The US Forest Service completed its long-awaited Sierra Nevada Framework for Conservation and Collaboration in January. The plan emphasizes "protection of wildlife, people’s homes, and other development near fire-prone areas, and water quality." The decision modifies the management plans of all Sierra National Forests. Among other things, the plan bars cutting of conifers larger than thirty inches in diameter on the Sierra’s western slopes and stops all logging within 300 feet of streams. It emphasizes thinning near populated areas for fire prevention and use of prescribed fire in areas farther away from communities. The plan is expected to be challenged by several organizations. It is not yet clear how the Bush administration intends to address the plan, which was finished in the final days of the Clinton administration. For more information, see www.fs.fed.gov.
After more than two years of testimony and review and more than 1.6 million public comments, the Forest Service adopted a rule that will protect remaining large roadless areas in our national forests. The final rule generally "prohibits new road construction and reconstruction in inventoried roadless areas on National Forest System lands; prohibits cutting, sale, and removal of timber in inventoried roadless areas, except in certain specified situations; and applies immediately" to Alaska’s Tongass National Forest (the Tongass NF was not included in early drafts). For more information, see http://roadless.fs.fed.us. Local areas included in the rule can be viewed on that Web site. In January, the Bush administration put the rule (and all other new regulations) on hold for sixty days. The Administration is expected to reveal its position on the issue by May.
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