Roads and Development Threaten Backcountry

Backcountry is best for hunters and anglers

If you want to find the big bulls, bucks and the healthiest wild fish, you’ll have to head into the backcountry. Today, many of those acres are roadless areas, protected by the 2001 Roadless Rule that ensures these special places maintain their wild character. Roadless areas cover about 50 million acres of the backcountry in the Lower 48, and provide some of the best hunting and the best fishing in the country. Even if you’ve never been in a roadless area, you benefit from them. They are the workhorses for the front country, providing cover and security to game herds, clean, productive water for wild and native trout, and clean air and water to surrounding communities.

Millions of miles

Currently, much of the best of what’s left of wild country is threatened by roads and development. Roads crisscross much of our public lands, and agencies charged with maintaining healthy lands can’t keep up with maintenance of existing roads, let alone new or user-created roads. Roads fragment important habitat and increase sedimentation into streams and rivers. Trout Unlimited has worked to increase public awareness of these issues through programs such as Sportsmen Ride Right, a coalition which encourages responsible off-highway vehicle use.

Development and your fishing

The other threat the backcountry faces is development in many forms. To be clear, Trout Unlimited supports responsible forms of development – we are sportsmen, after all, and we use our fair share of resources. But there has to be a balance. And that balance has to recognize there are places that are simply too special to develop, be it oil and gas, timber, or even subdivisions.


Trout Unlimited has compiled a number of reports looking at the role the backcountry plays in your sporting heritage:

Colorado Roadless (PDF)

Idaho Roadless (PDF)

Oregon Roadless (PDF)


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