Federal Appeals Court Refuses to Reconsider Roadless Rule


Landmark ruling on wild national forest protections stands


Tim Preso, Earthjustice, (406) 586-9699

Today, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition filed by the State of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association to reconsider the court’s October 2011 ruling upholding the national Roadless Rule. The October ruling secured critical legal protections for nearly 50 million acres of pristine National Forest lands. Today’s decision means that the October decision upholding the Roadless Rule against legal challenges will stand as the final decision of the 10th Circuit.

Ice Lake Basin, Colorado. Dramatic scenery of Bear Mountain in a roadless area in Colorado’s Ice Lake Basin.
(© Nelson Guda, 2009 / nelsonguda.com)
View a photo slideshow of roadless areas.

A large number of Earthjustice attorneys have worked since 2001 to defend the protections embodied in the Roadless Rule. Bozeman Montana attorney Tim Preso is one and issued this statement:

“Today’s decision is a victory for all those who love to hike, fish, or hunt in our national forests. Protection of these forests also secures vital habitat for some of our nation’s most sensitive wildlife. From condors of the southern California mountains, to grizzly bears and wolves near Yellowstone National Park, to migratory songbirds among the Appalachian hardwoods, many species would no longer exist—or would be severely depleted—but for the forest lands protected by the Roadless Rule.

“Today’s victory marks yet another milestone in Earthjustice’s ongoing legal effort to protect roadless public forest lands amounting to roughly a third of our national forests, and nearly 2 percent of the U.S. land base.”

Earthjustice attorney Ted Zukoski has worked on roadless protection in Colorado:

“Today’s decision is a win for Colorado’s four million acres of streams, wildlife and mountains found in roadless areas. Sadly, the Forest Service continues to work on a weaker state rule for Colorado, one with loopholes allowing natural areas to be bulldozed for the benefit of the oil and gas industry and coal mines. The State of Colorado asked for a separate state rule a decade ago as an ‘insurance policy’ in case the national rule was set aside. With the Tenth Circuit’s decision, that insurance policy is not needed. The Forest Service should abandon its effort to roll back the Roadless Rule’s protections for Colorado forests. Colorado’s forests, wildlife and clear streams deserve the same high level of protection as forests in neighboring Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico.”


In October 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, CO issued a long-awaited, landmark decision upholding the nationwide Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The rule had been under attack by Wyoming and its allies in the mining industry.

Subsequently, in December 2011 the State of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association challenged the Roadless Rule again and asked for a full appeals court rehearing. That petition was denied today.

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