New ‘roadless’ appeal insults process
Earlier this winter, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society and the Center for Biological Diversity appealed another timber and wildlife management project proposed by the White Mountain National Forest. After reviewing the appeals, it is apparent their objection to this project - known as the Mill Brook Project — is a rehash of past unsuccessful appeals (e.g. prohibit timber and wildlife management in “roadless areas”). Appeal specifics aside, what is most troubling with this appeal is the blatant attempt by these groups (Washington-based) to cut out the local community decision-making process and further their national agendas. It must be remembered that this project is part of a comprehensive forest-wide management plan the U.S. Forest Service developed over many years with thousands of hours of community input and comment. And what also must be remembered is this comprehensive plan went through the approval process without appeal and unchallenged. The time for Sierra Club, Wilderness Society and the Center for Biological Diversity to raise their concerns over forest and wildlife management projects in “roadless areas” was during the planning process. Unfortunately, it appears their strategy was not to have a constructive discussion about these projects with the local communities but instead wait and fight each project with their attorneys. By appealing the projects in this manner they are effectively cutting the local communities out of the process and instead leaving the decision-making to the court system. This is wrong. As taxpayers, citizens and members of the White Mountain National Forest community, we need to say enough is enough. We agreed to a comprehensive management plan, and now it is time to allow the professionals on the White Mountain National Forest implement it. The courts need to say “no” to these frivolous appeals and lawsuits and the financial and human resource burden they place on the Forest Service and say “yes” to allowing these important forestry and wildlife management projects move forward. These projects provide economic benefit to the local communities, and most importantly, the science shows they result in a healthier and stronger forest and wildlife population.
Rep. Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, is senior assistant Republican leader in the New Hampshire House.