What is the “Roadless Rule?”
The Roadless Rule is a 2001 Forest Service regulation that prohibits most timber cutting and road building in certain forest lands known as “Inventoried Roadless Areas.” Approximately 49% of all of Utah’s Forest Service lands are impacted by the Roadless Rule.
Why change the current Roadless Rule?
While in some areas the Roadless Rule has helped protect important “roadless values” such as solitude and naturalness, in other areas the Roadless Rule has prevented the Forest Service from using the tools they need to promote the healthy, resilient forests that the Roadless Rule was meant to protect. Some Inventoried Roadless Areas are plagued by bark-beetle infestations, excessive underbrush, and overgrown timber. These conditions can lead to catastrophic wildfires that damage Utah’s air quality, watersheds, and wildlife habitat. Several of Utah’s most significant and destructive wildfires in the last two years have occurred, at least partially, in unhealthy portions of Inventoried Roadless Areas, including the Brian Head Fire, the Dollar Ridge Fire, the Pole Creek Fire, the Bald Mountain Fire, and others.
What is the State of Utah’s “Petition”?
The State of Utah is following an established process (previously followed by Colorado and Idaho) to ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a new, Utah-specific Roadless Rule, one that protects important roadless values by giving the Forest Service the flexibility and tools they need to better manage our National Forests. The State’s Petition for a Utah-specific Roadless Rule, when accepted by the Department of Agriculture, will kick off the development of a detailed Environmental Impact Statement that will determine whether to adopt a new Roadless Rule in Utah. Development of the Environmental Impact Statement will be led by the Forest Service and include a high level of public and stakeholder involvement. You can read the petition here and view a map of the State’s recommendations.
Will the State’s Petition give the State more management authority over National Forest lands?
No, the State’s Petition, if successful, will have no impact on the Forest Service’s ownership and management authority over all of Utah’s National Forest lands. The State’s petition is intended to give the local Forest Service more tools not currently available under the nationwide 2001 Roadless Rule.
Is the State seeking to open closed or illegal Forest Roads to public use?
No, the State’s aim is not to open closed or illegal roads in roadless areas. If successful, the State’s Petition could give the Forest Service more options to construct temporary or permanent administrative roads in some areas where necessary for active forest management or emergency access. Public motorized access to any future permanent roads would be subject to National Forest Travel Plans.
Is the State’s Petition connected to the Transfer of Public Lands movement?
No, the State’s Petition will have no impact on the current federal ownership of National Forest lands and does not seek any change to existing federal ownership or management authority.
Is the State’s Petition connected to the R.S. 2477 lawsuit?
No, the R.S. 2477 lawsuit (which seeks title to some roads crossing BLM land) is strictly limited to BLM land and has no bearing on the Forest Service or the State’s Petition.
How can I participate?
We encourage you to participate throughout the development of the Forest Service’s Environmental Impact Statement.