(Host) The Vermont chapter of the Sierra Club is strongly criticizing a new plan proposed by the Bush administration to open up more national forest land to logging operations. The group says new proposal could affect 121,000 acres of the Green Mountain National Forest. But state officials say the impact will be far less.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) In the closing weeks of the Clinton administration, new and very controversial regulations were adopted to prohibit logging in so called back country areas of national forests. These regulations prohibited logging on “roadless” sections of these forests. The regulations are being challenged in court by several western states because they believe the rules make it impossible for the states to take steps, like selective timbering, to limit the impact of giant wildfires.
The Green Mountain National Forest covers roughly 400,000 acres of land in Vermont. Kimberly Marion is the regional conservation organizer for the Sierra Club. She says the rules could affect as much as 25 percent of the land in the Green Mountain National Forest:
(Marion) “In United States we don’t have too many roadless areas left. We have developed a large portion of our national forest for either energy extraction, harvesting, many different ways of destroying natural ecosystems and we really need to protect the last remaining wild areas that we have.”
(Kinzel) However, Vermont Forest and Parks Commissioner Jonathon Wood has a different point of view. He doesn’t think the new rules will have much impact on federal forestland in the state:
(Wood) “I think it’s very limited in Vermont, all of the road building in Vermont is pretty much on hold. There’s very little new road construction contemplated in the new forest management plan that’s being out together by the Forest Service and it’s just not a wide spread practice in the east. We use old existing roads which exist throughout the forest on a temporary basis and there’s very little new road construction occurring in the Green Mountain National Forest. I don’t believe it’ll have much impact at all.”
(Kinzel) The new regulations also give additional authority to governors of individual states. Governors who want to block the implementation of the new regulations will be allowed to file a formal request with the federal government to stop the rules from going into effect in their states.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.