Roadless Area Update
Aug 23, 2007
The Bush administration has tried repeatedly to dismantle protections for roadless wild forests. Permanent protection may be the answer.
In 2006 a federal court ruled that the Bush administration illegally ignored the environmental effects of replacing the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule with a state-by-state petition process for roadless area protection. The court ruling resulted from a lawsuit brought by six states, including Washington, and twenty conservation groups, including Conservation Northwest. The legal decision effectively reinstates the 2001 rule, protecting 58.5 million acres of inventoried national forest roadless areas (unfortunately, not including Alaska's Tongass National Forest) , including 2 million acres in Washington State.
In the summer of 2007, Congressional representatives introduced a bipartisan bill to protect America's roadless forests. That legislation is still gaining cosponsors and support in the House of Representatives.
Map source: The Wilderness Society
The careful and balanced criteria established in the 2001 Roadless Rule is a conservative, common-sense approach for managing the nation’s inventoried roadless areas, which provide the best wildlife habitat, water quality, and backcountry hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, and horseback riding opportunities in the country. The rule protects the wild forests in these areas from road building and commercial logging while still allowing for multiple recreation opportunities and management for fire and human safety.
“The court ruling does not hinder our ability to find common-ground with timber, recreation and other community interests to reduce fire risk near communities, restore areas degraded by past logging and road-building, and build and maintain trails,” notes Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest.
Thanks to all of you, our members, who have written letters, made calls, attended endless hearings, and have worked so hard over the years to protect the roadless lands that you love.