Thursday, October 27, 2011

Landmark Ruling on National Forest Roadless Areas

October 27, 2011

The 2001 Roadless Rule, promulgated by the Clinton administration, was reinstated and affirmed recently in a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision.  This puts to rest years of litigation and uncertainty about a policy that now protects nearly 50 million acres of undeveloped Forest Service lands nation-wide.  The decision overturned a lower court ruling and affirmed that the rule is the law of the land.
Colorado's seven National Forests, with roadless areas displayed.
© Connor Bailey, Sothern Rockies Ecosystem Project
This historic decision protects outstanding opportunities in our forests for hikers, climbers, bikers and other human-powered forms of recreation.  The rule forbids logging, road building and development in inventoried roadless areas.

This ruling affects the national policy.  The state of Colorado has been working with the Forest Service on a draft rule that would only apply to forests within Colorado.  This process is between draft and final forms, so until such a process is complete, the national rule applies here in Colorado.  The future of the Colorado rulemaking process is unclear in light of this decision, but the Department of Natural Resources has indicated that the process will continue.  

Stay tuned for how this shakes out, but, for now, let’s celebrate a great victory for the wildlands of our National Forests!

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