Not wanting to trust the nation’s roadless forests to the Bush-appointed secretary of agriculture, two U.S. congressmen are introducing a bill that will write roadless protections into federal law.

Responding to the Bush administration’s repeal of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule on May 5, Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Sherwood Boehlert (R- NY)are about to reintroduce The National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act.

The bill was first introduced in 2003 in the Senate by Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and in the House by Inslee. The original legislation garnered 150 cosponsors.

The Roadless Area Conservation Act would provide permanent protection for roadless areas in the national forests. The act would supersede both the original roadless rule and the U.S. Forest Service’s recent weakened regulation that overturned it.

The original Roadless Area Conservation Rule was written during the Clinton administration and went into effect in January 2001. It was the most popular environmental rule ever written, with over 2.5 million public comments, 96 percent of them favorable, over three comment periods. The rule protected 58.5 million roadless acres of national forest from roadbuilding, logging, drilling, mining, and other development.

Last month the Bush administration revoked the popular rule and replaced it with a complicated bureaucratic process that leaves the final decision on all roadless areas up to the secretary of agriculture.

There are many good reasons to preserve the roadless areas in our national forests. Roadless lands preserve essential watersheds and help ensure an abundant supply of clean drinking water. By keeping large areas of forest undisturbed, we can provide refuges for endangered wildlife and avoid fragmenting habitat. Undisturbed lands are an effective barrier to invasive species– a growing problem nationwide. And roadless areas provide a wide array of recreational opportunities.

We don’t need more roads in our national forests. There are already 386,000 miles of them– enough to encircle the globe 15 times. The Forest Service already has a road maintenance backlog of more than $10 billion dollars– at a time when its annual budget is more likely to be cut than expanded.

A law enacted by Congress would ensure that roadless protections are not subject to the whims of a hostile executive branch. It would provide protection for the last unroaded forests in the country– permanently.


The Roadless Area Conservation Act about to be reintroduced in Congress is the best way to preserve roadless areas in our national forests. Our goal is to have 150 original cosponsors before the bill is introduced. Ask your congressional representatives to cosponsor Inslee and Boehlert’s National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act.

Call your representative through the Congressional Switchboard, 202/224-3121, and ask him or her to become an original cosponsor of the 2005 National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act today.

Find your representative at: http://www.house.gov/MemStateSearch.html

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Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places