Director for Watershed Programs
7/25/2002 -- Arlington, VA -- Trout Unlimited strongly supports Senate efforts to protect 58.5 million acres of unfragmented public lands from new road construction and most commercial timber cutting. Legislation introduced this afternoon by Senators Cantwell (D-Wash.), Warner (R-Va.), and others would protect valuable fish and wildlife resources.
“Roadless areas provide some of the most important trout and salmon habitat in the country,” said Chris Wood, director of public lands and watershed programs for Trout Unlimited. Wood, who helped develop the roadless area conservation rule as a Forest Service employee said, “this legislation will focus Forest Service efforts away from controversial roadless areas and toward reducing the existing $8.4 billion road maintenance backlog. While roads allow us access to the forests we all own and enjoy, poorly maintained roads cause safety problems, erosion, water quality, and habitat degradation.”
For decades, roadless area debates have been a primary cause of what the Forest Service calls “process gridlock.” Roadless areas are the most controversial aspect of local forest planning. Attempts to build roads in roadless areas are always appealed or litigated. Timber values are often low, and the analysis costs of roadless developments are high. The result is “analysis paralysis.”
Steve Moyer, the Vice-President of Conservation Programs for Trout Unlimited said, “We commend the leadership of Senators Cantwell, Warner, Bingaman, Chafee, Hollings, Cleland, and Rockefeller.” Moyer continued, “This is a common sense solution to a problem that has plagued the Forest Service for decades.”
The National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act would allow roads to be built to fight wildfires, and would permit careful thinning of brush and small trees where needed to diminish fire risk. It would not affect access to state or private lands, and would allow for continued sound stewardship of wildlife and fish resources.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s leading watershed and coldwater fisheries conservation organization with 130,000 members, organized into almost 500 chapters and 35 state councils. Trout Unlimited has offices in Virginia, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, California, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah.