Ecological Values

  • Roadless Areas in the White River National Forest provide vital habitat and migration routes for numerous wildlife species and are particularly important for those requiring large home ranges.
  • In February 2006, the Colorado Division of Wildlife staff presented a statewide report compiled by area managers and field biologists from around Colorado, with 100% of those staff members recommending that ALL Roadless Areas be protected, preserved, enhanced, managed and maintained to provide the maximum benefit for wildlife and wildlife habitat.[1]
  • White River National Forest Roadless Areas act as ecological anchors, especially in areas where nearby federal, state, and private lands are being developed.
  • Development in Roadless Areas can allow entry of invasive plants and animals that threaten the health of native species, increase human-caused wildfire, and disrupt habitat connectivity.[2]
  • Continued entry into Roadless Areas will decrease the amount of wildlife habitat available by increasing fragmentation.
  • The best coldwater fish habitat is in Roadless Areas. Sedimentation and debris from road-building can irreversibly degrade habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms.[3]
  • Roadless Areas serve as buffer zones that help prevent wildfires. Forest Service studies have found that large fires occur much more frequently in areas that are already roaded than in Roadless Areas. Human-caused wildland fire is nearly five times more likely to occur on essentially roaded lands than on essentially unroaded lands. According to a 15-year study by independent scientists, large wildfires are more likely to occur and to burn to greater extents in areas outside of Roadless Areas.[4]
  • Forests can recycle from 1,760 to 3,903 pounds of carbon dioxide per acre per year, helping offset the average US per capita carbon dioxide contribution of 5.6 tons per year.
  • The Forest Service received more than 4 million comments on the original Roadless Area Conservation Rule, the vast majority of them in favor of strong protection for Roadless Areas in our national forests.
  • Economic and recreational values of roadless areas

    [1] Inventoried Roadless Areas Report, Colorado Division of Wildlife, available at
    [2] Forest Service NOI, Federal Register: October 19, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 201)]
    [3] American Fisheries Society, November 2005
    [4] Natural Resources Defense Council, 12/15/04.


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