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Building Roads on Federal Lands
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  1. Building Roads on Federal Lands ESP Seminar Brian Hopkinson & Theresa Carpenter 20 October 2005

  2. Background • In 2001, USDA announces Roadless Area Conservation Rule • This rule established prohibition on road construction, re-construction and timber harvesting on inventoried roadless areas (IRA) in National Forest Service Lands. • 58.5 million acres in 38 States and Puerto Rico • 31% of Forest Service Lands • 97% in 12 States (Western US) • 24.2 million acres already prohibit road construction and re-construction under current land management direction.

  3. Timeline January 2001 - Roadless Area Conservation Rule signed by President Clinton in “final days” of administration and published in Federal Register on January 12, 2001, with implementation date of March 2001 May 2001 – USDA announces implementation will proceed, but amendments would be considered due to concerns expressed by local communities, tribes and States. Roadless Rule challenged by nine lawsuits in Idaho, Utah, North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, and District of Columbia July 2003 – US District Court (Wyoming) finds Roadless Rules promulgated in illegal manner, and violates National Environmental Policy Act and the Wilderness Act (appealed to 10th Circuit Court) May 2005 – USDA announces final rule, which provides nationally-directed stewardship of Roadless Area and petition process for State governors to seek individual rulemaking for managing IRA in their States. September 2005 – USDA awards $115,000 to State of Colorado for petition preparation.

  4. Argument Against Building Roads on Federal Lands Conservation of these pristine Federal land areas desired because they possess “social and ecological value and characteristics that are becoming increasingly scarce”. (USFS) Scientific literature generally notesnegative ecological effects of roads (Trombulak & Frissell, 2000). • Including: • Habitat Degradation • Fragmentation • Animal Behavior Modification • Invasive species Ten Lakes IRA in Kootenia NF, MT (photo from roadless.fs.fed.us)

  5. Argument Against Building Roads on Federal Lands 1. Ecological Impacts Fragmentation is the division of large, continuous ecosystems into smallerareas surrounds by altered or disturbed areas. By removing habitat and creating “high contrast edges” in otherwise continuous vegetation, roads cause fragmentation of ecosystems. Both direct (habitat destruction) and indirect (behavior modification) fragmentation effects lead to changes in demographics,in-breeding, loss of genetic variability, and population extinctions. ‘Road avoidance behavior’ and changes in ranging is common, forlarger animals such as elk, grizzly and black bears, wolf, and bighornsheep, to white-footed mice and other rodents to land snails. Other effects include shifts in home ranges, population size, reproductivesuccess and changes in physiology. Source: Trombulak & Frissell, 2000

  6. Argument Against Building Roads on Federal Lands 1. Ecological Impacts Road construction disrupts and stresses native habitat, allowing for penetration by invasive (non-native) species.Road presence allows for a “corridor of movement” for further spreadof invasive species. Photos of roadside infestation and control of Tree of heaven (www.invasive.org)

  7. Argument Against Building Roads on Federal Lands 2. Additional Physical and Chemical Changes • Increased soil compaction • Increased temperature This draws certain species of animals causing increased potential for mortality by vehicle collisions. • Increased concentration of heavy metals, salts • Hydrologic changes Roads act as barrier to natural flow paths (both surface and subsurface) leading to concentration of flows and flood potential. Also, the concentrated flow and unpaved roads increase sediment delivery to streams impacting aquatic environment. • Geomorphologic response Increased risk of land slides and debris flow

  8. Argument Against Building Roads on Federal Lands 3. Protecting Old-Growth Forests The Tongass National Forest, encompassing the southeastern pan-handle of Alaska, remains part of the largest intact temperaterainforest, and currently has ~4 million acres of old growth forest. Over the past ½ century, Tongass has lost ~1 million acres of old growth forest to clearcut logging and access roads. Tongass has been exempted from the Roadless Rule under settlementof a lawsuit brought by the State of Alaska and others (12/2003). Source: www.savebiogems.org

  9. Argument Against Building Roads on Federal Lands 4. Unnecessary to Log in National Forests Timber from National Forests makes up only 3.9% of U.S. annual wood consumption – Other methods may make up this percentage. 5. Economics Photo from redwood.forestconcil.org • FS manages 386,000 miles of roads (that’s 8 times the national highway system!) Backlog of road maintenance and re-construction of existing road system exceeds $8.4 billion.(Source: USFS EIS) • Timber sales from National Forests, initially authorized to generate revenue, now operator at a net LOSS. ($200 million to $1 billion annually)(Source: The Economist, 12/11/1997; pro-roadless websites)

  10. Basic “For” Arguments • Wood is an environmentally friendly resource • Importing wood can be more detrimental than domestic production • Harvest from National Forests will decrease with Roadless Rule • Impacts of logging can be minimized

  11. Wood as a Resource • Renewable • Native Species • Cultivated as an ecosystem • Maintain ecosystem functions

  12. Alternatives for Paper: Kenaf and Hemp • Grown in monoculture • Non-native plants • Requires replacement of natural ecosystem http://www.kenafsociety.org

  13. Alternative Building Materials • Steel • Non-renewable • Energy intensive and polluting to extract and process • Concrete • Production of cement is energy intensive

  14. Wood Imports • From Canada • Softwoods: building, paper • Destruction of boreal forests • 80% of harvest exported to USA • Others • Imports of tropical hardwoods; small but increasing http://www.nrdc.org/land/forests/boreal/intro.asp

  15. Timber Harvest in USA • 80% public land, 20% private land • Decline in harvest from National Forests • Only 20% of new growth is “lost” each year Williams, 2000

  16. Roadless Rule • Decrease timber offerings by 6% from current levels • Sets aside 30% of forests from essentially all management or harvesting action • Thinning small trees for fire suppression not cost effective w/out roads Williams, 2000

  17. Environmental Impacts • Habitat Fragmentation - leave large tracts of forest • Soil Disturbance – cable logging, minimize trail distances • Nutrient Depletion – leave bark, small limbs Smidt and Blinn, 2005

  18. Cable Logging http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/dsc/album/album5.htm

  19. References Trombulak, S.C., and C.A. Frissell, 2000: Review of ecological effects ofroads on terrestrial and aquatic communities. Conservation Biology, 14(1), 18-30. USDA, 2000. Forest Roads: a synthesis of scientific information. USDA Forest Service Report, H. Gucinski, M.J. Furniss, R.R. Ziemer, and M.H. Brooks, eds., June 2000, 117 pp. Williams, M., 2000. Forest Service Roadless Area Conservation: Final Environmental Impact Statement, Forest Management Specialist Report.USDA, USFS, Nov. 2000, 48 pp. Smidt, Mathew and Blinn, Charles R.. Logging for the 21st Century:Protecting the Forest Environment, 2005http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/naturalresources/DD6518.html Natural Resources Defense Council. The Boreal Forest: Earth's Green Crown. http://www.nrdc.org/land/forests/boreal/intro.asp