|Background ► The Value of Roadless Areas ► Wildfire|
|◄ Background Main||
Click here for a print (pdf) version of this information.
While protecting Colorado communities is always a top priority, scientists recognize the integral role wildfire plays in the functioning of healthy forests. Fire is a necessary component in the creation of critical habitat for wildlife in standing dead trees; it increases nutrients in the soil; and it improves conditions for surviving trees. The diverse landscape mosaic created by fire also increases biodiversity and helps control parasite and insect outbreaks.
The Forest Service has the ability to take any fire mitigation measures necessary to ensure a community’s safety, even in roadless areas (which overlap only very rarely with the wildland-urban interface).
Managing remote fires for their resource benefits promotes healthy forest ecosystems without placing lives or property in jeopardy. In most cases, roadless areas are not close to communities.
While roads can assist in the fighting of threatening wildfires, threading roads through pristine landscapes dramatically increases the risk that fires will start in the first place. Over 90% of fires on federal lands are caused — either intentionally or accidentally — by humans, and over half of those fires started within a stone’s throw of a road. (3)
Heavily roaded areas are generally at higher risk of more frequent and more severe wildfire than roadless areas, in part because:
For more information:
The Wilderness Society
1 “National Forest Roadless Areas Pose No Threat To Communities at Risk from Wildfire.” The Wilderness Society Science and Policy Brief. July 2003, Number 11
2 Final Environmental Impact Statement of Forest Service Roadless Areas Conservation, 2001. Volume 2, p. 21.