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Fall Equinox 2003. Volume 8 # 3 The Quarterly Newsletter of Wildlands Center for Preventing

Fall Equinox 2003. Volume 8 # 3

The Quarterly Newsletter of Wildlands Center for Preventing Roads

The Little Alliance That Could

By Larry O’Hanlon
By Larry O’Hanlon

ORV tracks scar a desert hillside; a broken fence reveals a disregard for private property. Photos by Lisa Philipps.

— See article on page 3 —


The Little Alliance That Could, by Larry O’Hanlon. Pages 3-5

Regional Reports & Updates. Page 6

New Resources. Page 7

Depaving the Way, by Bethanie Walder. Pages 8-9

Get with the Program: Restoration, Transportation & Science Program Updates. Pages 10-11

Odes to Roads: A Southern Radical, by Tom Petersen. Pages 12-13

More Regional Reports & Updates. Pages 14-15

Biblio Notes: Roads, Fragmentation & Neotropical Migratory Songbirds, by Adam Switalski. Pages 16-18

Activist Spotlight: Judith Spencer. Page 19

Policy Primer: Travel Planning, by Bridget Lyons. Pages 20-21

Around the Office, Membership info. Pages 22-23

Check out our website at:

WildlandsWildlandsWildlandsWildlandsWildlands CC Center CC for PP Preventing PP RR Roads RR P.O. Box 7516 Missoula,



WildlandsWildlandsWildlandsWildlandsWildlands CC Center CC for PP Preventing PP RR Roads RR P.O. Box 7516 Missoula, MT




P.O. Box 7516 Missoula, MT 59807 (406) 543-9551

Wildlands Center for Preventing Roads works to protect and restore wildland ecosystems by preventing and removing roads and limiting motorized recreation. We are a national clearinghouse and network, providing citizens with tools and strategies to fight road construction, deter motorized recreation, and promote road removal and revegetation.


Bethanie Walder

Development Director Tom Petersen

Restoration Program Coordinator Marnie Criley

Science Coordinator Adam Switalski

NTWC Grassroots Coordinator Lisa Philipps

Program Assistant Kiffin Hope

Newsletter Dan Funsch & Jim Coefield

Interns & Volunteers Maureen Hartmann, Jason Kiely, Beth Peluso, Ryan Shaffer

Board of Directors Karen Wood DiBari, Greg Fishbein, Dave Havlick, Greg Munther, Cara Nelson, Sonia Newenhouse, Mary O'Brien, Matt Skroch, Ted Zukoski

Advisory Committee Jasper Carlton, Dave Foreman, Keith Hammer, Timothy Hermach, Marion Hourdequin, Kraig Klungness, Lorin Lindner, Andy Mahler, Robert McConnell, Stephanie Mills, Reed Noss, Michael Soulé, Steve Trombulak, Louisa Willcox, Bill Willers, Howie Wolke

© 2003 Wildlands CPR

By Bethanie Walder

Great Happenings!

H ere at Wildlands CPR we’ve had a pretty exciting and surprising couple of months, with several important legal and agency victories coming through. There’ve been tough spots, too, but it’s nice to have something to crow

about for a change, so here we go…

First, an enormous thank you to Wildlands CPR board member Mary O’Brien for her tenacious efforts to protect Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (on the Idaho/Oregon border). In 1994, Mary put together a coalition of folks to develop a citizen’s alternative to the Comprehensive Management Planning process. For the next nine years, Mary dogged the Forest Service, the Council of Environmental Quality, and even the members of the coalition (including me), to ensure that our alternative was fully considered in the planning process. On July 23, we found out that more than 50% of what we asked for was included in the final decision for the management plan. Now let’s be clear, the plan’s not perfect, but Hells Canyon is going to close 33% of its road system (with possible decommissioning, too), restrict off-road vehicle use to designated open routes only, and limit grazing. See page 14 for details.

Second, a huge thank you to Brian Scherf and Amy Atwood. Brian has been working with the Florida Biodiversity Project to protect Big Cypress National Preserve from ORVs for at least as long as Mary’s been working to protect Hells Canyon. Amy is a lawyer with Meyer and Glitzenstein law firm in DC, working with Brian and others to protect the preserve. On August 1, the district magistrate in Florida upheld the Park Service’s off-road vehicle plan limiting off-road vehicle use to 400 miles of designated routes. (One more judge still has to approve the magistrate’s report.) We also intervened with Brian and several other groups on behalf of the Park Service plan. See page 6 for details.

And the third thanks goes to Paul Spitler and others who’ve been working on ORV issues in California. While Wildlands CPR hasn’t been at all involved in their project, the work they have done is commendable. The state of California recently entered into a Memorandum of Intent with the Forest Service to inventory and analyze all ORV routes on the California National Forests, and then determine which ones to designate as open, and which ones to close, by December 2007. This is a first-of-its kind model for changing USFS ORV management and could provide a model for other states. (The state of California is funding the work, not the Forest Service). We’ll have many more details about the pros and cons of the agreement in the next RIPorter.

In this era of negative environmental policy-making we’re all routinely bom- barded with bad news — from the rescission of the roadless policy by a Wyoming judge with a conflict of interest, to the exponential growth in RS 2477 claims and settlements by itinerant counties and states. We hope you’ll take as much pleasure as we have in these three stories of good news. And of course, don’t forget the cover story — a stunning success by a small group of private property owners in Nevada. If we work together, it’s amazing how much of a difference we can make!


The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003

The Little Alliance That Could

By Larry O’Hanlon

F olks who drive through Wilson Canyon don’t soon forget it. It’s a mile of unexpected rock and river drama along the otherwise sedately

scenic desert Highway 208 between the towns of Yerington and Smith, southeast of Carson City, Nevada. Nature made the canyon, it could be said, by slowly and steadily pitting a mountain against a river.

The mountain is the modest Singatze range, which separates Yerington’s Mason Valley from Smith Valley. The river is the west branch of the Walker River, which flows east out of the northern Sierra Nevada. Instead of changing course to go around the nascent Singatzes, or backing up and making a lake of Smith Valley, the Walker River stuck to its course and carved the canyon as the mountains grew around it. The result is a rare and beautiful stretch of lush river cut through a desert mountain. Native Americans cherished the area, miners valued it as a railroad route for hauling copper ore, and today it is still a major thorough- fare for travelers and vacationers in northern Nevada, a popular place to fish, camp, fossil hunt, hike and picnic. It’s also in the process of being rapidly torn apart by off-road vehicles.

The persistence of that little West Walker River serves as a model for the Wilson Canyon Alliance, which has recently managed to pressure the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to order the closure of the some of the heavily damaged riparian zone at Wilson Canyon to camping and motor vehicles. Despite continuing roadblocks and back room deals being put together by a local good-old-boy (and girl) political system, and an ongoing misinformation campaign by ORVers in the local paper, the Wilson Canyon Alliance has managed to raise the issue of ORV abuse at Wilson Canyon.

Allied & Angry

The Wilson Canyon Alliance is a truly grassroots group that represents a wide range of concerned citizens, nearby private property owners (like myself), and even some dirt bike riders who think things have gone too far at Wilson Canyon. Unlike the “Friends of Wilson Canyon,” which is merely the local front for the Blue Ribbon Coalition, we are a loose-knit group of people with no budget and meager resources. Our members include people from widely divergent points on the political and social spectrum, but we all agree on one thing: Wilson Canyon desperately needs to be

Wilson Canyon Locator Map

Canyon desperately needs to be Wilson Canyon Locator Map protected and managed with a visionary and

protected and managed with a visionary and inclusive plan that doesn’t just sweep the problem under the rug.

When people refer to Wilson Canyon today they are usually talking about a wider area, including a couple of miles of river west of the canyon that is the only area open to the public, on what is a mostly privately-owned river. This narrow public stretch of river and the federal lands on either side of it have been the object of contro- versy and contention in recent months, culminating in a new BLM decision to close the heavily abused riparian zone to camping and vehicles.

— continued on next page —

The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003


The Little Alliance That Could

— continued from page 3 —

The Wilson Canyon Alliance’s existence and the current public controversy started earlier this year when a locally-raised nature photographer decided he could no longer stomach the hideous scars that were multiplying on either side of the highway west of the mouth of Wilson Canyon. Large, frequent encampments of off-road vehicle (ORV) users along the river caused the scars. To the south of the highway and the river, the US Forest Service (USFS) was seeing rapid deterioration of hillsides that had virtually no tracks or trails ten years ago. To the north of the highway and river, the BLM had informally allowed ORV use for years, but had failed to pay attention as damages increased at a cancerous rate, spreading to every hill and ridge in the otherwise scenic area, spilling onto private property and fouling the lush, rare desert riverside “riparian” zone.

we were not content to stand by while the BLM and county officials made deals without public input or notice to local property owners.

In late 2002 that photographer, Ron Walter of Gardnerville, NV, complained enough that a meeting was arranged between Walter, his father, representatives from USFS, BLM, a local county commissioner, the Nevada Department of Transportation, and a group that called themselves “Friends of Wilson Canyon” (FWC). At that meeting the “Friends” leader Chuck Worley explained that his group was working on the matter with the USFS, and were hoping to post signs and erect barricades to block some trails to ORVs.

signs and erect barricades to block some trails to ORVs. A canyon once quiet on the

A canyon once quiet

on the West Walker River (lower left). Photos courtesy of the

Wilson Canyon Alliance.

Wilson Mountain (top) and a beaver dam

In the months that followed, local resident Lauri Christine and I (both property owners near Wilson Canyon) learned of the meeting and started asking Worley questions about his group’s goals, plans and affiliations. What skimpy responses we got did not answer our questions and made it clear that we were not invited to participate in their process, other than in a minimally responsive “suggestion box” sort of way. We tried to get around this by contacting Worley’s political advocate, Lyon County Commissioner Phyllis Hunewill, but she stuck to Worley as the only voice on the matter and was openly hostile to what she called “outsiders” (translation: anyone not born in the area or a residing there continuously for more than 30 years).

We were not satisfied with trusting the ORVers, nor were we content to stand by while the BLM and county officials made deals without public input or notice to local property owners. So, we started making noise, broadcasting e-mails to all sort of folks we didn’t know. We hit paydirt when a sympathetic “insider” (by Hunewill’s definition) contacted us: Ron Walter. After talking it over with Ron, we realized that for our vision of a restored, planned, intelligently managed, multiple-use Wilson Canyon to become a reality, we could not leave it in the hands of the ORV folks — whose sole motiva- tion appears to be fear of losing ORV access.

Hollering the Truth

The upshot was the formation of the Wilson Canyon Alliance. We created a petition for emer- gency closure of the BLM lands near Wilson Canyon to ORVs and other vehicles (but not to non- motorized use). We then developed the website to broadcast the issues at Wilson Canyon and address the ORV misinformation people were reading in the Mason Valley News, the weekly family-run newspaper in Yerington, NV. Every time someone approached us with a claim like “dirtbikers are good for business,” we mulled the matter over and did some research. Those claims and our responses now fill the website’s “Truth about ORVs” section so people can find their way through the Blue Ribbon Coalition’s smokescreen. On that particular issue we concluded it was unfounded, and that dirtbike destruction is bad for business in the long-run since it drives away visitors looking for natural beauty and river access. What we were beginning to build was a watertight case for protecting Wilson Canyon.

At the same time, we started documenting the damage. In other words: pictures, pictures, pic- tures. Images are far more powerful than words, especially on an emotional matter like protecting the land. So we started gathering a baseline image bank to show the state of things. That image bank also will document future improvement or degrada- tion, by simple comparison. The pictures cover the gamut: multiplying trails and scarring hillside tracks; illegal fires; unlicensed vehicles on public roads; unburied human waste and toilet paper along the riverbank; piles of garbage; toxic waste; illegal wood cutting and fires; ORV tracks in the riverbed; and trespassing and vandalism by ORVers on private lands.

While we were documenting the problems, we began searching for others locally and nationally who might be facing similar issues. We found friends in the Lahontan Audubon Society in Reno, Nevada. They had already published a position statement on protecting the watershed of the Walker River and its terminus, Walker Lake. We also were contacted by Bonnie Rannald of the brand- new Walker Lake Interpretive Association, who shares our dream of creating a Walker River Interpretive Center at Wilson Canyon. We also discovered Wildlands CPR and the National Trails and Waters Coalition (NTWC). Lisa Philipps and other NTWC folks have provided us with invaluable knowledge on how to file a Freedom of Information Act request, what the applicable laws are, and who else is out there fighting similar ORV abuses on public lands.

In June we published a 27-page report entitled “Crisis at Wilson Canyon.” In it we documented the state of affairs with minimal text and maximum color photography. The report also includes maps and a sketch of a visionary regional park plan that we believe is the wisest and most beneficial use of the Wilson Canyon area. We even included a closed, user-fee ORV course. We sent the report to every- one we thought had a stake or a part in the man- agement of Wilson Canyon — from Carson City to Washington, D.C. We also posted it online and alerted everyone to the ongoing destruction. The response has been phenomenal.

In July the NTWC’s Lisa Philipps petitioned the BLM for the immediate emergency closure of the Wilson Canyon area to ORVs. That, plus our Alliance’s report, made the truth unavoidable:

Wilson Canyon was in trouble and BLM’s manage- ment of the area was shameful. A few weeks later BLM announced the decision to begin the long process of closing the riparian zone to camping and vehicles. The ORVers immediately protested — despite the fact that protecting the riparian zone is the very least the BLM could propose.

Instead of resting on the laurels of our small victory, the Wilson Canyon Alliance has taken the matter an unusual step further. We recognize that no good is going to come of shoving court decisions or bureaucratic edicts down the throats of either side. We also recognize that there is no chance that we will change the minds of ORVers or that they will make us see the wisdom of their destructive pastime. So we have proposed a series of meetings to identify the things the Friends of Wilson Canyon and the Wilson Canyon Alliance can agree on (e.g. a managed, user fee campground along the river) and the things we agree to disagree on (e.g. open range for ORVs). Our hope is

to disagree on (e.g. open range for ORVs). Our hope is As the song goes, “take

As the song goes, “take me to the river,” but NOT in an off-road vehicle, please. Photo courtesy of the Wilson Canyon Alliance.

We recognize that no good is going to come of shoving court decisions or bureaucratic edicts down the throats of either side.

that by focusing our collective efforts on things we agree on, more local citizens will get involved and more can be accomplished. As for our differences, we have to learn to respect these and find solutions — much like the one we already proposed in our report (i.e., includ- ing an ORV area in the regional park plan).

So far the ORVers have not shown much willingness to cooperate. Eventually they will have to, however. The law and common sense is on our side, as well as that great silent majority of folks who we are trying to wake up to this issue.

— Larry O’Hanlon is an independent science journalist as well as a private property owner in Wilson Canyon.

as well as a private property owner in Wilson Canyon. This BLM sign (on left) “recommends”

This BLM sign (on left) “recommends” using firepans and porta-potties. Unfortunately, ORV users have ignored both these recommendations, leaving fire scars, trash and refuse alongside the river. Photos courtesy of Wilson Canyon Alliance.

The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003


Big Cypress ORV Limits Upheld In a Report and Recommendation issued on August 1, Florida

Big Cypress ORV Limits Upheld

In a Report and Recommendation issued on August 1, Florida Magistrate Judge Douglas N. Frazier upheld restrictions in a National Park Service (NPS) management plan on the use of off-road vehicles (ORVs) in Big Cypress National Preserve. According to Judge Frazier, Big Cypress’s off-road vehicle plan “implements the management philosophy for ORVs that was identified by Congress when it created the Big Cypress NP.” Big Cypress is home to the Florida panther and Cape Sable Seaside sparrow, two critically endangered species.

The NPS plan will designate a 400-mile trail system for off-road vehicles, along with access points and nighttime and seasonal closures. Prior to the plan, the Preserve had wracked up more than 23,000 miles of user-created routes, as swamp buggies were allowed to drive anywhere. This resulted in extreme damage to the preserve’s fragile biodiversity and wetlands ecosystem.

ORV groups challenged the management plan, and the Park Service was engaged in intense backdoor negotiations with these groups for a long time. Fortunately, however, these negotiations failed. Meanwhile, a coalition of environmental and animal welfare organizations intervened in the lawsuit to defend the management plan on behalf of the federal government.

Wildlands CPR has been working with Brian Scherf and the Florida Biodiversity Project for years to protect the Preserve, and was joined in the litigation by the National Parks Conservation Association, The Fund for Animals, The Wilderness Society, American Lands, Biodiversity Legal Foundation, Bluewater Network, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States and the Sierra Club.

Jarbidge Dispute Revisited

After several years of relative quiet in Elko City, Nevada, the dispute over the South Canyon Road on the Jarbidge river has resurfaced. In mid-August the Forest Service reported that it appears unauthorized work is being done on the road to reopen it. It is now passable by ATVs and small SUVs, which have been driving across the river in at least three places.

The dispute dates back to 1995 when the road was washed out during a flood. Then, in 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued an emergency listing under the Endangered Species Act to protect a distinct population of bull trout. Two years later, a “shovel brigade” was organized for the July 4th weekend to rebuild the road, despite a judge’s ruling that the road was to remain closed. Then in 2001, the Forest Service and the county came to a settlement regarding ownership of the right-of-way to the road. But conserva- tionists intervened and a judge set aside that settlement agreement this June.

and a judge set aside that settlement agreement this June. A thousand points of light? Or,

A thousand points of light? Or, runaway ORV traffic bisecting the fragile wetlands of Big Cypress. Photo by Karl Forsgaard.

While we are extremely pleased with the Judge’s report, the NPS must still assure that the management plan is fully implemented. This will require adequate funding from the Department of Interior and congress. Along with implementing the plan’s trail system and protections, the NPS must fund research, monitor impacts, educate the public and enforce the terms of the plan.

Judge Frazier’s Report and Recommendation also must be approved by Justice John Steele, Chief Judge of the Ft. Myers Division. The coalition of intervenors were represented by Amy Atwood and Eric Glitzenstein of the Washington, D.C. public interest law firm of Meyer & Glitzenstein.

That appears to have triggered a return to the July 4th tradition. Though this reconstruction effort wasn’t as organized or as large, a visit to the road in mid-July found boulders moved, young cottonwoods run-over, and clear evidence of attempts to open the entire 1.5 mile stretch of road. According to the USFWS the new re-opened road crosses the river several times. Vehicles have been driving directly through the riverbed, trashing this southernmost habitat for bulltrout.

We’ll keep you posted on further developments regarding Jarbidge and the South Canyon Road. For more information, see RIPorter 4:6.

New Resources

C heck out the Sierra Club’s website for a little Hummer humor: or http:// Here you’ll find out whether you’re

compatible with your hummer, whether you’re a hummer hunk, or how you, too, can live the hummer lifestyle! On a more serious note, a new children’s book was recently published looking at the impacts of cars on our lifestyles

The Little Driver

By Martin Wagner, 2003, 56 pages.

Joe always dreamt of driving his own car. When his wish comes true and he takes his brand-new sports car for a spin through town and country, his adventures soon take a turn for the unexpected. A children’s book for young and old, The Little Driver takes a fresh look at our obsession with cars through the eyes of a boy still young enough to take nothing for granted. Available from

New Coalition Report on ATV Safety Crisis

On August 20, the Natural Trails and Waters Coalition joined together once again with the Consumer Federation of America, Bluewater Network, and doctors to release a new report documenting the ongoing ATV safety crisis. This report expands on one issued last year. The Coalition took the lead in researching and drafting this report, which documents the failure of the ATV industry’s voluntary approach to safety using previously unpublished data which the Coalition and Consumer Federation obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. This report also describes and challenges industry’s proposal (floated in June) to abolish voluntary recommendations against the use of adult-size ATVs by children under 16 and put some children on the bigger, faster machines made for adults. The full report and a press release are available at

New Studies On Roads and Motorized Use

Effects of Roads on Wildlife

The Wilderness Society has recently issued a compre- hensive report entitled Ecological Effects of a Transporta- tion Network on Wildlife. It utilizes spatial analysis to assess the potential impacts of transportation networks on wildlife within the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Access the full report at: Documents/MissouriBreaksTransportationEffects.

Documents/MissouriBreaksTransportationEffects. Impacts of Motorized Uses on Wildlife in Montana’s Rocky

Impacts of Motorized Uses on Wildlife in Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front

The Coalition for the Protection of the Rocky Mountain Front has recently issued a new analysis of scientific literature assessing the impacts of motorized vehicles on wildlife common to this area. This new report also offers a series of recommendations about specific measures that should be included in travel management plans in order to avoid such impacts. In addition to general recommenda- tions, more specific recommendations are offered for lynx, wolves, grizzly bears, wolverines, cougar, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Access the full report at:

Wildlands CPR file photo.

Bosworth — Diverting Our Attention By Bethanie Walder I n this era of great political

Bosworth — Diverting Our Attention

By Bethanie Walder

I n this era of great political diversions, it was with some humor that I read the title of the Earth Day speech given by Forest Service Chief

Dale Bosworth: “Great Issues and Great Diver- sions.” Bosworth used this speech and continues to use this language to argue that conservationists are focusing on issues that aren’t a problem, while missing what’s really important in this changing environment.

For starters, Bosworth claims that the “timber wars” are over and that roads are no longer a relevant issue; in his opinion, we should move on to more important matters. In reality, however, congress is about to pass legislation that will re- ignite the conflict over logging. Bosworth’s speech is itself a great diversion from the issues that lay in front of us.

While he does not paint the picture as black and white, Bosworth defines the four great issues and four great diversions as follows:

1. Fire and fuel is a great issue, while “the

bogus debate over logging” is a great diversion.

2. The spread of invasive species is a great

issue, while “the publicity surrounding individual endangered species and the efficacy of the regula- tory system” is a great diversion.

3. Habitat fragmentation through land conver-

sion (rural development) is a great issue, while

“grazing on public lands” is a great diversion.

4. Unmanaged outdoor recreation is a great

issue, while “all the roads the Forest Service is supposedly building to get out the cut” is a great diversion.

Interestingly, 50% of Wildlands CPR’s work (roads) made it into the great diversion category, while the other 50% (off-road vehicles) made it into the great issue category. From our perspective, however, roads and off-road vehicle issues can’t be neatly separated out — we wouldn’t have off-road vehicle problems if we didn’t have roads.

Bosworth doesn’t say categorically that roads aren’t a problem. Instead, he says new road construction is no longer an issue and backs it up by stating that the Forest Service is removing fourteen miles of road for every one mile they build (I’ll explain the problem with this statistic later). Ironically, new road construction had become less of a problem until the Bush Administration over- turned the roadless protection rule. Bosworth’s

over- turned the roadless protection rule. Bosworth’s Mass failures like this one on the Gifford Pinchot

Mass failures like this one on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are a reminder that the problems caused by roads won’t simply go away with the passage of time. Wildlands CPR file photo.

own opposition to protecting roadless areas ensures that new road construction is indeed a major issue.

Bosworth’s dismissal of the problems caused by roads is prob- lematic to his entire thesis: roads are critical to each and every one of the great issues he outlines. The majority of wildfires start in close proximity to roads. Roads are a primary cause of the spread of invasive species, both plant and animal. Roads are a major cause of habitat fragmentation on public and private lands. Bosworth’s final distinction between roads and unmanaged recreation takes the cake, however. Though it’s a long excerpt, it’s worth reprinting in its entirety. Bosworth stated in his speech:

“At one time, we didn’t manage the use of off-highway vehicles, either. OHVs [off-highway vehicles] are a great way to experience the outdoors, and only a tiny fraction of the users leave lasting traces by going cross-country. But the number of people who own OHVs has just exploded in recent years. In 2000, it reached almost 36 million. Even a tiny percentage of impact from all those millions of users is still a lot of impact. Each year, we get hundreds of miles of what we euphemistically refer to as ‘unplanned roads and trails.’

“For example, the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana has more than a thousand unplanned roads and trails reaching for almost 650 miles. That’s pretty typical for a lot of

Ironically, Bosworth’s own opposition to protecting roadless areas ensures that new road construction is indeed a major issue.


The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003

national forests, and it’s only going to get worse. We’re seeing more and more erosion, water degradation, and habitat destruction. We’re seeing more and more conflicts between users. We’re seeing more damage to cultural sites and more violation of sites sacred to American Indians. And those are just some of the impacts. We’re going to have to manage that by restricting OHV use to designated roads, trails, and areas.

“So the great issue is unmanaged recreation — and the great diversion is all the roads the Forest Service is supposedly building to get out the cut.”

While Bosworth clearly understands some of the issues sur- rounding motorized recreation, his arguments regarding roads and off-road vehicles don’t hold water for a host of reasons. First, let’s be clear: most of the 380,000 miles of planned roads on the national forests were built for resource extraction (to get cut out), and most new road construction continues to serve resource extraction (though the agency does build some roads for recreation). Second, the Forest Service itself adds many miles of unplanned roads, obscur- ing their construction under the moniker of “temporary” roads. Temporary roads are not tracked by the agency, so there is no way to determine how many miles are built each year — nor are there adequate standards for their construction. The Forest Service also hides new road building behind reconstruction projects, many of which could easily be considered new construction based on the status of the existing road bed. Third, off-road vehicle users clearly recognize the connection between roads and motorized recreation — they are one of the most vocal and inflexible constituencies fighting against road removal. Fourth, concerned citizens, conservationists, and land managers have been pushing the Forest Service to address the problems caused by unlimited off-road vehicle use for years and the agency has basically refused. Is Bosworth ready to back up his words and develop effective, enforceable and meaningful regulations for off-road vehicles?

Bosworth downplays road issues by explaining that the Forest Service is decommissioning fourteen miles of road for every one mile they build. But recent research by Wildlands CPR intern Ryan Shaffer found that the Forest Service does not track their road decommis-

that the Forest Service does not track their road decommis- A slurry bomber drops a load

A slurry bomber drops a load of retardant on a

fire outside of Missoula, Montana. The majority of

this summer’s fires in the northern Rockies started

in roaded landscapes. Photo by Bethanie Walder.

So we come full circle, back to the connection between off-road vehicles and roads. While Bosworth claims that road construction is no longer a problem, the Forest Service is dedicating

nearly half of their road decommissioning money to dealing with unauthorized roads constructed by off-road vehicle users. In the meantime, the official road

Is Bosworth ready to back up his words and develop effective, enforceable and meaningful regulations for off-road vehicles?

sioning program (report will be available on the web shortly). Only the Siuslaw National Forest has a database showing what kind of work is being done where — from gating to culvert removal to full recontouring. Because of the paucity of data, Wildlands CPR intends to conduct some ground-truthing and determine whether roads are being “decommissioned” by throwing up gates or blockades, or by actually moving some dirt and removing some culverts on the ground. With costs ranging from less than $1,000 per mile to more than $10,000 per mile, it seems clear that many different levels of work are going on. Equally important in understanding Chief Bosworth’s statement is recognizing that in the past few years nearly 40% of road decommissioning has focused on user-created/non- system roads.

system continues to erode along with falling budgets.

Any way you slice it, roads remain one of the biggest threats to the integrity of the national forests, by increasing the impacts

of every one of the great issues Bosworth highlighted. If Bosworth really wants the great issues of the past to remain in the past, then he should follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and guarantee the protection of roadless areas from roads and resource extraction, while moving away from the uneconomical logging and resource extraction of the past. His immediate predecessor also promoted road removal as a means to restore the health of national forests. Instead, roadless protection is being eroded, new logging proposals are being

promoted, and Bosworth may shortly find himself back at the center of the timber wars that had all but ended a few short years ago.

The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003


Restoration Program Update

By Marnie Criley

W ith the economic study complete (check out our website for the Summary Report and full study) and two interns hard at

work, the restoration program has been quite busy this summer. Beth Peluso, our contract researcher assessing the Clearwater National Forest’s road removal program, will return from fieldwork in Septem- ber to finish her project. Her goal is to develop a template for a model road removal program. Maureen Hartmann, one of our summer interns, is already using Beth’s work to strategize a road removal workshop/training curricula geared toward Forest Service personnel and Tribal members. Maureen has already collected training materi- als, researched training opportunities within the Forest Service and Tribes, and researched potential workshop presenters and sponsors. Many agency personnel in this region have expressed interest in such a workshop, which would focus on the steps needed to create a successful road removal program.

Our other intern, Jason Kiely, is doing outreach and organizing around the economic study. Jason is working with three key groups:

the Mineral County Community Foundation (MCCF) in western Montana; the Gifford Pinchot Collaborative Working Group (GPWG) in Washington state; and folks in Wallowa county in eastern Oregon (where a new Management Plan for the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area was just released — see updates). Mineral County’s landbase is 84% public lands — Pat Hayes, a former union organizer, heads up MCCF and is organizing local residents and environmental- ists to propose restoration projects to bring high quality jobs to Mineral County. Jason and Marnie have started working with Pat to see how road removal projects might fit into the mix.

Jason is also reaching out to the Gifford Pinchot Collaborative Working Group. This group of local residents, community leaders and environmentalists in communities surrounding the Gifford Pinchot NF,

in communities surrounding the Gifford Pinchot NF, Wildlands CPR’s road removal workshops have educated and

Wildlands CPR’s road removal workshops have educated and inspired huundreds of activists and concerned citizens nationwide. Wildlands CPR file photo.

concerned citizens nationwide. Wildlands CPR file photo. Reseeding helps establish new vegetative cover quickly.
concerned citizens nationwide. Wildlands CPR file photo. Reseeding helps establish new vegetative cover quickly.

Reseeding helps establish new vegetative cover quickly. Wildlands CPR file photo.

has already come up with a couple of projects to propose to the local Resource Advisory Council. Again, Jason and Marnie are hoping to use the economic study to start a road removal discussion. To date, it isn’t something the communities have been ready to work on. Perhaps the economics data will open some doors.

In other news, Wildlands CPR joined with Swan View Coalition, Friends of the Wild Swan, and Alliance for the Wild Rockies in filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Missoula against the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service over parts of the Moose Post-Fire Project (Flathead NF, Mon- tana). It is our contention that the project flies in the face of existing standards for watershed restoration through road removal. See page 16 of the summer solstice issue (Volume 8 #2) of The RIPorter for more information.

Upcoming Events: Marnie will attend the National Network of Forest Practitioners’ annual meeting in South Carolina in October. Following the meeting, the Restoration Steering Committee hopes to have a regional restoration meeting to discuss restoration on southern public lands. If you’re interested in attending a southeast regional restoration meeting, contact our office.


The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003

Transportation Program Update

By Bridget Lyons

Science Program Update

By Adam Switalski

T he big news from the Transportation Policy program at Wildlands CPR is the unveiling of

several new tools for conservation-minded public lands advocates. In the last RIPorter, we mentioned that Bridget was working on a Travel Planning Primer; this resource is now available electroni- cally and should be available in print within the next month. In addition to examining the purposes and procedures behind Forest Service and BLM travel planning, this booklet shows how you can get involved in the political and on-the-ground processes to support wildland integrity and quiet use. Appendices include legal resources, scoping and comment letter templates, sample fact sheets and press releases, and a host of other tools. We hope this resource will be useful to those just getting involved in travel planning, as well as seasoned activists seeking new tips. Please get in touch with us to receive a copy!

In addition to the Travel Planning Primer we also have an updated off-road vehicle presentation, available as both a slide show and a Power Point presentation. This resource introduces the public to the myriad ecological and social effects of motorized recreation. We hope that the collection of disturbing impact photographs coupled with an explanatory text and up-to-date statistics will inspire more people to get involved with motorized recreation issues. To this end, a “What You Can Do” section concludes the presentation. If you are interested in having a Wildlands CPR staff member present this show, or if you would like to present it on your own, please give us a call.

Unfortunately for us, Wildlands CPR also has to bid Bridget farewell — she’s decided to return to teaching. We’ll miss her terrific work, but we thank her for her extremely productive stay with us. Good luck Bridget!

A dam continues to promote road removal research; he recently presented a paper at the

Society for Conservation Biology’s annual meeting in Duluth, MN and at the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation in New York. Between the two conferences he addressed several hundred researchers — summarizing what we know about road removal and identifying what further research is needed. Adam is also coordinat- ing a project on the impacts of road removal on grizzly bears in the northern Rockies. He met with a group of interested university, federal, and private researchers and will continue to explore research and funding opportunities with this group.

Ryan Schafer has completed an internship with Wildlands CPR examining where road removal (decommissioning) is occurring on Forest Service lands. Ryan called Forest Service offices across the U.S., conducted interviews with their road special- ists, and attained data on costs and miles of roads removed. He found that some form of road decommissioning is occurring in most of the 155 national forests across the country, however, he also found great variety in costs and treatments between forests. There was no universal treatment being employed; road decommissioning activities ranged from blocking road entrances to full road obliteration. We hope to have another intern this fall who can follow this project up with ground- truthing.

Perhaps Ryan’s most important finding is that more than 50% of Forest Service road removal/ decommissioning work occurs on user-created routes.

ORV tracks cross an alpine meadow in the Flathead National Forest, Montana. Wildlands CPR’s transportation
ORV tracks cross an alpine meadow
in the Flathead National Forest,
Montana. Wildlands CPR’s
transportation program is giving
citizens the tools needed to confront
the damage to public lands caused by
unrestricted ORV use. Photo by Keith

The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003


A Southern Radical By Tom Petersen D ave Petrig is a seventy-one year old retired

A Southern Radical

By Tom Petersen

D ave Petrig is a seventy-one year old retired lawyer from Atlanta who bought 460 acres in western Montana with his daughter. After a few minutes walking with him on an old

logging road, Petrig paused, leaned on his walking stick, and care- fully surveyed their purchase. His grey beret sat cocked at an angle on his head, and his red and black checked flannel shirt was crisscrossed with camera and binocular straps. He looked part pioneer, part pirate. We were in Montana, Big Sky Country, the land of open spaces, but also the land of Gold and Silver (the state motto is “oro y plata”), the land of mining and logging and roads, and now, in some desired places like the mountains of western Montana, the land of second-homes. But Petrig didn’t buy the land to develop it. He bought his Montana dreamland to restore it. “Nope, not going to build on it,” he firmly stated, shaking his head as we continued walking his land. “Just going to take these old roads out, get a check on the knapweed, and bring back some of the streams. I just want to make it a better place.” I turned my ear towards him to make sure I heard him right. Buy land in Montana and not develop it, not subdivide for a good profit, or put in a house and a road and a three-car garage?


To recover — to bring back to its original state by repairing or rebuilding; to bring back to good health or vigor; to put back in its former position; to reinstate or stabilize.

(Webster’s Dictionary)

to reinstate or stabilize. (Webster’s Dictionary) David Petrig. Photo by Tom Petersen. “More of your kind

David Petrig. Photo by Tom Petersen.

“More of your kind need to move to Montana,” I told Petrig, and he broke into an easy Southern smile and motioned me to follow him up the hill.

We walked up and over the peak of the hill and down into the drainage. “Take a look at these old roads and small streams,” he said. “This stream is full of silt from the road erosion, so I hired these guys to get rid of this road and clean up the stream. I can’t wait to see it when they’re done.” He smiled again, obviously pleased at the thought, and pushed up his beret with the tip of his finger. “These guys” were Watershed Consulting, Inc., a restoration company based out of Whitefish, Montana. Petrig had hired them to take out some of the roads, bring back the stream, and revegetate the land with native plants. The land had been premier elk habitat, but the roads Petrig inherited had fractured it, as if the land had once been like a single plate of glass — a smooth, clean surface — and then as road after road was built, the glass shattered, with jagged lines breaking in every direction. Later that same week I saw Watershed Consulting and their backhoe operators at work on one of Petrig’s old roads. But after watching them one afternoon it seemed the more traditional names for them like “Heavy Equipment Operator “ just didn’t fit. “Road Removal Artist” came to mind. But I didn’t realize their work was artful until I saw an operator carefully transplanting vegetation onto a road he had just removed. The dirt road surface had been ripped with long, three-foot claws set on the rear of his backhoe, the culverts removed, and the slopes put back to their original contour. He gingerly lifted a snowberry bush from a nearby hillside and placed it gently on the former roadbed. Its creamy white berries clung to the dark green stems. With his small front-end scoop like a thumbed-hand extension of his own, he dug a two-foot deep hole for the snowberry bush, carefully


The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003

picked up the bush with his scoop and lowered it into its new home on the former road. The hand-like scoop filled the hole, nudged soil under and around the newly transplanted bush, and tamped it down almost reverently with the back of the bucket, as if tucking it into bed. The operator moved to a red willow and duplicated the trans- planting from hillside to former roadbed, and then again with a small Ponderosa Pine, and then again with a second snowberry. After about an hours work, the former road looked like a natural hillside again. On another section of the road, streamside, Mark VanderMeer, another of the Watershed crew, was also transplanting willows and snowberry bushes, but Mark was placing them by hand in the stream bank to hold the soil. After he finished planting the willows, he walked downstream about twenty yards from me and started placing small logs and branches in the stream to build small fish pools-but then he stopped suddenly and stared at the ground, eyes wide-open. I wondered if someone had been hurt, or if hed seen bear sign. Mark turned towards me and I saw him beaming, like one of those old Montana miners must have when they discovered gold. Obviously there was no danger, but the bear part I still wasnt sure about; I had heard about Marks fascination with animals. Mark turned and I saw that he had his hands together and extended, palms up in an almost supplicant manner, and full of a dark material. Its bear alright,Mark exclaimed, seeing the concerned look on my face. Look at this old bear scat, and really look at whats in it! You couldnt ask for better reseeding than this!As I walked closer to Marks outstretched hands, I saw china-red berries and cream-colored seeds mixed in what looked like a rich garden humus, but was really decomposed bear droppings. Seeds and fertilizer all together,Mark said. I cant believe my luck. It just cant happen any better than this, bears spreading their chewed up seeds on the ground along with their rich fertilizer to get the seeds going. I love it.

rich fertilizer to get the seeds going. I love it. ” Mark VanderMeer, of Watershed Consulting,

Mark VanderMeer, of Watershed Consulting, inspects a clump of old bear scat, rich in seeds and berries. Healthy wildlife populations not only benefit from restoring wildlands, they help facilitate the process. Photo by Tom Petersen.

they help facilitate the process. Photo by Tom Petersen. Paying attention to details makes all the

Paying attention to details makes all the difference in road restoration. Photo by Tom Petersen.

This discovery made Marks day. He had discovered gold. Simple pleasures for a restorationist, but thinking more about it, I realized Marks enthusiasm was for a natural process that strongly affirms his own work as an artist, as one who restores the land. A few months later I went again to Petrigs land. I walked back about a mile, uphill from where Mark discovered the bear scat. The backhoe operator had worked his way down most of the road, ripping and transplanting as he went. Some of the native grass seeds had sprouted a luminescent light green. With the slopes recontoured and dozens of snowberries and willows transplanted to look so natural on the former road, I had to look carefully to see where the road had been. He had done his job well, and the definition of restoration was being fulfilled: Watershed and Petrig were bringing the land back to good health, to vigor. I laugh to myself realizing that most of these backhoe operators, many of whom were former road builders using similar equipment, would not define themselves as artists, or, as radicals. But they are. Road removal is a radical act. Radicalis sometimes defined as shifting from accepted or traditional forms, and removing roads is surely a shift from tradition. And what could be more radical in an economy based on growth, development, and quick profit than to buy land solely to restore it, as witnessed by the southern gentleman Dave Petrig?

— Tom Petersen is Wildlands CPR’s Development Director. He lives in Missoula, Montana and his essay about the spirit of that town, “The Mountains Rise, The Rivers Sing, The People Dance,” will be published in the August 2003 issue of ISLE, the journal of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment.

New Hells Canyon Plan Viewed With Cautious Optimism A fter almost 10 years, the Hells

New Hells Canyon Plan Viewed With Cautious Optimism

A fter almost 10 years, the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA) in northeastern Oregon finally released a new Comprehensive Management

Plan (CMP) that offers encouraging new direction. The Record of Decision (July 22, 2003) for the CMP directs the HCNRA to be sensitively managed as a healthy ecosystem that is an integral component of a larger biological region.Hells Canyon Preservation Council (HCPC) and partners organized under the CMP Tracking Group (including representatives of tribal, hunting, and scientific communities and Wildlands CPR) presented the case for the Canyon through hundreds of letters, documents, and meetings; thousands of public comments from caring supporters; and the development of an alternative for the Forest Services consideration during its planning process: The Native Ecosystem Alternative. It appears the HCNRA listened.

A few exciting components of the new plan:

Existing Roads: Road density will be limited to 1.35 miles per square mile, which is more protective than the existing 1.5 mile standard, though still above the 1 mile threshold supported by science. It will result in the closure of approxi- mately one third of the existing roads in HCNRA, or about 200 miles, with decom- missioning a possibility. New Road Construction: Road building will generally occur only in conjunc- tion with access to already developed recreation sites and private lands. Roads will not be constructed to provide further motorized access to views of the Canyon. Instead, the CMP favors opportunities for enhanced horse and hiker travel, including several miles of new trail. The Forest Service has long relied on achieving this access by motorizing the Canyon instead of serving less impacting, non-motorized recreation. All-Terrain Vehicles: The CMP Limits use of motorized and mechanical equipment [including ATVs] to designated open roads and trails.This elimi- nates the current allowance of off-road/trail motorized use within 300 feet of either side of existing routes. Vehicles will still be allowed to access designated recreation sites, but such use will be limited to specifically designated routes. Grazing Allotments: The Forest Service closed 245,782 acres of grasslands to livestock. Period. All but two of the vacant grazing allotments are closed. Its possible that the remaining two could go through a NEPA process to be used as grass banks for permittees in the future if theyve lost use of an existing open allotment. Miscellaneous: No regularly scheduled commercial flights will be allowed and no additional airstrips will be opened within the NRA.

A few negative aspects

New road construction is allowed in order to achieve selective logging objectives. (ROD p.13.)

The Kirkwood Trail will remain open to ATVs and other motorized vehicles (except a three month annual closure of a 1000 foot section where the Trail crosses Kirkwood Creek) despite persistent illegal ATV use that is spreading weeds into and trampling upon the areas rare native grasslands. (ROD p.13.)

upon the area ’ s rare native grasslands. (ROD p.13.) A tributary of the Snake River

A tributary of the Snake River in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Photo by Bethanie Walder.

Lord Flat Trail will remain open to motorized vehicles from June 1 through August 31, despite its intru- sion into the Hells Canyon Wilderness where motorized use is supposed to be prohibited and chronic distur- bance of an area critical to elk and other wildlife. (ROD p.13.)

The CMP establishes snowmo- bile routes on 132 miles of existing roads and creates over 40,000 acres of snowmobile play areas.(ROD p.14.) This will occur adjacent to roadless and wilderness areas, which are critical for wildlife.

HCPC is in the process of review- ing the entire CMP Decision and has not committed to a definite course of action at this time. While not every aspect is favorable, the CMP decision does represent a positive step for which the Forest Service deserves credit. The new programmatic direc- tion contained in the CMP, however, still needs to be implemented on the ground. Wildlands CPR is working with HCPC and others to initiate a road decommissioning program on the HCNRA. For more information contact Brett Brownscomb at HCPC at


The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003

Department of Interior and Utah “Resolve” R.S. 2477 Claims

By Bridget Lyons

and Utah “Resolve” R.S. 2477 Claims By Bridget Lyons Future resolution of R.S. 2477 claims is

Future resolution of R.S. 2477 claims is sure to muddy up the water. Photo by Dan Funsch.

ment, called the Taylor amendment, which then passed on a 226-194 vote. The Taylor amendment prohibits the processing of disclaimers on National Park, National Monument, Wilderness Area, Wilderness Study Area, and National Wildlife Refuge lands. In doing so, it protects an additional 200 million acres of land from potential damage. The Taylor Amendment does not protect as much land as the original Udall Amendment would have protected, however, and a variety of lands including Wild and Scenic River corridors, National Conservation Areas, and broad tracts of wilderness- quality BLM and Forest Service land may still be vulnerable to road expan- sion and improvement through the processing of right-of-way claims. As we await decisions on indi- vidual roads and trails in Utah and in other states, it is important that concerned citizens continue to monitor their local agencies for R.S. 2477 claims and keep in touch with organizations working on this issue. For more information about the MOU and R.S. 2477, please see the R.S. 2477 coalitions website at

In an earlier issue of The RIPorter (8.1), we reported on the Bureau of Land Managements (BLM) amended regulations for issuing recordable dis- claimers of interest.Their amendment, also called the disclaimer rule,made it easier for states and counties to apply for disclaimers docu- ments in which the federal government formally renounces its interest in a parcel of land. Along with their amendment, BLM announced that An existing owner of an R.S. 2477 right-of-way may apply for a recordable disclaimer under existing regulations or as amended in this final rule.At the time the disclaimer rule was released, conservationists were wondering how it would affect the processing of numerous contentious R.S. 2477 claims throughout the country. A Memorandum of Understand- ing (MOU) between the state of Utah and the Department of the Interior released in April has begun to answer this question in a way that may threaten public lands nationwide. For years, state and county agencies have asserted their rights to roads and trails on federal land by using an outdated statute called R.S. 2477 (see The RIPorter 6.4). R.S. 2477 is a section of the 1866 Mining Act allowing for rights-of-way to be granted to individuals or agencies without applying to the government and without any environmental assessment. R.S. 2477 was repealed in 1976 by the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA), however, claims predating 1976 continued to be honored. In the past ten years, many rural states and counties have used R.S. 2477 as a license to bulldoze, widen, and pave their asserted rights-of-wayand thereby remove areas from consideration for Wilderness designation.

Environmentalists responded with litigation, but as progress was being made, Congress placed a moratorium on any further R.S. 2477 rulemaking by federal agencies. The Memorandum of Understanding signed by Governor Mike Leavitt of Utah and Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton is an attempt to bring resolutionto this issue. It purports to implement an acknowledgment process to acknowledge certain R.S. 2477 rights-of-way on BLM land within the state of Utah.The MOU will use the disclaimer rule to acknowledge R.S. 2477 claims that:

Were in existence prior to the 1976 passage of FLPMA;

Are currently in use, as proven by photos, affidavits, surveys, etc, for four wheeled automobiles and trucks;

Have had some periodic maintenance; and

Are not in Wilderness Areas, WSAs, National Parks, or National Wildlife


The MOU states that the BLM will only acknowledge R.S. 2477 rights-of-way that are unquestionably part of the states transportation infrastructure.The state of Utah has submitted a list of roads to the Department of Interior for consideration under this MOU. Conservationists are very concerned about this MOU both because of the effects it may have on wild places in Utah and because of the precedent it may set for other states. The negotiations leading up to the MOU were not disclosed to the public, nor was there any opportunity for public involvement. The disclaimer process itself does not allow for any public input. No environmental analysis will accompany the issuance of disclaimers of interest, and it is possible for states and counties to upgrade their rights-of-way once a disclaimer has been issued. In response to these concerns, Representative Mark Udall (D-CO) proposed an amendment to the Department of Interiors Appropriations bill that would have prohibited agencies from spending tax dollars on processing disclaimers. During discussion on the House floor, the amendment was altered by another amend-

Bibliography Notes summarizes and highlights some of the scientific literature in our 6,000 citation bibliography

Bibliography Notes summarizes and highlights some of the scientific literature in our 6,000 citation bibliography on the ecological effects of roads. We offer bibliographic searches to help activists access important biological research relevant to roads. We keep copies of most articles cited in Bibliography Notes in our office library.

Where Have All the Songbirds Gone? Roads, Fragmentation, and the Decline of Neotropical Migratory Songbirds

By Adam Switalski


There are approximately 250 species of neotropical migratory birds, most of which are songbirds. They breed in North American forests during our summer and spend winters in Central and South America in search of insects, nectar, and fruits. These songbirds play a major role in maintaining the health and stability of forested ecosystems by dispersing seeds, pollinating flowers, and consuming massive amounts of insects that if unchecked could lead to defoliating outbreaks. They are also enjoyed by millions of people.

Although much of the birdstropical habitat has been degraded, studies suggest that conversion of large tracts of North American forest is the leading cause of their decline (Terborgh 1989; Böhning-Gaese 1993). Much of North Americas forested area has been logged, converted to agriculture or suburban landscapes, and left inhospitable for songbirds.

More subtle causes of habitat loss include the construc- tion of roads and power lines. These linear barriers also have been correlated with a decline in neotropical migrant songbirds (Berkey 1993; Boren et al. 1999; Ortega and Capen 2002). Whether by forest conversion or the construction of roads and power lines, fragmentation subdivides habitat into smaller and smaller parcels. The result is an increase of edge habitat, or the boundary between intact forest and surrounding impacted areas. Small forests with large amounts of edge habitat are a hostile landscape for nesting neotropical migratory songbirds. In these areas, songbirds face two great threats: 1) the loss of eggs and nestlings to predators and, 2) parasitism by cowbirds.

Nest Predation

Nest predation is thought to be a leading cause of declines in neotropical migratory songbirds (Wilcove 1985; Andrén and Angelstam 1988; Yahner and Scott 1988). Forest edges comprise ideal habitat for many predators that would not typically invade a forest ecosystem, and many opportu- nistic predators concentrate their feeding efforts along these edges. When roads, power lines, or pipelines are constructed through forests, small mammalian preda- tors such as raccoons, opossums, skunks, and feral cats use these linear avenues to access songbird breeding grounds and prey upon their eggs and young. Addition- ally, egg-eating birds such as American crows or blue jays also focus their hunting along forest edges.

Brood Parasitism

The Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) also thrives along forest edges and may pose an even greater hazard to songbirds than that posed by preda- tion (Brittingham and Temple 1983; Temple and Cary 1988). Cowbirds are an obligate brood parasite, which means they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and rely on the host parents to rear their young. This can

Although songbirds are arguably the most watched and beloved of wildlife, they have experienced a significant decline in recent years (Terborgh 1989, 1992; Finch 1991; Hagan and Johnson 1992). This decline is concerning because bird populations are indicators of ecological integrity and are highly sensitive to adverse environmental change (Maurer 1993). This article reviews two important factors roads and habitat fragmentation in the decline of neotropical migratory songbirds.

Why are neotropical migratory songbirds declining?

Songbirds require large amounts of continuous forested habitat for survival and successful reproduction in both their wintering grounds in Central and South America and their summer breeding grounds in North America (Robbins 1979; Whitcomb et al. 1981; Robbins et al.

1989). Sedge Warbler.
Sedge Warbler.


The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003

greatly reduce the reproductive success of parasitized songbirds because the host parents dedicate much of their time feeding the fast-growing cowbird nestling while neglect- ing their own young.

Cowbirds are native to the northern Great Plains and evolved in close association with bison; they expanded their range as European settlement brought domestic cows and grain throughout North America. Songbirds did not evolve with cowbirds and have only recently been exposed to nest parasitism. With hundreds of millions of cowbirds now living throughout the summer breeding range of songbirds, they will continue to be a great threat.

Other Factors

In addition to fragmentation and edge effects, roads and other linear barriers contribute to the decline of songbirds in others ways. Songbirds are very sensitive to noise and will avoid roads with a large volume of traffic (Reijnen et al. 1995, 1996). With millions of miles of roads in North America, this renders ineffective a huge amount of potential summer breeding habitat. Songbirds also can be attracted to less-traveled roads for gravel to aide in digestion, for insects and worms on roadsides, and to take dust baths (Noss 1995). This can lead to collisions between birds and vehicles (e.g. Novelli et al. 1988). It is estimated that a million vertebrates are victims of road kill every day in the United States; many of these are songbirds. Additionally, worms contaminated by road pollution can be fatal to the birds that feed upon them (Noss 1995).

Conclusions and Solutions

Neotropical migratory songbirds are beloved and provide priceless ecosystem services, however, a severe decline of songbirds has been documented. Many causes for this decline have been identified. Edges created from roads, forestry, agriculture, and suburbanization have resulted in a number of ecological changes for songbirds, including greater susceptibility to nest predation and brood parasit- ism. Habitat fragmentation has created a population sink in many of the areas where songbirds once thrived.

To reverse songbirdsdecline, it will be necessary to preserve critical summer breeding habitats and, where possible, protect and restore large tracts of intact forest. Conservation efforts should be focused on a regional scale because small nature preserves alone will not be sufficient to preserve songbirds (Askins 1995). Maurer and Heywood (1993) recommend decreasing timber harvest on remaining tracts of extensive forest on public lands. In urban areas, Hennings and Edge (2003) suggest increasing forest canopy and reducing street density within a 100-meter radius of streams. Successfully protecting and restoring large continuous forest tracts, reducing forest edges, and improv- ing urban/suburban habitats should help slow songbirdsdecline.

— Adam Switalski is the Science Program Coordinator for Wildlands CPR.

is the Science Program Coordinator for Wildlands CPR. Forest edge habitat compromises security and gives nest

Forest edge habitat compromises security and gives nest predators an advantage. Photo by Messick.


Andrén, H., and P. Angelstam. 1988. Elevated predation rates as an edge effect in habitat islands: experimental evidence. Ecology 69: 544-547. Askins, R.A. 1995. Hostile landscapes and the decline of migratory songbirds. Science 267: 1956-1957. Berkey, T.U. 1993. Edge effects in seed and egg predation at two neotropical rainforest sites. Biological Conservation 66(2): 139-143. Böhning-Gaese, K., M.L. Taper, and J.H. Brown. 1993. Are declines in North America insectivorous songbirds due to misuse of breeding range? Conservation Biology 7(1): 76-


Boren, J.C., D.M. Engle, M.W. Palmer, R.E. Masters, and T. Criner.

1999. Land use change effects on breeding bird

community composition. Journal of Range Management 52: 420-430. Brittingham, M.C., and S.A. Temple. 1983. Have cowbirds caused forest songbirds to decline? Bioscience 33: 31-35. Finch, D.M. 1991. Population Ecology, Habitat Requirements, and Conservation of Neotropical Migratory Birds. USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report RM-205, Fort Collins, Colorado. Hagan, J.M., and D.W. Johnson (eds.). 1992. Ecology and Conservation of Neotropical Migrant Landbirds. Smithsonian Instution Press, Washington, D.C. Hennings, L.A., and W.D. Edge. 2003. Riparian bird community structure in Portland, Oregon: habitat, urbanization, and spatial scale patterns. The Condor 105: 288-302. Maurer, B.A. 1993. Biological diversity, ecological integrity, and neotropical migrants: new perspectives for wildlife management. Pages 24-31 in D.M. Finch and P.W. Stangel, editors. Status and Management of Neotropical Migratory Birds. USDA General Technical Report RM-229. Maurer, B.A., and S.G. Heywood. 1993. Geographic range fragmentation and abundance in neotropical migratory birds. Conservation Biology 7(3): 501-509. Noss, R. 1995. The ecological effects of roads. Road Rippers Handbook, Wildlands CPR, Missoula, Montana. Available online at: reports/ecoleffectsroads.html

continued on next page

Neotropical migratory songbirds require intact forests in north America. Photo by S. Lennard. References, continued

Neotropical migratory songbirds require intact forests in north America. Photo by S. Lennard.


continued from previous page

Novelli, R., E. Takase, and V. Castro. 1988. Study of birds killed by collision with vehicles in a stretch of Highway BR-471, between Quinta and Taim, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Revista Brasileira De Zoologia 5: 51-59. Ortega, Y.K., and D. Capen. 2002. Roads as edges: effects on birds in forested landscapes. Forest Science 48(2): 381-


Reijnen, R., R. Foppen, C. ter Braak, and J. Thissen. 1995. The effects of car traffic on breeding bird populations in woodland. III. Reduction of density in relation to proximity of main roads. Journal of Applied Ecology 32:


Reijnen, R., R. Foppen, and H. Meeuwsen. 1996. The effects of traffic on density of breeding birds in Dutch agricultural grasslands. Biological Conservation 75: 255-260. Robbins, C.S. 1979. Effect of forest fragmentation on bird populations. Pages 198-212 in R.M. DeGraaf and K.E. Evans, editors. Management of North-Central and Northeastern Forests for Nongame Birds. General Technical Report NC-51. USDA Forest Service, North Central Forest Experimental Station, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Robbins, C.S., J.R. Sauerr, R.S. Greenberg, and S. Droege. 1989. Population declines in North America birds that migrate to the neotropics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 86: 7658-7662. Temple, S.A., and J.R. Cary. 1988. Modeling dynamics of habitat-interior bird populations in fragmented landscapes. Conservation Biology 2:340-347. Terborgh, J. 1989. Where Have All the Birds Gone? Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. Terborgh, J. 1992. Why American songbirds are vanishing. Scientific American 26:56-62. Whitcomb, R.F., C.S. Robbins, J.F. Lynch, B.L. Whitcomb, M.K. Klimkiewicz, and D. Bystrak. 1981. Effects of forest fragmentation on avifauna of the Eastern deciduous forest. Pages 125-205 in R.L. Burgess and D.M. Sharpe, editors. Forest Island Dynamics in Man Dominated Landscapes. Springer-Verlag, New York, New York. Wilcove, D.S. 1985. Nest predation in forest tracts and the decline of migratory songbirds. Ecology 66(4): 1211-1214. Yahner, R.H., and D.P. Scott. 1988. Effects of forest fragmentation on depredation of artificial nests. Journal of Wildlife Management 52:158-161.

Drawing by Elizabeth O’Lear y.
Drawing by Elizabeth O’Lear y.


The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003

Spotlight on Judith Spencer By Jen Barry J udith Spencer and her husband had a

Spotlight on Judith Spencer

By Jen Barry

J udith Spencer and her husband had a vision of a peaceful life, where she could continue her writing and he could enjoy his retirement. Their vision never included an intrusive off-road

vehicle (ORV) playground, but after they relocated to their dream home in the small town of Arnold, California, noise and trespass from ORVs at the nearby Interfacezone became unbearable. The Spencers had to keep their windows closed and seldom used their deck because the air was so filled with dust. The Interface is an 8,600-acre parcel of the Stanislaus National Forest that is surrounded by private land. Thousands of homes are directly impacted by ORV use, as is wildlife and four major streams, all headwaters to the Calaveras River. Despite a forest-wide policy allowing ORV use on designated trails only(i.e. the eighteen miles of designated Interface trails), ORVs have extended their reach to more than 100 miles of additional, unauthorized routes (of these, the Forest Service has acknowledged only fifty-five miles). On a Sierra Club-sponsored day hike in the summer of 1998, Judith met other area residents disturbed by ORVs. Forest Service personnel were on the hike and informed them of an upcoming public comment opportunity. Ten of the hikers decided to organize. They formed Commitment to Our Recreational Environment (CORE) and began generating public awareness through outreach to residents in the four surrounding towns. Though lacking activist experience, Judith agreed to head the group, believing the process would be completed and a decision rendered in four months. CORE conducted a survey to determine how the Interface was being used they found that 90% was non-motorized use and then encouraged residents to submit comments. The bulk of the com- ments called either for restricting ORV use to the northern third of the Interface, or completely removing ORVs. Judith remembers thinking the Forest Service would appreciate learning what the communities wanted: We had a lot to learn,she now says. On the last day of the comment period the District Ranger was transferred, and soon thereafter, the EA was withdrawn with no decision ren- dered. When the next EA was issued the vast majority of comments again called for restricting ORVs to the northern third, or excluding them entirely, although the EA still offered no alternative for removing ORVs. This EA was withdrawn without a decision just as a third District Ranger began his tenure. Judith and other CORE members hoped to reach a compromise with the ORV recreationists, and initiated a stakeholdersmeeting. Four local homeowners met with representatives of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, the American Motorcyclists Association, Enduro Riders Association, and one local rider. These folks turned out to be well- paid lobbyists backed by ORV manufacturers. The ORV lobbyists offered to give up the lower two-thirds of the Interface as soon as the Forest Service provided an equivalent area for them meaning a mile of new designated trail for every mile of illegal trail ORVs had created. When this compromisewas rejected, the ORV lobbyists refused to continue the talks.

The Activist Spotlight shares the stories of some of the awesome activists we work with, both as a tribute to them and as a way of highlighting successful strategies and lessons learned. Please email your nomination for the Activist Spotlight to

for the Activist Spotlight to Judith and her dogs on Cougar Rock in the Interface.

Judith and her dogs on Cougar Rock in the Interface. Photo by Bob Spencer.

Despite this, Judith has persisted. CORE remains a community-based group whose member-

ship has grown to 102.

approach by meeting only as necessary, and stay in communication through e-mail and telephone. In February 2003 CORE joined the Natural Trails and Waters Coalition (NTWC). According to Judith, Our association with NTWC couldnt have come at

a better time. They provided the opportunity for

my meeting with the DC offices of our Senators and Congressman just as the Interface Trails DEIS was issued. NTWC provided a grant for our outreach campaign, which enabled us to mail or hand distribute nearly 4,000 flyers to the community. And they helped us plan for broad media involve- ment then secured an interview with The L.A. Times.The latest public comment period ended May 19th. This time the DEIS includes an alternative for totally removing ORVs from the Interface, and the vast majority of the more than 1800 comments support this alternative. A decision should be imminent. Though shes contemplated moving away from

the Interface thinking it would be easier to fight

if she wasnt living on the battlefield Judiths

belief that communities, non-motorized recreation,

and the environment deserve protection from ORV impacts on public land has given her the strength to continue the campaign. She finds among the group the needed skills, energy and dedication to keep the process moving in a positive direction. Besides, she says, We had to wait for 15 years to be here full time and we dont want to be forced to leave.Thanks, Judith for turning over every stone and never giving up we hope youll soon be able to enjoy your deck in peace and quiet!

They use an ad hoc

The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003


Travel Planning By Bridget Lyons What Is Travel Planning? “ Travel planning ” is the

Travel Planning

By Bridget Lyons

What Is Travel Planning?

Travel planningis the process through which a land manage- ment agency creates or designates a transportation network and determines how it will be managed. The end product is a travel system represented by a travel map that illustrates and de- scribes the designated roads and trails in a National Forest or BLM Resource Area. Usually roads and trails are coded to indicate the type of use for which they are open: for example, a red dashed lined may represent open to motorized usewhile a dotted black line often represents open to foot travel only.

Travel planning is a step in the development of forest plans and BLM resource management plans (RMPs), which are written by each forest and BLM resource area to broadly guide the planning and use of lands under their jurisdiction (43 USC 1712). They are long-term guidelines, revised every 10-15 years, that generally designate the uses appropriate for each section of the forest or resource area. For example, a forest plan may indicate (through the designation of management areas) that off-road vehicle use is appropriate in a certain area and that timber harvest is not appropriate in another. Forest plans and RMPs generally do not determine whether or not dirt bikes can be used on a specific trail, for example that is the job of the travel plan.

for example — that is the job of the travel plan. Decisions on which roads to

Decisions on which roads to close and revegetate are made through agency

travel planning processes.

Wildlands CPR file photo.

The Policy Primer is a column designed to highlight the ins & outs of a specific road or Off Road Vehicle policy. If you have a policy you’d like us to investigate, let us know!

The law requires forest plans and RMPs to be updated regularly in order to accommodate policy changes, issues raised by the public or by land managers, and the results of ongoing monitoring and evaluation (USFS: 36 CFR 219.9; BLM: 43 CFR 1610.5-6). When forest plans or RMPs are revised, travel plans can be created or revised as well. Sometimes travel planning is assessed at the same time as the myriad other management issues; other times, the agency determines that creating a travel map is too time consuming, complicated, or politically charged to include amidst all the other issues they need to assess. In these cases, the agency conducts travel planning as a separate process, and then releases a notice of intent (NOI) to develop a travel management plan.The NOI is published in the Federal Register and mailed to all individuals and groups on the agencys interested party list. If travel planning has not already come to a forest or resource area near you, it will soon. Contact your local land management agency to ascertain their plan revision schedule, and ask them whether or not they are likely to make travel planning a separate process. You can expect the entire travel planning process to take about two years.

Whether travel planning is conducted as part of a larger plan revision or as an individual process, its goals are the same. For each designated road and trail, the travel planning process determines the types of uses (e.g. motorized/non-motorized recreation) that will and will not be allowed. As part of this process, travel plans usually address other recreational issues as well, such as whether or not cross-country (off-trail) travel by wheeled and oversnow vehicles will be permitted. Seasonal and permanent closures for wildlife and vegetation protection are often addressed. Plans for stream- lining the road system and decommissioning and removing roads also may be included in travel planning. Signing conventions (e.g. closed unless signed open) for the resource are created and realignments of trails may be decided.

Why Do Travel Planning?

Over time, some roads and trails fall into disuse or disrepair. Others are created legally or illegally by the agency or users. These roads and trails need to be surveyed and evaluated to determine whether or not they should be included in the transportation system or obliterated and restored. Each year, agencies pass new manage- ment directives on subjects as diverse as lynx habitat and disabled access. Travel plans need to be updated to incorporate the latest science and comply with new management decisions. Some- times agencies cite a need for better public education as a reason for travel planning as well. In a number of cases, conservation organizations with off-road vehicle monitoring programs or road and trail surveying programs have triggered travel planning by submitting their data to the agency and bringing to light discrepancies between management plan regulations and on-the-ground reality.

The most common reason cited by agencies for doing travel planning, however, is the increase in recreational use of the land. In proposal after proposal, agencies describe exponential increases in visitation of all types, along with associated increases in user conflicts and resource damage. Land managers consistently mention that the off- road vehicles of today were never anticipated when

the off- road vehicles of today were never anticipated when Road maintenance, public lands access and

Road maintenance, public lands access and travel restrictions are some of the issues addressed in travel planning. Photo by Mark Alan Wilson.

the original forest plans and RMPs were written. Because the explo- sive growth in the numbers and power of these machines was not anticipated, motorized use has been allowed to grow without limits in many areas. Current travel planning processes should and generally do address the need for regulating motorized recreation and new forms of recreation.

Travel Planning Goals

Before travel planning begins, it is important to determine what you want the final travel plan to look like. This process begins with setting goals. General goals that public lands advocates should pursue include:

Establish resource protection as the overarching travel management priority;

Use science-based decision-making;

Maintain the wild character of the land;

Streamline the travel system;

Account for potential growth in recreational use; and

Maintain or re-establish quality non-motorized recreational experiences.

Motorized recreation planning is often at the heart of travel planning, and you should consider establishing goals for this aspect of the process. Because of the years of hard work invested by conservationists and non-motorized recreationists, it can finally be said that most land managers are aware of the impacts of motorized recreation. While agency officials may or may not act upon this knowledge, most acknowledge that motorized recreation requires careful oversight and active management. These are basic principles to follow:

Prohibit cross-country travel by motorized vehicles;

Restrict off-road vehicle use to designated routes only;

Designate routes through a public process which includes full National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis;

Create a closed unless signed opensigning convention;

Permit ORV use only when funding allows for adequate monitoring and enforcement;

Limit multiple-use trails; and

Prohibit motorized use in all Wilderness Areas, proposed Wilderness areas, wilderness-quality areas, and roadless areas.

How can individuals and organizations supporting ecosystem health and quiet use advocate for the goals listed above? Participat- ing in the agenciesprocesses, political organizing, and on-the- grounddata collection are essential to creating and implementing a model travel plan. These steps are the subject of Wildlands CPRs newest resource, the Travel Planning Primer.This booklet with lead you through the travel planning process step-by-step and provide you with the tools you need to create goals and objectives, write com- ment letters, organize diverse constituencies and more. Please contact our office to receive a copy of the full document.

— Bridget Lyons was Wildlands CPR’s Transportation Policy Coordinator.

A fter more than a month of dire predictions from land manag- ers, fire season

A fter more than a month of dire predictions from land manag-

ers, fire season in the northern Rockies finally exploded

during the second weekend in August. Over fifty fires blew

up in two days, ringing the Missoula valley with fire and smoke. Those of us who live in Missoula were lucky or unlucky enough to watch one fire torching on a ridge just outside of town: beauty and terror in one breath. The fires led agencies to shut down most activities on public lands, though some lands remain open for limited use. Many area road removal programs, however, have been discon- tinued until the fire danger dissipates. Here in our office, things are smokin! We have three terrific interns this summer, and theyve been working on some fantastic projects. From June through early August, Ryan Shaffer collected data from national forests throughout the country to determine how much road removal is actually happening on the ground. While he wasnt able to answer our questions conclusively, he revealed the shortcomings in Forest Service tracking capacity for restoration projects and provided some insight into which regions and forests are restoring the most roads. Were hoping to have another intern this fall to set up a ground-truthing program to field check Ryans findings. See page 11 for a short summary of Ryans work. THANKS RYAN, well miss having you around. Just after Ryan began, one of our former interns returned for a second round. Mo Hartmann has been working with Marnie and contract staffer Beth Peluso to develop a workshop to help agencies develop strong road removal programs. Mo formerly worked with us assessing wildlife mitigation structures and were thrilled to have her back especially since shes double-timing as a road obliteration inspector for the Nez Perce Tribe. Were also very excited to have Jason Kiely join us to develop a more significant organizing component to our road removal work. Jason worked as an urban organizer in Chicago for five years before moving out to Missoula; he stepped into our office just as the Center for Environmental Economic Development was finishing their road removal economics report. Jasons been working with Marnie and with groups in Montana, Washington, and Oregon to promote the economic benefits of road removal in rural communities. Well keep you posted on the results of their work and thanks, to all of them, for bringing so much skill into our summer internship program. On the down side, two of our staffers have decided to move on. Jen Barry, our tireless program assistant for the past two years, is returning to school full-time in fine arts, while Bridget Lyons, who recently joined us to work on transportation issues, has decided to move on. By the next RIPorter, we should be able to introduce their replacements. We thank both of them for their fantastic contribu- tions to Wildlands CPR they will be missed. Finally, wed like to extend a big thanks to the Flintridge, Lazar, Maki, Wilburforce and Weeden Foundations for generous grants supporting our work.

Wildlands CPR Publications

Road-Rippers Handbook ($20.00, $30.00 non- members) A comprehensive activist manual that includes the five Guides listed below, plus The Ecological Effects of Roads, Gathering Information with the Freedom of Information Act, and more! Road-Rippers Guide to the National Forests ($5, $8 non-members) By Keith Hammer. How-to procedures for getting roads closed and revegetated, descriptions of environmental laws, road density standards & Forest Service road policies. Road-Rippers Guide to the National Parks ($5, $8 non-members) By David Bahr & Aron Yarmo. Provides background on the National Park System and its use of roads, and outlines how activists can get involved in NPS planning. Road-Rippers Guide to the BLM ($5, $8 non- members) By Dan Stotter. Provides an overview of road-related land and resource laws, and detailed discussions for participating in BLM decision-making processes. Road-Rippers Guide to Off-Road Vehicles ($5, $8 non-members) By Dan Wright. A comprehensive guide to reducing the use and abuse of ORVs on public lands. Includes an extensive bibliography. Road-Rippers Guide to Wildland Road Removal ($5, $8 non-members) By Scott Bagely. Provides technical information on road construction and removal, where and why roads fail, and how you can effectively assess road removal projects. Trails of Destruction ($10) By Friends of the Earth and Wildlands CPR, written by Erich Pica and Jacob Smith. This report explains the ecological impacts of ORVs, federal funding for motorized recreation on public lands, and the ORV industrys role in pushing the ORV agenda.

To order these publications, use the order form on next page

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The Road-RIPorter, Fall Equinox 2003


Wildlands C enter for P reventing R oads P.O. Box 7516 Missoula, MT 59807 If
Wildlands C enter for P reventing R oads P.O. Box 7516 Missoula, MT 59807 If

Wildlands Center for Preventing Roads P.O. Box 7516 Missoula, MT 59807

If its purity and quiet are destroyed and

broken by the noise and smoke

then it

will cease to belong to the whole people and will be unworthy of the care and protection of the national government.

1st Lt. Dan C. Kingman U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Yellowstone National Park 1883

Photo by Glenn Marangelo.

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