Risch, Environmentalists Testify On Idaho Roadless Rule

BOISE (AP) — Idaho Lt. Governor Jim Risch is expected to lead off Monday’s testimony in Washington D.C. on proposed new rules for managing Idaho’s vast roadless backcountry.

Risch played a key role in developing guidelines for the state’s 9.3 million acres of roadless forests and backcountry while serving as governor last year.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Forest issued a draft rule that divides the lands into several categories, each with different rules for preservation or road building for logging, mining and other uses.

Idaho was the first western state to develop its own policy for managing those federal lands.

Risch says the federal rule … based on state input … strictly protects some of the most magnificent and unique properties in America.

Still, environmentalists criticize the rule, saying it exposes too much roadless land to potential development.