Washington Wild is working to help support a sustainable road system on our national forests that both prioritizes maintenance of important access roads while addressing aquatic and terrestrial impacts on water quality, wildlife, and the broader watershed.
THE PROBLEM: There are nearly 370,000 miles of Forest Service roads crisscrossing our national forests, including 22,000 miles here in Washington State–many of them leftover from the peak timber harvests of decades past. That amounts to almost eight times the U.S. federal highway system. This creates many challenges for the Forest Service to manage such an oversized, under-budgeted and under-maintained road system.
Today, the road network continues to support forest management activities in addition to growing recreational usage. Unfortunately, road budgets are unable to completely support this increase in demand as funding levels are now only 18 percent of what they were back in 1990.
THE SOLUTION: The Forest Service itself has worked on addressing the issue by requiring each national forest to create a sustainable road system plan that is based on both need and budget. Washington Wild has taken a leadership role in mobilizing support from conservation and recreation groups to both prioritize maintenance for roads providing important access while at the same time identifying impassable roads for decommissioning. We have coordinated comment letters to road maintenance project proposals by the Forest Service in support of a sustainable road system.
On March 16, Washington Wild sent a letter to Senator Patty Murray requesting additional funding be allocated to the recently reinstated Legacy Roads and Trails program to jumpstart the backlog of repairs and improvements needed for watershed protection. The letter—undersigned by 183 conservation, recreation and wildlife organizations, elected officials, and local businesses— expresses gratitude for […]
The Biden Administration recently announced steps to restore national forest roadless area protections in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The proposal is a repeal of the Trump Administration’s 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule, which stripped away long-standing protections under the 2001 Roadless Rule, a federal safeguard that restricts logging and roadbuilding in designated wild areas. A 60-day comment […]