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...A Profound Change

Just how much of a disappointment is this DEIS? The myopic opponents of roadless areas and things wild are enraged--nearly foaming. Much of that is because the action came from President Clinton who, back in October 1999, instructed the Forest Service to analyze what it would take to protect National Forest roadless areas.

Conservationists hailed it (and the president) as one of the great steps in conservation. Upon its release Clinton commended the Forest Service for its extraordinary effort in developing the proposal. And an effort it was with hundreds of hearings and hundreds of thousands of comments. In my 25+ years ofMiddle Fork Black's Fork

conservation work I've never seen a proposal of this magnitude produced with the quality and vision it harbors, let along the short period of time it entailed.

But from the day it was released, the plan and the Forest Service have been blasted by many conservation leaders. It has its weaknesses, to be sure. It would not be possible to be free of embedded snags, given the scope and complexity of the diverse politics inherent in the amazing system of our public lands.

Snags or not, it is nonetheless as profound a change in Forest Service policy as has ever been met. And it should be supported in that context. While the myopics will flail and twist its intent and do all they can to undo it, it has been set in motion. That motion is a long, wide, sweeping arc moving ever so slowly over 100 years ago when conservationists put us on this track.

Deep, troubling ecological problems face us. It may well be we are simply too late to close or tighten this arc--a depressing thought most don't want to entertain. So dreams and visions remain crucial and venting anger at this new policy junction will not clarify our vision.

Dick Carter


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