The Bush administration has declared that the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, issued by the US Forest Service in January of this year to protect the last of America's wild National Forests, was made with inadequate public input, even though 600 public hearings were held all around the nation, and the number of Americans that wrote comments on this rule was five times that ever given on a Federal rule in US history. Ninety-Five percent of the 1.6 million official comments that led to the Roadless Area Conservation Rule favored the strongest possible protection for the remaining roadless areas in America's National Forests. |
More than two-thirds of the U.S. national forest system is criss- crossed by 380,000 miles of roads (enough to circle the planet more than 16 times); that break up habitat, cause soil erosion, and leave fragmented stands of timber that are vulnerable to disease and wildfires.. Remaining roadless areas (about a quarter of national forest land) have the heaviest concentrations of virgin stands of trees and pristine streams.
With an $8.4 billion backlog of road maintenance needs, the Forest Service cannot even maintain existing roads. The Roadless Policy protects the remaining pristine areas of America's rapidly diminishing wild National Forest lands without a single "No Trespassing" sign. No existing roads are closed, all trails remain open, and the public enjoys access to recreation on these treasured National Forest lands without the threat of clearcuts or industrial development.
In July the Bush administration put out a new public comment period requesting answers to ten loaded questions that portend reversal of the rule and the loss of hard-won protections for America's for wild forests. Oregon Natural Resource Center has made it easy to submit comments in support of roadless forest protection at http://www.onrc.org/alerts/107.usfsannounce.html