Utah’s Roadless Rule 101

In May the State of Utah submitted a letter to the U.S Department of Agriculture citing its intention to petition the USDA for “new management provisions” for over 4 million acres of national forest roadless areas across the state. Forests protected as Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA) provide a variety of important ecosystem services and recreation opportunities with limited to no permanent road disturbance.

However, the Governor’s office perspective is that forests under the roadless rule hinder the ability to manage the area for wildfire risk. In the last 5 years, 90% of acreage that has burned in a wildfire in Utah was outside of national forest roadless areas (Wilderness Society).

The maps provided in the Utah Roadless Presentation PDF clearly show a significant amount of risk for fire to insect and disease damaged forests outside of the roadless areas.

Additionally, there are already provisions within the existing Roadless Rule that dictate and allow for the mitigation of wildfire (especially when it threatens life or property), as well as active management processes when needed in certain areas. These practices benefit roadless areas and maintain their natural characteristics which make roadless areas special.

The state of Utah will not be holding a public meeting in Salt Lake City, but there is an opportunity for you to tell the Governor’s office that you value ecologically healthy forests and the Roadless Rule by attending the SL County Public Open House. The county is looking for you to submit comments and perspectives — and we encourage you to request a longer time line so the State of Utah can collect scientific data to inform the decision about our public lands.

This short timeline provided by the State of Utah is limiting your involvement and organizations like Save Our Canyon’s and our partners at The Wilderness Society, Wild Utah Project, Utah Chapter Sierra Club, and others to participate in a meaningful way.

During a public meeting on October 23rd about the State of Utah Roadless Rule was well attended. Firsts and foremost a hearty thank you to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams for hosting last night’s meeting. Without his leadership, there would not have been an opportunity for the most populous region in the State to attend an open house. The Wasatch has a friend in Ben!

While Salt Lake County’s iconic and beloved forests might be exempted from this because of a strong public showing last night, much acreage in the Uinta Mountains, in the Manti-LaSal, on the Ashley forests will unlikely recieve the same exemption — unless you speak up. Utah’s Roadless petition is a solution in search of a problem. Please use this petition to send comments about the Wasatch and other important roadless areas across the state:

Roadless Rule Petition 

Here are some resources Save Our Canyons put together to help you understand the what and why of the Roadless Rule:

  • There are 4.2 million acres of land in Utah that is protected under the Roadless Rule. So what are the benefits? Find out by clicking here.
  • The State has forwarded five “Proposed Management Area Categories” along with an outline of the process. Learn more about these categories here.

Roadless areas in the Wasatch and across our state are prime habitat for bears, elk, bighorn sheep, eagles and many, many other unique creatures. We need you to tell the state that more science and discussion from experts around the state must take place before altering the valuable forest roadless rule.


One response to “Utah’s Roadless Rule 101

  1. Roadless areas play an important role in preserving wildlife and ecosystems. Any proposal to alter these areas affects everyone in the state, not just the relatively few people who happen to live adjacent to them. Any decision should be deferred until full scientific evidence has been presented on the overall impact and net benefits, and after holding public meetings which are readily accessible to the residents of the Wasatch Front, which will house the great majority of the state’s present and future population.

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