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Appeals court restores Clinton's Roadless Rule

Old 12-14-2002, 11:12 AM
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Default Appeals court restores Clinton's Roadless Rule

Appeals court restores forest protection

Friday, December 13, 2002
By ERIK ROBINSON, Columbian staff writer

A federal appellate court on Thursday restored a Clinton-era rule designed to conserve more than 50 million acres of backcountry forests.

The 55-page ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco offered a ringing endorsement of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

“The unspoiled forest provides not only sheltering shade for the visitor and sustenance for its diverse wildlife but also pure water and fresh oxygen for humankind,” Judge Ronald Gould wrote in the majority decision. “In contrast, road construction and reconstruction facilitates forest management by timber harvest and possibly aiding fire prevention, but it is to a degree inimical to conservation.”

The Bush administration announced it would implement the rule, even as it continued to review it.

The rule bans logging and road-building in 58.5 million acres of wilderness areas. Much of the land is in hard-to-reach areas of the backcountry with scrubby, low-value timber, ice or rocks. The Vancouver-based Gifford Pinchot National Forest contains 213,000 acres of roadless areas, including the 55,000-acre Dark Divide between Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens.

Timber industry representatives have argued that roping off such a large swath of the country — about 2 percent of the land mass of the United States — could lead to insect infestations, disease and forest fires.

“Decisions like this should be made at the local level,” said Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council, an industry group in Portland. “To just say we’re going to walk away from these areas is irresponsible.”

Mark Rey, the undersecretary of agriculture who oversees the Forest Service, said Justice Department attorneys are reviewing the appellate court’s decision. In the meantime, he said the Forest Service will try to address concerns raised about the effect of the rule.

“Over the last year, we have been working toward a responsible and balanced approach that fairly addresses concerns raised by states, tribes and local communities impacted by the rule,” Rey said in a prepared statement.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Boise, Idaho, suspended the rule that was set to go into effect in May 2001. Idaho, the Kootenai Indian Tribe and logging interests had filed suit to block the rule.

Lodge ruled the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to provide maps of the areas to be protected in a timely fashion and by not offering a full enough range of alternatives. For example, the rule didn’t consider whether a road ban would lead to an increased risk of wildfire and disease.

Environmental groups appealed Lodge’s decision.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., extolled the 2-1 decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit and blasted the Bush administration for not aggressively defending the rule.

“This ruling is a huge victory for sound forest management and the preservation of our national forests for future generations,” Cantwell said in a prepared statement. “This ruling tells the Bush administration that it cannot arbitrarily bypass rules it doesn’t like.”

‘A wakeup call’

Recently, the administration has come in for harsh criticism from environmental groups. The government has moved forward on a number of fronts over the past few weeks to streamline national forest planning regulations, ease restrictions on cutting underbrush in fire-prone forests, and accelerate logging in forests in the Pacific Northwest.

“This should be a wakeup call to the Bush administration that they won’t get away with undoing forest protections,” said Doug Heiken, conservation director of the Oregon Natural Resources Council in Eugene. “They will be held accountable by the public and by the courts.”

Don Amador, western representative of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, which represents off-road vehicle enthusiasts, said his group and other plaintiffs are disappointed in the 9th Circuit’s decision. But, now that the decision has been made, he said it clears the way for several other lawsuits related to the rule.

“We’re far from seeing resolution on this issue,” Amador said.

While the rule would preclude new roads from piercing the Dark Divide Roadless Area, local environmental groups have pushed for even stricter protection to keep off-road vehicles out.

“We will continue to strive for wilderness protection for the Dark Divide,” said Holly Forrest, a board member for the Vancouver chapter of the Sierra Club. “The roadless protections are a good start, but for the areas of the Dark Divide, wilderness designation is appropriate.”

Blue Ribbon Coalition -
Old 12-14-2002, 11:32 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 316
Default Appeals court restores Clinton's Roadless Rule

Makes me wanna PUKE!!!!

Yeah, 9th U.S. Circuit....same idiots that said it's "UNCONSTITUTIONAL" to salute our flag, weren't they?

We here in Oregon got a pretty good dose of their so-called "forest management" last summer with our horrible fires! If you all knew some of the political green BS that was behind the fires, it would literally make you sick!!! Anybody involved in the fires or timber industry here in southwest Oregon knows exactly what I'm talking about!!

Long live Blue Ribbon coalition! We all need to join in the fight.
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