Court Restores Protections for Wild National Forest Lands
On August 5, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a national regulation SELC has long championed that protects the wildest reaches of our national forests, including 723,000 acres in the Southern Appalachians. The decision brings back the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which prohibits commercial timbering and road building on these undisturbed public lands. The ruling also affirms a lower court’s rejection of a Bush administration rule that required each state seeking protection of its roadless areas to petition the Secretary of Agriculture. When this rollback was imposed in 2005, SELC helped secure the first three petitions in the country—from Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
SELC and its allies persuaded the Obama administration to put a one-year time-out on commercial logging and road building in roadless areas, allowing time for long-term protections to be restored. Meanwhile, SELC and its partners are working with members of Congress to make the 2001 Rule the law of the land through the Roadless Area Conservation Act. We expect the legislation to be introduced in September with an extensive list of co-sponsors.