Calling upon our coalition partners and organizational allies, Washington Wild led the effort to create a joint comment letter signed by an impressive group of 152 partners in response to threats against the Roadless Rule (National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Rule). These partners represent diverse interests including conservation, recreation, wildlife, hunting, and fishing and include faith leaders, local businesses and elected officials from Washington State. Together we raised concerns about congressional and administrative attacks on national forest roadless areas and will continue to defend the Roadless Rule.
In 2001, Washington Wild led statewide efforts to establish the Roadless Rule, garnering support from nearly 350 of our coalition partners to secure formal protection for nearly two million acres of roadless forests in Washington State. During the draft rule comment period, over 1.6 million Americans submitted comments, including more than 80,000 comments from Washington State. Furthermore, over 95% of comments submitted were in support of protecting roadless areas.
“Roadless areas protect the headwaters and the source of clean quality water…Without clean water, my business would not be able to exist.” said Jack Lamb, CEO of Aslan Brewing (Bellingham) and member of Washington Wild’s Brewshed® Alliance.
Washington’s nearly 2 million acres of roadless areas are a critical part of the quality of life we enjoy as residents. Roadless forests are essential to maintaining clean and safe drinking water, protecting fish and wildlife, and provide us with amazing recreation experiences.
“The areas of our national forests without roads are often some of the best habitat for fish and wildlife,” said John McGlenn, President of Washington Wildlife Federation, which represents hunters and anglers. “These refuges are critical to ensuring that we are able to pass on this legacy to future generations.”
The current Congress has already taken the first steps to dismantle this key rule. Senator Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a legislative rider as part of the 2018 Budget that would have eliminated protections for roadless areas in Alaska. However, in response to overwhelming public opposition, this harmful legislative rider was completely stripped from the funding package in March!
However, while we applaud the removal of the rider, there is still work to be done. Senator Murkowski has asked the Department of Agriculture that the state of Alaska be exempted from the Roadless Rule. We are concerned that a next step will be a nationwide repeal of roadless protections as was attempted a decade ago. In addition, there are two local mine expansion projects proposed that threaten to break this rule.
Washington Wild will continue to defend roadless areas and mobilize our communities to protect these special places. Together, we can make a difference.