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Major Victory -- Court Reinstates Roadless Rule

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21 October 2011, 5:28 PM
Decision climaxes 13-year legal struggle by Earthjustice
Meadows and ponds abound in a roadless area in Wyoming’s Beartooth Plateau. (© Nelson Guda, 2009 /

<In a major victory for Earthjustice and its supporters, today the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated The Roadless Rule, which protects nearly 50 million acres of National Forest lands against exploitation. Tom Turner, who literally wrote the book ("Roadless Rules") on the case, provides some background here.>

Toward the end of the Clinton administration, the Forest Service declared that most logging and road building no longer would be permitted on nearly 60 million acres of wild, unprotected national forest lands.

The so-called Roadless Area Conservation Rule was immediately challenged in nine separate lawsuits filed by states (Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Utah, North Dakota), a few counties, and several timber industry interests.

Earthjustice immediately moved to defend the rule in all those cases, eventually devoting thousands of hours by many attorneys to the effort. Many major national groups became involved, along with statewide groups. The Natural Resources Defense Council was a key ally in Alaska.

The first ruling, out of Idaho, was a setback. The Rule was ruled illegal. With tenacious lawyering, that ruling was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Next, a judge in Wyoming also ruled the rule illegal.

Meanwhile, the Bush Forest Service joined with the state of Alaska in exempting the Tongass National Forest in the Alaska panhandle—the wildest and largest forest on the system, by far—from the rule.

The legal maneuvering was fast and furious for a decade. At one point the Bush administration replaced the original rule with one that would effectively turn over management of the national forests to the governors of the states the forests are in. Earthjustice made quick work of that ploy, getting it tossed promptly. Last spring, the Tongass Exemption was tossed as well.

Today's news is that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has just ruled that an injunction blocking the rule—at least trying to block the rule—issued by a judge in Wyoming, cannot stand and is overturned. The ruling was unanimous, which should help it stand.

There remains a little cleanup work in Alaska and Idaho, but it's looking very good for the forests.

If you want to explore the intricate background of all this check out Roadless Rules: The Struggle for the Last Wild Forests, published by Island Press, now happily out of date.

It is this sort of news that makes one proud to work with an outfit like Earthjustice. Not only does it have brilliant, energetic, and dedicated attorneys, it has the persistence to stick with a matter like this that can last a decade or more. I'd like to publicly recognize and thank the legal team that has, with yeoman effort, done so much for our national forests: Kristen Boyles, Jim Angell, Tim Preso, Doug Honnold, Todd True, and Tom Waldo.

There's mostly bad news in the headlines these days; this is most definitely of the other kind.

Learn more about this landmark victory for our national forests in the web feature, Major Victory Secures Roadless Rule, and explore the diverse wildlife and wild lands of roadless areas in a photo slideshow.

Winter comes to the South Siegel Roadless Area in Montana's Coeur D'Alene Mountains. (Terry Glase)

Winter comes to the South Siegel Roadless Area in Montana's Coeur D'Alene Mountains. (© Terry Glase)

Daily we're bombarded with bad news. I sign all the petitions, click "Send" and hope for the best. Thank you all for this momentous victory. I will share on Facebook so my friends can enjoy some good news for a change, as well.

Thank you, thank you, for all the good work you do for the planet and the people on it. I feel honored to support you in your tireless efforts to preserve and defend our Earth.

I'm so happy I'm crying!!! Thank you, Earthjustice--you rock the world in exactly the right way!

CONGRATULATIONS! Thank you so much, and please keep up the good work.

In an increasingly cruel and inhumane world and especially in this country where it's getting harder and harder to find a reason to be happy this is great news and a welcome relief from the constant bombardment of bad news. Great job guys, keep up the great work!!

Hey Brenda, Since you love "mother earth" so much, I'm assuming you live outside in a tent.

never mind

George, since you hate "mother earth" so much and think we should destroy it and kill every living thing on it where is it you live exactly? It's people like you that is ruining this country/world and making life intolerable for people with morals and compassion.

FABULOUS, INCREDIBLE news! Thanks so much for caring about our planet and acting to protect it.

The tireless work of Earthjustice in America and Ecojustice in Canada prove that not all humans are destructive and selfish.

Thank You. It is very good news It proves that dedication for any purpose brings desired results.People like you are the hope of bright future of our next gneration.I agains say Thank you and pray to God for every sucess for you in coming life.I always stand with you.

Excellent! Very good work especially considering the odds and hostile environment (no pun intended) you had to work in. Thanks for "clawing back" some of our forests for us!
Best to you.

Thank you for your accomplishment and your persistence.

Man, was I happy to read this, wow.....

Keep up the good work folks at EarthJustice! You and my animal friends have our fullest and utmost support!

With tears in my eyes, a heartfelt "THANK YOU!"
I can only imagine the effort it took to win this victory knowing how ruthless, deceitful, entitled, arrogant, distainful, self-serving, amoral, and vengeful powerful moneyed interests can be. WAY TO GO!

Finally!! It is so great to open an e-mail with some positive news and a victory to boot. Just goes to show if people come together in their beliefs and get a great team to fight the fight,anything is possible. I can go to sleep tonight with a little more hope for Mother Earth:)

The mightiest of THANK YOU'S out to Earthjustice. I have given monthly for years and this is why. Keep up the fight.

Thank you Trip and all the Earth Justice Attorneys for your dedication, sacrifice, determination and hard work in making this happen. We need more people like you to savee our environment and wildlife. The animals really appreciate this.

It just goes to show that one voice added to one voice, etc., etc., etc., is LOUDER than the ideas of the buffoons we seem to keep voting into office. Thank you for persevering and keeping us informed of the results. Now I'm waiting for the next trick they will come up with to continue their headlong rush to destroy and/or kill every living thing on this planet.

Mother Earth is beaming with gratitude that a group of humans committed to caring for her health took action to conserve her natural beauty. Thank you, Earthjustice, for representing all of us with your hard work.

I am proud of Earthjustice. I am proud of Greenpeace. I am proud of The National Resources Defense Council. I am proud of The Sierra Club. I am proud of the Nature Conservancy. I am proud of the Union of Concerned Scientists. There are many other environmental organizations which also are in the fight for Earth. Wouldn't we all be proud if our government were really for the agenda of the people?

Thank God and thank you for this hard won victory. I hope this decision is upheld for the long run for the benefit of all Americans. I'll keep praying that this decision will stand and not be sabotaged by The Few, The Rich and The Powerful.

CONGRATULATIONS from me & all the wild animals. Of course the "idiot in Texas" , you know (the one who was elected twice) and all his buddies in Congress would be against this ! Those are the kind of folks who proudly display animal heads on their walls.

thanks. this is a big one

No. Thank you. Very Much.

It does my soul good to hear of a victory for Mother Earth among the not so good news and countless assaults on her and her creatures we hear about every day. It should give all of us who care about wild places and the wild things that live there hope that in these dark days of big oil drill, drill, drill and other big corporate messes there are lights in the darkness and tireless staff of Earthjustice. you are one of those lights of hope.

Thank you so much for fighting the good fight and please keep up the good work. Our very existance depends on it, as does the existance of all life with which we share our beautiful planet.

Kudos also to everyone who dedicates a portion of their income to donations to organizations like Earthjustice who do the work for us all. They deserve a bonus for this one. Lucky 13 I guess!

May God bless all of you for your tireless and selfless work. Congratulations on this victory!! We can look to the future with joy and thankfulness that we have such people as you who care so much and are willing to put forth such energy for what is right for this planet and all of us who love and respect nature. Again blessings for all of you and your families.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! Thank you for your tireless work, and thanks to the 10th Ct. for doing what is right.

My wife and I were hiking in a national forest yesterday, and we talked about roadless areas. Thank you for the great news and excellent lawyering!

If you ever open an office in L.A., I'd like to work for you.
-dh, esq.

All I can say is thank you for your tireless dedication to our earth.

Looking at this moment in time, TIME......and the time it took for the evolution of these wild places on our earth, I am Awed by your tenacity over 13 years (and continuing) to defend
the wilderness for the future. And I am letting go of a big sigh of relief!! Thank you ALL.

Thank you for all your effort & persistence!

I am rejoicing! The hair on my arms is standing on end, dancing for joy. Thank-you so very very much! Yay!!!!!

This is major. This is fabulous. This is so important for all of us and the planet. I cannot thank you enough. In the face of relentless attacks and an uphill battle your persistence and skillful expertise accomplished a landmark decision for the benefit of us all. THANK YOU to all of you who worked so hard, for so long to see this through. Thank you!

In the face of incredible well funded and zealous opposition you have won a victory for our future. Thank you for your excellent efforts and persistence.

Congratulations on this victory. A stupendous job. A heartfelt thank you for staying the course and fighting for all of us.

Blessings, blessings, blessings on each member of the legal team and on the Earth Justice organization. Congratulations on this long fought for victory. It is with heartfelt thanks I write this note. We are of the earth and the earth sustains us.......not does corporate growth and money. All of the life in the lands covered by this Roadless Act will continue in nature-known territories. This mean great things for us all. THANK YOU.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I add a huge thank you to all of you who stood in the face of the odds to keep fighting back over the long 13 year course of this suit. Thank you for preserving the home of all the life that is dependent on these pristine ecosystems. Congratulations!

I am so thankful and grateful to have been a part of pushing this so necessary rule. It's time we start making environmental and conservation concerns a top priority over money and big politics.


Amid all the assaults on our wilderness and clean environment, it's heartening to hear of a major victory as this clearly is. Thank you and those that stood with you in this effort. Our country is better for it.

With so many attacks on the environment, one can become overwhelmed by helplessness. This wonderful news is just the push we all need to not give up and to stand up for the environment and our beliefs! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!

Congratulations and THANK YOU!

Just a simple heartfelt THANK YOU!
To Doug Honnold,Jim Angell, Kristen Boyles, Todd True, Tom Waldo, Tim Preso and all at EarthJustice.

If it wasn't for our trees the pollution from cars would be much worst.

Stellar accomplishment! I am pleased and proud to even have been a small part of it. Thank you.

Thank you so much!

Congratulations!! And thanks for all your hard, constant work and efforts!!

You have done such an BIGGER THAN LIFE service to all of us and our children.
THANK YOU ~ what an amazing feat!!!!

I live in Montana where forests are few and far between and I so very much appreciate that people are willing to go to bat to keep them. I was proud to be a part of that.

This news brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for fighting this difficult battle. The end result was so worth it. And words can never express the valus of thie awesome GIFT you have given mankind by seeing it through to this hard won victory. YEAH!!!

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