Tag Archives: roadless rule

Roadless Rule survives appeals process

The long squabble over the Roadless Rule is not dead, but it’s wounded . . .

The lack of a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court means Alaska must follow the U.S. Forest Service Roadless Rule in its timber harvest, nearly ending 16 years of legal challenges to management of undeveloped forest.

The high court opted not to hear the Alaska state government’s appeal of a U.S. 9th Circuit Court decision upholding the 2001 Roadless Rule. While the decision applies only to Alaska’s attempts to manage federal timberland, the rule affects all Forest Service land in the United States. Montana has the third-largest inventoried roadless area in the nation, after Alaska and Idaho.

“The Roadless Rule was developed because of concern that if you didn’t look at these lands from a national perspective, you might gradually lose the ecological services these areas provide,” said Brian Riggers of the Forest Service’s Region 1 headquarters in Missoula. “Projects developed at a local level may not identify the importance of big pieces of land without looking at it from a national perspective for things like watershed quality, wildlife habitat or ecosystem health. Also, we had a road maintenance backlog, and no money to maintain the roads we had.”

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Sarah Gilman: ‘Wilderness Lite’ wins the day

Here’s some pretty good commentary by Sarah Gilman of the High Country News concerning last Friday’s resurrection of the “roadless rule” . . .

One of the last decades’ most scintillating (that is, in the headachey confusing sense…) enviro-legal ping-pong matches may finally be drawing to a close. On Friday, a three-judge panel at the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver effectively reinstated the Clinton-era Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which banned new road building and most logging on more than 50 million acres of National Forest. The rule was meant to prevent further fragmentation of wildlife habitat, sedimentation of streams, and other negative effects of roads on lands that had been previously inventoried as “roadless.”

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Roadless rule reinstatement protects 6.4M acres in Montana

After 10 years of squabbling, the “roadless rule” is back in force. From today’s Missoulian . . .

A decade of uncertainty over managing public roadless lands may have cleared with last Friday’s federal appeals court ruling.

A three-judge panel from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously agreed that a 2001 rule governing inventoried roadless areas was the law of the land. That dovetailed with earlier 9th Circuit Court rulings saying the same thing.

The decisions prohibit road construction and timber cutting in 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless areas, including 6.4 million acres in Montana. That covers about 30 percent of the national forest system.

Continue reading . . .

Wilderness debate heats up

Here’s an interesting article in today’s Missoulian discussing the renewed debate over designation and expansion of wilderness areas . . .

For more than three decades, millions of Montana federal acres have been de facto wilderness.

Over the past few weeks, those slumbering lands have been shoved back into the spotlight. And last Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the nation’s 40 million acres of “inventoried roadless lands” were properly protected by a 2001 Clinton administration prohibition on development.

But the 10th Circuit Court in Wyoming is deliberating on a mirror-reverse case, where a lower-court judge has declared the Clinton rule is wrong. That would leave standing a subsequent Bush administration rule allowing states to make their own rules governing federal roadless land.

And in between, Sen. Jon Tester’s proposed Forest Jobs and Recreation Act might open 1 million acres of Montana roadless land to logging, according to some of its critics.

Read the entire article . . . [link repaired]

National forest roadless rule revived — sort of

I’ve you’ve lost track of the administrative and legal status of the infamous national forest “roadless rule,” you’re not alone. The Obama administration has effectively reinstated it — sort of — for a year while they figure things out. Here’s the lede from the Associated Press article as published in yesterday’s online Flathead Beacon . . .

The Obama administration is ordering a one-year moratorium on most road-building and other development on about 50 million acres of remote national forests.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a directive Thursday reinstating for one year most of a Clinton-era ban against new road construction and development in national forests. The 2001 rule banned road-building and logging in more than 58 million acres of remote national forests, mostly in the West.

Conflicting court decisions issued since then have left the so-called roadless rule’s legal status in doubt.

Read the entire article . . .