On January 12, the twentieth anniversary of the Roadless Rule, Congressman Ruben Gallego, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, have reintroduced the Roadless Area Conservation Act. Also leading the effort is Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO). The bill would permanently protect millions of acres of América’s national forests by making the Roadless Rule the law of the land.
For 20 years, the Roadless Rule has shielded the most pristine, treasured areas within the National Forest System from roadbuilding and logging. Under the Trump Administration, the rule has been weakened and stripped from its application to Tongass National Forest, putting millions of acres of old-growth forest at risk of logging and endangering southeast Alaska’s economy. By codifying the Roadless Rule into law, including in the Tongass, the Roadless Area Conservation Act will uphold recreational access to public lands, preserve the habitats of 1,600 at-risk species, reduce the risk of wildfires, aid in the fight against climate change by preserving vast carbon sinks, and protect safe drinking water for people across the United States.
“I am proud to continue the fight to preserve the Roadless Rule in this new Congress,” said Rep Gallego. “In addition to protecting our unique and beautiful wilderness and upholding our federal trust responsibility to Indigenous communities, the reintroduction and widespread support of the Roadless Area Conservation Act sends a united message to the incoming administration that codifying the Roadless Rule and protecting undeveloped, pristine forests are vital and achievable steps we must take.”
“The looming climate crisis has only increased the need to protect America’s last remaining wild forestlands, which reduce wildland fire risk and store huge amounts of carbon,” said Senator Cantwell. “Roadless areas provide Americans with unmatched outdoor recreation opportunities, clean drinking water for our communities, and habitat for numerous endangered species. As we mark the twentieth anniversary of this landmark proposal, we need to redouble our efforts to permanently preserve the benefits these public lands provide our nation and future generations.”
“The Roadless Rule is one of our nation’s most broadly supported environmental policies,” said DeGette “It protects tens of millions of acres of untouched forest land for people to enjoy. With a new administration and a new Congress, we’re going to continue our fight to codify this rule into law – and protect our public lands for generations to come.”
“The reintroduction and widespread support of the Roadless Area Conservation Act sends a united message to the incoming administration that codifying the Roadless Rule and protecting undeveloped, pristine forests are vital and achievable steps we must take.”
Congressman Ruben Gallego
In the 116th Congress, the Roadless Area Conservation Act was highlighted in the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis’s climate action plan as an important step in addressing the worldwide climate crisis. The Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2021 is endorsed by a wide range of stakeholders including Earthjustice, Alaska Wilderness League, Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC, The Wilderness Society, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Sierra Club, NPCA, Grand Canyon Trust, Geos Institute, and Wildearth Guardians.
In addition to Cantwell, Senate cosponsors include Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
In addition to Gallego and DeGette, House cosponsors include House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Chair Jared Huffman (D-CA), House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor (D-FL), and Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Nanette Barragan (D-CA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Sean Casten (D-IL), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Ed Case (D-HI), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Any Kim (D-NJ), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Betty McCollum (DMN), James McGovern (D-MA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Donald Beyer (D-VA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), and Rick Larsen (D-WA).
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