Mineral Data in the Forest Service's Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II) Is Misleading and Should Be Corrected

Gao ID: EMD-82-29 February 4, 1982

In reviewing the executive branch input into establishing a national wilderness preservation system, GAO studied the Forest Service's Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II) report.

GAO found that, in the Forest Service's apparent rush to compute numerical mineral ratings, fundamental coding errors slipped into the RARE II report, misleading the reader into thinking that many study areas had no mineral potential when the potential was not actually known. Congress closely followed RARE II recommendations in its wilderness designation for four States, but may have been misled on the quality and quantity of data on which the Forest Service based its mineral ratings. Since wilderness legislation is currently pending and other State wilderness acts are expected to be introduced in the near future, GAO believes that it is important that Congress be aware of the inadequacy of mineral ratings in the RARE II report. Other questions that GAO believes need to be addressed to assure the most orderly establishment and administration of the wilderness preservation system include: (1) the merits of recurring mineral assessments in established wilderness areas without a stated policy and procedure for the possible reversal of wilderness decisions or other likely uses of the assessments; (2) possible solutions to the apparent failure to realize the congressional intent of continued industry exploration in potential wilderness areas until 1984; and (3) how best, and in what format, to provide Congress with the type of mineral information it needs to make wilderness determinations.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: John W. Sprague Team: General Accounting Office: Energy and Minerals Division Phone: (202) 512-7783

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