Posts tagged: Roadless Rule

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Roadless Rule

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
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.

192 Comments   /  
View Marty Hayden's blog posts
22 July 2011, 11:08 AM
Congress gives industry free ride on back of environmental protections

Perhaps inspired by the triple-digit heat afflicting Washington D.C., the House of Representatives is putting legislative flames to our important environmental and public health protections.

This week, the House will consider a spending bill for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service and other federal agencies. The bill is stuffed with open attacks by House Republicans on protections for our air, water, wildlife and iconic places.
Laden with nearly 40 so-called anti-environmental “riders”— policy provisions added to a measure having little or nothing to do with the appropriating funds—the bill hasn’t even reached the House floor yet. One provision will lift a moratorium on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon--one of the world’s seven natural wonders, and the only one in the U.S.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
21 July 2011, 12:11 PM
Agency notes inadequate protection of roadless areas
A road and well pad bulldozed into roadless lands for a coal mine in Colorado. Ted Zukoski photo.

The Environmental Protection Agency found much room for improvement when it weighed in on the Forest's Service environmental impact statement that analyzes a proposed rule to weaken protection for roadless lands in Colorado. 

Among the EPA's concerns: the Forest Service proposed to grant the highest level of protection to about one-seventh of Colorado's 4 million acres of roadless lands. Not enough, said the EPA in its July 18 letter.

Further, the EPA said the proposal would allow three coal mines to bulldoze roads through roadless lands to get hundreds of millions of tons of additional coal.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
22 June 2011, 2:49 PM
Brilliant mid-summer flowers in the Rockies waning due to climate change
Hummingbird at larkspur. David Inouye photo.

One of the great joys of living in the Rockies is taking a summer stroll in a high meadow, surrounded by wildflowers - violet lupines, deep red skyrockets, purple larkspur, penstemons, 6-foot gentians, and many others.

Some of these diplays may be changing, however, according to a scientific article written up recently in the LA Times.  The study shows that the previous "peak" of flowers in the mid-summer is being stretched out.  As the biology geeks put it in the article:

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
21 June 2011, 5:48 PM
State tries old, discredited legal arguments in new roadless attack
Tongass National Forest

The long and winding saga of the Roadless Rule, adopted in the Clinton administration after an exhaustive public process, just took a new turn, though it smacks of desperation.

To recap, the Roadless Rule was put in place to protect 58.5 million acres of undeveloped and otherwise unprotected land on the national forests. The rule has been subject of nine lawsuits. An appeals court in Denver has yet to rule on a lawsuit out of Wyoming; the others have concluded with the Roadless Rule still standing.

We said nine suits had been filed to challenge the rule. Make that 10. On Friday, June 17, the state of Alaska filed a new suit seeking to overturn the rule in its entirety.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
19 May 2011, 9:31 AM
Obama’s proposed Rule + natural gas, coal threaten millions of acres
Sunset Trail roadless area, Colorado.

Colorado is the most populous, developed state in the Rocky Mountain West. Despite all the cities and towns, highways, oil rigs and second homes, about 4.4 million acres of roadless national forest remain. And that’s in addition to the 3 million-plus acres of existing wilderness.

These roadless lands - which safeguard clean water, wildlife habitat and recreation - are currently protected across the West (except Idaho - long story) by President Clinton’s 2001 “Roadless Rule.”   That Rule bars commercial logging, road construction and most mining. The Rule does have carefully narrow provisions that allow some logging where needed to reduce fire risks in some forest types.  But Clinton's Rule remains the gold standard for protecting roadless lands.
President Obama's Forest Service, however, is working to undermine the Rule in Colorado. 

View Tom Turner's blog posts
21 April 2011, 6:40 AM
Anti-wilderness bill is subject of scorn
Representative Kevin McCarthy (CA-22).

Last week we wrote about an effort by three Republican members of the House of Representatives to repeal the Roadless Area Conservation Rule that protects nearly 60 million acres of unspoiled lands on the national forests and to deny the Bureau of Land Management's authority to declare its unspoiled areas "wilderness study areas" and protect them until Congress can decide whether to give them permanent protection.

Now the hometown paper of one of the congressmen—Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, CA—has lit into him, invoking the memory of that great Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, who would certainly deplore this foolish, not to say wicked, ploy. We thank and congratulate the editors of the Bakersfield Californian for their graceful and powerful editorial. We hope Mr. McCarthy will pay attention. Fat chance.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
12 April 2011, 11:43 AM
Bill would repeal Roadless Rule and eliminate wilderness study areas

Three mad hatters--Steve Pearce (R-NM), Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are gathering--or trying to gather--cosponsors for what they're callling the Wilderness & Roadless Area Release Act, a law that would open national forest roadless areas and Bureau of Land Management wilderness study areas to development. This would put a bit more than 70 million of wild lands at risk.

Specifically, it would repeal the Roadless Area Conservation Rule and rescind Interior Secretarial Order 3310 issued by Secretary Ken Salazar last December that overturned a Bush era policy and reinstated BLM's wilderness study areas program.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
10 March 2011, 2:13 PM
Bush-Alaska ploy is undone by a federal judge
Tongass National Forest. Courtesy

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, adopted at the end of the Clinton administration, banned most logging and road-building on the last 58.5 million unspoiled and unprotected acres on the national forests. It was immediately challenged by states, timber companies and other interests in nine lawsuits, one of which is still awaiting final resolution.

In Alaska, the state and the Forest Service cut a back-room deal: The state sued and the government caved, excluding environmental groups and Native Alaskan organizations from the process. This was called “The Tongass Exemption,” and it removed the Tongass National Forest—the biggest and wildest in the system by far—from the Roadless Rule.

And there it sat for most of 10 years. Environmental groups, via Earthjustice litigation, were able to block every new attempt to cut trees in roadless areas, but the exemption hung like an ugly shroud over everything—until last Friday (March 4), when Judge John Sedwick threw it out and reinstated the rule for the Tongass.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
24 January 2011, 12:45 PM
Arch enemy of the Roadless Rule working for anti-offroad groups. Go figure.

Thanks to an email from my old friend George Alderson, I nearly dropped my teeth the other day.

You may remember. In the gallery of baddies service in the G.W. Bush administration, the one most reviled by the environmental movement—or certainly one of the most reviled—was Mark Rey, Under Secretary of the Department of Agricuture, whose main job was to oversee the Forest Service. In that role, Mr. Rey guided the administration's efforts to thwart the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a rule put in place at the end of the Clinton administration to protect nearly 60 million acres of near-wilderness quality lands on the national forests.

Well, it turns out that Mr. Rey has been lobbying on behalf of the Idaho Conservation League, Trout Unlimited, and Wildlaw, the latter being a pro-wilderness organization headquartered in Alabama.

Mr. Rey's duties seem to focus on keeping certain national forest lands closed to off-road vehicles.

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