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Secure Rural Schools Forest Service FY 2007 Initiative - The FY 2007 President's Budget proposes to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program for another five years. To help fund this initiative, the Administration recommends selling a limited number of acres of National Forest System lands around the nation. Lands that are potentially eligible have been identified and are displayed in a table here.
The Forest Service will be publishing a notice in the Federal Register around February 28th, requesting comments from the public. At that time, more detailed maps will be available for all lands identified as potentially eligible. The location of the maps will be published on this site at that date.
This is pretty disturbing, because even though funding rural schools is important, I'm not sure selling tons of national forest land to private owners is the solution. There are other options, for instance, less weapons and illegal wars, perhaps.
Agriculture Secretary Mark Rey says that these lands "are not the crown jewels," and Forest Service spokeperson Heidi Valetkevitch's says that the "lands in question aren't environmentally sensitive wilderness or protected scenic areas." However, American Whitewater says they "question the adequacy of their review."
Take a look at the list of acreage to be sold. It's about 300,000 acres. I used to go hiking and camping in Pisgah National Forest with my parents, and now they're going to sell alot of it. What if the areas where I used to camp in the gorgeous wilderness of NC one day becomes a Walmart? I shudder to think...
UPDATE: Harlan Weikel, of The Naked Vegetarian, emailed me today with a great idea. Since our national forests are to be auctioned off, Harlan thought it would be a great idea to use Greener Magazine's Greener Earth Maps idea to map out all of the areas that are at risk of being sold using satellite photos. Harlan:
I enjoy mapping and it occurred that perhaps our readers would get more up at arms over this deal if they could see actual satellite photos of these beautiful pristine areas before they're sold off and, as you say, a Wal-Mart goes up. I've taken the liberty of attaching a screen shot from the mapping page to show you what it looks like. The shot is of the Bitterroot in Montana, which is the first PDF map on the USDA page linked in your article.
Any volunteers to help? This could be a big undertaking.