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Keep Them Roadless!

Katherine Fuselier

On May 5th, 2005 one of the most popular conservation policies in American history was revoked by the Bush administration. Their decision to abandon the landmark Roadless Area Conservation Rule, and replace it with a convoluted petition process, leaves America's last wild forests at risk from destructive commercial logging and road building. This ill-conceived plan ignores the overwhelming public support and forces Governors to petition the Department of Agriculture to protect their wild, roadless National Forests.

The wildly popular Roadless Rule helped protect our remaining wild forests and the clean water, wildlife habitat and outstanding backcountry recreation opportunities from more taxpayer-subsidized commercial logging. In fact, there are already 440,000 miles of roads carved into America's National Forests, at least eight times the size of the Interstate Highway System. Pristine wild forests are important for many reasons, including:

* More than 60 million people in 3,400 communities in 33 states rely on National Forests for their drinking water. Road construction and timber harvest can result in measurable reductions in water quality.

* The number of large fires are dramatically higher in areas that are already roaded than in inventoried roadless areas.

* Human-caused wildland fire is nearly five times more likely to occur on essentially roaded lands than on essentially unroaded lands.

* According to independent scientists: Based on an objective study over 15 years, large wildfires are more likely to occur and to burn to greater extents in areas outside of roadless areas.

* The spread of both native and exotic pests and pathogens in many forest systems can be linked to the ready travel corridors provided by extensive road networks.

* The original Roadless Rule was developed over three years of public hearings and scientific analysis. To date more than 4 million Americans have commented on the original rule, with 95 percent supporting the strongest wild forests protections.

* This policy change is the Bush administration's latest effort to reduce or eliminate decades of National Forest protection and increase spending to benefit timber companies.

  • Public Lands


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