Obama Administration Joins Roadless Rule Battle

Aug 18, 2009

Excerpts:

In an Aug. 13 filing, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reserved its right to appeal a district court ruling and support the 2001 roadless rule that protects millions of acres of forest land. If the district court ruling striking down the rule is allowed to stand, it would conflict with a recent appeals court decision upholding the roadless rule. The administration's support for the roadless rule could bring years of conflict over the rule's status to an end.

The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule protected approximately 58 million acres of pristine forest land from new roads, logging, and development. The rule was developed through an extensive public process and a series of environmental reviews required by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). It went into effect in 2001 and was an early target of the Bush administration's efforts to open vast expanses of forest lands to development and to change the way the U.S. Forest Service managed these lands.

The roadless rule has been the subject of constant court battles since it went into effect. In addition, the Bush administration tried to replace the rule with a program allowing states to determine which portions of federal lands would be open to development and resource extraction. This policy change has also been litigated extensively in an effort to reinstate the Clinton rule...