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Roadless Forests

Wild, roadless forests are key to healthy wildlife and the quality of human life.

Priceless gifts

Looking into the Profanity Roadless Area in the Kettle River Range. Photo: Tim ColemanThe roadless forests are impossible to replace: clean water and air, thriving wildlife and unconfined areas for recreation, hunting, fishing and solace-seeking. Some 1.2 million Americans commented on the Roadless Area Conservation Rule before it was formalized in the late 1990s; 96 percent of the people supported a ban on new road building in our largest tracts of undeveloped forest.


Fishing is enjoyed by all generations. Photo copyright Paul AndersonWashington's pristine roadless areas are located throughout the state in the Olympic, Mount-Baker Snoqualmie, Gifford Pinchot, Wenatchee, Okanogan, Colville, and Umatilla National Forests. Some of Washington's natural treasures are found in these wild areas–the Dark Divide in the shadow of Mt. Adams in southwest Washington; the Kettle Range in the northeast corner of the state; and the South Quinault Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula. These areas are also home to some of the state's rare and endangered species–the northern spotted owl, the Snake River sockeye salmon, the mountain caribou, and many other plant, animal, and fish species.


Map source: The Wilderness SocietyThe Roadless Area Conservation Rule was enacted in 2001, and created designated areas where roadbuilding and logging were prohibited, while allowing for management against fire or disease. Four years later, the Bush administration repealed the rule, putting more than 770,000 acres of forestland in danger. Conservation Northwest  joined with other organizations to challenge Bush's repealing the rule. The next year a federal judge decided the Bush administration had acted illegally, effectively reinstating the rule. In 2007, a bipartisan bill was introduced by congress to protect the roadless forests. It is in the process of gaining co-sponsors. Conservation Northwest is looking forward to working with the incoming administration to continue to preserve Washington's roadless forests.

For more background on the roadless rule

For recent progress on protecting roadless areas

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