Colorado: Stahl on how new administration will affect Summit county USFS land

Some shifts in policy will take time to implement, but in some key
areas, the changes could be immediate and dramatic, and will be felt
on national forest lands in Summit County, according to Andy Stahl,
director of a watchdog group called Forest Service Employees for
Environmental Ethics. The Portland-based organization is comprised of
current and former agency employees, and offers cover for
whistle-blowers along with closely tracking and analyzing Forest
Service policies. Stahl said standard moves during a transition
include the immediate suspension of any rule-making processes and the
withdrawal of non-finalized rules.

The most sudden changes could
affect a contested set of rules for managing inventoried roadless
areas, including about 60,000 acres of White River National Forest
land in Summit County. A national rule adopted at the end of the
Clinton era, as well as a different rule developed by Bush appointees,
have both been the subject of back-and-forth battles in federal court.
The Clinton rule gives the most stringent protection for roadless
areas, based on their importance as watersheds, wildlife habitat and
buffers against invasive weeds. “The Obama administration is much more
apt to defend the (Clinton) roadless rule,” said former Deputy Forest
Service Chief Jim Furnish, who helped push the rule during the waning
days of the Clinton administration. The Bush rule involved a
state-by-state petitioning process. In Colorado, that created
allowances for oil and gas extraction, ski-area development and
logging. “The first item on the agenda is what to do with those
pending lawsuits,” Stahl said Stahl said he expects the U.S.
Department of Justice to drop support for the Bush rule and vigorously
defend the Clinton rule. Obama is on record as supporting domestic
energy development; that could leave some of western Colorado’s wild
areas in the crosshairs. “He’s made some statements about aggressively
pursuing natural gas development,” said local wilderness advocate
Currie Craven. “It raises the question of how much understanding there
is of western land-use issues in the Obama camp. How much of a change
(from Bush) is there really going to be, with regard to extracting
fossil fuels?”

Posted via email from Deane’s posterous

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