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,
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
Learn more about Roadless Land on
October 2008 Idaho Roadless
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and Endangered Species Act when it repealed the 2001 Roadless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
Following the reinstatement of
the 2001 Roadless Rule,
the President of the Wilderness Society issued a formal
statement, which can be viewed
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
What Went Wrong
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).
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
- 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