More Wilderness for Vermont

This just in from my friends at Forest Watch: As you may have seen in yesterday and today's news, the Forest Service has just released its Final Forest Plan for the Green Mountain National Forest. The good news: It's an improvement over the Draft Plan. The bad news: It's not a substantial improvement. Your letters to the editor are needed NOW. The need for strong, pro-wilderness voices has never been more immediate. KEY POINTS Here are some key points for you to know about the Plan. Choose one or two to focus on in your letter to the editor: --The agency added about 10,000 acres to its wilderness recommendations over the Draft Plan, which is a step in the right direction. Unfortuntately, the total acreage recommended for wilderness is still paltry when compared with the acreage of potential wilderness on the Forest. The Final Plan calls for 27,473 acres of new wilderness. Conservationists have called for 80,000 to 100,000 acres of new wilderness for the Forest. -- The Forest Service's own Roadless Area Inventory identified 117,591 acres of roadless land--that is, potential wilderness. Furthermore, if the Forest Service had conducted its inventory properly, it would have identified closer to 170,000 acres of roadless land on the GMNF. The agency significantly undercounted the roadless acreage on the GMNF and failed to consider the potential of several roadless areas for wilderness designation. The GMNF illegally counted snowmobile trails and jeep tracks as roads, and then illegally tossed out tracts lacking a core of least 2,500 acres more than half a mile from those so-called roads. (To learn more about this issue, see the lead article in the Fall/Winter issue of Forest Watch's Visions newsletter, or go to http://www.forestwatch.org/content.php?id=287.) --The Final Plan, like the Draft, allows ATV routes to be established on a substantial portion of the national forest. The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, meanwhile, chose to ban ATVs on every acre, citing concerns about erosion, water quality, noise, harm to wildlife, conflict with other recreationists, difficulty of law enforcement, and high costs. These concerns are equally valid in Vermont on the GMNF. The Forest Service's plan for ATVs on the national forest is a blueprint for disaster. --The Forest Service deserves thanks for recognizing the value of a larger Glastenbury Wilderness. This area provides the biggest, best opportunity for wilderness in all of Vermont. Unfortunately, the Forest Service left out of its recommendation the northern half of the roadless area, lexposing Glastenbury Mountain's summit, in the heart of the area, to intrusion by motorized recreationists. --Some of the lands formerly owned by wildlands philanthropist Joseph Battell are being proposed by the Forest Service as wilderness. However, the Forest Service’s wilderness recommendations for the former Battell lands do not go nearly far enough, and much of it remains vulnerable to future changes in administrative priorities. Upon his death, Battell had asked that these lands be kept wild and unlogged, and wilderness designation is the best way to ensure this happens. --The ONLY way to assure that lands are permanently off-limits to ATVs, roads, logging, and other damaging incursions, and that they are protected for their ecological, recreational, aesthetic and spiritual values, including the enjoyment and benefit of future generations, is to designate them as wilderness. --We urge the Vermont Congressional delegation to move forward quickly with the creation and release of a new Vermont wilderness bill. We ask the delegation to act decisively and boldly, before any new roads, or new ATV and snowmobile routes, are carved into the Forest. --To view the Final Forest Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, go to http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/gmfl/nepa_planning/plan_re.... GUIDELINES FOR LETTERS Letters should be about 200-250 words in length. Don't try to say everything. Concentrate on your one or two top points. You can always write more letters later. Be clear, direct, and polite, but strong opinions and heartfelt emotions, along with solid facts, can make a letter more effective and memorable. Send your letters to the state's leading newspapers: Rutland Herald letters@rutlandherald.com Times Argus letters@timesargus.com Burlington Free Press letters@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com Addresses for other state newspapers can be found at: http://www.forestwatch.org/content.php?id=83. Thank you so much! Please send copies of your letter (by BCC) to Forest Watch, if you wish. Send to mollie@forestwatch.org. NEWSPAPER ARTICLES ON THE FINAL FOREST PLAN State media have been covering the Plan's release. You can read about it at: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a... http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a... http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_act... THANK YOU! Mollie Matteson, Deputy Director Forest Watch PO Box 188 Richmond, VT 05477 (802) 434-2388 mollie@forestwatch.org http://www.forestwatch.org/ %7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E%7E Forest Watch http://www.forestwatch.org/ PO Box 188 Richmond, VT 05477 802-434-2388