OLYMPIA, Wash. - Governors' proclamations in multiple states, including Washington, recognize August 7-15 as the country's first Roadless Recreation Week. Washington is home to almost two million acres of roadless Forest Service land.
Tom Uniak, conservation director for the Washington Wilderness Coalition, says he often tells people that it's almost impossible to be more than 20 miles from a road anywhere in the United States, so having land that is unspoiled by pavement or tire tracks is rarer than many folks realize.
"Roadless areas are the third of our national forest system that has not been logged and developed. They are Forest Service lands only, and so they are not national parks; and they are basically protected from road development."
To the Evergreen State, Uniak says roadless areas serve several important functions; from providing clean drinking water to jobs in tourism. He says the coming week is a chance to spotlight special places around the state.
"Many people hike, raft, kayak and climb in roadless areas - but they don't necessarily know that. By having outings around the country - and we have about ten here in Washington state next week - it's about getting people out there to see these areas."
Roadless Recreation Week takes place as a federal court is considering the fate of the national Roadless Rule, which protects the undeveloped Forest Service land. It's an issue that has been the subject of conflicting court decisions in the past decade. The Washington Wilderness Coalition events to commemorate Roadless Recreation Week are online at www.WAWild.org.