In 2001, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule was adopted by the U.S. Forest Service, protecting approximately 58.5 million acres of the nation’s remaining wild-lands.
Under this rule, protected areas are safe from logging, mining, and other practices that damage the integrity of conservation land.
Though there are access roads interspersed throughout these areas, allowing for multiple recreational activities, the rule keeps areas safe from the construction of splinter roads and highways, which can lead to erosion, pollution, and the loss of native species.
Still, visitors are able to go hiking, sightseeing, fishing, and more amidst the unrivaled backdrop of unspoilt nature.
However, the U.S. Forest Service, which one would expect to lead in environmental stewardship, is considering the proposed “Alternative C”, which would eradicate the effects of the Roadless Rule on currently protected road-less lands in the Apache-Sitgreaves area. Meanwhile, the Forest Service is neglecting to inform the public of the implications of this proposal. Primarily, that it would undermine the Roadless Rule by allowing areas to become victim to chainsaws and bulldozers.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest covers 300,000 acres of Inventoried Roadless area in Arizona. It stretches beyond elevations that range from 3,500 feet upward to nearly 11,500 feet. From arid lowlands to lush expanses of grassland, dotted with a vivid pallet of red, violet, and gold. It is punctuated by ethereal mountains, with the area from its Mount Baldy east through to Escudilla Mountain having been deemed the White Mountains of Arizona.
The Forest’s varied landscapes are home to numerous eco-systems, tread on by the feet, paws, and talons of bald eagles, black bears, big horn elk, deer, mountain lions, peregrine falcons, imperiled Mexican spotted owls, and northern goshawks. Additionally, the forest is a sanctuary to Mexican gray wolves, who were reintroduced after 30 years of endangerment.
If sanctioned, the defiling of the wild-lands will invariably destroy the habitats of these creatures and cause significant damage to their eco-systems. Additionally, industrial activity leaves less wilderness to be explored and enjoyed by human visitors.
Moreover, the passive repeal of the Roadless Rule could spread to other National Forest throughout the country, threatening over 50 million acres of protected road-less lands.
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