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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

Heritage Forests Campaign Fact Sheet

Recreation and the Future of Our National Forests

The U.S. Forest Service's Roadless Area Conservation Rule protects the remaining pristine areas of America’s rapidly diminishing wild National Forest lands. All of the 58.5 million acres of National Forest lands covered by the rule continue to be open to the public for recreational purposes, allowing millions of Americans each year to enjoy hiking, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, canoeing, rock climbing, and a host of other activities. As national forests continue to draw ever-increasing numbers of visitors each year, and with more than one-half of these lands already open to logging, mining and drilling, protection of these last undisturbed lands achieves the necessary balance between conservation and recreation and industrial development.


Approximately 85 percent of the revenue generated from national forests comes from recreational activities--more than five times the amount generated by logging. Currently, U.S. parks and forestws, including the 58.5 million acres affected by the roadless policy, provide an estimated $100 billion in recreational benefits and nearly 333,000 jobs each year.
(U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Commerce, "1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation")

"Protecting these wilderness areas does more than safeguard fish and wildlife. A Forest Service economic study of the 42 million roadless public forests in the lower 48 states found that these tracts provide almost $600 million in recreation benefits each year, more than $280 million in passive use values such as increasing surrounding land values, and nearly 24,000 jobs. .these forests belong to all our citizens, not to a few industries."
(Editorial, The Tampa Tribune, May 4, 2001)

“As we've pointed out before, roadless areas in the national forests are roadless for a reason. They're generally the most rugged, remote places with the poorest timber. It's hugely expensive to build roads into these areas. Economics and common sense have kept these places roadless. As headwaters, secure habitat for wildlife and attractive recreation areas, this backcountry remains extremely valuable, left just as it is.”
(Editorial, The Missoulian, December 19, 2002)


"The original roadless area conservation policy would have ensured continued access to some of our nation's most significant recreation destinations. This would have enhanced recreational opportunities for the 137 million Americans who last year participated in active outdoor recreation.
(Frank Hugelmeyer, President of Outdoor Industry Association, May 4, 2001)

"Adding 58 million acres to the inventory of roadless areas in America's National Forest is an investment in the future of the Outdoor Industry, a $17.8 billion a year industry. As a business trade association, we believe the proper federal investment is on the existing inventory of roads and the real growth area in America's National Forests-recreation."
(Outdoor Industry Association, "Roadless Areas Conservation Policy: It's Good for the Outdoor Industry" 2001)


In a survey of hunters who hunt in national forests, commissioned by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Alliance (TRCA), 83 percent of the hunters supported keeping roadless areas in their current roadless state.
(Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, April 4, 2000)


The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail are among the hundreds of thousands of trails which are protected by the Roadless Area Conservation Policy, to be enjoyed by hikers, bikers, and trail enthusiasts without threat of ruin by logging, mining, and other industrial activity.

Photos of Forests