Public invited to comment on Herbert’s proposal to amend Forest Service ‘roadless rule’

Composite image. Photo of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaking during 31st annual Utah Rural Summit in Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 2, 2018, overlaid on June 18, 2017, file photo of Brian Head Fire | Herbert photo by Jeff Richards. Brian Head Fire photo by Scott Young, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — With Utah and other western states experiencing yet another devastating wildfire season, Gov. Gary Herbert said he believes the state can do a better job of managing its own forests and that he plans to petition the federal government to allow that to happen.

In this July 2018 file photo, the West Valley Fire burns near Pine Valley, Washington County, Utah | Photo courtesy of InciWeb, St. George News

Anyone interested is invited to comment online or attend a public forum Tuesday for discussion about the governor’s proposal for forest management in Utah. The open house runs from 5-7 p.m. at the Heritage Center, 105 N. 100 East, in Cedar City.

There were more than 875 fires during the 2018 fire season, prompting Herbert to issue a directive to the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office to work with the U.S. Forest Service to improve the health of Utah’s forests. To that end, the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office plans to submit a Utah-specific amendment to the to the U.S. Forest Service’s 2001 “Roadless Rule.”

While the rule was intended to protect Utah’s forests, the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office says its regulations limit the ability of forest managers to perform critical forest management activities, such as removing dead fall, thinning overgrown forests and cutting trees killed by bark beetle infestations, unless a wildfire is imminent.

“With nearly half the State’s forests falling under this designation, we’ve got to make it easier for the forest managers to improve forest health before it is too late,” Herbert said in a press release. “This petition will give us more tools to proactively manage forest health and reduce the conditions that result in wildfires that negatively impact wildlife, air and water quality.”

Utah is now developing the proposal for a Utah-specific “roadless rule” that would give the Forest Service the flexibility to perform active forest management where it’s most needed.

Input from Utah state agencies, Utah counties, stakeholders and the general public will be included in the proposal and future studies generated if the proposal is accepted by the Forest Service.

Those unable to attend the open house Tuesday can also find more information or make public comment at Utah’s Our Forests website.

Event details 

  • What: Open house discussing proposed amendments to U.S. Forest Service “Roadless Rule.”
  • When: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 5-7 p.m.
  • Where: Heritage Center, 105 N. 100 East, Cedar City.
  • Details: Open to the public.

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  • jaltair October 29, 2018 at 11:45 pm

    Utah knows what is needed to protect Utah lands much better than some committee sitting in DC. I agree there needs to be more preemptive measures to fight against fires and other harmful entities that threaten our UT forest lands. Road Rules need modified to allow these measures.

    • bikeandfish October 30, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      The proposal doesn’t deal with Utah owned forests nor does it give the state any control. The goal is to simply ammend the roadless rule for USFS land in Utah to give the districts more flexibility.

      • jaltair October 30, 2018 at 10:51 pm

        Thank you for clarifying.

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