Wyden, Merkley Introduce Legislation to Protect Vulnerable National Forests

Washington, D.C. – Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley this week introduced legislation to permanently protect the nation’s most pristine federal forests from reckless and inappropriate development that threatens the supply of clean drinking water and critical habitats for endangered species.

The Trump administration continues to use every tool in its arsenal to undermine environmental protections for America’s public lands,” Wyden said. “This bill will safeguard our national forests from reckless and harmful development projects, preserving vulnerable habitats for endangered animals and access to clean drinking water for millions of Americans.”

“The Trump administration has shown its willingness to recklessly and unilaterally undo important environmental protections that Oregonians and Americans support,” Merkley said. “If we want to preserve Oregon’s natural beauty, we need to take action. This bill is an important step.”

The Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2018 codifies the administrative protections given in 2001 to 58.5 million acres of pristine, roadless national forest land across 39 states. The current protections are flexible enough to still allow for new roads and logging to help with fighting wildfires and to ensure the public’s safety while protecting these pristine areas.  Sportsmen groups have repeatedly advocated for protecting these roadless areas because they provide anglers and hunters the biggest bulls, largest bucks, and best fishing on our public lands. 

Additional cosponsors include Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Text of the bill can be found here.

A web version of this release is available here.