The Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2005, introduced in the house on Thursday, would protect 58.5 million acres of National Forest lands from commercial logging and road building.  This Act would reinstate one of the most popular rules put in place by Clinton and then overturned by Bush.

ENS Conservationists announced their strong support for a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday that would permanently protect much of the nation’s last pristine National Forest land.

The bill codifies the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, promulgated by President Bill Clinton, which was overturned by the Bush administration in May.

The Forest Service defines roadless areas based on the duration they have been roadless and the length of roads per acre.

Source Roadless Areas (RA’s) are those places in our national forests that have remained relatively free of roads, and therefore also relatively free of logging in the past 50 years or more.  

The Forest Service has a definition of “Roadless” which does not count “undriveable” roads like those impassable even to a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  All-terrain vehicle roads do not count as roads.  There is some fuzziness about roads that are 4-wheel drive passable but not ordinary passenger vehicle passable.  The definition of “Roadless Area” permits the existence of .5 miles of defined “road” per 1000 acres.

Areas over 5000 acres in size (or smaller areas connecting to existing Wilderness Areas) meeting the Forest Service definition are “Inventoried Roadless Areas”.  These areas have special status under Forest Service Rules, and these are also the areas that the Clinton Administration sought to protect from future logging and roading with its Roadless Area Rules, the Rules that the Bush folks are  gutting.

You can view maps of roadless areas in your state.

The Act would still allow construction of temporary roads when human safety or forest health would benefit.

Protection of roadless areas has strong public support and scientific backing.

“This legislation listens to the will of the American people,” said Robert Vandermark of the National Environmental Trust. “Before the Bush Administration officially repealed the Roadless Rule over four million public comments were submitted in support of protecting all our roadless areas.”

The Roadless Rule was approved following years of scientific study and more than 600 public meetings across the country. During its consideration, 2.5 million Americans wrote the Federal government in support of the rule, making it the most popular in American history. Since then, another 1.8 million comments were received by the Bush administration opposing their plan and urging reinstatement of the original protection policy.

That’s right 2.5 million in support of roadless protection and 1.8 million opposed to Bush’s plan.  The voice of the people stated loud and clear.  Please encourage your Rep. to support the Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2005.

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