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information: basic background

America's Heritage Forests

Despite what most people believe, more than 80% of our National Forests remain unprotected. Over half of the lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service have already been impacted by decades of forest clearcutting, oil and gas development, mining, and other industrial uses. These 90 million acres are crisscrossed with 377,810 miles of official roads - more than 8 times the U.S. interstate highway system.

Barely 18% of Forest Service lands are permanently protected as congressionally designated wilderness. All of the remaining wilderness lands lay vulnerable to road-building, logging, and other damaging activities.

These wild lands make up America's Heritage Forests, consisting of all the unprotected roadless areas 1000 acres and larger managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Our nation's 60 million acres of Heritage Forests have none of the protections provided to congressionally designated Wilderness.

Why Protect Our Last Wild Forests?

Such remaining wild forests serve a variety of important public values:

  • They are sources of outstanding recreation, unique fish and wildlife habitat, and our cleanest drinking water.
  • Their economic value as recreational assets far outweigh their value for timber production
  • Road building and logging have profound visual impacts and render useless the forest's recreational values.
  • Most importantly, we have a responsibility to protect these special places as an enduring legacy for future generations.

Opportunity: Leave a Forest Legacy for Future Generations

On October 13, 1999 President Clinton, recognizing the importance of national forest roadless areas for their recreational, habitat, and watershed values, directed the U.S. Forest Service to develop a policy to protect up to 60 million acres of these roadless, wild lands. The outpouring of public support from concerned citizens like yourself was one of the main factors that led the President to make this announcement.

Over the next several months, the Forest Service, in response to the Presidents directive, will be developing a draft policy on how roadless areas should be managed and what form of protection they should be granted. In doing so, they are soliciting input from the public on roadless area protection. It is vitally important that your voice be heard during this stage of the policy-making process to ensure that President Clintons bold vision becomes a reality.

You can do two things today to help protect our Heritage Forests:

  • Send an urgent e-postcard to the Clinton-Gore Administration today. It's quick, easy and free! And your message will have the most impact if you send it now.
  • Invite your friends, family and colleagues so they, too, can send a message to protect our Heritage Forests.

Today you can join with other Americans to leave a lasting legacy. Our forests and future generations will thank you for your actions.


step1: send a postcard   | step 2: invite your friends   | step 3: virtual volunteer
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