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Road to bad policy.

Byline: The Register-Guard

If President Bush harbored any hopes of burnishing burnishing /bur·nish·ing/ (bur´nish-ing) a dental procedure somewhat related to polishing and abrading.
 his abysmal a·bys·mal  
1. Resembling an abyss in depth; unfathomable.

2. Very profound; limitless: abysmal misery.

3. Very bad: an abysmal performance.
 environmental record before the November election, his plan to repeal the popular 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Roadless area conservation is a conservation-related term in which most road construction is prohibited on designated areas of public land such as national parks and national forests. Laws that support roadless area conservation are often called roadless rules.  Rule is no way to go about it.

However, if the president is looking to solidify his support among logging and mining interests that have lobbied his administration to open roadless areas across the nation, then his proposal will certainly do the job.

The administration announced Monday that it intends to repeal the rule that put nearly 60 million acres of national forests, 2 million of them in Oregon, off limits to logging and mining. Under the pretext of complying with a 2003 decision by a federal judge in Wyoming, the administration proposed allowing state governors to recommend whether to log, drill, build, or conserve in current roadless areas.

Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman Ann Margaret Veneman (born June 29, 1949) is currently the Executive Director of UNICEF. She was the first woman and first Californian to become the United States Secretary of Agriculture.  describes this proposal as a way to sidestep side·step  
v. side·stepped, side·step·ping, side·steps

1. To step aside: sidestepped to make way for the runner.

 current litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.

When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation.
, and she's right about that. The federal government has abdicated its responsibility to defend a roadless rule that has overwhelming public support. But Veneman ignores the likelihood that the change will spawn a host of new lawsuits, as challenges arise to individual state management plans.

Veneman also says the new policy will improve local participation, and she's right about that, as well. It would replace a uniform, national policy with one that turns national forests into state forests.

Somewhere along the way, the Bush administration has lost track of the fact that these are national forests that demand national policies that reflect national priorities.

The Bush plan would effectively turn responsibility for managing federal lands over to individual states. While some states, Oregon hopefully among them, will attempt to protect federal roadless areas, the rule change invites wholesale road construction and logging in A colloquial term for the process of making the initial record of the names of individuals who have been brought to the police station upon their arrest.

The process of logging in is also called booking.
 states such as Idaho and Alaska, where timber and mining interests wield immense political influence.

That's not how the majority of Americans want their national forests managed. During the rulemaking process, the Forest Service received 2 million public comments, the vast majority of them opposing new forest roads. In Oregon, 91 percent of nearly 65,000 comments favored protecting roadless areas.

The roadless rule made both environmental and economic sense. It acknowledged that most of the remaining federal lands without roads are that way for a reason - either their resource value is low, or their environmental value is high. It also acknowledged that the Forest Service has been unable to maintain its already vast network of deteriorating roads.

The roadless rule is a balanced policy that allows road construction when necessary for firefighting 1. firefighting - What sysadmins have to do to correct sudden operational problems. An opposite of hacking. "Been hacking your new newsreader?" "No, a power glitch hosed the network and I spent the whole afternoon fighting fires."
, public safety or thinning projects necessary for forest health. It ensures that at least a third of remaining national forests will continue to provide clean drinking water drinking water

supply of water available to animals for drinking supplied via nipples, in troughs, dams, ponds and larger natural water sources; an insufficient supply leads to dehydration; it can be the source of infection, e.g. leptospirosis, salmonellosis, or of poisoning, e.g.
, wildlife habitat and increasingly rare opportunities for recreation and solitude.

The administration plan won't go into effect until after a 60-day public-comment period. It's unlikely that the Bush administration will give credence to public opposition.

Congress, however, has shown that it's more willing to pay attention. Last month, lawmakers refused to allocate any money for an administration proposal to open 9 million acres of the Tongass National Forest At 17 million acres (69,000 km²), the Tongass National Forest (IPA: /ˈtɑŋgəs/) in southeastern Alaska is the largest national forest in the United States.  in Alaska to logging and mining. They should do the same for any proposal to use taxpayer dollars to pay for new roads in what remains of intact, roadless lands in our national forests.
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Title Annotation:Editorials; Administration seeks to replace Clinton-era rule
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 15, 2004
Previous Article:A victory for restraint.
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