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

In This Section


" The Bush Administration's Efforts to Undermine the Roadless Rule

" Roadless Area Conservation Rule Timeline

" Roadless Litigitation Timeline

The Administration's Efforts to Undermine the Roadless Rule

The Bush administration has attacked the Roadless Rule on a number of fronts since taking office, despite making repeated public statements about their desire to uphold the rule. These attacks have come in several arenas:

The Courts

Just days after the rule was finalized in January 2001, Boise Cascade et al and the State of Idaho filed suit against the Roadless Rule in Idaho Federal District Court. After delaying action several times, the Bush Administration finally submitted a skimpy 12-page brief in May 2001. That defense was so poor that Judge Lodge cited the Administration’s own arguments in ruling to impose a preliminary injunction.

Following Judge Lodge’s ruling, the Bush Administration decided not to defend the rule at all in the 9th Circuit, despite a promise from Attorney General John Ashcroft made at his confirmation hearing. Since the Administration failed to even attend the 9th Circuit hearing environmental groups stepped in to defend the Roadless Rule.

The Ashcroft Promise

At his confirmation hearing, for example, Attorney General John Ashcroft pledged to defend as the ‘law of the land’ a landmark Clinton-era rule barring logging and other forms of commercial development in 58.5 million acres of roadless national forest. Mr. Ashcroft’s lawyers have since done almost nothing to defend the rule against court challenges from industry, a failure that has encouraged the timber lobbyists who now run the Forest Service to proceed with their parallel campaign to destroy the roadless policy by administrative means.” (Editorial, The New York Times, January 28, 2002).

Rey’s Intention to Change the Rule

The U.S. Forest Service has publicly stated its intent to amend the Roadless Rule. In testimony to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in February 2003, Undersecretary of Agriculture and former timber lobbyist Mark Rey said an amended rule could be expected "within a few months."

Photos of Forests