Heritage Forests Campaign Once They're Gone, They're Gone Forever
The Roadless Rule
Threats to Roadless Areas
Politics and Policy
America's Roadless Areas
Enjoying Your Wild Forests
Roadless Areas by State
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Fact Sheets & Reports
Roadless Cartoons
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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

In This Section


" About the Roadless Rule

" Economics of Roadless Areas

" Environmental Benefits

" Recreational Benefits

" Roadless Rule Timeline

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule Timeline

2009   2008   2007   2006   2005   2004   2003   2002   2001   2000   1999


November 10: Conservation groups sent letter to Secretary Vilsack (PDF) opposing the timber sales in the Tongass National Forest.

November 9: California, Montana, Oregon and Washington file a brief of amici curiae with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF) in support of the appellants and the 2001 Roadless Rule.

November 2:  Conservationists (PDF) and Obama Administration (PDF) submit written briefs to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the 2001 Roadless Rule.

October 10: U.S. Forest Service Chief, Tom Tidwell, issues statement on the Central Kupreanof timber sale (PDF).

October 7:  The Forest Service in Alaska issues a news release announcing the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Central Kupreanof timber sale in the Tongass Rainforest.  Additionally, the Forest Service in Alaska published a preliminary advertisement for the Sue Timber Sale (PDF) – both timber sales include inventoried roadless areas covered by the 2001 Roadless Rule.

October 3:  Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and the Obama Administration receive more 200,000 comments in favor of upholding the 2001 Roadless Rule in Colorado and across the country.

October 1: Senator Maria Cantwell (WA) and Representative Jay Inslee (WA) along with 25 senators and 152 House members, introduce bipartisan legislation that would codify the 2001 Roadless Rule into law.

August 14: Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack affirms the Obama administration’s support for a national forest roadless policy in a speech given in Washington State,

August 13: Obama administration takes legal action to defend the 2001 Roadless Rule by filing an appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals of a 2008 Wyoming federal district court ruling that enjoined the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

August 5: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court decision (PDF) invalidating the Bush Administration’s state petitions rule and reinstating the 2001 Roadless Rule.

August 3: The state of Colorado releases a draft rule for public comment that would weaken protections for 4.4 million acres of national forest roadless areas within the state.

June 15: Judge Brimmer denies U.S. Forest Service motions to stay or modify his nationwide injunction against the 2001 Roadless Rule (PDF).

May 28: Obama administration issues a “time-out” requiring secretarial level approval on all projects involving inventoried roadless areas covered by the 2001 Roadless Rule.

April 14: Leading U.S. natural resource scientists submit letter of support for the 2001 Roadless Rule to President Obama.

March 18: Letters from 25 Senators and 131 Representatives sent to Secretary of Agriculture requesting interim protection for inventoried roadless areas.


December 5: Mark Rey, Undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture, grants a request from the state of Colorado asking the U.S. Forest Service not to finalize the Colorado Roadless forest rule.

December 4: State of Colorado asks USFS for an extension of the state roadless rulemaking process before finalizing rule. (PDF)

December 2: In response to the federal government’s motion and for the sake of judicial comity, Judge Laporte issues a partial stay of her injunction, reducing the geographic scope of her 2006 injunction to states located within the Ninth Circuit (AZ, CA, MT, NV, OR, WA), plus New Mexico (since it is one of the state co-plaintiffs). (PDF)

ctober 16: The final Idaho Roadless Rule is issued in the Federal Register, supplanting the 2001 Roadless Rule on Idaho’s 9.3 million acres of inventoried roadless land. (PDF)

August 2: Judge Brimmer releases his decision in the 10th Circuit Court in Wyoming, once again enjoining the ruling the Roadless Rule nationwide. Environmental intervenors appeal the decision and have requested a stay of his injunction pending resolution of the appeal. (PDF)

July 23: New report finds Bush Administration proposal opens Colorado Roadless Areas to new drilling.

April 7: Public comment deadline for Idaho roadless rule draft EIS and rule.

February 28: State of California sues the US Forest Service for failing to protect roadless areas in four southern California national forests.

February 25: Public comment deadline for Colorado roadless rule scoping document.

January 25: Tongass National Forest final management plan released.

January 22: Ten year anniversary of US Forest Service proposed moratorium on road construction in inventoried roadless areas.


December 26: Colorado roadless rule scoping notice issued.

December 20: Idaho roadless rule draft EIS released.

October 19: Judge Brimmer holds oral arguments on the state of Wyoming’s new lawsuit challenging the 2001 roadless rule.

July 5: Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denies state of Wyoming’s request to reinstate intervenors’ appeal of Judge Brimmer’s 2003 case.

June 7: Judge Brimmer denies state of Wyoming’s request to reinstate his 2003 decision enjoining the roadless rule.

May 25: Scheduled hearing on State of Wyoming’s motion to reinstate Judge Brimmer’s 2003 injunction. Two prior hearings were cancelled.

May 24: More than 150 Democrat and Republican members of Congress introduce legislation to protect 58.5 million acres of wild national forest land by codifying the Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

May 2: Conservation organizations throughout the country send a letter to the U.S. Forest Service calling for an extension of the brief 30-day public comment period on the management of more than nine million acres of intact roadless forest in the state of Idaho.

April 11: Colorado Governor Ritter submits roadless petition including exemptions for ski areas, grazing, and coal mining.

April 10: Federal Register notice initiates 30-day scoping comment period on Idaho petition for state-specific rulemaking.

April 9: Forest Service and timber industry appeal Judge Laporte’s decision to the Ninth Circuit.

February 6: Judge Laporte issues final injunction, clarifying that the injunction extends to oil and gas drilling permits (as well as leases) issued since May 2005.


November 29: Idaho outgoing Governor Risch tells RACNAC that his petition is intended to protect all but 500,000 acres of Idaho’s IRAs consistent with the Roadless Rule.

November 29: Judge Laporte issues injunction barring road construction in connection with more than 300 oil and gas leases sold since January 2001.

November 13: Colorado outgoing Governor Owens submits petition based on state task force recommendations.

October 18 – 19: Meeting of National Roadless Area Advisory Committee (RACNAC); decides to continue reviewing petitions.

October 4: Bush Administration re-charters National Roadless Area Advisory Committee to review state petitions submitted under Administrative Procedures Act.

October 4: Judge Laporte denies State of Oregon's request to enjoin nearly-completed Mike's Gulch and Blackberry timber sales.

September 29: Judge Singleton issues decision on relief in Tongass case (following 9th Circuit reversal on August 5, 2005), enjoining eight timber sales in roadless areas until Forest Service revises Tongass forest plan.

September 22: Forest Service Chief issues national directive to stop roadless area activities unless consistent with the Roadless Rule (except in Tongass).

September 22: State of Wyoming asks Judge Brimmer for immediate reinstatement of his 2003 decision enjoining the Roadless Rule.

September 21: Timber industry appeals Laporte to 9th Circuit.

September 20: Idaho submits petition allowing road building and logging in most of the state's 9.3 million acres of roadless areas.

September 20: Judge Elizabeth LaPorte of the U.S. District Court Northern District of California ruled that the Administration illegally repealed the Roadless Rule, sets aside the State Petitions Rule and reinstates the Roadless Rule nationwide except in the Tongass National Forest.

August 11: State of North Dakota settles its lawsuit challenging the Roadless Rule.

August 7: Logging begins in Mike's Gulch Timber Sale - the first time a roadless area has been logged since the Roadless Rule was adopted in 2001.

August 4: Forest Serivce auctions Blackberry Timber Sale in North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area.

August 1: Court hearing held in roadless cases before Judge Laporte.

July 12: California Governor Schwarzenegger petitions to protect all 4.4 million acres of the state's inventoried roadless areas.

June 21: Bush Administration accepts the Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina roadless area petitions, leading to state-specific rulemaking processes.

June 9: Forest Service auctions Mike's Gulch Timber Sale in South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area. Oregon Governor Kulongoski announces he will go to court to stop the sale.

May 31: New Mexico Governor Richardson submits the first western state petition, requesting protection for all of the state’s inventoried roadless areas, plus the newly acquired Valle Vidal.

May 9: National Roadless Area Advisory Committee reviews and endorses petitions from Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

April 19: Governor Sanford (SC) files a petition to protect South Carolina’s 7,900 acres of roadless forests.

April 5: Nez Perce Tribe petitions for withdrawal of 2005 Roadless Repeal.

March 16: Judge Laporte orders the Forest Service to disclose internal documents on the Bush Administration’s decision to repeal the 2001 rule.

March 6: Governor Easley (NC) petitions to protect 172,000 acres of inventoried roadless areas in North Carolina.

March 2: Senator Maria Cantwell (WA) reintroduces Roadless Area Conservation Act in the Senate with 11 cosponsors.

February 24: Montana and Maine file an amicus brief supporting the states’ lawsuit challenging the repeal of the Roadless Rule.

February 9: Washington Governor Gregoire announces that Washington will be joining the California, Oregon, and New Mexico lawsuit.

January 16: Forest Service extends interim policy requiring Chief's approval of logging and roadbuilding projects in most roadless areas.

January 10: Bush Administration attorneys deny all allegations in states' and conservationists' lawsuits.


December 22: Governor Warner (VA) is the first Governor to submit a petition to protect the 380,000 acres of roadless forests in Virginia.

December 14: National Roadless Area Advisory Committee holds its first meeting.

October 14: Oregon Governor Kulongoski petitions Bush Administration to allow states to adopt 2001 Roadless Rule. The petition is denied on October 27. Washington Governor Gregoire files a similar petition on November 2.

Oct 11: National conservation, hunting and fishing, recreation and religious groups announce petition drive to reinstate the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The petition will be filed in accordance with the "Administrative Procedures Act," which allows citizens to request that the government issue, amend, or revoke federal rules.

Oct 6: A coalition of 20 environmental groups sue the Bush administration for overturning the Roadless Rule without following proper environmental protection procedures.

Sept 16: The Forest Service announces the selection of members to the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee. This committee will provide advice and recommendations on implementing the state petitions for Inventoried Roadless Area Management Rule adopted by USDA in May of 2005.

Aug 30: Three Attorney Generals from California, Arizona, and Oregon and Governor Kulongoski of Oregon file a lawsuit against the Bush Administration for dismantling restrictions on road-building and logging in nearly 60 million acres of the country's remaining backcountry and undeveloped forests, alleging a threat to forests, fisheries and drinking water.

Fall 2004 June 2005: Fifty papers in over 30 states editorialize in favor of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule and against the Bush Administration's attempts to turn over the management of these unspoiled forests to states.

July 28: Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and 145 original cosponsors introduce legislation to restore national protections for our roadless forests.

June 23: Governor Dirk Kempthorne announces that he intends to petition next year and use existing forest plans to decide the fate of Idaho's roadless areas, potentially opening up five and a half million acres to new development.

June 10: In Colorado, the state Legislature creates a 13-member Roadless Areas Review Task Force to take a closer look at the state's treatment of its roadless areas in national forests.

June 7: Governor Schweitzer (D-MT) sends a letter to President Bush saying, "Shifting the responsibility for management of the nation's roadless areas to the states is an attempt to pass the buck . . . Four years ago, when the 2001 roadless rule was being considered, Montana went through an exhaustive public process conducted by the Forest Service. . . Our Montana values and the importance of these mountain areas have not changed."

May 5: Numerous Representatives, Senators, and Governors express opposition to the Bush Administration rule. The Outdoor Industry Association and Republicans for Environmental Protection also announce their opposition.

May 5: The Administration announces a new plan to overturn the Roadless Rule that has protected 58.5 million acres of National Forest roadless lands from additional road-building and logging since 2001. Find out more.

April 7: Forest Service in Alaska agrees to drop roadless area logging in the Orion North Timber Sale through partial settlement of a lawsuit over the Tongass National Forest management plan.

April 1: Oregon Governor Kulongoski asks the Forest Service to defer logging of roadless areas in the Siskiyou National Forest. The Forest Service agrees to wait until 21 days after the Administration's new roadless policy is adopted and goes into effect.

January 24: The State of California asks the Forest Service to continue protecting roadless areas in the state.


November 15: Comment period on draft rule ends. More than 1.7 million comments oppose the Administration's proposal and support retaining the Roadless Rule. Find out more.

November 12: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and 8 other governors send a comment letter opposing the Administration's draft rule and supporting the Roadless Rule.

September 8: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service extends its public comment period 60 additional days for a proposed rule on repealing the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation rule. Comments must now be received in writing by November. 15.

July 12: The Bush Administration proposed to replace the Roadless Rule with a State petition process. The proposal would repeal the roadless rule, thus allowing road building and logging to resume in accordance with local forest management plans, and establish a cumbersome process for individual State governors to request different management rules for roadless areas within their respective States. The day this proposal is finalized, there will be no national protections for roadless areas. The Administration's proposal is open for public comment until September 14.

June 1: Forest Service issues record of decision (ROD) to log thousands of acres of roadless areas in Oregon's Siskiyou National Forest. The largest roadless sale in the lower 48 in over a decade.

January 12: Marks the three-year anniversary of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule finalization. On January 20, 2001, the Bush Administration took office and froze implementation of the rule.


December 23: The Bush administration placed a temporary exemption on Alaska's Tongass national forest from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule today, despite receiving nearly 250,000 public comments opposing the plan.

September 15: The Bush administration elects not to appeal a court ruling striking down the Clinton-era roadless rule prohibiting the construction of roadways across 58.5 million acres of national forest.

September 2: Roadless rule comment period ends with nearly 300,000 comments received.

July 15: The Forest Service opens 60-day comment period on proposing to amend regulations concerning the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in Alaska's Tongass and Chugach National Forests.

June 9: The Bush administration announces it decision to exempt Alaska's National Forests from the roadless rule as part of a court settlement with the State of Alaska and the timber industry. This decision effects the Tongass National Forest America's largest national forest and last coastal rainforest. The administration also announced its intentions to allow governors to opt out of the roadless rule.

April 7: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denies State of Idaho's and Boise Cascade Corporation's petitions for rehearing and for en banc consideration of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule case confirming that the rule is legally sound. By refusing to rehear the case, the entire 9th Circuit has upheld its December 12th decision that the lower court's injunction against the roadless rule was an abuse of discretion.

February 13: Mark Rey, testifies that the Bush Administration will issue a "modified" roadless rule within the next two months.


December 23: State of Idaho, Boise Cascade et al file with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking for the roadless case to be reheard by a larger panel of 9th Circuit judges.

December 12: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifts the injunction on the Roadless Area Conservation Rule - effectively making it the law of the land.

December 6: The Bush Administration proposes revised national forest planning regulations that weaken environmental review and public participation.

August 22, 2002: President Bush announces his so-called "Healthy Forest Initiative".

July 25: U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Warner (R-VA) introduce a bill (S. 2790) codifying the Roadless Rule.

June 26: Forest Service releases report discounting many public comments submitted on the Roadless Rule.

June 5: U.S Representatives Jay Inslee (D- WA) & Sherwood Boehlert, (R-NY) introduce a bill (H.R. 4865) codifying the Roadless Rule with more than 175 original cosponsors.

May 17: Bush Administration recommends no wilderness protection for roadless areas in Tongass National Forest.

May 9: 26 Senators send a letter to President Bush asking him to uphold the Roadless Rule.


December 20: Forest Service issues interim directive on roadless area management, removing protection for contiguous unroaded areas.

October 15: Ninth Circuit holds hearing on expedited appeals of Judge Lodge's preliminary injunction.

September 20: Forest Service proposes changes in its "categorical exclusion" regulations that would exempt small-scale management activities in roadless areas from environmental review.

September 10: More than 675,000 comments submitted in support of the roadless rule for a total of over 2.2 million since 1999.

June 7: Forest Service requires approval by Chief of all road building and logging projects in roadless areas until forest plans are amended.

May 10: Judge Lodge issues preliminary injunction blocking implementation of Roadless Rule; environmental intervenors appeal to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

May 4: Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman promises to allow the roadless rule to go into effect on May 12, 2001.

April 20: Timber industry coalition, led by American Forest and Paper Association, files lawsuit in District of Columbia U.S. district court.

March 30: At court hearing on Idaho PI motions, the Bush Administration does not defend the Roadless Rule and asks the court to wait for the Administration to complete its review and file a status report by May 4.

March 15: Senators Patrick Leahy and Maria Cantwell write to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging vigorous defense of Roadless Rule litigation.

February 20: Boise Cascade files motion for a preliminary injunction (PI), requesting decision on their case prior to May 12.

February 5: USDA Secretary Veneman postpones effective date of Roadless Rule until May 12, citing White House directive.

January 20: President Bush takes office. White House directive postpones effective date of all federal rules not yet in effect, including Roadless Rule.

January 8: Boise Cascade et al. files suit in Idaho U.S. district court. Case is assigned to Judge Edward Lodge.

January 5: President Clinton signs Roadless Rule into law.


November 13: Final Environmental Impact Statement released.

July 26: Deputy Chief of the National Forest System, Jim Furnish testifies before the Senate.

July 17: Over 1.1 million comments submitted on draft environmental review of Roadless Rule.

July 12: Senator Larry Craig backed off his plan to offer an amendment that would have delayed President Clinton's plan to ban road-building in 43 million acres of roadless federal forests.

July 11: House Small Business Committee hearing on the Roadless Initiative.

July: Over 2000 leaders and members of the faith community write to President Clinton to express concern that the Forest Service's proposal does not does not "fulfill our responsibility to respect God's creation in these increasingly rare wild forests."

May 10: Federal Register Notice on Proposed Rule.

May 9: Draft EIS and Proposed Rule released.

March 30: George Frampton, head of the Council on Environmental Quality testifies before the Senate on the Roadless Initiative.

March 14: USDA Under Secretary Jim Lyons testifies before the House on the Roadless Initiative.

February 22: USDA Under Secretary Jim Lyons testifies before the Senate on the Roadless Initiative.

February 14: Led by Seantor Barbara Boxer, twenty U.S. Senators send letter to President Clinton asking for full protection of roadless areas.

January 12: Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Alliance found that of 50 million hunters and anglers polled, 86 percent of anglers and 83 percent of hunter supported efforts to keep the remaining roadless areas in National Forests free of roads.

January: National public survey released by republican pollster Linda DiVall reveals that 76 percent of Americans support the Clinton policy to permanently protect roadless areas from development, including 62 percent of republicans.


December 20: Over 350,000 comments submitted on scoping period for Roadless Initiative.

November 3: Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck testifies in favor of the Roadless Initiative before the House on the Roadless Initiative.

November 2: Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck testifies before the Senate on the Roadless Initiative.

October 19: Roadless Initiative Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS is published in the Federal Register.

October 13: President Clinton announces the Roadless Initiative.

Photos of Forests