The Roadless Rule has provided decades of common-sense public land protections. With recent rollbacks in various states across the U.S., it’s clear we need to permanently protect our National Forest Roadless Areas.
The Roadless Rule prohibits logging and road-building in remote roadless areas on 58.5 million acres of national forests in 39 states. For nearly 20 years, the rule has prevented costly road building and large-scale industrial logging, that in turn have conserved clean water, protected recreation opportunities, and supported wildlife in our national forests. The rule allows for forest restoration where necessary to improve species habitat, restore degraded ecosystems, or prevent uncharacteristic wildfire. Roadless Areas in national forests also are critical to the economy in many communities, drawing hunters, hikers, anglers, and sightseers from near and far to experience all that roadless national forests provide.
The Roadless Rule is one of the most widely supported environmental policies.
Adopted in 2001 after the most extensive public involvement process in history, the Roadless Rule had and continues to have overwhelming public support. It was adopted after several years of deliberation, 600 public meetings in local communities across the U.S., and 1.6 million public comments. Ninety-six percent of those comments favored strong protection for National Forest Roadless Areas. In a recent March 2019 poll by Pew Charitable Trusts, 75% of the general public support keeping the Roadless Rule, while only 16% oppose it.
The Roadless Rule needs to be stronger to continue to protect critical national forest land.
The threat is real: currently, the U.S. Forest Service has the authority to grant exemptions to the rule, and it has. In fact, the Service granted an exemption in 2016, allowing Colorado to open almost 20,000 acres of national forest to mining activities. Recently, Utah and Alaska also asked to weaken the protections the Roadless Rule provides, even though they are widely supported by the public. Both states have filed petitions seeking exemptions to the rule that would open up a combined 13 million acres of unroaded national forests within their borders.
The Roadless Rule Conservation Act of 2019 would permanently protect the nearly 60 million acres of National Forest Roadless Areas in the U.S.
The Roadless Rule Conservation Act of 2019 would prevent the U.S. Forest Service from granting any further exemptions to the Roadless Rule – including the two exceptions currently sought by Alaska and Utah – effectively protecting the nearly 60 million acres of National Forest Roadless Areas permanently. The legislation does not limit public access to existing roaded areas or reduce recreational opportunities on forest lands. It allows for the construction of roads in limited situations, such as fire, flood, or other catastrophic events.
Did you know you can make your voice even stronger by personalizing your message?
We’ve drafted a letter below for you to send to your congressperson that outlines why we should strengthen the Roadless Rule now. You can simply enter your information and hit send. Or use the text box to personalize your letter, add to it, or start from scratch to tell your federal lawmakers why protecting public lands is important to you!