There is a little-known policy, the Roadless Rule, that has recently come under attack by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. This policy protects “roadless areas,” which make up half of Utah’s 8 million acres of National Forest land. The Roadless Rule protects certain parts of forested areas from unnecessary road building and logging, except for fire management purposes and inholding access. Herbert believes that these management provisions hinder the state’s ability to fight wildfires, even though in the past five years, 90 percent of acreage that has burned in Utah wildfires was outside roadless areas, according to the Wilderness Society.
The benefits enjoyed by this protection are many, including access to recreational opportunities such as hiking, fishing, mountain biking, backcountry skiing and much more.
There are also many ecological benefits. Ecosystems are protected from development, wildlife habitat is protected, watersheds remain unpolluted and ecosystems remain more resistant to wildfire damage.
It concerns me that recreational quality and ecosystem integrity would be brought into question, especially when these values make our home what it is. I encourage you to contact the governor’s office to request a longer timeline so that the state can collect scientific data to inform this important decision about our public lands.
Hunter Tuesday-Heathfield, Salt Lake City