Two million acres of new wilderness, miles of new scenic rivers, the withdrawal of land in the Wyoming Range and elsewhere, all signed into law by President Obama (it still feels really good to type that) just in time for my birthday. The bill, a so-called omnibus, was a patchwork of nearly 170 separate bills, many of which had been kicking around for quite a while.
I only wish they had added one more: A bill to codify the Roadless Rule of 2001.
That rule, as I’ve reported to stultifying distraction over the past eight long years, set out to keep roads and chainsaws out of 58.5 million acres of national forest land throughout the country.
The rule did not designate wilderness (this was an important distinction that is still being argued over in court), but would have saved these vital acres from logging, to the benefit of wildlife, hunters, fishermen, hikers, backpackers and the towns that draw their water supplies from the rivers that drain the roadless areas.
As it happens, you can read the whole story in my new book, Roadless Rules, the Struggle for the Last Wild Forests.
All hail and bravo to Congress and the president for enacting the public lands bill of 2009. Now let’s do the logical next thing and save the roadless areas.