Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New FS Rule Green Lights Road Ripping

HQ is extremely concerned about the new proposed Forest Service rule that would allow categorical exclusions (Cat Ex) for the aggressive decommissioning (e.g. road ripping) of public routes.
Article on Proposed Rule to Rip Roads

BRC Media Release on Proposed Rule (good read and lots of info)

According to one notorious anti-access champion as cited in an E &E article…”The new categorical exclusions appear less controversial than earlier proposals that sought to exempt certain tree removal projects from NEPA reviews, said Andy Stahl, executive director for the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics.”  Hey Andy, how about cutting OHV some slack when it comes to designating historic "non-system" routes that have been used for decades and some even signed and maintained by the FS?

While some of the proposed cat ex’s for restoration work could be used to address OHV trail maintenance issues, HQ believes this new rule - with the usual lack of oversight from either the FS’s Washington Office or Regional Offices – basically gives the “green light” to Forests that are hell bent on the aggressive decommissioning of routes to go forth and rip.

One example of this is where the BRC et al filed a lawsuit which challenged the Smith River NRA’s road ripping (e.g. ground disturbing activities during the rainy season in the watershed of a wild and scenic river) without any NEPA process. 

BRC Lawsuit Challenging Road Ripping

Link to lawsuit

Another example of an overzealous unit when it comes to decommissioning of route is on the Gunnison NF in Colorado.

HQ blog with info on that Unit (letters, etc.)

HQ history of Road Ripping (letters and strategy of eco-groups)

The most recent example of a unit that focuses on road decommissioning is highlighted in BRC’s June 5 scoping comments on a proposed action that combines TMR with a large road ripping project.

BRC’s June 5, 2012 Scoping Comments on the Six Rivers NF/Smith River NRA Proposed Action
 Stay tuned on this latest version of the road ripping saga...


  1. OUTRAGEOUS!!! They should be building MORE roads, not closing 'em! They are end-running Congress and creating defacto wilderness, shutting people out of OUR land! This lawlessness on the part of unconstitutional government agencies MUST be stopped!

  2. Makes me want to live in Canada...

  3. okay, now tell us, please, how do we go about stopping this? I mean at the local, close range. They have labeled a mini road system right behind my house here to be decommissioned this summer! Isn't there a rule whereby the forest service must maintain the present day status quo of their road inventory? For example; for every mile of road they remove from use, the same amount of road must be re-opened? We used this argument a few years ago when they were closing our roads because of the grizzly bear and it worked. I need a strategy that I can use today, in a face-to-face meeting with the local forest supervisor.

  4. Start by asking them for the project level NEPA documents that closed/decommissioned those routes.