U.S. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck this weekend said his agency should be leading the effort to protect what’s left of wild spaces and that he would increase the number of people on his payroll working on wilderness issues. Speaking at a national wilderness conference in Denver, Dombeck said, “Five percent of our land area is wilderness. It might not sound like much, and it isn’t. It’s not nearly enough.” He also said the use of off-road vehicles, such as snowmobiles, is the wilderness “issue of the decade,” though he didn’t touch on any specific plans for banning them. Meanwhile, the USFS has removed 25,000 miles of roads in the last decade and is removing thousands more miles this year. The agency hopes to finalize a rule this year that would encourage its staff in the field to get rid of roads that are no longer needed or cause environmental problems.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.