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Diverse coalition of outdoors-oriented groups presses Agriculture secretary to implement management guidelines designed to sustain roadless area values

WASHINGTON –
A consortium of prominent outdoor-oriented groups has united in support of responsible management of inventoried roadless areas with a goal of sustaining the high-quality sporting and recreational opportunities provided by America’s backcountry. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Alliance, together representing millions of public-lands users, have sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging that a directive be issued requiring high-level review of proposed development of roadless areas until permanent rules for their management can be resolved.

The letter states, “Our organizations represent diverse groups of public-lands users, including hikers, mountain bikers, climbers, paddlers, backcountry skiers, hunters and anglers. We are unified by a common conservation and stewardship ethic and by the value we place on the current unroaded condition of our national forest roadless areas. We request that you lead the Department of Agriculture in taking immediate steps to ensure that America’s valuable backcountry national forests are conserved into the long-term future.”

“Responsible roadless area management is a catalyst that has united the interests of our diverse groups,” said Mark Singleton, chairman of the Outdoor Alliance and executive director of American Whitewater. “The human-powered recreation community and the sportsmen’s community enjoy different activities on America’s public lands, yet collectively we understand the significance of these lands in securing our outdoor traditions. Specifically, we agree that our national forest roadless areas are a valuable resource that must be conserved.”

Close to 60 million acres of roadless areas are encompassed within America’s national forests and grasslands. A series of conflicting court decisions regarding the 2001 roadless rule have left management of these areas unsettled for years. Many outdoors-oriented groups support national legislation that conserves America’s backcountry lands and the fish and wildlife, sporting and recreational resources they sustain.

“The scenic and recreational qualities of America’s backcountry help guarantee high-quality outdoor experiences,” said Amy Roberts, vice president of government affairs for the Outdoor Industry Association. “Roadless areas play a pivotal role in the $730 billion annual contribution of active outdoor recreation to the U.S. economy.”

“Backcountry areas are fundamental in maintaining exceptional public-lands hunting and fishing,” said TRCP President and CEO George Cooper. “They also offer places of refuge for our fish and wildlife populations, where big-game animals like elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep can flourish and sport fisheries can thrive.

“Secretary Vilsack’s strong leadership can make it possible for recreationists of every stripe to continue enjoying these important public resources,” Cooper concluded, “and the outdoor community looks forward to working closely with the secretary and his staff to achieve a sustainable future for our nation’s unique backcountry landscapes.”

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions
of hunting and fishing.