June 06, 2023

Gallego, DeGette, Cantwell Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Protect America’s National Forests

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03), a member of the House Natural Resources Committee; Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-01); and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) reintroduced the Roadless Area Conservation Act. The bill would permanently protect millions of acres of America's national forests by making the Roadless Rule the law of the land.


“Preserving our national forests provides numerous benefits, from combating climate change to supporting the tourism economy, reducing wildfire risk, and protecting clean water,” said Rep. Gallego. “By making the Roadless Rule permanent through my legislation, we can ensure future generations can continue to reap these benefits.”


“Protecting our nation’s public lands should always be one of our top priorities and, for decades, the Roadless Rule has helped us do exactly that. By codifying this important rule into law, this legislation will permanently protect millions of acres of national forest land for future generations to enjoy,” said Rep. DeGette.


“Mounting climate impacts have increased the need to protect America’s last remaining wild forestlands, which reduce wildland fire risk and store huge amounts of carbon,” Sen. Cantwell said. “Roadless areas provide Washingtonians with unmatched outdoor recreation opportunities, clean drinking water for our communities, and habitat for numerous endangered species. We need to redouble our efforts to permanently preserve the benefits these public lands provide our nation and future generations.”


The Roadless Rule was adopted in 2001 to preserve 58.5 million acres of national forest wildland in 39 states that lacked permanent protections. The Rule came under attack on multiple fronts during the Trump Administration, including the exemptions of more than 9 million acres of pristine public lands in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska - one of our most important tools in the fight against climate change - from roadless protections. In January 2023, the Biden Administration restored protection for Tongass. The Roadless Area Conservation Act would prevent future attacks on the climate, clean water, recreation, wildlife, and cultural values of roadless national forests nationwide by making the Roadless Rule the law of the land.


In the 116th Congress, the Roadless Area Conservation Act was highlighted in the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis's climate action plan as an important step in addressing the worldwide climate crisis.  In the 117th Congress, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the legislation.


The Roadless Area Conservation Act is endorsed by a wide range of stakeholders including Alaska Wilderness League, The Wilderness Society, Earthjustice, WECAN International, League of Conservation Voters, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Environment America, Wild Heritage, NRDC, and Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. A full list of endorsing organizations and quotes can be found HERE.


In addition to Sen. Cantwell, Senate cosponsors include Sens.Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Diane Feinstein(D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), BobMenendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), BernieSanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse(D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).


In addition to Gallego and DeGette, House cosponsors include Reps. Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Don Beyer (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Sean Casten (IL-06), Judy Chu (CA-28), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Adam Smith (WA-09), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Jill Tokuda (HI-2), and Paul Tonko (NY-20).


Full text of the legislation can be found HERE.