Survey Shows Broad Support Among Hunters and Anglers for Retaining Roadless Areas and Access in National Forests
1/13/2000 — — A majority of America’s 50 million hunters and anglers want existing roadless areas in national forests to remain roadless, according to a recent national survey commissioned by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Alliance (TRCA). However, sportsmen and women also want those roadless acres to continue to remain open for controlled hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation.
The survey found that 86 percent of anglers and 83 percent of hunters supported efforts by sportsmen and women to keep the remaining roadless areas in National Forests free of roads. In addition, 92 percent of hunters stated that hunting is an important value of the National Forests, and 89 percent of anglers ranked fishing as an important value.
TRCA released its survey results on the 95th anniversary of the First American Forest Congress where President Theodore Roosevelt said of our budding National Forests System: “We want the active and zealous help of every man far-sighted enough to realize the importance from the standpoint of the nation’s welfare in the future of preserving the forests… The forest is for use, and its users will decide its future.”
The survey also found that hunters and anglers place a high value on National Forests for:
- protecting water quality (hunters 98%, anglers 99%),
- providing habitat for endangered species (hunters 93%, anglers 94%)
- providing places of solitude and natural experiences (hunters 91%, anglers 92%), and
- providing hunting and fishing opportunities in remote areas with few roads and few people (hunters 86%, anglers 81%).
“The fact that hunters’ and anglers’ desire to protect wild country and have access to these areas is not contradictory. Experiences in such areas are the gold standard by which the best hunting and fishing experiences are judged,” said Robert Munson, director of the TRCA. “This survey provides a snapshot of hunter and angler opinion at the beginning of the National Forest roads dialogue, a dialogue that is all the more timely because of the dramatically rising use of National Forests by sportsmen and women. The roads debate provides the opportunity for hunters and anglers to champion the value of remote areas, and our right to retain access to these areas.”
Munson said the survey was conducted to determine the opinions of hunters and anglers on issues pertaining to road management of existing roadless areas and the resource and recreation value of wild areas within the National Forest System. All of the respondents had purchased either a hunting or fishing license in the past five years. The survey and TRCA has arrived on the scene at a critical time, Munson said, in that the U.S. Forest Service is considering new rules for managing up to 60 million acres of roadless areas.
“Hunters and anglers have an enormous stake in Forest Service road management. The findings of this survey show a large degree of support among hunters and anglers for preserving the quality of fish and wildlife habitat in the National Forests, and for maintaining access,” Munson said.
Responsive Management, a Harrisonburg, Virginia polling firm specializing in natural resources and outdoor recreation issues, conducted the TRCA survey in December of 1999. The sample, drawn from hunters and anglers who held licenses in the last five years, included 600 hunters and anglers. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
TRCA is an association of conservation groups and individuals supported by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Its mission is to inform and engage Americans to foster our conservation legacy while working to nurture, enhance and protect the fish, wildlife and habitat resources on the 192 million acre National Forest System. Six founding conservation groups serve as trustees of TRCA, including Izaak Walton League of America, Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Trout Unlimited, Wildlife Forever and Wildlife Management Institute. Robert Munson, founder and former CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is Director of the Alliance.
TRCA is named after our 26th President, and embraces his philosophy and legacy. The use of President Roosevelt’s name has been sanctioned by Theodore Roosevelt IV and the Roosevelt family to help revive conservation activism by sportsmen and women. Munson stated that “the TRCA is proud to return to the roots of American conservation in rekindling the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt as: avid hunter and visionary conservationist; champion of our National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Parks; pioneer of fish and wildlife restoration; and catalyst for our state fish and wildlife agencies.”
For additional information, contact TRCA, 10365 West 70th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55344, 1-877-770-TRCA.