August 30, 2008
Officials Closer to Final Idaho Roadless Plan
By Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho -- The U.S. Forest Service is closer to finalizing a proposed rule for managing more than 9.3 million acres of roadless backcountry in Idaho.
The agency released Friday a final environmental impact statement on the plan that will decide how Idaho's roadless areas and other untouched lands will be managed, preserved or opened to logging and other uses.
Brad Gilbert, the Forest Service's team leader on the Idaho roadless plan, says he expects the final rule will be released in 30 days.
Gilbert says the plan has been revised based on nearly 140,000 public comments and recommendations from several groups, including the federal Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee.
Those revisions are why the Idaho Conservation League, a group that joined more than 50 environmental organizations in criticizing earlier drafts of the plan, now support the proposed rule.
Jonathan Oppenheimer, the league's senior conservation associate, called the plan "greatly improved" on Friday.
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