Tell Congress to “keep it like it is”

T R O U T U N L I M I T E D
Backcountry

The “Wilderness and Roadless Release Act of 2011” would remove protected status from inventoried roadless lands within the U.S. Forest Service system and make them subject to potential industrial development and allow for more road construction.

We can’t afford this financially, and we can’t afford the impacts this effort would have on our fish and game and our fishing and hunting.

Tell Congress to scuttle this terrible idea that would benefit just a handful of special interests while doing irreparable harm to the best of what’s left of America’s public lands. Tell your representatives in the House and the Senate to safeguard our sporting heritage and help us ensure our children and grandchildren the opportunity to hunt and fish America’s backcountry. Tell Congress to “Keep it Like it Is.”

Contact your lawmakers As sportsmen and women who understand the need for healthy habitat if we are to have quality hunting and fishing, it’s important that we voice our opinions to our representatives in Congress. Please use our legislative contact tool and let your representatives and senators know how important is to you, as a hunter and an angler, that our roadless backcountry be left just as it is today for the benefit of tomorrow’s sportsmen and women. Let them know that we, as taxpayers, can’t afford this bill, and that we’re tired of special interests having a heavy hand in the management of land that belongs to every single American, no matter their position. Share your stories of fishing or hunting the backcountry. Talk about how the backcountry promises you something nothing else can deliver: A reminder of the way things used to be, and can be today and for generations to come. Tell them to “Keep it Like it Is.” Why it’s important to keep our country’s roadless landscapes intact and fight Congress’ attempt to tarnish the best of what’s left of America’s public land The Best of What’s Left What is roadless land? It might seem obvious, but, in truth, “roadless” is a misnomer. While some of the best remaining swaths of our public lands backcountry are indeed without roads, many officially inventoried roadless lands have been roaded in the years since the inventory was first taken over 30 years ago, but most only modestly. Additionally, the 2001 Roadless Rule, under which these lands are presently protected, allows for future road construction in many roadless areas, and it does not prohibit motorized use where travel management rules allow it. Nevertheless, the vast majority of all roadless lands located within the U.S. Forest Service system have one thing in common: They all possess healthy, intact fish and game habitat. And, as sportsmen, we understand the connection between intact habitat and hunting and fishing opportunity. The better the habitat, the better the sporting pursuit. Or, as we’re fond of saying, “The best fishing and hunting begins where the road ends.”

Unfortunately, there are those in Congress who would see these “roadless” lands developed for industrial uses and made subject to further motorized incursion.

Despite ongoing battles in Washington over fiscal responsibility, there are those who would allow more roads to be built on public lands, where the onus would be on the taxpayer for construction and maintenance. When you consider that the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management can’t presently fund their existing road maintenance commitments, the addition of new roads makes no sense.

America’s roadless backcountry shelters our healthiest game and fish populations and is literally the well-spring of our cleanest water sources. These lands provide irreplaceable spawning and rearing habitat for our ocean-going salmon and steelhead, and they provide the healthiest habitat for our priceless wild and native trout. It’s no surprise, then, that roadless lands provide the best chance for a hunter to harvest a trophy mule deer or elk, or for an angler to tie into a big west slope cutthroat trout or, even better, an endangered bull trout. Roadless areas are the foundation upon which the $77 billion sporting economy is based.

These are the lands our sporting heritage feeds upon. They nurture the body. They nurture the spirit. Left intact, they’ll do these things for generations to come.

T R O U T U N L I M I T E D

Q: What is roadless backcountry land?
A: First, the term roadless is a misnomer. Many stretches of roadless habitat on U.S. Forest Service have roads inside their boundaries. Others are bounded by paved roads and highways. Many roadless areas are actually eligible for new road construction. In general, however, roadless land is untracked, untrashed public land that offers stellar fish and game habitat and unparalleled hunting and fishing opportunity.

Q: What uses are allowed in the roadless backcountry?
A: Most any use that is allowed on front-country public land is generally allowed in roadless areas. Motorized access is allowed on designated trails, and hunting and fishing are allowed. Camping, hiking, wood-cutting, climbing, geocaching, cycling ... all are allowed in roadless areas using trails designated for particular activities.

Q: Why is the roadless backcountry important to sportsmen?
A: Easy. Roadless land offers the best habitat. Habitat translates directly into opportunity. The biggest bulls and bucks are harvested each year from roadless hunting units; the healthiest populations of wild and native fish swim in waters that begin or flow through roadless areas. Simply put, sporting opportunity in the backcountry is unparalleled, and available to everyone.

Q: Would the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act actually allow for development of roadless areas all over the country?
A: For the most part, yes. Some states, like Idaho, have roadless land management rules in place and would not be impacted by this bill. This bill is an attempt by Congress to circumvent an inclusive public process. Keep in mind, the 2001 Roadless Rule was implemented only after an exhaustive public input process–about 70 percent of the comments received during that process favored the protection of our country’s roadless backcountry.

Q: Why is keeping the roadless backcountry just like it is now important for hunters and anglers?
A: The reason hunting success in the backcountry is so much better than it is elsewhere is because of the backcountry’s intact habitat. This habitat is unmarred and largely left alone–game animals and wild fish are more plentiful. Additionally, these areas boast the longest hunting seasons, which gives sportsmen an opportunity to be more selective, and spend more time afield. Again, habitat and opportunity go hand in hand.

Q: Does this bill allow local people to have some input into how their public lands are managed?
A: No. In fact, this bill does just the opposite. For instance, the bill would release most of the country’s wilderness study areas without the benefit of local input. Granted, not all WSAs are worthy of wilderness designation, but shouldn’t that decision involve local stakeholders?

Q: Won’t this bill help the local economies by allowing industry access to the backcountry?
A: First, new roads, no matter who pays for them, will require maintenance. Our country’s current fiscal crisis doesn’t provide enough money to even approach the funding needed to maintain the existing road networks on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management property. Second, rural communities depend heavily on hunting and fishing for long-term, renewable economic growth. Hindering hunting and angling by allowing shortterm industrial activity on land belonging to every American is unwise. Finally, only a small portion of our public lands qualify as roadless backcountry. The bulk of our public lands are open to industrial development and motorized use. Commerce and recreation would not be hindered by keeping the existing balance in place.

Q: Will states be allowed to decide which roadless areas will be released under this bill?
A: No. The bill would release 43 million acres of protected habitat and pave the way for significant new development.

Q: How can I get involved and help protect hunting and fishing access to the backcountry?
A: Write your state’s federal delegation, and if you’re not sure who to contact, visit house.gov, and enter your ZIP code in the “find your representative” section. Tell them that supporting this bill amounts to a willing degradation of the last, best places to fish and hunt in the United States. Tell them hunters and anglers have perhaps the most intimate connection with our public lands and that a top-down approach to managing them takes the power out of the hands of local citizens and local economies. Tell Congress to protect the balance that exists today on America’s public lands.