In 2001, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule prohibited road construction and timber harvesting on more than 90,000 square miles of inventoried roadless areas (IRAs) in National Forests. Since these areas are not protected by legislation, 40 percent of these lands are no longer protected.
“Conservation Value of National Forest Roadless Areas,” a study co-published by the Forest Service and The Wilderness Society, identified significant benefits provided by IRAs. They protect watersheds that deliver drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people, capture large quantities of carbon, and enhance carbon capture in areas protected as wilderness and national parks.
“Protecting these places is a vital step toward ensuring a healthy, sustainable future, said ecologist Travis Belote, one of the scientists who contributed to the study.