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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)

Thank you Earth Justice and especially to the attorneys who worked so hard on this effort: Doug Honnold, Jim Angell, Kristen Boyles, Todd True, Tom Waldo and Tim Preso. Keep up the good work. We need more people doing similar work to save this planet.

Thank you thank you thank you, from all the voiceless creatures in our care, for taking on the stewardship of these wild places and for protecting these indescribably beautiful natural Eco systems


This is a true victory. Maybe this will free up resources to continue our fight against the Sunflower Electric coal fired plant expansion that has
, so far, been thwarted. I live in a truly abused part of the United States. Short grass prairie is plowed under for circles of irrigated corn & alfalfa. The "river" is SO dry. The places that held water to provide
refuge for water fowl and shorebirds are SO dry. Keep up the work to protect our land against invaders.

Thank you so much for what you have done for me, my grandchildren, and their grandchildren's children!

This means more than $ and winning the fight.
Money cannot buy what could have been lost.

Thank you!

Well won. Congratulations and Gratitude to you all!

Thank you earth Justice. Thank you Doug and all the other EJ attorneys who have worked on this long and hard. Thanks for saving the earth bit by bit. Cheers to you!!!

Thank-you for sticking with this so very important work through the tough times. You have my deepest respect and thanks. Much love to you all!

Whoopee! What a wonderful day! Thank you for contiinuing the fight and winning the battle. Our trees and forests and waterways within them are now protected. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And did I mention, WHOOPEE!

Oh Happy Day! A true Joy to the World Day....

Thank you so much- Leora

In a time when environmental news is usually bad and very upsetting, this is wonderful. For those of us who actually care about the planet and its longevity, we are very grateful. Keep up the good work, I can imagine that it's only going to get harder to protect us in the future. Thank you

You have my grateful thanks and profound gratitude for your tenacious efforts on behalf of our beautiful planet and all the creatures who must share it.

Thanks a million! And when I'm working again, I'll be sure to donate to show my appreciation to all!

Great job You guys/Gals!!!!!~~

When i was 13 (1954), i placed my arms around a tree (i truly believe that i was the 1st tree hugger), and loudly proclaimed that: "i am the King of trees! And i Love You You gorgeous tree, You!!!!!~~"
i loved trees then and now at 7 3/4 yrs old (2011), i Love the trees even more, because i now know that they cleanse and purify the air and keep the Monsoons in check.



Da Doc

Congratulations and THANK YOU!! Even my unborn grandchildren thank you!

Well done, guys! Keep fighting!


Thank you on behalf of everyone who has ever enjoyed or who will enjoy our beautiful sacred land now or in the future.

Congratulations, and thank you!

This is why I proudly wear the "Tree Hugger" logo so proudly ;) Thank you all that care so deeply about our world as I do and Thank you even more, for all our political action groups that help us preserve the beauty of this world.....It's always an uphill battle but the view is so beautiful from the top!!

Many thanks for your dedication and service to all Americans. You are the unsung heroes providing unwavering support for our environment. Your actions will continue to keep our country beautiful and healthy for all to enjoy. I love you all for your commitment to Earth Justice. Blessings.

thank you for this wonderful news - something which we find so little of these days - and thank you for all you do and most especially for being on mother nature's side.

Thank you for leading the way for Nature to thrive. It is through efforts such as Earthjustice that there will be wild lands to nurture the heart, minds, & souls of our children's children. It seems like a no-brainer that we must leave some parts of the earth free of mankind's destructive practices, however, sadly there are so many that are either apathetic or just don't care. I will continue to do my part to help people understand our responsibility for good stewardship of that which has been given us so beautifully in Nature.

This is the news I had hoped for. We can all breathe easier knowing so many of us place great value on our forests. There is a great groundswell of activists now who refuse to accept politicians and corporations who value only profit for themselves while leaving the rest of us behind.
Forests are home to many species of animals and birds who can now be free to inhabit their natural home and carry out that necessary web of life that sustains us all. The forests all over our land are now free to prosper.

The attorneys have done an incredible job with this. And much credit goes to Earthjustice for pusuing this goal. Not only has the land been protected, but also all of the botanicals and wildlife for whom these woods are home. Now these tracts will be there undesturbed for future generations to enjoy. This is a phenomenal job! Thank you!

WOW! Congrats! This is why I have supported Earthjustice with donations for years! You are doing the whole world a great service! Please keep up the great work.

This is a major step forward, particularly considering what is going on in Washington.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU for trying to save this country and this world.

Thank Goodness there is an Earthjustice and I am proud to be a supporter. Congratulations on your hard work!!!! The earth is a better place today because of your group and its' supporters.

Congrats are in order for all of you who initiated this petition. We pushed thru for you and the wonderful outcome, but if ya'll hadn't made us aware of what was happening, we would still be the proverbial "ostrich". THANK YOU!!


Awesome! It's good to know the small donations I've made over the past few years have helped to effect change. You guys rock!

Kudos and unlimited praise & thanks to EarthJustice!

Great work, you guys!! If anyone could do it, we knew it would be you. We're thrilled.

Nice work - keep it up.

It's what I like.

We need to continue like that.

Love all of real people like Trip.

A French Guy.

Blessings and Light for the mighty nature fight....Love wins!

Thank you, thank you! As a long-time 'city-slicker,' I need ALL the oxygen (!), clean water, & natural soil filtration & preservation that we can get!!! What goes around, comes around--all the way to me in a distant polluted city....
I just wish the great environmentalists would address the radioactive disaster from Fukushima that is now blowing in and raining-out on the Jet Stream throughout the United States.
See this site: Something needs to be done--there should be a NEW, passionate focus on nuclear pollution!!!!
However, every Victory like this lessens the burden for both our ecosystems and immune systems.
THANKS again!!!

Thank you to everyone who donated their time and energy and money to help save our wilderness areas from the encroachment of those who would destroy their natural beauty.
I wish there was a way to put an end to the canned hunts that James Thompson mentioned in his comment. What a cowardly, disgusting thing.

This has gone on for far too many long years, about such an ugly dark stain spanning a decade I cannot count how many times over the past ten years we have all made sure everyone we knew,about this before falling sleep at night everytime we were asked to sign a petition. It's just completely bizarre Thank you so much standing for this Light over so many cold winter's nights, Thank You beyond words.
~ And a new day will dawn for those who stand long, and the forests will echo with laughter......

Thanks to everyone at Earthjustice! My brother and I hike and camp in the Colorado Rockies and to know that portions of the wilderness will remain vehicle free is some of the best news we have heard of. Keep up the good work and know those who respect and love nature will be fighting alone side everyone affiliated with Earthjustice.

This is beyond wonderful that the very humans that were put on Planet Earth in the first place are doing the very thing that God put us here for protecting Mother Earth as we always should come hell or high water.

You see what WE THE PEOPLE can do when we decide to do it no matter what it takes how wonderful.

Thank you for your hard work. Here in GA the DOT wanted to shove another highway through our neighborhood to service the Jimmy Carter library they claimed was needed for the tons of increased traffic. Studies showed the opposite was true, and traffic down a historic corridor designed by Olmstead was actually showing a decrease in traffic after trains were built to the downtown area. The DOT had never been defeated in its lust to pave over Atlanta to service the suburbs. Well we did it. It took legal help but most of the power came from us, the people who lived there and laid our bodies down in front of the bulldozers and chained ourselves to old growth trees. We embarassed then Mayor Andrew Young every chance we got at public meetings. In a word we were activists. It saddens me that young people will camp in lines for hours to get a new cell phone but continue to ignor their civil duties to stop the criminal behavior of our government, banks, and corporations. I applaud the Occupy group for starting a visible movement here and I hope, as an adult activist of the sixties, that the young folks will continue to fight the good fight.
Perhaps we could get busy repairing the roads and bridges that exist and are in very dangerous condition. Y'think???

Great news! Thanks to EarthJustice and to everyone out there for showing support of our natural wild lands - let's keep fighting the good fight!

This is not a victory, it is an affirmation that despite the loss of millions of acres of valuable wood to Pine Beetles, we cling to images rather than reality. You have made wealthy wilderness guides who charge millions of dollars each year for the privilege of viewing what we all own. This is the true nature of privatization, unwitting allies have prevented the elderly and disabled from enjoying a wilderness that is now private for wealthy hunters and the elite of our society. The joke is on the people who foot the bill for increased costs of research to save millions of acres of tree,s from an inevitable fate of pine beetles and or fire. Granted there is value for wildlife in the renewing of forests from fire. That increased solitude from people wishing to view these lands will no doubt add to the coffers of wealthy Rancher/Guides who charge excessive fees for what are virtual canned hunts of "Trophy" Elk, Deer, Mountain Lions, Bear. Continue your quest to seal public lands from reasonable public use, by all means secure privacy for the society elite.

James Thompson
8905 Little Horse Ave
Las Vegas NV 89143

what in the hell are you ranting about?? This decision just guaranteed our national forests (public land and open free to the public) will remain forests and not end up with roads, mines and oil wells in them. Did you post on the right topic?

Thanks to every person who stood by Earthjustice and kept the faith as they were fighting for the beautiful lands of our country. Thanks to Earthjustice itself and the lawyers that worked so hard in keeping nature and animals safe and where they belong.

This is fantastic news, our children and their children need to grow up with forest, just like we did. There are plenty of huge cities, we do not need any more. It is great to know that Earthjustice has such great lawyers who were able to stand up and fight.

Thank you for taking on this courages fight!
America needs fighters for us and thanks for being there.

Yea! Your tireless efforts have gained an amazing victory! The people and many, many animals thank you . God made this beautiful world for us to enjoy. Thanks for saving some for us to still enjoy!

Thanks so much for your commitment. It is extremely important to our environment and the lives of our children.

Awesome! Great! There are not enough words to express what this means to myself and the future generations of this country. Thank you for all the hard work.

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