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Roadless Rule Defense: Affirmed At Court of Appeals, Enjoined in Another Circuit

Hikers enjoy the the Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area, a 11,175-acre roadless area near Butte, Montana. The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule protects wild national forests and grasslands from new road building, logging and development.

Hikers enjoy the the Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area, a 11,175-acre roadless area near Butte, Montana. The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule protects wild national forests and grasslands from new road building, logging and development.

Bob Wick / BLM California

Case Overview

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects 58.5 million acres of national forest land, was repealed by the Bush adminstration, and in May 2005, replaced by a state-by-state petition process.

In September 2006, Judge Elizabeth Laporte in San Francisco declared the petitions rule illegal and reinstated the Roadless Rule nationwide, except for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Two years later, Judge Brimmer reissued his moratorium declaring the Roadless Rule illegal throughout the country. But the following year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed protection for over 40 million acres of wild national forests and grasslands from new road building, logging, and development.

On October 21, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Wyoming district court, upholding the Roadless Rule and vacating the prior injunction.

Related Features

Major Victory Secures Roadless Rule

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.

Case Updates

April 3, 2013 | In the News: Los Angeles Times

Judge upholds roadless protections on U.S. forests

A federal court struck down the final challenge to the roadless rule in the United States, ensuring protection from development and logging for nearly 60 million acres of land across the United States. The judge ruled that Alaska’s challenge came too late under the statute of limitations, and the decision follows previous futile attempts by Idaho and Wyoming to revoke this essential environmental protection policy.

March 26, 2013 | Blog Post

It's Game Over for Foes of National Forests

Time has run out for the enemies of roadless wilderness. They spent 12 years trying to kill the national law protecting our forests, and yesterday a federal district court said they couldn’t have a minute more—the statute of limitations had run out.

This means you better grab a compass when heading into a national forest because you can get lost amid all the trees saved by this law, known as the Roadless Rule.

March 25, 2013 | Press Release

Roadless Rule Survives Final Legal Challenge

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today ended a challenge by the state of Alaska against a nationwide Clinton-era rule protecting tens of millions of acres of roadless forest lands from logging and road building.

The Alaska case was the final litigation challenging the rule nationwide. The court held that no further challenges are allowed, because the statute of limitations has run out.

October 1, 2012 | In the News: Anchorage Daily News

High court upholds national forest roadless rule

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Wyoming’s challenge to the national roadless rule which protects 50 million acres in national forests across the country. The court ruling upholds the roadless rule’s prohibition of harmful activity such as drilling and mining on the designated land, and allows logging only for the purposes of preventing wildfires.

"We're glad the Supreme Court put the final nail in the coffin of Wyoming's case," Tim Preso, an attorney with the environmental law firm Earthjustice.

February 16, 2012 | Blog Post

Victory Stands For The Roadless Rule

Nearly 50 million acres of America’s most pristine public forest lands remain protected today, thanks to a decision this afternoon by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denying a last-ditch effort by the State of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association to overturn the U.S. Forest Service Roadless Area Conservation Rule, more commonly known as the Roadless Rule.