Not Quite Wilderness: The Development of Roadless Area Protection on Forest Service and BLM Land
17 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2007 Last revised: 22 Mar 2012
Date Written: October 1, 2007
During the past decade, no issue in the American West has been more controversial than the protection of roadless areas on both National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land. The current state of the roadless issue is confused, to put it mildly. The roots of the roadless dispute are nearly lost in the mists of time.
The first thing to understand is the fundamentally different view different people have of roadless areas on public lands. To some, roadless areas are the hallmark of the absence of decision making. For these people, roadless areas are primarily areas of the public land to which no one has yet effectively appended a meaningful management designation. For these people, roadless is a designation which should cease to exist - the sooner the better - with some roadless lands congressionally designated as wilderness and others "opened" to multiple use. These people seek to settle the roadless issue.
To other people roadless areas are a tangible, finite resource of incalculable value. Roadless areas have values that other areas do not. For these people, every new road and every new decision to allow road-based activities in a roadless area diminishes this resource. These people seek to protect the roadless resource.
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