Today Marks 10-Year Anniversary of "Roadless Rule" for Wild Areas
Durango, CO – Tuesday marks the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. Forest Service's Roadless Area Conservation Policy. At stake in South Dakota is more than 80,000 acres of roadless area land and 39,000 acres of wilderness that provide recreation, wildlife and fish habitat. Conservation groups hope to use this opportunity to raise public awareness about the importance of protecting the nation's public forests and wilderness from encroaching development.
Mike Matz with the Campaign for America's Wilderness reports that 6,000 acres a day of open land are lost to development, and South Dakota is no exception.
"It's happening across the country, even in places like South Dakota where ranches, like those on the outskirts of Rapid City or some of the eastern cities like Aberdeen, are being turned into housing tracts. People are noticing it, too, and I think they're a little bit alarmed."
For Matz, it's a quality-of-life issue, and he's calling on South Dakota residents to get involved so that future generations will have an opportunity to enjoy the resource.
"Fortunately, what we've seen is that people are stepping up to the plate, participating in the democratic process by which decisions on land use are made, and helping in campaigns to protect these areas as part of the national wilderness preservation system."
Matz adds that citizens are urging Congress to consider additional wilderness legislation to protect the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in the southwest part of the state, both from development and motorized vehicle use. Although some public land will be developed, he thinks it's important to balance that with preservation efforts.