Federal Court Upholds the Roadless Area Conservation Rule

posted October 21, 2011
by Thomas O'Keefe

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Ruling preserves popular backcountry recreation destinations across the country

Earlier today, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the final legal challenge to the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, affirming protections for nearly 60 million acres around the country. Today's decision clears up legal ambiguity that had existed. The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule was approved in January 2001 following years of scientific study, more than 600 public hearings across the country, and 1.6 million official public comments. The lands protected under the 2001 Roadless Rule are critical to wildlife, backcountry recreation, and downstream water quality. American Whitewater has consistently supported the protection of roadless lands. The Roadless Rule does not affect access through existing Forest Service roads but prevents the construction of new roads and resource extraction in some spectacular backcountry landscapes.

Protecting these wild places from road building is critical to protecting the wild rivers that flow though them - and the unique experience of paddling them. Runs like the Middle Fork Feather and Dry Meadow Creek in California, Cascade Brook in New Hampshire, the Animas in Colorado, the Cooper and McCoy Creek in Washington, South Fork Salmon in Idaho, Seneca Creek and Tea Creek in West Virginia, Rock Gorge of Chattooga in Georgia, Snowbird Creek and Upper Wilson Creek in North Carolina, and Laurel Fork of the Potomac in Virginia all flow through Forest Service Roadless Areas.

The rule has been the subject of conflicting court decisions over the past decade but today’s decision dismissed all of the legal arguments made against the Roadless Rule in the lower court.

The 10th Circuit decision can be read at: www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/09/09-8075.pdf

Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012