Roadless areas include some of the best remaining habitat for fish and wildlife
4/4/2001 -- --
Washington, D.C. – At a hearing today before two subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives, some of the nation’s leading conservation and sporting organizations urged the Congress to leave existing roadless areas in the National Forests roadless, while focusing on the scientific management and restoration of all parts of the forests, and fixing the backlog of roads in need of repair.
Steve Moyer, Vice President of Trout Unlimited, testified in support of the Forest Service’s roadless area conservation policy before the U.S. House Committee on Resources, Subcommittees on Energy and Mineral Resources and Forests and Forest Health, which held a hearing today on energy and roadless areas in the National Forests. The Subcommittees are considering the U.S. Forest Service’s roadless policy and how that policy impacts the nation’s energy needs. At the hearing, Moyer also presented to a letter to the Subcommittees, signed by 125 hunting and angling conservation groups, whose combined members exceed 1.2 million hunters and anglers, which supports keeping roadless areas roadless on the National Forests.
“Trout Unlimited supports the roadless policy because of the fish and wildlife habitats these areas contain, because of the substantial adverse impacts that roads have on fish and wildlife habitat, and because of the huge backlog of existing, unaddressed forest road maintenance costs. It makes better sense to us to fix the all too common existing broken roads and habitat in the National Forests before building new roads into roadless areas and incurring even more costs for which we cannot pay,” Steve Moyer told Subcommittee members. Moyer is the Vice President of Conservation Programs, Trout Unlimited, the nation’s largest coldwater conservation organization.
The U.S. Forest Service currently has an estimated $8.4 billion backlog on maintenance and reconstruction of its existing 386,000 miles of roads.
The Forest Service’s roadless initiative only prohibits new roads, with very limited exceptions. It will not impact existing classified or unclassified roads, and the road construction ban is subject to valid existing rights, such as private land-holdings so it will not affect road access to private lands. The initiative would allow limited timber harvest in the roadless regions for stewardship cutting to improve fish and wildlife habitat and forest health and to reduce wildfire risks.
Moyer also appeared as one of the Trustees of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Alliance (TRCA). The TRCA is an alliance of sporting and conservation groups named after President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter and stalwart conservationist. The Alliance’s members include Trout Unlimited, the Izaak Walton League of America, Wildlife Forever, the Mule Deer Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Wildlife Management Institute.
The TRCA was created because of a belief that the future of the National Forest System is of great importance to healthy fish and wildlife species, clean water and the opportunity for all Americans to enjoy quality hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation on our public lands. TRCA groups signed and initiated today’s letter to Congress.
“The Subcommittees should keep in mind that 1.6 million Americans commented in favor of the roadless policy being as protective, or more so, than it is right now. This is the largest outpouring of public support for any federal rulemaking in history,” Moyer testified.
“Similarly, a survey of American hunters and anglers commissioned by the TRCA last year found a very strong response from sportsmen and women in support of keeping roadless areas roadless with 83% of respondents favoring such a proposition. In short, support for roadless area protection runs deep, and it includes sportsmen and women.”