Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger angered environmental groups last week by coming out in support of the Forest Service rule change that would repeal the Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

In a Nov. 16 letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, California Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman announced that Schwarzenegger does not intend to file a petition to protect the roadless areas of California under the new rule. Chrisman said the governor plans instead to work with the Forest Service as it revises forest management plans in the state.

The Schwarzenegger administration has signalled by this both its support for the rule change and the governor’s unwillingness to protect the roadless forests of California.
The Forest Service’s proposed rule change would require state governors to petition the Secretary of Agriculture if they wanted to protect inventoried roadless areas in their states. Under the proposed rule, if a governor fails to file a petition, or if his or her petition is rejected, roadless area management would default to the Forest Service's forest management plans. Roadbuilding in roadless areas is allowed in 59 percent of the plans.

The original roadless rule, implemented in 2001, was developed after 600 public meetings, and received 2.5 million public comments, 96 percent of them favorable. The rule protects 58.5 million roadless acres of federal forest from logging, mining, and oil drilling, and helps ensure clean water, wilderness recreation, and habitat protection. There are 4.1 million roadless acres in California’s federal forests.

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. Nationwide, 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. In California’s national forests there are more than 44,000 miles of road already, with a $1 billion maintenance backlog.

The Forest Service’s proposal to replace the roadless rule drew 1.7 million public comments, 230,000 of them from California. Forests Forever organized California residents from Sept. 27 to Nov. 15 to speak out in favor of the strong roadless rule.
Public comment on the proposed rule ended Nov. 15. The Forest Service has not said when it will make a final decision on the rule.

If you wrote to the Forest Service in favor of saving the roadless rule, thank you! Our fight continues as we push for passage of two bills that would designate all inventoried roadless areas as wilderness. See "Support the Roadless Area Conservation Act" on our website at https://www.forestsforever.org/roadlessact.html


It’s important that we let Gov. Schwarzenegger know how many Californians favor protecting the state’s roadless areas. Write to the governor and let him know that you think all of California’s remaining roadless areas deserve protection.

(Please feel free to rewrite it in your own words.)

Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger:

I am very disappointed by your failure to support the existing Roadless Area Conservation Rule, and by your refusal to protect the roadless forests of California.
These federal roadless areas are among the last vestiges of pristine forest in the state. Roadless forestlands are more valuable for watersheds, wildlife habitat, and recreation than for logging, oil drilling, or any other form of development.

All national forest roadless areas in California– and across the United States– deserve to be protected. Please withdraw your support of the Forest Service’s proposed rule change, and support the Roadless Area Conservation Rule.


Your name
Your address


(For a Forest Service map of California's Inventoried Roadless Areas, see:)



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

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places