SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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OVERSIGHT HEARING ON U.S. FOREST SERVICE ROAD MORATORIUM
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FOREST AND FOREST HEALTH
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
MARCH 4, 1999, WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10611
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the Committee on Resources
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/house
Committee address: http://www.house.gov/resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
GREG WALDEN, Oregon
DON SHERWOOD, Pennsylvania
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
MIKE SIMPSON, Idaho
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
GEORGE MILLER, California
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-CHRISTENSEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
JAY INSLEE, Washington
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
TOM UDALL, New Mexico
MARK UDALL, Colorado
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Forest and Forest Health
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho, Chairman
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCRICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
DON SHERWOOD, Pennsylvania
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ADAM SMITH, Washington
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
RON KIND, Wisconsin
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
TOM UDALL, New Mexico
MARK UDALL, Colorado
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
DOUG CRANDALL, Staff Director
ANNE HEISSENBUTTEL, Legislative Staff
JEFF PETRICH, Minority Chief Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held March 4, 1999
Statements of Members:
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCChenoweth, Hon. Helen, a Representative in Congress from the State of Idaho, prepared statement of
Stupak, Hon. Bart, a Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan
Prepared statement of
Statements of witnesses:
Adams, Dr. David L., Professor of Forest Resources, Emeritus, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Range Sciences, University of Idaho, prepared statement of
Marlenee, Hon. Ron, Consultant, Government Affairs, Safari Club International
Prepared statement of
Stewart, Ron, Deputy Chief, U.S. Forest Service
Prepared statement of
Svoboda, Kelita M., Legislative Assistant, American Motorcyclist Association
Prepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
Amador, Don, Blue Ribbon Coalition, prepared statement of
Squires, Owen C., Pulp and Paperworkers Resource Council, Rocky Mountain Region, prepared statement of
High Country News, preprinted
OVERSIGHT HEARING ON U.S. FOREST SERVICE ROAD MORATORIUM
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THURSDAY, MARCH 4, 1999
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Forests
and Forest Health,
Committee on Resources,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a.m., in Room 1324, Longworth House Office Building, John J. Duncan, Jr. presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN. We are going to go ahead and call the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health to order. I want to, first of all, thank everyone for being with us; particularly the witnesses.
Mrs. Chenoweth, the Chairwoman of this Subcommittee, has become ill. So, I was planning to attend anyway. They asked me to fill in for her and Chair this particular hearing.
Today the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health convenes to review the Forest Service's current and proposed road management policies. In particular, we will focus on the Forest Service's progress in developing a long-term road management policy, which it initiated in January 1998; January of last year.
We will also look at the agency's 18 month moratorium on construction and reconstruction of roads in roadless areas; certainly, a very controversial subject.
This moratorium was first announced 13 months ago. It formally took effect only this week. This policy has generated a great deal of interest and concern over the past year.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Since the Forest Service should now be approximately 2/3 completed with the development of its long-term road management policy, I think we need to ask why the agency chose to announce, 3 weeks ago today, the beginning of the 18 month moratorium?
I fear it is because they have not accomplished much on the long-term policy. Last year, after his initial announcement of the moratorium, Chief Dombeck testified that the moratorium was not yet in effect.
In reality, it has been in effect ever since because the Forest Service's land managers immediately altered any plans they had to enter roadless areas that would qualify under the proposed moratorium.
By my count, that in effect really makes this a 2.5 year moratorium. One of the biggest concerns that many have with the moratorium is its effect on the condition of our forests.
The Forest Service has repeatedly told us that they have 40 million acres of national forest land at high risk of catastrophic fire.
Their new insect and disease maps verify that this risk is only increasing. Dr. David Adams, Professor of Forest Resources, Emeritus, at the University of Idaho submitted testimony for our hearing, but unfortunately could not attend today.
He is well-known for his work on forest health and sustainability. I think almost everyone greatly respects his views.
Dr. Adams wrote, ''I am concerned that without adequate access, we will not be able to manage for sustainable forests.''
[The prepared statement of Mr. Adams may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. DUNCAN. I think many people are concerned that we may be under estimating the impacts of the moratorium. The Washington Office has reported how many miles of road and how much timber volume will be impacted in planned timber sales and forest projects over the next year.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Yet, we really have not received adequate information on the extent of the impacts on the local communities that will surely occur if the volume is not replaced by other sales available to the same local economies during the same period.
I hope that witnesses today will give us more details on the full impacts. I am particularly concerned, of course, about the effects in the Southern Appalachian area.
There are also great concerns about recreation access. We have two excellent witnesses available to address this subject. So, I look forward to the testimony of all of the witnesses.
I thank you for your willingness to appear before us today. I now will recognize Mr. Kind for any statement that he wishes to make.
Mr. KIND. I have none.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Then I will go to Mr. Peterson for any statement.
Mr. PETERSON. I do not have one.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much.
We will then call up the first panel.
I believe the first witness scheduled is Mr. Stupak, but I do not see him here yet. So, we will go to the second panel, which is former Congressman Ron Marlenee, a friend of many of us here in the Congress, who is a Consultant for Government Affairs for the Safari Club International.
Ms. Kelita Svoboda, who is the Legislative Assistant for the American Motorcyclist Association. I appreciate both of you being here with us.
Congressman Marlenee, we will let you proceed first. Then we will go to Ms. Svoboda.
STATEMENT OF HON. RON MARLENEE, CONSULTANT, GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, SAFARI CLUB INTERNATIONAL
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARLENEE. Mr. Chairman, former colleague, it is my pleasure to be here with you again.
The Safari Club International is an organization representing a broad spectrum of sportsmen. I thank you for having this hearing today and focussing on access. One of the greatest problems that sportsmen have today is access.
Madam Chairman, Subcommittee, the greatest threat to the future of hunting is sufficient access for those who are not of substantial means. It appears we now have an agency that is about to curtail that access even further than they have in the past.
I appear here today as a Consultant for Governmental Affairs for Safari Club International. In my 16 years in Congress, I served on committees responsible for forest management, in both Agriculture and the Resources Committees.
I have seen good management and I have observed bad management. I have seen good proposals and bad proposals. The proposal to unilaterally close roads is a bad proposal for sportsmen and other recreational users.
The proposal is so bad, that it has dedicated local professionals in the Forest Service shaking their heads. As a matter of fact, professionals bold enough to do so, are speaking out in opposition. Those who are not bold enough are privately expressing the resentment of the agenda of lock-up and lock-out.
At Missoula, Montana on February 6, 1999, in an AP wire story, Chief Dombeck equated recreational sportsmen to the timber industry and grazing.
He stated, ''The recreation industry needs to take note. They need to look at some of the issues the timber industry ran up against 20 years ago. The side boards for recreation are no different than those for timber and grazing interests.''
In the same delivery, he expressed satisfaction in the reduction of timber harvest by 70 percent during the past 10 years. Can we extrapolate from this that the Chief means or wants to see a similar reduction on our public lands in recreational use?
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The road closure effort is not a timber issue, as the Administration has been trying to spin it. This is a reduction in access, in hunting opportunities, a reduction in recreational use, and can be termed a recreation/hunter, access issue.
The Chief congratulated those managers who proposed banning cross country travel with all terrain vehicles. Their proposal would limit ATV use to established roads and trails.
Then, if course, they propose to eliminate as many roads and trails as possible. This, of course, means ATVs would be really a thing of the past. It also has serious implications for snowmobiles.
The lock-up agenda is not new. I recall approximately 15 years ago, a coalition of privileged users set down on paper these goals and agendas they wanted to achieve:
(1) eliminate timber harvest;
(2) eliminate as many roads as possible;
(3) eliminate all mechanical motorized use;
(4) secure all of the wilderness possible;
(5) eliminate horses;
(6) eliminate hunting; and
(7) establish limits of human intrusion.
Of course, the Forest Service has in place regulation that does limit human intrusion through, what they have termed, limits of acceptable change.
Subcommittee, because access on public land is important to recreation, to game management, and to sportsmen, we would have to question if the proposal to limit access on public land is a political decision.
The answer, the evidence that answers that question seems to indicate a strong yes. Of the seven items listed on the agenda, five have been or are being accomplished. The Purist, given the opportunity that they have, have not quite come to the point of eliminating and eliminating horses. However, ever increasing regulation and requirements on horses in wilderness is moving that way.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The protection of designated species is moving toward the limits of intrusion or limits of acceptable change. We have to question what happened to the validity of the forest management plans that everyone participated in that taxpayers spent hundreds of millions of dollars on?
We have to ask if the Forest Service is repudiating the credibility and credentials of its own personnel and the validity of its own findings? These were the professionals who evaluated the watersheds, the wildlife sensitive areas, the recreational needs, the validity of roadless and wilderness designations.
Now, the Forest Service appears to want to throw all of that out of the window and to unilaterally, without professional evaluation, without public input, throw it out the window.
We, as sportsmen, we question the intent of a suddenly conceived or politically-instigated concept that the bureaucracy must invoke a moratorium that involves themselves in a new round of evaluations of existing access to property that is owned by the American taxpayer.
If the Forest Service, Mr. Chairman, must persist in this duplicative effort, then sportsmen should have the opportunity to participate in a hearing on every forest. When ill feelings already exist about being denied access, then to deny them the opportunity for input is an insult to the elderly, the handicapped, the family-oriented recreationalists, and sportsmen.
We want to ensure that this new effort does not further erode an already diminishing access to public lands. Increasingly, sportsmen are coming up against pole gates, barriers, no motorized vehicle signs when they arrive at the edge of public property.
This Subcommittee, Mr. Chairman, should demand to know how many miles of roads have been closed in the past 10 years, and how many pole gates, and tank barriers have been put in the last 10 years. The Forest Service already has closed miles, and miles of road.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing, let me say in an effort to justify further road closures, the Forest Service implies that hunting in the forest system is having, in their document, is having a negative impact on wildlife.
They contend that access has led to ''increased pressure on wildlife species from hunters and fishermen.'' My experience in Congress in dealing with the problem is that the Forest Service consults extensively with State Fish and Wildlife agencies. That the jurisdiction of fish, wildlife, and hunting is primarily a State right and responsibility.
Because of the Forest Service allegation which appears in their public document, because it impugns the role of hunting and conservation, because it denigrates the capability of State wildlife management, I would suggest that this Subcommittee require the Forest Service to name even one state, one state, that is not fulfilling their obligation.
We know of none and resent the fact that this ill-thought out statement is being used to justify closure considerations that could be harmful to wildlife.
In closing, let me quote Bruce Babbit in February of 1996. ''Many Americans do not realize what an enormous contribution hunters, anglers, recreational shooters make to conservation of our natural resources.
In fact, these individuals are among the Nation's foremost conservationists, contributing their time, money, and other resources to ensuring the future of wildlife and its habitat.
Under the Federal Aid Program alone, a total of more than $5 billion in excise taxes has been a total of more than to support State conservation programs.''
This statement should be handed, personally handed, to Chief Dombeck with the question, do you really want to curtail, and to severely limit, one of the greatest conservation success stories of all time.
I thank you for your time, Mr. Chairman and Subcommittee members.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Marlenee may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ron.
Ms. Svoboda, I am going to apologize to you. What I am going to do is Congressman Stupak has just come in. I am going to letBart, if you will step up. We will let you present your testimony.
Then we will let you get on your way because I know you have many other things that you need to be doing. So, we are pleased to have you here with us. You may proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF HON. BART STUPAK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. STUPAK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I apologize for being a few minutes late there. I ask that my full statement be made a part of the record.
Mr. Chairman, if I may, I am very concerned. I have testified before against the Forest Service's proposed moratorium of no roads in our National Forest.
I am very concerned that the moratorium on forest roads will undermine the hard work done by our local citizens and subvert agreements that have already been reached to manage our National Forests.
Mr. Marlenee mentioned the fact that a lot of money was spent on it. In my District, I have two National Forests; the Hiawatha and the Ottawa.
We have reached agreements with the Forest Service as to how these forests are going to be managed. To do it, we gave up some rights; the local people gave up some rights. We sat down with the Forest Service and said, let us reach some agreement.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let us manage our forests properly so we can have healthy forests. We are above cost in the forests in my neck of the woods. We gave up certain things. Now, the government comes back 10 years into these agreements and says, forget it. That agreement is going to be superseded by new policy out of Washington.
We cannot continue to have government that enters into an agreement with people, and then because of a change in policy, we break those agreements. Those are binding agreements. They should remain in force.
Mr. Chairman, when you do this, if you stop the roads in National Forests, then you have no access to the timber. So, what do you do? You put pressure then on the State forests and private lands to open themselves up.
So, if there is an environmental concern, you may be protecting that piece of environment in the National Forest, but you are putting greater pressure and degrading the environment on private property and State forests because they will not be able to handle the increased demand to access the timber on State and private lands.
The Forest Service, itself, estimates that 40 million acres of its forests are at great risk of being consumed by wildfire. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we are getting disaster aid because of the drought we had last year.
We have not had much snow this year. That timber is ready to explode. How do you get to it if you do not have roads? I mean, all you are doing is you allow the trees to die if you do not have access to it; more trees rot every year since 1991 than we are cutting up there.
If that is the case, you are just creating a great fuel source for forest fires. When you have a region that is in a drought, one strike of lightning, then we are going to have some problems up there. That is another thing I wish we would take a look at.
Also, we have the risk of not just forest fires, but also disease. You cannot have proper management if you cannot get to the forests. So, I think this policy is ill-advised, to say the least.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The impact just on jobs. Again, let me go back to my testimony last year. The Administration, with some information provided by them, felt that as the result of the policy, probably 12,000 jobs would be lost throughout the United States.
I know 12,000 does not sound like a lot throughout the United States, but in a District where even right now in these big economic boom times, we are still running at 7 percent unemployment.
Most of my District is timber-related. That is going to significantly impact upon my District. I know that people say well, look, these roads are just there to support big companies.
I disagree. The big companies in my District, like Champion, Meade, and Louisiana Pacific, they have their own forests. They manage them. In contrast, the small operations, in order to feed their mills, whatever it may be, veneer, the plywood, or the paper mills, it is the little guy, the mom-and-pop operation that is out there cutting the timber, trucking it to the mills, and trying to make a living.
Those are the people who are really hurting with this policy. It is not the big paper companies, the big forest producers, or timber producers.
Also, Mr. Chairman, we fail to recognize that local communities benefit when we do have cutting on National Forests because 25 percent of the money that is generated off the timber sales go into local units of government, into PILT payments, and for local taxes to provide for the schools, to provide for emergency management, to provide for the local government services that we need.
So, it is reported that if this policy goes into effect, that 25 percent really represents $160 million in revenue at local school boards, road commissions, that everybody else would lose.
So, Mr. Chairman, when you take a look at it, not only are we concerned about the environmental impact and the economic viability of the timber programs, I am afraid that the working men and women in small rural communities, like I represent, are really the ones who are at the short end of the stick.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We entered into agreements about 10 years ago on the Hiawatha and the Ottawa. We had an agreement to properly manage our forests. It is working. It is working well.
Now, because of a proposed change in policy here in Washington, that trust of government is being, once again, eroded, and our economic base, our tax base, and even our job base would be adversely impacted by this policy.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time. I look forward to any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stupak follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. BART STUPAK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Madame Chair, thank you for holding this hearing today and for allowing me the opportunity to offer my comments on this important issue. As I testified before this Committee last year on this matter, I have a number of concerns regarding the Forest Service's roads moratorium. This moratorium undermines years of hard work in our national forests and threatens forest health, jobs in the forest industry and our local communities.
First, I am very concerned that the moratorium on forest roads will undermine the hard work by our local citizens and subvert agreements that have been reached in managing our Federal lands. In Michigan, a number of parties from all sides of the forestry debate spent years negotiating a management agreement for two national forests in my district, the Ottawa and Hiawatha. A moratorium on new forest roads could jeopardize these agreements, as well as countless others like it around the nation. Instead of allowing regional foresters and local citizens to determine how their forests should be managed, a bureaucratic decision has been made in Washington, DC to impose this moratorium on the entire nation.
Second, this moratorium could have an adverse effect on forest health. Since 1991, more trees die and rot each year in national forests than is sold for timber. This new policy will only increase this trend, promoting the outbreak of disease and creating fuel for forest fires. The Forest Service itself estimates that 40 million acres of its forest are at great risk of being consumed by catastrophic wildfire, the majority of which are located in roadless areas. Without the ability to conduct proper forest management activities, the risk of disease outbreak and forest fires increases dramatically.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thirdly, the roads moratorium could have a significant impact on jobs in the forest industry. According to information provided by the Administration last year, more than 12,000 jobs could be lost as a result of this policy. In my district, which already suffers from high unemployment, the forest industry is one of my top employers. I am very concerned that this moratorium on road building will also cause a moratorium on forest industry jobs.
In addition, this policy could harm the environment on state and private lands. In order to meet the terms of contracts, timber companies will be forced to seek alternative sources of wood to replace the timber that is restricted by the moratorium. As a result, the pressure will increase to cut more timber on state and private lands, possibly threatening the environment on these lands. Placing a blanket, national moratorium may stop road building on Federal lands, but in exchange, it could severely threaten the environment on state and private lands.
Finally, the moratorium could also have a drastic effect on our local communities. By law, counties with national forest lands receive payments equaling 25 percent of gross Federal timber revenues. These payments are used by county governments, districts and school boards for education programs and road maintenance. The Forest Service has been reported to have estimated that this policy could result in the loss of $160 million in revenuea conservative estimate at best. At a time when the PILT program remains woefully underfunded, local communities may be the hardest hit by this moratorium.
Madame Chair, in closing, I would like to touch upon one last, important point. Many of the arguments surrounding these discussions focus on the environmental impact and economic viability of timber programs. While these are certainly important issues, I am afraid that lost in this debate is the impact a roads moratorium would have on working families and rural communities.
As I have stated before, our forests are a vital part of our economy and livelihood in my congressional district. With three national forests in my district, thousands of working families literally rely on these forests to put food on the table. Many people think of the timber industry as giant businesses that slash and clear cut forests simply for profit. The truth is, however, that the majority of people in the timber industry are family businesses''mom and pop'' operations that are struggling to make ends meet and that truly care about our forests and environment.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While attempts to cut forestry programs on our national forests may be made in the name of environmental protection or aimed at large corporations, that is not where their impact is felt the most. Not only do these cuts negatively impact forest health, but they also hurt our counties, our schools, our road programs, our emergency services, and our working families. We, and our forests, can ill afford to continue down this path.
Again, thank you, Madame Chair, for holding this hearing on this important issue. I hope that we can reconsider this ill-advised policy and, instead, work to address the problem of forest health in the future in a more effective and reasonable manner.
Mr. DUNCAN. Bart, I thank you very much for an excellent statement. I particularly appreciated your comment that the big companies are able to get along just fine, but it is the little mom-and-pop operators that are hurt.
These environmental extremists who almost always come from real wealthy backgrounds hurt the poor and the working people worst of all because they destroy jobs, drive up prices, and really in the process they become the best friends that extremely big business has, but they hurt the small people the most, whether it is the small coal operators, the small farmers now through agricultural runoff.
I mean, it is the small mom-and-pop, and individual operations in every field and industry that is being hurt the most. I think that is a very important point that you have made.
I Chair the Aviation Subcommittee and generally with the members who come to testify, we just let them testify and then go on because we have other witnesses and we have chances to discuss these with members on the floor.
If anyone has any comments or questions that you would like to say to Bart or ask Bart before he leaves. Mr. Peterson, do you have anything?
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETERSON. What has been the reduction in the last 10 years of board feet cut in your area?
Mr. STUPAK. Actually, we have a management plan. As I said, it was a 50 year management plan. It has been reduced more than 50 percent. I think this year it might hit as high as 60 percent reduction.
So, again, that timber cutting, while it is not going on in National Forests, it is going on in our private forests and also on the State forests. So, it has been about a 60 percent reduction.
Mr. PETERSON. In your area, is the National Forest the most mature forest anywhere?
Mr. STUPAK. Yes, it would be. Pennsylvania is by far the most mature forest we have. We have actually taken tracts of land where we have private land owners, State forests, maybe Champion Paper Company, and the Federal forests.
We have taken large tracts of land and said, let us all work together cooperatively to have a healthy forest, and I will give up some rights as a private land owner. You give up some rights, Forest Service. We reached these agreements.
They are still going on, but I will tell you. There is much resistance to even enter into any kind of agreement with the Forest Service, if every year we are up here fighting these policies that really have economically hurt us and you cannot trust the government anymore.
Mr. PETERSON. When this policy was instituted, if my memory is correct, it was an 18 month cooling off period, sort this thing out. There was no argument in my District. Is there an argument in your District or is it a Washington argument that needs the cooling off?
Mr. STUPAK. Well, there is no argument in my District. They are adamantly opposed to it. Champion Paper was in yesterday. It was in on a tax issue, not on this. I said, I am going to testify tomorrow for the Interior Subcommittee.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What about this road policy? I think I know, but are you not concerned about it? They said, no, we are not concerned about it. We have enough land in Upper Michigan, Northern Wisconsin, Minnesota. We can feed our mills.
The ones that are going to be hurt are the mom-and-pop companies, the Mishaws, Bernawskis, St. Johns, all of the folks who cut timber up there. They are the ones who are going to be put out of business.
Mr. PETERSON. It is raising the value of the big boy stakeholders. It is raising the value of their stock.
Mr. STUPAK. Correct.
Mr. PETERSON. So, actually it is pro-big business. It is anti-small business and devastating to the hunter and sportsman.
Mr. STUPAK. Correct.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Kind.
Mr. KIND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to welcome my friend, my neighbor to the North of me, Mr. Stupak, since we also have some forest land in Wisconsin, and Mr. Stupak has quite a bit in the Upper Peninsula, which is a beautiful area; not only economically, but for the tourist trade.
That is one of the questions I have for you right now. Do you have any anecdotal evidence that you can share with the Subcommittee today in regards to the economic impact that the moratorium is already having in your Congressional District?
To what extent is that economic impact? Is it the timber-related industry or tourism industry that is being affected?
Mr. STUPAK. I do not have it all together. If the Subcommittee would like, I would be happy to put it all together. Not only do we have hunting and fishing, but also snowmobile trails right now.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With all of the snow we have up there, it is good. The total impact, again, you are just limiting access to the forests. If they truly are National Forests, should we all not enjoy them? They are not only just for the paper industry and the forestry industry, but also for hunters, fishermen, snowmobilers, skiing.
There is a ski resort up there in the Ottawa National Forest. These are all accessable, as well as cross country skiing. So, it would probably be hard to come up with a figure, but we would, if you would like.
Mr. KIND. Has that access been limited as far as the snowmobile trains or skiers getting to the resorts up there?
Mr. STUPAK. Not the skiers, because usually the downhill is pretty much defined. Some are cross country. Where access has been somewhat denied, is in the hunting area, the camping area, and some of those areas.
Mr. KIND. You mentioned the possibility of some high risk burn areas as a consequence of this moratorium. Is that accessibility more limited because of the inability to create the roads to get into these back areas or just road maintenance and repair? What is your greatest concern?
Mr. STUPAK. It is more just getting into them. As you know, when you have a fire out there, you try to use your four-wheel drives and everything else to get out there. Then you have to get access the nearest stream or body of water to pump the water towards the fire.
To do that, you have got to use some of these pumper trucks. It takes a little bit more. In the areas where we had the problems last year, we had trouble with access to it because there were no roads.
It is more of the older, more mature forests where the fuel is lying on the ground; the rotted trees that really spark the fires. Unfortunately, that is what it was. I am pleased to say it was not because of careless campers or things like this. It was the dry season. It was the lightning and things like that, that caused it. So, we did have trouble last year with access through the area because there are no roads.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am not saying you go put a road in all of the time. But if you want to try to save some timber, you are going to have to move pretty quickly. Yes, we do need roads.
Mr. KIND. I am not familiar with the anticipated fire conditions in the Upper Peninsula right now. Do you have that? Is there any anticipation at this point?
Mr. STUPAK. Right now, we have got some snow and hopefully we will get some more. I know all last year, it was drought conditions.
Our forest fire risk was high. One of the things I worked on last week was to get some of the farmers' non-cash crop, even the hay, drought relief. There is actually disaster relief for them. We are trying to move those things along.
If you look at the snow content, we really did not have any snow around up there until around Christmas, which is about 2 months late. We have had a little bit of rain. So, there is not that much ground covered.
For about 6 weeks we had heavy snowfall and we have had nothing since then. So, we are very concerned about drought conditions. This year, it might be worse. The lake levels are way down; the Great Lakes.
Mr. KIND. Finally, do you have a little different perspective that you are bringing here today, given the fact that you are dealing with forests in the Upper Peninsula, east of the Mississippi, second and third growth forest areas, as opposed to some of the National Forest out West?
Mr. STUPAK. Yes. I mean, we are second and third generation. If you look at it, I believe it is Region 9 in the Forest Service where we fall. We are considered the most efficient users of our forests.
We have been cut over two or three times, as you indicated. So, it was important for us to enter into management plans early on. We have done that. Actually, the first management plan in the United States was found in Northern Michigan in managing our forests.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We all came together. Everyone came together; environmentalists, the Forest Service. Everyone came together to put forth a way to manage our forests. By managing the forests, we have better forests, better valued timber, healthier forests.
As I indicated in my testimony, we are now above cost, as opposed to a below cost forest. That is just good management practice. I am afraid with these policies, well, they may be well-intended, but you defeat the management that you have to have of your forests. Like anything else, like a garden, you have got to take care of it. You have got to weed it. You have got to nurture it. You have got to take care of it.
Mr. KIND. Before I run out of time, just one more question. I wish I was more versed on this subject and had the data in front of me.
Did the Forest Service run any numbers, economic projections on the potential economic impact in breaking it down from the different National Forest across the country? Have you seen it? What would be the impact in the Upper Peninsula of that?
Mr. STUPAK. I have not seen it. What we could dig up for the testimony we have been giving for the last couple of years is that approximately 12,000 jobs would be lost. I cannot tell you how many would be in my District.
I can tell you that the revenue payments, again, the PILT payments, the 25 percent of the gross Federal timber revenues, that we would probably lose. It is a loss of at least $160 million in revenue.
That is somewhat of a conservative estimate. I probably could break it down by each forest, based on those figures that we have received from the Forest Service.
Mr. KIND. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Kind. Mr. Hill.
Mr. HILL. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Kind, just for the record, you may be interested to know, in my District 6 of 13 National Forest are affected; 42 projects. It involves 88 miles of road, and 31 million board feet; about 5 percent of the planned Timber Harvest Program. You can get that by forest.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Bart, I really appreciate your testimony. I am just curious, are there any of the areas that are being impacted in the forests in your District are proposed designation for wilderness or any special status in the future?
Mr. STUPAK. Yes. We have a number of them. I know of at least two that are pending. In these management plans, we do have the wilderness areas set aside. We are not proposing going in there and building roads in there.
Mr. HILL. Those were already roadless areas.
Mr. STUPAK. Those were already designated.
Mr. HILL. Those were already set aside.
Mr. STUPAK. Correct.
Mr. HILL. In my District, what is being impacted by this roadless moratorium are areas that had already been determined as not suitable for wilderness. Is that the same as true in your District?
Mr. STUPAK. That is correct.
Mr. HILL. In other words, what we are talking about here is these were forest lands that were determined to be suitable for multiple use, including timber harvest. Now, they are saying that we do not want to build roads in those areas. There is concern in my District that the way this is crafted, the consequence of this is going to be that roads are going to be obliterated.
Areas are going to be added to the proposed areas. Then these will be redesignated as potentially suitable for wilderness. Do you have that kind of a concern as well?
Mr. STUPAK. Correct; especially along the Bruell and a couple of the others over in the Ottawa.
Mr. HILL. How do you feel that, that impacts the collaborative processes that you have tried to promote in your District?
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have tried to promote people working together to try to deal with the contentiousness of these timber and public management issues. This just seems to knock the legs from underneath those people that have spent years trying to negotiate through a collaborative process. Do you feel that too?
Mr. STUPAK. Oh definitely. I mean, when you go there, I am going to be holding town hall meetings in the Hiawatha National Forest this weekend; Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon.
I am sure this issue will come up. I have been here now for 7 years. I have got a good working relationship with my community. However, it is sort of hard to believe the representative of the government when you enter agreements, and, you know, probably 7 years into the agreement, we start having these road moratorium proposals. We fought them on the floor, I think, just about every year I have been here. You cannot continue to say, look, we want to change the agreement.
We all sign an agreement. We give up certain rights and obligations. Then the ink is not even dry, and five years later and now 10 years later, here you are trying to take away the livelihood for the forests that you promised we would have access to. Now we are no longer going to have access to them.
Mr. HILL. It may interest you to know that I have 48,000 square miles of public lands in my District. Most of that is forest land. I have a pulp mill in Western Montana that is the second most efficient pulp mill in this company's 30-something pulp mills. It is the highest cost.
Do you want to know why it is the highest cost? Because the cost of chips. The cost of chips in Montana is the highest. They are in all of their mills. We have about 5 million square acres, I think, of Montana that is impacted by this roadless area.
None of that is determined to be suitable for future wilderness designation. Let me just ask you a couple of questions. Do you see anything positive in terms of the forest health of the forests in your District as a consequence of this moratorium?
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Do you see anything that is going to help improve the forest health through this moratorium?
Mr. STUPAK. No. If anything, I think it takes away from it.
Mr. HILL. Do you see anything in this moratorium that is going to improve tourism, and the attraction of tourism to your District as a consequence of this?
Mr. STUPAK. No.
Mr. HILL. Do you think that this is going to reduce the fire hazard that exists in the forests? Incidently, in my District, I have got 3 to 5 million acres that have been designated as high hazard, catastrophic, risk forests in my District.
Mr. STUPAK. So, that would probably increase the fire hazard.
Mr. HILL. Right. How dependent are the residents in your District? I assume they, like in my District, they live there because they like the quality of life. They hunt and they fish on the public lands. How important are the public lands to recreational hunters, fishermen, and women in your District?
Mr. STUPAK. Well, it is very important to us. My District is based on our natural resources, not only do we have forest products, but we also have mining. We have lived there. We have been there for generations up there.
We have taken good care of them. We were willing to work with the government to enter into agreements to continue. It is in our best interest to take care of our forests. That is what we are trying to do.
Mr. HILL. And you have.
Mr. STUPAK. We cannot with contradictory policy every few years.
Mr. HILL. Do you see anything in this moratorium that is going to make these lands more available for hunting and recreation?
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STUPAK. No.
Mr. HILL. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Hill. Thank you, Mr. Stupak for being with us today.
Before we go on to Ms. Svoboda, I do want to call on the Ranking Member, Mr. Smith, for any statement or comments that he wishes to make at this time.
Mr. SMITH. I apologize for being late. I had another committee meeting, meeting at the same time. I think this is a very important topic. I appreciate Representative Stupak coming and talking about it.
I will say at the outset that I have sort of a mixed opinion on roads. You know, the whole issue here is really logging on public lands.
I, for one, think that we do need to continue doing that. Obviously, if you are going to continue doing that, you are going to need roads to accomplish it. I agree with much of what I have heard, since I arrived this morning, in terms of concerns about access, recreation, proper use of our wilderness areas, and our forest areas for both logging purposes and personal recreation purposes.
I am sure it is true in Michigan and in Wisconsin, as well as it is in the Pacific Northwest. That is a big part of the reason why people want to live out there, is their access to those lands.
We certainly need the timber We certainly need the jobs. But we have a problem that has been going merrily on for quite some time. I know there are a lot very bright, very capable, very well-meaning people who have been working on this problem for some time trying to come up with a solution.
We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 383,000 miles of road spread out from one end of the country to the other; a lot of them in the Pacific Northwest, as well as in other areas.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These roads are causing very severe environmental problems, in our neck of the woods. I am not familiar with elsewhere. The biggest parts of those problems are what it is doing to our fish; our salmon and trout.
We are about to be hit with an ESA listing in the Puget Sound Region that is going to have a devastating impact. It is the first endangered species listing in a major urban-suburban area in the country.
That is going to be an issue. A part of the problem is the roads, when they are improperly maintained start to fall apart; start to get into the water supply; start to cause slides and a variety of other problems that lead to the devastation, frankly, of the habitat for these fish.
So, there are ecological problems there. We have had a dramatic increase in flooding in the Puget Sound Region in the last 10 to 20 years. There are a whole lot of things that caused that.
A part of that is the fact that there are the slides and are the situations that are occurring with the poorly maintained roads. It is also potentially damaging to the water supply, which we are all very dependent on in a variety of ways.
In the Puget Sound Region, we are dependent upon the water supply for power; hydroelectric. If we cannot continue to maintain that or if the ESA listing comes in and causes a problem with that, we are going to need to do something about it.
The problem is maintaining the roads. I mean, I completely agree with you. You cannot log if you do not build roads. I think it is good policy to maintain them. Where is the plan to deal with all of the environmental and ecological damage that has been caused by the roads that have been abandoned and poorly maintained?
I am not pointing fingers. The Forest Service and a lot of folks on both sides of the issue have blame for that. But we need something to come up with a plan for dealing with that.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Maybe building the roads better; maintaining them better; I do not know. So, that is where I am coming from. I want to know what we are going to do about the existing roads so that we can deal with that.
Mr. KIND. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. STUPAK. If I may, I mentioned the 50 year plan we did on the Hiawatha. I went back to when we first started and the first year we met our target; so much board feet. Everybody was very happy.
Every year since then it went down. So, I said, what is going on here? So, I looked at how many employees did the Forest Service have when we started the plan? How many employees did the Forest Service have after 10 years of the plan?
Why have we lost about 50 percent of our board feet? Well, they had, I think, exactly the same number of employees, except maybe instead of having 32, they had 31 at the end of 10 years. All of the responsibility shifted from Forestry and Forest Management to other things like Anthropology, Historian, all kinds of things that did not deal with the day-to-day management of the natural resource being the forests.
So, instead of having the experts who knew how to do things and put up a proper timber sale to make that the roadand remember, it is the Forest Service who decides where the road goes, not the loggerwhere this should go. We did not have the people there to do it any more because we were busy doing all of these other things.
Mr. KIND. Please do not misinterpret my comments. I realize I am the only one who is not just bashing on the roadless plan here. Do not misinterpret me.
I am not saying the Forest Service is good and the logger is bad; not by a million years.
Mr. STUPAK. What I am trying to say is the emphasis has changed from managing our forests to doing all kinds of other things. If you want to prevent erosion, improper roads, runoff, and silting of our streams, remember in my District is the Big Two Hearted River where Hemingway wrote about and all of these others.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have trout streams and everything else. If you would manage the resource and leave the people to do the managing in the Forest Service instead of having them do all of these other things that comes from Congress. Congress is just as guilty here of micro-managing.
Maybe we would not have had all of these problems that we are seeing.
Mr. KIND. That would certainly help. I do not know that it would maintain 383,000 miles of existing roads, but it would certainly help.
Mr. HILL. Would the gentleman yield for a brief comment?
Mr. KIND. If I have time, sure.
I appreciate my friend from Washington's statement. I think you crystallized the real issue on both sides of this moratorium very, very well.
One of the great concerns and great challenges that we face right now in this Congress is how to deal with the repair and maintenance of already existing roads. I think I saw a study that shows that only 18 percent of the existing roads right now in National Forest comply with safety and environmental standards.
That is a huge issue and a big challenge that we face. I do not think it is at all inappropriate for us to be able to step back and take a look at that aspect of it as well.
I look forward to working with my friend from Michigan and see if we can think of some creative ways to try to get some more money appropriated for the repair and maintenance of roads that are causing, as Mr. Smith indicated, countless damage right now in a whole host of areas.
Mr. HILL. Would the gentleman yield on that point?
Mr. KIND. Well, actually, I am going to say something and then I will yield to you. I think that is absolutely true. Let us not pretend that the roadless policy just got developed because people just are not that bright.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think the policy was generated from the thought that, okay, we have got all of these roads we cannot maintain. As at least a starting point, let us stop building more that we cannot maintain.
Now, I understand that has a lot of side effects. Because of those side effects, I am not sure I think it is such a wonderful idea. But that is a part of the thinking. If you cannot maintain the existing roads, you are building more that you will not be able to maintain and sort of creating the problem.
Mr. HILL. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. KIND. I do not have any time left. So, it is up to the Chair to determine that.
Mr. HILL. I would ask consent that the gentleman have 2 additional minutes.
Mr. DUNCAN. Go ahead, Mr. Hill.
Mr. HILL. This point is on roads, and hopefully we will get into this later on with the additional panel members. One of the problems here is that the Forest Service, of course, appropriately points out that we have this huge backlog, $8.5 billion and a year ago it was $10 billion worth of costs to maintain the roads.
That is almost all highways in the National Forest. What the Chief testified to a year ago, is that for less than $100 million, less than $100 million, we could provide enough money to maintain all of the Forest Service roads that we are talking about here; the logging roads, the recreational access roads, which I would be willing to join with my colleagues over there, to work on.
The fact of the matter is that we do not have a problem in terms of finding the funding to do that. What we have is a problem of determining whether it is the appropriate thing to do.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Three hundred and eighty-three thousand miles of road sounds like a lot of roads, but it is not. This is a huge area. We have got 191 million acres of Federal lands. This is the public's land.
The public does not even have access to much of it. In fact, my State legislature is going to be passing a bill, I think, to require the Forest Service, when dealing with road, road maintenance, and road obliteration, that it has to meet Montana's water quality standards.
They have failed to do it. In fact, they are damaging fisheries in removing roads. It would be better to be maintaining them than to remove them. Hopefully, later in the panel, we will be able to get to the question that you have asked.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. Bart, I might just say, since we are as I guess Mr. Smith said, this primarily goes back to logging.
We were given a report yesterday that said that there is right now 23 billion board feet of growth each year in the National Forest. We have decreased, decreased, decreased, and decreased the amount of logging.
So, we are now cutting 3 billion board feet, and 6 billion board feet are dying each year. So, we are cutting half of what is dying. It is amazing.
At any rate, thank you very much for being here with us. We are going to get back to our other panel. I apologize, once again, to Congressman Marlenee, and particularly to Ms. Svoboda, to whom we were about to get.
Ms. Svoboda, you may begin your testimony.
STATEMENT OF KELITA M. SVOBODA, LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT, AMERICAN MOTORCYCLIST ASSOCIATION
Ms. SVOBODA. Thank you.
Chairman Duncan, members of this Subcommittee, my name is Kelita Svoboda. I am the Legislative Assistant for the American Motorcyclist Association.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On behalf of our association's 232,000 members, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I will summarize my written comments and ask that my entire statement be placed into the record.
The AMA is not opposed to the Forest Service taking a close look at roads in our National Forests. With an estimated 1.7 million recreation associated vehicles traveling forest roads every day, it only makes sense to work with the public to develop a long-term strategy for addressing recreation needs.
However, we strongly disagree with the way the Forest Service has approached and implemented the interim road moratorium. We would like to draw your attention to a number of our concerns.
We were extremely disappointed to learn that after a contentious 13 month period, the Forest Service will now begin its official moratorium to last an additional 18 months. The AMA finds this even more frustrating, given the fact that Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck admitted to Representative Schaefer in testimony before this Subcommittee that the agency could probably devise a long-term policy without a moratorium.
This action begs the question, if the agency admittedly does not need to have the moratorium, then why propose this policy in the first place?
Having said that, we continue to be concerned with the methods used by the Forest Service to collect data from the public and the continued use of ill-defined terms by the agency.
Open houses sponsored by the Forest Service last year were not public forums that allowed discussion among participants. Instead, many people walked into a room where they were shown a video tape of the proposal, told where to leave their written comments, and if they did speak with a staff member, found someone who was disinterested in what they had to say.
Our Federal agencies should do a much better job of collecting public opinion. We have serious concerns over the Forest Service's inability to clearly define critical terms.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For example, depending upon one's perspective and experience, the terms road, roadless, and others can mean any number of different things. It seems impossible to receive credible and comparable comments when the Forest Service has not provided the public with a precise definition of terms.
While we appreciate the efforts of the Forest Service staff to include a new paragraph for definitions in the final rule, it fell far too short of its intention to fully clarify the interim rule.
Under the Forest Service definition, ''unroaded'' areas can contain unclassified roads, or routes that are more than 50 inches wide and not intended for long-term highway use. This definition also fits many ATV trails and connector trails used by off-highway motorcyclists.
The final rule is still unclear as to whether or not the moratorium applies to roads that are constructed or maintained as recreational trails, but that are not a part of the transportation system.
I can assure you that any trail is likely to be over 50 inches wide at some point along the trail. Again, the term ''unroaded'' could thus encompass all recreational trails as roads.
For the reasons I have outlined, the Forest Service should alter its ''50 inch'' definition of a ''road'' to simply apply to vehicles over 50 inches wide; not vehicle travel ways. This would reduce confusion and make it clear that designated recreational trails are to be excluded from the road moratorium.
Our members have established themselves within the outdoor recreation community as a responsible and environmentally friendly user group.
They provide the Forest Service and other land management agencies extensive volunteer hours for trail maintenance, graffiti removal from shared public facilities, and to ensure that all motorized recreationists obey trail rules.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have worked with the Forest Service staff for decades on developing environmentally responsible motorized trail management. However, we have recently had a difficult time defending that relationship to our members.
We are hopeful that the agency has learned from the mistrust it created with the interim moratorium, during the development of a long-term road policy. Any long-term strategy needs to avoid placing priority upon the ''aggressive decommissioning'' of roads.
Not only should these decisions be made at the local level with public involvement, but the priorities should be on turning ''roads'' into trails. The Forest Service also needs to provide an improved forum for soliciting public input.
A true ''town hall'' style meeting would provide the public an opportunity to have discussions with Forest Service personnel, members of the community, and would gain greater public support.
Overall, it is incumbent upon the Forest Service to provide the same, accurate information to all forest personnel; especially those who have contact with the public to ensure that consistent policies, procedures, and definitions are being circulated in regard to the road moratorium.
Again, I thank you for the opportunity to provide these comments. It has been a privilege to be here today. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Svoboda may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. For the first questioning, I am going to yield my time to Mr. Peterson.
Mr. PETERSON. Ron, I guess I have a question for you.
If I remember your testimony correctly, it has been a little while ago. Did you sort of paint the picture that this is a lot bigger than about timber?
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARLENEE. Absolutely. This is an issue of access and recreation on public lands. It is an issue about the future of hunter recreationalists. As I have stated in my testimony, access is the biggest problem today for sportsmen.
Unless we provide access, the future of hunting is threatened. People are becoming frustrated. Instead of going hunting, they are going bowling.
We need that conservation input, conservation dollars that come from sportsmen that enhance wildlife, add to the habitat, et cetera, et cetera. It is a success story, but if they eliminate hunters through limiting access, we are cutting off our nose to spite our face.
Mr. PETERSON. But you are also limiting anybody who would want any nature experience that does not have the physical ability to be a mountain climber, hiker, or a pretty physical person. Would you agree with that?
Mr. MARLENEE. I would certainly agree with that; the elderly, the handicapped, those who are berry pickers, those who go out with families.
These are the people that use those roads. There is a factor of safety also involved here. I know of nobody that usesvery few people that use the forest, particularly in the West, who has not used an old road to reorient themselves and find their way out of the bush.
That probably is true in the Michigan and Wisconsin area where it is flatter and where these roads do provide a safety factor for those who are out in the forest.
Mr. PETERSON. I am going to paint you a parallel. You have been around awhile. You understand. The other law I am going to mention. The American Disabilities Act is an Act that was passed, I think, while your tenure was here.
It is an Act that says that private property, private buildings in our communities where many of our opponents live, have to be accessible to all; private. Here we have public land that I think we are limiting to a minute percentage of those who could ever get out there.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am a hunter. I am not afraid to go 10 miles from a road, but I am rare. Most hunters that I know today will not go a mile from a road. They are afraid of getting lost. If it is any kind of rugged terrain at all, a mile, a mile and a half; someplace they have been.
So, you are really limiting the use. Hunters who spend a lot of time in the woods, I think hikers are the same way, but you are down to the young, the strong, and the able who are not afraid of the wild. You have a small percentage of the population. Did we buy this land just for them or did we want families?
The majority of Americans are approaching the senior citizen age. Do you want to hike 5 miles from a road if you had some kind of heart problems or health problems, though the hiking is good for you?
Are we really shutting this down from most Americans; from the ability to go out there and enjoy the nature, the recreation, and the wildlife out there, just to view it, not even to hunt, but just to view it?
Are we really not by having a huge roadless policy, that we are just saying for most of America, this is not for you? This is just for a few of us that are young, strong, and able to go out there.
Mr. MARLENEE. If I may comment, sir. Yes, we are shutting it down. Yes, we are locking a lot of people out with a roadless policy; with a policy that concentrates people on a smaller and smaller area.
So, we are going to eliminate the roads. Those that want to seek recreation, that want to hunt then are concentrated in a smaller and smaller area.
The impact is greater than if you allow them to spread out and recreate over a larger area. As this constriction of opportunity occurs, a lot more people are just going to say, hey, it is not worth it. We are not going out. But, yes, it is very true that it has a severe impact on every recreation; particularly, families and people without means.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If they have the means, they are wealthy, or else the physical means, they are out and into the roadless and wilderness areas. We must remember, and I have spent my life trying to make certain that, that auto mechanic, that person that has a weekend off to enjoy with his family, our public lands, have an opportunity and a place to go.
Mr. PETERSON. So, it is middle class, blue collar working America that does not have a lot of resources and a lot of expensive toys who would like to go out there and spend time; who is not going to take his family miles from a road.
So, we really shut-out much of America that is owned by America to those kinds of people who reallyit is probably the people we created for. The wealthy have their get aways. The wealthy have their own estates. The wealthy have their own piece of the forest, quite often.
Mr. MARLENEE. Private property.
Mr. PETERSON. They have their own get away place in the mountains, in the hills, out in the vast of America. This public land that we bought for the average person, I think we are shutting out a huge percent from them ever having a chance to utilize.
I guess I just find that so conflicting where we have laws that say public property must be open to all. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Peterson. Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. I have no questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Mr. Hill.
Mr. HILL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you both for being here. I appreciate it very much.
Ron, I have to just tell you that your organization has more credibility, the most credibility, the greatest integrity, in terms of representation of sportsmen and sports women in this Congress and in Washington, DC.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, that is a bipartisan recognition. I hear that from the Democrat and the Republican members. Your organization provides the leadership in the sportsmen caucus, for conservation, habitat conservation, and also for constructive proposals to deal with endangered species on an international, as well as the national level.
So, I just want to put that on the record. Your organization represents some people who can afford to hire the expensive outfitter. But your organization also represents the guy that wants to go hunting on the weekend.
That is one of the reasons that I have great regard for your organization. One of the most troubling things in your testimony, and I am going to read it to you.
I know you know that it is in here. ''The agenda of lock-out is not new. I recall, approximately 15 years ago a coalition of privileged users set down on paper the goals and agenda they wanted to achieve on public lands.
(1) eliminate timber harvest;
(2) eliminate as many roads as possible;
(3) eliminate all mechanical motorized use;
(4) secure all of the wilderness possible;
(5) eliminate horses;
(6) eliminate hunting; and
(7) establish limits of human intrusion.
Then you go on to evidence the fact that five of those seven are already in some level of achievement. You know the situation in Montana. We are fighting on every one of those fronts right now.
There are efforts to ration access to the public lands. There are efforts to put restrictions on horse access; not just on motorized vehicles, but even horses. Do you honestly believe that the goal here is to ultimately lock the forests up for recreationalists; particularly, hunting and fishing?
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARLENEE. I think that would be an insidious ulterior motive. I do not believe that the professionals within the Forest Service, those on the ground, those up in the regional forests, the local Forest Service manager. I do not think that, that is really underlying their intent.
We have a lot of dedicated people, as you know, that are a part of the community, that are a part of the recreationalists. However, the policies that are put forth and the mandates that are put out of Washington do not take that local input into consideration.
So, that is why I said in here that locals who dare to speak out and professionals are speaking out against it. Those who do not have courage enough are privately saying how they resent the direction that the Forest Service is going from the mandates from Washington.
It is unfortunate. I think the policy can be changed. When I listed the seven, our laws that the United States Congress passed have contributed to some achievement of the seven listed.
The Forest Service, themselves, depending on the Chief and the policy put forth by the Department of Agriculture, the person who heads up the Forest Service Division or the Secretary himself, have helped to achieve to some degree almost every one of those seven limitations listed.
The elimination of timber harvest, Chief Dombeck, himself, has said 70 percent. That is a heck of a hit on a community, or on a state, or on our national economy, on the national treasury.
Eliminate as many roads as possible. That has been ongoing. I need to emphasize that. That has been ongoing with a galloping force in Montana. I think when Senator Burns inquired, there were over 160 barriers and traps put up on public land roads in one forest, Gallatin. This took place over the past 10 years.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Voice activation mike started fading in and out on this witness only.]
Then in addition to that, I am told there were around 400 miles of roads closed in Lemhi Forest in Idaho. The Forest Service needs to be forthright before they do any more closure of access. Tell the Subcommittee how many miles in the last 10 years that have been closed.
Mr. HILL. You know, we have a road in the Flathead Forest that they obliterated last year. They removed, I think, 20-something culverts. Some of those cuts were 20, 30 feet deep; a tremendous sedimentation problem to the streams.
This was a trail that was completely grown over with grass and even had trees, full-size trees growing. It was not a road. It was simply a trail that sportsmen used. They could not use it for motorized vehicles.
It caused great damage to extremely critical bull trout habitat. It could not have ever met the standards that a logging company would be held to if it was going to construct a road. That is the kind of thing that we are experiencing.
I want to stay with the hunting point because I think it is extremely important. Forest management requires some timber harvest; does it not? I mean, in terms of maintaining a healthy forest, you have to have access to it.
Timber harvest is a part of maintaining a healthy forest and healthy habitat for game animals: elk and deer populations. Would you agree with that; comment on that?
Mr. MARLENEE. [Voice activation mike is fading in and out on this witness only.] Prior to ever building a road, prior to ever constructing a road, the Forest Service is required to evaluate the sensitivityto make certain there is no erosion, to make certain that, that road does not impact the breeding ground, habitat, camping grounds, or create environmental damage every time they build a road.
Now, they are saying maybe our evaluation is wrong. We ought to close all of those up andmaintainreclaim those old roads that have reclaimed themselves. I do not thinkeveryone who has been out in the forest has come upon an old road that has timber on it, grass on it, and it is stabilized. I would suggest to go in and disrupt all of that under the guise of reclaiming that road is not only a waste of money, but may actually provide more environmental damage
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HILL. Thank you, Congressman.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Hill. Mr. Kind.
Mr. KIND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Marlenee, welcome back. We appreciate your testimony and your presence here today.
I just want to see if we can clarify this debate. I know Mr. Peterson was talking about a lot of the recreational users, the weekend campers, and what not, gaining access to the roads, and further access to the public lands.
I believe that only 20 percent of the already existing roads in our National Forest is for recreational use. By and large the vast majority of the roads that are in existence are for high clearance vehicles. Does that sound about right to you?
Mr. MARLENEE. No, nearly every road on the forest is used for recreation.
Mr. KIND. The point I am just trying to make is that I have not seen a lot of Winabagos or campers trodding across the National Forest roads that are already in existence. There is some limited access, yes.
By and large the vast majority of the roads are for high clearance vehicles and perhaps for some recreational use for hunting, hiking, and that type of purposes. As far as the actual recreational camper going out on the weekend, what we are talking about here really is not having too much of an impact on them.
I think what the debate is all about is creating more roads mainly for private timber access with timber industry, and, you know, that is fine.
There has to be a forest management policy. Again, it comes down to dollars and cents. I am troubled by the fact that only 18 percent of the existing roads right now fall under the safety and environmental standards that were established.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is a lot of work to be done there. Also, who is going to pay for that? It is a tough sell for my taxpayers back in Western Wisconsin that we should be creating new roads in the National Forest lands mainly to be used for private timber interests.
I think that is just the fundamental debate that we are going to continue to have here in these halls for some time to come. Also, given the fact that we have got 383,000 miles of roads right now already existing in our National Forest lands.
You can go around the globe 15 times. I do not think it is all that unreasonable just to step back, take a breath, and see where we are going as far as the creation of new roads and how they are going to be maintained and who is going to pay for it.
I am a hunter. I like to get out and hunt. I know how valuable it is to gain access to public lands. I grew up in a hunting family. You have a very valid point.
The question I want to pose to you is, are there any studies or any data that we can point to that shows a serious concern in regard to this moratorium over species pressure, over population, and what that might do to hurt management, for instance?
Mr. MARLENEE. Most recreation is not done with a camper, Winabago or otherwise. Most sportsmen and a majority of recreationists prefer primitive roads, not all-weather through parks. The contention by the Forest Service that they must maintain these roads to a high degree of safety and ease of travel is bogus. Perhaps they want to elevate costs.
We are not necessarily addressing the moratorium. We are not addressing the issue of building new roads. We are addressing our concern that there be no access loss.
Mr. KIND. I have not had a chance to inquire on the State level as far as the State agencies. Are you aware of any State agencies right now that are conducting some studies on the impact that the moratorium may have on herd management or species pressure in the public lands?
Mr. MARLENEE. [Voice activation mike fading in and out on this witness only.]
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KIND. You are just not aware of any.
Mr. PETERSON. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. KIND. Sure. I would be happy to yield.
Mr. PETERSON. I cannot name a study, but I was in State government for 19 years. It was an ongoing problem to get the deer heard trimmed on the Allegheny National Forest because hunters will not hunt very far from a road today. They are just not comfortable out that far.
So, it was an ongoing problem of how we get the hunters in where the deer population is too heavy and where the deer population us having a damaging effect on the environment because there are too many of them; regeneration of species and so forth.
So, it was a problem most of the time I was in State government. We could not get the hunters to get out there. There is not access to the forest. You have to go a long ways from a road to hunt there. You are in rough terrain and hunters are afraid of it.
Mr. KIND. I am reclaiming my time.
I appreciate your comments because we have experienced similar problems in the State of Wisconsin with regard to herd management and what not, but who knows.
Now, with the cutting edge technology that we see today, Mr. Chairman, with satellites and location finders, maybe we hunters will have the technology and the confidence to venture a little further from the road than they have had in the past.
Thank you. That is all I have.
Mr. HILL. Would the gentleman yield for just a moment?
Mr. KIND. Sure.
Mr. HILL. If you would, I think it is important to note that I think the Forest Service has indicated that 93 percent of the use of the forest roads is for other than timber harvest.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC About 7 percent of the use of these roads is for timber harvest. The rest of it is for recreational use, for fire protection use, for maintaining the health of the forest.
There is kind of a view out there that the construction of these roads is some sort of a subsidy for the purpose of protecting the timber companies.
That is simply not true. In fact, we eliminated the Road Credit Program, you may recall, in the Omnibus bill last year to eliminate any semblance of any kind of subsidy for the construction of the roads.
The point is, in fact the Forest Service in announcing this moratorium has indicated that the deterioration of these roads is substantially a consequence of increased recreational use; not increased timber company use, but increased recreational use.
That is the issue that we are kind of talking about here. Thank you for yielding.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Kind.
You know, I think it was Mr. Hill who mentioned earlier the 191 million acres that the Forest Service controls. I am not sure if some people really realize how much land that is.
The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, most of which is in my District, is 565,000 acres. So, what we are talking about here is more than 300 Great Smokey Mountain National Parks all put together.
That does not count the land that the BLM has. That does not count the land that the National Park Service has. In fact, I read recently that the Federal Government now owns over 30 percent of the land in this country.
State and local governments and quasi-governmental units own another 20 percent. There was an interesting column on this in the Washington Times just a couple of days ago. This is by Joseph Perkins, a columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC ''Of all of the land in the United States, less than 5 percent, repeat, less than 5 percent, has been developed. Indeed, according to a recent study by Samuel Staley for the Reason Public Policy Institutes.
Seventy-five percent of the U.S. population, some 200 million men, women, and children live on just 3.5 percent of the country's land area.
Moreover, Mr. Staley notes in more than 3/4 of the States, including California, more than 90 percent of the land is devoted to rural uses, including parks, wildlife preservation, forests, and pasture.''
I just think those are some pretty interesting statistics there. Mr. Marlenee, you said that there has not been much public input. You made reference to that. I would like to ask Ms. Svoboda about that.
Has your group and other groups such as yours been included or consulted? Has there been much public participation? I know there has been some kind of focus groups, but I would just like to hear your comments on that.
Ms. SVOBODA. Yes, we have been involved. We were involved certainly with the interim road moratorium in the comments that we provided to the Forest Service, to this Subcommittee and to a number of different areas.
In regard to the focus groups, those are what the Forest Service is trying to do to gain public input on their long-term road strategy. We do have some minor concerns about that.
We are thankful that we have been invited. Our association has been invited to attend two of those focus group meetings; one in California and one in Georgia that is going on this week.
Our concern is not so much that the Forest Service is trying to do these focus groups, which will allow a small group of people to get together including recreationists, conservationists, and industry folks at more or less an equal level. But we want to make sure that before they provide any long-term strategy, that there is appropriate and adequate public comment from all users, not just the select few interest groups that the Forest Service has invited to attend.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Marlenee, any comments on that?
Mr. MARLENEE. The participation basically came about when they developed the Forest Service plan that Mr. Stupak alluded to in his testimony.
So, the Forest Service took comments at that time. Agreements were reached. With regard to the new moratorium, Congressman Peterson tried to address that, but I know of little, if any, public input that took place with regard to the rehabilitation, closure, et cetera of roads.
With regard to the road closures that have already taken place, the hundreds and hundreds of miles of public land access that has been closed, there has been some hearings, but they have been very, very limited in access to those hearings by those who use those roads.
It is sometimes virtually impossible. The Forest Service needs to do a better job of seeing what the local people, the impact on the local sportsmen and recreational users, will be.
Mr. DUNCAN. You know, there is so much interest in these types of things. I mean, this is not the first time roads have been closed. I remember in 1995, I also have in my District much of the Cherokee National Forest.
By the way, there was an article in the Knoxville paper a few weeks ago which said that Tennessee has a total land area, and Tennessee is a pretty big State, when you go all the way across.
It has a total land area of 26 million acres and that half of it is in forest. Then in really every State, the amount of forest land, the number of trees has gone way up in the last 50 years.
Yet, I bet if you go to almost any elementary school in this country and ask the young people has the number of trees gone up in the last 50 years or gone down? They would probably all say it has gone down because there has been such distortion and propaganda, false propaganda, out there on some of these issues.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I remember in 1995, the Forest Service was about to close some roads leading to cemeteries and roads that hunters had used. I held a town meeting about that and it was on very short notice.
It was at not a particularly good time. We had to do it at 6 p.m. one night. Over 600 people turned out. It shocked me. I mean, you just do not get that many people coming out for that type of thing.
I know the briefing paper we have said that the Forest Service has said that they have 1.7 million vehicles per day on these roads.
[The Hearing Briefing Paper referred to follows:]
The purpose of this hearing is to review the Forest Service's progress in developing a long-term road management policy, initiated in January, 1998, and the agency's 18-month moratorium on construction and reconstruction of roads in roadless areas. The moratorium was first announced in January, 1998 (concurrent with the proposal to develop a new long-term road policy), and a ''final interim rule'' was published Feb. 11, 1999, taking effect March 1, 1999.
On January 28, 1998, the Forest Service published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise the regulations concerning the management of the National Forest System transportation system (Federal Register Vol. 63, Number 18). The Forest Service stated at the time that the inventoried road system includes an estimated 373,000 miles of forest roads that provide access for recreation use (1.7 million vehicles per day); agency administrative use (9,000 vehicles daily); and resource development (15,000 vehicles per day). The agency also estimated there are 60,000 miles of non-system (or ''unclassified'') roads that are not managed or maintained by the agency. When the interim rule was published in February 1999, the agency revised its estimate of the inventoried road system to 383,000 miles, and it reduced the amount of unclassified roads to 52,000 miles.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In recent years recreation use has increased and resource development use has decreased significantly. In the past, resource commodity users performed a large amount of the road maintenance, concurrent with their use. With the reduced level of commercial use, and consequently less road maintenance performed by the users, the Forest Service has had insufficient funds to maintain the road system on its own. As a result, the Forest Service estimated last year that only 40 percent of the inventoried roads are fully maintained to the planned safety and environmental standards for which they were designed. The agency estimates its backlog of road maintenance and reconstruction needs is at least $8.5 billion.
The National Forest System covers 192 million acres of land. Within this land base, 35 million acres are designated as wilderness, and an additional 6 million acres are designated as proposed wilderness in the current forest plans. No road building may occur on these lands, even without the agency's 18-month moratorium.
Another 33 million acres of National Forest land is unroaded in blocks of 5,000 acres or more, for which current forest plan direction proposes management that could include building roads. The interim rule prohibits any road construction on these lands and on blocks of roadless land 1,000 acres or more in size that are adjacent to inventoried roadless areas, wild segments of the Wild and Scenic River System, wilderness areas, or other Federal roadless areas of 5,000 acres or more. The Forest Service has not estimated the total number of acres affected by the moratorium.
The agency did complete an assessment of the impacts of its road moratorium. However, it estimated impacts based only on planned activities that must be canceled as a result of the moratorium. It did not estimate the effect of deferring any other activities that require road access which could not occur over the next 18 months, nor did it account for delays in planning those activities if they are eventually allowed to occur. Thus, many believe the impact assessment significantly underestimates the real impact of the moratorium.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, the agency announced more than thirteen months ago that the proposed moratorium would last 18 months or until the long term road management policy was completed, whichever was sooner. Although over a year has elapsed for work on the long-term policy, the 18-month clock for the moratorium has just begun, with adoption of the interim rule last month.
WITNESSES: A witness list is attached.
STAFF CONTACT: Anne Heissenbuttel, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, extension 5-0691.
Mr. DUNCAN. Do you have any rough guess as to how many millions of recreational users there are in these National Forest? I am not a hunter. I do not even know how many millions of people might be hunters. You are talking about an awful lot of people; are you not?
Mr. MARLENEE. Mr. Chairman, I think the Forest Service does have those figures and can provide them. I know I have seen them in the past; how many recreational days of forest use there are.
So, I think that figure is already compiled. One last thing, if I might, that I would like to bring to your attention.
Mr. DUNCAN. Sure.
Mr. MARLENEE. I have secured a rumor from two sources, reliable sources, that the Forest Service is trying out a new policy, if trying out is the right word, where public lands, and this may be other public lands also, where public lands are closed, unless there is a notice posted that they are otherwise open.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would, if I may suggest, Mr. Chairman, I think we deserve to know if the Forest Service is in fact moving in that direction. It is an insidious, insidious direction for them to take. To just say all public lands are closed, unless they are posted open. I find that alarming. I hope that that can be put to rest.
Are they doing it? Yes or no? We do not know. But I do have rumor from a couple of sources that, that is the case.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, as Mr. Peterson said, we need to make sure that public lands remain public lands and are not limited just to Federal Government bureaucrats, or the rich elitist, or environmental extremists.
It is becoming a very, very serious and controversial issue in this country. I have been filling in for Mrs. Chenoweth, who became ill. I have got to go to another meeting.
Mr. Peterson, can you take over from here? Well, go ahead and call on Mr. Udall for any comments or questions at this time.
Mr. UDALL OF COLORADO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Panel, thank you for being here with us today. I missed some of the initial presentations you made. I look forward to reading over the materials that you have shared with us.
I just want to make a couple of comments. Unfortunately, Congressman Marlenee knows that I have got another meeting that I have got to go off to. So, I am not going to be able to have a chance to hear the Forest Service panel.
I do think my colleague, Mr. Kind, raised some important questions and points, particularly on what we are doing on the backs of our taxpayers. I know in Colorado, in my District, I hear general support for the moratorium, with the understanding that it includes the building of new roads.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That existing roads are maintained in an opened fashion right now until we get our hands around this particular situation. I think that makes some pretty good sense.
With regards to the rumor about the closure of public lands, I think in some cases that may make sense, particularly where we are getting new roads created without the studies that you have referenced and without the environmental impact overview.
It is the other roads that are being created by use as opposed to by decision that this is a good place to put a road. So, I hope the Forest Service panel will address some of these questions, particularly this creation of new roads through unauthorized, off-road use.
I would also point out that in our area where we had forest plans in place, the Arapaho Roosevelt forest, which is a part of my District, that plan actually supersedes the moratorium because that plan has been put in place.
So, I think there has been some flexibility applied. I think we ought to move ahead and see where this all leads us. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETERSON. [presiding] We want to thank both of our panelists for their fine testimony and their willingness to take questions today. Thank you both very much.
Mr. MARLENEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. SVOBODA. Thank you.
Mr. PETERSON. As they are departing, we will ask Ron Stewart the Deputy Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, accompanied by Mr. Tom Mills, Director of the Pacific Northwest Research Station, to come to the table.
We welcome you. Please proceed whenever you are ready.
STATEMENT OF RON STEWART, DEPUTY CHIEF, U.S. FOREST SERVICE
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STEWART. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I really am pleased to be here this morning to discuss the status of the Forest Service Revised Road Policy.
As you indicated, I am Ron Stewart. I am the Deputy Chief for Programs and Legislation for the Forest Service. I am accompanied this morning by Dr. Tom Mills who is Director of the Pacific Northwest Research Station.
I also brought with me Rhey Solomon from the Ecosystem Management Staff; Bill Timko from the Forest Management Staff; and John Bell from the Engineering Staff; all of the Forest Service.
We are available to answer specific technical questions to try to make this as most useful to all of you as possible. With your permission, I would like to summarize my testimony and submit the full testimony for the record.
I would like to start with three key points. Then, with your permission, I would like to elaborate on those. That is that the first point is the Forest Service road system is essential to rural communities for public purposes and for necessary management activities.
I think our previous panel certainly indicated the importance of that road system. The second point is that the existing system was designed to meet yesterday's needs.
Finally, a comprehensive look at the transportation system in light of today's science and tomorrow's needs is absolutely critical.
To expand on the first point that this road system is essential to rural communities, for public purposes, and for necessary management activities, I would like to say that forest roads have become an essential part of the transportation in many rural parts of the country.
They help to meet recreational demands, while providing economic opportunities by facilitating the removal of commodities from the National Forest. The benefits of forest roads are many.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also, we must recognize that roads create many ecological impacts on our watersheds. As emphasized, in the Forest Service natural resource agenda, we need to maintain a road system to provide public access, while reducing and reversing the environmental impacts.
The revised road policy is an essential part in implementing that agenda. The second point, that is the existing system was designed to meet yesterday's needs.
I think it is important to recognize that the current road system was developed to meet the transportation needs of the 1960s and 1970s.
It does not reflect the needs of today. For example, timber hauling has decreased over time, while recreation traffic has grown dramatically. Today, there are about 1.7 million recreation vehicles per day on Forest Service roads, and only about 15,000 timber harvest vehicles per day.
Timber-related traffic has dropped to about 1950 levels, and represents less than 1 percent of all forest road use. It is literally true that yesterday's logging trucks have been replaced with today's mail trucks, school buses, and family station wagons.
The current road managed system represents a significant long-term financial commitment. As long as a road exist, it must be maintained. The National Forest road system has 383,000 miles of classified roads, and about 52,000 miles of unclassified roads.
Classified roads are those roads that were constructed or maintained for long-term highway vehicle use. Unclassified roads, in contrast, are temporary roads or short-term roads that are associated with fire suppression, timber harvest, oil, gas, or mineral activities, as well as travel ways resulting from off-road vehicle use.
In the past, most of the reconstruction and construction work of our road system was accomplished by purchasers of National Forest timber.
For example, in 1996, planned construction was 38 miles from appropriated funds, and 441 from timber purchasers. This ratio varies from year-to-year.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For both reconstruction and construction, work done by timber purchasers far exceeds the work done by appropriated funds. Even if harvest levels significantly increased from their current levels in the future, it would not begin to address the maintenance and the construction needs on the 383,000 miles.
From 1990 to 1998, the Forest Service has closed 17,715 miles of road. But more importantly, over 9,000 miles of road have been converted from high standard roads, designed for passenger car traffic, to low standard roads maintained for high clearance vehicles, such as pick-up trucks.
While the focus of discussion, so far, has been on the one time suspension of 368 miles of roads that we will delay or not construct during the suspension period, primary access to our National Forest by passengers is being reduced by about 1,000 miles per year.
Based on information we are preparing for a report to Congress on Forest Service maintenance and improvement needs, we have a deferred maintenance and capital improvement needs backlog of about $8.4 billion and it is growing.
Currently, we receive funding for about 18 percent of the need annually to maintain roads to plan service, safety, and environmental standards. Even with the significant increase in our budget request for fiscal year 2000, funding does not address the annual maintenance needs or begin to address the backlog. It is fiscally and environmentally irresponsible to continue to build roads, when our current road system is in such disrepair and decline.
Without adequate funding, the system will continue to decline, causing environmental damage and posing human safety risks. Finally, a comprehensive look at our transportation system is needed in light of today's science and tomorrow's needs.
To accomplish our objective, we are following a three-step process. That includes the temporary suspension that was discussed, and has been most of the focus of energy so far.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We also are working on road analysis procedure. That will include a new science-based multi-scale landscape analysis. It will include a process to help land managers make informed land management decisions about the management of roads.
It will provide an expansion and extension of previous road analysis tools and techniques. During the last 12 months, the Forest Service has field tested this draft procedure on six National Forests.
It is now undergoing a rigorous scientific peer and technical review. We expect to have that road analysis procedure available during this fiscal year. The third step in our policy is to develop revised regulations and direction. The Forest Service is developing new regulations and direction to provide an environmentally sound road system that meets the needs of local people.
These will update current road regulations and directions to provide the minimum forest road system that best serves the management objectives and public uses of National Forest and grasslands.
It will ensure that the road system provides for safe public use, environmentally affordable and efficient management, and is environmentally sound.
It will ensure that road management decisions use a science-based analysis process to fully evaluate benefits and impacts of road systems within both unroaded and already roaded portions of the landscape.
Finally, that it ensures that new construction does not compromise socially and ecologically important values of unroaded areas.
In summary, while the focus of the debate continues to be on the temporary suspension, delaying or eliminating construction of 368 miles of new roads in roadless areas over the next 18 months, we must not lose sight of the larger picture.
Over that same 18 month period, approximately 1,300 miles of roads will become inaccessible to passenger vehicles because we cannot provide proper maintenance and assure public safety. This is the real access issue. To get on top of this issue, we first need a comprehensive, scientifically-based, consistent frame work for analyzing our transportation system needs, and deciding when, where, and how we will build roads in the future.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Second, we need to apply this frame work to decision making. The actual decision on when, where, how to build, or decommission roads will continue to be made with public involvement at the local level, and usually through the forest land and resource management planning process.
Finally, we need to find ways to adequately fund and reduce our enormous backlog in deferred maintenance and capital improvement needs.
This concludes my statement. We would be happy to answer any questions that you or members of the Subcommittee may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stewart may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. PETERSON. Thank you, Mr. Stewart.
Of the 383,000 miles of road in the system, what percentage of those are used by a lot of people like hunters, fishermen, campers, hikers, bird watchers?
Mr. STEWART. This seems to be another example, Mr. Chairman, of the 80/20 rule. About 20 percent of that road system has about 80 percent of the use. That is generally what we consider to be our primary, I want to say it is the arterial collector road system.
Mr. PETERSON. So, 76,000 or 77,000 miles of the roads are the ones that have pretty much become community roads that the community uses.
Mr. STEWART. They are a vital part.
Mr. PETERSON. Township people, local people, local folks. Okay. What percentage of your backlog is on those roads? Are they not the most costly ones?
I know townships are always in trouble with their improved roads. They are not in trouble fixing a dirt road, putting in new pipes, and getting the ditched cleaned. It is their more improved roads where all of their costs are.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STEWART. We have that number. We are digging it out, with your patience.
Mr. PETERSON. What percentage of your backlog is bridges?
Mr. STEWART. This is John Bell from our Engineering Staff. He has got the facts and figures on our road systems. So, it would be more useful, rather than for him to feed me information, for him to go ahead and discuss this with you.
Mr. BELL. I have so many facts and figures that it is hard to put a finger on an exact box immediately, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETERSON. Okay. You heard my question.
Mr. BELL. Yes, I did. Our passenger car maintenance roads, maintenance levels 3, 4, and 5; the simple answer is it is about half the backlog is on them. It is slightly more.
Mr. PETERSON. Because it is the most improved roads you have and it is the most costly to fix.
Mr. BELL. They were the most expensive roads to construct initially and require the most maintenance. On your separate question on bridges, out of the 8.3 billion, the bridge program's backlog is about 100, make it about $200 million. So, it is 2.5 to 3 percent of the total backlog.
Mr. PETERSON. I am going to share with you my thoughts. If you agree with me, fine. If you do not, fine. I think you are in a no-win position. Since I have been here, which is a short time, there is huge resistance towards your roads.
I mean, the same people who want these roadless areas, want no roads, also do not want your current roads to be fixed. I mean, they are the same people who are trying to cut your road budget. Because it is all, I guess, figured to be that if we do not have roads in the forests, we cannot cut timber, and we will get our ultimate goal, or whatever that is, or we will not have people out there.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC How do we ever get out of this problem of having roads that accommodate our communities that you are in for school buses, general recreationalists, and so forth, and how do we have a budget to do that, if the same people, the same groups that are very successful, stop us from spending money on roads period?
Then we allow the roads to deteriorate, and they become an environmental hazard. I have heard that today a number of times, environmental hazard, because we have not fixed them. But we will not appropriate the money to fix them because you might do something with them that we do not want done.
So, how do you win?
Mr. STEWART. Mr. Chairman, if I could take a shot at that. I have put a fair amount of thought into that question. Certainly, the Forest Service Roads Program has been very controversial in Congress.
As you know, we almost lost the entire program over the last couple of Congresses. It is always going to be a matter of great debate. A part of what we are trying to do is shift that debate. That is a part of the reason or focus of my testimony this morning.
While everybody is kind of focused in on this interim policy that affects 3 or 4 percent of the entire road construction during this next 18 months, we are ignoring what is going on, on the 383,000 miles, which is where a lot of the real issue in the long-term rest.
My question is how do we address that? A part of it is I think understanding what the problem is. Until recently, as recently as January, we have not had a good handle on what the problem is.
We have had a lot of estimates of the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance backlog needs. But they have not been the sort of thing that anybody would have wanted to lay their life on the line to defend because frankly they were just that. They were estimates.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At the request of Congress, we had to take a good look at our infrastructure needs. That report isI do not know if it has actually gone forward to Congress yet, but it will soon.
That is where this $8.4 billion comes from. It kind of reminds me of that story about the little dog chasing the truck. What is it going to do when it catches up with it? Now that we have got the number and it is out on the table, I think it is the number that was scaring us all.
That once it is identified, now it is an issue of how we all deal with it. I think a part of that answer is going to be this long-term transportation analysis process that does not make any decisions nationally itself. That will still be done through the forest planning process.
We will provide a consistent way of deciding how we are going to deal with that road system and focus our energy then on the highest priority needs for construction, reconstruction, and then decommissioning.
So, I think that the answer is first understanding the problem; having a process for prioritizing it. I think that our long-term policy will do that. Once we have done that, to work with you all and our partners to find ways to fund the road needs.
Some of that is going to be converting them to trails. There are, often times, willing partners to maintain those trails, as opposed to trying to maintain an entire road system.
Mr. PETERSON. That is really what a lot of them are today. The people who talked this morning of roads with trees growing in the middle of them. That is a trail. That is not a road.
Mr. STEWART. Exactly.
Mr. PETERSON. The road system that has become a part of the community ought to be separated. They are used by school buses and they are used generally by the community that lives there and the people who come to visit ought to be separated into a certain standard of road and maybe get it out of this controversy. You have opponents of spending a dime on your roads.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is not well-thought out, but it is out there. They are effective. They are powerful. They are winning. They have been winning since I have been here.
Mr. STEWART. One of the things that we have been looking at is the Forest Service has never declared its roads to be public roads. I do not know what the history of that is, but we never have for one reason or another.
That has not allowed us to be competitive for the highway trust funds. One of the things would be to declare those parts that are a part of those arterial collector roads would be to declare those to be public roads.
Thereby make them available for the trust fund monies. That is certainly something that we want to consider and discuss with Congress during future amendments or dealing with the next T or whatever it is called in the future. We certainly see that as one possibility for dealing with those heavily used sort of essential local roads.
Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Bell, would you submit the data you have with you for the record?
Mr. BELL. Mr. Chairman, if it would be easier, it will be a part of the report. What I have, well, yes we can submit it, but it
Mr. PETERSON. It will not make much sense?
Mr. BELL. Well, it is just a spreadsheet with a lot of numbers that require a 30 page protocol of definitions.
Mr. PETERSON. Okay.
Mr. BELL. The report that Mr. Stewart mentioned is on total deferred maintenance backlog. It was required by Committee language in our appropriations bill. It includes the other infrastructure, not just the roads.
There is a summary of that information available to you already, as a special emphasis item that was a part of our fiscal year 2000 budget justification. It is already on the Hill.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETERSON. Thank you.
Mr. STEWART. If that would be useful, we can provide that immediately.
Mr. PETERSON. Yes, that would be fine.
[The information referred to may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. PETERSON. The gentleman from Washington, Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. I want to let Mr. Kind go first.
Mr. PETERSON. The gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Kind.
Mr. KIND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I thank my friend from Washington for letting me bump ahead of him. I thank Mr. Stewart and the rest of your group for coming here and testifying today.
I just want to clarify one thing in regards to the availability of public comment or information from anyone who is interested on this moratorium before you announce it. I imagine under any rulemaking procedure, there is a period of public comment and hearings, public hearings, that are held.
Did you also have a Web site that was available, e-mail access, and other modes of being able to communicate to you before the actual announcement? Could you clarify that for the record?
Mr. STEWART. I would be glad to. In fact, I will ask Ray Solomon who was intimately involved in that process to come up and fill in some details.
In general, it involved town hall kinds of meetings. It involved a Web site. It involved some briefings on the Hill. It also had an open comment period.
During that period, we received something like 53,000 comments that needed to be analyzed before we issued the final decision.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I will also say that as we go through the process for the long-term policy, we will go through a similar effort. That is beginning, as was mentioned earlier, with some focus groups to sort of define what some of the issues are that need to be addressed in that longer term policy.
That will include public comment and other opportunities for the public to provide input to it.
Mr. KIND. I guess at least for my satisfaction, we do not need to go into too much of the detail, but it is safe to assume that if someone is interested in this topic, and that they have access, and can submit their opinions and comments during the course of not only the announcement regarding the moratorium, but in future policy changes.
Mr. SOLOMON. That is correct. During the initial comment period on the interim, of course, at some point we had to close off the comments that we considered during the interim.
We have maintained an e-mail site, as well as a Web Page. People who are commenting and who continue to comment, we have taken those comments and added them to the long-term comment record. So, that record is continually being built and will be input or analyzed as a part of the long-term policy.
Mr. KIND. Let me ask you an unrelated subject now. Based on your past experience involving this issue, especially road building in National Forest lands; the great controversy that we have right now and the brouhaha, I think, the reason why we are having a hearing today.
In your opinion, is it more out of a concern about recreational access to these public lands or is it timber access?
Mr. STEWART. I will speak from my personal experience, which I think is most useful and probably illustrative of the issue. I was Regional Forester in California. Certainly, most of the concern about accessing unroaded areas was over timber harvest.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Of course, a lot of that had associated road activity. From a practical standpoint, once you decide to build the road, it does change the character of a roadless area. So, therefore, it has consequences that need to be carefully considered.
So, I would say most of the controversy I was familiar with was related to the timber program, but it was hard to separate that from the associated road building which had impacts beyond a particular timber sale.
Mr. KIND. We have heard testimony today in regards to roughly 52,000 miles of unauthorized roads for off-road recreation. How big a problem does that pose as far as your Administration and management of these public lands in regards to safety and environmental concerns?
Mr. STEWART. The 52,000 miles of unclassified roads includes a component that is, say, off-road vehicle use where no road was designed, but somebody has headed off country and others have followed.
The majority of that, I would say are roads that were put in for temporary access for specific things. It might be for a fire. It might have been for a timber sale or something like that.
In fact, I do not know if we have a figure of the percentage of the maintenance issues that would be on those. Many of those in the long-term probably will end up being put to bed.
They were intended to be temporary roads, not permanent roads. However, an analysis of the long-term transportation system may convert some of them to be permanent.
Mr. KIND. Okay, thank you. Thank you again for your presence and testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETERSON. The gentleman from Montana, Mr. Hill.
Mr. HILL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to thank the panelists for being here. I am a little confused a little bit about the terms that are being used for roads here. I just kind of want to go through this.
In the past, the Forest Service has identified the 366,000 miles of roads, which I believe you are now calling classified roads, as roads that were constructed to standards. Is there some change here now? Then you go on to say unclassified roads, the 52,000 miles of roads that you used to refer to as ghost roads. Am I correct in that?
Mr. STEWART. Some of those were so-called ghost roads, yes, in that 52,000 miles.
Mr. HILL. What happened to the rest of the ghost roads then? If before you said there were 52,000 miles of ghost roads, there originally were not 52,000 miles of ghost roads?
Mr. STEWART. The numbers that we were originally using were estimates based on the experience in one region which were extrapolated nationally. In fact, we ended up doing actually a national sample. Those numbers did get adjusted.
Mr. HILL. Let me ask about that because my time is limited here. The point I want to get at here is that you have classified these 52,000 miles of roads as ghost roads, trails that were created kind of by accident.
You are now saying that some of those were purposely constructed, either for timber sales, for fire suppression, or other purposes. Is that correct?
Mr. STEWART. Certainly in that unclassified 52,000
Mr. HILL. What portion of the 52,000 miles of roads were constructed for purpose and what portion of the 52,000 miles were created by accident, so to speak, by people not authorized to use them? What is the final breakout of that?
Mr. STEWART. In fact, we do not have an estimate by the type of road or the purpose of the road. In other words, whether it was temporary access for timber, or whether it was for fire purposes.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HILL. So, the 52,000 miles of roads now that were previously referred to as ghost roads now do include both categories.
Mr. STEWART. Yes, they did.
Mr. HILL. But the 366,000 miles of roads, which are now called classified roads, are now defined as those constructed to maintain long-term highway vehicle use. Is that correct?
Mr. STEWART. That is correct; and at least 50 inches wide.
Mr. HILL. Now, we have added another new term in the rulemaking. That is an unroaded area. That is not a roadless area. Is that correct? A non-roaded and a roadless area are not the same definition. Is that correct?
Mr. STEWART. That is correct.
Mr. HILL. A roadless area would be an area that could have included an unclassified road. Is that correct? I mean, it could not have included an unclassified road. Is that correct?
So, we have, in essence, expanded the definition with kind of a twist here that the unroaded area will be substantially larger than the previous roadless area. Is that correct?
Mr. STEWART. Yes, it will.
Mr. HILL. That concerns me some because obviously what you are doing here is you are having focus groups in an effort to try to determine how you are going to influence public opinion on this subject.
By just slightly changing that definition, because a roadless area is something that has been defined in the West. We have developed management plans around that term. We understand what it means.
We understand what it means in terms of management of the forests. Now, introducing this new term called unroaded area, we are going to confuse the public, I am sure; probably purposely.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me ask you something about these focus groups. You are holding focus groups. Will you provide for the Subcommittee the names of the individuals and the groups that will be participating in these focus groups?
Mr. MILLS. Yes, we will.
Mr. HILL. Will you provide those to this Subcommittee within the next week?
Mr. MILLS. Yes, we will, if they have been selected by the contractors. In some of those focus groups
Mr. HILL. To the extent that they have been identified by the contractors, you will provide the names and the names of the groups?
Mr. MILLS. Yes, we will.
[The list of focus groups referred to may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. HILL. Will you also provide to the Subcommittee the questions that will be asked to the focus group members so that we can have some sense of what the purpose of those focus groups are?
To the extent that those are not currently designated, will you provide to the Subcommittee within, let us say, 10 days of when you do that, the names of the individuals and the groups that they represent?
Mr. MILLS. Yes, we will.
[The focus group questions referred to may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. HILL. Okay. Thank you very much.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me go on, if I could. In essence, we have had, what, 13 months since the announcement of the proposed rule on the roadless areas. We are adding another 18 months.
I think that Chief Dombeck indicated to us in his testimony a year ago that 18 months would be a sufficient period of time to do an analysis of the current road transportation management plan, in order to make recommendations either to the Congress or to make changes.
Now, we are adding another 18 months, in essence to that process. Was Mr. Dombeck wrong when he said he could do it in 18 months that now requires 31 months?
Mr. STEWART. Let me start on that. Maybe Dr. Mills would like to add something to that or perhaps Ray Solomon also. What we announced, of course, 13 months ago was the intent to develop an interim policy and then go through a public input process.
Direction was issued to the field by the Deputy Chief for the National Forest System that during that period of time, that they should not implement that policy.
However, we are aware that some managers locally made the decision to at least, if not modify, certainly change some plans that they were proposing and not to activities that would require road building in roadless areas. That was a local decision; certainly nothing done as a part of a national thing.
Mr. HILL. Let me just clarify that point because we have to go vote here. What you are saying is that any of the timber sales or any of the roads that were anticipated to be built during this interim period of time, the decision to not go forward with those sales were made by the local supervisors and the regional foresters without any input from Washington.
Mr. STEWART. Certainly to my knowledge, there was never any national direction. In fact, the national direction which came from the Deputy Chief for National Forest Systems said that they should not implement that until we had a final rule.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HILL. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETERSON. The gentleman from Washington.
Mr. SMITH. Thanks. I will be brief because we have to run and much of the area has been well-covered by the questions and the answers of the two different panels.
Basically what we are wrestling with on this is you have both recreation and logging use access to public lands. The other thing we are wrestling with is I agree with a lot of folks who have talked about how access to public lands is very, very important to all of us.
That is something that we like about living in this country and certainly we like about my neck of the woods living up in the Northwest. The question is making sure that, that recreation and access or timber for that matter is not just available for those of us currently on the planet, but for those of us in the future.
I would hope we would want to leave that legacy and maintain some level of access for recreation and hopefully even logging. Now, the problem is more and more people want to do these things.
There is more and more demand, and that taxes the ability to conserve those resources. Whether it is a snowmobile, or a truck, or just people out there camping, it can have the effect of wearing down the resource; particularly if you are talking about roads, if you are talking about access. Maintaining that balance is a very difficult task.
It is sort of like what happened in the suburbs. Everyone wanted to live there, partially, because it was not as crowded. You were away from the dense urban centers, and you could have some space.
Well, the problem was, everyone wanted to do that. Eventually, you had the same crowding and the same problem in the suburbs. We are wrestling with that and trying to deal with it.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That is the problem we have on public lands. You gentlemen have a very difficult job trying to do that. You have a difficult job just trying to maintain the current uses, much less thinking about the future and thinking about conservation to make sure that we do not use it all up and deny future generations of that same access.
So, I would just as to try to employ that balance as best you can in conservation and also usage. That is basically, I guess, all I have to say.
The other thing that would be interesting is that as you play out these statistics is to truly break down the difference between recreation and logging.
If you are talking about new roads, at least when they are initially built, you are talking about logging. That is kind of my impression. Others may disagree. Now, maybe 5 or 10 years down the road after you have built the new road, it opens up all kinds of new uses.
The new roads are primarily logging issues. If recreation is your concern, then maintenance should be your concern. Basically, that is all I have to say.
Mr. PETERSON. I want to thank the panelists. We are going to cut it off at this because we have to go vote and we will not hold you up.
There will be some questions submitted in writing that will allow some of the panelists who did not get to ask some of their questions.
[The questions referred to may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. PETERSON. So, we want to thank you very much for participating today. There was a statement here. You said you wanted to work with us. The Subcommittee appreciates that, but let us start working together and see if we can bring this to a positive solution without taking years.
Mr. STEWART. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Ms. Chenoweth may be found at the end of the hearing.]
[The prepared statement of Mr. Amador may be found at the end of the hearing.]
[The prepared statement of Mr. Squires may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. PETERSON. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:58 a.m., the Committee was adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
STATEMENT OF DR. DAVID L. ADAMS, PROFESSOR OF FOREST RESOURCES, EMERITUS, COLLEGE OF FORESTRY, WILDLIFE AND RANGE SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
Chairman, Members of the Committee:
My name is Dave Adams and until recently I was Professor of Forest Resources in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Range Sciences at the University of Idaho. My specialty is silviculture with emphasis on forest health and sustainability.
I welcome the opportunity to comment on the importance of road access to accomplish forest health and other forest management activities. Silviculture may be defined as the management of forest vegetation to meet objectives, whatever they may be. Perhaps the most important forestry objective is to manage forests to sustain their long-term productive capacitycapacity to not only produce wood fiber but to foster wildlife through maintenance of appropriate habitat, to provide a source for clean water, for recreational opportunities and many other commodity and amenity values. I am concerned that, without adequate access, we will not be able to manage for sustainable forests.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With the decreased levels of timber harvest on Federal lands it is often assumed that managers can just lock the gates, rehabilitate the roads and walk off. This is not the case. There is silviculture, or management of forest vegetation, to do whether or not it is done for the purpose of providing wood fiber to local mills, and it is very difficult to accomplish needed practices without access.
A very important aspect of sustainable forest management is to avoid the conditions which promote insect outbreaks, the spread of tree diseases, and damaging wildfires. I know that all members of this committee are quite knowledgeable about the insect, disease and wildfire problems that are facing many forested areas of the country. As you know, past conditions and events such as fire exclusion, early logging practices, introduction of exotic pests, grazing of domestic livestock, and the mere presence of settlers have caused changes in our forests. Forest density and tree species composition are commonly much different from those of historic forests. For example, in Idaho, forests of the ''white pine region'' are now dominated by grand fir and other species where western white pine (our state tree) was historically predominant. Unfortunately, the firs are much more susceptible to root rots, bark beetles, and defoliators than were the pines. An exotic disease, introduced from Europe, early selective logging and fire exclusion contributed to this change.
In southern Idaho, forests which were predominately ponderosa pine and western larch before the turn of the century are now dominated by dense stands of Douglas-fir and true firs. Stands which historically carried 25 to 30 ponderosa pine trees per acre now support over 500 Douglas-firs per acre, causing moisture stress and increased susceptibility to bark beetles and wildfire damage. And, because of shade tolerance, the firs maintain branches on the lower parts of the boles, providing ''ladder fuels'' which carry ground fires into the crowns.
The main point here is that much of the forest is different from conditions 50, 75, or 100 years ago. And the current conditions are leading to increased damage from forest pests and wildfire. Insects, diseases and wildfires have always been a part of the forestsand the forests would not do well in their absencebut the widespread outbreaks and the recent catastrophic fires were not common occurrences in the past.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Harvest rates in the Rocky Mountains are about 29 percent of growth, and for the nation as a whole, growth exceeds harvest. The large difference between growth and removal, such as in the Rocky Mountains, is a disturbing situation, The result is a large buildup of forest biomass, and unfortunately, mother nature is taking care of this through increased insect and disease-caused growth loss and mortality, often followed by fire. With the abnormally large amounts of biomass, when the fires occur they are not the low-intensity ground fires that were common in much of the West, but are frequently high intensity fires that are difficult or impossible to control and which burn much longer in one place causing long-term site damage. Sites damaged by the intense fires can no longer sustain the values of the past. Another result of the large fires is that post-fire regeneration will be relatively uniform over large areas, reducing natural landscape variability.
So, what do we do about this? First, density reduction, usually through thinning, is necessary over large areas. Then application of prescribed fires may be appropriate. Both of these activities require road access. It is unlikely that funding will be made available to the Forest Service to do the needed thinning and just leave the thinned trees on the groundand even if this were possible it would not be advisable because of the fuel accumulation. All or part of the cost of thinning can be retrieved through sale of the trees removed, but this requires access. Safe application of prescribed fires also requires access.
What can be done to move species composition back to more pest- and fire-resistant conditions? The solution, of course, is to regenerate the appropriate species, often through planting. But, before the sites can be planted, at least a portion of the existing trees must be removed. Both the harvest operations and the planting require road access.
Another important forest roads consideration is the movement toward greater use of uneven-age management, including the single-tree and group selection methods, and less use of clearcutting and other even-age harvest/regeneration methods. The selection systems involve frequent entries to essentially all of a given unit; hence, the use of more extensive and more frequently maintained road systems. With even-age systems, access to a given stand is usually needed only once or twice over a rotation (rotations in the Inland West are commonly 80 to 120 years). Infrequent access allows managers to close and often seed roads after a harvest cut and then reopen them for a thinning and then again for the next harvest. With uneven-age silviculture, access is needed at intervals of 10 to 20 years in the West. Therefore. it is not feasible to abandon or obliterate these roads after each entry as with even-age systems. So. these ''less-intrusive'' methods may actually cause greater impact due to the necessity for road systems that can be used more frequently.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is common knowledge that open roads do impact wildlife and that roads are a primary source of steam sedimentation. However, much more habitat damage and sedimentation results from widespread pest outbreaks and catastrophic wildfires. Whether the vegetation is managed for forest health, to enhance wildlife habitat, or to provide wood fiber, it is difficult if not impossible to accomplish without road access.
I have had frequent discussions with concerned citizens who agree with the need to accomplish a given silvicultural prescriptionas long as no new roads are built. It is a vexing dilemma.
Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinions on this very important forest management issue.
STATEMENT OF HON. RON MARLENEE, CONSULTANT, GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS, SAFARI CLUB INTERNATIONAL
Chairman Chenoweth and Members of the Subcommittee:
Safari Club International is an organization representing a broad spectrum of sportsmen. Madame Chairman thank you for focusing this hearing on access, one of the greatest problems that sportsmen have today is access. Madame Chairman the greatest threat to the future of hunting is sufficient access for those who are not of substantial means. We now have an agency that proposes to curtail that access.
I appear here today as the consultant for Governmental Affairs for Safari Club International. In my 16 years in Congress I served on the committees responsible for forest management in both the Agriculture Committee and the Resources Committee. I have seen good management and I have observed bad management. I have seen good proposals and bad proposals. The proposal to unilaterally close roads is a bad proposal for sportsmen and other recreational users. The proposal is so bad that it must have the dedicated professionals in the Forest Service shaking their heads. As a matter of fact, professionals bold enough to do so are expressing opposition. And many who are not bold enough are privately expressing resentment of the agenda for lock-up and lock-out.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At Missoula, Montana on February 6th, 1999 in an AP wire story, Chief Dombeck equated recreationists and sportsmen to the timber industry and grazing. He stated, ''The recreation industry needs to take note, they need to look at some of the issues the timber industry ran up against 20 years ago. The side boards for recreation are no different than those for timber or grazing or any other use.'' In the same delivery he expressed satisfaction at the reduction of timber harvest by 70 percent during the past ten years. Can we extrapolate that the Chief wants to see a similar reduction in recreational use?
The road closure effort is not a timber issue as the Administration has been trying to spin. This is a reduction in hunting opportunity, a reduction in recreational use and be termed a recreation/hunter access issue. The Chief congratulated those managers who proposed banning cross-country travel with all-terrain vehicles. Their proposal would limit ATV use to established roads and trails. Then of course, they propose to eliminate as many roads and trails as possible. This of course means ATV's would be a thing of the past, even for game retrieval. It also has serious implications for snowmobiles.
The agenda of lock-out is not new. I recall, approximately fifteen years ago a coalition of privileged users set down on paper the goals and agenda they wanted to achieve on public lands.
(1) Eliminate timber harvest
(2) Eliminate as many roads as possible
(3) Eliminate all mechanical/motorized use
(4) Secure all the wilderness possible
(5) Eliminate horses
(6) Eliminate hunting
(7) Establish limits of human intrusion (Forest Servicelimits of acceptable change)
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Because access on public lands is important to recreation, to good game management and to sportsmen, we have to question if the proposal to elmlinate access on public land is a political decision. The evidence that answers that question seem to indicate a strong yes. Of the seven items listed on the agenda, five have and are being accomplished. The purists have not achieved two of the goals, eliminating hunting and eliminating horses. However, given the ever increasing regulations and requirements on horses in the wilderness and the protection of designated species, they are moving in the direction of elimination.
And by the way Madam Chairman, I have received rumors that the public land mangers are trying a new concept. That is that all public lands are off limits unless posted open.
We have to question what happened to the validity of the Forest Management Plans that everyone participated in and that the taxpayers spent hundreds of millions of dollars on.
We have to ask if the Forest Service is repudiating the credibility and credentials of its own personnel and the validity of its own findings. These were the professionals who evaluated watersheds, wildlife sensitive areas, recreational needs and validity of roadless and wilderness designations. The Forest Service does all of this prior to building a road or even establishing a trail.
We as sportsmen question the intent of a suddenly conceived or politically instigated concept that the bureaucracy must invoke a moratorium and involve themselves in a new round of evaluations of existing access to property owned by the general public.
If the Forest Service must persists in this duplicative effort, then sportsmen should have the opportunity to participate in a hearing on every forest. When ill feeling already exists about being denied access, then to deny the opportunity for input is an insult to sportsmen, the elderly, the handicapped and the family oriented recreationist. We want to insure that this new
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCeffort does not further erode an already diminishing access to recreational opportunity on public lands.
Increasingly sportsmen are coming up against pole gates, barriers and no motorized vehicles signs when they arrive at the edge of public property. This Committee should demand to know how many miles of roads have been closed in the past ten years and how many pole gates and tank barriers have been put up in the past ten years.
In an effort to justify further road closures the Forest Service implies that hunting in the forest system is having a negative impact on wildlife. They contend that access has led to ''increased pressure on wildlife species from hunters and fishers.'' My experience has been that the Forest Service consults extensively with state wildlife agencies and that the jurisdiction of wildlife and hunting is primarily a state right and responsibility. Because the Forest Service allegation appears in their public document, because it impugns the role of hunting in conservation and because it denigrates the capability of state wildlife management, I would suggest this Committee require the Forest Service to name even one state wildlife agency that is not fulfilling their obligation. We know of none and resent the fact that this ill thought out statement is being used to justify closures considerations that could be harmful to sportsmen and to wildlife management.
The reason SCI is alarmed is that the public lands of the Forest Service are a destination for hunters in our country. Over 16 million days of hunting occurs annually in the National Forest. For many of these hunters and sportsmen the only opportunity to hunt is on the public land. Safari Club International is committed to insuring access in the forest for this group of sportsmen. We are gratified to have worked with both Federal public land mangers and State Fish and Game officials. We hope we can do so again in an attempt to find reasonable solutions.
In closing Madame Chairman let me quote from Bruce Babbitt, in a February 1996 press release:
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
''Many American don't realize what an enormous contribution hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters make to conservation of our natural resources. In fact, these individuals are among the Nation's foremost conservationists, contributing their time, money, and other resources to ensuring the future of wildlife and its habitat. Under the Federal Aid program alone, a total of more than '5 billion in excise taxes has been a total of more than to support state conservation programs.' ''
This statement should be handed personally to Chief Dombeck with the question; Do you really want to curtail one of the greatest conservation success stories of all time?
STATEMENT OF KELITA M. SVOBODA, LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT, AMERICAN MOTORCYCLIST ASSOCIATION
Chairman Chenoweth and members of the Subcommittee, my name is Kelita Svoboda. I am the Legislative Assistant for the American Motorcyclist Association. On behalf of the AMA and its over 232,000 motorcycle enthusiast members I thank you for the opportunity to be here today, and to provide comments on the Forest Service's road moratorium and long-term road policy.
The AMA is not opposed to the Forest Service taking a close look at roads on our National Forests. With the ever increasing use of forest roads by recreation-related vehicles, it only makes sense to work with the public to develop a long-term strategy for addressing recreation needs. Forest roads need to be built to safety and environmental standards fitting for the estimated 1.7 million recreation-associated vehicles traveling those roads every day.
However, we strongly disagree with the way the Forest Service has approached and implemented the interim road moratorium. We would like to draw your attention to a number of our concerns.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We were extremely disappointed to learn that after a contentious 13 month interim moratorium on road construction and reconstruction, the Forest Service will now begin its official moratorium to last an additional 18 months. The MA finds this even more frustrating given the fact that on February 25, 1998, Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck admitted to Representative Schaffer in testimony before this Subcommittee that the Agency could probably devise a long-term policy without a moratorium. This action begs the question: Why would an agency that readily admits it doesn't need to displace the public for any amount of time, devise a strategy that would do just that for a minimum of two and a half years?
We continue to be concerned with the methods by which the Forest Service collected data from the public and the continued use of ill-defined terms by the Agency. Open-houses sponsored by the Forest Service last year seeking friendly input from the public were anything but friendly to the public. More likely than not an attendee to one of these open houses found a video tape playing on a television extolling the virtues of the Forest Service's plan.
Furthermore, if an attendee were inclined to offer comment they would be directed either to where they could submit a written statement or worse yet, find a tape-recorder to speak into hoping that their comments would be heard by someone, anyone, in the future. If they were fortunate enough to find a Forest Service representative, they were often met with a general disinterest in what they had to say. Our Federal agencies should do a much better job in collecting public opinion.
We have serious concerns over the Forest Service's ability to obtain comment without being able or willing to clearly define critical terms consistently. For example, depending upon one's perspective and experience, the terms road, roadless, unroaded, ghost road, vehicle, highway use, decommission, and upgrade, can mean any number of different things. It seems impossible to receive credible and comparable comments when the Forest Service has not provided the public with a precise definition of the proposal's terms.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is exactly this type of confusion that prevents the public from engaging in a coherent dialogue with the Forest Service about the road moratorium.
While we appreciate the efforts of Forest Service staff to include a new paragraph in the final rule, which attempted to define a road, it fell far short of its intention to fully clarify the interim rule.
Under the Forest Service definition, ''unroaded'' areas can contain unclassified roadsroutes that are more than 50 inches wide and not intended for long-term highway use. The definition of ''unroaded'' areas also fits many all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails and connector trails used by off-highway motorcyclists. Many off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails are over 50 inches wide because the mini-dozer blade that is used to construct the trails are 50 inches wide. Even with these definitions, the final rule is still unclear as to whether the moratorium applies to roads that are constructed or maintained as designated, recreational trails, but are not part of the Transportation System.
I assure you that any trail is likely to be over 50 inches wide at some point along the course of the trail. As currently worded, the term ''unroaded'' could thus encompass all recreational trails as roads, dependent upon interpretation by Forest Service personnel. These ''roads'' could then be decommissioned and made unavailable to the public forever.
For the reasons I have outlined, the Forest Service should alter its ''50 inch'' definition of a ''road'' to simply apply to vehicles over 50 inches wide, not vehicle travel ways. This would reduce confusion and make it clear that designated recreational trails are to be excluded from the road moratorium.
While we were told that the moratorium will not directly affect any single-track motorcycle trails, we remain concerned that the closures could block access to the connector trails that lead to these single-track trails, effectively closing them as well. As currently worded, it appears that the moratorium is aimed at reducing access to an entire class of trails with the intention of eventually closing them permanently. Indeed, as the Federal Register notice of the final interim rule on February 12, 1999 states, ''. . . construction and reconstruction of unclassified roads in certain unroaded areas will be suspended as described in paragraph (b) of the final interim rule.'' (Federal Register, Vol. 64, Number 29, 36 CFR Part 212, p. 7297).
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to motorcycles, AMA's members enjoy other off-highway vehicles such as ATV's, snowmobiles, and 4 x 4's. Our members have established themselves within the outdoor recreation community as a responsible and environmentally friendly user group. They provide the Forest Service and other land management agencies with extensive volunteer hours for trail maintenance, graffiti removal from shared public facilities, and to ensure that all motorized recreationists obey trail rules.
We have worked with Forest Service staff for decades on developing environmentally responsible motorized trail management. However, we have recently had a difficult time defending that relationship to our members. They are extremely upset and disappointed with the way the Forest Service has gathered public input and even more so over the official moratorium.
The Forest Service is currently developing a long-term road policy. We are hopeful that the Agency has learned from the mistrust it created with the interim moratorium and will work with user groups to form clear definitions for all terms in order to provide a credible basis for collecting public comments.
Any long-term strategy needs to avoid placing priority upon the ''aggressive decommissioning'' of roads. Not only should these decisions be made at the local level with public involvement, but the priority should be on turning ''roads'' into trails, which are already in high demand by the public. The Forest Service should also define the terms ''aggressive'' and ''decommission,'' because they mean different things to different users. Moreover, the Forest Service should pay closer attention to how much environmental degradation could occur if they remove an entire road, versus allowing it to become part of the landscape again through partial removal or simply letting nature run its course.
Additionally, the Forest Service needs to provide an improved forum for soliciting public input. A true ''town hall'' style meeting, would provide the public an opportunity to have discussions with Forest Service personnel and other members of the community. This type of meeting would be more beneficial than ''open houses,'' and therefore gain greater public support.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Overall, it is incumbent upon the Forest Service to provide the same, accurate information to all of the Forest supervisors, district rangers, and those who have contact with the public to ensure that consistent policies, procedures and definitions are being circulated in regard to the road moratorium.
Thank you again for the opportunity to provide these comments. It has been a privilege to be here today, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
STATEMENT OF RON STEWART, DEPUTY CHIEF, FOREST SERVICE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
MADAM CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE:
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to discuss the status of the Forest Service revised road policy. I am Ron Stewart, Deputy Chief for Programs and Legislation for the USDA Forest Service, and I am accompanied by Thomas L. Mills, Director of the Pacific Northwest Research Station.
Forest roads are an essential part of the transportation system in many rural parts of the country. They help to meet the recreation demands while providing economic opportunities from the National Forest System. The benefits of forest roads are many, but roads also create many ecological impacts on our watersheds. As the Natural Resource Agenda emphasizes, the Forest Service needs to maintain a road system to provide public access while reducing and reversing their environmental effects. The revised road policy is an essential part in implementing the agenda.
Our progress in developing the revised road policy can be outlined in three key steps:
First, the Forest Service implemented a temporary suspension to provide a time-out from building new roads into unroaded areas where costs of construction are usually high and values at risk are high, as well. This temporary suspension went into effect on March 1, 1999, and will expire upon the adoption of the revised road management policy or 18 months, whichever is sooner.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Second, the Forest Service is developing a road analysis procedure. This procedure will assist managers in using the best science to decide where, when, or if to build new roads in unroaded as well as roaded areas. The procedure will be available in 1999.
Third, the Forest Service is developing new regulations and direction to provide an environmentally sound road system that meets the needs of local people. The revised road policy is scheduled to be completed by fall of 2000.
I would like to take a moment to expand on each of these steps.
The temporary suspension is necessary to allow us to protect socially important and ecologically valuable unroaded areas while we develop a protective and responsible revised road policy.
The potentially damaging ecological effects of a first entry into an unroaded area are often proportionately greater than the effects of similar construction or reconstruction in an already roaded area. The temporary suspension will provide time to refocus attention on the larger issues of public use, demand, expectation, and funding surrounding the National Forest road system.
The current road system developed to meet the transportation needs of the 1960's and 1970's does not reflect the needs of today. Timber hauling has decreased over time while recreation traffic has grown dramatically. Today, there are over 1,706,000 recreation vehicles per day on forest roads and 15,000 timber harvest vehicles per day. Timber traffic represents less than one percent of all forest road use.
Road management is a long-term financial commitment; as long as a road exists then it must be maintained. The national forest road system has 383,000 miles of classified roads and 52,000 miles of unclassified roads. Classified roads are roads constructed or maintained for long-term highway vehicle use. Unclassified roads are temporary roads or short-term roads associated with fire suppression, timber harvest and oil, gas or mineral activities as well as travelways resulting from off-road vehicle use.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Based on information we are preparing for a report to Congress on Forest Service maintenance and improvement needs, we estimate that with just the classified roads we have a deferred maintenance and capital improvement needs backlog of $8.4 billion and growing. Currently we only receive 18 percent of the funding needed to annually maintain roads to planned service, safety and environmental standards. Even with the significant increase in our budget request for FY 2000, funding does not address the annual maintenance needs or begin to address the backlog.
It is fiscally and environmentally irresponsible to continue to build roads when our current road system is in such disrepair and decline. Without adequate funding, the system will continue to decline causing environmental damage and posing human safety risks.
Effects of the Temporary Suspension
Based on the environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact signed on February 2, 1999, the Forest Service anticipates no long-term effects on the production of forest resources as a result of implementing the temporary suspension. However, we did identify and analyze some short-term effects in the environmental assessment and benefit/cost analysis.
The primary tangible effects include:
The policy will suspend approximately 368 miles of construction and reconstruction of roads in unroaded areas. This represents a suspension of 4 percent of the permanent and temporary road construction and reconstruction within the National Forest road system during the 18-month period.
The suspension in road construction and reconstruction will reduce the potential timber harvest approximately 200 million board feet. This is approximately 3 percent of the volume offered from National Forest system lands during an 18-month period. However, since National Environmental Policy Act requirements have not been completed on a significant amount of this 200 million board feet, and some forests will be able to shift harvest programs to roaded areas, the actual affected harvest volume could be considerably less than what is estimated.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As an indirect result of the suspension, we estimate a reduction in annual employment nationwide of about 300 direct timber jobs per year over 3 years. To the extent that workers can not find alternative employment, local and county revenues will be decreased. There could also be an annual loss of about $6 million to local communities from payments-to-states from the 25 percent fund. These potential losses of employment and revenue may be offset by substitution of timber volume from areas not subject to the suspension and also by utilizing volume already under contract awaiting harvest. Also, the 1998 Supplemental Appropriations Recission Act (Pub. Law 105-174) may, to some extent, compensate for shortfalls in payments-to-states. Section 3006 of this Act provides compensation for loss of revenues that would have been provided to counties if no road moratorium, as described in subsection (a)(2), were implemented or no substitute sales offered as described in subsection (b)(1). In addition, if enacted the Forest Service proposal to stabilize 25 percent fund payments would mitigate the economic effects on counties and states.
The Forest Service has a wide array of programs to assist communities and we are committed to work with communities to identify and implement assistance programs while the interim rule is in effect.
ROAD ANALYSIS PROCEDURE
The second step is the development of the road analysis procedure. This procedure includes:
a new science-based, multi-scale landscape analysis of ecological, social, and economic aspects of Forest Service road systems;
a process to help land managers make informed land management decisions about the management of roads, including maintenance, construction in both roaded and unroaded areas, reconstruction, or decommissioning; and
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCan expansion and extension of previous roads analysis tools and techniques.
During the last 12 months the Forest Service field tested the draft procedure on six national forests. The draft procedure is now undergoing a rigorous scientific peer and technical review. We expect to have the road analysis procedure available by 1999.
REVISED REGULATIONS AND DIRECTION
The third step is to revise regulations and directions for administration of the Forest Service Transportation System pertaining to roads. The revised road policy will:
update current road regulations and directions to provide the minimum forest road system that best serves the management objectives and public uses of national forests and grasslands;
ensure that the road system provides for safe public use, economically affordable and efficient management, and is environmentally sound;
ensure that road management decisions use a science-based analysis process to fully evaluate benefits and impacts of road systems within both unroaded and already roaded portions of the landscape;
ensure that new road construction does not compromise socially and ecologically important values of unroaded areas; and
ensure that regulations and direction will reflect budget realities.
As a result of the Advanced Notice of Rule Making (ANPR) published in the Federal Register in January 1998, we received a great number of comments on the values of unroaded areas and the proposed revised road policy. We plan to publish the draft policy, including response to the initial comments, in the Federal Register this fall for further public comment. The revised road policy should be finalized by Fall of 2000.
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Madam Chairman, the Forest Service shares your concern for a transportation system that is adequately funded and meets the needs of all Americans.
With the implementation of the temporary suspension and the progress made on the road analysis procedure, we can now complete the new policy that will provide a science-based process enabling us to manage our road system in a manner that reduces environmental impacts and improves habitats and water quality.
This policy is a first step in focusing our limited resources on the roads most in need. We also need your support to fund adequately the reduction of our enormous backlog in road maintenance and reconstruction.
This concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer any questions you and Members of the Subcommittee may have.
STATEMENT OF HON. HELEN CHENOWETH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Today the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health convenes to review the Forest Service's current and proposed road management policies. In particular, we will focus on the Forest Service's progress in developing a long-term road management policy, which it initiated in January, 1998. We will also look at the agency's 18-month moratorium on construction and reconstruction of roads in roadless areas, which was first announced thirteen months ago but which formally took effect only this week.
This policy has generated a great deal of interest and concern over the past year. And since the Forest Service should now be two-thirds completed with the development of its long-term road management policy, I must ask why the agency decided to announce, three weeks ago today, the beginning of the 18-month moratorium. I fear it is because they have not accomplished much on the long term policy. Last year, after his initial announcement of the moratorium, Chief Dombeck testified that the moratorium was not yet in effect. But, in reality, it has been in effect ever since, because the Forest Service's land managers immediately altered any plans they had to enter roadless areas that would qualify under the proposed moratorium. By my count that makes it a two-and-a-half year moratorium.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of my biggest concerns with the moratorium is its effect on the condition of our forests. The Forest Service has repeatedly told us that they have 40 million acres of national forest land at high risk of catastrophic fire. Their new insect and disease maps verify that this risk is only increasingespecially in Idaho, where much of the northern part of the state is mapped in red, indicating that 25 percent or more of the trees are expected to die within the next 15 years! This is a catastrophic condition that requires human intervention if we hope to keep our forests for our own and future generations.
Dr. David Adams, Professor of Forest Resources, Emeritus at the University of Idaho, submitted testimony for our hearing but unfortunately could not attend today. He is well known for his work on forest health and sustainability, and I greatly respect his views. With the Subcommittee's indulgence, I would like to read a few lines from his statement and submit it in its entirety for the record.
Dr. Adams wrote:
''I am concerned that, without adequate access, we will not be able to manage for sustainable forests.''
''A very important aspect of sustainable forest management is to avoid the conditions which promote insect outbreaks, the spread of tree diseases, and damaging wildfires . . . As you know, past conditions and events such as fire exclusion, early logging practices, introduction of exotic pests, grazing of domestic livestock, and the mere presence of settlers have caused changes in our forests. Forest density and tree species composition are commonly much different from those of historic forests . . . .''
Dr. Adams then offers an appropriate solution:
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''First, density reduction, usually through thinning, is necessary over large areas. Then application of prescribed fires may be appropriate. Both of these activities require road access. It is unlikely that funding will be made available to the Forest Service to do the needed thinning and just leave the thinned trees on the groundand even if this were possible it would not be advisable because of the fuel accumulation. All or part of the cost of thinning can be retrieved through sale of the trees removed, but this requires access. Safe application of prescribed fires also requires access.''
Dr. Adams concludes his testimony with the observation that while roads do impact wildlife and contribute to stream sedimentation,
''much more habitat damage and sedimentation results from widespread pest outbreaks and catastrophic wildfires.''
I must mention one other concern that I have heard. In the Forest Service's estimates of the impacts of the moratorium, we have been told how many miles of road construction, reconstruction and temporary roads, and how much timber volume, will be impacted in planned timber sales and ''forest projects'' over the next year. Yet the Washington Office has not displayed the extent of these impacts on the local communities that will surely occur if the volume is not replaced by other sales available to the same local economies during the same time period. I am told that field staff estimate the projected loss of 30 million board feet on the Boise and Payette National Forests, for example, will result in 300 lost jobs and at least $11 million in lost income to the community. There will be a corresponding drop in 25 percent funds to States and Counties, directly impacting school and county budgets. The Forest Service must be prepared to address these and other impacts of the moratorium now, not when the long term policy is completed.
I have not mentioned my concerns about recreation access, because we have two excellent witnesses available to address this subject. I look forward to the testimony of all our witnesses, and I thank you all for your willingness to appear before us today.
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STATEMENT OF OWEN C. SQUIRES, PULP AND PAPERWORKERS RESOURCE COUNCIL, ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION
Madam Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Owen C. Squires. I am employed at Potlatch Corporation in Lewiston, Idaho as a digester cook in the pulp mill. I am here representing the Rocky Mountain Region of the Pulp and Paperworkers Resource Council [PPRC], an organization with 300,000 members nation-wide.
I am saddened and alarmed by Forest Service efforts to achieve some romantic notion of management of our public forests in which people play no part. The road moratorium is just the latest example of hand-off denial by an agency that has lost its way and is now wandering in the wilderness of conflicting social values that marks the end of our century.
Roads provide access to public lands for a variety of reasons that are well known to this Committee. What is not well known is that roads are also the keys to managing people and resources in ways that allow for sustainable forests over time. Roads provide access for recreation and allow us to manage recreation impacts. They also provide a way to keep forest healthy by entering diseased stands and removing sick and dying trees, thinning overcrowded trees, and managing fire, wild and prescribed. Remove the roads or artificially manage roads to meet philosophical rather than real on-the-ground objectives and you remove the ability managers have to respond to specific situations in appropriate ways.
For example, north Idaho is experiencing the worst outbreak of Douglas fir bark beetle we have ever known. These are not my words but the words of Idaho Department of Lands entomologist, Ladd Livingston, and Idaho Panhandle forest supervisor Dave Wright. Tens of thousands of acres of trees are at stake. Some of the worst outbreaks are in roadless areas as defined by the moratorium. These areas were not named as wilderness in any Act of Congress. Environmentalists did not identify them in Forest plans as important to the environmental industry. But the moratorium by definition has removed any opportunity we might have had to enter these areas and remove dead and dying trees and improve conditions in timber stands. Nor is this situation unique to north Idaho. I need not revisit the mountains of research telling us that western forests are in trouble everywhere.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC No less a self-proclaimed authority on forest health than Dr. Art Partridge, a forest science professor, late of the University of Idaho, claims that this is not a problem at all but is a smoke screen, a shell game used by industry to just cut more trees. Dr. Art claims bugs are ''natural'' in this situation and they should be allowed to run their course, that people have no claim to salvage the trees for human use.
Madam Chairman, cancer is natural. I am among those who hope fervently that we are not content to let cancer run its course without a fight. The war on cancer requires avenues of approach. Bark beetle managementand management needs in generalrequire avenues of access if we are to have the flexibility we need to manage the land.
Mr. Livingston says managed forests are impervious to beetle attack and I believe him, Mr. Partridge says we should stand back and watch our forests burn, banquets for bugs, graveyards of neglect, fuel for killing fires. I reject that categorically.
We need our roads. We need the ability to put roads in places where we need them, and take them out of places where we do not.
This simplistic approach of the Forest Service will cost our society greatly in the coming decade. It will not be in overstatement when I stand in the middle of hundreds of thousands of acres of blackened timber and ruined lives a few years down the road and proclaim that the Forest Service road policy and environmentalist agendas brought us to this place. I will hold those who hold forest management hostage responsible and liable, morally and in fact, for the destruction that will surely come, our prayers notwithstanding. They have veto power over public forest management but my claim to the public forests is as strong as theirs.
In the small town of St. Maries, Idaho, a town so beautiful it can move you to stillness in any season of the year, stands a monument to over 50 firefighters who died in battle on a hot day in August in 1910 in the Big Creek drainage near St. Maries. A contributing reason for their deaths was the lack of roads and access. There's room in the circle of heroes at St. Maries for more Idaho firefighters and I pray we will not gather there again under such sad circumstances.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But public safety is at stake. And this is not a smokescreen. Flagstaff, Arizona almost burned in 1996 from a wildfire in unmanaged stands of trees. Please review a copy of the March 1 edition of the High Country News, the preeminent publication of the views of environmentalists in the West [attached]. I promise you, Madan Chairman, that the headline says ''Working the land back to health.'' I almost cried when I read Ed Marston's passionate appeal to others of his ilk to work with ''people who work the land, who can invent machinery and logging and grazing techniques, and who can put together capital and labor and markets to restore the land.'' I am labor, and I welcome Mr. Marston to the table and I stand ready to help.
The safety of our rural communities like Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint and St. Maries is directly at stake. This is real. The Forest Service says so and I believe them. And we need roads. And Mr. Marston knows it. And I know it. And you know it. And the operational Forest Servicethe Forest Service on the ground in Idahoknow it. So I guess we just need to get the word to Mike Dombeck, somehow. The long-term health of the land demands it.
This concludes my remarks and I stand for questions.
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