Fifty-two businesses from across the country joined The Conservation Alliance in a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to protect North America’s wild places by upholding the National Roadless Rule. The National Roadless Rule has preserved wildland recreation opportunities for nearly two decades. Established in 2001, the policy protects nearly 60 million acres of National Forest lands across 39 states, four million acres of which are in Utah.
In February 2019, Utah Governor Gary Herbert petitioned the United States Forest Service (USFS) to remove protections for Utah’s public lands by exempting the state from the national rule and replacing it with a less protective alternative. Secretary Perdue has not responded to Governor Herbert’s request to reevaluate the environmental protections on millions of acres of Utah’s “roadless” National Forest lands. A recent analysis by Outdoor Alliance suggests that removing protections for up to 90-percent of Utah’s National Forests, as Governor Herbert’s proposal suggests, could diminish or eliminate 80-percent of protected backcountry skiing, hiking, climbing, and mountain biking areas across the state of Utah.
“We hope Secretary Perdue heeds the wishes of Utahns, and outdoor inspired businesses across the country, and leaves the national roadless rule intact in Utah,” said John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance. “With the February passage of the Emery County Public Land Management Act, which protected nearly one million acres of public land and river corridor in the iconic San Rafael Swell, we are hopeful decision makers are beginning to understand the value, both ecologic and economic, of Utah’s treasured public lands.”
According to Outdoor Industry Association, Utah’s outdoor recreation-based economy supports 110,000 direct jobs and generates $12.3 billion in consumer spending. Utah’s outdoor recreation economy supports twice as many jobs as do mining and energy industries combined.