Obama Administration will defend the Clinton roadless rule

Administration will defend the Clinton version in the 10th Circuit Court-

President sides with environmentalists to reinstate roadless rule. By Gary Harmon. Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Note that while this article emphasizes Colorado, this applies to all the states with national forest roadless areas that have not been designated as Wilderness areas.

I like the roadless rule. One major reason is that it reduces the need to accept bad provisions in Wilderness bills. If you have abusive livestock grazing, and get the “traditional” language when such an area is designated Wilderness, it actually makes it harder to bring abusive livestock operator to account or rid the area of these animals incompatible with real wilderness. That’s because, like proposed Tester bill in Montana, politicians usually grandfather the livestock. They pretend, or don’t know, that cows are not compatible with real wilderness.

In a roadless area, the Forest Service can (doesn’t mean  they will), crack down on the grazing, close the grazing allotment, etc.

There are other arguments to consider, however.  A roadless area might be getting torn apart by off-road vehicles, for example. In many of the past Wilderness designations, the amount of livestock was so small that other arguments for the otherwise strong legal protection a congressional act gives to an area were probably more important.

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Roadless Area in Tongass National Forest Opened to Logging by the Obama Administration

8.8 miles of new road are involved in what was once a roadless area.

“Just building the road will cost four times as much revenue as the Forest Service is going to get from the timber sale,” said Waldo of Earthjustice.

Ketchikan mill is awarded Orion North timber
Deal marks first timber sale in roadless area under Obama

Vilsack Takes Over Roadless Rule

Obama begins to put his imprint on the much litigated “roadless rule”-

Bill Schneider at New West has followed the long battle of what was originally Bill Clinton’s roadless rule for the national forests.  Today the Obama Administration made its first move.

Schneider tells the story in New West.

Vilsack Takes Over Roadless Rule.

“After hearing conservation group recommendations, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has decided to take over authority to approve any development in national forest roadless areas, taking this decision away from district rangers and forest supervisors, where local politics often has a big impact.”

Update . . . more. This article from the New York Times. One-year delay on roadless rule for federal lands expected. By Noelle Straub and Eric Bontrager.

Conservation groups sue over Idaho roadless lands

Interesting, a move up from collaborationism-

Idaho has more roadless, undeveloped national forest land than any other state but Alaska.  Compared to most other western states only a modest portion of this has been protected as designated Wilderness. The rest was allocated into various categories in an initiative pushed by Jim Risch during his brief governorship of Idaho. This was done under the Bush version of the roadless rule, which modified the roadless rule originally issued in the last months of the Clinton Administration. Idaho and Colorado were the only states to do this. Colorado’s effort is not complete.

This allocation of Idaho roadless lands is final and now part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Several conservation groups in Idaho were willing to go along with this (Trout Unlimited, Idaho Conservation League). Because the process had fully played out, I doubted a lawsuit would happen. However, a major lawsuit was just filed. It includes some of the groups who were enthusiasts for the “collaborative” Owyhee Initiative which will probably soon become law.

News story on the lawsuit. Conservation groups sue over Idaho roadless plan. By Jessie L. Bonner.  Associated Press Writer

News release from the Wilderness Society. Idaho Roadless Rule Challenged in Federal Court. Note that the same release was issued by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, The Lands Council, the Sierra Club and the NRDC.

Blog. Wilderness Society sues to stop Risch roadless rule for Idaho. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. Here Barker explains the basics and bemoans the defection of the Wilderness Society away from collaboration.

Time to Codify the Roadless Rule

This may be a good idea-

In New West, Bill Schneider wrote: “We Americans have high expectations for President-elect Obama and the bluer-than-ever Congress, and a good way for them to convince us we did the right thing is immediately codify the Roadless Rule.”

Rest of the story. Time to Codify the roadless rule. New West

Phillips: Groups work together to protect 9 million acres

Did Idaho’s short term governor Jim Risch produce a compromise that finally protected most of Idaho’s 9-million acres of roadless area?  Roger Phillips of the Idaho Statesman thinks so.

Phillips: Groups work together to protect 9 million acres. Idaho Statesman. By Roger Phillips

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Some earlier stories in this forum on the Idaho roadless rule.

8-30-2008 Truce Is Reached in Battle Over Idaho Forest Land
1-15-2008. Idaho roadless plan is good but it needs tweaking, Risch says
12-26-2006. USDA accepts Idaho’s roadless area plan
9-20-2006. Officials close to final Idaho roadless plan

NOTE: Jim Risch became Idaho’s governor for about a year, when Bush tapped Idaho’s governor Kempthorne to be the Secretary of Interior. Risch had been Lt. Governor when the governor’s office became vacant.

Risch is once again the Lt. Governor, but is running for the U.S. senate seat of retiring Larry Craig against Democrat Larry LaRocco. The governor is Butch Otter. IMO, Risch was a lot better governor than Otter.

U.S. Judge in Wyoming Rules Against Ban on Forest Roads

The back and forth over Clinton’s Roadless Rule continues.

U.S. Judge in Wyoming Rules Against Ban on Forest RoadsNY Times