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Idaho Forest Roadless Comments Analyzed: The Story Stays the Same

July 7, 2008

Boise, ID – They said it once; they said it twice. The public wants Idaho's 9 million acres of roadless forest to stay that way. The Forest Service has released an analysis of the latest round of comments, and for the second time, almost every person who offered input said they want backcountry areas protected.

Jonathan Oppenheimer, senior associate with the Idaho Conservation League, says the testimony contradicts the latest Forest Service proposal.

"The proposal would have effectively opened up 6 million acres to significant development, and that was a big concern for many Idahoans and Americans around the country, who feel strongly that these areas should be protected."

Oppenheimer notes roadless forests provide many resources, including acting as a natural cleaning filter for water, and as habitat for big game.

"These are the places where we hunt, they're the places we fish, they're the places we can go to get away from it all, and protecting these areas for our future just makes sense."

Ninety-five percent of those commenting said they want Idaho's backcountry forest protected. Those against protections argue it limits the harvest of public resources, like timber and phosphate. The Forest Service is re-writing the plan, and is supposed to use public comments as one of the guidelines.

The full analysis is at www.roadless.fs.fed.us/idaho.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ID