2001 | Coalition of AZ/NM Counties Comments on Roadless Rule

USDA Forest Service, CAET

Attention: Roadless Areas Proposed Rule

P.O. Box 221090

Salt Lake City, UT 84122


RE: Comment on Proposed Rule and DEIS on Proposed Rule for Roadless Area Conservation

Dear Sirs and Madams,

These comments are being submitted by the Arizona Counties, Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee and Navajo and the New Mexico Counties, Catron, Chaves, Eddy, Harding, Hidalgo, Lincoln, Luna, Otero, Rio Arriba, Sierra, and Socorro along with representation from the timber, farming, livestock, mining, small business, sportsman and outfitter industries as members of the Coalition of Arizona/ New Mexico Counties (Coalition). Our representation currently exceeds 592,923 in combined county populations.


The statement that “Areas without roads have inherent values……” is only true from the perspective of subjective human judgment. Other animals create and maintain trails (roads by definition) by their movements. They do so just by their travels to maintain life. Therefore, even in the deepest recesses of the remote wilderness areas there are roads. So there is no such thing as areas without roads.

The definition of inherent is “involved in the constitution or essential character of something;” intrinsic “belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing.” The definition of value as used above is, “relative worth, utility or importance.” By definition, Forest Service personnel and others are claiming that areas without roads are important to them. The phrase “inherent value” sounds important but has little meaning outside of human emotion when applied to areas with or without roads.

There are hundreds of millions of acres without roads in the United States. So much so that a person could not possibly visit even a small percentage in a long life. Given this situation, even a person attempting such an accomplishment would be required to use roads unless they flew. Of course flying would require having someplace to land and take off from.

The above demonstrates that the Forest Service and other proponents must have some other motive and agenda than what they have written in the proposed rules. Unless and until the Forest Service discloses what is the end product of the proposed rule and the ultimate agenda, no meaningful comment by the public can be expected. Since this action is but a piece of that larger puzzle, the Forest Service should withdraw the proposed rule, disclose the overall plan, propose a rule to achieve that plan and then solicit public comment.

There is no established science to substantiate the need to have “bulwarks against the spread of invasive species” or the benefit of “native species” over non-natives. These are human value laden opinions that are being forced on other humans who have their own opinions that are just as valid. The Congress has legislated management direction for the National Forests. It is the duty of the Forest Service to carry out that mission and mandate, not to seek out loopholes and interpretations that allow implementation of policies and rules outside the intent of Congress no matter how much nobility is assigned the end product.

The Coalition disagrees with the Forest Service claim that the DEIS describes the potential environmental impacts that could occur as a result of implementing the proposed rule or other alternatives other than the no action alternative.

The Forest Service states in the proposal that there are “other unroaded areas” that contain roadless characteristics similar to inventoried roadless areas, but are most often less than 5,000 acres in size and were therefore not inventoried during RARE II. They were not inventoried because they were not authorized to be inventoried by the Congress.

Upon completion of RARE II, the National Forests initiated management actions to protect those areas identified until such time as Congress saw fit to designate or not designate them as wilderness. All other lands were then released to multiple-uses regardless of size or road condition. Some of these lands were identified in the forest plans as being suitable for timber harvest.

The Coalition does not dispute that a very small minority of the public has made a living off of creating costly, lengthy appeals and litigation on virtually every attempt to enter these areas. Great expenditures have been made to locate and promote surrogate species protections to further monkey wrench otherwise legal and legitimate harvesting of timber. This added fiscal burden manufactured the now touted “below cost timber sale program.”

The Forest Service has manufactured the $8.4 billion backlog in maintenance and reconstruction along with the claim of 386,000 miles of roads. The Forest Service does not even have a clue as to what roads they even have formal jurisdiction over let alone how many miles of roads exist.

Many people may question the wisdom of building new roads in sensitive areas when there is an inability to maintain existing roads. Many people like their coffee black, but what has either got to do with the proposed rule? The only purpose of inclusion of such nonsense is to put a positive spin on an ill conceived policy change. Not only is this deception but is contrary to the NEPA regulations that state that the essential elements for implementing NEPA are; “Accurate scientific analysis, expert agency comments, and public scrutiny.”(40CFR, 1501.1(b)) In addition, “Most important, NEPA documents must concentrate on the issues that are truly significant to the action in question, rather than amassing needless detail.”(40CFR, 1501.1(b).

As stated above, the Forest Service has not provided any science that any reasonable person could use to conclude that road or roadless areas are detrimental or beneficial to watershed and ecosystem health. Ecosystem itself has not been defined in scientifically acceptable terms let alone what ecosystem health means. Further, controversy surrounding the management of roadless areas doesn’t create a mandate or need to settle the issue by determining that the opponents of activities in roadless areas are correct.

This leads to the first purpose, “to immediately stop activities that have the greatest likelihood of degrading desirable characteristics of inventoried roadless areas.” By setting this as a purpose, any alternative that falls short of this unscientifically tested objective can not be adopted. Therefore, the decision has been predetermined in the purpose.

The second purpose then substantiates the above assertion by stating that ecological and social characteristics of inventoried roadless and other unroaded areas need to be identified and considered through local forest planning efforts. This sets up the scenario of: first, foreclosing any activities in inventoried roadless areas; and second, then do the science to determine the ecological and social characteristics under local forest planning. Since local forest planning regulations under NFMA have yet to be adopted by this administration, there is no way at this point the decision maker or the public can determine how this rule will impact the physical, biological, economic or social environments. This proposed rule should be withdrawn until all relevant factors are present and disclosed.

The third purpose is something that should be considered at the forest planning level. Just because this forest has become the poster child of the propaganda machines is no reason to remove it to a special consideration outside the process. There is no statutory authority from Congress to elevate any individual forest planning to the national level.

The stated purposes defeat the NEPA mandate because they create a predetermined outcome, are lacking in full disclosure because critical elements are not included in the DEIS, and exceed the Forest Services statutory authority to manage the National Forests. The proposed rule should be withdrawn.

The DEIS has not properly established a baseline of analysis. The no action alternative is based on “Harvest volume in FY’s 1996 to 1999…” This artificially manufactured baseline makes the assumption that the reduction of harvesting from the national forests from the 1984 to 1988 or any other previous harvesting has been legitimate for the purpose of sustainability as mandated by statute.

The baseline has been manufactured by endless appeals, confrontation and litigation based on procedural violations of the Forest Service. The answer to the problems of the Forest Service failure to properly plan and execute timber harvesting is not termination of harvesting. The analysis baseline should be harvestable timber determined through sustained yield analysis. From that baseline cumulative impacts due to species and other resource considerations could then be disclosed and give the decision maker and the public a much clearer and true picture of what has been and would be impacted if the proposed rule was adopted.

The DEIS also fails to consider the impact on timber harvesting and other multiple use and subsequent impacts on State and Local Government revenues and economies through restricting reasonable access to areas retained as suitable for timber harvest. Many of the non inventoried “unroaded” areas affected by this rule making are located on lands previously designated suitable for timber harvest or other multiple use or because of their geography provide the best routes to those areas.

Specific Comments

Standard Exceptions to the Prohibitions

Even if the Coalition recognized a need to adopt the proposed rule, the exceptions leave out the Congressional mandate to protect the forest resources. If the proposed rule is adopted over our objections an exception for purpose of forest resource protections must be included. It should state, “A road is needed for management actions designed to protect the forest resources from catastrophic fire, disease or insect infestation or to restore those resources following a catastrophic event.”

Initial problems and deficiencies with the proposed roadless area initiative and rule:

  1. Only the duly elected Congress was vested with the power to make rules and regulations respecting property belonging to the United States.
  2. There is no specific definition of “roadless” contained in the proposed rule or Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Draft EIS does, however, mention road “reconstruction” which indicates that there are existing roads within in the “roadless” areas under consideration.
  3. The Environmental Impact Statement does not and cannot adequately address the adverse social, economic, and political impacts that the withdrawal of the 54 million – plus – acres would cause.
  4. The property under consideration is under concurrent jurisdiction. The proposed rule will cause a centralization of power even though matters of Tribal, State and local authority are directly involved and impacted.
  5. The proposed rule will not resolve the existing management problems for the individual forests, including but not limited to, the $8.4 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and reconstruction on the more than 386,000 miles of classified roads in the NFS transportation system. (EIS – Chapter 1, pg. 1-3)
  6. The proposed rule was separated from, yet directly related to other proposed rules, all of which were instituted at about the same time, thereby impairing the ability and probability that anyone could properly review and comment on all of them within the time allowed. (EIS – Chapter 1 – pg. 1-14)
  7. The Draft EIS fails to provide a proper and adequate inventory and analysis under the Federal Land Policy & Management Act of 1976, Section 204(c)(2), leaving both the proposed rule and those making comments on it without adequate information.
  8. The proposed rule and Draft EIS does not mention and disclose the international commitments of the USDA-Forest Service and how they will affect the agency actions and affect the political, social, and economic interests of other parties.


The following definitions will apply, unless they are specifically defined or are otherwise reasonably presumed from the text.


The managed use of lands and resources under principles of multiple use.


“It is the policy of the Congress that the national forests are established and shall be administered for outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish purposes. The purpose of this Act are declared to be supplemental to, but not in derogation of, the purposes for which the national forests were established as set forth in the Act of June 4, 1897 (16 U.S.C, 476). Nothing herein shall be so construed as affecting the jurisdiction or responsibilities of the several States with respect to wildlife and fish on the national forests. Nothing herein shall be construed so as to effect the use or administration of the mineral resources of national forest lands or to affect the use or administration of Federal lands not within the national forest.” (Multiple Use And Sustained Yield Act of 1960, Public Law 86-517, 74 Stat. 215)


The withdrawal or restricted use of, or access to lands and/or the resources located thereon.

Sustainable Development:

The marriage of the de facto international economic system and development to all the resources and the processes of nature, whereby “development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Our Common Future – Brundtland Report United Nations World Commission On Environment And Development (1987); see also USDA – Secretary’s Memorandum 9500-6, Sustainable Development, September 13, 1996)


A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprints of mans works substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.” (Wilderness Act of 2964 Public Law 88-577, 79 Stat. 890)


No Action; No Prohibition.

ALTERNATIVE I is the only reasonable choice.

  1. The 54 million acres of roadless areas under consideration were originally assessed under Rare I and Rare II Wilderness studies and inventories. The roadless areas under consideration were not designated as wilderness by Congress. The proposed rule and other Alternatives circumvent the powers delegated and reserved to Congress in an attempt to withdraw them from multiple-use and in effect create “de facto” wilderness areas.

Alternative I would avoid this obvious error and usurpation.

  1. The undefined “roadless” areas under consideration were previously deemed to be more useful for other multiple-use purposes at the time of the Rare I and Rare II wilderness inventories. These multiple-use preferences still exist. Management prescriptions for these areas are already developed at a local level where the needs, interests, and reserved powers of the State, local governments, communities, and people can be addressed. The proposed rule and the other Alternatives will cause further conflicts, abrogations, takings, and usurpations.

Alternative I would avoid many conflicts, abrogations, takings, and usurpations, and further, would probably cost less administratively and be less conducive to expensive and time consuming litigation.

  1. The proposed rule, in most instances, would usurp the powers of the Department of Interior pertaining to withdrawal of minerals. The instances where Congress delegated the authority to USDA- Forest Service to withdraw mineral entry, exploration, and development are few

Alternative I would avoid the usurpation of authority and takings.

  1. The proposed rule and other Alternatives will not resolve the administrative problems associated with these undefined roadless areas. Numerous problems exist for land management planning when considering roadless areas. Several are hereinafter presented more specifically. There are few management prescriptions in the planning process which raise more concern at the local level. These continual conflicts over use or restricted use are now addressed during the forest planning and public input process.

Alternative I would leave the land and resources in a manageable status quo condition; to be dealt with on a local level where the impacts from land and resource manipulation are more significantly felt.

  1. The proposed rule and other Alternatives will not resolve the financial problems associated with these undefined roadless areas. Management of roadless areas can be expensive when considering access impairments. Costs include the personnel and time that it takes to clean out wildfire fuel wood, fight forest fires, apply treatment for insect infestation, address matters concerning invasive species and tree thinning, not to mention State management of fish, game and water quantity and quality, and local emergency services. All these and more constitute an economic impact on all interested parties, and when considered with the limited fiscal allocations and the inflation factors caused by the “de facto” economic system, clearly impairs the ability of the agencies to meet their extensive obligations.

Alternative I will not cure many of the financial problems, however, it would leave these properties and resources to local needs and management and within the bounds of the financial allocations and resources of the area.

  1. The proposed rule and other Alternatives will not resolve the fire prevention problems associated with these undefined roadless areas. There is a known and recognized fuel wood and catastrophic fire danger that exists in the forests.

Restricting access, if needed, or decommissioning roads would impair fire prevention and management practices. Fuel wood removal and tree thinning by agencies and the people are enhanced by these road systems. Recent wildfires in Los Alamos, New Mexico, have destroyed homes and businesses, caused mass evacuations, and disrupted communities and services. Other fires have burned thousands and thousands of acres of usable resources and have threatened wildlife and water quality. Roads allow rapid and more effective deployment of fire fighting equipment and personnel. No general plan can be devised which would take into account or provide for the management needs of such widely dispersed lands and resources, nor compensate for their mismanagement.

Alternative I leaves the 54 million acres to the local management authorities and interests who have the best practical knowledge about the areas under consideration and the resources and conditions that exist in those areas.

  1. The proposed rule and other Alternatives will not resolve the insect infestations and biological diseases associated with these undefined roadless areas.

Areas all over the United States are experiencing the effects of insect infestation.

Some of these insects and biological organisms are causing the destruction of usable timber and other plants which are necessary to forest and wildlife health, and to the health and economic stability of the local people and communities. The roadless areas are equally susceptible to these infestations and diseases as the surrounding areas. The susceptible plants are of the same species wherever they might be located. Some insect pests fly and/or crawl; certain biological organisms are even air borne and are transported on the wind. It is not rational to believe that these roadless areas will provide any significant barrier against many of these insects and diseases. In fact, the areas might provide a significant breeding and staging ground when preventative and corrective management measures are impaired.

Alternative I leaves the 54 million acres to local management prescriptions and needs, and allows for variations in the management scheme should the circumstances arise.

  1. The proposed rule and other Alternatives will not resolve the invasive species problems associated with these undefined roadless areas. Invasive species have many modes of transportation. Animals, birds and even the wind may carry the seeds of plants and other biological organisms to new locations. Roadless areas will not stop the natural movement of these species. The usefulness of roadless areas as a barrier against invasive species is unpersuasive. Preventative and corrective management of invasive species in these areas, however, might be impaired by the proposed rule.

Alternative I leaves the 54 million acres to local management prescriptions and needs, and allows for variations in the management scheme should the circumstances arise.

  1. The proposed rule and other Alternatives will not resolve the water management problems associated with these undefined roadless areas. In the first instant, water is under the primary jurisdiction of the State. The roadless area rule could impair and even abrogate the States’ ability to manage its waters. For example, if a wildfire occurred, the denuded land could cause significant impacts upon the quality of the water. Of no less importance, the failure to maintain the appropriate amount of trees and undergrowth in these roadless areas can cause a significant reduction in the quantity of water.

Alternative I leaves the 54 million acres to local management prescriptions and needs, and allows for variations in the management scheme should the circumstances arise.

  1. The proposed rule and other Alternatives will not resolve the Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) associated with water and these undefined roadless areas. Water is under the primary jurisdiction of the State. Roads are commonly blamed for the siltation of rivers and streams. If the roads are properly constructed and maintained the impact should be minimal. This brings in another proposed rule concerning decommissioning roads. The USDA – Forest Service claims that it has about an $8.4 billion backlog on road maintenance. (EIS, pg. 1-3) The Forest Service customarily contracts road maintenance out to the State or to the County. The agency does not do the road maintenance itself. Many of the roads in forest areas provide access and easement for State and local services and responsibilities. Some provide access to inholdings, and some to mineral claims. Many such roads are under State jurisdiction, or are otherwise ways of necessity

The purported lack of funds is also aggravated by the vast sums spent in foreign countries under the International Forestry Programs, and in setting up and implementing such programs as the UNEP’s “Systematics Agenda 2000.” (Global Biodiversity Assessment, UNEP, pg. 10) These types of preferences and expenditures are a significant part of the agency’s fiscal and management problem, and in particular, the international programs and projects. This administration finds vast quantities to spend in foreign countries but cannot meet its domestic obligations. When these choices and actions are combined with inflation and the depreciated purchasing value of the existing paper and credit systems, it creates an absurdity which is destined to failure. The proposed rule(s) will not resolve these continuing management problems.

The TMDL specifications are necessarily based upon the historic and actual conditions of the individual stream or river. Many natural components can cause a rise in siltation, salts, minerals, or other pollutants in these rivers and streams. The roadless area proposal will not resolve these changing conditions, however, the proposal may impair the ability of the respective authorities to address the problems that might arise and those which are feasibly correctable The decommissioning of roads and their reclamation are always local in the nature and should always be left to local management decisions.

Alternative I leaves the 54 million acres to local management prescriptions, the specific needs of the local area, and the fiscal allocations available.

  1. It is commonly asserted that roads cause fragmentation of wildlife habitat. (EIS – Chapter 1 – pg. 1-1; see also Wildlands Project, Reed Noss, pg. 17) There is no conclusive evidence that roads cause animal habitat fragmentation. (Global Biodiversity Assessment, UNEP, pg. 775 – 776) Expensive measures have been taken in such States as North Carolina to provide underpasses for wildlife. It was found that the wildlife crossed the roads wherever they chose, and that the animals rarely used these expensive underpasses. Contrary to the premise of those promoting and implementing the international programs and regional Wildlands Project, roadside habitats are usually the first areas to thaw in the spring and provide early food and necessities for certain types of wildlife. Animals are not only seen crossing the roads, but are commonly seen walking down them. The “fragmentation” theory does not stand up to clearly observable facts. Likewise, roads and reconstruction of roads might be needed for fish and game management. Fish and game management is under the primary jurisdiction of the State, and its claims cannot be prejudiced by any statute, rule, regulation, or agency action. (Constitution for the U.S.A., Article IV, Section 3) These and other considerations (total value) are inadequately addressed in the proposed rule and Draft EIS. Once again, existing local (specific) knowledge and management is one of the key elements to proper management, while Hollywood illusions, centralization, and generalized mismanagement are the problem.
  2. The proposed rule and other alternatives will not resolve the financial problems associated with these undefined roadless areas. The existing financial conditions are deeply rooted in the “de facto transitions” which took place over the last century. The existence and continuation of the financial crisis will not be resolved by the proposed rule. The Draft EIS wholly fails to address the absurdities, usurpations, and effects of these economic transitions, and in effect, only offers a superficial band aid for a deeply infected wound. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has recently audited the USDA – Forest Service and found the agency and personnel to be incompetent to meet these obligations alone. If the past records are any indication, the undefined roadless areas will be more expensive to manage as time goes on. This can be aggravated by other conditions that might arise. Droughts, fires, insects and biological infestations, water management, search and rescue, are but a few of the potential costs involved in roadless area management. These, when combined with the continuing international fiscal crisis, leaves everyone in want of stability and sustainability. Those who believe that they can use absurdities to reach the impossible are destined for failure. The impairment of management options at any time can have devastating impacts on the environment, on local communities, and those that live around or visit the areas.

Alternative I leaves the property subject to local knowledge, input and control, and with the broadest range of options for stability and sustainability.

  1. The proposed rule will cause a reduction in revenue to the State and Counties where the undefined roadless areas are located. The proposed rule will cause a significant reduction in the availability of marketable timber and other resources. This in turn will have a significant impact upon local industry and economy, and upon the revenues that are returned to the State and County from the USDA – Forest Service. The proposed plan and EIS do not adequately address: (1) the loss of jobs; (2) the adverse effects on the local resource reliant industries; (3) the adverse impacts on the support industries such as suppliers; (4) the adverse impacts on those who rely on the output of these resource reliant industries, and (5) the loss of revenue to the State and county.

Alternative I leaves the property in multiple-use management, and to the specific needs of the area where it is located.

  1. The proposed rule and other alternatives would restrict recreational uses to those akin to wilderness designations. This could impair access to and enjoyment of the National Trail System created under Public Law 90-543. Likewise, the proposed roadless area rule and the other protective Alternatives will adversely affect those with physical disabilities who necessarily depend on roads for reasonable access. The impact on these people is inadequately addressed by the proposed rule and EIS.
  2. The proposed rule and other alternatives constitute a “withdrawal” under the Federal Land Policy & Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), Section 204. A complete Section 204(c)(2) report will be required of USDA – Forest Service. The Draft EIS is wholly inadequate under the mandates of FLPMA Section 204(c)(2). Among other things, the Draft EIS fails to provide a complete inventory and evaluation [204(c)(2)(2)1; the identification of present users and how they will be effected [204(c)(2)(3)3; an economic analysis [204(c)(2)(4)1; the consultations with other interested parties [204(c)(2)(7)1; a clear statement of the effects on State and local governments and on the local economy [204(c)(2)(8)3; and a report by a qualified mineral expert as to the general geology, known mineral deposits, past and present mineral production, mining claims, mineral leases, evaluation of future mineral potential, and present and potential market demands. Likewise, this same insufficiency leaves any comment in want of substantive information.

Alternative I leaves the 54 million acres of undefined roadless areas in their status quo condition, and reduces the phenomenal expenditure of time and financial resources needed to complete and file the FLPMA 204(C)(2) report within the time period required by law.

  1. The proposed rule and the companion actions are a small portion of the agency’s endeavor to meet its international commitments to implement and enforce several Treaties and international agreements, including but not limited to, the Convention on Trade In Endangered Species (CITES), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and its implementing plan “Agenda 21.” (USDA-Forest Service Long Term Strategic Plan) The agency is covertly implementing the international agreements, plans, programs and projects in order to achieve the United Nations policies and definitions of “sustainable development.” These commitments and efforts in resource manipulation and social engineering are not disclosed in the proposed rule or EIS. The proposed rule and EIS does not disclose the intent of agency personnel and its international partners to override the powers vested in the duly elected Congress and the powers specifically reserved to the several States and to the people.

The International Union For The Conservation Of Nature And Natural Resources (IUCN), a foreign international organization, drafted both the Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 21 at the direction of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), and further, is directly involved in the listings of threatened and endangered species (Red Book). USDA-Forest Service is a member in the IUCN and is listed as IUCN member “GA/375.” The IUCN has its own Statutes and Regulations; it has its own sovereign Congress, and passes its own Resolutions and Recommendations, which in turn are implemented by the member agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). As a member in this foreign international organization, and having jointly entered into other partnership contracts and several Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) with other international organizations, the USDA – Forest Service has overriding obligations which are not disclosed in the stated purposes for the proposed rule, and are not accounted for in the Draft EIS. The systematic scheme, among other things, is known to: (1) cause forced displacement of populations (Brady Plan); (2) be monopsonistic; (3) create monopoly enterprises; (4) cause significant social, economic, and political harm; and (5) cause the cultural extinction of indigenous peoples and the loss of specific knowledge. This continued nondisclosure and intentional deception by the agency violates the duly ordained and established Constitution, the principles of the Law of Nations, creates an aristocracy and de facto government, violates the Federal Advisory Committees Act, violates the Code of Ethics for Government Service, and several other provisions of existing domestic law.

Although none of the Alternatives will cure this substantive defect and the adverse impacts of the undisclosed systematic international scheme, Alternative I leaves the property and resources under the concurrent jurisdiction of domestic authority. The agency’s international commitments, implementing actions, and proposed rules have been and are objected to.


Prohibit Road Construction and Reconstruction Within Unroaded Portions of Inventoried Roadless Areas.

(USDA – Forest Service Proposed Action and Preferred Alternative)

The undersigned reiterate and incorporate herein all the comments and objections set forth above.

Alternative II does not allow for the needs and interests of all parties, nor is it conducive to proper management of the resources located in, on and under the undefined roadless areas. It is asserted in the Draft EIS that these undefined “roadless areas” provide significant opportunities for dispersed recreation, are a source of public drinking water, and provide large undisturbed areas where privacy and seclusion can be found

In the first instant, the proposed rule and preferred alternative will not disperse recreation. To the contrary, it will restrict much of the recreational purposes in the areas under consideration and will divert and concentrate recreation in other areas. The preferred alternative will not provide adequate assurances for the quantity or quality of public drinking water and will impair the ability of the State and local interests to manage this essential resource. The proposed rule and this preferred Alternative will create “de facto” wilderness areas out of 54 million acres or more. Congress has not authorized a Rare III study nor the creation of “de facto” wilderness through any agency actions. Congress, in the exercise of its Constitutional powers, reserved wilderness designations to itself

In the second instant, “reconstruction” of roads indicates that the areas under consideration are not “roadless.” This double speak amounts to deception. In the second instant, roads allow for many management needs including, but not limited to, those under the primary jurisdiction of the State. Among other interests, roads provide necessary management access for fire control, search and rescue, other emergency services, management of fish and game, logging and thinning of timber, fuel wood control, grazing, and water quantity and quality management. There is no provision of law, rule or regulation that can be so construed as to prejudice the authority and claims of the State

In the third instant, roads may need to be changed, altered or repaired. This is particularly true in mountainous areas where landslides, washouts, or other environmental conditions may dictate the construction of reconstruction of roads. No general plan can provide for several of these unforeseen and unpredictable occurrences. The multiple interests in, and multiple-use of the areas under consideration would not be served by the USDA-Forest Service’s preferred Alternative II. Proper and needed management of the lands and resources would not be served by Alternative II, and might facilitate impairment and damage to the lands and resources in and adjacent to these vast and diverse areas.

In the fourth instant, the restriction of access might impair the abilities and rights of other interested parties. Tribal rights, mineral claims, private property inholdings, handicapped access, etc., would probably be withdrawn or impaired under this preferred Alternative. In some cases this Alternative would cause a “taking”, and in others instances would cause contention and possible litigation. These interests and impacts are not adequately considered in the proposed rule and Draft EIS.

Alternative II does not provide for the adequate and proper management of the vast and diverse areas and resources under consideration, and does not secure or provide adequate assurances for rights, liberties, powers and interests of others. Alternative II, USDA-Forest Service’s preferred alternative, is improper, adverse to other interests and components, could cause or facilitate significant impacts and catastrophic damage, and is unacceptable and objected to.


Prohibit Road Construction, Reconstruction, and Timber Harvest Except for Stewardship Purposes within Unroaded Portions of Inventoried Roadless Areas.

The undersigned reiterate and incorporate herein all the comments and objections set forth above.

Alternative III limits the use of the undefined roadless areas to “stewardship purposes.” The stated objectives are as follows:

  1. Restore an area to historic ecological conditions

This objective is vague and ambiguous. Historic ecological conditions indicates an undefined time in the past. Is it pre-1792, 1 B.C., 5000 B.C., 100,000 B.C.? It is well known that ecological conditions are dynamic, i.e., constantly changing. Any attempt to restore 54 million acres to historical conditions will not only be overly expensive but considering time spans and other natural conditions such as droughts, fire, wind, floods, disease and insect infestations could cause significant alterations in the ecological conditions at any point in time. It looks, smells and sounds like “The Wildlands Project” and the IUCN’s “Protected Areas Program.”

  1. Improve the vigor of residual trees to withstand insects, disease, and wind.

The effort to improve the condition of trees on 54 million acres so that they might withstand insects and disease would probably take roads. It is well recognized that USDA-Forest Service personnel are accustomed to riding around in the company trucks all day or else staying in the office and devising Hollywood schemes. USDA-Forest personnel are not noted for spending any significant amount of time in roadless areas and in particular, spending the time and resources needed to control insect infestations and plant diseases. The USDA-Forest Service does not control the wind, nor the root structure of the trees so as to be able to improve the ability of the trees to withstand the wind.

Management, whether preemptory or after the fact, will take personnel, economic resources, and reasonable access to address changing conditions. The proposed roadless area rule will not address these management problems.

Alternative III will, to the contrary, create significant problems in management and could cause significant damage to the environment.

  1. Reduce excessive forest fuels through thinning.

In the first instant, thinning of forests is a management practice that has been going on for centuries. The USDA-Forest Service has allowed or has otherwise created a catastrophic fire danger in our forests. It is not doubted that thinning helps to control forest fuel wood, however, fuel wood is a continual consequence of plants living, growing, and dying. Thinning the forests also helps to keep them in perpetual successional growth stages. The proposed roadless area rule and Alternative III will impair the ability of people to thin trees, remove fuel woods, and to properly manage these forests.

  1. Restoring ecological features and processes such as fire into an ecosystem.

This objective is also vague and ambiguous. What ecological features are being considered on the 54 million acres? Wild fires are virtually rampant on public lands and have threatened and damaged private property. Recent controlled burns have destroyed thousands of acres of usable timber, burnt homes and businesses, and have caused the displacement of whole communities. The costs and impacts of fires on resources, including wildlife, water, timber, livestock, etc., have not been properly considered in Alternative III. How the withdrawal of 54 million acres will assist in restoration of ecological features such as fire is not only vague, it is unimaginable and could very well lead to further catastrophic circumstances.

  1. Creating desired wildlife habitat.

Once again, wildlife is a matter under the primary jurisdiction of the State. (Public Law 94-579, Sections 302(b) and 701(g)(2)) The specific habitat needs of wildlife are extremely varied. Successional forests are needed for wildlife viability and health. How the withdrawal of roads and timber removal will assist in creating habitat is at best vague and unclear. The assumption that roads cause fragmentation is unsupported by scientific evidence and is contrary to observable facts. In many cases roads are necessary for wildlife management. The proposed roadless area rule and Alternative III will impair and prejudice the ability of the State to manage fish and game, and for all intents and purposes, will not “create…wildlife habitat.”

Another question arises from this objective. Whose “desires” are being appeased? Is it that segment of society that watches Grizzly Adams on television and believes that you can live in a dirt floor cabin with a Grizzly bear, your shirt is always pressed, you hair is never out of place, and you can fall in the river and come out dry? Is it the people and organizations promoting and implementing The Wildlands Project whose stated objectives are wholly adverse to the Law of Nations and the fundamental principles upon which societies of men are built? “Desire”, in this case, has questionable meaning and leaves the door open to the whim, fancy and delusions of anyone

The implementation of Alternative III would probably: (1) violate the public policy of Congress; (2) violate existing domestic law; (3) impair, abrogate, or otherwise prejudice the responsibility of the State to manage water resources, wildlife, fish and game, and to provide emergency services; (4) impair access to lands and to the use and enjoyment of valuable resources; (5) impair or withdraw multiple use and proper conservation management of public lands and resources; and (6) create de facto wilderness areas. Alternative III is unacceptable and objected



Prohibit Road Construction, Reconstruction and ALL Timber Harvest within Unroaded Portions of Inventoried Roadless Areas.

The undersigned reiterate and incorporate herein all the comments and objections set forth above.

Alternative IV proposes to prohibit any timber extraction for commodity or stewardship purposes. This in itself would be and would cause gross mismanagement. Mismanagement is already a significant problem with the agency. The affects would be in clear violation of the Multiple Use And Sustained Yield Act of 1960. It would aggravate the existing danger of catastrophic wild fires which have already burnt thousands of acres including private homes and businesses. The rule and Alternative would in affect negate and void any local input into the management prescriptions on 54 million acres, and withdraw these lands and resources. It would, in effect, create 54 million acres of wilderness without Congressional approval and action. Alternative IV is nothing more or less than the implementation of “The Wildlands Project” and the IUCN’s Protected Areas Program. The adverse impacts and the undesirable and unintended consequences of Alternative IV are immeasurable. (Public Law 91-190, Section 101(b):

The implementation of Alternative IV would probably: (1) violate the public policy of Congress; (2) violate existing domestic law; (3) impair, abrogate, or otherwise prejudice the responsibility of the State to manage water resources, wildlife, fish and game, and to provide emergency services; (4) impair access to lands and to the use and enjoyment of valuable resources; (5) impair or withdraw multiple use and proper conservation management of public lands and resources; (6) be adverse to the health, safety and welfare of local people and communities, and (7) create de facto wilderness areas. Alternative IV is wholly unacceptable and objected to.



No Action; No Prohibitions

For the reasons stated, Alternative 1 will not cause any procedural changes and will not cause the expenditure of time and resources which would be required under Alternatives II, III and IV. Of no less importance, all but Alternative 1 would substantially change the present procedures by making a clear predisposition of 54 million acres of land and the resources located thereon. Under Alternative II, III and IV, input by the Tribal, States and local governments and by other interested parties would be a senseless effort in futility. The adverse affects would remain even though the predetermined withdrawal and preconceived management prescription was contrary to the health safety and welfare of the people and to the health, usefulness, and proper management of the lands and resources located thereon. Alternative 1 is the only viable choice.


The proposed roadless area rule and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) are deficient in presenting and addressing the total values and adverse impacts that would occur if the rule were implemented. The centralized withdrawal and administrative prescription of 54 million acres of public lands arid the resources located thereon would impair management needs, usurp authority, and prejudice the authority, rights, and responsibilities of the several States, the local authorities, the people. It might also violate or impair treaties with Indian Nations and the rights of indigenous people. The generalized prescription and withdrawal of 54 million acres, more or less, would cause significant economic, social, political, and cultural impacts which are not addressed and, for all intents and purposes, cannot be addressed in such a broad and sweeping fashion. The proposed rule could also adversely impact the environment itself by causing further impairments to proper conservation management. The proposed rule is apparently politically motivated and is adverse to the health, safety, needs and interests of those who would be most effected by its implementation. The proposed rule has already caused litigation. The litigation costs come out of the fiscal appropriation made to the agency. This also reduces the financial resources available for management needs.

Of no less importance, the proposed rule and implementation of Alternatives II, III and IV would probably violate numerous provisions of existing domestic law, including but not limited to, the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 2960, Public Law 86-517, 74 Stat. 215; the Wilderness Act of 1964, Public Law 88-577, 79 Stat. 890; the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 83 Stat. 852; and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, Public Law 94-579, 90 Stat. 2743

For the reasons stated, Alternatives II, III and IV are objected to in their entirety. “Alternative I, No Action, No Prohibition”, is the only prudent and legal course of action presented.


Howard Hutchinson,

Executive Director, Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties

P.O. Box 125

Glenwood, New Mexico 88039