmental groups go, the Heritage Forests Campaign is basically mainstream. Most of their partner groups are well established and have members across the nation, thus providing more financial and other resources than many groups. Although much of their activity is in letter writing and the like, they have been associated with many lawsuits and other more 'corporate' tactics.The Heritage Forest Campaign's goal is to expedite the implementation of the initiative in its original incarnation. They believe that the initiative has gone through the proper legal channels and that the Forest Service has adequately gathered and assessed public opinion on the issue. They also believe that the rule allows for proper forest management. Their main ways to influence the issue is by lobbying lawmakers and by filing lawsuits. They also may indirectly influence the issue by urging citizens unaffiliated with their group to tell political leaders how they feel about the issue .Opposition to the initiative is less widespread, but still...

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