May 21, 2019

What Exactly Is The Roadless Rule?

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While its a difficult question to answer entirely, now is the most important time to know the answer.  In 2001, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, more commonly known as the Roadless Rule, set aside 60 million acres of roadless forests, 4 million of which are found across the national forests in Utah. Inventoried Roadless Areas are characterized by their intact ecosystems that provide wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, rich soil, endless recreation opportunities, and much more. Many people are rightfully unfamiliar with the Roadless Rule and where these roadless areas are. However, all of us benefit from the protections on the Roadless Rule, and its importance may strike closer to home than you may think.

The Roadless Rule protects many popular areas in the Wasatch, such as White Pine Lake, Rock Canyon, and the Timpooneke trailhead that provides access to Mount Timpanogos. The rule also provides a line of defense in future development in out pristine forests, as we recently saw in the massive expansion proposal of Nordic Valley. The proposed addition of over 3,000 acres to the current 140 acres happened to infringe upon Coldwater Canyon, a roadless area beloved to countless locals. It is the strength of the Roadless Rule combined with the powerful residents that spoke up to defend this treasured place that prevented the proposal from moving forward, with Mountain Capital Partners withdrawing their request before the Forests Service announced their official response.

However, this battle is not won yet. Nordic Valley still intends to keep pursuing the expansion, even if it jeopardizes Coldwater Canyon and other untouched areas in Weber County. On top of that, the roadless area designation is in the process of being stripped down to the Governor’s watered-down version of protection. Governor Herbert and his Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office have officially requested an exemption from the Roadless Rule to create their own rule that would accommodate for more commercial logging, road building, and development, making it much easier for Nordic Valley to get their way in the future.

Your voices protected Coldwater Canyon and other invaluable areas in Weber County that you recreate and find refuge in, but with threats coming in from all directions, it is important to keep showing up and speaking up for the Wasatch in its entirety to protect it in perpetuity. Please make sure to sign our Roadless Rule Petition to the USDA today: goo.gl/3XCBqq!

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