Since its inception, the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule—which provides vital habitat for 1,500 wildlife species, safeguards drinking water supplies for 60 million Americans, and ensures quality recreation for millions of hikers, fishermen, and hunters—has come under relentless attack by logging and resource extraction interests, certain states and the Bush administration. Thirteen years after Earthjustice first launched legal action to defend the Rule, the nearly 50-million-acre heartland of America's national forests is secure.
Earthjustice battled for 40 years to block logging in roadless areas of the nation's largest national forest, and limit it where roads exist, to protect the forest, preserve wildlife habitat and support recreational and subsistence hunting and fishing. Tongass roadless areas are needed to maintain healthy populations of wildlife like wolves, bears, deer and five species of Pacific salmon. In 2011, a federal district judge in Alaska reinstated the Roadless Rule's application to the Tongass.
Redwood National Park is home to some of the planet's most majestic forests—a fact not lost on California's logging industry. In the mid-1970s, Earthjustice sued the U.S. National Park Service for failing to protect old-growth redwoods in a privately-owned location south of the park. Earthjustice demonstrated that logging outside the park was harming the park and persuaded Congress to nearly double the size of the park to protect it.
Protecting old-growth forests, which support important wildlife throughout the Pacific Northwest, began with Earthjustice's successful efforts to put a dark, football-sized spotted owl, which calls lush old-growth forests its, home on the endangered species list in 1990. Since then, Earthjustice has worked to protect controversial logging projects that would destroy Oregon's dwindling old-growth forests, threaten endangered wildlife and substantially reduce wildlife reserves.
In an ecosystem where all life is connected, as the decline of the whitebark pine seeds go, so go the Yellowstone grizzlies, which eat the highly nutritious seeds by the thousands. But global warming has allowed mountain pine beetles to kill millions of acres of whitebark pine, which forces the bears to search for different foods in risky areas. In 2011, a court ruling reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone's iconic grizzly bear population.
… And More: From protections for National Forests that reach far into the future to old-growth habitat for the marbled murrelet, visit our website to learn about the diversity and breadth of Earthjustice's work to protect forests and the wildlife who depend on them: earthjustice.org