Obama administration defends 2001 roadless rule
The Obama administration today formally entered the legal fray over the 2001 roadless rule that placed a large chunk of national forest land off limits to new road building and timber cutting.
In a one-paragraph court filing, the Department of Justice said it was appealing a 2008 U.S. District Court decision in Wyoming that struck down the road-building ban.
The 2001 rule, issued by the Clinton administration, has been the subject of a tangle of court rulings and administrative actions. Just last week, the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the roadless protections across the country.
The conflicting lower court order in Wyoming has already been appealed by environmentalists. Now, the federal government, a defendant in the case, is also challenging it, formally moving to uphold the Clinton road ban.
“This is a very positive, exciting development because a favorable ruling in the 10th Circuit would end the legal assault on 40 million acres of our roadless forests,” said Mike Anderson, a Seattle-based attorney and senior resource analyst for the Wilderness Society.
But if the 10th Circuit upholds the Wyoming order, the fight will go on.
Photo: A 1909 photo of the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana. Credit: Associated Press