Volume 81, Number 1

April 2006

A New Direction? Forest Service Decisionmaking and Management of National Forest Roadless Areas

William J. Wailand

Making natural resource management decisions in roadless areas of our national forests has long been a contentious issue. The Forest Service, under President Bush, recently passed a rule allowing states to petition the administration regarding how they wish these roadless areas to be managed. The rule envisions that states will collaborate with all concerned parties in formulating these petitions, but sets no standards ensuring such a process. Given the difficulty of achieving collaboration, the lack of standards makes this purported goal less likely and suggests that the rule may have been an attempt to open roadless areas to development. Nonetheless, this Note urges states and stakeholders to undertake collaboration and argues that the administration should use its oversight to encourage this process rather than unwanted development. In this way, the new rule has the potential to facilitate broadly acceptable management policies and provide valuable experience in the field of collaborative environmental management.