Colorado's San Juan National Forest contains thousands of acres of wild "roadless" forest, the likes of which is at risk under new proposals in Congress.
Credit: Paxson Woelber, flickr
The House of Representatives has rejected proposals that would have allowed damaging logging practices in some of our wildest forests while freezing the public out of land management decisions and putting wildlife habitat at risk.
The attack was woven into a package of legislation known as the "farm bill." Every few years, the farm bill comes up for renewal, including funds for farming subsidies, food stamp programs, rural development and a host of other loosely agriculture-related purposes.
The farm bill is usually seen as a fairly bipartisan exercise. But the version of the farm bill voted on by members of the House of Representatives was a shocking departure from that standard, containing dozens of provisions that would jeopardize our forests, endangered species and bedrock environmental laws.
About seven percent of Northern California's Mendocino National Forest is designated an inventoried roadless area and protected from road construction. Credit: Gregory Veen, flickr.
Like past bad proposals for managing forests, some of these are couched as a way of fighting wildfires. But the practices the farm bill encourages could actually exacerbate fire damage and increase future risk—not to mention subjecting wild forests to further wear at the hands of heavy logging machinery.
In the coming weeks, the Senate will take up some version of the farm bill as well. As it develops, we will be working to ensure wild forests are protected in the final product.
Our Wild Forests should be protected from destructive logging and development
In March, we fought proposals that could have introduced logging and road-building to millions of acres of America's wildest forests. Congress listened to us and ultimately passed a bill to fund the federal government without those provisions.
That was a big victory. Right off the bat, these proposals could have introduced logging and road-building to nearly 15 million acres of pristine forest in Alaska. Even more troubling, they could have set a precedent leading to development in wild forest areas across the U.S., likely including some public lands near you. That would have jeopardized everything from wildlife habitat to clean drinking water to the robust outdoor recreation economy.
Just weeks after Congress rejected those provisions, they have put Our Wild Forests at risk again. In the coming months, it is very likely we'll see other attempts to open these places up for logging and road-building, including by the Trump administration. Stay tuned to learn more about how you can help us stand up for forests.