Olympic National Forest, Washington. ([c] Thomas O'Keefe)

Photo Slideshow

Explore the wildlife and wild forests of roadless areas across the country.  View Slideshow.
Tongass National Forest.

Securing The Roadless Rule

Earthjustice and our allies have fought for years to protect roadless areas.  Read Feature.
A Victory For Roadless Areas

"All Americans can now know that a key part of our nation's natural heritage won't be destroyed."

— Earthjustice Attorney Tim Preso

On October 21, 2011, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a long-awaited decision, affirming the validity of the 2001 Roadless Rule and securing critical legal protections for nearly 50 million acres of pristine National Forest lands.

Earthjustice has led the legal defense of the Roadless Rule since the first attacks by logging and resource extraction interests and the Bush/Cheney administration.

Against all odds, this critical legal work has kept the Roadless Rule alive and prevented the destruction of our national forests' last great wild places.

Learn more.

Learn More: What Is Roadless?

Ice Lake Basin, Colorado. Dramatic scenery of Bear Mountain in a roadless area in Colorado's Ice Lake Basin. ([c] Nelson Guda, 2009 / nelsonguda.com)
Bear Mountain in a roadless area in Colorado's Ice Lake Basin. (© Nelson Guda, 2009 / nelsonguda.com)

The nearly 60 million acres of forest areas protected by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule provide vital habitat for 1,500 wildlife species, safeguard drinking water supplies for 60 million Americans, and ensure quality recreation for millions of hikers, fishermen, and hunters.

These areas provide some of the last remaining strongholds for grizzly bears, wolves, elk, salmon, and trout.

The 2001 Roadless Rule was the product of the most comprehensive rulemaking process in the nation's history, including more than 2 million comments from members of the public, hundreds of public hearings and open houses, and a detailed environmental review.

The rule came under relentless attack by logging and resource extraction interests, certain states, and the Bush administration. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision on October 21, 2011, reversing a lower court decision, and joining the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in affirming the validity of the Roadless Rule.

·  Related Website: USDA Roadless Area Conservation Home

Roadless Quotes

President Obama "Road construction in national forests can harm fish and wildlife habitats while polluting local lakes, rivers, and streams. The Roadless Area Conservation Rule—which was made on the basis of extensive citizen input—protects 58.5 million acres of national forest from such harmful building. I will be proud to support and defend it."
— Sen. Barack Obama
League of Conservation Voters Candidate Questionnaire

Horizontal rule

New York Times logo "[Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's decision to review all logging and road construction in national forest wildlands] is a welcome reprieve, but it is only a first step. These areas need the complete and permanent protection that President Bill Clinton had in mind when he signed the so-called roadless rule in 2001."
— Editorial, The New York Times (June 3, 2009)

Featured Stories

Thirteen years after Earthjustice first launched legal action, the nearly 50-million-acre heartland of America’s national forests is secure. A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Roadless Rule, virtually ending a politically infested process that pitted resource exploiters against the vast majority of citizens who rely upon these pristine lands for recreation and repose.
The nearly 60 million acres of wild national forest lands protected under the 2001 Roadless Rule provide refuge for many species. Clearly, the best future for these lands and the people who enjoy them is to leave them as they are. Explore stunning photos of roadless areas throughout the country.
Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, and our allies have fought for years to protect roadless areas. See a timeline of the major milestones.
With proper stewardship, intact forests will help sustain us and our children for generations to come. Read the report discussing the importance of wild nature to both humans and wildlife, and the impacts of road development.