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

In This Section


" Repeal of the Roadless Rule

" Logging

" Mining

" Energy Extraction

Threats to our Roadless Areas


Logging and associated road building are the largest contributors to ecosystem destruction in our national forests. These activities increase erosion and sedimentation, damage natural habitats of fish and wildlife through fragmentation, and contaminate natural resources that provide valuable ecological benefits.

The Forest Service often characterizes salvage logging of dead trees as necessary for protecting the health of forests and preventing forest fires. In reality, dead trees are an important factor in the regeneration process of forest ecosystems and provide habitats for various wildlife species. Clearcutting disrupts this fragile ecological cycle and opens these areas to sunlight and wind, drying out the interior of the forest and increasing flammability.

A Taxpayers for Common Sense report, From the Ashes, released in 2000 outlines the ways that commercial logging can increase the risk and severity of wildfire. Commercial logging increases the risk of especially intense and severe wildfires by removing large diameter trees, which are also the most fire resistant. When large diameter trees are harvested, openings in the forest canopy allow more light to reach the forest floor causing increased evaporation and drier underbrush that is susceptible to fire. Of further concern is a commercial logging by-product known as "slash" (piles of dry branches, twigs, bark and needles) that can increase the speed at which a fire spreads. Forests that have experienced extensive commercial logging are at greater risk of experiencing unnaturally intense wildfires than unlogged, roadless areas (Taxpayers for Common Sense, From the Ashes, Washington D.C., Dec. 2000).

Learn more about roadless areas in danger of logging incursions:

Photos of Forests