Nathan Schnetzler

“Where the Wild Things Are: Roadless Area Policy and the Battle between Conservation and Commerce Off the Beaten Path”

The roadless areas consist of 58.5 million acres of land predominately located in the western states. These areas make up two percent of the United States land base, but they make up one-third of the Forest Service ’s lands. For the most part, the roadless areas in our national forests are unscarred by development and serve as excellent habitat for wildlife and provide clean drinking water to millions of citizens. On the other hand, resources abound within these natural forests. Conservationists want to see these areas protected while other s other parts of the electorate would like to see them help our country head towards used to promote energy independence or used for other forms of development. These conflicting constituencies rarely agree, so finding a management plan that appeases everyone seems near ly near impossible. The result is that policymakers are faced with the challenge of balancing forest protection with demands for forest resources and development. In my paper, I examine federalism’s impact upon forest management and explain the pros and cons of national and state level management. I then provide a history of the roadless protections and the present state of roadless area policy. Afterwards, I offer a summary of arguments for and against roadless protections on public land. Finally, I offer my own conclusions for developing a solution to the inferior policy process that has plagued the roadless issue for so many years. My solution seeks to bring groups from all sides together in order to find common ground that provides the maximum benefits to all parties. The results of these working groups would be a definition that distinguishes roadless areas from wilderness areas, a new Roadless Area Review and Evaluation study, detailed maps of roadless areas, and the initiation of congressional policymaking that will produce legislation detailing the management of these areas.