Roadless forests are crucial for some of America's most-loved wildlife.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives stymied an effort to pass H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, which became loaded with provisions designed to increase clear-cut logging and put wildlife at risk in some of America’s wildest national forests – including a last-minute addition that would've stripped roadless protections from Alaska's national forests. In attempting to appease special interests and anti-public lands members of Congress, the bill ultimately became un-passable, leading to today’s outcome.
The Wilderness Society released the following statement from National Forest Defense Campaign Manager Megan Birzell:
“The Farm Bill should be a bipartisan effort focused on providing sustainable food and farm policy for America. Instead, Republicans attempted to renege on the bipartisan fire funding deal struck only weeks ago and doubled down on policies designed to eliminate environmental review, block public input, and gut protections for America’s roadless national forests. That’s a non-starter when an overwhelming majority of Americans love their wild public lands.
“As the Senate begins work on their farm bill, we urge Chairman Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Stabenow (D-MI) to uphold the spirit of the bipartisan fire funding deal and reject controversial forest and anti-public lands policies in the farm bill.”
Inventoried roadless areas constitute roughly one-third of all National Forest System lands, or approximately 58.5 million acres. Although inventoried roadless areas comprise only 2% of the land base in the continental United States, they are found within 661 of the over 2,000 major watersheds in the nation and provide critical protection for America’s drinking water, wildlife, and recreation opportunities like camping, hunting and fishing.
These areas are protected from road construction, timber harvesting and other development under the terms of a 2001 policy called the “Roadless Rule”. The House provisions sought to freeze the public out of land management decisions and put wildlife habitat at risk.