Washington, D.C., June 22–U.S. Senator Ben NighthorseCampbell Tuesday called for a detailed study of the economic impacts of theForest Service’s management plan for the White River National Forest inColorado.
The required study, added as an amendment to an Interiorappropriations bill, would force the Forest Service to determine how muchits restrictive Alternative D management plan would cost “and how manypeople will be put out of business,” according to Campbell. He has been avocal critic of the plan and said, in a prepared statement, he was worriedthe Forest Service’s plan would hurt skiing, “an industry vital toColorado’s economy.”
But environmentalists who support Alternative D say Campbell is trying toscuttle the management plan and that its economic impacts had already beenstudied. In fact, a reading of the management plan shows a modest increasein skier capacities and jobs at the 12 resorts affected by the plan, ifexpansions to current permit boundaries take place.
The catch is, there’sno guarantee that all possible expansions to current limits would takeplace since each would be reviewed by the feds separately and alternativeuses (like establishing Canada lynx habitat) could take precedence overskiing.
The Congress has all summer to debate the value of a number of amendmentsplaced on the Interior bill and will probably begin negotiating those tokeep and those to remove in August or September, say Washington watchers.In the meantime, the Forest Service is right in the middle of readingthrough public comments it has received on Alternative D and fashioningresponses that may or may not result in compromises to the plan. The finalmanagement plan is expected to be released in May of 2001.