Vice President of Conservation
6/5/2003 -- Arlington, VA -- Trout Unlimited (TU), the nation’s largest trout and salmon conservation group, applauded the introduction of bills in both chambers of Congress today that would protect roadless areas on the nation’s National Forests from the harmful impacts of roads. U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Warner (R-VA) introduced the Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2003 in the United States Senate. Representatives Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Jay Inslee (D-WA) introduced complementary legislation in the House of Representatives.
“TU supports the legislation because it makes good sense,” said Steve Moyer, TU’s Vice President of Government Affairs and Volunteer Operations. “Watersheds in National Forest roadless areas contain some of the last, best trout and salmon habitats in the U.S. Poorly designed and poorly maintained roads on the National Forests are some of the biggest threats to trout and salmon habitat, and the Forest Service is already saddled with an $8.4 billion maintenance and reconstruction backlog on its existing road system. It makes no ecological or economic sense to build more,” said Moyer.
The legislation would codify the existing roadless rule, finalized in 2001. It would prevent development of roads into roadless areas, with limited exceptions, such as for management activities needed to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire.
The bills were first introduced in the 107th Congress. Last fall, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the roadless rule and ordered a lower federal court to lift an injunction of the rule. In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit upheld the USFS rulemaking process.
“TU commends the conservation leadership shown today by the bills’ sponsors, Senators Cantwell and Warner, and Representatives Boehlert and Inslee, and we call on the Congress to approve the legislation,” added Moyer