Conservation Public Lands & Waters

Court Rules Against Roads and Logging in National Forests

The Federal government recently upheld a rule that makes logging and road construction illegal in national forests, according to ABC News and other sources.

For the origin of the rule, one must go back to the Clinton administration. In 2001, a ban was declared on timber harvests, road construction and road development in millions of acres of national forest to protect fragile wilderness habitat and to keep the forests remote and pristine for recreational use. The state of Wyoming and other groups protested the ban, saying it violated the 1964 Wilderness Act and hindered the mining and development of coal and other natural resources.

The Federal court didn’t buy Wyoming’s protests.

“Wyoming failed to demonstrate that the Forest Service’s promulgation of the Roadless Rule violated the Wilderness Act, NEPA, MUSYA, or NFMA,” the panel of judges wrote in their decision.

The original Clinton iteration was protested by the Bush administration following Clinton’s final presidential term. This paved the way for individual states like Wyoming and other groups to follow suit. The debate eventually found its way to the high courts.

Had the ruling been overturned, 50 million acres of wilderness across the country would have been opened to various logging and road development projects, undoubtedly impacting animal species of all types.

“Today’s decision is among the most significant conservation victories in several decades. It reinforces the roadless rule as the cornerstone of protection for our national forests and preserves these landscapes for generations to come,” said Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Environment Group’s public lands program.