Supreme Court Denies Roadless Rule Challenge

Tree Tops, Photo: Nelson GudaThe U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a Clinton-era conservation policy to protect undeveloped national forests. The petition to the court came from the state of Wyoming, which lost a challenge to the roadless rule in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals a year ago, and from the Colorado Mining Association.

“Today's Supreme Court action validates one of America's most important and popular land conservation policies,” said Jane Danowitz, of the Pew Environment Group. “Without the national standard of protection the rule provides, millions of acres of America's last pristine national forests could be lost to logging and other industrial development."

On Oct. 21, 2011, the appeals court upheld the roadless rule in a unanimous ruling, which followed a similar decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The rule was issued to protect nearly 60 million acres, or roughly one-third of undeveloped Forest Service lands. It was the result of the largest public lands review in U.S. history, with more than 1.2 million comments and 600 public hearings.

According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report, national forests and grasslands sustain 223,000 jobs in rural areas. National forests are also the source of drinking water for about 124 million Americans in 900 U.S. cities.