Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Idaho Conservation League voices support for Idaho Gov. Risch's roadless petition

It's hard to say what the folks at the Idaho Conservation League are thinking. They apparently told the local TV station that they can "potentially support" (TV news anchor's words) the plan. The representative quoted only said it was a "much improved proposal," though that doesn't make a lot of sense since the proposal doesn't seem to have changed since it was first released to the public over two months ago.

On the other hand, the Idaho Conservation League website contains this press release, which does not indicate that they approve of the governor's proposal.

Reading between the lines, it looks as if ICL has decided the vaguely worded protections offered the 8.7 acres of roadless lands are good enough to let them look the other way on the 500,000 acres of roadless lands that will be more or less turned over to industrial logging.

One problem though is that the "protection" offered those 8.7 million acres seems pretty weak at least in the 5.5 million acre backcountry designation (permanent roads will be permitted "based on long-term ecological need," for example . . ..) and another problem is that this fight was never really about the full 9.1 million acres. Virtually all of those acres are roadless for a reason: they are too high, too dry, and too cold to grow much of anything that anybody would ever want.

If you have ever been up in the Lemhis or the Lost River Range, you can see why that country never saw much logging, and hence never got roaded.

From where I sit, the Governor's plan looks like a disaster. The 500,000 acres that will be given up are some of the last, best, forested country in the state, including the infamous Cove and Mallard roadless areas that were so bitterly contested by Earth First! back in the early 1990's.

The governor's plan is available here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I see that you understand the contortionist, counter-intuitive stances of Idaho Conservation League and Wilderness Society.

Idaho really is a problem, but so is a lot of the West. Conservation groups around these parts are scrambling to beat the Democrats to the center--or is it to the right?

In addition to the horrid pseudo-wilderness bills ICL and TWS are pushing in Idaho, there is one sponsored by (next Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, and supported by TWS, that would sell off 45,000 acres of public land. OUR land.

In Oregon, some groups are pleading with Congress to hurry up and pass a really bad bill for Mt. Hood that nominally protects some wilderness but also sets up all sorts of convoluted land-use plans for the area...lots and lots of stuff that simply does not belong in anything called a wilderness bill.

Can I go on a bit about this? The bill also includes a land swap between a Mt. Hood ski resort and the Forest Service that was worked out by private parties to forestall some unwanted development. This is a land trade the Forest Service didn't want to do because it was patently counter to the public interest.

Anyhoo, the Oregonian did an expose on the land swap, revealing the machinations behind it and the fact that it's a huge taxpayer ripoff, and the Government Accountability Office did an audit and confirmed it's a ripoff...and conservation groups are begging the lame-ass, lame-duck, anti-public-land Republican Congress to pass the bill before the end of the year. Why? Why not straighten out the land swap problem and see if they can clean up some of the other unnecessary provisions under a possibly friendlier Congress? Because, they say, we need to get this sucker done and clear the decks for all the other great work we're going to do for public lands.