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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

Ruling: Judge Stops Projects that Violate 2001 Roadless Rule

Update: Clock Starts on Roadless Appeal

On February 7, 2007, Judge Elizabeth Laporte of the U.S. District Court of Northern California entered the court's final judgment affirming the status of legal protections for roadless areas in our national forests. By entering the judgment and enjoining the U.S. Forest Service from taking any further action contrary to the rule, Judge Laporte triggered a 60-day window within which the Forest Service and other interested parties may officially appeal her decision before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeal period will expire on Friday, April 6 (approximately). In September of 2006, Judge Laporte reversed the Bush administration's repeal of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule and reinstated the full protections afforded to these areas by the earlier 2001 version of the Roadless Rule.


Judge Elizabeth LaPorte, Magistrate for the U.S. District Court for Northern California, issued an injunction November 29th halting all activities inconsistent with the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

In the injunction, she has denied the U.S. Forest Service's request that projects approved during the time the 2001 Roadless Rule was repealed be allowed to proceed. The agency claimed that it should not have been required to follow the rule, since the rule had been repealed. In her injunction, Judge LaPorte stated that because the 2001 rule had been repealed illegally, all projects in roadless areas inconsistent with that rule are also illegal and must now be halted.

According to the injunction:

  • The Bush administration's State Petitions Rule and repeal of the 2001 Roadless Rule are set aside
  • The 2001 Roadless Rule, with the exception of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, is reinstated
  • The U.S. Forest Service is enjoined from taking any further action contrary to the Roadless Rule outside of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska
  • The U.S. Forest Service is enjoined from approving or allowing any surface use of a mineral lease issued after January 12, 2001, that has not already commenced on the ground and which would violate the Roadless Rule
  • The U.S. Forest Service is enjoined from proceeding with the Coal Creek-Big Creek Road Project, Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho for all portions of the project not permitted under the Roadless Rule

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