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Supreme Court Rejects ‘Roadless Rule’ Appeal

Oct. 1, 2012 | Northwest Public Radio
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Courtney Flatt

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  • A decade-old rule that prohibited roads from being extended onto nearly 60 acres of wild, publicly owned land, will not be challenged to the Supreme Court. It announced it would not take up a challenge to the rule. credit: Amelia Templeton
A decade-old rule that prohibited roads from being extended onto nearly 60 acres of wild, publicly owned land, will not be challenged to the Supreme Court. It announced it would not take up a challenge to the rule. | credit: Amelia Templeton | rollover image for more

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear an appeal to President Clinton’s Roadless Rule, which was aimed at conserving 58.5 million acres of national forest lands. An appellate court decision that upheld the rule will stay in place.

The Roadless Area Conservation rule, also known as the Roadless Rule, prevents construction and logging on untouched forest areas. The state of Wyoming and the mining industry had challenged the rule.

Steve Pedery is the conservation director at Oregon Wild. He says the Roadless Rule has helped conserve undeveloped forestland.

“Places where we still have really pristine backcountry areas that don’t have roads in them, that don’t have a long history of logging, or mining, or other heavy development are pretty rare,” Pedery says.

A spokesman for the Colorado Mining Association said he was disappointed with the decision because many industries need access to the land.

By The Numbers

Washington: National Forest System Lands: 9,214,000 acres Inventoried Roadless Areas: 2,015,00 acres

Oregon: National Forest System Lands: 15,658,000 acres Inventoried Roadless Areas: 1,965,000 acres

Idaho: National Forest System Lands: 20,458,000 Inventoried Roadless Areas: 9,322,000

President Bill Clinton passed the rule in 2001, days before his term ended. The rule has faced challenges from logging, mining, farming and oil groups.

Most of the protected areas are in the Western United States. Idaho and Colorado opted-out of the rule. Idaho became the first state in the nation to create its own standards, followed by Colorado. This Supreme Court decision will not change either states’ rules.

The Idaho standards will be one of the next areas challenged in court, according to Earthjustice, an environmental law firm. Idaho’s rule is less stringent than the federal law.

© 2012 Northwest Public Radio
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