Heritage Forests Campaign Once They're Gone, They're Gone Forever
The Roadless Rule
Our Forests At Risk
Our Forests At Risk
America's Roadless Areas
Enjoying Your Wild Forests
Roadless Areas by State
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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

In This Section


" Roadless Rule Status

" The Bush Administration's Efforts to Undermine the Roadless Rule

" The Economics of Roadless Areas

" Roadless Area Conservation Rule Timeline

" Roadless Litigitation Timeline

" The Roadless Rule: A Narrative History

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule More Details

The roadless rule is a balanced policy that protects nearly 60 million acres of our nationís last wild forests. The rule was crafted following years of scientific evidence, hundreds of public meetings across the country, and 1.6 million public comments. To date the Forest Service has received more than 2.5 million comments on the rule 95% in favor.

Providing Protection

"The roadless policy would refocus resources on maintaining roads while protecting wildlife habitat and watershed quality. Those are important goals. Even more important is the recognition that managing the forests is about more than the extraction of resources, no matter how carefully."
(Editorial, The Washington Post, May 2, 2001)

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule's major benefits include:

  • Protecting 58.5 million acres of national forest land in 39 states;
  • Maintaining current public access and recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, hunting and fishing;
  • Preserving critical habitat for more than 1,500 species of fish and wildlife, including many threatened, endangered, or sensitive plant and animal species;
  • Safeguarding clean water from forest headwaters and streams, the source of drinking water for millions of Americans.

Striking A Balance

"With this plan the Forest Service strikes a balance, too often missing in the past, between the importance of exploiting natural resources and the value of preserving wilderness. It's the right balance and it ought to be maintained."
(Editorial, The Washington Post, January 7, 2001)

While providing critical ecological forest protection, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule:

  • Allows new roads to be built in specified circumstances, such as to fight fires or in the event that other natural events threaten public safety;
  • Allows logging of certain timber to reduce the risk of wildfire;
  • Provides full access for recreational activities such as backpacking, camping, hunting and fishing, and closes no existing road or trail;
  • Permits expansion of oil and gas operations within existing and renewed leasing areas;
  • Does not change state or private landowners' right to access their land.

Photos of Forests