July 2006

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Public Input Sought On Management Of State’s Road less Areas

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking input from the public on how it would like to see the state’s road less areas managed. A series of informational open houses will be held around the state in July and August, and written comment will be accepted until Aug. 31.

The input will assist Gov. Janet Napolitano and the department in developing Arizona’s petition to the USDA Forest Service requesting specific management requirements for some or all of 1.2 million acres of inventoried road less areas in six national forests in Arizona.

"Arizona is fortunate that Governor Napolitano is committed to developing recommendations that conserve the integrity of our road less areas, establish provisions for current public and administrative uses, and allow management actions that ensure the long-term health of the public land and resources," says Director Duane Shroufe of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

"The public input phase is an important part of developing these recommendations."

The Forest Service originally issued the Road less Area Conservation Rule in January 2001. The rule essentially prohibited new road construction and development on 58.5 million acres of inventoried road less areas on Forest Service lands across the country. Several states filed lawsuits over the rule, and a federal court struck it down in 2003.

The Forest Service issued a revised rule in 2005 that allows state governors to petition the Secretary of Agriculture with specific management recommendations for inventoried road less areas in their states. The states have until November 2006 to complete the petition and submit it for review and approval.

The original Road less Rule (and the interim directive in place until states complete their petition processes) conserves road less values while allowing for current public access and recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, hunting and fishing; management of habitat for more than 1,500 species of fish and wildlife, including threatened, endangered or sensitive plant and animal species; and protection of clean water from forest headwaters and streams.

The rule also allows construction of temporary roads under specified circumstances, such as to fight forest fires or to implement actions that reduce the risk of wildfire, for public safety and resource purposes. The rule doesn’t change states’ or private landowners' rights to access their land.

The management of any existing roads within the inventoried road less areas will be evaluated during the transportation planning process associated with the future revision of individual forest land management plans.

At the request of Gov. Napolitano, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is conducting the public input phase of Arizona’s petition process. A series of informational open houses has been scheduled to help the public better understand road less management issues and the state’s petition process.

"The meetings will include a presentation about road less areas, the state petition process, and potential management options for inventoried road less areas in the national forest closest to the local community," says Bob Broscheid, habitat branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "The public will have an opportunity to view maps, ask questions and provide written comment, but no oral comment will be taken at the meetings."

All open houses will be held from 6-9 p.m. on the following dates and will discuss the road less areas in the national forest land listed in parentheses:

Wednesday, July 5 - Safford (Coronado/Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests), Graham County General Services Building, 921 Thatcher Blvd.

Thursday, July 6 - Tucson (Coronado National Forest), Arizona Game and Fish Department Tucson regional office, 555 N. Greasewood Road.

Monday, July 10 - Phoenix (all National Forests), Arizona State Fairgrounds Wildlife Building, 19th Avenue and McDowell Road.

Tuesday, July 11 - Mesa (Tonto National Forest), Arizona Game and Fish Department Mesa regional office, 7200 E. University Drive.

Wednesday, July 12 - Payson (Tonto/Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests), Payson Inn Conference Room, 801 N. Beeline Highway.

Thursday, July 13 - Globe (Tonto National Forest), Gila County Fairgrounds, 3 miles north of Globe on Highway 60.

Tuesday, July 18 - Kingman (Prescott National Forest), Arizona Game and Fish Department Kingman regional office, 5325 N. Stockton Hill Road.

Thursday, July 20 - Prescott (Prescott National Forest), Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Office, 1015 Fair St.

Tuesday, July 25 - Springerville-Eagar (Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests), Eagar Town Council Chambers, 174 S. Main St.

Wednesday, July 26 - Pinetop (Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests), Arizona Game and Fish Department Pinetop regional office; 2878 E. White Mountain Blvd.

Tuesday, Aug. 8 - Flagstaff (Coconino/Kaibab National Forests), Radisson Woodlands Hotel, 1175 W. Route 66.

Wednesday, Aug. 9 - Fredonia (Kaibab National Forest), Fredonia Courthouse Building, 110 N. Main St.

Written comment can be submitted by e-mail to roadless@azgfd.gov, or by U.S. mail to Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: Road less Petition Comment, 2221 W. Greenway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85023. All comments must be received by Aug. 31 to ensure adequate consideration prior to developing Arizona’s petition.

Additional information on roadless areas is located on the Arizona Game and Fish Department Web site at www.azgfd.gov/roadless or the USDA Forest Service’s Web site at www.roadless.fs.fed.us.


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