Heritage Forests Campaign Once They're Gone, They're Gone Forever
The Roadless Rule
Threats to Roadless Areas
Politics and Policy
America's Roadless Areas
Enjoying Your Wild Forests
Roadless Areas by State
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Fact Sheets & Reports
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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

In This Section


" Rulemaking

" Litigation

" Public Support

" On Capitol Hill

Public Support

Public Comments Overwhelmingly In Favor of the Roadless Rule

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule was enacted following more than two decades of broad debate and three years of official review and public participation. More Americans took part in this rule-making process than in any other federal rule making in history.

The Forest Service held over 600 public meetings and hearings on each national forest and in each Forest Service region and received a record-breaking 1.7 million official comments: five times more comments than in any other federal rule-making process. More than 95% of these comments supported the strongest possible protection for all of our nationís remaining roadless areas. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Never before have the American people so actively participated in helping to decide how their public lands should be managed."

Comments Supporting Roadless Area Conservation Policy

The map to the right illustrates the broad geographic support for protecting our last wild forests. Comments were submitted from all 50 states, with the vast majority in support of the roadless rule. Click here to learn how many comments were submitted in your state.

Despite this, the administration broke its own promise to uphold roadless protections and overturned the rule. Find out more about the repeal.

Opinion Polls
Newspaper Editorials
Religious Support
Scientific Support

Opinion Polls

Over the past seven years no fewer than 18 separate opinion polls have shown strong public support for national forest conservation. In April 2001, The Mellman Group wrote:
"There is widespread and overwhelming support for protecting wild areas in national forests from logging, mining, and drilling for oil and gas. A strong majority of voters (67%) favor the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, with 49% saying they favor this policy strongly (19% oppose). Support for this ruling cuts across partisan and regional lines. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Democrats, 66% of independents and even 58% of Republicans support protecting these areas. Similarly support is strong in all regions of the country. Seventy-one percent (71%) of people from the Northeast, 68% of Midwesterners, 65% of Southerners and 64% of those in the West favor the rule to protect pristine national forestlands."
These results are mirrored by a number of earlier polls conducted by Republican and Democratic pollsters and a variety of interest groups throughout the country. In March 2000, for example, a series of 11 statewide polls, conducted by seven different polling firms, found strong public support for protecting the remaining wild areas of national forests:

State Pollster Support Oppose
California Fairbanks, Masslin & Maulin 72% 22%
Colorado Ridder/Braden 75% 20%
Idaho Ridder/Braden 57% 38%
Michigan The Mellman Group 69% 23%
Montana The Feldman Group 76% 21%
Minnesota Fairbanks, Masslin & Maulin 53% 41%
New Mexico Polling and Research 71% 20%
Oregon Ridder/Braden 67% 27%
Tennessee Mason-Dixon Research 72% 12%
Washington Ridder/Braden 72% 20%
Wisconsin Chamberlain Research Consultants 83% 12%

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership conducted a poll of licensed U.S. hunters and anglers concerning their knowledge and beliefs about forest management and the value of wild areas. Included in their findings were that:

  • 84% of hunters supported (55% strongly and 29% moderately) efforts by sportsmen to keep the remaining roadless areas in National Forests roadless.
  • 86% of anglers supported (48% strongly and 38% moderately) efforts by sportsmen to keep the remaining roadless areas in National Forests roadless.

In December 1999 and January 2000 pollster Linda Divall surveryed 1,000 registered voters and found:

  • 76% supported the roadless areas protection proposal
  • A majority in each region felt that the U.S. does not have enough permanently protected land in our national forests.
  • Protections for roadless areas has broad support across political parties. 62% of Republicans, 86% of Democrats, and 78% of Independents supported the roadless protection plan.

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Newspaper Editorials

NEW! Read the latest editorials here as newspapers from across the country blast the Administration's Roadless Rule abandonment.

Over the last three years, more than 300 newspapers have made their support known through editorials.

"Despite legal setbacks and broad-based public opposition, the Bush administration remains intent on repealing the immensely popular, sensible and scientifically sound 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Congress should put an end to this industry-driven quest by approving a bipartisan bill that would give permanent protection to nearly 60 million acres of roadless national forests, including 2 million acres in Oregon. By approving the National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act, Congress can take the stewardship of this nation's dwindling inventory of protected federal forests out of the hands of individual states, the federal courts and the Bush administration."
Eugene Register-Guard, June 5, 2007

"...a large, bipartisan group in Congress ... have proposed a bill that would codify the Clinton rule into law, settle the matter once and for all, and give 60 million acres of national forest the protection they deserve from bulldozers and road-graders. Congress should put this rule into statute and remove it from the whims of governors, conflicting court decisions and Bush administration functionaries."
Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 4, 2007

"The Bush administration has spent time and money looking at various stratagems to undo a valid Clinton administration rule protecting roadless areas. Congress should put its foot down on the shenanigans."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 31, 2007

"Outdoor lovers can cheer. A federal judge has ordered that national protection for roadless areas in national forests must be reinstated. These are the wild places where the deer and the antelope play. As our population booms and rooftops spread across more of the state, it becomes increasingly important to leave some spots untouched ... That's why everyone from environmentalists to hunters and anglers should applaud this court decision ... Instead of building new roads, it's a good time to start taking care of those we have now."
The Arizona Republic, September 27, 2006

"We applaud last week's court decision reinstating the "roadless rule" for national forest lands, and not only because it restores needed protections for some of this country's last, best wilderness. The ruling is also a plain rebuke of the Bush administration's dishonest approach to remaking law it doesn't like."
Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 27, 2006

"For good reason, the Clinton administration in 2001 barred new roads in these areas after years of debate and study. Since taking office, the Bush team went the opposite way and restarted road-building plans ... On this issue, the Bush team is way out of touch with the public, which wants the wild country left alone."
San Francisco Chronicle, September 25, 2006

"Conservation rules painstakingly developed in the Clinton administration to protect millions of acres of roadless forests from logging, mining and drilling have been restored by a federal judge. This is good news for the environment and taxpayers."
Seattle Times, September 25, 2006

"Their protection is vital for wildlife, for pure water and for the quiet and solitude that forests provide to those who visit them -- hunters, anglers, hikers -- to escape the noise, crowds and ugliness that dominate so much of the rest of our world. The Clinton-era rule protects 58.5 million acres of forest across the country but also rightly allows temporary road construction that is necessary to fight wildfires, provide for public safety and keep forests healthy. Judge Laporte's ruling offers hope that those millions of Americans who spoke up for the forests will be heard."
The Salt Lake Tribune, September 25, 2006

"It doesn't make environmental, economic or political sense to open millions more acres to road construction. The feds already have a multibillion-dollar backlog of forest-road maintenance work that must be done to prevent landslides and erosion ... that's a simple explanation for why the federal government should leave the roadless rule alone."
Salem Statesman Journal, November 14, 2005

"The Bush proposal is bad news for fish, wildlife, hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. It should be scrapped in favor of the original roadless rule."
Olympia Olympian, May 12, 2005

"It would be unconscionable and shortsighted to transform wild, remote places into road-laced industrial areas. 'The greatest good to the greatest number' was made clear by the widespread public support for the Roadless Area Conservation Rule: Protect the last remaining untouched acres of our national forests."
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, May 14, 2005

"The roadless rule protecting the nation's remote forests was long overdue, sensible, responsible and popular with the general public. Scrapping it amounts to taking a giant step backward into the time before Americans understood the importance of the dwindling wild places."
Winston-Salem Journal, May 11, 2005

"The Bush administration's undoing of the roadless rule for national forests marks a low point in the stewardship of one of America's most important natural assets."
Detroit Free Press, May 11, 2005

"Roadless areas provide a valuable resource for recreation, contiguous and critical habitat for wildlife and protection for the nation's drinking water sources. Removing such protection is bad policy both fiscally and environmentally and will result in the loss of something that can never be recovered."
Portland Press Herald, May 9, 2005

"In one of the greatest abdications of federal responsibility in recent memory, the Bush administration last Thursday reversed a Clinton-era ban on development in roadless areas, the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule."
Great Falls Tribune, May 9, 2005

"The national forests belong to all of us, north to south, east to west. Those who happen to live near federal land often see it as a resource, a source of income. The rest of the nation tends to view the land as a sanctuary or preserve, which are commodities of a different sort. The roadless rule balanced those interests. The Bush plan tips the scales toward parochial profiteers"
- Boulder Daily Camera, May 8, 2005

"The White House is at odds with one of the most compelling conservation measures in U.S. history ... This is not in the best interests of the land, the people who own it all American citizens or future generations of Americans, in whose conservation interests we should presume to act conservatively."
Albuquerque Tribune, May 7, 2005

"An administration that is tone-deaf on many environmental issues has an especially acute hearing problem on the roadless issue. The administration keeps pushing ahead even though every poll, and every comment period, shows overwhelming public support for preserving roadless areas ... more than 2 million Americans will have urged two successive presidents to protect these lands. And yet the Bush administration acts as though it hasn't heard a word."
Portland Oregonian, November 14, 2004

"[F]ederal forests are unique because they belong to all Americans. These beautiful areas should remain roadless in Vermont; these pristine stretches should remain roadless in Montana. As a nation, we made a choice to preserve our most open areas. That must not change. Once our undeveloped lands are lost, they are gone forever."
Burlington Free Press, September 5, 2004

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Religious Support

Many religious groups and organizations have a solid belief and interest in protecting the roadless rule.

"As leaders and members of the U.S. faith community, we view caring for Godís creation as an important moral and religious obligation. We also view protection of the environment as a responsibility shared by all. We urge you to exercise this responsibility by implementing the Roadless Area Conservation Policy immediately and by vigorously defending it in court."
Leaders and Members of the U.S. Faith Community to President Bush,, April 30, 2001

"As representatives of many faith community traditions, we urge you to support strong protections for roadless areas in national forests by voting for the Inslee-Davis-Tauscher Amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill."
Leaders and Members of the U.S. Faith Community to Members of Congress,, July 17, 2003

"When the Interior Appropriations bill comes to the House floor, you will have an opportunity to protect publics lands from significantly increased road building. On behalf of Restoring Eden and the many serious Christians with whom we work, I urge you to vote for the Representatives Inslee-Davis-Tauscher Roadless Rule Amendment and the Representative Udall RS 2477 Amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill.."
Restoring Eden: Christians for Environmental Stewardship, July 17, 2003

Scientific Support

Scientists from across the country have expressed in detail why the roadless rule should be upheld.

"As North American scientists with experience in biological research, conservation, and management of forest resources, including knowledge about the Tongass Land Management Plan, we are writing in support of keeping Alaskaís national forests in the U.S. Forest Serviceís national roadless area policy. We recognize there are strong pressures to remove Alaskaís national forests from this policy. In our professional judgment, both the Tongass and Chugach national forests should remain an integral part of this important national policy, which has received strong public and scientific support from across the nation. This policy is based on a solid foundation of science and will do much to safeguard the ecological integrity of Alaskaís coastal forest ecosystem."
North American Scientists to President Bush, June 30, 2003

"We write to urge you to take decisive action to protect the remaining undeveloped and roadless areas within the national forests of the United States. As scientists working in natural resource-related disciplines including biology, forest ecology, geology, aquatic ecology, fisheries, soil science, and natural resource management, we are greatly concerned about the continuing loss and fragmentation of the nationís forests. In light of the many important benefits they provide, we feel it wise that the few remaining, intact roadless areas within the national forests be preserved. The final Roadless Area Conservation Rule, issued January 12, 2001, is an important step towards preserving the invaluable ecological services and the tremendous aesthetic and recreational benefits that intact forests provide."
Natural Resource Scientists to President Bush, May 1, 2001

"We write to endorse strong protection for the remaining unroaded and undeveloped portions of national forests in the United States. As scientists working in natural-resource-related disciplines, we understand the enormous significance of your commitment to halting activities that degrade undeveloped national forest areas. We strongly agree with your conclusion that "these unspoiled places must be managed through science, not politics." In light of the irreplaceable functions these areas serve, it is wise to provide them as much protection from development as possible."
Natural Resource Scientists to President Clinton, October 9, 2000

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Photos of Forests