Ninth Circuit Court Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte ruled today that the Bush administration unlawfully repealed the Clinton-era Roadless Rule. The ruling puts the National Roadless Rule back into affect in at least the states covered by the Ninth Circuit Court, but it is unclear if the ruling applies to other states.
The Ninth Circuit covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. However, Idaho will be unaffected by the ruling because it’s the only state to approve its own roadless rule.
Today’s ruling basically reaffirms a September 20, 2006 decision by the same court, but that has been under various appeals ever since.
“It has been a complex process,” explains Joel Webster, roadless coordinator for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, “but this is a big milestone. It’s certainly a big victory for roadless conservation and the hunting and fishing that’s enjoyed in those areas.”
In the opinion, Laporte agreed with a long list of plaintiffs that the roadless rule offered more protection for roadless lands than national forest plans and that it was “unreasonable” for the Forest Service to say the repeal of the rule did not affect endangered species and critical habitats.
To read the court’s decision, click here.