The rhetoric in the growing battle over protecting the nation’s roadless backcountry will heat up over the next few months, but sportsmen who want to understand what’s really at stake should go to the new website www.oursportingheritage.com. Launched earlier this year by Trout Unlimited and supported by a coalition of national hunting and fishing groups, it does an excellent job of spelling out what sportsmen could lose, who is behind the effort to open up roadless areas, and exposing the weaknesses of their arguments.
The site includes information every sportsman needs to know, including the specifics of the bill that would release tens of millions of acres of the finest trophy-hunting and fishing areas left in the nation; an interactive map showing all western roadless areas; featured roadless areas listed by state; a list of news articles and columns from outdoor writers at newspapers across the west opposing the release, and tools to get involved in protecting the backcountry and our sporting heritage.
Some simple talking points from the site can help rebut the constant refrain that “extreme environmentalists are trying to lock up public lands”:
* Simply put, roadless is the best of what’s left when it comes to the opportunity for bigger bulls, bigger bucks, and better fishing.
* Roadless areas are highly accessible to the public. In fact, almost 90 percent of roadless areas in the Forest Service system fall within two miles of an established route. They are not remote areas inaccessible to sportsmen.
* For sportsmen, roadless areas provide some of the longest hunting seasons out there.
* Roadless areas are a boost, not a drag on the nation’s economy. In any given year, the sporting community contributes almost $77 billion to the economy. And that contribution is sustainable — as long as the habitat is protected, which is why keeping roadless areas as they are is so important, not only from a recreation standpoint, but also from an economic one.
Read it all at www.oursportingheritage.com.