Tuesday April 10, 2007
Regulation & Law
Forest Service Appeals Decision Rejecting Rule Overturning 'Roadless Area' Protection
The government has appealed a federal court decision that said it illegally overturned a regulation developed by the Clinton administration designed to protect roadless areas of land managed by the U.S. Forest Service (California v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, N.D. Cal., No. 05-03508, notice of appeal filed 4/6/07).
The notice of appeal was filed April 6 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which ruled in September 2006 that the Bush administration violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act when it repealed the Clinton-era regulation with its own rulemaking in May 2005.
The government notified the district court it was appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The May 2005 rule amended Forest Service regulations at 36 C.F.R. §294 to allow states to petition the federal government to open wilderness areas that had been declared off-limits to road building and other development under the Clinton administration's so-called roadless rule.
In her Sept. 20, 2006, decision striking down the Forest Service rule, Judge Elizabeth Laporte wrote that the agency "failed adequately to consider the environmental and species aspects when it issued the State Petitions Rule" (183 DER A-33, 9/21/06 ).
Laporte in November 2006 issued an injunction halting all activities inconsistent with the Clinton administration's 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. On Feb. 6, Laporte issued a final injunction, clarifying that the injunction extended to oil and gas drilling permits issued since May 2005.
Commenting on the notice of appeal, Robert C. Vandermark, director of the Heritage Forests Campaign, a coalition of conservation and wildlife groups, said, "Americans have repeatedly called for the protection of these last wild forests, but those pleas have fallen on deaf ears."