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Federal Report States Wilderness Areas Help Contribute To Beetle Epidemic

Published online: Apr 26, 2012 News
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A U.S. Forest Service (USFS) report identifies Wilderness areas and roadless areas as significant obstacles to controlling the bark beetle epidemic.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) would like you to be aware of a USFS report entitled Review of the Forest Service Response: The Bark Beetle Outbreak in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming issued by the Rocky Mountain Region and Rocky Mountain Research Station at the request of U.S. Sen.Mark Udall (D-Colo.).

To view the report, click here.

The report cited several factors that helped set the stage for a large-scale bark beetle outbreak. One factor cited was the use of Wilderness designations. Specifically: "Limited accessibility of terrain (only 25 percent of the outbreak area was accessible due to steep slopes, lack of existing roads, and land use designations such as Wilderness that precluded treatments needed to reduce susceptibility to insects and disease)."

And the report further stated: "In general, mechanized treatments are prohibited in designated wilderness areas. The Arapaho, Roosevelt, White River, and Routt National Forests in Colorado have a combined total of over one million acres of wilderness; the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming has more than 78 thousand acres. A large portion of these wilderness acres have been impacted by the current bark beetle outbreak."

Most troubling, the report states that the bark beetle outbreaks will lead to more intense fires for an "indeterminate amount of time following attack."

The AMA encourages all riders to utilize this report because it indicates that a Wilderness designation has a negative effect on the overall forest health. Vast areas of America's public lands are already designated federal Wilderness, and the AMA urges careful scrutiny and consideration of all current and future Wilderness proposals.

A special thanks goes to the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition for bringing this report to the attention of the AMA.

If you are not an AMA member and care about what is affecting riders today, please join the AMA to help protect the rights of motorcyclists. More members means more clout against interests looking to end motorcycling, and your support will help the AMA fight for your rights - on the road, trail, racetrack, and in the halls of government. To join, go to AmericanMotorcyclist.com/membership/join.