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«Chapter 4 Roadless Area Values (Question 6) Question 6: Describing Values. What are the characteristics, environmental values, social and economic ...»

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Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking May 31, 2002

Chapter 4

Roadless Area Values (Question 6)

Question 6: Describing Values. What are the characteristics,

environmental values, social and economic considerations, and other

factors the Forest Service should consider as it evaluates inventoried

roadless areas?

This chapter includes five main sections: Characteristics of Roadless Areas, Environmental

Values, Social Environment and Values, Economic Environment and Values, and Heritage Resources.

Characteristics of Roadless Areas This section includes three subsections: Characteristics of Roadless Areas General, Adequacy of Maps and Inventories, and Definitions.

Characteristics of Roadless Areas General Summary Evaluation of Roadless Areas – Roadless area values and characteristics are a topic of comment to many respondents. Numerous respondents offer lists of values and characteristics they personally associate with roadless areas. Several people advise the Forest Service to undertake a comprehensive evaluation to determine roadless area characteristics and values. Others propose that the Forest Service consider current physical and geographical characteristics when these areas are evaluated. The values mentioned in this section are mostly those of roadlessness, rareness, location, and values in conjunction with a full range of uses. Reference to other roadless area values and characteristics, such as environmental, social, and economic values, can be found throughout the document in those related sections. A number of people comment that roadless area values were considered during past public planning processes, including the RARE processes, and that reconsidering these values now is a waste of time and money. Additionally, some suggest that certain values should not be considered now or should be considered in a separate process from other inventories or assessments.

Adequacy of Analysis – Respondents question the definitions of roadless area “values” and the analysis that will follow based on those definitions. For example, one respondent advises the Forest Service to define roadless values in a context consistent with other aspects of land and resource management plans. Others allege that the Forest Service is deliberately misleading representation of the inherent values of roadless areas regardless of their wilderness potential, and in so doing fails to provide a balanced recital of ecological services. Others request the Chapter 4 Roadless Area Values 4-1 May 31, 2002 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Forest Service examine the definition of various values, including perceived value, social value, and ecological value.

Evaluation of Roadless Areas

431. Public Concern: The Forest Service should clearly state the benefits of having roadless areas.

If we are locking these areas away for some reason, it should be explained fully and the benefits to the nation should be obvious. Someone should state the benefits of having roadless areas at all. (Individual, Olympia, WA - #A444.10112)

432. Public Concern: The Forest Service should undertake a comprehensive evaluation of roadless areas.

TO DETERMINE THEIR CHARACTERISTICS, RESOURCE VALUES, AND EFFECTS OF VARIOUS ACTIVITIES

The following are some of the above categories you should address: 1. Inventory uses currently taking place that have not compromised the unit’s roadless character. If their impacts have been acceptable in the past, there is no reason they shouldn’t be acceptable in the future under managed conditions. 2. What activities take place on the roadless unit that are traditional and important to local culture; what role do these activities play in local economics? 2. What resources are present and how important are they to the local area and the nation? For example, the presence of important minerals might outweigh other concerns. Grazing might support local ranches. Wood harvest might stabilize raw material supplies for local mills. 4. What is the long-term effect of making resources on roadless lands essentially off limits, locally and nationally? Will more pressure be placed on commodity production from other countries without effective environmental protections? 5. Are the units identified as roadless in the inventories actually roadless? Some should be reviewed. Some units may be dropped and some might be added. 6.

What recreation activities can be accommodated to given levels without unacceptable resource impacts?

7. What unique, sensitive, threatened or endangered species are present and how does the roadless area fit into its habitat picture? What activities can take place without causing harm to those species? 8. What is the relationship of the roadless unit to other lands, public and private; how might the roadless unit’s management affect these lands and the uses they support? 9. What is the relationship of the roadless unit to adjacent special areas, including wilderness? 10. What is the relationship of the roadless unit to transportation systems, existing and planned, summer and winter? 11. What are the special environmental considerations, such as sensitive watersheds or unstable soils? 12. What is the best way to manage this unit of land in the public’s interest? 12. Can the roadless unit be sustained in a healthy condition that doesn’t pose threats to adjacent lands and resources? 14. What are the recreation opportunities the unit can provide under various management alternatives and how do these fit with the spectrum of opportunities in the region? 15. Does the unit have outstanding characteristics which make it suitable for addition to the wilderness system? 16. Does the unit have characteristics which make it outstanding as a place to conduct various recreation activities enhanced by a roadless setting, such as hunting, fishing, trail riding, sightseeing, rock climbing, etc. (Organization, Sandpoint, ID A6614.10110)





TO CONSIDER SIMILAR CHARACTERISTICS

In evaluating roadless areas, the Forest Service should always consider certain similar characteristics.

These characteristics may be as minute as the space between varying species of trees and plants, or as inclusive as the overall appearance and health of the forest area. Regardless of scale, characteristics of the inventoried roadless areas should remain somewhat constant in representing the best interest of the forest.

Environmental values can play a bit more of a biased role in evaluating forest area. The main concern is the health of the ecosystem, yet it can be skewed as overprotection of resources. The concept is to keep roadless areas set aside for rare species, remote habitats, and free growth of the forest.

–  –  –

Representing different values, social and economic considerations can sometimes play against the greater interest for the forest. Social aspects of the situation might include accessibility, location, and natural appeal. Certain areas are more sought out than others due to natural beauty. Economic considerations might include the amount of timber in a certain area, or other resources. In order to better access the timber, more roads must be put in. Although, it seems that the best wood for timber surrounds the already existing roads, since those trees are younger and better kept.

Overall, the Forest Service should always look for certain factors while evaluating roadless areas. First, the area should be graded—so to speak—on the health of the forest. All species present should be taken into account. After assessing the health, areas should be checked for possible improvements. Most importantly, all plans for action in the forest should be aimed at sustaining the most ideal conditions.

(Individual, Harrisonburg, VA - #A30138.45100)

433. Public Concern: The Forest Service should consider how roadless areas are characterized in evaluating roadless areas.

BY A WIDE RANGE OF FEATURES AND ATTRIBUTES

What are the characteristics, environmental values, social and economic considerations, and other factors the Forest Service should consider as it evaluates inventoried roadless areas?

This list might include; a. A complete inventory of renewable resources and production capability including forage, timber, fish and wildlife. b. An inventory of soil, water and geologic resources; an evaluation of their stability and suitability for various activities. c. An inventory of mineral resources. d.

An inventory of sensitive, rare, threatened, or endangered species and their habitat. e. An evaluation of current activities and their impacts on the land and its resources. f. An evaluation of seasonal suitability for various activities, including motorized and non-motorized recreation. g. An evaluation of how potential recreation opportunities on the unit fit into or complement the regional spectrum of opportunities. h. An evaluation of forest health and fuel loading. i. Land ownership in and adjacent to the unit. j. A complete evaluation of the transportation system in and adjacent to the unit. k. Its proximity to designated wilderness and other roadless units. l. A thorough evaluation of renewable resources, productivity, sustainability and the importance of these at a sustainable level to local communities. m.

Hazards to adjacent lands posed by various management alternatives. n. How is this unit of forest best managed in the public’s interest, local and national? o. How important is this unit of forest to the longterm stability of local communities? p. What is the availability of roadless recreation opportunities in the region and are more needed? q. Can the roadless unit be managed in a healthy condition that doesn’t pose threats to surrounding lands? r. What is its size and conformity; does it lie adjacent to designated wilderness; does it contain outstanding wilderness characteristics? (Individual, Boise, ID A5165.45100) A more complete list might include: a) An evaluation of forest health and fuel loading, including forested areas at high risk from catastrophic wildfire. (Association, Coeur d’Alene, ID A22058.45100)

This list might include:

19. How will vegetative management options impact air and water resources?

20. What is the burning window for fuels treatment? (Association, Spokane, WA - #A21364.45100) Relevant physical characteristics for the second-stage roadless area evaluations [following evaluation for wilderness designation] include, but are not limited to: ecological type, topography, soils, vegetation type and structure, wildlife, existing trails and other facilities; existing classified and unclassified roads, existing or potential old growth stands; streams and watersheds, TandE and sensitive species or communities, fire hazard rating, insect hazard rating, disease hazard rating, and proximity to private developments. (Civic Group, Roanoke, VA - #A1713.45100)

–  –  –

BY THEIR INACCESSIBILITY

There is very little private property adjacent to the roadless areas; the roadless areas are characterized by their relative inaccessibility. (Individual, Troy, MT - #A895.45100)

BY BARREN LANDSCAPE, SCRUB-BRUSH, ROCK, AND ICE

It should be pointed out that a minimal amount of productive old growth, low elevation forest was included in the Tongass Designated Wilderness areas. The vast majority of the “protected” lands in these units are barren landscape, scrub-brush, rock and ice in spite of the large appearing areas on the map.

This mix is true in Region 1. As an ex-smokejumper I have had a birds-eye view of the composition of Wilderness Areas throughout Idaho and Montana. (Individual, Sitka, AK - #A1056.45100) Also, these areas are not the pristine, remote, untouched back country that some imply that they are.

Many are readily accessible to the general public by vehicle, etc., and have been for years; they are not all forested - many are front country scrub lands with few if any trees on them anywhere. If the general public really knew the truth about these areas, they wouldn’t be so eager to blindly support any special classification for them. (Individual, East Kingston, NH - #A4893.45000)

434. Public Concern: The Forest Service should consider various values when evaluating roadless areas.

THE VALUE OF ROADLESSNESS

Roadlessness is a value in itself that should be conserved. Administrative costs for roadless areas will be lower than on more intensively-managed lands. (Individual, Lexington, VA - #A16989.45100) The primary characteristic should be roadlessness, for reasons mentioned in the May 2000 DEIS.

Roadlessness by itself is rare enough that no additional characteristics are needed to make an area special. (Individual, Oberlin, OH - #A16281.45100) The ultimate consideration, to me, is the fact that no matter what values you associate with a roadless area, once a road incurs upon that area, the values are lost forever. This should be the cautionary guide you use to help you protect roadless values. (Individual, Lewiston, ID - #A29569.45100)

THE VALUE OF RARENESS

I believe these intact areas should be preserved in their natural state precisely because so few areas in the world remain intact. I believe this is their most valuable use to mankind, in both an aesthetic and economic sense. Rareness creates economic value, and an economy, based on those who come to see, live close to, study, or otherwise benefit from that rareness. (Individual, Sitka, AK - #A15506.45100) The value of roadless areas lies in the very fact that they are unroaded. Some are more aesthetically pleasing than others but we have so few roadless areas left that they should all be left intact. Near me in the Eastern Hiawatha National Forest is the only roadless area here. It is not valuable because of its unusual beauty but because it is roadless [and] relatively rare. (Individual, Brimley, MI A15719.45100)

THE VALUE OF REMOTENESS

When evaluating Roadless Areas, the Forest Service should consider:

The remoteness of the roadless area (is it located near large cities, how many miles is it from the nearest metropolitan area with a population larger than 30,000). (Individual, Des Moines, IA - #A12587.45100)

THE VALUE OF PROXIMITY TO COMMUNITIES



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