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Home: Education: Roadless Area Information
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Idaho's Backcountry Forests at Risk

November 2011 Update

As of October 21st, 2011, the Clinton Era Roadless Area Conservation Rule is Back!

Except for, you guessed it, Idaho

Thanks to the efforts of The Wilderness Society, Earthjustice and many other conservation groups. There is now great hope for Idaho's roadless forests! Conservation groups headed by The Wilderness Society currently have a lawsuit pending in federal appeals court set to challenge Idaho's exemption. Read more...

Learn more about Roadless Land on

October 2008 Idaho Roadless Update

It doesn't bode well for millions of acres of roadless forest in Idaho. Here's the latest off the NYT website, calling the shady deal-making a 'Truce' is somewhat misleading. The bottom line is: IF the Clinton era Roadless Rule were to remain in effect ALL of Idaho's roadless forests would be completely protected. This rule currently is the law of the land for the other 49 states. The new rule contains language that permits allowances for road building, logging and mining.

Roadless Rule Background

2001 Roadless Rule Reinstated
On September 20th, 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth LaPorte ruled that the Bush Administration violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act when it repealed the 2001 Roadless Rule. The court found the Bush Administration acted illegally, and reinstated the original 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule (Wilderness Society, 2006). Management of our public lands has been given back to the public, and taken away from special interest groups.

Following the reinstatement of the 2001 Roadless Rule, the President of the Wilderness Society issued a formal statement, which can be viewed here.

Sadly, on the eve of such great news, and the very same day of the reinstatement, Idaho's Governor announced plans to stay the course - and go against the reinstatement of the nationwide roadless rule. Idaho plans to continue with the grossly unbalanced petition process aimed at building roads into roadless areas for logging, drilling and other invasive and destructive activities.

What Went Wrong
On May 5th, 2005, the Bush Administration revoked the widely-supported 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule and replaced it with the 2005 Roadless Rule. Under this new rule, approximately 60 million acres of pristine wild forests were now open for logging, drilling, road building and other destructive forms of development (Idaho Conservation League, 2005).

The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule was created to establish a nationwide blanket to protect inventoried roadless areas as a whole; it grants the same high level of protection and management to every single roadless area regardless of state legislation (USDA Forest Service, 2005). This approach makes sense because roadless areas often are independent of state and political boundaries, and as such, should be managed as a whole.

The 2001 Roadless Rule was the most supported set of Federal laws ever enacted; 95% of over 1.6 million comments submitted were in support of 2001 Roadless Rule (Wilderness Society, 2005).

The Bush Administration was able to revoke the 2001 Roadless Rule by focusing on changing federal regulations in order to quietly replace the Roadless Rule. Federal regulations are basically proposals that allow for fundamental changes to be made to roadless management with little media attention and a small amount (if any) of public involvement (Wilderness Society, 2005).

Why Preserve Roadless Areas?
Roadless areas are important because they represent our last remaining intact ecosystems, water systems, wildlife areas and open-spaces. Roadless areas represent 2% of land in the entire US (Wilderness Society, 2005). That's all that's left!

Idaho Roadless Facts
  • Idaho has the most roadless land in the lower 48 with over 9.3 million acres
  • Over 54% of Idaho’s public land is developed; leaving 46% of public land that is considered roadless
  • 74% of Steelhead and Chinook Salmon habitat in roadless areas
  • Steelhead and Salmon fishers spend $60 million annually in Idaho

(Wilderness Society, 2005)

Maps of Idaho's Roadless Areas:

"We simply need wild country available to us, even if we do no more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope." Wallace Stegner


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