Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 24, 2011

Will There Be Roads In National Forest Wilderness?

National Forest Wilderness: Protect it or Mine it?

California Watch‘s recent story discussed the continuing conflicts over use of the national forests. In 2001  the largest review of public lands led President Bill Clinton to establish a rule that protected large areas of national forest from roads and development.  His decision has been in the courts ever since.  Two circuit courts have ruled in favor of the rule protecting the wilderness areas.  These rulings will stand unless a new law is passed.

There are two competing pieces of legislation in congress. There is the bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee D-Wash., the Roadless Area Conservation Act , which would turn President Clinton’s rule into a law. Cantwell and Inslee have introduced various forms of this bill since 2002.

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. proposed  the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act – which would allow the use of 43 million acres  for oil and gas development, motorized recreation and logging. The California Watch story states:

“The recommendations upon which McCarthy’s bill relies are from a 1979 U.S. Forest Service report [PDF] that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had called ‘inadequate because of its use of unsupported and undocumented statements, its lack of related data on demands for resources, and its unbalanced economic approach.’”

It seems the efforts to protect the national forest wilderness will be an ongoing story. Read full story at California Watch. Federal bills compete over national forest roads


  1. Those who say there’s no economic benefit to wilderness other than mining, logging and other extractive uses are the few who are trying to make a buck at the public’s expense. Many more people gain from “ecosystem services” rendered by the forest — which last essentially forever, and are not just a boom waiting to go bust. See and


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